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History of the Moon Clips

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Barkoff, Apr 17, 2011.

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  1. Barkoff

    Barkoff Member

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    When did shooters start using these, were they sold from the factory with this option, or was it strictly an after market conversion?

    Today how hard is it to find a smith that can do this, or can a owner have the manufacture do it?

    Rough estimate on the conversion costs to say a S&W?

    thank you.
     
  2. RidgwayCO

    RidgwayCO Member

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    My understanding is that moon-clips were invented during WWI when the U.S. government didn't have enough 1911 semi-autos to equip the troops, but lots of .45 Auto ammunition. Their temporary solution was to contract with S&W to build their large frame revolver (originally for the .44 Special and now what we call an N-frame) in .45 Auto with the cylinder modified to use half-moon clips. They worked well, and the concept has been adapted over the years for different guns and cartridges. The advantage of course is that reloads are much faster than a normal revolver, assuming you have your spare ammo already "clipped-up". I've also read that the shorter rounds (.45 Auto, 9mm Luger, etc) when "clipped" are quicker to reload than the longer rounds (.38 Special, .357 Magnum, etc).

    Today there are a couple of gunsmiths who specialize in this conversion, although many (most?) gunsmiths could probably do this for you. The two I'm familiar with are TK Custom and Pinnacle High Performance. I'm currently having Pinnacle convert a S&W M649-3 into a "convertible" with two cylinders, the original in .357 Magnum and a newly-purchased cylinder converted to 9mm Luger using full moon-clips. Just to convert a cylinder costs around $225. Mine will cost a little more because they'll also have to fit the new cylinder to the frame. The 9mm Luger moon-clips (originally for their M940) are available directly from S&W for a little less than $1.50 each, shipped.
     
  3. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn Member

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    I have an old 1917 Colt, uses them, I like it for that revolver 45acp, original speedy loader:D

    I have them in half moon and full moon...:)

    More info on them...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_clip
     
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    They work very well with short auto-pistol calibers like the .45 ACP, 10mm/.40 S&W, and 9mm.

    Not so good with longer rimmed revolver calibers, as the clips are by necessity, thinner and the rounds in the clips tend to wobble all over the place while reloading.
    The thin clips also bend easier then the thicker auto-pistol caliber clips.

    S&W currently catalogs several models & calibers that are moon-clip ready.

    rc
     
  5. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    RidgwayCO, I think you summed the history of the moonclip up pretty well. However, a question I've never had answered to my satisfaction is why the military and/or S&W came up with the 3 round clip instead of the nowadays more familiar 6 round variant. The only scenario I can envision that might favor the 3 round clip on the battlefield is the ability to perform a "tactical" reload (i.e., being able to open the cylinder during a lull in the heat of battle, extracting three expended cases whilst not affecting the three loaded remaining rounds and replenishing the cylinder with another loaded three round clip); however, I'd be the first to concede that this theory is a bit of a reach. But why 3 instead of 6 if the concept of a "tactical reload" played no part in the development of the moonclip?
     
  6. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The three round clip was probably chosen because it was more convenient to carry than a six-round clip. S&W designed the clip and I am fairly sure they knew about 6 round clips as they had been used in England for at least a couple of decades at that time.

    The Army contracted to both S&W and Colt for revolvers in that period. Once the clip was approved, the Army had Colt use it also, but the first Colt's had no chamber shoulders, meaning the clip had to support the cartridge as well as aid in extraction. The Army gave the designation Revolver, Cal. 45, Model 1917 to both the Colt and S&W revolvers.

    Jim
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I agree it was chosen for logistics reasons.
    Half-moon clips kind of nest together in a cartridge box, or belt pouch.
    They hardly take up more room in an ammo box then loose ammo.

    Full-moon clips don't, and leave a lot of air space in the packaging.
    Be it ammo crates, the ships & trucks transporting them, individual ammo boxes, or belt pouches.

    WWI belt pouches contained three pockets, each holding two half-moon clips of ammo, for a total of 18 rounds per belt pouch.
    A pouch for three moon-clips would be the same length, but twice as thick.
    http://www.simpsonltd.com/product_info.php?products_id=19076

    rc
     
  8. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    The three round clip allowed the military to put the loaded clips in packaging that was developed to hold the ammo in rows of two. The packaging would carry 20 rounds unclipped or 18 when clipped. Somewhere I have a photo of the loaded box, in a book but if I find it I will scan and post.

    S&W developed a full moon clip but it was a delicate item and not suitable for military usage. The current full moon came about from the trick of welding 2 half moons together. Someone looked at the welded up versions and put the "spokes" on the outside rather than inside.

    Ranch Products, (Malinta Ohio) is one of the best suppy houses for the moon clips.
     
  9. sideways

    sideways Member

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    Are all 45acp moonclips the same as far has being interchangable from S&W to Colt or who ever makes wheel guns in 45acp?:confused:
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The 1917 S&W and Colt .45s use the same clips. So do equivalent commercial models.
    The Taurus Tracker .45 is a horse of a different color. Only 5 shots and its own clip.
    I don't know of any other .45 clipguns offhand.

    As Jim K says, the clip was not a new concept. The 1902 Webley-Fosberry .38 High Velocity (Same as .38 Colt Auto.) was an eight-shooter with clip loading. Makes you wonder how S&W got a patent in light of prior art.
     
  11. Barkoff

    Barkoff Member

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    So would you guys think full moon clips any easier to feed than a speed loader? I tried speed loaders with a model 60, I couldn't get them in any quicker than doing two at a time with the speed strips. The speed loaders were a tight fit to get at the proper angle to drop all the cartridges in at once..
     
  12. Justin

    Justin Moderator Staff Member

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    Smith and Wesson makes the Mod. 625, which is chambered in .45 and takes moon clips. Among the IPSC revovler shooters I know, this is the predominate choice.

    I'm told that moon clips are the best and fastest way to reload a revolver, and having seen some master and grand master level revolver shooters, I can believe it.

    Sent from my Android smart phone using Tapatalk.
     
  13. loadedround

    loadedround Member

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    I have an older model 25-2 S&W in 45 ACP that uses moon clips. The barrel is marked "Model of 1955". The 625 is the same revolver, but updated and in stainless steel.
     
  14. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    Barkoff asked: "So would you guys think full moon clips (are) any easier to feed than a speed loader?"
    In terms of reloading a revolver speedily, nothing is faster than moon clips. No need to disengage cartridges from a conventional speed loader. With moon clips, you just dump the whole kit and caboodle (cartridges and moon clip) into the cylinder, close it and you're on your way.
     
  15. RidgwayCO

    RidgwayCO Member

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  16. Drail

    Drail Member

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    With a full clip properly sized to allow a little "jiggle" and mildy chamfered chamber openings the full moon clip IS the fastest way to reload a revolver. I have stood next to Mr. Miculek and watched him do it and it's so fast you can't really see how he's doing it. Slow motion video allows the details to come out. He told me that he learned to actually "throw" the clip at the cylinder from 3 in. or so away instead of trying to line up the rounds and guide it in. He laughed when I looked at him like he was pulling my leg and said "Try it and see what you think". He was right. With round nosed bullets the clip will self align pretty much every time. But you got to have that little bit of "jiggle". Though I will NEVER be as fast as Jerry Miculek it is pretty amazing when you can pull a revolver reload in a match faster than a guy with a semi auto. A shooter with a 625 S&W who has practiced for a while is always lots of fun at a match where no one has seen one before. It's also very nice picking up empty brass clipped together instead of scattered all over.
     
  17. DWFan

    DWFan Member

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    E.E. Neal.....US Patent #923068 issued 5-25-1909
    (Just thought I'd throw that out there.)
     
  18. wrangler5

    wrangler5 Member

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    Moon clips have none of the grip clearance issues that some speedloaders do with some grips. Also, there's no expensive gizmo to throw on the ground (and hope you don't step on) after you've dumped the rounds into the cylinder - just close it up with your left hand while your right hand goes for the grip. It's also much easier to pick up clipped empties. :D
     
  19. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Thanks for that mention DWFan..!


    This is the first actual info I have encountered on this.

    Usually one is told, that S&W invented it in 1917, and, assigned the invention to the Gov't.

    That never quite seemed plausable to me, since the Brits had some versions much earlier, and, common sense would have sought a method for using 'Rimless' Cartridges in Revolvers able to be adapted to it, son as such Cartridges were becoming popular for the early Autoloaders.

    Now, maybe Mr. Neal, being in and from Springfield Mass at the time, was affiliated with or worked for S&W, and or maybe S&W ended up with the rights at some point...and or, it would be interesting to find out anyway.
     
  20. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn Member

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    This is mentioned in the Wiki link...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_clip

     
  21. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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  22. Specs

    Specs Member

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    I foolishly sold a S&W 25 back in the late 1970s. The half moon clips were great to use, and if I were to convert a cylinder to use them I would opt for 1/2 moon, not full moon for all of the above reasons.

    I recently looked into getting a Ruger 357 LCR converted to use 1/2 moon with 9mm, but due to a technical problem reassembling the cylinder, they are not available at this time. Perhaps Ruger will market a 9mm LCR in the future, I know that I would buy one for sure. All they would need to do is cut the cylinder down a bit and make the 1/2 moons.
     
  23. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    In a 5 shot gun,half moons would not work, as 5 is an odd number. You would need 5 shot full moons, or a 2/3 and a 1/3 moon. Full would be the best answer.
     
  24. Specs

    Specs Member

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    Full moons is the correct answer. My LCR is only 5 shots. I know Ruger made them for one of their revolvers. I was still thinking about my model 25 S&W and remembering how handy the 1/2 moons were.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  25. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn Member

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