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If you are new to the world of guns and ammo, then chances are you would have at one time or the other used the term clip or magazine interchangeably. Don’t sweat it though, that’s one part of learning gun culture and while some of the self-proclaimed “gun experts” think they know it all, you’d be surprised many of them are just ignorant jerks picking on newbs.

There is a slight difference between clips and magazines and we know some of the so-called “gun experts” would rather pick on newbs than enlighten them on the differences. So here at fullyloadedclip, we have decided to come up with this article to introduce you to all you need to know about magazines and clips as well as when and how to use them, so let’s shoot.



A clip goes into the magazine together with the ammo. The clip is that metallic device that is used to hold multiple rounds of ammo together as a single unit which is then inserted into the magazine of a gun. Clips make it easier and faster to load and reload a gun as opposed to the orthodox method of loading rounds one at a time. The clip is usually a stamped piece of metal and they come in varying shapes and sizes depending on the gun and ammo. Popular types of clips include the En-Bloc clip, Stripper clip, and Half-moon clip.

The rounds of ammo are held together by the clip before it is loaded into the magazine and then the magazine is loaded into the gun. It’s after this is done that a gun is considered loaded because the rounds can now be fed into the firing chamber. There are some guns, mostly rifles that have an in-built magazine. In this case, the rounds are arranged and held by the clip which is then fed into the in-built magazine. The Mauser K98 is a perfect example of such a rifles. The important point about clips now is that many modern guns do not use them.



A magazine on the other hand is the chamber that the clip and ammo are fed into. The magazine does the job of feeding the rounds into the firing chamber. Unlike clips, magazines do not have a plethora of designs. A magazine can either be in-built or removable. In-built magazines are designed as a part of the gun. They cannot be removed or detached. The removable magazines however can be removed and they are very common. The removable magazine can be taken out of the gun and when the clip is fed into it, it is slotted back in. Popular types of magazines include the box magazine and Tubular magazine.

The magazine and clip work together to feed live rounds into the firing chamber. Also, unlike clips, all guns use some sort of magazine except revolvers. Revolvers don’t use a magazine. The ammo is fed directly by hand into the gun. A clip is used to feed ammo into the magazine and a magazine is used to feed ammo into the firing chamber. So it’s totally understandable that you might switch both terms interchangeably. 


Telling the difference between a clip and a magazine should be easier now. However, if you need more clarification, you can tell the difference between a clip and a magazine in three ways:

  • The name.
  • The function.
  • The structure.

The name: Let’s examine both names or terms outside the firearm context. A clip is usually used to refer to a short video or a small part of a larger work. In the movie world, a clip can be used to refer to a short video or the trailer of a movie, you know that 2-minute video that is released before the movie. When it comes to publication and printing, a clip is also used to refer to magazine clippings meaning a part of the magazine.

The magazine on the other hand is something bigger or larger than a clip. In publication houses and printing press, a magazine is a full publication that is made up of clips. So in simpler terms, a clip is smaller than a magazine.

The Function. This refers to the role each plays in a gun. A clip is a device used to hold the ammo together. The ammo is what most people refer to as a bullet, maybe that will need some clarification too later on. Moving on, a clip is a metallic device that holds all the individual rounds together as a single unit thereby making the loading and reloading of ammo easier.

The Magazine is what you feed the clip into. It is a device or chamber designed to load rounds into the firing chamber. So in simpler terms, the clip arranges the ammo and keeps it compact. Then the clip is slotted into the magazine which can be either removable or not.

The structure. When you place a clip and a magazine side by side without any ammo, the first thing you will notice is that the clip is smaller than the magazine and can also be fitted into the magazine. Also, most clips are made of metal while magazines though can also be made from metal are sometimes made from hard plastic. Some magazines are even made to be see-through so the user can see and know the number of rounds left in the magazine.


Easy, you use the term “clip” when referring to the smaller device that holds the ammo together and you use the term “magazine” when referring to the device that feeds the ammo into the firing chamber. It’s that simple. Just remember the clip is the small one and the magazine is the big one and you should be good to go.

I believe by now you should be able to tell the difference between both devices so when next to an all-knowing gun expert tries to give you a hard time on the terms, you can ask him or her to take a chill pill.

Rell is a network engineer with over 10 years of experience in IT management and network optimization. He has a passion for firearms and previously worked with the US military in California, where he gained knowledge and experience in the gun world. Rell is a firearm instructor and range safety officer who runs a website for gun enthusiasts, where he provides information on gun culture, safety, and maintenance.

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