gun magazine vs clip difference

Gun Magazine Vs Clip Difference

Gun magazine vs clips: we’ve all heard it in action movies, someone refers to a gun magazine as a clip. There’s actually a difference between the two.

Magazines and clips both hold ammunition for a gun. The main gun magazine vs clip difference is: the magazine is the device that feeds the ammunition into the firearm’s chamber, a clip is what’s used to load the ammunition into the magazine.

If you’re going to own and use firearms for home defense (or any reason), it’s important to know the difference. But is one better than the other? The short answer is no because they offer two completely different functions.

gun magazine vs clip

Gun Magazines: What are they and how are they used?

A gun magazine is essentially a storage device for ammunition. Once the magazine has been loaded, the action on the firearm is then pulled back, feeding the first round into the chamber of the weapon.

A magazine is spring loaded and another round is automatically fed into the chamber as soon as the previous round has been fired. The majority of magazines for modern day weapons are detachable and can be removed from the weapon, but fixed or internal magazines do also exist.

There are different types of magazines for modern handguns and rifles. Typically external magazines are designed to be single stack or double-stack. Single stacks refers to the rounds being stacked directly on top of each other, forming a single line. In a double-stacked magazine, the rounds are stacked in an alternating, or zigzag, pattern. These magazines usually hold a higher number of rounds.

The number of rounds a magazine holds varies. While it has been argued that anything more than 10-15 rounds is considered high-capacity, for modern sporting rifles, the standard capacity for a magazine is 30 rounds.

For a typical 9mm handgun, a magazine will hold anywhere from 6 to 18 rounds, depending on the make, model and action type of the gun.

Drum Magazine

You may have also heard of a drum magazine. This type of high-capacity magazine holds anywhere between 50 and 100 rounds. These types of magazines are popularly used with the military.

Gun Clip: What is it?

The terms “clip” and “magazine” are often used interchangeably, but this is inaccurate.

  • A clip is actually an accessory item, usually made of steel stamping, that assists with loading the ammunition into the magazine.
  • The use of a clip is a faster way to load multiple rounds at a time instead of just one at a time.
  • A clip does not have a spring and is not designed to feed rounds into the chamber.
  • Most modern firearms don’t accommodate clips, but there are some rifles with detachable magazines that can be loaded using a clip.

There are also different types of clips:

1. Stripper Clip

The stripper is the most common type of gun clip. What’s known as a stripper clip is used for loading ammunition into the internal magazine of a firearm.

On average, internal magazines that are clip-fed usually hold around 5 rounds in most bolt-action rifles and around 10 rounds in semi-automatic rifles.

It is used by inserting the entire clip into the firearm and pushing it into position. You will then press the rounds down into the firearm and the clip can be “stripped” away and removed from the weapon.

While this can also be used with a detachable magazine, it is a rarely used method.

2. En Bloc Clip

An alternative type of clip is called an en bloc clip. This is a type of clip that is fully inserted into the firearm and the clip is expelled from the weapon once all of the rounds have been spent.

These types of clips were most popular in rifles used in the World War II era. 

3. Moon and Half Moon Clip

There is also a special clip used for a revolver.

A “moon clip” is a round shaped clip that holds enough ammunition for a revolver, which is usually 6 rounds. This allows you to simply insert all of the rounds into the revolver’s cylinder at once, rather than inserting individual rounds.

Alternatively, the half moon clip holds, as the name suggests, 3 rounds.

Gun Magazine vs Clip Difference: What do I need to consider?

The bottom line is that every firearm will have a magazine of some type, whether it be internal or detachable.

Choosing a single stack or double-stacked magazine for a handgun is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer to only carry a few rounds at a time, but for personal defense and/or concealed carry purposes, you may choose to carry a magazine with a higher capacity.

You may also consider higher capacity magazines for a day at the range for target practice because it will cut down on the time you spend reloading. Nothing is more annoying than getting into a rhythm shooting at your target and suddenly you’re out of ammunition.

Almost all rifle magazines are designed to be double-stacked because they hold a much higher number of rounds.

Is a Gun clip necessary?

Definitely not. You can certainly choose to load your magazine, whatever the type, one round at a time.

While a clip is faster, most modern day firearms will not accommodate a clip and most clips are only compatible with rifles or revolvers. If you have a semi-automatic handgun, you will likely find yourself loading the rounds one at a time.


Can a Gun Magazine Be Called a Clip?

A gun magazine should not be referred to as a clip; they are distinct components. A magazine is a spring-loaded container for ammunition that feeds the rounds into the firearm’s chamber, whereas a clip is a device for holding a group of rounds together as a unit, ready for insertion into the magazine or cylinder of a firearm.

Is Magazine Better Than a Clip?

Magazines offer a more practical and efficient method for storing and feeding ammunition into the firearm’s chamber. They utilize a spring mechanism to automatically feed the rounds, ensuring a rapid and reliable ammunition supply, while clips lack this feature, making them less efficient.

What is a Clip on a Gun?

A clip is a device that holds multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit for easier and faster loading into the magazine or cylinder of a firearm. Clips are often associated with older or military firearms and are not equipped with a feeding spring mechanism like magazines.

Why Are Magazines Used Instead of Clips?

Magazines are preferred over clips due to their efficiency and capacity. The built-in spring mechanism in magazines ensures a consistent and rapid feed of ammunition into the firearm’s chamber. Magazines also often have a higher capacity and are more durable and versatile compared to clips.

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