What is a Magazine?

A magazine is a device that feeds ammunition to a repeating firearm. They are either removable or built into the gun. They load the cartridges into the firearm by the action of the gun. Sometimes a removable magazine is called a clip, but this is wrong. A clip is a device that stages cartridges to be pushed into magazines. There are many different types of magazines but the most popular magazine for hand guns is called a box; either the double stack or the single stack. The “single” or “double” refers to how the rounds are “stacked” in the magazine. The difference between the two is illustrated by the pictures below:

Firearm Magazine
Double row box magazine” by Martin MeiseOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Firearm Magazine
Single row box magazine” by Martin MeiseOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

In a box single stack magazine, the ammunition is stored in a column, one cartridge on top of another. A spring is in the bottom of the magazine to push the next round into the chamber of the barrel as the firearm is fired. The magazine is made of either metal or plastic and plastic ones are sometimes transparent so it is easier to see how many cartridges are in the magazine at any time. A removable box magazine is a mechanism that can be loaded or unloaded with cartridges while detached from the firearm. It is handy because you can carry several full magazines at once then just detach the empty one and replace it with a full one without having to stop and reload a fixed magazine. This definitely speeds up the process of reloading ammunition and is very useful in shooting competitions, hunting situations, self-defense, or target practice.

There are several reasons to choose a single stack over a double stack magazine. Some of the advantages and desirability of a single stack are these:

  • A single stack makes the handle of the gun narrower than a double stack, a plus for a woman’s hand or a smaller male hand.
  • The slim profile makes concealment easier and is chosen by many for this reason.
  • The narrow profile gives a more rectangular sensation to the hand, a point that competition shooters find advantageous in pointing the gun more quickly at the target.
  • A single stack will make the gun lighter in situations that weight may be an issue such as concealment.

All in all, the advantages of single stack magazines over other types are a matter of personal preference and taking into consideration the applications you need the firearm to perform.