Detachable mags became really popular in the 20th century when everything went semi-automatic.

You fill magazines by hand. That’s why sometimes clips come in handy.

As you know, some handguns like the Beretta M9 and most modern firearms have detachable magazines. They can be taken out of the firearm, bullets or no bullets. You can load them with ammo manually or by using a clip.

Internal Magazines

As the name implies, these mags function on the inside and don’t go anywhere unless you’re disassembling the firearm. They all have the same function — they store ammo and feed it into the chamber.

We’ll talk about shotguns here as they’re another good example of a firearm with an internal mag. They have tube-shaped mags just below the barrel.

In a pump-action shotgun, for instance, you feed each individual slug or shell with a spring-loaded follower into the chamber. That is, you feed the shotgun shells by hand.

Box Magazines

You’ll see box magazines on more modern rifles like the AR-15 assault rifle, automatic firearms, or other semi-automatic rifles. There are two variations — internal, and detachable.

Most bolt-action and semi-auto rifles have an internal box magazine, while the more conventional AR-15, AK-47, or the Ruger 10/22 have detachable box magazines.

The latter is the more efficient magazine, as we’ve pointed out, in contrast to the internal.

Tubular Magazines

Tubular magazines feed rounds via tubes, springs, and a special firearm.

Usually, .22 rifles, shotguns like the Remington model 870 pump-action shotgun, and most lever-action rifles use this type of magazine. They are often under the barrel.

Lever-action rifles load via levers and they rack the rounds manually for every shot. Semi-autos, on the other hand, use the charging handle and can chamber rounds of ammunition almost automatically, hence the name.

Are Clips Better Than Magazines?

It depends on a lot of factors and guns, and it’s not exactly about speed. That is, if you’re not in a war zone; then it might be.

I personally think that magazines are slightly more practical.

Of course, magazine-fed weapons can break or get damaged, and the weapon won’t function without it. They can also attract dust and grime, and require more maintenance than stripper clips, which can be easily cleaned.

A clip-fed, internal magazine is simply more reliable than detachable magazines.

However, detachable mags are easily replaceable with another. If your internal magazine gets damaged, you’ll have to replace or repair it, so it’s a trade-off situation, of sorts.

To the run-of-the-mill hunter or your casual firearm aficionado, the practical aspect won’t matter and it boils down to preference.

How Many Bullets in a Clip Is Legal?

It depends on whether or not a state decides which magazines are large-capacity magazines.

In California, any mag that can carry more than 10 rounds in a clip is a large-capacity magazine.

Colorado doesn’t allow more than 15 rounds. It’s also illegal to sell high-capacity magazines unless the individual has owned the magazine since 2013.

There’s a lot of complicated laws surrounding this and we suggest you read more about your state’s laws here.

Do Glocks Have Clips or Magazines?

Glocks utilize detachable magazines. So, yes. Glocks use magazines instead of clips.

The Glock uses an extended 33-round magazine, but you can also find other capacities like 10 or 17 rounds.

Glock magazines have stiff metal tubes inside the high-tech polymer casing, and it prevents deformation and damage.

The Glock is not to be trifled with.

Which Guns Use Clips?

As a reminder, today’s modern guns don’t use clips, but rifles like the M1 Garand and SKS have non-removable magazines that can be fed by a clip.

An AR-15 magazine is removable, but can also be fed by a clip.

How to Remember the Difference

Between a Clip and a Magazine

While we’re at it, let’s also remind you why it should be simple to see the difference between a clip and a magazine by now.

The easiest way to tell the difference is that magazines have springs, and clips do not.

Think of a clip as a magazine loader, while the magazine feeds ammunition directly into the chamber. Makes sense, right?

You can take a good analogy like literal magazines, as an example, and think of newspaper clippings as clips. If you snip through newspapers you get clippings or clips. Keep in mind that gluing a lot of clips together can make a magazine.

I hope this little mnemonic trick helps.

Knowing the difference between magazines and clips gives you credibility and expertise since many gun enthusiasts know that this is a very slippery slope. You can easily earn respect among your peers.

We can discuss linguistics all day if you want, but this is a gun show, not a school.

Still, the pen can sometimes be mightier than the sword, and this humble article proves it, along with the importance of proper terminology.

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 Brady Kirkpatrick has been an avid gun enthusiast and hunter since he moved to the Midwest over 15 years ago. For more information visit