Not Just Bullets

Ammunition And Ammunition Feeding Facts.

Lately the news media has enthusiastically quoted some of the more idiotic politicians about the need for banning “high-capacity bullet clips” and “automatic assault weapons.” Movies likewise continually give poor representations of firearms use and knowledge.

First off, they’re not bullets. Nor are bullets held in clips. Firearms ammunition consists of cartridges of which bullets are merely one component. They are the projectile that leaves the firearm and proceeds to where ever it was pointed. That’s all.

Clips for holding ammunition do exist. They are specifically called “stripper clips” or “charger clips.” Such clips are not attached to the firearm. They are inserted into slots in the firearm’s receiver, the ammunition then pressed into the firearms’ magazine and the clip is then pushed out of the way.

There is a different type of ammunition feeding device often mistakenly referred to as “clips.” They are actually en-bloc loaders with the most commonly known type being the 8-round capacity ones needed for feeding M1 Garand rifles. An en-bloc loader stays with the ammunition (Not bullets!) when it is inserted into the firearm. With M1 rifles the en-bloc loader is ejected from the firearm after the last round is expended. Alternately, in the case of some elderly bolt-action rifle designs such as Italian Model 1891 Carcanos, Austrian or Hungarian Model 1895s, the en-bloc loader falls out the bottom of the magazine when the last round is chambered.

Magazines are from where ammunition is fed into a firearm’s chamber. There are integral box magazines such as in bolt-action rifles and tubular magazines such as attached under the barrels of lever-action rifles. Then there are detachable magazines used in all sorts of different firearms. And let’s get one fact straight.

High-capacity magazines are not new. Tubular magazines under the barrels of Winchester rifles in the 1860s could hold up to 17 rounds. It’s the detachable types used with autoloading firearms that are scaring the unknowing. They have been around for over 100 years. (Also it should be noted that with the aid of some special accessories detachable magazines can be quickly loaded with stripper clips.)

While we are on the subject let’s get terminology correct about autoloaders. At a gun show recently a fellow asked me a question about his “.45.” Trying to understand I said, “Is it a .45 Auto?” Very quickly he emphatically stated “It’s a semi-auto.”

My reply was, “Bud; don’t go politically correct on me. The cartridge’s official name is .45 Auto and that’s how the ammunition (not bullets!) is headstamped. It’s not marked .45 semi-auto!

According to the unknowing, idiotic, or simply conniving politicians, the CAR15 in the middle is the most dangerous of these three guns. In truth the Winchester Model 1892 .44-40 (top) holds a good many cartridges (not bullets!) in its tubular magazine (not bullet clip!) and, in Duke’s opinion, the 100-year-old Model 1897 pump-action shotgun at bottom is a far more deadly weapon.

These are not “bullet clips!” (above) They are ammunition (or cartridge) magazines. These are not
all bullets! (below) Some are bullets. Some are loaded ammunition or cartridges.

Saying auto, which is short for autoloader, does not indicate how a firearm functions except that it automatically chambers a fresh cartridge after a fired case is ejected. Then there are two separate divisions of autoloaders: semi-autos and full-autos. A semi-auto fires one round with each press of the trigger. A full-auto fires as long as the trigger is held back or until its magazine is empty. A further division could be the select-fire types in which a button or lever converts them from semi-auto to full-auto and vice versa.

True assault rifles are select-fire. They were designed so that accurate aimed fire could be delivered by a soldier in semi-auto mode but then in emergencies the firearm could be switched to full-auto. The Germans developed such a weapon in the 1940s primarily for use against the Soviets, whose military tactics included massed human wave attacks.

Select-fire and full-auto firearms are tightly restricted by the Federal Government (and also some state governments) and have been since 1934. Tightly restricted means each legally owned one is registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and each purchaser undergoes a background check that takes months before each purchase is approved.

What the news media and ignorant and/or conniving politicians are raving about are actually facsimiles of assault rifles capable of semi-auto fire only. As such they do not come under the purview of the Federal Government. Most of them look ugly and/or ominous. Ugly they indeed are when compared to beautifully crafted custom bolt action or single-shot rifles. As for ominous, they are actually no more deadly than a trap or skeet shooter’s repeating pump-action or semi-auto shotgun.

Also a watchword being bandied about now in reference to firearms is “need.” As in who needs one of those ugly assault rifles? I wish I had thought of this following sentiment but actually read it in a local Montana newspaper letters column. The second amendment to the United States Constitution is listed in the Bill of Rights. It is not a “Bill of Needs.” Nor does it mention hunting. By the “needs” formula since I don’t hunt anymore I wouldn’t need firearms at all.

If people give politicians the ability to determine their needs, they will eagerly do so. Already in New York City a politician is trying to tell people how big their soft drinks can be. Let politicians allow what is needed and they will determine how much everyone needs from toilet paper to ear rings to information. Needs is a sticky Pandora’s Box that should never be opened in a free society.

But, I am digressing from my topic. It started out by trying to give some detailed knowledge to the ignorant so they at least could have a vague idea as to what they are afraid of and therefore what exactly they wish to ban.
It is doubtful if any of them will read it here. At least I got it off my chest.

This is ammunition in a clip, often called a stripper clip.

By Mike “Duke” Venturino
Photos By Yvonne Venturino

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3 thoughts on “Not Just Bullets

  1. Emery Kiss-Illes

    Duke, thank you for pointing out the difference between “bullets” and “ammunition”, and “semi-auto” and “full-auto”. Also, thank you for stating the fact that it is the “Bill of Rights” not the “Bill of Needs”.
    I am sure we have all heard the saying “Practice makes perfect”. That saying is wrong! The truth is “Perfect practice makes perfect”. If we practice something incorectly we are moving farther away from perfecton in that thing. The same applies to correcting misinformation. In order to do so we must give correct information. You got a few things wrong in this artical.
    First, there is NO SUCH THING as a “stirpper clip”, and I have never even heard the term “Charger clip” in all my life! The correct name is “Charger”. Charger loading was intorduced by Mauser in 1889.
    Second, There ARE actual ammunition holders that are correctly called “clips”. These were introduced by Ferdinand Ritter Von Mannlicher in 1885. It was orriginally called the “packet loading system”. As you correctly state, the U.S. M1 uses a (modified) Mannlicher clip, usualy called an “en-bloc clip”. Again, in all my life I have never heard the term “en-bloc loader”.
    Please spread this information as widely as possible so all who seek the truth about firearms might know and use proper terminology and avoid confusion and misguidance. As for the media and polititions, they do not care about the truth. They only care about controling others and will use any terms, correct or not, to achieve their goal.

    Emery Kiss-Illes
    Magna, Utah

    P.S.: Please post this in the “Crossfire” column so it can be read, and the information used, by all your readers. Thanks.


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