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So what is the difference between a magazine and a clip?

It's reasonably straightforward when you look at these definitions:

A magazine is designed as a device that holds ammo to be fed into the chamber of a firearm.

A clip is designed as a device to hold ammo together to be ready to load into a magazine or cylinder of a firearm.

So that's itA magazine feeds rounds into the chamber, and a clip feeds rounds into a magazine.  It's pretty easy to see why these terms could get mixed up so easily.  Now that you know the difference between the two items let's take a look at different types of magazines and clips so you can better understand what these definitions actually mean.

Types of Magazines

There are many different types of magazines for firearms that work in various ways.  Some are internal, such as those on bolt-action rifles, and some are detachable for quick reloading.  Some even feed rounds from a tube!  Here's a look at some of the most popular types of magazines :

  • Box magazine
  • detachable box magazine
  • "STANAG" Magazines
  • Tubular Magazine

The detachable box magazine is designed to remain loaded and apart from the firearm until it is needed for use.  These are extremely common today and are found on conventional rifles such as the AR-15, Ruger 10/22, AK platforms, and most modern semi-automatic rifles.  They are easy to carry and transport and make reloading the gun much quicker than the internal box magazine.

Remington Detachable

Types of Clips

Clips, for the most part, are an optional item to be used in aid of loading firearm magazines.  They make reloading magazines quicker and easier.  Here are some of the most common types of clips you will see today:

  • stripper clips
  • En Bloc Clip
  • Half Moon/Moon Clips

It is by far the most popular type of clip and is typically used for loading internal box magazines.  As the name may imply, a stripper clip holds ammunition on a strip of metal ready to be loaded. 

To use a stripper clip, you position it on top of the magazine, whether on a bolt-action rifle or semi-automatic and push all of the rounds down into the magazine with one motion thereby "stripping" them off the clip.

Stripper clips can also be used for loading detachable box magazines.  The clip works in the same way as with internal magazines - place the clip on top of the box magazine and press all the rounds down into the magazine with a swift motion.

American Eagle Clips


So now you know the primary differences between magazines and clips.  You know that magazines load rounds into a chamber of a firearm and that clips are used to aid in loading magazines.  You know the different types of each and how they can be used together. 

While there are several more variations of both, this information will aid you moving forward - and the next time someone else misuses the terms you'll be able to help them understand the difference between the two.