difference between a clip and a magazine

The Difference Between a Clip and a Magazine


When it comes to firearms, there are certain terms that are often used interchangeably but actually refer to different things. Two of these terms are “clip” and “magazine”. Although they serve similar purposes, they are not the same thing. Knowing the difference between them is important, especially for gun enthusiasts and those who want to avoid misusing the terms.

What Is a Clip?

A clip is a device used to hold ammunition together in a single unit for loading into a firearm. Clips are usually made of metal and are used in firearms that were designed to use them, such as bolt-action rifles and some military rifles. Clips can be reusable, like a stripper clip, or disposable, like a en bloc clip. They can hold anywhere from 5 to 30 rounds depending on the firearm.

What Is a Magazine?

A magazine is a container that holds cartridges and feeds them into the firearm’s chamber. Magazines can be removable or integral, meaning they are built into the firearm. They are typically made of metal or polymer and have a spring inside that pushes the cartridges up into the feeding position. Magazines can hold anywhere from 5 to 100 rounds depending on the firearm.

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The Main Differences Between Clips and Magazines

The most notable difference between clips and magazines is how they are used. Clips are used to quickly load cartridges into the firearm’s internal magazine from the top, while magazines are inserted into the firearm and are held in place until they are removed. Clips are typically made of metal, while magazines are often made of polymer or a combination of metal and polymer. Additionally, magazines tend to be more versatile, holding more rounds and being used in a wider variety of firearms than clips.


While the terms clip and magazine may be used interchangeably by many, they are not the same thing. Clips are typically used in bolt-action rifles and some military rifles, while magazines are used in a wider variety of firearms. Understanding the difference between these two terms can help gun enthusiasts and those unfamiliar with firearms to understand the basics of how they work.

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Table difference between a clip and a magazine

Difference between a clip and a magazine

Parameter Clip Magazine
Definition A metal device designed to hold cartridges together as a single unit. A container for ammunition which feeds cartridges into a firearm.
Use Typically used to load individual cartridges into a firearm. Used to feed cartridges into a firearm during rapid fire.
Design Designed to hold 5-10 cartridges only. Can hold a large number of cartridges, up to 50 or more.
Types Stripper clip, en bloc clip, L-shaped clip, etc. Box magazine, tubular magazine, drum magazine, etc.
Compatibility Only compatible with firearms that are designed to use clips. Compatible with firearms that use detachable magazines.