Saying Clip Instead of Magazine
The confusion between a clip and a magazine is very common, and the terms are mutually exclusive. Most of the time this happens when people use the word clip when referring to a firearm magazine. You have to wonder if this happens because of movies and television shows where they depict firearms, terminology, and how firearms function incorrectly.
If we hear the same phrases over and over again from these forms of media, it starts to become part of our vocabulary and is defined according to the inaccurate information from these sources. For those of us who do know the difference when hearing clip used when someone should have said magazine, it can have an almost "nails on the chalkboard" effect.
Why the Distinction is Important
There still will be some that say, “What’s the difference? Can’t we use them interchangeably?" Well, there is a difference. It’s important to know the difference for two reasons.
The first reason is when talking to other firearms people, you want to be taken seriously, and using incorrect terminology reduces your credibility. The second reason it’s important is because if you say clip to the wrong person, they may think you actually mean a clip instead of a magazine.
Clips vs. Magazines: What's the Difference?
The simplest distinction is that a magazine feeds the firearm, and clips feed magazines. Clips aren’t seen often in modern design of firearms because we have figured out how to engineer and make removable magazines, like the ones we offer for our rifles. Older firearm designs like the M1 Garand used in World War II had a non-removable magazine which was fed by a clip.
A magazine typically has four main components, and today, most magazines are removable from the firearm to load a new full one quickly. In the case of our AR-15 magazines, they have a steel, aluminum, or polymer body. On the bottom of the magazine is a floor plate which holds the spring and follower inside the body.
The spring and follower parts assist in the feeding of the cartridges from inside of the magazine into the chamber. A clip, on the other hand, is just a piece of metal that is shaped to hold the cartridges usually in a row, which are then pushed into a magazine by hand.
The Final Word
Knowing the difference between a clip and a magazine will increase your credibility with your shooting peers and ensure you are describing exactly what you mean. The easiest way to tell the difference when looking at them is that a magazine will always have a spring, and a clip will not.