There are countless terms when it comes to firearms, so, understandably, you’d mistake clips from magazines, especially since media and movies also mix these two words up all the time. Even gun owners themselves confuse clips for magazines and vice versa sometimes!

Clips and magazines are both used to store cartridges and load ammunition rounds, but these terms can’t be used interchangeably, as they have entirely different and distinct ammunition components. Understanding what they are and their purpose is crucial in being able to use your firearm responsibly.

Setting the Record Straight

Clips and mags are meant to hold the bullet in one place to save you time and effort in loading your gun after each shot. Thanks to these gun accessories, you won’t have to load the next round bullet by bullet! However, this is where their similarities end; these two tools are different as different can be.

To put it simply—a clip loads the magazine, and the magazine feeds the gun. That’s it.

Unfortunately, not everybody can get the gist just by that simple clarification. Some firearm terminologies are admittedly confusing, after all! Any person can differentiate a bullet, barrel, and stock, but people would scratch their heads if asked what suppressors, rifling, and wadcutters are. If it were that easy to explain the difference between these two terms, there wouldn’t be many disputes over them online!

To clear the confusion, we’ve listed down what a clip and a magazine are. Just read through our guide below, so you can finally correct your mistakes and use the right words.

What’s a Clip?

A clip serves as a storage device to load ammunition into the magazine. There are no parts of a clip; it is just a metal bracket used to hold a few cartridges together. You just insert rounds into the clip, so they’re ready to be inserted into the gun.

This accessory was developed for military applications, but recreational shooters also use this to speed up the reloading process. Without clips, you wouldn’t be able to perform high-volume shooting.

Two of the most common clips are:

En Bloc Clips

These are box-like clips inserted into the bottom of firearms. If they can’t auto-eject, you must extract the empty clip from the gun after the final cartridge is cycled.

Stripper Clips

A stripper clip holds a row of cartridges and allows you to load ammo into a magazine quickly. Unlike en bloc clips, a stripper clip isn’t loaded into the firearm and is instead placed into a stripper clip notch. If a gun needs to be reloaded, the stripper clip will be “stripped” of the ammunition directly into the magazine.

What’s a Magazine?

Magazines are the gun’s ammunition storage and feeding device. The spring and follower of the magazine are what feeds the cartridges into the chamber of the firearm.

Magazines can either be built into guns or be a removable component.

Detachable Magazines

Detachable magazines are what you’d find in pistols and rifles, which are taken out of the firearm. This type of magazine can be loaded by hand or with the use of a clip.

Internal Magazine

Internal magazines, on the other hand, are simply magazines held inside the gun. They have the same functions as a detachable magazine—the only difference is that this isn’t removable and just stays put!


Now that you’re more knowledgeable about firearms, you are one step closer to becoming a fully responsible gun owner! Make sure to study up and get familiar with the correct terms and firearm use and purchase your gun accessories only from a trusted seller. When you have the knowledge and expertise, you can become an excellent firearm wielder.

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