Clip vs. Magazine

Seen at SayUncle. It gave me a good laugh!


(Photo of PlasmaFox’s AR-15)

Repeat after me “clips are used to hold cartridges together for quick loading, magazines are used to hold cartridges for feeding into the guns’ chamber” 😉

The best explanation of the differences that I could find is at The Gun Zone.

The terms are NOT interchangeable!

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Valhalla

    I love those ‘motivational’ posters…

    What would it do to the AR-15?

  • Tod

    What about a clip fed Garand which feeds rounds from a clip into the chamber?

  • Dumb story.
    The generic term “clip” is understood by most humans depending on the context.
    When I put a clip in my ar I am aware it is not a stripper clip, an en-bloc clip or a moon clip. It is a magazine. I understand that because the weapon does not take any of those “clips”.
    Tod it is an en-bloc clip.

    • it is like calling a tire, a wheel. Sure in the context I know what you are mean, but that does not make it correct.

  • Tod

    root man, I know that. It does not appear that Steve does, since he said “clips are used to hold cartridges together for quick loading, magazines are used to feed cartridges into the guns’ chamber” which is not a correct definition.

  • I have updated it slightly. People commonly say the difference is that magazines have springs while clips do not. That is also not correct. In the past magazine have been made that are gravity fed and contain no spring.

  • A good friend and ‘high speed’ Boston area law enforcement friend and I had this very conversation when I was qualifying on the M-4.

    I, unlike many, never interchanged the two ‘clip’ or ‘magazine’ in my work as a journalist. I knew Garands worked on ‘clips,’ I knew that ‘stripper clips’ were not the same and I knew that magazines were entirely different.

    He appreciated that a writer knew the lingo and differences. But in his profession it was vitally important.

    ‘Sarge’ told me of court cases lost because of his fellow officers couldn’t properly explain the components of their service weapon. As he simply put it, when a cop is asked by an attorney about his weapon and replies ‘clip’ instead of magazine, that gives a savvy attorney room to pounce. If you cannot properly ID your weapon, then how sure can we be that you know how to properly maintain or employ it in the line of duty?

    Clip and magazine, big differences to smart cops.

  • How do revolver moon clips fit into the picture?

  • Canthros

    22lr, moon clips are probably analogous to en bloc clips.

  • TheGunGeek

    “People commonly say the difference is that magazines have springs while clips do not. That is also not correct. In the past magazine have been made that are gravity fed and contain no spring.”

    Another way in which that is not technically correct is that some stripper clips do have a spring. It’s a leaf spring that applies pressure on the base of the cartridge in order to prevent them from just sliding out on their own.

    Probably the most likely one people reading this have seen is if they’ve loaded an M16 magazine using a military stripper clip.

  • Dan

    So, am I wrong to only see the humor in the picture? 😉

  • P

    then why does Savage and Remington as late as just a couple of years ago refer to their .22 rifles that use a box appendage to hold ready ammunition as Clip Fed.

    Its semantics. Plain and simple.

    I have US government packaging for 1911 magazines, which refers to Clips, ammunition, type 1911a1. caliber .45

    It was never an issue until the internet and typewriter experts started to have a coniption.

    re springs, I have springfield stripper clips that have leaf springs for holding the ammunition in place. The Bofors magazine rack was purely gravity fed.

  • Kevan

    When I’m teaching classes, I always describe it this way:

    “Clips load magazines, Magazines load guns.”

  • Canthros

    I was thinking about this the other day, and I suspect that the distinction is that a magazine, once loaded, contains all the necessary parts to feed ammunition to the gun to which the magazine belongs. That may or may not include things like a follower, spring or feed lips, depending, I guess, on the design of the rifle.

    E.g. the en-bloc clips used by the M-1 Garand have feed lips, but no way to present additional rounds to the bolt without the follower found in the rifle’s magazine. Once the clip is loaded into the rifle’s magazine, however, the feed lips keep the excess rounds from being shoved out by the follower, and the follower ensures that the next round will be presented to the bolt and extractor once the current round is ejected.

    • n0idx80

      The distinction is simple. Magazines have springs, clips do not.

      • n0idx80

        This was somewhat of a generic definition and does not account for more recently created gravity fed magazines without springs. Also, when speaking of spring this is assuming a follower with a wire wound spring underneath.

  • PlasmaFox

    Oh, hey, that’s my AR-15 that I posted to the AR-15 forums. I feel jealous now that my gun is more famous than I am.

  • Bosque

    The best statement on this bane discussion re: clip v mag/magazine is as follows:

    There are two kinds of people in the world. If you’re in a foxhole with the first kind and you ask for a clip, you’ll get a 5 minute dissertation on what you really need is a magazine. If you’re in a foxhole witht eh second kind, he’ll hand you some ammunition.

  • Butch

    A [tube or detachable/removable box] magazine fully encases and protects shells, and provides an assisted means of feeding them into the repeater action or receiver for quick chambering and use. The clip does not. Neither does the feed belt.

    The clip and feed belt just bind and hold shells together for easy storage and handling, nothing else. No encasing. No appreciable protection, to speak of. No method of force feeding the chamber using springs or gravity.

    A box magazine can connect to a magazine well, while a clip can’t. Box magazines provide faster reloading of the weapon, because there is only one attached tube, while you can have multiple box magazines for quick replacement.

    In the least amount of words possible, “clips and feed belts bind and hold, nothing else.” Just like paper clips and staples. Magazines perform several other higher functions for a weapon and user.

    One might note that in Russian, the word “magazin” means “store.” Do stores merely store (like a warehouse), or do they supply, distribute, and feed?

    • Butch

      “magazines are used to hold cartridges for feeding into the guns’ chamber”

      So does that mean feed belts are magazines? Aren’t they used to hold cartridges for feeding into the gun’s chambers? I mean, as long as we’re being picky…

  • I want to try moon clips. I am new to shooting.can you please provide me some information about it..?

    • William Matt Fleming

      moon clips are for break action revolvers as it allows a person to load all rounds into the cylinder…..

  • jim

    Then why is there a powder magazine on a ship in the Navy? and the “bullets” called shells

  • Obersaber

    The Boberg Arms company just released a bullpup pocket pistol called the XR45-S that feeds 45acp and 45 SUPER ammo though a “magazine clip”. The magazine has clip rails built into the end to index the cartridge rim for smooth feeding with a reduced resistance magazine spring. The 5.75″ gun has a 3.75″ gain twist rifled barrel and 7 other recoil reducing features needed for crazy powerful self protection loads.

  • William Matt Fleming

    There are clips that load directly into internal magazines within the gun themselves…C-9 Mausers use them, as does M1 garand…