The world of moon clips was fairly intimidating one for me until recently. When thinking of moon clips, I mostly pictured ultra-modern competitors with dozens of clips arrayed around a fancy shooting belt. . . or WWII-vintage revolvers. Of course that all changed when the 10mm GP100 came along. This gave me a legitimate motivation to learn more about them. Knowing enough to know that I don’t know what I don’t know, I reached out to an expert: Tom over at TK Custom. Tom was happy to provide some TK Custom moon clips and the associated tools to get started properly.
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TK Custom Moon Clips
When I first got my hands on the 10mm GP100, I was satisfied with the provided clips. After having gotten the chance to work with TK Custom clips I am convinced that they are a worthwhile upgrade. While the Ruger clips will get you started, if you shoot a lot you will want something better.
The provided clips are designed for use without tools. The deep cuts between each individual cartridge notch are designed to make the clip more flexible, allowing easy loading and unloading of the clip. At this, the design excels. It also does an excellent job of ejecting empties. Where the OEM clips don’t do a great job is with fast reloading. Because the cartridges are so lightly held, they are prone to “drooping” then held on anything other than a vertical plane. This effect is eve more pronounced with nose-heavy bullets like, like the 180-grain and up slugs the 10mm is known for shooting.
Lacking the cut between each cartridge, the TK Custom clips are much more rigid. This makes them much more suited to fast reloading of the revolver, and perhaps a bit less likely to get damaged. Unfortunately, this also means they are extremely difficult to load by hand. I learned this the hard way when I forgot my moon clip loader. That range day most consisted of firing without moon clips.
TK Custom moon clips are practically works of art, being finely machined out of stainless steel. each clip is labeled with a designated firearm, caliber, and thickness (to accommodate brass with wider or narrower extraction grooves) to prevent those of you with multiple moon-clip capable guns from mixing up your clips.
The TK Custom Moon Clip Loader
The TK Custom moon clip loader is extremely intuitive. It is made out of finely-machined aluminum and consists of two hinged arms. One arm (the wider one) has a post (called a mandrel) designed to hold a moon clip. The other arm is used to press cartridges into the moon clip. To use it, simply slide the clip over the mandrel. Align one cartridge’s extraction groove with an available slot on the clip, and rotate it into position adjacent to the notch on the other arm. Squeeze the two arms together and the cartridge will be pressed easily onto the clip. Insert another round, rotate the clip slightly, and repeat!
When I first started shooting the 10mm GP100 I was a little skeptical about the necessity of such a special purpose tool. I quickly found that during a high-volume range session this tool is indispensable. Not only does this make the loading process easier and faster, it also protects the loader. When loading clips by hand, forces can be applied to the clip in a variety of the directions. This can cause the clip to bend, and a bent moon clip will cause the revolver to bind. The appropriately-sized mandrel of the moon clip loader supports the clip, and the tool allows you to provide pressure only in the correct direction.
Though TK Custom moon clip tools are sold for specific revolvers, one tool can be interchangeable between many revolvers and calibers. TK Custom offers additional mandrels for just about every gun/caliber combo available.
The TK Custom Moon Clip Stripper
The TK Custom moon clip stripper (unloader) is about as uncomplicated as a tool gets. It isn’t much more than a large, metal tube on a screwdriver handle. The tip of the tube is notched so it can slip cleanly against the moon clip. To use it simply slip the tube over a piece of brass (or live round) on the clip. Pull away from the clips opening until the brass is released. The tube itself is hollow to allow brass or live rounds to fall into it, preventing them from going everywhere, and is long enough to accommodate six live rounds.
I found that this tool works best when used in tandem with the TK Custom moon clip loader. The clip can be difficult to hang onto when unloading due to the force necessary to extricate the cartridges. Instead of trying to hold onto the clip by hand, I invert the loader and slip the moon clip onto its mandrel. This both holds the clip and supports it as rounds are pulled out individually. After all six rounds have been pulled off, the loader stays on the mandrel, setting you up to load that clip again. Put together this prevents unnecessary range slow-downs and allows you to unload and reload moon clips quickly.
TK Custom Moon Clip Support
TK Custom makes moon clips for just about every clip-capable revolver imaginable. Supported manufacturers include Chiappa, Ruger, S&W, and Taurus revolvers, in 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-shot variants. TK Custom moon clips are available for guns chambered in .30 Carbine, .38 Short Colt, .38/.357, .380, 9mm, 10mm, .40 S&W, .41 Mag, .44 Special/Mag, .45 ACP, .45 LC, .454 Casull, and .460 S&W. Since there is no industry standard width for extraction groove found in ammunition, the width of this groove can vary widely and TK Custom can even accommodate this difference. Clips are available specifically for the following brass: Hornady +P .38 Special, Hornady Critical Defense, Aguila, Armscor, Federal, Fiocchi, PMC, Remington, Speer Gold Dot, Starline brass, and Winchester.
In addition to clips, TK Custom also makes a full line of support tools like loaders, extra mandrels, and unloaders. Finally, TK Custom even offers Smith & Wesson revolver parts. TK Custom makes competition hammers and springs, and two products that really interest me: a J-Frame spring upgrade kit, and a plug that fills the unsightly hole when the S&W lock is removed. The full lineup is available at TK Custom’s site, and most of their products are available on Amazon.com.
The Bottom Line
As I mentioned before, these tools initially seemed like a needless extravagance. I have put quite a few rounds through the GP100 and have become convinced that TK Custom moon clips, loaders, and unloaders are a necessity for running 10mm GP100. My range sessions would certainly be shorter and less pleasant without them. As for the moon clips themselves – if you plan to carry a moon-clip gun for defense against man or beast and deem a reload to be necessary, these clips are, too.