Advice for a New Mini 14 owner (NRA edition)


March 13, 2008, 06:54 PM
I just did something that may be a little foolish, I paid $799 for a blued Mini 14 with a 16 barrel.

I went half planning to get a Mini 14 but this NRA edition was just an expensive impulse buy. It comes with two 20 round mags and a pair of factory scope mounts so that softens the blow a little I guess. I could have gotten the stainless target model for about $40 less... but I really like the look of the shorter barrel and I guess the Hogue stock with the NRA medallion and the NRAxxxxxx SN are worth something. This rifle will be a shooter however so apart from the mags and the barrel I'm not sure there is much value in the special edition features.

The rifles purpose is purely fun in the desert and maybe the remotely possible SHTF situation... or maybe just so I can say I have one. This is my first .223 and my first centefire auto loader so I have a few dumb questions...

Aside from making sure the bore is clear and lubing the action up, what should I do to this new gun prior to shooting it? Any special advice for the new Mini 14 owner?

Ammo choices, is there any prevailing wisdom regarding what works best in a Mini 14? Whats a good deal and where?

A scope... what's a good but not too expensive scope to put on this gun? I don't think I'm looking for anything real fancy or powerful and I'm really not sure I want a scope at all... but I do have these rings sitting here. (1 by my measure) Are there any red dot type sights that might work better? Would a red dot also use the scope rings?

I appreciate any advice from the seasoned THR mind.


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The Wiry Irishman
March 13, 2008, 07:25 PM
Aside from making sure the bore is clear and lubing the action up, what should I do to this new gun prior to shooting it? Any special advice for the new Mini 14 owner?

Don't just lube it, clean it first. You'll be surprised at how much crap is inside a NIB gun. I think I blackened more patches cleaning my new FAL right out of the case than I did after shooting 200 rounds through it.

March 13, 2008, 08:42 PM
i am so jealous. that is sweet. for optics you can't beat a leupold but the burris fullfield II or bushnell elite series are excellent also. a 3x9x40 would be about right on the mini-14. i'd love to hear a range report in the future. please feed it good brass cased ammo.

March 13, 2008, 08:51 PM
Very pretty. Really, for the mini there aren't many special instructions from a historical perspective. Some will advise to not use steel cased ammo (stick to brass). I would buy some name-brand 55gr (winchester, whatever) to start with.

Keeping the bore clear is the single most important safety concern apart from the standard gun safety protocals. Use a light grease on the op-rod channel and a little on the camming surfaces of the bolt.

Maybe run a patch through it every 5 or 10 rounds for the 'break in' period (not really needed but DO as advised clean it BEFORE any shooting).

March 13, 2008, 08:53 PM
That's a great looking mini, dont let the AR guys tell you any different. You will really enjoy shooting it for fun. My mini shoots Wolf .223 and those factory 20 rounders work great. A mini doesnt need much maintenance and is a real work horse. Have fun with it.

March 13, 2008, 10:00 PM
Thanks for the advice guys. I just finished with a thorough cleaning, getting the bolt back in there was a bit of a puzzle but I enjoyed the challenge.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to shoot it tomorrow. I'm not sure how valuable a range report from a neophyte such as myself will be but I'll report back with how it went.

March 13, 2008, 10:32 PM
Spyvie, Y-O-U have the new toy that (even in the company of the jaded mini owners like me) is one we secretly desire and has renewed our interest in the platform--we will read any notes you share with sincere interest. Enjoy!

dagger dog
March 14, 2008, 07:59 AM
Get a recoil buffer, I know of two co. that make them, about 15$ and well worth it ,drops in and takes a lot of the slam bang out of the op rod slamming into the receiver, you may have to thin it down on a sander ,mine took two trys to get it to the correct thickness for the bolt hold open feature to work properly.

Wait till you shoot it !, compared to the ARs it's loud! wear plenty of hearing protection! It will definitley turn heads at the range.

Mine will digest any thing you put in it
but I like the Federal American Eagle, plus you can save the brass so you can "roll your own".

You will have to keep an eye on your brass 'cause the Mini is notorious about pitching the brass into the next state! One of these days I'm going to buy one of those adjustable gas blocks, then I can do away with the buffer and keep my brass from being scattered!

Make sure to keep the op rod gas piston area clean, after I plug the chamber and pour the barrel full of Hoppes until i can see it leaking out of the gas block, I let it soak for awhile then dump it out. you need to get a bore guide 'cause you have to clean from the muzzle, if you use a rod, it saves wear and tear on the muzzle.

You will grow to like that ugly rifle when I die that the one I want to take to Hell with me.!

March 17, 2008, 12:34 AM
Shot 90 rounds through my new NRA Mini, but I cant see the rear sight at all, my best group was about 5” at 50 yards. Definitely me rather than the gun. Back in the day jackrabbits were scared of me... I guess my eyes have suffered since then...

Bought a new 3-9x40 scope but I have not had a chance to shoot it yet, I'll post an honest range report when I do.

I'm looking into a recoil buffer, and possibly a gas block bushing. I'm a little worried about what the ejected brass may do to the scope.

Mike 56
March 17, 2008, 08:31 AM
http:// Rugers.jpg (72.6 KB)http:// Targets 007.jpg (75.2 KB)http:// 197 ranch.jpg (43.7 KB)I have a 197 Mini 14 Ranch rifle that i have tweaked i installed a smaller gas port bushing and retorqued the gas block, installed front and rear buffers made out of a vacuum cleaner belt, muzzle break, home made barrel strut (witch you should not need) Weaver see through rings, milled M1 Carbine rear sights, DIY trigger job (reduced trigger pull to about 4lbs), free floated barrel, installed a fore arm sling swivel to mount bi-pod ( Harris bi-pod adapter on gas block screwed up accuracy) Most Minis shoot better with a muzzle break you might want to try one and see if you need one. A Mini with buffers, muzzle break, and reduced gas port bushings will make your Mini feel like a 1022 when you shoot it and make your scope last for ever.

The factory ammo that shot best in my Mini was American Eagle 50 GR Flat Base Hollow Point.
The hand load that my Mini likes is 24 GR IMR 4064, 52 GR BTHP, CCI 400 small rifle primers, Winchester brass, OAL 2.230


Mike 56
March 17, 2008, 08:55 AM
Here is a link on how to retorque your gas block and install gas port bushings.

Barrel free floating link


March 17, 2008, 11:07 AM
Your mini will probably be more accurate than most due to the 16" barrel. It's a good rifle.

I believe the NRA mini is based on the Ranch Rifle, so you may not need a recoil buffer (the Ranch Rifle already has a recoil buffer setup from the factory), and the brass should eject clear of the scope for the most part. I owned a 188-series Ranch Rifle for years, and while the right-side windage adjustment cover was occasionally scratched by spinning brass, I don't think the brass was directly impacting the scope.

If you're worried about it, you could install a $30 Wal-Mart 2.5x fixed scope first to check out the system before moving up to the expensive scope.

March 17, 2008, 12:11 PM
Color me jealous...if I had known that was coming out, I wouldhave saved my $ and waited. But, I do have to say, I do like my Mini-14, going to try out some new magazines today.

March 17, 2008, 12:18 PM
the Ranch Rifle already has a recoil buffer setup from the factory
You sure about that? Where would this alleged buffer be located?

March 17, 2008, 03:51 PM
You sure about that? Where would this alleged buffer be located?
Yes, that's what it's called in the manual. On a Ranch Rifle, the rear of the recoil spring guide fits into a circular steel cup-shaped thing (the "buffer bushing," I think they called it) that is held in the receiver by a cross pin; that setup constutes the (patented) recoil buffer, and it looks like the intent is to prevent the op rod from slamming directly on the receiver; supposedly it does spread the duration of the impact forces, with the intent of protecting scopes from excessive shock transmitted through the receiver. As a result, an aftermarket recoil buffer made for the standard mini-14 probably won't fit a Ranch Rifle anway, but even if it would, it's probably not necessary because Ruger went to a lot of trouble to put one in from the factory.

Here's a diagram of a Ranch Rifle:

#18 is the recoil spring guide, #17 is the buffer bushing, and #16 is the cross pin that attaches the bushing to the receiver.

March 17, 2008, 03:57 PM
Don't just lube it, clean it first.

If I wanted to clean my gun, I wouldn't have bought a Mini-14. But then, mine's stainless.:D

WRT the recoil buffer... Mine broke. Just split right in half. Ruger sent me a new one, no hassle, no questions asked. Gun worked fine with it broken. I'd put a good amount of surplus 5.56 through it... I'd say, check it whenever you clean the gun. Since you bought the blue one, you will need to clean it occasionally.:p

dagger dog
March 17, 2008, 04:09 PM
The brass won't hit the scope. It pitches it about 15' forward and to the right. The only thing I worry about is finding the stuff!

March 17, 2008, 04:13 PM
It pitches it about 15' forward and to the right.

Yours must be defective if it only throws 15 feet.:D

March 17, 2008, 04:58 PM
#18 is the recoil spring guide, #17 is the buffer bushing, and #16 is the cross pin that attaches the bushing to the receiver.
Thanks. I was looking at that part on my Ranch rifle just last night, as it happens. Doesn't look like it would absorb much shock to me...

do you happen to have a diagram of the standard mini for comparison?


Armed Bear, I was just about to say the same thing... mine launches brass about 30' if it's an inch. I should probably install a smaller gas port.

March 17, 2008, 05:05 PM
Doesn't look like it would absorb much shock to me...

As I said, mine split in half. My guess is that its purpose is to absorb impact and fail before the receiver does, not to smooth out the impact.

March 19, 2008, 01:16 PM

March 21, 2008, 05:21 PM
Did you figure out ifthe brass hits the scope?

March 21, 2008, 08:49 PM
nolyaw, the brass does not hit the scope at all... it bounces off of the lane partition then hits me in the right temple and falls at my feet:D

I had a chance to shoot my new rifle and scope combo today. I still don't really know what the heck I'm doing, and it seems the more I practice with this thing the more I realize I need more practice.

It was very windy at times, but I did manage to get off a couple of under 2” three shot groups that impressed me a little. The groups do seem to expand some as the barrel gets hot, then come back together after just a few minutes of cooling. But I gotta admit I haven't really settled down enough yet to call any of my methods scientific.

One range official is was telling me to use two shot groups for sighting, and it seems I mostly read about three shot groups on the gun forums. I guess a five shot group would tell a little more about heat issues, and I tried 5 but then kept shooting at the same targets and lost track of what was what.

Question: What is the standard number of rounds for measuring accuracy?

I did learn a little something today, or at least reinforced something I had always suspected... and that is gun culture people are without a doubt the nicest people you'll ever find. The guy in the lane next to me was shooting an AR, I asked a couple of dumb questions about it and the next thing I knew I was shooting his gun... his very very cool gun. The bad news is... I think I need one.

The picture shows the last pair of hundred yard targets I used. The squares are one inch. My barrel was warm but not cold for both of those 3 shot groups. I was trying to hit the center of that vertical bar on the top target in the pic. I don't know why I only circled three of the holes on the lower right, I believe that was actually an attempt at a five shots and I just missed the paper on one of them. I do think the spread is mostly my fault, I lose focus after a few shots. I think I need to slow down, and I really need a coach. I'll be looking into a class soon.

March 27, 2008, 06:05 PM
it a keeper then? I am contemplating the same purchase. Are you using sand bags at the range for propping?

March 27, 2008, 06:20 PM
Yes it's a keeper, and yes I am keeping it.

The shorter and stouter barrel represents most of the custom work needed to get decent accuracy out of a standard (old style) pencil barrel Mini, that along with the 2 hi-cap factory mags and the commemorative features make the rifle well worth the price.


I bought a 20” A3 Bushmaster this morning :D ...mostly because I don't wanna be swimming upstream when I attend Appleseed next month.

March 27, 2008, 07:18 PM
Question: What is the standard number of rounds for measuring accuracy?

Five shots, at the very minimum. Anyone can shoot a good three shot group.

dagger dog
March 29, 2008, 04:59 PM
Bench rest guys use 5 to get the accuracy scores, but usually 3 shots for sighting in a scope is enough, the rifle should be bore sighted with the eye ball down the barrel looking at the target then the cross hairs of the scope dialed in to that same spot, or laser , optical bore sighter.

Then once you're"on the paper" it's one over one under and guess where the third one is going! If you did your part and there's no wind it's in the bull.

March 29, 2008, 05:39 PM
those groups are very good for a mini14

mine wouldnt even come close to that, it was more like a 4-5 inch rifle.

my ar's have always been way more accurate than my mini's, but those 1-2" inch groups your getting are great.

about as good as a good ar field rifle and that is saying something in my opinion.....

if my mini had shot as well as yours does, i probably would have never owned any of my ar15's.

pretty rifle too, very sleek and looks like it would handle nicely too.

March 29, 2008, 06:20 PM
Looks like a nice little rifle. I wish I had yours rather than the one I have. Enjoy banging away with it!

March 29, 2008, 07:50 PM
Sell it before you hate it.

April 13, 2008, 03:29 PM
Have you had a shootout between the AR and the NRA RR?

April 13, 2008, 05:52 PM
Have you had a shootout between the AR and the NRA RR

No, not yet. I've been busy setting up a 10/22 LTR with Tech-Sights for the Appleseed shoot this coming weekend.

As much as I like the Mini I don't think it would be much of a contest betwwen it's 16” barrel and my Bushmaster's 20” HBAR.

Right now I have a Nikon Prostaff 3-9X40 BDC scope on the Mini and just the irons on the Bushy. Seems I didn't have much luck with the rear peep sight on the Ruger the first time I had it out so I bought the scope. I have since been able to get under 3” groups at 100 yards with the Bushy's irons so maybe I have peep sights under control now. At any rate as soon as this weekend's shoot is over I'll probably switch the scope over to the flat top AR and go with the stock sights on the compact little Ruger.

I'm just starting to get a grip on what I'm doing with these rifles, and hopefully I'll have an even better grasp of the concept after next week. I will then post a full report with 5 shot groups out of the NRA Mini.

EDIT: If anyone on the front range or thereabouts wants to try out the new Ruger give me a holler, you show me a good place to shoot it and I'll bring the ammo.

April 13, 2008, 07:04 PM
Nice lookin mini. I'd love to get the target version but I can't afford it right yet.

Though I did get my regular mini barely used for $350.

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