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Magazines vs Clips


Within the firearms communities, the terms magazine and clip are commonly used and they are widely misused outside of those communities.

Why is it called a Magazine?

A "magazine" is simply a storage place for any type of arms, ammunition, or explosives, which is why blasters keep their explosives in a "magazine", or why battleships kept their powder in a "powder magazine".

"Magazine" is French for storehouse or storage place. The "storage places" for cartridges in firearms in general are called "magazines," whether they are detachable—as in the detachable box magazines generally found in automatic pistols—or fixed. The Mauser C96's magazine, for example, is filled by stripping rounds into the magazine from a stripper clip. The Garand's magazine is filled by inserting an "en bloc" (there's that French again, just what it sounds like, "in block form") clip of eight cartridges.

What is a Clip?

An ammunition “ammo” clip is a very simple sheet metal or plastic device used to store or hold individual rounds of ammunition together as a single unit that is then ready for insertion into the magazine of a gun.

A clip is usually made of a steel stamping. There are various kinds of clips. The most common is called ­ en bloc clips.

These devices are used for loading ammunition into a magazine, which then feeds the individual rounds into the firing chamber.

For rifles with an internal magazine, the clip loads the bullets into the firearm itself.

Difference between a Magazine and Clip?

Remember seeing that boxy rectangular thing that holds cartridges and slides into the bottom of your semi-auto pistol? Well, it’s not a clip. It’s a magazine.

Plain and simple — clips feed magazines. Magazines feed firearms.

Clips are not magazines. When we refer to, say, an M16's "30-round clip" what we really mean is "30-round magazine," which is shorthand for "30-round detachable box magazine," the full and correct description. Clips are relatively uncommon because most modern firearms do not use them at all anymore. In general, a magazine has a spring and a follower (the part that pushes on the cartridge). It can be detachable or built into the gun.

A clip has NO spring or follower and simply holds several cartridges together for easier loading into an internal magazine.

If the clip enters the magazine and becomes part of the action, it is called an "en bloc" clip (like the M1 rifle and Mannlicher designs).

If it simply holds the cartridges so they can be stripped out and into the action, it is called a "stripper clip", or just a "clip". In British terminology, it is called, more accurately, a charger.

While not all guns use clips, all guns, with the exception of revolvers, have magazines.

Here’s a simple way of remembering:

  • A clip is a device used to load a magazine.
  • A magazine is a device or holding area where ammunition is feed into the chamber of a firearm.

Thermold Magazines produces magazines and has become the product of choice among military personnel, law enforcement officers and sport shooters around the world with their products proudly made in the US. Time-tested quality and reliability. That's Thermold. Call 877-548-4062 and/or contact us.