Shooting Tip: Use Stripper Clips

Every range I have ever been to I see the exact same thing going on. Shooters spend somewhere near 70% of their time loading magazines and less than 30% of their time actually pulling the trigger. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but think about your last range trip and how much time you spent reloading. Don’t you wish there was something to make that go quicker? Turns out it was invented a little over 150 years ago…

There was a time when stripper clips meant the difference between life and death. The ability to load your weapon faster than your enemy is crucial on the battlefield, and so every military bolt action firearm (and many semi-auto firearms) manufactured after the 1880’s used some form of clip to hold a number of rounds together and make it easier to reload the gun. This example, a 5-round stripper clip designed for the Mosin Nagant m1891, may be somewhat tricky to master but if used properly can reload the rifle much faster than placing each cartridge in the gun one at a time.

Even modern firearms take advantage of this system. The AR-15, for example, uses military style magazines which were designed to allow a metal “guide” to be attached to the back and 10 round strips of ammunition inserted into the magazine. Three clips later and your magazine is full while the rest of the people on the range are still loading one at a time and starting to hurt their thumbs.

If you look at it in total, stripper clips probably don’t save you much time. It’s faster to load the magazine directly than to load the stripper clips then feed them into the magazine. But what you can do is trade off some of that time while you’re lying on your couch for some extra trigger time. If you load the clips while you’re otherwise just being a vegetable you can shoot more at the range.

These can be found at any gun show and most gun stores, usually mixed in with the assorted gun parts dealers. The guides ran me $2 each, and the strips were $10 for a pack of 40. And having used them a couple times now there’s no way in hell I’m going to waste any more time at the range.

comments

  1. avatar I_Like_Pie says:

    I probably spend 98% of my time talking among friends and 2% shooting. Heck…many times I am there and don’t even shoot.

    Am thankful that I go to a range and not a rented lane.

    1. avatar Not Too Eloquent says:

      Loading magazines at the range doesn’t bother me at all. Gives me a little down time, to reflect and relax.

  2. avatar caffeinated says:

    Have to agree with Pie. The range has turned into social hour for me.

  3. avatar AK says:

    Or just load your magazines while on the couch instead.

    1. avatar ChainsawWieldingManiac says:

      Well, first off, not all ranges allow loaded magazines in the door, especially the ones who are uptight about magnetic rounds. So loaded magazines might not be an option.

      Second, consider the pricing:
      Three strippers to load your magazine: $0.15
      Magazine: $10-$15

      I think the author has a point. Bigger problem is storing those stripper clips on the way to the range… they don’t compact as well as boxes of .223.

      1. avatar Mike in NC says:

        Factory 30 round boxes of .223/5.56 on stripper clips seem pretty compact to me. Example with photo

      2. Many states also do not allow you to transport loaded guns or magazines unless you have a carry permit. This is mostly impactful on those states that make it near impossible for you to obtain a CCW by having to provide reasonable justification as to why you should be allowed to exercise your right. Here’s hopping Massachusetts court case gets adopted in NJ.

        1. avatar Rifleman762 says:

          There’s nothing in MA law that says you can’t transport loaded mags. You just can’t have them IN the firearm (unless CCW) while transporting. Perfectly fine to load up your mags and toss ’em in the trunk before heading to the range.

        2. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

          Military bases especially don’t like loaded mags for civilians. Only had to find that out once the hard way…

        3. avatar caffeinated says:

          D’oh.

        4. avatar Sig says:

          Military bases don’t like loaded anything for anyone. Work (Fort Lewis, in my case) is the only place I go on a regular basis where I am not allowed to carry, or even keep it locked in a box in the car.

        5. avatar caffeinated says:

          I always found it was odd that the government could place people in a place of high public trust, yet they prohibit firearms locked in your vehicle.

        6. avatar Xaq Fixx says:

          True That. I was an ammo troop, I played with everything from 30mm ammo for the GAU 8 to Willy P and C4 (and classified PGM components) all day but firearms, ammo, etc. weren’t allowed in the barracks, and Security Forces who had a bad habit of “borrowing” your stored guns, using them, and not cleaning them. Even using them was against policy but common knowledge. Instead I kept my guns with my Sergeant. I always shot with him and his roommates (and a few other friends from our shop) so if I wanted to use to socially they were readily available. We had gang and drug problems in the dorms, but those of us avoiding trouble were disarmed.

          My dad is a 20 year retired officer, buys guns and ammo at the BX/PX but can’t be trusted to be armed there? So stupid.

        7. avatar Daniel Morseth says:

          And one result is such stupid policies was Fort Hood. If our bravest and best had been carrying sidearms, there would be a few more Good Guys and one less muslim bastard in the world today.

  4. avatar GS650G says:

    IIRC the part that mounts on the magazine that holds the stripper is called a Shoe. Look / ask for one.

    1. avatar Sean says:

      I always heard it called a spoon, while the technical name is stripper clip guide.

  5. avatar bontai Joe says:

    I wasn’t even aware that stripper clips existed for modern (AR type) weapons. And now you have me wondering if I can get something like this for my Glock?

    1. avatar caffeinated says:

      Unfortunately, a single stack magazine design doesn’t fair well to the concept of stripper clips.

    2. I don’t think handgun magazines are combatible with stripper clips at all. In handgun magazines you have to push the round down and then slide to the back, whereas larger caliber rifle magazines just require that you push the round straight down into the magazine.

      1. avatar Kevin T says:

        think its called a speed loader

    3. avatar Nathan A says:

      No stripper clips for the Glock, but I recently picked up an UpLULA Speed Loader and I absolutely love it. Loads up my .40S&W mags perfectly.

      Two trips to the range was all it took for my thumbs to convince me of the necessity. I’ve heard from several people now “Why the rush? Take your time, relax a bit.” Well, when I’m at the range, I’m there for trigger time, not mag loading. Before, my girlfriend couldn’t squeeze the last 2-3 rounds into a mag, with this she can fill the entire thing no problem.

      I am not in any way affiliated with this product, just spreading the word to maybe save some thumbs. Look around, I’ve seen them in shops around me anywhere from $30-38.

      1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

        I’ll second that. Recently took an UpLULA along on a lunchtime range visit with my team from work, and the group consensus was that you can reload mags so fast with this little wonder that it’s almost magical.

        After I got setup and technique squared away, I was loading 5 HK 10-round magazines in under 60 seconds. That doesn’t count the time to open a fresh 50-round box or get all the magazines lined up just so, but still…

  6. avatar Jason says:

    Buy more magazines and a LULA. Store your ammo in magazines.

    1. avatar Anthony Meruelo says:

      This. The LULAs are freaking magic. I have the pistol one, the AR15 one and the AK/Galil one.

      1. avatar Matt G. says:

        Lula makes a loader that uses stripper clips too.

  7. avatar Rabbi says:

    I hated using stripper clips until I got the Lula stripper clip loader. The loader makes it easy, fast and painless.

    http://www.butlercreek.com/products/strip_lula_loader.html

    1. avatar rybred says:

      amen to this! i bought 100 once-used stripper clips on cheaper than dirt for $10 a little while back and use the strip lula at the range. The best thing ever! i try to keep all my ready to use ammo on strippers, just in case. i only wish the sks strippers worked better in the ak mags. i can easily load the first 10 but after that its really hard…

    2. avatar Jules says:

      Dang! Wish I’d seen this before buying an NcStar strip loader (their p/n AARLA) – even if it was half the price (around $17 on amazon). It looks a lot more compact than the big, clunky plastic one NcStar makes. BTW, they apparently ripped off the CJ Weapons’ design of the M14/M1A “Lightning bolt” loader. CJ still sells the .308 version. Would’ve bought the .223 version from them if they still had any.

      One note – the Butler Creek site indicates two different p/n for AR15 and Mini-14, but the “buy now” link only brings up the Mini-14 version (p/n 24201), and there is no page for the AR15/M16 version (p/n 24200). Mags are more or less same dimensions, so maybe there’s really only one version?

  8. avatar Ronaldo Ignacio says:

    Stripper clips?

    Won’t that leave my gun all glittery?

    1. avatar Sebudei says:

      You don’t like your bullets smelling like baby powder?

  9. avatar Windy says:

    the 5.56 stripper clips also work for the ammo for my .30 Broomhandle Mauser and fit the guides in that pistol almost as well as the proper stripper clips for that gun and they are a lot cheaper than the proper antique stripper clips for the broom handle
    as to taking those stripper clips full of 5.56 ammo to the range; the surplus cloth bandolier with its pouches work well and provide storage for the used empty stripper clips for the trip home

  10. avatar NR says:

    Meh. I like to take my time anyway. Ammo isn’t so cheap that I’m looking for ways to burn through it faster.

  11. Excellent information. I’m a fairly new shooter. I bought my first gun, M&P9 3 months ago and just got a GP100, love them both. I’ve been trying to figure out moonclips for revolvers (I know they don’t apply to my revolver). A similar post on moonclips would be well recieved. Thank you.

  12. avatar Chris P says:

    Coincidentally, I just received an order of stripper clips and shoes last nigh. I loaded up a couple of strips with ammo and tried loading them into my PMAGs. I couldn’t for the life of me get them to load. It seems that there is just too much friction between the rim of the cartridge and the clip.

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a dry lube that I can apply to the clips? I don’t want to foul the ammo / mag / weapon.

    1. avatar rybred says:

      get a strip lula, those shoes only work with GI mags

    2. avatar Jules says:

      Powdered graphite. Comes in little plastic squeeze tubes and usually found in the door lock section of hardware stores. Preferably the real powder, but the flaked kind works too and is more common. Use sparingly, and run a single cartridge up and down the stripper slot to smear it around in the clip channel, as the flakes are too big when they first come out of the tube and will fall out into the mag (and collect in other unwanted places). There’s always the battlefield expedient trick of “smoking” with a candle – usually used to blacken iron sights. Hold the clip above a candleflame where the black soot is forming to get a little lampblack in the channel. Not too long, they get hot quickly and that could ruin the spring tension if done too often.

      Just make sure to use very little. If you’re sloppy with the stuff, it could end up in your chamber and on your bolt face – places that you need to clean too often anyway.

      There are dry spray lubes of teflon compunds on the market, but expensive and hard to find in local stores – usually available only from specialty industrial supply places.

    3. avatar Richard says:

      This is how I do it. I started to use this technique in early May 1970 when I was loading A LOT of magazines.

      Slide the spoon over the magazine, it fits fairly tight. Drop the first stripper into the spoon. Find a table that you don’t care about. Stand facing the table. Point the bullets straight down. Place the top-most round in the stripper against the table edge then push the bottom of the magazine toward the table with your hand or your thigh. The bottom edge of the stripper should slide along the surface of the table. The stripper may scratch the table surface, this is why I said, “a table that you don’t care about”. If you raise the rounds so that the stripper is more than about 1/4-inch above the table, they will go all wacky and won’t feed into the magazine. You can also place the top-most round on the table surface, the stripper just off the table edge, and push the magazine vertically down with your hand instead of horizontally across. That works too.

      This is how I load my PMAGs.

  13. avatar Down&OutInCA says:

    I have all of my .223/5.56 on stripper clips and packed in the 30rd boxes and use bandoleers for range and smaller range bag. I have the guides and a StripLula for my Mini. Works great and doesnt take up a lot of space. I have 4 magazines and it takes maybe a minute to reload them from the stripper clips.

  14. avatar Anon in CT says:

    It’s funny – in the Army that’s the only way that ammo came (well, it also came in belts for MGs). Hand-loading mags round by round from a box of Winchester really does fee silly. Why don’t they sell .223 on the stripper clips for civvies?

  15. avatar Monty says:

    Anyone else here have a vz58? The weapon itself acts as a guide for loading the inserted magazine via stripper clips. Works wonderfully.

  16. avatar Philthegardner says:

    Do the stripper clips come with tassels? Me, I agree with Pie and NR – socializing and taking my time loading has become my routine. If I had loaded mags for all the ammo of my 1911 and AR, i would likely go through my weekly allotment in about 10 min… THEN WHAT? (I would have to go home early and do the lawn *shudder*)

  17. avatar Matt G. says:

    I bought the Strip-Lula loader last year. It replaces the shitty steel shoes with a plastic guide that holds the clip and has a kind of “t-handle” that swings over the top of the rounds and you just push down on the handle. I can load a 30 rounder in probably 10 seconds if I was doing it for money. It comes in handy at rifle matches when I can reload my mags between stages.

  18. avatar Wolfishone says:

    Hey! Does anybody know where I can pick up some good SKS stripper clips? I have tried two places and all of them are junk: 7.62X39 rounds will not slide in and the ends are too big to fit the slip guide on the bolt face. Total waste of money.

    Thanks…

  19. avatar JW says:

    Most of you are missing the point of the stripper clip and it’s relation to a battle rifle.
    You have a semi-auto rifle to repel boarders.
    You might need to reload it faster.
    If your range visits are primarily for socializing and not training, you need to think that through, a bit more.
    Another thought is to take your defense ammo, load it into Magpull PMags and leave it there.

    My $.02

  20. avatar Gunclips says:

    Great information!Recently i bought Luger P-08 Magazine and just thinking to order stripped clips so that it make me load faster and easier along with the loader for my new gun.

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  22. avatar zmm says:

    So.. do most guns have some form of stripper clips now?
    like you mentioned the AR one. but how about various bolt actions these days?
    or AK varients, etc

    I’m just curiosu since i’ve never heard of a stripper clip that wasn’t in reference to a 60+ year old battle rifle. (I need to get some of those still)

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