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!


  • Tony Woconish

    Hi Steve, I to am a 6657 (Fire Control Technician) F-4J/S. 1976-1982. MCAS Beaufort, SC. With VMFA333 ☘️☘️☘️ I agree with your definition of “clip VS Magizene” SEMPER FI Brother ?? SSGT. Tony Woconish, USMC

  • Al Helmar

    M1 Rifle has a clip with 8 rounds, which is loaded in a firing chamber. Never heard the term magazine. I have a M1 thumb to prove it.

  • Johnny Reyes Jr. USMC 58-63

    For me, keep it simple. Military weapons; clip=no spring, magazine=spring.

  • Erv Paulson

    I had a similar problem when I was training rookies on the Police Dept.. Finally I held up a hair clip, and said CLIP IS FOR YOUR HAIR, magazine is for your your weapon.. someone said a magazine is something your read…I said whoever said that must have been in the NAVY..end of discussion.

  • Fred Romero (62-66) MATCU-65: Yuma, AZ

    Clip vs magazine: I was well schooled in the proper terminology back in ’62 when I was issued an M-14 in bootcamp at MCRD San Diego, and an M-1 Garand at Camp Pendleton for ITR training. Depending on who I’m having a discussion with (and how many beers have been consumed!) I have been known to try and correct the terminology used, sometimes my knowledge goes over well and sometimes we need to place bets… and order another round.

Leave a comment