Clips, Mags, and the 9mm Revolver

I like my revolvers like I like my automatics — in a caliber I can afford to shoot a lot of. As such, it’s not a surprise the revolvers I own are either in 9mm or 22LR. I’m a big fan of the 9mm revolver and the Ruger LCR, in particular, is one of my favorites. I started thinking, can I use a 9mm magazine to load a 9mm revolver. Like some kind of deadly Pez dispenser? 

Well, there was only one way to find out. I grabbed some Global Ordnance 9mm, my Ruger LCR in 9mm, a Glock 17 mag, and a Savage Stance mag. I grabbed different mags to see if the design difference made a difference. The idea seems silly, but I figured science demanded an answer.

Mags Vs. Clips in the 9mm Revolver

The Ruger LCR 9mm revolver utilizes moon clips. These teeny tiny pieces of metal hold five rounds in a circular design, making dropping ammo and reloading pretty easy. Moon clips work exceptionally well and tend to be fairly cheap. The downside is that moon clips are flimsy, bend easily, and are kind of bulky. 

9mm magazine and moon clip
Mags are longer but slimmer.

Packing extra moon clips involves some form of a pouch, which are often also bulky and make retrieving your moon clip equipped round slow. The pouches tend to print, too, though some are better than others. The Speedbeez designs are nice and are made from modern polymers. A company called Jeffrey Custom Leather makes a nice combination device to carry spare moon clips, too. 

magazine and moon clip, both loaded with 9mm cartridges
Which is easier to carry?

Most are super bulky, though, and the good ones tend to be expensive. What’s not bulky and not always expensive are the dozens of different mag pouches. You can carry mags in special pocket setups, IWB, OWB, and basically any way you want to carry one. Carrying a 17-round mag might be easier than carrying three moon clips full of ammo. Heck, carrying a ten-round magazine gives you two reloads without hardly any bulk. 

The real question is, does it work? 

Lighting it Up With the 9mm Revolver 

To find out if it works, I went to the range with my mags, my gun, a shot timer, and some ammo. I devised a simple drill. I’d drop a full moon clip in the gun loaded with four empty cases and one live round. 

Ruger LCR, magazine, and moon clip
Can we load a 9mm revolver with a magazine?

With the shot timer, I’d hit the go button and fire that one round. I’d then eject the empties and reload with the magazine. The drill ended when I fired one round after the guns reloaded. 

magazine and moon clip for reloading 9mm revolver
Both can load a revolver, kind of.

I used a Neomag to store the spare magazine. I tried it a few different ways. First, I kept the gun in my dominant hand and reloaded round by round with my off-hand. Trying to push rounds out of the magazine and into the cylinders while spinning the cylinder proved to be less than intuitive. 

Loading Ruger LCR revolver with a magazine
Loading the LCR with the mag took some practice to master.

My first run was 15 seconds. That’s long enough to load a black powder pistol and fire, so I switched it up. I opened the cylinder and used the middle finger of my non-dominant hand to push the cylinder out of the gun. I’d transfer the 9mm revolver from my firing hand to my off-hand with my middle finger and thumb holding the cylinder. 

Then I’d use my dominant hand to deposit the rounds one by one into the cylinder as I rotated the cylinder with my thumb. Once loaded, I’d close the cylinder and fire one round to end the drill. My best time broke right below ten seconds after two runs. 

Does It Work? 

Sure, in the fact that you can reload a 9mm revolver cylinder with a magazine. I didn’t see much difference between a double stack or a single stack magazine. I found the smaller, shorter magazine easier to grip and empty when reloading. It’s just less clumsy than the larger mag. Maybe a P365 mag would be the best of both worlds? 

While you can use the Pez of death to reload your 9mm revolver, it’s not very fast. I timed my reloads with a moon clip and with loose ammo. Tossing a moon clip in takes about a third of the time with the same drill. A three-second reload isn’t that tough with moon clips. 

I attempted to reload as fast as I could with a pocket full of loose ammo, and that turned out to be the slowest way to reload, unsurprisingly. Reloading from a 9mm magazine is a lot easier than loading with loose ammo. It’s more intuitive and much easier to draw a mag than a fistful of cartridges.

Ruger LCR 9mm moon clip reload
Ejection with a moon clip is simple and easy.

Without a moon clip, extracting empties can be a pain. Sometimes they shake out easily enough. Other times a case or two will stick enough that it takes a thumbnail or a push rod to remove. That’s certainly an issue you’ll have to deal with for multiple reloads. 

But Why? 

The idea that one should carry a spare mag to reload their revolver is a little silly. It works and can be intuitive, but it’s still so much slower than just throwing in another moon clip. Sure carrying moon slips can be a bit of a hassle compared to magazines, but it’s a much faster and more intuitive way to reload your gun. 

I’m sure I could dream up a zombie apocalypse scenario or some wackadoo situation when my main gun goes down, my 9mm revolver is a backup, and I have to reload via magazine, but that doesn’t appeal to real life. 

Ruger LCR reload without a moon clip
The rounds work without a moon clip.

With all that said, I still plan to practice a little more with the concept. Maybe toss in some snap caps and practice the motions till I’m laying 9mm down like a chicken lays eggs. Maybe the time gap will shorten, but I doubt it will do so enough to make it practical.

Ruger LCR ejection without a moon clip
Without a moon clip, ejection isn’t easy.

I could deal with the bulk, but I just hate how easy it is to bend and deform moon clips. That’s a huge weakness. Especially if in the midst of a fight, you fall onto your moon clips. They’re easily bent, and when bent, they are worthless. A magazine tends to work and resist deformation.  

9mm Clips For my Ruger 

Admittedly I don’t carry a five-shot J-frame when I can carry a 10-round Sig P365 that’s basically the same size, if not smaller. However, it was a fun experiment, even if the overall theory was wacky, to begin with. 


Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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