Clip vs Magazine

I continue to have people ask what the difference is between a clip and a magazine. I also witnessed one of the reporters on Fox News repeatedly say, “the gunman had multiple clips.” I once had a shooting instructor say, “A clip goes in your hair. A magazine goes in a gun.” Does that help anyone at all?

Over the years, it has become a pet peeve of mine & why I feel we need to continue to educate. It is the use of the term “clip” used when it should be “magazine.”

I have my ideas about why people incorrectly use the words “clip” and “magazine.” It may be that they were taught wrong as these children were. Maybe they think “clip” sounds cool. It could be that “clip” is a shorter word than a magazine. If so, perhaps they could say “mag.” Pretty sure they hear it in movies every day since it was all over the news yesterday. Many people, including instructors, are using the terms incorrectly. In my opinion, there is simply no excuse. Especially when you are teaching a child or a new shooter. Please don’t be lazy. Say the correct term, and in your handouts, print the correct term.

So, what is the difference between a “clip” and a “magazine”?

Difference between a clip and magazine

A clip is used to feed a magazine. A magazine is used to hold rounds.

A clip is a strip or block that rounds or cartridges attach to. The strip or block is then used to feed or fill a magazine. Sometimes you can distinguish a clip attached to a gun, such as the famous clip-fed M1 rifle, by the exposed ammunition cycling into the gun. The clip is the strip of ammunition exposed from the gun, feeding the magazine inside the gun.

Often someone shoots a semi-automatic pistol in a movie, and you hear them say, “I’m out of ammunition. Hand me another clip.” They mean to say magazine.

A magazine is a device that holds rounds and feeds them into the firearm’s chamber. In a semi-automatic pistol, you insert the magazine in the bottom of the gun, and it locks into place. It holds the ammunition until it is cycled into the chamber. They have a spring mechanism that pushes the ammo into the chamber as the rounds are cycled. Magazines can be box, tubular or drum, but they can also be internal, inside the gun, such as with a shotgun or SKS.

If the idea is still unclear, here is a video to help clear things up.

Teach them well! 

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Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast. 

Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.

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Mia Anstine
MAC Outdoors LLC
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13 Replies to “Clip vs Magazine”

  1. I am sure I would drive you insanely bezerk…I call it a magazine clip, but I am pretty sure they are widely “accepted” synonymous in most areas. I also call a carbonated beverage, ANY flavor, a coke and a T.V. remote a “flicker”. I don’t ask to “turn off” a light, I shut a light. Most things that I can’t readily remember the name of are classified as a “thing-a-ma-jig” or a “do-hickey”. Life is much less stressful with less worry about a “Tomato or a Tomatoe”…or if it really is a a vegetable or actually a fruit. Live simple, don’t sweat the small stuff. ~Nancy Jo

  2. Great job, I too find it frustrating when the wrong term is used. I try to correct individuals repeatedly not to prove anything other than for them not to pass misinformation on to others which only trends to repeat misinformation.

  3. No, I know the difference, just have caught myself calling a Mag, a Clip… Now my wife going to put a Clip in my hair…

  4. This is why I have no issue with them banning “high-capacity ammo clips”, as the ignorant media says… as long as you leave my magazines alone, you can do whatever you want with the clips! 😉

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