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What Are 5.56 / .223 Stripper Clips and How Can I Use Them?

In the world of firearms, making things easier and faster is key. Whether you're a seasoned shooter or just getting into the hobby, learning about tools like stripper clips can make your experience on the range a whole lot smoother. In this guide, we'll dive into what 5.56/.223 stripper clips are, how they work, and how you can use them to maximise your efficiency on the range. 

What Are Stripper Clips?

Put simply, stripper clips are tools designed to make loading ammo quicker and easier. They usually take the form of metal or polymer strips with retention tabs or notches that hold the rounds in place, letting you load multiple rounds into a magazine or directly into a rifle with minimal effort.

5.56 / .223 stripper clip
10-round polymer stripper clip for 5.56x45mm NATO rounds

5.56/.223 Stripper Clips: Overview and Specs

The 5.56x45mm NATO and .223 Remington cartridges are some of the most popular calibers worldwide, as is the AR-15 platform. Therefore, stripper clips made for these cartridges are in high demand, especially amongst NATO militaries who package virtually all their ammunition onto them.  

Here are some key details about 5.56/.223 stripper clips:

  • Material: Most are made of steel or polymer.

  • Capacity: A standard clip holds about 10 rounds, though there are some exceptions (such as those meant for the FN FAL)

  • Size: Clips are designed to fit the specific dimensions of these cartridges snugly, meaning they are calibre-specific.

  • Compatibility: It's important to make sure the clips were designed to work with your gun's magazine or loading system.

M1 Garand with en bloc clip loaded with eight .30-06 Springfield rounds
M1 Garand with en bloc clip loaded with eight .30-06 Springfield rounds

How to Use 5.56/.223 Stripper Clips

Now that we know what they are, let's talk about how to use them:

Step 1: Get Ready

Make sure your weapon is unloaded and safe. Gather your stripper clips, loose rounds, and any other tools you may need.

Step 2: Prep the Clips

Slide your loose rounds onto a clip until you’ve reached max capacity. Some clips (such as the US GI steel clips) may require that you bend the retention tabs in order to allow the rounds to slide on properly, as well as to ensure that they remain on the clip. BE CAREFUL: often these tabs are made of brass and will snap off very easily, meaning you are limited in how many times you can reuse each clip. It’s for this reason that we much prefer our polymer stripper clips, which don’t require retention tabs and therefore last 10x longer than the steel ones (based on our internal testing).

Step 3: Setup your Speed Loader

Although some stripper clips (particularly those designed for 20th century weapon systems) were designed to load rounds directly into the breach of a firearm (as is the case with the FN FAL) most modern stripper clips are designed to work in conjunction with a magazine speed loader. This enables you to quickly refill all your magazines at one time. Our MagRipper® is one example of such a speed loader.

Step 4: Insert the Clip

Insert the loaded clip into your speed loader or the appropriate loading spot for your weapon system.

Step 4: Load the Rounds

Push the rounds off the clip and into the magazine or chamber. Ensure you apply continuous, even pressure; it’s best to push near the primer side of the casing, rather than the bullet side in order to avoid any possible malfunctions.

Step 5: Remove the Clip

Once all the rounds are loaded, remove the empty clip. 

Step 6: Ready to Shoot

Your magazine should now be loaded and ready to go!

FN FAL with 10-round 7.62×51mm NATO stripper clip
FN FAL with 10-round 7.62×51mm NATO stripper clip

Benefits of Using Stripper Clips

Using these clips has many perks:

  • Speed: The time difference between using stripper clips in conjunction with a speed loader vs loading one round at a time by hand is HUGE. For example, an experienced shooter can hand load a 30-round magazine under ideal conditions in around 60 seconds; using our MagRipper® and polymer stripper clips, it can be done in under 10 seconds. Multiply this by 5 - 10 magazines and the time difference is drastic.

  • Convenience: Stripper clips are small and light, so you can carry a bunch of ammo without taking up much space. Also, a fully loaded 30-round AR magazine weighs around 1 lb, whereas three loaded 10-round stripper clips weigh a lot less. Although it’s always best to carry loaded magazines on your load-bearing vest, carrying loaded stripper clips rather than loaded magazines in your backpack or rucksack allows you to save weight and space without impacting your ability to sustain fire in contact.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Stripper clips are a MUCH CHEAPER and therefore budget-friendly alternative to magazines. We sell 15 of our polymer stripper clips for $7.99, or 30 for $14.99, meaning you can fully load up to 10 30-round magazines for less than the cost of a single PMAG. They last for 80+ uses and can also be used as smokeless emergency fire kindling.

  • Reliability: Stripper clips are simple; unlike magazines they have no moving parts or mechanisms to fail. Furthermore, our polymer stripper clips are weather-proof and function perfectly in amphibious environments. Carrying extra loaded magazines in your bag for long periods of time in adverse environments can induce weapon malfunctions if your magazines become waterlogged, frozen, and/or obstructed with debris such as mud and sand.  

Revolver speed clip
Revolver speed clip - even cowboys recognized the importance of a speed loader

In summary, 5.56/.223 stripper clips are a must-have for anyone who understands the value of loading both faster and easier and who wants to get most out of their time at the range or out in the field. Arming yourself with the knowledge of what they're for, how they're made, and how to use them correctly enables you to employ them effectively. Whether you're just out for fun, aiming for top scores, or beginning your career in the military, getting the hang of using stripper clips can really take your shooting skills and combat effectiveness to the next level.

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