Terminology Does Matter, as This Guy Discovered

As has recently been explained, terminology is important – and not only because I say it is. Seeing the use of correct terminology as either a nuisance or something not worth the effort of learning has a way of breaking things down not only within the industry but outside it. For example, countless members of the mainstream media enjoy referring to the ArmaLite Rifle as an assault rifle. More fiction authors than I care to consider apparently think they don’t need to know which end of the gun the bullet exits to write about guns, and the results are fairly disastrous. But it isn’t just about those who report or write; this is about the fact that you do not refer to a hammer as a screwdriver, a dog as a cat, or a rattlesnake as a worm. Words matter. After all, if you describe a malfunction simply as a “jam” I won’t be able to help you without finding out what actually happened.

So, what happens when you use words interchangeably? According to one gun store owner, the result is the following picture (apparently there was a bit of confusion about “clip” and “magazine”):


The story attached to the picture is that a customer entered the gun store with the pictured problem. He wanted to load his magazines faster. He couldn’t figure out why the magazine wasn’t functioning in any way whatsoever – or why it wouldn’t  unload. He didn’t understand that a clip is not a magazine, and vice versa. He thought they worked together. Looks like the much-fabled “clipazine” has finally come to pass. (Yes, it might be a prank, but it’s still entertaining – and reinforces a few things).

Using the right words to describe an action or define an object makes it significantly easier for those listening to understand you. It prevents confusion, simplifies conversations, and cuts through the b.s. when someone intentionally tries to muddy the waters. There is a widely misattributed quote that says “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt.” If you don’t know what a certain component is called, find out (from a reliable source). If you do know, then use the correct term. Guys such as the poor, hapless customer behind the “clipazine” creation will thank you.

TFB Staffer

TFB Staff, bringing you the latest gun news from around the world for a decade.


  • flyingburgers

    The problem was that he was off by 3 Ms.

  • DanGoodShot

    The clipazine lives! I knew it was real, I knew it! Ah, sweet vindication at last…

    • fnu lnu

      That’s gold, there. Golf clap.

  • just goes to show why you should know the difference between your blinker fluids and your rotator splints.

    • TC

      If you don’t keep the blinker fluid full of electrons, they will stop flowing.

      • mbrd

        more importantly, one must use the correctly sized electrons.

        i work in an industry where if one runs over a signal cable with an elevated platform lift, one can do irreparable damage to the conductors. a power cable, on the other hand is nearly impervious to such damage.

        this, obviously, is because the power cables use great big, hardy electrons, while signal cables use those tiny, mincy electrons that do not suffer pressure well.

    • Austin

      Don’t forget the headlight fluid

      • jamezb

        And self-sealing stem bolts.

        • Riley

          And the left handed socket wrench to install them.

          • Mick Finn

            You can use a metric crescent wrench also. Unless you are making adjustments to a muffler bearing.

          • Rodford Smith

            And prop wash to clean it all.

          • ElderAmbassador

            And some flight line to secure everything.

          • M.Mitchell Marmel

            And the left-handed Johnston rod. 😀

          • Donnie Buchanan

            What about the rebored plugs?

          • will_ford

            SKY hooks, WHEEL barrow seeds, block, board & rebar stretcher also.

          • mbrd

            skyhooks were made obsolete by helium bricks; they are really densely packed so they have a lot of helium in them, making them very light. they also are not combustible like the old hydrogen filled hindenblocks were.

          • M.Mitchell Marmel

            Not to mention the Dyna-Flex Super-Flowing Uni-Jet Turbo Vasculator which is syncromeshed with the Multicoil Hydro-Tension Duo-Vac Dynamometer.

            (It empties the ashtray.)

        • Mike Lashewitz

          5000 feet of flight line available real cheap and I have some extra waterline to boot.
          Anyone want blue bulbs for the Gyro?

      • GreyGeek77

        Or the left handed nails!

        • Mr Evilwrench

          Nails come in sets, you know. They put the heads on the North end for the North side of the house, etc. If you try to use South nails on a North wall, they won’t go in.

          • GreyGeek77


        • Austin

          But those need soo much more elbow grease

    • John Yossarian

      Pick me up some dehydrated water while you’re there.

      • mbrd

        i came up with dehydrated water when i was a boy scout, thirty nine years ago. everyone agreed it was a great idea to only have to pack the weight of the water necessary to rehydrate the product. i have a patent around here somewhere, and am ready to sue… oh d^mnit!.. i never renewed the patent.

    • LI02liberty

      Muffler bearings. Always have to check them after a snowy winter in the north east.

    • Evan

      I keep them in the garage, next to the chem light batteries and a box of grid squares.

      • M.Mitchell Marmel

        And the replacement smoke for your electrics. 😉

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      And the Cataclysmic converter.

      • Ambivalent Cynic

        Doesn’t that use nucular power?

        • mbrd

          cold fission

  • BattleshipGrey

    I hope the owner of the clipazine was let down gently so that he doesn’t give up on guns and the gun community altogether.

  • sean

    If it was really that big of a deal why is it that Marlin calls their “magazine” a 7rd “clip” right on their factory box?

    • phaedrus

      Savage as well.

      • Gary Kirk


    • Kefefs

      Same reason FN calls their 7.62mm battle rifle “Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle”. Manufacturers aren’t perfect, and a manufacturer incorrectly labeling something doesn’t suddenly make that label any less incorrect.

    • Gary Kirk


    • M40

      Because engineers are only tasked with designing, constructing, testing and refining a product. After that, clueless marketing dolts get to design the box.

  • Roy G Bunting

    But i thought clips load magazines and magazines load guns? It looked just like when the put a clip onto the internal magazine of the Garand…(joking)

    Imagine a new guy with a box or the right ammo on stripper clips and a magazine. They Google “loading with stripper clips” Sees some pics and videos and decides the clip must go into the magazine.

    It makes sense from a certain point of view.

    • AR-15 magazines aren’t large enough front-to-back for a clip and ammunition to fit in together. It would have required setting the bullets back into the cases, which adds another level of stupidity.

      I suppose it should also have been a clue that only one 10-round clip fits into a 30-round magazine.

      I’m 95% convinced that it was an intentional joke. (I’ll always allow for a greatly determined idiot)

      • M.Mitchell Marmel

        Along the lines of taking a shredded tire into a tire store and jokingly asking if they can put a plug in. This is generally good for a chuckle all around. 😉

  • vaquero357

    Moral of the story; when discussing clips and magazines, don’t forget the spoon!

    • jamezb

      Spoon… there IS NO spoon..

      It ran away with a fork years ago.

      • Gary Kirk

        The dish ran off with the spoon, and it had something to do with the demanded cow..

        • Gary Kirk

          Sorry, have a 3 year old…

          • mbrd

            i was never clear on who the dish and spoon were previously hooked up with… oooh, sorry, you have a three year old.

          • Gary Kirk

            She’s heard far worse..

        • M.Mitchell Marmel

          “SPOOOOOOON!” -The Tick

        • Donnie Buchanan

          Didn’t that cow jump over a moon clip?

        • M40

          A friend of mine ran off with a dish… because his wife was a cow. Does that count?

  • Bob

    Wait, what? I’m not sure what terminology has to do with putting a clip in a mag, but that’s funny.

  • Gary Kirk

    Who took the dremel to the mag to make it fit in the first place???

    • M40

      That there is called ‘gun-smithin’. You can bet he was dreaming about the ‘ping’ sound his rifle would make when it ejected those clips.

  • Anonymoose

    I almost did this once, because someone told me that you could strip clips right into a Pmag without an adapter. After lining the clip up with the Pmag, I decided not to risk it.

  • Fox Hunter

    Terms matter, men are men and women are women, men will never be women, no matter what they do and how many surgeries they have. Homosexuality will never be marriage or normal, no matter how much the libs want them to be and no matter what the govt or judges say or do.

    • Lowe0

      Wrong site. “Firearms, Not Politics” is why this is my firearms blog of choice. Go try your post at TTAG where it’d fit in better.

      • Verner

        I second that. Go take yor politicts elsewhere.

  • Yesterday I was trying to track down what was the last semi-auto issued by a nation as its front line infantry rifle– looks like the SKS in China in the late ’80s?– as a reference point for how ridiculous the WEAPON OF WAR!!1! hyperbole is, and discovered that some dingus had gone through the Wikipedia entry for “Service Rifle” and changed the operating system type for every entry of the M16 and AK-47– and only the M16 and AK-47– from “selective fire” to “assault rifle”.


    • De Facto

      That seems more like deliberate propaganda from an antigun group than an honest mistake.

      • There is an exactly zero-point-nothing percent chance that it was either honest or a mistake.

    • Kivaari

      The SKS is quite common as a service rifle around the globe. I love them, but no longer use them for serious uses. If we has a 10-shot 5.56mm stripper-clip feed modern variant, I’d like one. It can’t replace a good AR or AK style rifle. An off-set scope and using Canadian Thrermold strippers, aperture sight, maybe a rotary magazine, would give a person a formidable rifle/carbine.

      • From digging around, it looks like it’s still in wide usage as a guard/reserve/militia rifle, but no longer anyone’s front line service rifle; there’s no real reason for it to be, what with the global ubiquity of AK variants.

        Given California’s ongoing fetish for actively subverting the Bill Of Rights, I predict we’ll see a new Cali-compliant Mini-14 version with a 10 round fixed magazine (if their proposed complete ban on semi-autos fails) at some point, and that would be a pretty good approximation of what you’re after.

        • Kivaari

          Yes, a Scout Rifle Mini-14 using the existing stripper clips for M16s would be OK if the people can’t over throw the evil Kali-commies.
          Restoration of gun rights to all good Americans and Canadians would be a good thing. WE good people are not the problem.

        • Kivaari

          Being from the LEO community, we think of service guns as being what we get issued. During the Russian Revolution of late, there were troops from a Transportation Battalion still packing SKSs. Amazing since you’d think all of the Soviet Union would have had AKMs by 1989.

    • Tassiebush

      I’d wonder if the semi auto FAL might have been issued somewhere later?

      • It looks like both the UK and Malaysia took until the mid-’90s to fully replace them, but I’m not enough of a procurement geek to track down when they were last issued new. India probably took until near the turn of the century to phase out their knockoff versions as well– with a complete piece of junk!– but again, no idea when the last new ones were issued.

        • Tassiebush

          I’m trying to remember when we phased them out here in Australia. Would be the mid 90s too.

      • Ringolevio

        Ah, the FAL! Now there’s a “scary” rifle! Especially on that iconic “Be a man among men” Rhodesian Army recruiting poster! Why, that’s just so patently male caucasian centric! It’s obviously a weapon for oppressing women and people of color!

    • Matt Wilder

      They also really bunged up the definition of the “so called” assault rifle definition that the link leads to. I don’t agree that it has to use an intermediate cartridge, much as the entry says it does. Think or the AR-10, or the FAL. Those certainly don’t fire intermediate carriages. They even specifically call out the FAL as not being an assault rifle because it does use a full power round. So, what is it exactly then, a “super assault rifle”?! They also said that the Sturmgewehr translates to assault rifle; it most certainly does not. The closest correct translations is “storm rifle.” Oh, how asinine. The M-16, FN FAL, etc are main battle rifles. Last I checked, no military has ever called their main battlefield weapons assault rifles.

      • mbrd

        what? c’mon man, an intermediate cartridge is anything between a .22short and a 20mm. racked fast enough, a .45-70gummint lever action is an assault rifle – i know this because i looked it up on wikitakeyourchancespedia.

  • Kivaari

    Let’s hope it is a gag. WE DO have too many idiots buying and using guns. Read the book first. Ask before doing. After owning two gun stores, I can assure you there are people that ARE that stupid.

  • Kivaari

    Mannlicher alteration.

  • Kivaari

    Should we address “accidents” v. “negligent discharge”?

  • Al Wise

    And every Kalashnikov in 7.62×39 is an AK-47…miserably stated by every soldier and reporter and owner under 40. Of course to GIs in WWII, every German handgun was a Lugar, too.

    • Anomanom

      I think that’s more like a Xerox/Kleenex problem, i.e. where the name AK-47 became synonymous with all of the AK pattern rifles.

      • Ringolevio

        Yup. Xerox, Kleenex, Scotch tape, Dixie cup, Levi’s, Frigidaire, Victrola…It’s been going on for decades: the trade name becoming the generic for the product, regardless of manufacturer. Sometimes it’s so pervasive that the original generic term just disappears: e.g., what else would you call a Yo-Yo?

  • Darren Hruska

    MattV is having a good chuckle at this right now, I’m sure! XD

  • Terje

    Ahh yes, the ol’ clipper strip. ?

  • Anomanom

    Of course you don’t refer to a rattlesnake as a “worm”, a rattlesnake is a “danger noodle”

    • Evan

      Rattlesnakes aren’t dangerous unless you’re an idiot. I’ve caught dozens of them and never been bitten once.

      • ElderAmbassador

        I’ve shot several of them and never been bitten either.

        • Evan

          I’ve never shot one. I like rattlesnakes. When I was out in California I used to catch them, but then I always let them go. No point in killing the thing just to kill it.

          • ElderAmbassador

            Oh I don’t kill them just to kill them. I Always take them back to camp, etc., skin and clean and then cook them in a cast iron skillet in butter and eat them. And NO, they do NOT taste like chicken, they are Much better!

      • MichaelZWilliamson

        I’ve avoided them and had even less problems.

        • Evan

          But then you miss out on the fun of catching them!

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            They ARE tasty.

          • Evan

            Wouldn’t know, never eaten one. Not because I’m squeamish or anything, I just like rattlesnakes and don’t want to kill them.

  • DIR911911 .

    what did he do? use a hammer to get that in there? . . . let me guess , he saw it on youtube 🙂

  • lowell houser

    Let’s eat Grandma. Let’s eat, Grandma. See, comas save lives.

    • Evan

      Comas are actually quite detrimental to health. I think you meant “commas”.

      • M.Mitchell Marmel

        You Grandma Nazi, you! ;D

  • Mystick

    Yes…. gooooood. Let the hate flow through you…

  • Karl Vanhooten

    Nice ersatz swastika – er, was that the intent? WTF does Grammar Nazi have to do with shooting or gun ownership or anything? You Gen Xer’s and Millennials need to read some history and grow up.

  • Bal256

    I thought assault weapons were supposed to hole “a lot of clips” in them?

  • M.Mitchell Marmel

    What we’re all missing is that this is a prime opportunity for the gunstore owner to gently inform the customer of his error AND sell him a nice adapter so that he can load magazines from clips properly… ;D

  • Kelly Harbeson

    A prank but a pretty good one. If you look carefully you can see where the rear of the magazine has been ground to accommodate the stripper clip.

  • Joshua Madoc

    “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt”? What idiot enforces that in schools, colleges and, god forbid, workplaces?

    That’s like saying, “don’t tell anyone if you accidentally made a boiler lose a bolt, you’ll avoid being called an idiot, regardless of whether or not it explodes throughout the day.”

    No. Don’t do that. And certainly don’t shift the blame when things do go pear-shaped.

  • Dmember

    I think of a Clip as slang for Magazine. And more appropriate, not in the strict sense, but you know what I mean. I think of a Magazine as reading material…sounds just too stiff/wrong. The technical difference between a Magazine and a Clip doesn’t matter a hoot to me, because I know the difference. I just like the sound of ‘Clip’ oh so much better.

    • M40

      That term tells folks that you learned much of what you know about firearms from confused Hollywood screenwriters. “Clips” of ammunition were passed amongst soldiers in WWII movies. The writers then assumed the same terms were applicable in Vietnam flicks. They weren’t.
      If you need a ‘slang’ term, then “mags” sounds a lot less ridiculous.

  • cwolf

    You just don’t understand men.

    The solution is to get a bigger hammer and some WD-40.

    Or if that fails, an industrial sized band saw (an opportunity to buy a new tool) to relieve the magazine. Hmmm, maybe a 7″ cut-off tool?

    BTW, the best way to see if a revolver is loaded is to turn it towards you to see if there are bullets in the round thing. Then you use that trigger thingee to rotate the cylinder to check all 6 hole willies. Or that hammer whatchamicallit.

    Geez, don’t you know anything?

  • GreyGeek77

    People who are not familiar with firearms will not see any problem in that picture, but it will reveal their ignorance if they try to use that pic in a debate.

  • Robert Sweeney

    Another it-must-be-true-because-I-saw-it-on-the-Internet story. I guess the gun geniuses who wet their pants in adolescent delight every time they get to “humiliate” someone who uses the wrong terminology really believe this is a true story. Some tasty irony right there. But go ahead and demean those who aren’t as Terminologically Correct as you. Everybody loves a pedant.

    Seriously though, they don’t. They really, really don’t.

  • Mike Lashewitz

    How in the hell did he even get it in there? There are beginners and there are those that probably should not even begin.

  • fcarlmayo

    Just wondering if this individual might have been confused. Now I don’t mean that in a ‘wrong’ sort of way. Back in the day, and I am sure today also, in the military came in a bandoleer with TWO 10 rounds ‘stripper clips’ of rounds, AND a magazine loader that sat on the top of the magazine which allowed the ‘stripper clips’ to load the magazine with a downward push. I see the stripper clip jammed in what must be presumed to be a NON-military magazine. So, the guy was just missing one component (for military type mags) to actually use the stripper ‘clip’ to charge the magazine. Yes it is a matter of terminology after all, as long as you have all the parts and know how the work with each other.

  • Typical—–

  • CavScout

    No, it’s generally not very important. Civilians aren’t generally considered in an operational enviornment, and in the MIL or LE you mags won’t magically cease functioning or turn into a clip if you call it a clip.

    • NightRavenGSA

      Yes, but if it’s not back by end of tour, it turns right back into a pumpkin.

    • mbrd

      you are right, and right where it really matters. no one here would challenge that.

      the question/challenge/assertion of terms here is meant to address civilian legislation and jurisprudence as executed potentially on the basis of faulty terminology.

      nobody is going to criticize what fighters under fire call their reload.

      we just want them to have another reload…

  • throwedoff

    He needs to fill out an I.D. 10 T form for warranty purposes.

    • mbrd

      not only that, he needs to go fetch the conspicuously labeled ID10T, on foot, from across the broadest stretch of the base.

  • mbrd

    in arlington, virginia, where i grew up, the law making it illegal to discharge a firearm within the city/county, defines an air rifle or pneumatic pistol as a “firearm”… one of these days i will have to look it back up to see if airsoft guns or nerf cannons fit the description.

  • mbrd

    something else worth mentioning, “RPG”.

    according to an article in ‘small arms defense journal’ a couple/few years ago, the abbreviation did not contemporarily stand for, and had never previously stood for “rocket propelled grenade”. this makes sense when one considers that the weapon was originally soviet, the name russian, and the abbreviation cyrillic.

    if i remember the copy correctly, it stands for “ruchnoi prototankaviyi granatamyot”, which translates to “handheld anti-tank grenade launcher”. note that this means “RPG” refers to the tube, not the projectile. this is in the case of reusable tubes.

    again, if i recall correctly, in the single use munitions (similar to a LAW rocket), “RPG” stands for “reaktivnaya prototankivaya granata”, or “jet anti-tank grenade”. this refers to the entire device, not just the explosive part.

    we’ve all gotten so used to the incorrect translation/assumption being used by writers for both print and screen, by reporters, gamers, and everybody else, including many english speaking military personnel from many countries, that the mistake has become an english language brand.

    conversely, for what it is worth, i have been sort of paying attention for the last couple/few years, and could unscientifically swear that the relative incidence of this error is going down, at least in the american press. i have heard and read a number of journalists refer to “RPG rounds”, and “armed with an RPG and several rounds”, indicating a distinction between the pipe and the ammo.

    my guess? the spread of information culled from imbeds and maybe some folks who read the same article i read has had a positive effect on getting it right… of course i am likely being dangerously optimistic.

    an apple can always become an orange, and a cat a dog.

  • mbrd

    oh, and another thing, i have been looking for about a dozen years now, and am still looking for a shoulder thing that goes up, and nobody, not even travis, offers one.

    any links to the product would be appreciated.

  • Andrew Dubya

    That poor battlemag…

  • PanatomicX

    Isn’t flippantly using one of the most heinous political organizations in modern history in the name and symbol of a column on being specific about terminology more than just a little ironic? Sorry, but I don’t think it’s appropriate.