Monday, May 19, 2014

Magazines and Clips

It has been four years since this blog was first started and guess what? We haven't talked about magazines yet. In the next series of posts, we will discuss different types of magazines that are used in firearms.

With that said, let us discuss a couple of terms which many people get confused about: what is the difference between a clip and a magazine? Many people believe that they are the same thing and use the words interchangeably. However, they are incorrect and there are some major differences between the two.

A magazine is a device that is used to hold cartridges for feeding into a firearm's chamber, during the operation of the firearm. It may be of a fixed type or a detachable type and comes in a variety of shapes (box, tube, drum etc.).

A clip, on the other hand, is used to conveniently hold a bunch of cartridges, before inserting them into a magazine. They are generally used for quicker reloading of magazines. Depending on the type of clip, it may or may not remain inside the magazine during operation of the firearm.

A magazine also has some kind of feeding mechanism (usually powered by a spring), which is not present in a clip. A clip may sometimes have a spring too, but a clip's spring is not part of a feeding mechanism, it is just there to hold the cartridges in the clip.

For some reason, many people incorrectly refer to a detachable magazine as a clip, even though they are very different devices.

In this post, we will only look at a few types of clips and then study magazines in more details in the following posts. Remember, they are different devices!

Moon clip

A moon clip, such as the one shown in the image above, is usually used to quickly reload a revolver.

Another type of clip is the stripper clip (also known as the charger clip in commonwealth countries). These were originally invented by Mauser in 1888 and used by some rifle models. It consists of a long strip of metal into which cartridges may be slid into. With a stripper clip, the user opens the bolt and places the clip on a special slot behind the magazine and then slides the cartridges off the clip and into the magazine ('stripping' them off the clip into the magazine, this is why it is called a "stripper clip"). After the magazine is reloaded, the stripper clip is removed and saved for re-use.

There is also another type called the en bloc clip, that was used by Mannlicher in 1885 and by some other rifles since. In this type of clip, the cartridges and the clip are inserted together into the fixed magazine of a rifle. When the last cartridge is chambered or fired, the clip is ejected out.

Left: An en-bloc clip. Right: A stripper clip. Click on image to enlarge.
Public domain image

With that said about clips, we will study different types of magazines in the next few posts. Remember, clips and magazines are different devices!


  1. I bet the origin of the confusion stems from en-bloc clips, the Garand specifically

  2. I haven't checked the blog for some time and see I missed lots of good articles. Thank you for your work!