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Old November 25th, 2008, 02:39 PM   #1
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The ultimate guide to 1903 and 1903a3 stripper clips

We have had a lot of questions about the proper stripper clips for these rifles so I thought I'd share this:

From Bob S on the CMP forum...

The Illustrated Guide to Clips that Work, and Some that Don't
3rd printing

The new-made clips that are sold by Champion's Choice, Champion Shooters Supply and Creedmore are the "gold standard". I got four of similar construction from Creighton Audette in 1965 or 66, and I still use them. (when I can find them!)

I've posted this several times before, the last time was a couple of years ago on the National Match Board:


You have to be a member there to read it, so for those who choose not to be a member there:

"Some clips that work …

I get asked, in person and on the web, what clips I use for the ’03. Usually, this is from an individual who has gotten a few of the “real” US GI clips, and has found out the hard way that these tend to fall apart after one use. They have small tabs on the ends of the spring that hold the cartridges in the clip. When the cartridges are pushed out of the clip, the small tab bends out of the way, and the cartridges can be stripped into the magazine. The springs have virtually no tension when the clip has no cartridges in it, and the spring will fall out of the clip body. Even with cartridges in the clip, there is insufficient tension to retain the cartridges without those little tabs on the end. To successfully re-use the clip, both tabs need to be intact, and bent back “up” to hold the cartridges. You may be able to do this once before the tabs snap off. Once the tabs are gone, simply picking up a full clip usually results in cartridges falling out. This is not conducive to good rapid-fire scores. A few GI clips in good condition are neat for display, but for actual use, there are much better options.

The absolute best are the stainless steel “match” clips that are sold by Champion’s Choice, Champion Shooters Supply, and probably others, for about 4 bucks a pair. Considering that 2 bucks is what I see people paying for the fall-apart US GI clips, these “match” clips are a real bargain … and they are rock-reliable. But there’s an even better bargain.

Swedish Mauser clips are minutely different in dimensions from the US clips, but they are so close that they have worked perfectly for me for many years. And, they are still available in quantity for very reasonable prices. I bought several unopened boxes of 40 clips each from SAMCO for $14 each. These also fit my Model 70 International and my South American 7mm Mausers (and the Columbian .30 conversions).

Swedish Mauser clip in an 03: Note that the lugs on the clip engage the notches in the 03 clip seat.

The Greek ball ammunition that hit the surplus market about 1998 was packed in aluminum stripper clips, and these fit properly, and work OK, but they are not as smooth or as durable as the Swedes. One collector told me that these aluminum clips were actually made in France, and are very similar to the French 7.5 x 54 clips. All of mine are stamped “7.62” on the base, along with maker’s initials and a date code:

AFAIK, all of the Greek ammunition that CMP is currently selling is packed either in 20 round cartons, or M1 clips.

I have been told that the Danish clips fit the clip seat and work OK, but they have a heavy phosphate coating that makes them a little “sticky”. Unfortunately, I missed out on the Danish ammo when it hit the surplus market, so this is anecdotal.

If you like brass clips, South American 7mm Mauser clips fit perfectly and work very well. Unfortunately, they are not always readily available, and can be pricey. I could not find my “stash” of them when I was taking pictures for this article.

Stay tuned for Part Deux.

Bob S.

Part 2 of 3:

And some that don’t ….

Probably the most ubiquitous clip these days is the 7.62 “NATO” clip. US 7.62 x 51 ball ammo came packed in these, as well as British Commonwealth ammo, and many of our Alliance partners. Often these are available for the asking, so it’s no wonder that they get used (or attempted to get used) for Springfields. The NATO clips have a single lug in the middle of the clip body, instead of two lugs near each end. The body is also narrower than the ’03 clips. The result is that the clip doesn’t seat properly in an ’03.

The clip body is not narrow enough to slip into the magazine, so if you use some “finesse”, you can make it work; but you could also end up very frustrated.

The next pic shows what happens if you attempt to use an 8mm Mauser clip: the body is so narrow that the whole clip with cartridges and all will enter the magazine. Not good!

For the observant ones: yes, those cartridges are 7.62 practice dummies; and no, that rifle is not chambered in 7.62. I have an Israeli K98k in 7.62, and a Yugo 24/47 with a Wilson military profile .308 barrel on it. I just borrowed one of the practice clips for a “prop” here.

Stay tuned for part 3...

Bob S.

Part 3 of 3:

One obstacle to smooth clip-loading an ’03 is the ejector. It sits almost directly beneath the clip slot:

With the bolt in the fully-retracted position, the ejector is free to flop about on its pivot axis, and since Murphy is alive and well, it is most likely to be in the position in the photo above: right in the way. The “trick” is to get the clip body behind the ejector, like so:

To get the clip body in this position, you need to ensure that the bottom of the full clip is angled slightly toward the butt when you push it down. Once the clip body is seated behind the ejector, the first round out of the clip will easily push the ejector completely out of the way. I also give the full clip a little side-to-side shake to make certain that it is properly seated before pushing the cartridges home.

"There is something special about the Garand: there is no other rifle quite like it. When you step up to the line with an M1 Garand, people will turn their heads and take notice. Strong men will respect you. Beautiful women will fall at your feet. The enemies of freedom will flee in dismay."

MSI EM --- NRA Endowment Member --- CMP Competitor --- NRA Expert HP Rifle

Last edited by Drmsparks; November 29th, 2008 at 11:18 PM.
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Old November 25th, 2008, 04:34 PM   #2
novus collectus
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Old November 28th, 2008, 07:40 PM   #3
Jim Keenan
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The correct M1903 clips are rounded on the ends specifically to push the ejector out of the way. That is why some other clips that seem to fit won't always work.

Maybe Champions Choice does make correct clips for the '03, but the ones I have seen are stainless steel M14 clips and won't stay in the '03 slot unless held in. For most civilian use, it might not matter, but the correct clips should stay in even if the rifle is bounced around while loading.

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Old November 29th, 2008, 10:12 PM   #4
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Just ordered some Swedish Mauser clips from SAMCO, thanks for the info I was looking for some.

The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms. Samuel Adams

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Old January 26th, 2010, 01:50 PM   #5
Pat Collins
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where can I get magazines for pre 1898 7mm mauser?
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