Clip vs Magazine

This is a guest post from AJ Jensen who isn’t afraid to wade into the clip vs magazine debate.
magazine versus clip

One of the favorite pet peeves of the gun industry is the use of the word ‘clip’ when one actually means a ‘magazine.’

For those who may not know the difference, a clip is an open metal strip on which cartridges are stacked, then loaded into an automatic rifle. On expenditure of the last round the clip itself is ejected, making a trademark *ping sound as it hits the ground. In WWII a favorite tactic of US soldiers was to toss an empty clip on the ground and thereby draw enemies out from cover, who assumed the soldier was empty and in the process of reloading, and therefore a sitting duck… only to discover the ruse just in time to take a .30 cal round, or several of such, as a result.

As time went on Hollywood did as much as anybody to obfuscate the difference in terms, where movie lines repeatedly used the word ‘clip’ in reference to a magazine, that being a closed box structure where spring-loaded rounds could be fed into an auto rifle or handgun.

I for one take issue. I suppose my pet peeve is pet peeves, and whenever I hear someone claim a pet peeve I know I’m dealing with a pompous fool (at least, in most cases). For that reason I will bclip versus magazinee the first to suggest that ‘clip’ be used interchangeably with magazine.

The English language is always evolving, and is a favorite orchard of pet peeves for those among us who consider grammar and diction a strong suit. Popular usage is king, and gun terminology is no exception, although more resistant to change than say, popular slang terms. After all, gun terms refer to specific items or parts, and the slightest discrepancy in terms can assimilate a whole other meaning.

Or even a whole ‘nother meaning, if you prefer.

The distinction in this case is that nobody referring to a magazine as a clip is ever mistaken for what they mean. For the handful of us gun owners lucky enough to own a period-style or even authentic M1 Garand, it’s usually a closet queen rifle that rarely (if ever) fires a live cartridge at the range.

So, if you say clip when you mean magazine around me, I won’t correct you, and I consider those who do so impolite. Moreover, I won’t consider myself a genius of the high mountain if I catch your mistake.

And I’m a guy who knows the difference.

What do you think of magazine versus clip?  Let us know in the comments.


AJ Jensen is a web developer and writer, with eight years’ Army experience and an avid shooting sports enthusiast

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