Terminology: Magazines and Clips

by
posted on October 12, 2010
20101012141616-pixblog310_ms.jpg

Magazines and clips are not the same thing. They're different. But there is probably no more common misuse of terms in the handgun world than calling a magazine a clip. A magazine is (usually) a sheet steel box that holds cartridges in position for feeding in the magazine well of an autoloading pistol. I say “usually...sheet steel” because we are seeing polymer magazines more frequently these days.

A magazine is actually a part of the gun, in the sense that it has a follower and a spring. The first round to be loaded into the magazine rests against the follower and the next one rests against the first, etc. in order to form a column of cartridges. A magazine spring under the follower provides constant upward pressure on the column of cartridges. Loaded into a pistol, the magazine keeps the top cartridge in a position that will ensure proper feeding into the chamber when the pistol's slide cycles.

For some unknown reason, it has become popular to call magazines clips, which they aren't. Clips are also often made of sheet metal and they do hold cartridges. However, clips are not directly involved in feeding as part of the gun's operating cycle. The most common form of clip known to 21st Century handgunners is the half- or full-moon clip used to load and headspace automatic pistols cartridges in revolvers.

Usually, this is the venerable .45 ACP round. There is also a device called the stripper clip, which holds a column of cartridges by their rims. The shooter indexes the stripper clip into the top of a pistol's magazine well, then strips them off against the pressure of a magazine spring and follower mounted in the gun. A loading convenience, the pistol stripper clip is often used for the Mauser C96 pistol in America. Similar devices were once used on a variety of military rifles.

Clips are a different breed of cat than the magazine, although they are both concerned with ammunition and firearms.

Latest

Review Heritage Roscoe
Review Heritage Roscoe

Review: Heritage Mfg. Roscoe

Heritage Mfg. is known for its line of Old West-style firearms, but with its new Roscoe revolver, based on Taurus' Model 85, the brand steps into the world of old-school detective work.

New For 2024: Hi-Point Firearms YC380

Hi-Point Firearms is expanding its next-generation "YEET Cannon" line of firearms with YC380 chambered for .380 ACP.

Preview: Winchester Gun Cabinet 18

Steel cabinets like the Winchester Safes GC18 bridge the gap between old wooden gun cabinets that take only seconds for a motivated thief to break into and huge safes that require heavy equipment to move, while also being relatively economical.

The Armed Citizen® July 19, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Gun Of The Week: Military Armament Corp. MAC 2 Tactical Wood

Watch American Rifleman editors on the range to learn about the MAC 2 Tactical Wood, a semi-automatic shotgun from Military Armament Corporation.

The Flintlock Pocket Pistol: Georgian England's Micro-Compact

The concept of concealed carry is not a modern phenomenon, as evidenced by these flintlock "turn-off" pocket pistols, which were hugely popular at the end of the 18th century.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.