Clip vs. Magazine

Clip vs. Magazine

There still seems to be some confusion over the nomenclature of “CLIP” vs. “MAGAZINE”, and current dictionaries don’t seem to help the matter much. Consulting: Merriam-Webster, 2002 online edition Clip (noun) 2: a device to hold cartridges for charging the magazines of some rifles; also: a magazine from which ammunition is fed into the chamber of a firearm.

I personally feel only the first part of the definition sentence is correct, and the 2nd part refers to “slang” usage. Correct nomenclature usage could save your keister. If you were out of ammo during a firefight while equipped with an M-16, and yelled “Toss me an ammo clip!” you might get exactly what you asked for; a 10-round clip of 5.56mm ammo from a buddy’s bandoleer without the magazine charging adapter, instead of what you *really* needed; an already loaded magazine! The extra time required to
load the magazine from the clip just might cost you and your fellow Marines dearly.

Older service rifles, such as the 03-A3 and M-1 Garand, have magazines that are a permanent part of the rifle’s receiver, and are loaded using a “clip”. The current M-16 service rifles are loaded using a detachable magazine, which may be loaded either by inserting a single cartridge at a time, or by using a “clip” and a magazine charging adapter.

Perhaps the following definitions would be more clearly understandable and useful when applied to service rifles:
“CLIPS” – hold cartridges together in a compact unit, and are used for rapid loading of magazines. “MAGAZINES” – hold cartridges together in a compact unit, are nearly fully enclosed, and have a spring-loaded cartridge follower that positions the cartridges for loading into the chamber of the rifle.

But I’ve only been shooting for around 40 years, so some of the real “Old Corps” readers might have some better definitions.

It’s only the rounds that hit the targets which count.
The rounds that hit the targets quickly save lives.

Great newsletters, keep ’em coming!

Semper Fi,

Steve “Wookie” Wilke, SGT, USMCIR (29MAR74-30MAR80) MOS 6657 (Airborne
Weapons System Specialist, F-4J/S)

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • Jim Wilkerson/Yonadi Tali/Two Bears .

    Roger that. Semper Fi

  • 1st Lt Edward L Dodd, USMC (forever)

    I went into the Corps in 1954 and was told a clip for the M-1 was disposable, but a magazine for the BAR, .45 cal M1911 were not disposable, and you better damn well come back with what you went out with, magazines, not ammo.

  • Dennis Ray Smith

    When I went through boot camp we were taught that a clip had no moving parts and a magazine did. Very simple. This was in 1957.

  • F. Morales, Cpl. 1629xxx

    Very true, let’s keep it simple!

  • Sgt MARKO

    I got to Vietnam during the TET offensive and was sent up to Phubai. They issued me an M16 with a bandalero of clips, and “ONE” magazine. They told me everything was shipped up to Hue Then I was put in a 6X6 for a convoy through Hue to Quang Tri. The explanation that a magazine has a spring, and a clip does not, is correct.

Leave a comment