Revolver moon clips have been in use for over 100 years now, so it’s certainly not a new concept, but they’ve become more common in recent years. While moon clips were originally designed to hold rimless pistol cartridges, namely .45ACP, they’ve been produced for popular rimmed cartridges as well. In today’s Wheelgun Wednesday, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using these simple, affordable, revolver reloading speed boosters.
PROS OF USING MOON CLIPS
Moon clips have quite a few advantages in the bigger scheme of things, some of which are dependent on what you’re doing. Due to the low capacity of revolvers, reloading them quickly and efficiently is key, from a defensive or competition standpoint. Given that the moon clip holds all of the cartridges needed to refill the whole cylinder (with the exception of half, or two round moon clips) while fitting into the cylinder itself, the stage for speed is already set. As long as your moon clip reloads are readily accessible, you’re free to channel your inner Jerry Miculek.
Since your moon clipped reload is self-contained, once those rounds are fired, ejecting them is a breeze compared to ejecting individual cases since the weight of the clip and each case are tied together and assisted by gravity. It’s nice to have all my spent brass clear the cylinder at once, rather than having a sticky individual case or two that I have to spend time picking out the rest of the way. The other advantage of having your spent cases attached to the moon clip is that it makes finding them much easier than tracking down individual cases.
Because moon clips are made of thin, strong sheet metal, they are quite affordable when compared to speedloaders that cost around $10-20 each (or more for custom versions). You can thank the advent of moon clips for including pistol calibers into the world of wheelguns, and you can get the experience of shooting revolvers by using your favorite pistol cartridge without having to invest in a whole new caliber. To date, moon clips are made for 19 different cartridges in a myriad of capacities; .30 Carbine, .327Fed, .380ACP, 9mm, .38 Super, .38S&W, .38Spc, .357Mag, .40S&W, 10mm, .41Mag, .44 Spc, .44Mag, .45LC, .454Casull, .45ACP, .45 Super, .460S&W and .460 Rowland.
CONS OF USING MOON CLIPS
Despite the aforementioned advantages of moon clips, they’re not always the most revolutionary upgrade. Moon clips are pretty durable with normal handling, but if they get bent, they can bind up in the revolver, which can lead to a shorter range session. The easily ejected spent cartridges attached to the moon clip that are now on the ground can be stepped on, which could lead to bending.
Another issue is that there can be some wobble to the cartridges as they are held by the moon clip, some calibers like .38 Special and .357 Magnum, are said to wiggle more due to the shallower spot just forward of the case’s rim. This wobble can cause some frustration when loading, especially while on the clock, because each round is moving slightly independently of others. I found that .45 ACP ball ammo went in very smooth, but the geometry of the large round nosed projectile most likely aids the rounds to find their mark easier. This issue with other calibers may be less exaggerated with seven and eight round clips as there’s just not as much room for rounds to wiggle, but TFB’s Rusty S. noted some awkward moon clip loading in his S&W TRR8. He actually recommended speedloaders for defensive use. One thought is that if your defensive revolver accepts moon clips, you could carry your gun loaded with clips for a cleaner ejection, and follow up with a reload from a speedloader.
Speaking of defensive use, another downside to moon clips is that if you carry them concealed in a pocket, you add more time to your reload. When carrying moon clips in pockets, some people use a special cup designed to steady the business end of the cartridges to prevent the clip from bending. Moon clips have a slightly smaller diameter than that of a speedloader, but putting them in a pouch on your belt still reduces your overall concealment. One could carry half moon clips, but this may also require finer motor skills, repeated more often.
One final aspect to moon clips is that if you have a revolver chambered for rimmed cartridges is that you may be able to send your cylinder off to be cut for moon clips, while maintaining the ability to also load them individually as well. This service seems to range from $100-150, which could be positive or negative depending on your budget. If you’ve had your cylinder cut for moon clips, let us know about your experience in the comment section. I currently have a S&W 610, 10mm on loan for an upcoming TFB Wheelgun Wednesday review, which also uses moon clips, so stay tuned for that.
What do you think about moonclips for revolvers? What calibers do you have that utilize them? Are there any pros or cons that I missed? If you’ve been eyeing a revolver that uses moon clips, which models or calibers are you looking at?
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