Clip (ammunition)

Clip (ammunition)

A clip is a device that is used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the magazine of a repeating firearm. This speeds up the process of loading the firearm as several rounds can be loaded at once, rather than one round being loaded at a time. Several different types of clips exist, most of which are made of inexpensive metal stampings that are designed to be disposable, though they are often re-used.

The term clip is commonly but erroneously used to describe a firearm magazine. A clip is used to feed a magazine, while a magazine or a belt is used to load cartridges into the chamber of a firearm.

Types of clips

Stripper clip

A stripper clip or charger is a speedloader that holds several cartridges together in a single unit for easier loading of a firearm's magazine. A stripper clip is used only for loading the magazine and is not necessary for the firearm to function. It is called a 'stripper' clip because, after the bolt is opened and the stripper clip is placed in position (generally by placing it in a slot on either the receiver or bolt), the cartridges are pressed down, thereby 'stripping' them off of the stripper clip and into the magazine.

En-bloc clip

Several rifle designs utilize an en-bloc clip to load the firearm. Cartridges and clip are inserted as a unit into a fixed magazine within the rifle, and the clip is usually ejected or falls from the rifle upon firing or chambering of the last round. The en-bloc clip was originally developed by Ferdinand Mannlicher for use in his M1885 rifle. Other rifles utilizing a - frequently improved - en-bloc clip include the German 1888 Commission Rifle, the French 1890 Berthier Cavalry Carbine and later models (upgraded to 5 rounds in 1916), the Italian M91 Carcano, the various (Romanian, Dutch, Portuguese) turnbolt Mannlichers, the Austro-Hungarian straight-pull Steyr-Mannlicher M1895, the Hungarian M 35, and the US M1 Garand. Original Austrian Mannlicher clips were often uni-directional, but already the German 1888 Commission Rifle and subsequently the M 91 Carcano employed symmetrical clips, and much later John Pedersen developed an invertable, double-stacked clip for his rifle. This design was also utilized for the competing design by John Garand.

Moon clip and half-moon clip

A moon clip is a ring-shaped or stellate piece of metal designed to hold a full cylinder of ammunition for a revolver (generally 6 rounds) together as a unit. Therefore, instead of loading or extracting one round at a time, a full cylinder of ammunition or spent cases can be loaded or extracted at once, expediting the loading process. A similar device known as the half-moon clip is semi-circular and designed to hold a half cylinder of ammunition (generally 3 rounds). Multiple clips are necessary to fully load the cylinder.

The modern moon clip was devised shortly prior to World War I (circa 1908). As revolvers are generally designed to use rimmed cartridges, the moon clip allows the use of rimless cartridges designed for semi-automatic pistols in revolvers. This had the effect of simplifying logistics during wartime, allowing modified British Webley Revolvers to use U.S. .45 ACP ammunition. The moon clip not only holds multiple cartridges together, but allows them to headspace on the face of the revolver cylinder.

Half-moon clips were used in the US M1917 revolver to allow rimless .45 ACP cartridges to be used. Josserand and Stevenson (1972:143,263) have this as the origin of the half-moon clip. They explain that because the relatively new M1911 semi-automatic pistol could not be manufactured fast enough, the U.S. War Department asked Smith & Wesson and Colt to devise ways to use the M1911's .45 ACP cartridge (which is rimless) in their revolvers. S&W used the half-moon clip as an elegantly simple solution.

Moon clips are generally made from spring grade steel, although plastic versions have recently been developed because sheet metal can permanently deform if bent, and hold the cartridges firmly enough that a special tool is generally used to insert and remove them. Unlike a speedloader, a moon clip remains in place during firing, and after firing, is used to extract the empty cartridge cases.

Moon clips may be even faster to use than a speedloader. Jerry Miculek, a top IPSC revolver shooter, has demonstrated the ability to fire six shots from a .45 ACP revolver, reload, and fire six more shots to the 6x11-inch A zone of an IPSC target at fifteen feet in under three seconds, including reaction time to the start signal. This feat was possible by using moon clips to allow quick and reliable ejection of the fired rounds, and a quick reload of all six chambers at once.


Common revolver models that are manufactured to use moon clips:

See also


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