Clip Vs. Magazine

Clip vs. Magazine

In the realm of firearms, terminology can often be a maze, and few phrases create as much confusion as “clip” and “magazine.” Even seasoned gun enthusiasts sometimes mix up these terms. In this article, we’ll unravel the difference between a clip and a magazine, ensuring that you never find yourself in an awkward situation like I did when I first started out as a gun owner.

My Humbling Experience

I vividly remember the day I walked into a gun store to purchase an extra ammunition container for my Glock 17 Gen 4. My excitement was palpable, but little did I know that I was about to fumble the nomenclature. To my chagrin, I confidently asked for an “extra clip” instead of the correct term. The store owner corrected me with a kind smile, enlightening me about the distinction between the two components.

Magazine vs. Clip: A Common Mix-Up

Though frequently used interchangeably, “magazine” and “clip” denote distinct firearm elements related to loading mechanisms. Admittedly, even if you blunder these terms among fellow gun enthusiasts, they’ll likely understand your intention. Nevertheless, comprehending the difference can enhance your knowledge of firearms and their components.

Magazine: The Ammo Storage and Feeding Device

A magazine is a container, usually spring-loaded, designed for storing ammunition and subsequently feeding it into the firearm’s chamber. It comes in two primary variations: detachable and fixed. Detachable magazines can be easily removed from the firearm, while fixed magazines are an integral part of the firearm’s design.

For example, consider the loaded magazines in the image above. These magazines are utilized in firearms such as pistols and rifles, contributing to arms control efforts. They securely hold the bullets and ensure smooth feeding into the firing chamber, facilitating rapid and continuous firing. Certain firearms, like the M1 Garand, employ internal magazines, meaning the magazine is not detachable but serves the same function.

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Clip: A Tool for Ammunition Management

A clip, on the other hand, is a device used to hold multiple rounds of ammunition together in a single unit. It doesn’t possess a spring mechanism to feed bullets into the chamber. Instead, clips serve to expedite the loading process for magazines or firearms equipped with internal magazines.

In the image, you can see two types of clips: the en bloc clip and the stripper clip. The en bloc clip, found in the M1 Garand and similar firearms, is inserted as a unit into the firearm, placing the bullets into the internal magazine. The stripper clip, on the other hand, aids in reloading external magazines, making the process more efficient.

The Historical Context

The confusion between clips and magazines can be attributed to historical usage. In World War II, soldiers using firearms like the M1 Garand would insert clips to load ammunition into the internal magazine. Therefore, asking for an extra clip for such firearms wasn’t entirely incorrect.


Now equipped with the knowledge of the distinction between clips and magazines, you’re better prepared to navigate firearm discussions. Understanding these terms not only enhances your comprehension of firearms but also showcases your dedication to responsible gun ownership.

So, go ahead and embark on your shooting endeavors armed with this newfound clarity, and remember—knowing the difference between a clip and a magazine is a hallmark of a well-informed gun enthusiast.


1. What’s the main difference between a clip and a magazine?

A clip is a device used to hold multiple rounds of ammunition together in a single unit, aiding in loading magazines or firearms with internal magazines. A magazine, on the other hand, is a container that stores and feeds ammunition into the firing chamber of a firearm, available in both detachable and fixed variations.

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2. Can I use the terms “clip” and “magazine” interchangeably?

While the terms are sometimes used synonymously, it’s important to note their distinct functions. Using the correct term demonstrates your understanding of firearms. However, fellow gun enthusiasts, often understand the context and can grasp your meaning.

3. Are there specific firearms that use clips and others that use magazines?

Yes, firearms like the M1 Garand utilize clips for loading ammunition into internal magazines. On the other hand, most modern pistols and rifles employ detachable magazines that store and feed ammunition into the firing chamber.

4. How does historical usage contribute to the confusion between clips and magazines?

During World War II, firearms like the M1 Garand were prevalent, and soldiers inserted clips to load rounds into the internal magazine. This historical context has led to the interchangeability of the terms, especially among those familiar with that era.

5. Is it a big deal if I mix up the terms “clip” and “magazine”?

While it’s not a grave mistake, knowing the difference between these terms showcases your deeper understanding of firearms. Using the correct terminology can enhance communication and demonstrate your commitment to responsible gun ownership.

Q6. Are clips and magazines the same thing?

No, gun clips and magazines are not the same things. A magazine is an ammunition storage device that is designed to feed bullets into the chamber of a firearm. A clip typically just holds bullets together before insertion into a magazine. Magazines are inserted into guns, while clips feed bullets into mags.

Q7. Why is it called a mag and not a clip?

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“Magazine” or “mag” has become the preferred industry term to avoid confusing a firearms feed system containing ammunition ready for chamber loading with a simple clip that just holds cartridges together. Since the magazine is the component directly integrated as part of a firearm that loads cartridges, calling it a “mag” or “magazine” provides clarity versus similar-sounding clip terms.

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