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 put it to us as “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.”

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I have my ideas as to why people use the words “clip” and “magazine” incorrectly. 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 magazine? If so, perhaps they could just say “mag.” Pretty sure they hear it in movies every day since it was all over the news yesterday. Regardless, lots of 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 that is attached to a gun such as the famous clip-fed M1 rifle by the exposed ammunition that is cycling into the gun. The clip is the strip of ammunition exposed from the gun, but it is feeding the magazine which is inside the gun.

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

A magazine is a device that holds rounds and feeds them into the chamber of the firearm. 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 up 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 not clear for you, here is a video to help clear things up.

Teach them well!

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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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