Understanding the Differences Between Gun Clips and Gun Magazines

gun clips and magazines

There is often confusion surrounding the difference between gun clips and gun magazines, and while they are related, it’s important to know that they are not the same. The terms are used often in firearm communities, so if you want to sound knowledgeable on the subject, you should review the difference.

In today’s firearm culture, the terms are used almost interchangeably, even though it’s technically incorrect. Let’s review the meanings of these terms and how they relate to firearms to avoid any confusion.

What Is a Gun Clip?

A clip stores ammunition in groups, making it easy to load a magazine. It stores rounds in units anywhere from eight to fifteen bullets, so they are ready to insert into a magazine or cylinder of a firearm. Most hold twelve, but you can also purchase extended clips that hold twenty or twenty-five.

It makes loading and reloading faster and often allows for more than one round to be loaded at once. While they are made of inexpensive materials and are disposable, you can reuse them, and many people often do.

There are several types of clips including stripper clips, en blocs, and moon or half-moon clips. A stripper clip, also called a charger or charger clip, strips the cartridges off of the clip and into the magazine. It is used to load a magazine but you don’t have to have one for your firearm to work.

In an en bloc clip, both the cartridges and the clip are inserted into a fixed magazine in the rifle. In this case, it is essential to the operation of the firearm that you use a clip. Otherwise, there is nothing to feed the ammunition into the magazine.

Moon and half-moon clips are cylindrical pieces of metal designed to fit into revolvers. Unlike other types of clips, the moon and half-moon clips stay in place during firing and are used to remove the empty cartridge cases.

What Is a Gun Magazine?

A gun magazine is an ammunition storage device that is either fixed or detachable. They feed ammunition into repeating firearms. They move cartridges into position where they are loaded into the chamber for firing. While it is inaccurate, some detachable magazines are often referred to as clips. It is so incredibly common that it can be confusing.

While a magazine can feed ammunition into the chamber without a clip, a clip cannot feed ammunition without first being inserted into a magazine. You don’t need a clip to load a magazine because you can load it easily by hand. In fact, clips are relatively uncommon because most modern firearms don’t use them.

When to Use a Clip

You can use a clip to load a fixed magazine, but honestly, if you’re using modern firearms, you don’t need one. Clips are used for faster loading and reloading, which means they’re used mostly for fixed magazines but can also be used to load detachable magazines in rapid fire situations.

When to Use a Magazine

Most modern firearms use detachable magazines. You can load these magazines by hand or use a clip. While not all guns use clips, all guns, with the exception of revolvers, have magazines. Unless you’re firing a revolver, you will use a magazine.

Even if a firearm doesn’t have a detachable magazine, it has a fixed (or internal) magazine that you can’t remove, in which case you would use a clip.

Hopefully, now you understand a little bit more about the difference between a clip and a magazine. A clip loads a magazine, while a magazine feeds the ammunition into the chamber for firing.

Many online gun stores like Grab a Gun sell both clips and magazines. They offer affordable prices and online layaway. Now that you’re an expert on the differences between magazines and clips, check out this gun store online for all of your firearm needs.

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Loading, Unloading, and Cleaning Gun Magazines

Gun maintenance is vital to ensuring your weapons keep working properly. An area that can often get overlooked is the firearm magazine. Where you store your ammunition on your weapon needs to be in stellar working order, just like the rest of the firearm. Keeping gun magazines clean is essential to this. Whether you are cleaning AK-47 magazines, handgun magazines, or pistol magazines, you will want to remember the following:

  • Always wear safety glasses

This might seem excessive, but with many working parts (some of which are spring loaded) keeping your eyes protected is a good idea.

  • Follow a routine to achieve perfection

I’m not saying your weapon will be perfect, but routine cleaning is how you keep your weapon firing properly. Oftentimes this includes brushing the magazine and its components with a brush and wiping away the residue. There is nothing overly fancy about it, but this scheduled cleaning can make a difference.

  • Simple tools make a difference

Your best ally in this fight is a good brush. Find one that works in the magazines you have. Brushes that are designed for rifle magazines are not as efficient in shotgun magazines, so diversify your stock and keep several on hand.

  • All magazines are not created equal

Every magazine is different. Not only will it require a different brush at times, but a different method of how you clean them. Sometimes you must disassemble the magazine to effectively clean all of the areas of the magazine. The key to keep in mind as you brush is clean and dry. Wet, oily areas will attract more debris.

Now that your magazine has been properly cleaned, let’s take a look at how to load and unload it. As with all weapons, double-check that you have the right caliber rounds before continuing on to load your weapon. Take extra care to not only check your ammo box, but also each round to ensure that you are loading the appropriate bullets in your firearm. Once you are 100% positive, you can proceed with loading your magazine. To do so, follow these basic steps:

  • Keep your weapon aimed in a safe direction.
  • Take a firm grip on your weapon WITHOUT placing your finger on the trigger. Release and remove the magazine.
  • Once you have removed the magazine, verify that there are no rounds still in the chamber. If your weapon is free of all ammo, set it aside pointed in a safe direction. If there are any rounds remaining, safely remove them and set aside.
  • With the magazine held in your non-dominant hand, position it away from you and slowing insert bullets into the magazine. Press firmly enough to push the spring down and load the round. Continue until the magazine is full.
  • Pick up the firearm again and insert the magazine (rounds pointing forward), until you hear it click into place.
  • To load a round, disengage the safety and slide lock to allow the firearm to engage the top round into the chamber.
  • You weapon is ready to be fired in a safe direction.

To unload your magazine, follow these basic procedures:

  • As always, point your weapon in a safe direction.
  • Once it is pointed in a safe direction, release the magazine.
  • Now that the magazine is out, double-check to make sure there are not any rounds in the chamber of you weapon.
  • After you are sure that your firearm is free of ammo, set it aside, being sure it is pointed in a safe direction.
  • You can now turn your attention to the magazine. Beginning with the top round, gently press down on the bullet and slide it out of the magazine. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to clear your magazine of any remaining rounds.
  • Store the magazine and weapon in their proper place and return your remaining ammunition.

Be safe when loading and unloading your weapon. Also, keep in mind that a clean magazine and magazine accessories will go a long way towards getting a return on your invested time and money as well as helping keep you safe while shooting.


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