Can you recognize and differentiate among the magazines and clips on the right? What is the difference between a Stripper Clip and an En-Bloc Clip? Are Clips, Magazines, or both under spring pressure? Are Clips inserted directly into the firearm or into a Magazine? Is there such a thing as a fixed, non-detachable Magazine for a pistol? What is a Bullet Button? Do these things really matter and why? This article will discuss these subjects and help identify the above four pictures. I have found that many students innocently and regularly call a “magazine” a “clip” and vice versa at the range. Most of those that do so are long-gun shooters or those inexperienced with handguns. Does it really matter? It is not such a big deal, no need to call the grammar police, and probably will not have harmful affects, but we should understand the different functions and learn the terminology primarily for safety reasons, as well as to be accurate and not show our ignorance nor fuel the view by a few that gun owners are a bunch of illiterates. Some might even be concerned about negatively affecting their personal firearms reputation or public perception. Why not understand and use precise, technical firearms terminology, if we are to be involved in the shooting sports. We should use the correct, common terminology when referring to parts, equipment, and systems of a firearm, so communications can be effective and safety maintained.
So, generally a “Magazine” is a container of rounds or cartridges that is used to feed the weapon itself, whereas a“Clip” is used to feed the Magazine. Clips make loading of Magazines much easier and faster, and in some cases, a Clip is required in order for the Magazine to work, e.g. M1 Garand Rifle. A key part of the understanding is to recognize that a Magazine holds cartridges under spring pressure in preparation for feeding into the handgun’s chamber. Examples include box, tubular, drum and rotary magazines. Some are fixed to the firearm while others are removable.
A cartridge “Clip” has no spring and does not feed shells directly into the chamber. Rather, Clips hold cartridges in the correct sequence for “charging” a specific firearm’s Magazine. Stripper Clips (on far left in above picture) allow rounds to be “stripped” into the magazine. Other types are fed along with the shells into the magazine. The M1 Garand Rifle classically operates this way with an En-Bloc Clip (on far right in above picture.) Once all rounds have been fired, the “Clip” is ejected or otherwise released from the firearm.
Briefly, the “Clip” loads the (internal) “Magazine” of a rifle or long gun and the (external) “Magazine” loads the firearm (e.g. pistol) itself. The key difference between Clips and Magazines is the presence of a feed mechanism in a Magazine (usually a spring-loaded Follower), which a clip does not have. There is a lot of disagreement about calling a detachable Magazine a Clip.
A Clip is a metal device that is used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit and that entire unit orClip is inserted into the Magazine of a firearm. This speeds up the process of loading the firearm as several rounds can be loaded at once, rather than one round being loaded at a time. Several different types of Clips exist, most of which are made of inexpensive formed metal parts that are designed to be disposable, but they are often re-used.
So a “Clip” is a bent piece of brass or steel, a metal container, that holds rounds to speed load usually a military rifle. For the ’03 Springfield, 30-06 rounds came in 5 round “Stripper Clips” that perched up above the open bolt so that 5 rounds could be quickly pushed down into the receiver of the Springfield. For the M-1 Garand, 30-06 rounds were gripped by a steel Clip and soldiers used them in bandoleers holding a number of Clips of ammo. The Garand is loaded by shoving a full Clip of ammo down into the receiver. The Garand fires the eight rounds and ejects the empty Clip with the last shot, clearing the receiver to accept another loaded Clip of 8 rounds. The Germans and the French also packaged their cartridges in Stripper Clips to speed load their bolt action rifles in WW I & WW II. So, a Clip does NOT have an internal spring forcing the rounds up. While a Magazine HAS an internal spring.
A Magazine (also called a “Mag” or incorrectly a Clip, especially when removable) is a spring-loaded ammunition storage AND feeding device inserted in or attached to a firearm. Magazines may be integral to the firearm (fixed) orremovable (detachable). A “Detachable Magazine” is any ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from the firearm with neither disassembly of the firearm action nor use of a tool being required. Detachable Box Magazine-fed rifles include AK-47s, AR-15s, Mini-14s and Mini-30s for examples.
While some Magazines are removable, and depending on the design of the gun, some can have a fixed Magazine. Most bolt actions, shotguns, and Garands have fixed Magazines. The SKS rifle is generally fed by Stripper Clips into a fixed magazine, though some conversions are available to convert them to use detachable AK-47 magazines.
The standard AR-15 Rifle receiver shown has a “Bullet Button” device installed that allows for a “magazine” to be removed from the rifle with the use of a tool (or by Top Load) to release the magazine lock, but not with your fingers. In essence, “Top Load” means the shooter pulls the rear takedown pin, hinges the upper receiver on the front pivot pin, and then loads the exposed magazine from the inside, because it is a fixed mag with a fixed base plate on the lower receiver. This is not a very convenient way to load a rifle, so some manufacturers offer mag locks called Bullet Buttons. They either replace or cover the mag release button so that the shooter must push an inset pin with a tool to activate the magazine release. Incidentally, a bullet is a tool.
The configuration as a fixed-magazine rifle is made by combining an AR-15 upper receiver with an AR-15 lower receiver, with a non-detachable FIXED magazine. Since it requires a tool every time, it does not meet the definition of a “detachable magazine.” I discovered that the German Broomhandle Mauser C96 pistol in 9mm (used in WWI, WWII, Korean & Vietnam Wars) uses Stripper Clips to load a FIXED Box Magazine in front of the trigger assembly.
With “Stripper Clips” shown above, the rounds are simply “stripped” off of the clip and into the gun’s magazine. In the case of the “En-Bloc”Clip (pictured above & below) used by the M1 Garand, for example, you simply place the “Clip” into the fixed “Magazine” and the Clip stays in the Mag as the weapon fires.
Some European rifles use the En-Bloc Clip to load, like the French Berthier 1890 and the Italian M1870 Vetterli, as does the American M1 Garand and Pedersen T1E3. With the En-Bloc design, both the cartridges and the Clip are inserted as a unit into a fixed Magazine within the rifle. The Clip is usually ejected upon firing or chambering the last round. Probably, the misuse of the term “Clip” came about over the years when European military troops and American military troops (who mostly used the M1 Garand .30 caliber) started using other firearms and continued to used the term “Clip” when referring to what was actually a Magazine. The M1 Clip holds 8 rounds and you can hear a clank as the spent lip is ejected by the built-in rifle spring. Again, a “magazine” has its own internal spring. Whatever the reason for the incorrect use of the term, it exists and it is often misused by many new shooters.
A Stripper Clip or charger clip is really a speedloader that holds several cartridges (usually between 3 to 10 rounds) together in a single unit for easier loading of a gun’s magazine. A stripper clip is used only for loading the magazine and is not necessary for the firearm to function. It is called a “Stripper” Clip because, after the rifle bolt is opened and the Stripper Clip is placed in position (by placing it in a slot on either the receiver or bolt), the shooter presses on the cartridges from above, sliding them down and off the Clip, thus “stripping” them off the Clip and into the magazine.After the magazine is loaded, the Stripper Clip is removed and set aside for reloading again.
Hope this helps clarify some common terminology and differences among ammo storage and feeding devices. As far as the pictures at the beginning, they are as shown left to right are: (1) a Stripper Clip, (2) a Rifle Magazine, (3) a Pistol Magazine, and (4) an En-Bloc Clip.
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