The Mini-14


The Janitor
November 7, 2008, 10:04 AM
Not sure why this rifle gets so much flak. It's not a precision rifle by any means, but it is lightweight, rugged, fairly cheap, and accuracy is about on par with your average AK. Hell, I might even go as far as to call it the American take on the AK.

Never had any reliability problems with mine using Promags and SS109. Got mine rigged up with a holographic sight and a sidefolder. Makes a good little coyote blaster/general plinker.

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Phil DeGraves
November 7, 2008, 10:08 AM
Totally agree. It was never designed to be a competition rifle. It was a factory version of the M1 Carbine set up in .223, a pretty good all around idea. I remember seeing M1s rechambered to ".22 Johnson" way back when, so Bill Ruger knew he had a market for it.

November 7, 2008, 10:59 AM
I haven't looked lately, but I remember Ruger marketed the Mini-xx rifles/carbines along the line of "..When a FEW quick shots are needed."

NOT designed to spend all day dumping lead downrange as quick as you could change magazines.

In the latest incarnation, I understand they have beefed up the barrels a bit and offer 20-round mags for some of the Mini-14's.

The Janitor
November 7, 2008, 11:06 AM
Supposedly, you can spend a few hundred on a kit and get MOA accuracy out of it. But yes, your group sizes can double or even triple after the barrel gets hot.

November 7, 2008, 11:17 AM
I have a 2007 Mini with the skinny barrel. After all the bad I had read about it I was surprised by how well it actually shot. I retorqued and evened the gas block, added home made buffers and installed the ASI middle sized gas bushing.

I tested it and after 30 shots when the barrel was blazing hot it still shot less than a 2" group with open sights and a poor rest. Plus with the new gas bushing the brass only goes about 8' and lands in a neat little circle.

My mini is one of the neatest, funnest guns I have ever fired. I can hit 2 liter bottles off hand at a hundred yards with nearly every shot. What more do you want?

November 7, 2008, 11:54 AM
I've got mine for a SHTF situation , which we sometimes get here in Florida.
Put a Madsen muzzle break on it and Mike Konifong's tiny gas valve.

I'll shoot 2" groups until the barrel really heats up and then it starts stringing.

But it's reliable . It's never failed no matter what ammo I've stuffed in it.

And that "clank" of the op rod when the looters are around really gets their attention.


November 7, 2008, 12:03 PM
how much do Mini's usually go for?

November 7, 2008, 12:19 PM
NIB $600 to $800-----depending on model.

November 7, 2008, 12:36 PM
Mini rifles are great. Some specialty models get a little pricey but I'd pay it for the reliability. There are a good bit of hop up parts on the market also.

November 7, 2008, 12:45 PM
Bought mine a month ago, the all weather model with heavier barrel, shot several hundred rounds through it on the first day out and noticed no appreciable decline in accuracy. Did notice a potential decline in my wallet when using 20 rd. magazines (man they can go fast), started to stick with the 5 round mag. at the range to slow the process down. It is a fun gun.

November 7, 2008, 01:21 PM
My ranch rifle always works but shoots 5-inch groups at 50 yards, prone, scoped. I need to try the easy fixes...

The Janitor
November 7, 2008, 02:58 PM
For prices, I got mine used with a side folder, 4 hi-cap mags, and a couple hundred rounds of Wolf Ammo. $600. I don't like to use the Wolf though. It will get an FTF every 5-15 rounds with non-factory mags.

1KPerDay, what are these 'easy fixes' you might be referring to to help the accuracy?

November 7, 2008, 03:05 PM
Mine is ancient,with the no longer available wood handguard.I couldn't find a decent rear sight [they all seem to be for the Ranch Rifle] so I scoped it.I have seven California legal 10 round magazines for it.If I ever need more than that,I am in deep kimchee.

November 7, 2008, 03:09 PM
mine shoots 2-3 inch groups at 100 yards, for the first few shots. :)

after the barrel gets even a little warm the group opens up to 6 or 8 inches.

dagger dog
November 7, 2008, 05:22 PM
Yeah, most M1 30 cal Carbines shoot the same grouping as a Mini, but they don't get the same bad rap.

I wonder why the response to the Ruger handguns, revolvers in particular, is so much more in praise than the bum rap the Mini's incur?

November 7, 2008, 09:00 PM
Picked up this Mini 14 a couple of weeks ago, its a 2008 series 580 with the new barrel. Have'nt had a chance to take it out yet, but hopefully I will this weekend. I mounted a Nikon Prostaff scope on it and a quick adjust sling.
Here's a review by Bart Skelton from Rifle shooter Magazine. Quote (Four shots with Hornady's 75-grain BTHP grouped just under an inch at 115 yards--outstanding accuracy for a factory Mini-14. A flyer extended the five-shot group to 17/8 inches. New tooling and CNC manufacturing processes are the reasons for the carbine's improved accuracy.) I hope mine does as well, Heres the link to the Rifle Shooter Magazine review.

November 7, 2008, 09:35 PM
I love mine and just ordered more 20 round magazines from Ruger. I also ordered the 75 grain ammo from Hornady and am curious to see how a heavier bullet shoots and what kind of damage it does. My Mine-14 is strictly for self defense and the occaisional Prairie Dog. I put a 4X Weaver on it.

With fmj 55 grain it does a good job of chipping concrete at 136 yards. Groups would be in the 10 inch category. That was probably me more than the carbine.

November 7, 2008, 09:47 PM
Mine was purchased purely for a fun gun and possible SHTF rifle. It always works which is not true of most AR's without a lot of rgular cleaning. If I can shoot 6" groups at 100 yds, it is good enough for me. After all it is a semi-auto. I really like the new models. Wish I had one rather than my 1980's model.

November 10, 2008, 12:19 AM
1KPerDay, what are these 'easy fixes' you might be referring to to help the accuracy?]
I've only read about them here and elsewhere... listed here in order of cheap to expensive
1. loosen and re-torque the gas/barrel block to proper torque and spacing it equally all around

2. try a flash hider or remove the one you have

3. Try different gas port sizes

4. Try an accu-strut

5. trigger job

6. cut the barrel shorter to reduce whip

7. bed the rifle

8. new barrel

9. buy AR-15


I may have missed some options; these are just the ones that spring to mind.

November 10, 2008, 12:25 AM
I wonder why the response to the Ruger handguns, revolvers in particular, is so much more in praise than the bum rap the Mini's incur?

I have a Ranch Rifle and I like it. It's a light, sleek, easy-carrying, great-handling reliable little power tool. Paper punching isn't the best, but plinking at reactive targets at 100 yards plus is a lot of fun.

I think the bum rap is due largely to the .223 being a varmint round. People have rifles that will put 5 shots inside a dime at 200 yards. So the ideas people have about .223 come from a different application than the Mini-14 is intended for.

The .30 Carbine round is a skinny pistol round. People just don't expect it to be an accurate long-range rifle round, so they don't think anything of it, when it shoots softball-size groups with a scope.

November 10, 2008, 01:08 AM
Ranch Rifles are a lot of fun to shoot. I went with the Mini 30 as I already owned a nice AR. Although my father owns a Mini 14 Target and it's plenty accurate.

My Mini 30 looks almost identical to the one above. I have the same 3-9x40 Prostaff on mine as well.

Something to think about if you want a Mini 7.62x39 is much cheaper to shoot than .223

My .02

November 10, 2008, 01:19 AM
Well,mine became more accurate when I took the bayonet lug/compensator/flashider doohicky [tech term] off and went back to factory sights.I have mine scoped anyways,so I didn't really need all the crud hanging off the barrel.

November 10, 2008, 02:16 AM
1/9 twist on a 18" barrel.. it'll shoot 55-69gr best, in theory. 1/9's not really enough for 75gr.

anyone rocked different loads through the same mini?

November 10, 2008, 02:52 AM
I have a 180 series Mini 14 made in 1976 and have always enjoyed shooting it. It is a great carry around the farm/ranch gun for offhand varmit shooting, and no it won't come close to any of my AR's in accuracy,but it will hang right with my Saiga 223. As long as you don't rapid fire the Mini 14 will keep enough accuracy to hit a running coyote at 75-100 yrds all day and night long. Mine prefers to shoot 55-62gr bullets.

Ignition Override
November 10, 2008, 03:31 AM
Yep, my Mini 14 and 30 are fun, reliable, but so is the lower-cost SKS, and the larger bullet does a lot more damage to certain targets than the higher-cost (Wolf) .223.

The looks of the SKS might get one's attention quicker than a Mini, if attention is ever a factor.
Its similarity to the world-famous AK might even help.

Good luck with your search and decision. As fun and nice as the Mini 30 is, I could have bought both an SKS last spring plus about 2,500-3,000 rds for the price of the rifle, but I ignored advice from several people...having never touched an SKS. Its unAmerican, less attractive looks are far outweighed by its simple, rugged function and main objective-to shoot and keep on shooting.
And the SKS needs no (elusive) reliable higher-cap. aftermarket mag to hold ten rounds.

Mini 14, 30, SKS and MN 44. Each rifle=:) .

November 12, 2008, 05:17 PM
Totally agree. It was never designed to be a competition rifle. It was a factory version of the M1 Carbine set up in .223, a pretty good all around idea.

Don't think it can be better defined than this. I prefer my Mini-14 kept in the stock configuration with the original aperture- style sights for relatively close range engagements and have a 3X9 Burris mounted on my AR-15 for varmints, sniping duties ;) and such.

November 12, 2008, 05:33 PM
Totally agree. It was never designed to be a competition rifle. It was a factory version of the M1 Carbine set up in .223, a pretty good all around idea. I remember seeing M1s rechambered to ".22 Johnson" way back when, so Bill Ruger knew he had a market for it.

It's closer to an inverted AK, truth be told. Basically instead of the gas tube going up, it goes down and the operating rod has an offset bend to let it operate the bolt. I'm not particularly a fan of such offset operations, though, as they tend to cause uneven wear from the uncentered pressure. The M1 Carbine had the gas tube on the side, which kept it level with the bolt to begin with.

For the price of a Mini-14, I could have an AK set up very nicely in any of several calibers, and it'd probably shoot about the same. I could also have a VERY fine SKS.

November 12, 2008, 06:32 PM
I think some late 1980's/early 1990's mini's gave the breed a bad name. My 188-series Ranch Rifle (circa 1989) shot a best-ever group of 5.5" at 100 yards, from a rest and rear bag; I tried optics, premium ammo from 40 to 69 grains, and three different stocks, with the same result. My 7.62x39mm AK shoots that well with a 1x optic and cheap Wolf ammo.

The newer mini's are reportedly more accurate, and the recent rise in AK prices has put mini's at less of a price disadvantage relative to the AK. I personally like the looks of the AK better, but I can see the mini's appeal if you like the Garand/M1 carbine/M1A.

November 12, 2008, 10:12 PM
i'm really happy with my mini-30. it is utterly reliable, looks good, & is quite accurate with good ammo. i've done a few mods to enhance the accuracy & soften the ejection but other than a leupold scope & an accu-strut the mods are modest & inexpensive. i probably have $800.00 total in this rifle & it shoots moa consistently with good ammo. i can't find a fault with it at this point. and i have no problem with the factory 5 round mags, they work flawlessly & can be swapped quickly if that's important. i personally don't like to overheat a barrel & it is easily done with the mini. i use this mainly as a deep woods deer rifle & a fun target shooter. it does well at both. although my gf has kinda taken it over. i'm happily stuck with the vanguard 270.

November 12, 2008, 10:18 PM
My father bought me a Mini-14 when I was 13 years old. He took me out once to shoot it - I absolutely loved it. After that, it got put away where he kept our guns, and within the year, when our family fell on hard times, my dad ended up selling it. I never knew when he sold it - just knew that I never saw it again.

I'm now 38 - my birthday was back in May - and I'd had the Mini-14 on the back of my mind for the past 25 years. Finally got around this past May to purchasing a Mini to replace the one from my youth. Mostly it was a sentimental purchase, but I'm very happy I got it. I picked up the NRA Special Edition, that came with the shorter barrel, and the Hogue stock. Love the gun! It's a lot of fun to shoot, and plenty accurate for my needs (I'm mostly a plinker, not a sharp-shooter).

Recently added some new Ruger 20-round magazines to my collection, bringing me up to 24 of them. I'm just glad I finally got around to purchasing the gun when I did instead of, say, a year or so from now!

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