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For those who own a firearm, a gun magazine is an essential mechanism. But what is a magazine on a gun?

Have you ever handled a gun and spotted the long, thin object bordering the bottom of it? This is known as a magazine. The magazine is an important part of firearms — but what does it do exactly?

In this article, we’ll discover what a magazine on a gun is, the different types available, and their key features.

I think you’ll also enjoy reading our blog post outlining gun types, firearm actions, bullet size, and more. Then continue on to reading What are the Basic Parts of Ammunition to learn about bullets.

Ready? Let’s find out more about this essential component!

This is a magazine on a gun. Photo of a magazine full with bullets and bullets strewn about the table for display.

Magazine on a Gun

A magazine on a gun is a storage and feeding device.

It connects to the gun and holds cartridges in a spring-loaded orderly fashion so that they may be fed into the chamber of the gun when as ammunition is fired and the shell or casing has been ejected.

The basic design of a magazine on a gun consists of a case, follower, and spring.

The case works as the magazine’s outer shell; it holds the bullets in place.

The follower is usually made out of plastic or metal and moves up and down inside the magazine, pushing the bullets towards the gun’s chamber.

The spring is essential for pushing the follower into place that enables multiple rounds to be fired in succession. Without these three components working together, a gun would not function properly.

The magazine on a gun is typically fixed to the firearm either internally or externally and can vary in size and capacity depending on the specific model and caliber of the firearm.

Different Magazine Types

A magazine on a gun can come in a variety of styles and capacities depending on their intended use.

Detachable box magazines can be removed from the firearm for easy reloading, while fixed magazines are built into the firearm and cannot be easily removed.

Tubular magazines are utilized primarily in lever-action firearms and loaded through a port in the firearm receiver.

High-capacity magazines are also available, with drum magazines holding up to 100 rounds.

Single-stack and double-stack magazines offer further options, as they hold the rounds either in one or two staggered columns – respectively – which increases ammunition capacity.

Fixed Magazine on a Gun

Fixed magazines are firearms magazines that have been permanently attached or built into the weapon and cannot be removed without using tools.

Unlike detachable magazines, they cannot be conveniently switched with a fresh magazine when empty.

To reload these guns, the user has to either manually insert individual cartridges, load the magazine with a clip, or use special devices such as belts and drums to do so automatically.

This type of magazine is commonly seen on bolt-action rifles and certain shotguns.

Magazine and Ammunition Selection

Finding the correct ammunition to pair with your firearm is an essential part of responsible gun ownership.

Not only do you need to consider the size and caliber of your chosen ammo type, but you must pay attention to the magazine size as well.

Tactical needs may call for a capacity magazine, while those needing smaller mags may find them more suitable for concealed carry.

Paired with having the properly sized magazine on a gun, choosing the right ammunition will help ensure accuracy when firing your weapon.

Reloading and Maintenance Procedures

Reloading and maintenance of a magazine on a gun is an important part of gun ownership.

To ensure your magazines are working properly, it’s essential to routinely clean, inspect and lubricate them, per the manufacture’ recommendations.

It’s also important to check the spring tension so that it isn’t too weak, which can lead to problems with feeding or jamming unexpectedly.

Finally, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for ammo storage and care such as periodic lubrication of the magazine components as this will help keep it functional for many years.

Magazine vs Clip

Many people confuse the two terms and if you’re new to learning about guns, that’s ok. However, these two things are not the same and there is an important difference.

A magazine is a detachable box that holds and feeds ammunition into the chamber at a predetermined rate. Magazines can be internal or external to the firearm and come in different sizes and shapes, depending on the make and model of gun.

A gun clip is a device used to store multiple rounds of ammunition in one unit to be loaded into a fixed magazine; a magazine that is build into a gun.

Magazine vs Clip. Photo of an M1 Garand rifle with a clip of ammo sitting next to it.

The clip has no mechanical function. It cannot feed bullets into the firearm. Only a magazine can feed the bullets into the chamber of a firearm.

The function of the clip is to hold the ammunition together and help feed a fixed magazine on a gun. In the photo below, you can see the clip on top of the M1 Garand before being inserted into the magazine that is built into the gun.

Clip vs Magazine. Photo of M1 Garand gun with ammunition clip partially inserted into the top of the rifle.

It simply stores the cartridges within a single unit so they can be easily loaded into the magazine that is built into the gun rather than loading the built-in magazine one bullet at a time.

Check out this video for a visual walkthrough and this video for a visual explanation of a magazine vs clip.

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Magazine on a Gun: Final Thoughts

To summarize, the magazine on a gun is a necessary component which holds rounds of ammunition in a chamber.

The magazine uses a case, follower and spring to feed the gun with cartridges.

Not to be confused with clips, which are loaded manually into the fixed magazine.

Knowledge of magazine parts and functioning is essential for any firearm owner to ensure the safe and successful operation of their weapon.

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