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What Is A Stripper Clip?

stripper clip

What in the world is a stripper clip? You’ve probably heard about the differences between magazines and clips, but a stripper clip is its own thing. Let’s chat about these mystical reloading tools, how they work, and the firearms that use them. 

A stripper clip is a small piece of metal that holds ammunition in place for rapid placement into an internal or external magazine. For example, many gun owners use stripper clips to reload AR-15 magazines. If used correctly, they can significantly speed up the reloading process.  

Let’s look at the characteristics of the stripper clip, how to use one, and why you might want to try them. 

History Of The Stripper Clip

a photo of mauser 8mm stripper clips

The 8mm Mauser rifle is one of the first small arms platforms to utilize stripper clip technology in the late 1800s.

The stripper clip is now well over a hundred years old. The first use of the technology is often accredited to Mauser, back in the late 1800s. Since then, it hasn’t changed much. It’s still a thin piece of metal that holds rounds in place and allows you to “strip” them off into the magazine. 

Parts & Design

The stripper clip is simple. It’s a thin strip of metal that grips the rims of a cartridge and holds them in place. 

The other thing you should know about is the mounting piece some stripper clips require (like for the AR-15). This piece is the stripper clip guide or spoon, and it fits onto the top of the magazine, allowing the stripper clip to work. 

Let’s talk a little more about when to use a stripper clip. 

What Is The Purpose?

The stripper clip is convenient for those who like a fast, organized supply of ammunition. 

First, stripper clips are great for storing ammunition. If you have a bunch of .223 ammo, you can load them onto stripper clips all at once, and then store them like that. Not only does this make it very easy to grab them for a day at the range, but it helps you track how much ammunition you have. 

Second, stripper clips are invaluable for facilitating the fast reloading of a magazine. We all know the pain of pushing rounds into a magazine individually. The pressure will tear up your thumb, but if you put on gloves, you lose the dexterity you need. A stripper clip eliminates all of that. 

Now, let’s talk about how to use a stripper clip. 

How To Use A Stripper Clip 

a photo of a mosin nagant rifle with 7.62x54r ammo

The Mosin Nagant is a bolt-action rifle whose internal magazine can be loaded via a stripper clip.

The first thing you need to do is load the stripper clip. Just slide the rounds into the end until the clip is full. Yes, this will still take some time. But the nice thing is that stripper clips are cheap and portable, so you might find it more economical to buy a bunch of stripper clips and load them up vs. purchasing a ton of extra magazines. 

Second, it’s time to transfer the rounds from the stripper clip to the magazine (this works nearly the same way for any firearm, whether it’s an internal magazine, like the SKS, or an external magazine, like the AR-15). To do this, mount the stripper clip into the guide and grip the top round. 

At this point, you want to push the rounds down into the magazine by applying pressure to the back of the cartridge or the rim side. This will help the rounds run more smoothly into the magazine. Some lift up the top round to apply more pressure on the back. 

And that’s it. The process is pretty simple. 

Stripper Clip VS Magazine

a photo comparing a Stripper Clip VS Magazine

A 10-round stripper clip (Top), and a 30-round magazine (Bottom), both loaded with 7.62×39 ammo.

Some people get hung up on the difference between the stripper clip and the magazine. Indeed, this can be confusing – but a clip and a magazine are not the same thing. Here’s an easy way to remember this: the magazine feeds a round into the rifle’s chamber, and the clips feed rounds into the magazine. 

Also, most clips don’t stay in the firearm while it’s fired. However, magazines remain in the gun. Of course, it can get tricky with weapons like the M1 grand, where the clip remains in the firearm while it’s fired, but it’s ejected once the gun fires its last round. 

Rifle Magazines That Use A Stripper Clip 

a photo of 223 rem ammo loaded in a stripper clip

Even magazines for a modern sporting rifle (MSR) like the AR-15 can be loaded via a stripper clip.

Now let’s talk about some popular firearms that use a stripper clip. As you’ll see, these little clips are relatively common; if you haven’t used them before, you might start now. We’ll discuss the two most common, the AR-15 and SKS, and then mention a few others. 

AR-15 Stripper Clip

The AR-15 is renowned for its standard high-capacity magazines. While these magazines are fun to unload at the range, they can be a hassle to load up by yourself. 

The stripper clip for the AR-15 requires a mounted guide, but then it’s as simple as “stripping” the rounds off the clip and into the magazine. When used correctly, stripper clips can drastically reduce the time you spend loading your AR-15 magazines. 

SKS Stripper Clip

The SKS is also a popular weapon that uses a stripper clip. Before the AK-47 came along, these were popular soviet firearms. The stripper clips hold ten rounds, and they push them into an internal magazine. 

If you’re curious to learn more about the life and history of this popular rifle, check out our guide comparing the SKS to the AK-47.

Firearms In History

Here’s a list of other firearms that use a stripper clip or something similar. As you can see, some of the guns use a variation of the stripper clip. 

Conclusion: Faster Reloads At A Cost

a photo of a man shooting an SKS rifle at the gun range

Semi-automatic rifles like the SKS can be reloaded much faster with the use of a stripper clip.

Stripper clips allow firearm users to reload their magazines rapidly. If you use them correctly, these simple metal clips can make any gun-owners life a lot easier. That being said, they do tend to bend or lose their shape with extended use. This can cause the clips to jam the gun or become non-functional. If you’re using clips on a regular basis, be sure to inspect them to make sure they are in good working order.

Stripper clips existed over a hundred years ago and remain popular to this day. As a final note, keep in mind that not all stripper clips are created equal. If you’ve had a bad experience with stripper clips in the past, shop around for a different variety. Sometimes, a little tweak in the design can make a big difference. 

If you’ve enjoyed this guide – and you’d like to learn more about magazines, clips, and how they work with modern firearms – take a little time to read this article on the history of the AR-15.

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