Ok, I’ve had enough. I can’t stand it any longer. I’m tired of hearing blow dry’s (news readers) and newspaper journalists call firearm magazines “clips” and AR rifles “assault weapons.” If they wouldn’t be so lazy and do a Google search, they’d learn what they’re broadcasting is bogus and incorrect. Perhaps it’s all in the name of sensationalism, but it’s just not good news journalism. So allow me to set the record straight.
When I was in the Army for basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, our drill sergeants would make us drop down and give them 25 push-ups if we called a magazine a clip. After one or two sets of push-ups, our Delta Thirteen Four (D-13-4) company would quickly remember to call magazines, magazines, not clips.
A clip is often used to load a magazine or firearm with ammunition. In it’s most simple form, it holds rounds of ammo either to load a firearm or to hold them in place.
For example, one popular clip uses a rubber strip to hold six cartridges for easier loading into a revolver. It can be considered a stripper clip as it conveniently holds cartridges whereupon you place a cartridge in a cylinder and strip if off the rubber clip (holder) as opposed to dropping a cartridge into the cylinder one-by-one.
On some revolvers used in competitive shooting, shooters insert cartridges into flat metal moon or half moon-shaped clips, which hold the cartridges by their rims.
Likewise, on Smith & Wesson’s relatively new Governor revolver, the six-shot handgun can accommodate .410 gauge shotgun shells, .45 Long Colt cartridges or .45 ACP cartridges, the latter being predominately a semi-automatic handgun cartridge that is normally used in magazines but would, because of its design, fall through the Governors’ cylinder if not attached to a clip. The clip with cartridges attached is then inserted into the cylinder.
In competitive revolver shooting matches, clips save reloading time during timed events.
A magazine, on the other hand, refers to a box, or in some cases a drum, with a spring inside to force-feed rounds into a firearms’ chamber. It’s essentially a container that holds several rounds of ammunition.
On a much larger scale, Navy battleships customarily have a room that houses shells which is also called a magazine.
Now for assault rifles, as they’re wrongly called. This connotation was likely derived from the prefix AR (AR-15 rifles) that really stands for ArmaLite rifles, the name of the company that developed the rifle in the 50s. It does not stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle,” another misnomer.
As for assault rifle or assault weapons, they are really fully automatic rifles used by the military and law enforcement. Although an AR-15 and an assault rifle look alike, an assault rifle is capable of continuous firing as long as the trigger is depressed – like a machine gun.
An AR-15, however, is only capable of a single shot per trigger pull.
Insofar as AR-15s are concerned, the assault rifle term applied to them was a political term, says the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It was created by California anti-gun legislators to ban some semi-automatic rifles there in the 1980s.
Automatic firearms, incidentally, were restricted from civilian ownership by the 1934 National Firearms Act. Some gun collectors, however, can own fully automatic firearms, but they must obtain a special and costly license from ATF, but then only after passing an extreme background investigation. And then the guns are monitored by ATF and local law enforcement who are informed of their ownership.
Other facts about AR-15 or modern sporting rifles is that they are legal to own in 50 states provided the purchaser passes the mandatory FBI background check. These rifles have evolved from their military predecessors. They’re used for different types of hunting from varmint to big game in various parts of the country, but not here in Pennsylvania. They’ve become popular in what’s called three gun competitive matches whereby a handgun, shotgun and rifle are used over a timed course of fire.
AR-15 platform rifles are no more powerful than other hunting rifles of the same caliber and in many cases less powerful than the common big-game hunting cartridges like the 30.06 Springfield and .300 Win. Magnum calibers. Added to this, the AR-15 platform is modular, being capable of affixing different “uppers” (the barrel and chamber) to the “lower” (the grip and stock).
There…. now I’ve explained it. Nonetheless, expect to hear newscasters and newspaper columnists incorrectly refer to both subject items.
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