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Authors, take a peek.

Posted by on 22nd April, 2008

Clips are not magazines, and magazines are not clips.

  • Wait, what?
    With only a few exceptions, modern firearms are loaded using a detachable magazine. That object into which one inserts ammunition and then slides into the weapon? That’s usually a magazine. One also inserts ammunition into a clip, which is then inserted into the weapon. So what’s the difference?
  • What’s the difference?
    A magazine typically is an important part of the operation of the mechanism. It usually consists of three parts: the housing, which is like a box to hold ammunition, the follower, which is a little inert seat upon which the ammunition can sit, and a spring, which advances the stack of ammunition as each round is removed and fired.

    A clip, on the other hand has no moving parts unto itself. It holds ammunition in a useful configuration that is used to either load the non-removable magazine of the weapon in question – as is the case with the M1 Garand – or is used to seat the ammunition in the cylinder of a revolver. There are other kinds of clips, technically, such as those which join two adjacent rounds into a belt, which are usually called ‘links’.

  • So what? Why does this matter? When I say ‘clip’, my readers know what I mean.
    Yes, your readers know what you mean. Also, they know that you don’t care about the details. Your readers generally encompass a wide range of people. Many of them won’t know the difference. Many of them will. There are more grave technical innaccuracies to commit to paper, certainly, but this is a small one that many people will notice.

Folks are savvy. You know when you go see a thriller and the computer-use scenes involve ridiculous inaccuracies it makes for silliness. It hampers suspension of disbelief.

This is not unique to firearms, or to computers; making believable scenes in film or print, of anything involving technical knowledge requires attention to detail.

Maybe I’m just nitpicking. But in that, I’m not unique. You can bet that someone out there who reads your work or sees your film will similarly nitpick.