Marlin 30 30 or Mini 14 ?


December 5, 2006, 11:23 PM
I would appreciate your input on a delema I am facing, I want a new rifle, primarily for home defense, range time etc. and I'm bouncing back and forth between the Marlin and the Ruger. The marlin is cheaper but the ammo costs more than 223, I might be able to use the Mini in three gun and then the Mini has a bad rep. for acuracy. The Marlin may be more accurate? I'm getting older so I will probably add a scout scope to either one. Help !!!

If you enjoyed reading about "Marlin 30 30 or Mini 14 ?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
December 5, 2006, 11:44 PM
Personally, I think the 30-30 and a Mini_30_ would be a more apples to apples comparison in terms of ballistics.

The new Mini's are supposed to be substantially improved in terms of accuracy (that doesn't mean they are match target rifles, but they should be respectable and consistent). If you are going to shoot a lot, either the 14 or 30 would pay for itself over time in money you save on ammo over the 30-30.

I love lever actions, but if its an either/or choice, I think the Mini's are hands down more practical and more versatile. My biggest complaint about lever actions is the process of loading and unloading them, its archaic. Detachable magazines, IMHO, are a better way to go. If I could only have a 14 -OR- a 30, I would go for the Mini-30 -- I think its a better round for HD and you can hunt up to deer size animals with it. My $.02

December 5, 2006, 11:45 PM
Im not super familiar with either, I did own a Mini 14 for awhile but sold it when the cash looked better than the rifle.

The ability to quickly insert a mag into an empty gun and be ready to go puts a check in the mini 14 column. Might not be a concern for you but I dont tend to keep rifles loaded all the time and yet I like them quickly deployable.

The ability to quickly change mags also makes a huge may never be in a projected fire fight, but if your buying for self defense you must at least see some remote possibility of one.....another check for the mini 14

Lever guns are probably not on the Anti-gun Democratic you can still get one a year or more out if you still want nod to the evil looking mini 14 again. Wouldn't it suck to buy the lever gun only to discover you really wanted the mini but they where unavailable or the cost had doubled or something ?

As you mentioned the ammo is cheaper, and while both calibers are pretty common, the 223 is simply everywhere, again one for the mini 14.

I like to practice off - hand, sitting, and prone. Lever guns rerally suck in prone, and in fact are arguably harder to keep on target in any position......certainly debatable (and I'm sure someone will) but I would say again, the mini wins this round too.

my .02, but hey, you asked :)

Good Luck,


December 5, 2006, 11:51 PM
What do you already have and how much for each rifle, respectively?


December 6, 2006, 12:08 AM
I really like both guns. I have a few Marlins and they all work great. I would not feel undergunned having to use one of them for SD. I really like the Mini as well. I have not seen one break or have any substantial problems.

I just picked up a new 580 Series mini that is supposed to be more accurate. I cann't get to the range for a couple of more weeks, so I will have to hold off commenting on it until then.

Reliable mags for the mini can be a problem to consider, but the Mini is probably going to be a more fun gun to shoot.

Either way you will be good.


December 6, 2006, 12:10 AM
Marlin 30-30, however if you can find a marlin .357 that would be the way to go. Would work as home defense rifle, could hunt with it, and cheap enough to plink with which is what I consider the downfall of the 30-30. I would not suggest the mini-14. I know lots of people like them, but I've never had luck with them. If you want a good 223 semi auto, a bone stock AR won't be too far off the price of a ruger mini-14. The AR is basically a grownup version of a tinkertoy. You can get you a .22 upper for cheap fun and practice, or even if you just stick with one upper the .223 is pretty cheap to shoot too.

Baba Louie
December 6, 2006, 12:32 AM
Lever guns are probably not on the Anti-gun Democratic aganda...Maybe not, but Ted kennedy has had his sights on the .30-30 round (cop killer)... sigh

If I did 3-gun I'd opt for the mini with some additional improvements thrown in... which cost some money. But I don't, so I'd go for a Marlin... but I'd look at a .357 (for home defense and range time... deer hunting is different)
Wish they made these in Trapper form (16" bbl) ala their 1894SS357LT Limited Edition.

High Planes Drifter
December 6, 2006, 08:42 AM
For your application, SD and range useage, I'd recomend the Marlin in .357. Hot .357 ammo from Buffalo Bore approaches .30-30 velocity. Here is a link:

While I dont have the numbers to back my claim up, I'd imagine that the 125 gr. load traveling at near 2300fps will produce more energy than most .223 loads. For range use, you can pick up inexpensive .38 plinking ammo. The .357 with good ammo will suffice as a close range deer gun. For what you want to use the gun for I would pick the .357 lever over either of the mini's. I love my .30-30 but if I get another lever, it wil be a .357.

December 6, 2006, 10:00 AM
i'd jump on a mini, primarily for one reason already mentioned....they might be harder to come by, or even MORE expensive(if that's possible) in a short time. i love the mini-14. i think it fills a bunch of roles wonderfully. if you have a hankering for one, get it. if you look hard enough, you will always be able to find a used lever gun somewhere on the cheap. in the meantime, enjoy the hell out of a mini, and once in awhile, buy yourself a box of 30-30. down the road, you can pick up a marlin, and you'll already have a stash of ammo for it, and won't even feel the pinch.

December 6, 2006, 10:03 AM
Marlin. If you want a home/hunting .223, get a Saiga sporter stock version. They're much more accurate than the Mini, and cost less, too.

To me, the Mini is something that was made before they knew better, and is inherently flawed. Much better options now.

December 6, 2006, 10:06 AM
Thanks for the reply's, if this wasn't Ca. I'd probably be asking for advice between an AR or an AK and in answer I don't have a rifle at this time, I shoot Glocks.

December 6, 2006, 12:01 PM
I think that both are excellent choices for fun and home defense. In fact, these are going to be my next 2 guns. I am getting the mini first since i am getting a good deal on a gb model from my dad. Ill bet that whichever one you get, you will eventually get the other. I suggest you go with the mini first, since it is the more expensive. That way, your next gun wont set you back as much. Perfectunion has a forum dedicated to the mini with tips on accurizing and such. If you go with the lever route first, I would definitely suggest the 30-30 over the .357. With hornady's new leverevolution ammo, you can get 300 yard range on deer.

George S.
December 6, 2006, 12:20 PM
IMHO, comparing the Marlin and the Mini-12 is comparing apples to oranges. The Mini is semi-auto while the Marlin is lever action. The Mini has a much higher rate of fire and capacity simply because you can get 30 round mags, and reloading the Mini is quick and easier simply because of the detachable magazines.

I don't know a lot about the ballistics of the .30-30 but either one as HD should work. Ammo costs will be cheaper with a Mini-14 as the .223 can be had from a wide variety of companies. You could reload either one as needed. The Mini-30 in 7.62x39 may be a closer comparison to the .30-30 round.

As far as accuracy, the Mini-14 has an (undeserved) reputation for poor accuracy, but Ruger's intent was never to make it a MOA rifle. The ads in the Ruger catalogs showed it as useful for protecting the "Ranch" from varmints that were either 4-legged ot two! There was a LEO/Military version that was more accurate but the GB is not easy to find.

Ruger has just released an Target version of the Mini-14 that looks like it will be 1-2MOA capable at 100 yards rifle right out of the box. There are mods that you can perform to esisting Mini-14's that will make big improvements in accuracy. My Mini-14 will easily shoot 3" groups at 100 yards with bulk 55gr FMJ after about $80 in mods. At 50 yards, it will shoot quarter-sized groups with the factory open sights.

I would think that the Mini would take more abuse in rough conditions; the action is patterned after the M1 Garand and that design saw horrible conditions in combat and still functioned well.

The Mini-14 in .223 is not a hunting rifle. Many states don't allow .22x calibers for game like deer. Some people do hunt deer with them where legal, and at short distances like <100 yards, you could take a deer, but shot placement would be critical.

One nice thing about the Minis is they don't look like an EBR. From a distance and with the factory 5-round mag in place, it looks like any other semi-auto rifle that you might see a hunter use.

December 6, 2006, 01:07 PM
I agree that the 357 Marlin would be a better choice for defensive purposes. The Mini (or any rifle cartridge) has the problem of overpenetration. A pistol cartridge would be less likely to go through your neighbor's bedroom!

For maybe $100 over the Ruger Mini you could get BOTH a Saiga in 223 and a Marlin carbine.


December 6, 2006, 01:52 PM
I would think that the Mini would take more abuse in rough conditions

Moreso than Mr. Kalashnikov's design? I do not think so. Moreso than the solid Marlin? Probably not that, either.

December 6, 2006, 03:45 PM
Well, the 30-30 round will certainly remove any worries you might have about home invaders wearing body armor.

You may, however, have some over-penetration issues to think about.

Remington, I believe, makes some stuff call "Accelerator" (part of their "Express" line of ammo) which throws a 55 grain round from a 30-30 casing. Ballistics not much different from the 55 grain fired from an AR, so I'm told.

If I were loading up my Marlin for HD, I'd make sure the first two rounds to arrive in the chamber were the Accelerators, followed by standard 170 grain soft points. I figure if I need that third and fourth round I'm gonna be hollering, "Scotty! I need more power!" and over-penetration is now the least of my worries.

If you're going to plink with a 30-30, your bank account needs to be stronger than mine, and you'll need a recoil pad. Of course, if you get a reloading rig, cost may no longer be a boogie man, but that recoil pad is gonna be your friend. I can only do 40-50 rounds (no pad) before my shoulder tells me to lay off.

Recently read some box-o-truth results that seem to indicate that the .223 round is acceptable for indoor work compared to 9mm and other ball ammo from pistols.

Outside, the ballistic arc of the .223 is flatter. The .223 ammo is cheaper.

If varmints figure in your thinking, then .223 is good (also the 55 grain Accelerator, wallet permitting). There is, of course, an alternative to the Mini 14: I recently picked up a Kel-tec SU-16A ( see report at ). It accepts standard AR-style mags. Eats everything. Plinks good.

Not to throw you a curve or anything, but I recently picked up the Marlin 1894C (.357 & .38) to be the bookend to my 336C (.30-30) for a couple of reasons:
1) ammo cost for plinking (large box of .38 costs little bux)
2) wide range of loads available, including suitable home defense stuff
3) it'll do varmints
4) with the .357 loads it will bring down large game
5) it's pretty.

Oh, and the 1894C holds more rounds than the 336C (no surprise).

Final point: in a defensive situation you won't have time to load a lever gun, so it has to already have something in the magazine; a removable box magazine (Mini 14, Mini 30, Mini whatever) makes getting from rifle-with-no-rounds to a rifle-with-ammo condition lots faster.

December 6, 2006, 03:57 PM
I have a few Marlins and they all work great

Do you already own a lever gun? if you do, go with the Mini-14

Are you an A-Team fan or a Western Fan?

Do you hunt? If you do go with the 30/30.

I like the Mini for home defense. Sure you can get a 1894C, but right now it 30/30 vs. .223. Cost wise and for range fun I would go with the .223.

High Planes Drifter
December 6, 2006, 05:04 PM
[B]I would think that the Mini would take more abuse in rough conditions; B]
Perhaps more than a Winchester, I dont know I've never owned a model 94. But I do own a Marlin 336 and I know they are overly built. As I understand it they are manufactured with a solid reciever and an oversized bolt. Honestly I dont think a mini would outlast the Marlin or take any more abuse than a model 336. Mine is over 30 years old and functions perfectly, and it looks great.

December 6, 2006, 05:17 PM
I have some old Marlin rifles (120, 113, 70, 55, and 30) and they all shoot and cycle well. My 1889 Marlin in 38-40 is slick as "snot" using blackpowder loads.

The newer ones (cowboys) are even faster.


December 6, 2006, 05:36 PM
Remington, I believe, makes some stuff call "Accelerator" (part of their "Express" line of ammo) which throws a 55 grain round from a 30-30 casing. Ballistics not much different from the 55 grain fired from an AR, so I'm told.

If I were loading up my Marlin for HD, I'd make sure the first two rounds to arrive in the chamber were the Accelerators, followed by standard 170 grain soft points. I figure if I need that third and fourth round I'm gonna be hollering, "Scotty! I need more power!" and over-penetration is now the least of my worries.

The accelerator is loaded with a sharply pointed bullet, which means it cant be loaded into a magazine tube unless it is the very first inline without chainfiring. Also the load is considered pretty inaccurate, though i had pretty good luck with them in my 336.

While i love lever guns, the Mini 14 is a better choice for home defence, unless you're worried about various wild animals.

December 6, 2006, 06:47 PM
The guy who hunts coyotes with the Accelerator has had no problems, but he won't load more than four rounds at a time to reduce spring tension in the magazine.

Evidently, the powder charge on the saboted 55 grain round is small enough that the recoil won't set off a chainfire/slamfire scenario. That's according to an actual user. I have no face time with this round.

If the pointy bit is worriesome, then one could load the pointy Accelerator first, chamber that round, then load a few heavies into the (now empty) magazine.

That would give you a single round of low-penetration ammo before the thumpers.

(None of the above refers to the new Hornady ammo, which is pointy but uses a soft-ish plastic for the points to avoid embarassing multi-bang events in lever guns.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion.

December 6, 2006, 06:59 PM
Well, if you have ever read Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson's book "One Ranger: A Memoir", you will find that he used both over the course of his career. For slightly different purposes mind you, and he did state very clearly that when he got his first AR, that ended the Mini's service life for him. Still, he stated pretty clearly that he ALWAYS kept a carbine length 94 in 30-30 in his car, and he carried that up until the day he retired. If you haven't read the book, and have an interest in the west, I suggest you get a copy. It is a very good read.

December 6, 2006, 07:18 PM
Get the Mini-14.
You'll save some money on ammo for plinking and it's alot more fun gun as well.

Mini-14 DEFINATELY for home defense.

Get the Mini.

December 6, 2006, 07:39 PM
I own a Mini-14, I also have both a Marlin 1894cs and a 336cs I found in my old age that 10 rounds of 30-30 hurts a lot more than 10 rounds of .223 or .357mag. Just one more thing to consider.


December 6, 2006, 08:38 PM
How are you going to store this rifle for sd/shtf? Do you have a safe or safe storage area that allows you to set a loaded rifle up or are you going to pick up an empty rifle and load it as things are going bump (in the night).
I like the 30/30 lever as a sd gun but the sucker is slow to load-wouldn't want to do it under stress.
For a fast load it is hard to beat stuff the mag and drop the blot of a gas gun (even if it is the 14 with it's silly twist to seat mags.
I would suggest you get a used AR or a discount gun (Oly plinker or basic DPMS) Then you will have a reasonably priced plinking gun and a great defence weapon. (oops-sorry man,just picked up on the fact you are in Cali,scratch the AR)
The lever .357 still has the slow loading problem but is of course a great (and cheep)plinker.No ,it no way has the energy of a .223 but it of course has plenty unless you expect fighting off bad guys with vests and then you want the .223 or a 308

George S.
December 6, 2006, 09:18 PM
Moreso than Mr. Kalashnikov's design? I do not think so. Moreso than the solid Marlin? Probably not that, either.

When I made that distinction, I was comparing the two rifles in question. The AK-47 and the M-16 would hold up better in combat use than either the Mini-14 or the Marlin.

If you look at the different battle rifles over the wars, there are a lot of rifles that would certainly hold their own in the mud, snow, dust, dirt, sand, or jungle goo that would be found in combat conditions.

But the original question was comparing the Marlin against the Mini; no other rifles were originally considered.

If you enjoyed reading about "Marlin 30 30 or Mini 14 ?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!