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Old September 9, 2013, 08:30 PM   #1
Fatal Wound
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Whats the difference...............

What is the difference (if any) between mags and clips and rifles and carbines?? Could not find a general question link to post question.
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Old September 9, 2013, 08:43 PM   #2
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Whats the difference...............

Rifle magazine:

Handgun magazine:

M1 Garand En Bloc clip and stripper clip:

Difference between a rifle and carbine? It is more of a relative term. A carbine is a 'short' rifle.

Enfield rifle on top, Enfield carbine on bottom:

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Old September 9, 2013, 10:08 PM   #3
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From another viewpoint...

A 'magazine' is the part that holds the ammunition in the firearm while firing. A magazine can be detachable - such as the two examples shown by Hunter - or non-detachable, like the tube system on a shotgun or the box type of a bolt action sporting rifle.

A 'clip' is typically a stamped sheet metal device (perhaps to be replaced by plastic in the future) that holds ammunition ready for rapid loading into the firearm in question.

The M1 Garand has an 'en bloc loading device' (no kidding) which looks pretty much like a 'clip' but incorporates into the rifle while in use. There's a couple old bolt rifles from the turn of the last century that used a conventional stripper clip that stayed with the rifle and fell out the bottom when empty. Not very common.

The two terms are used rather interchangeably these days. Which hacks me off no end. Such is life...

A 'carbine' is a rather vague term. In the U. S., the term has been applied by the U. S. Armed Forces to a shortened, lighter version of the regular infantry rifle. In the past, carbines were issued to cavalry units to lighten the load carried by the horse. (The infantryman did not receive such courtesy.) I suspect part of the 'shorter, lighter' consideration was to allow the carbine to be fired from horseback easier than a full length rifle. (I may be wrong.)

However, the U. S. Armed Forces also designates a short, rifled firearm firing a round of middle level (stronger than a handgun, but not a full rifle round of the era either) a 'carbine'; the M1 Carbine in caliber .30 Carbine. Examining a .30 Carbine round, one immediately thinks of a longer, higher pressured handgun cartridge.

During the period between the First and Second World Wars, Ayra Duria of the Basque region of Spain made what was called the 'Destroyer Carbine'. It was a short, light, bolt action carbine chambered for the 9mm Largo round. It was made for police use, rather than Armed Forces. The 9mm Largo was (still is, actually) a handgun round, on the order of 9x23.

Not all short rifles are carbines. For instance, the AK47 and SKS rifles are not commonly identified as 'carbines', although they are rather shorter and lighter than the 'rifles' (Mosin-Nagant) they replaced.

I do know some places speaking Spanish tend to use the term 'carbina' as most any rifle. That may not be official.

At one time, there may have been a more precise meaning to 'carbine'. That meaning has been lost to most of us.
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Old September 10, 2013, 03:00 AM   #4
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A clip is a small piece of metal that holds cartridges by their base for easy loading into a fixed or detachable magazine. Most US military 5.56x45mm ammo comes on clips so it can be quickly loaded into magazines:

And here's a more detailed explanation of how to use stripper clips:
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Old September 10, 2013, 01:22 PM   #5
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Here's another way to look at it (and further muddy the waters), if it has a spring in it, designed to push the ammo out (for feeding) its a magazine.

If it has or is a spring (many clips are spring steel) intended to keep the ammo in it (until the shooter or the gun strips it out), its a clip.

Stripper clips hold rounds in a line, until the shooter strips them out, into a magazine (either the built in one of the gun, or the detatchable kind).

Moon and half-moon clips (used in some revolvers) hold the rounds together, go in the gun together, and come out of the gun still all together.

The Enbloc system, used in the M1 Garand rifle uses a spring steel clip, holding a "bloc" of 8 rounds. The whole thing goes in the rifle, and when the last round is fired, the empty clip is ejected. A couple of European bolt action rifles also used this idea, differing primarily in the clips held 5 rounds in a line, and dropped out of the bottom of the gun when empty.

To REALLY confuse the issue, some gunmakers have called their magazines "clips", so that people who didn't know they should be looking for magazines, not clips, could still locate and buy them. Not common, but has been done.
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Old September 10, 2013, 01:32 PM   #6
Glenn E. Meyer
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Common usage may swamp the technically correct. I've noticed, however, that some news folk have switched to magazine in the right context.

At the local gun show, the biggest seller of things which hold rounds has a business name of Clips R' Us.

So go figure.
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Old September 10, 2013, 02:41 PM   #7
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Technically speaking the differences between clips and magazines has been answered. Many use the terms interchangeably. I prefer to use the correct terms, but it is not worth arguing with folks who chose to call mags clips. Many people today don't have never seen a clip and use the word to mean a magazine.

The rifle vs carbine debate is even less clear. Generally if a rifle is made with different barrel lengths the shorter version is a carbine. But it can get complex.

Lever actions are the only class of rifles with a clear definition and it has nothing to do with barrel length. If a lever gun has 2 barrel bands it is a carbine regardless of barrel length. If it has no barrel bands it is a rifle. If it has a short barrel with no barrel bands it is a short rifle.

Both of these are 20" carbines because they have 2 barrel bands.

The gun on the right is a 18.5" short rifle because it has no barrel bands. The gun on the left has 1 barrel band and an endcap. This is a little confusing, but I'd call it a rifle because of the endcap vs barrel band holding the forend on.

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Old September 10, 2013, 03:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Archie
A 'carbine' is a rather vague term.
Originally Posted by jmr40
The rifle vs carbine debate is even less clear. Generally if a rifle is made with different barrel lengths the shorter version is a carbine. But it can get complex.
And just to make matters worse, there's a third intermediate class- the "short rifle"- although this term seems to have fallen out of common military usage by WWII.

I prefer to compare the terms "rifle", "short rifle", and "carbine" to another set of military terms with vague and varying meanings- the naval vessels "cruiser", "frigate", and "destroyer". Both sets of terms generally refer to diminishing size, but there is maddeningly little consistency in their usage between different countries, or sometimes even by the same country in different time periods. There simply isn't a settled definition.
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