Mini 14 v. Mini 30


November 21, 2008, 08:36 AM
I'm tempted to buy one or the other. I know alot of you prefer the AR platform, but it just doesn't do much for me personally.....I'm just a wood/steel kind of guy! It's main role would be as a go-to rifle for that SHTF-scenario we all like to talk about, but also something that the wife could handle if necessary. Although it would get some range time, I'm not overly concerned with target-level accuracy, more interested in reliability.
I like the idea of a .30 caliber, but am willing to give the .223 some serious thought, too. With mil-surp steel-case ammo, does the Ruger do better with the .223 or 7.62x39 chambering?
I would most likely keep the rifle close to factory-issue, but what modifications would you recommend, if any? Also, are 20-30 round aftermarket magazines more easily available for one caliber over the other?
What advantages are there for one model over the other?

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November 21, 2008, 09:08 AM
Magazine availability is better for .223, both factory and aftermarket.

November 21, 2008, 09:16 AM
make sure if you want .223 you get it chambered in 5.56 NATO.

November 21, 2008, 09:19 AM
If you are lucky you may get one that has a little accuracy.

November 21, 2008, 09:34 AM
Rhoggman said: make sure if you want .223 you get it chambered in 5.56 NATO.

Are you saying that Ruger makes the Mini 14 with either SAAMI (.223 Rem.) or Military (5.56 Nato) dimensioned chambers?

November 21, 2008, 09:38 AM
between my older son and I, we have owned both the mini 14 and mini 30. these were our experiences with them:

- both rifles cycled flawlessly on brass cartridges. we never tried steel in the mini 14. the mini 30 did NOT like steel cartridges.

- the mini 14's barrel was way too small in diameter. if you were shooting a 10 round mag, the first 2-3 rounds would hit right where you wanted them, after that, the rounds would start walking to the right, and by the 10th round, you were 4-5" from the bullseye.

- the mini 30 was more accurate than the mini 14.

- I always get this confused, but I don't think there's any good scope mounting for the mini 14, but if you get the ranch rifle, it comes with rings and is meant for scope mounting.

November 21, 2008, 09:39 AM
No, mini-14 chambers are 5.56x45 compatible, per the manual, even though it says .223 on the receiver.

You can download a manual from the Ruger website:

November 21, 2008, 09:51 AM
Thanks for the clarification benEzra, that was my understanding, too.

Dollar An Hour
November 21, 2008, 10:39 AM
Do new-series Mini-14's run fine on steel-cased ammo?

November 21, 2008, 11:01 AM
Mini 14's are a fun gun to shoot. I have an old 180 series from 1976,but they are not that accurate. Since the AR platform doesn't suit you,you might also look at a Saiga in 223 or 7.62x39. The Saiga cost less than a Mini or AR and they are a lot more accurate than the Mini 14. Plus if you want to customize it there are bunch of aftermarket add ons you can do to the Saiga since it is built off an AK platform.

Marlin 45 carbine
November 21, 2008, 11:04 AM
I own a 30 and really enjoy it. some 'fine tuning' has noticeably tightened up groups. ProMag makes the polymer 30 round mag that some have had good luck with but in mine I have to load 24 in to get it lock in and function.
Both ProMag and American 10 rd mags do fine, 100% or at least they do in mine.
stay away from steel-cased ammo in the 30 nobody has had any luck with it and some have busted the tip on the fireing pin shooting the stuff. brass cased only. as per the factory owners manual.
it's a good 'bush' gun for deer, sort of a semi-auto 30-30 and will do for SHTF with good mags.

dagger dog
November 21, 2008, 11:20 AM
My 190 series Mini-14 will feed steel Wolf, with out a hitch, it will digest any thing it can chamber. Acurracy? Well it is the tipical Mini ,I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end no matter how hot the barrel gets but it is plenty capable of shtf duty! If surgical accuracy is needed you need to look at a bolt and step up to something in the 30 cal. class for those longer shots for better wind bucking. Although the .223 in the right configurations can hang right there with any of them.

The Mini Thirty's 7.62X39 round was never intended for long range use, but has the edge over the .223 in energy at the right ranges, many have given the old 30-30 the edge over the 7.62X39, but in battle rifle types the 39 shines ,just ask all the AK nuts.

In a pinch the 39 could be used for meat gathering duties and would be of sufficient power for whitetail deer at the ranges for what the cartridge was intended .

Magazines are a different story, the just realeased news of the factory 20 rounders at a sane price, finally was good news to 14 owners I don't know if the Mini 30 owners have the same good news.

There are 2 newer versions of the 14 the target and the NRA feed back on these has claimed better accuracy, the 30? well I don't know if they have had the same versions.

November 21, 2008, 11:50 AM
I have a 580 series 223 that is a fine shooter. After reading all the negetive reports about accuracy I didn't expect much. I took my gun shooting and after 30 rounds with the barrel way too hot to touch I shot a nine shot group at 50 yards that mesured 1"x1.5". I can hit canalope sized rocks at 100 yards off hand with no problem. I haven't shot it further than that.

I have shot the steel cased ammo from Accademy the most. I have not had a single failure of any kind. The only mods I have done are to install a smaller gas bushing, make sure the gas block was even (it wasn't when i got it) and installed home made buffers.

I am so pleased with this rifle that I just bought another one off of GB that is also the new 580 series and this one is a 2008 model with the heavier barrel. I hope its as accurate as the first rifle.

If you want to shoot 7.62x39 steel cased ammo you might at the SKS rifles. They can be had for half the money. I have two of those also. Nice rifles.

I have 4 Pro-Mag 20 round mags and they seem to work just fine.

As for using 7.62x39 for deer it should do fine. There was someone that posted pictures of some pigs shot with this round and let me tell you it really did the job. IIRC he was using the 154gr wolf ammo and the 122gr hollow points.

November 21, 2008, 12:07 PM
Ratshooter, the new 580 series is reportedly much more accurate than the earlier models.

My 188-series Ranch Rifle shot a best-ever 100-yard group of 5.5", from a front rest and rear bag.

November 21, 2008, 12:23 PM
Ruger firearms has a lot to atone for, considering Bill Ruger's arrogance and contempt for gunowners.

The mini 14/ranch rifle still doesn't shoot worth it cost. Even the target model, with that POS damper, won't shoot inside MOA with match ammo and is too expensive compared to an out of box AR15 A2 model.

The mini 30 would have been a great rifle had Ruger not been too cheap to put a .311 bore on the rifle like it should have. I've seen enough Mini 30 smoothbores from shooting surplus steel jacketed ball to know he screwed up.

The minis are getting better, thanks to leadership at Ruger listening to its customers, but they have a long way to go befor eI buy another one.

November 21, 2008, 01:33 PM
Hey BenEzra thats why I picked the 580 series of guns to buy. I did a lot of reading first. My shooting buddy had an older mini and said it was for fun not for accuracy.

He watches me shoot my new mini but won't shoot it because he is afraid he will want to buy another one. He's building an airplane right now and wants to spend all of his money on that. And I mean all of it!!!

There are lots of things that can be done to make the older minis shoot better without a whole lot of expense.

If you want a gun that goes bang everytime you pull the trigger the mini is the one to get.

November 21, 2008, 03:23 PM
I second the Saiga suggestion. Accuracy certainly won't be any worse, and they will run on steel-cased ammo. Saigas are also wayyy less expensive than the Minis. Decent-capacity magazine availability is something else the Saiga has over the Mini (assuming you convert it to take military mags).

I've already ordered my Saiga. :cool:

November 21, 2008, 04:23 PM
I have both the Mini 14 and 30.
Do NOT plan on shooting russian steel ammo with the 30. The primers are too hard and you will get a high percentage of dud rounds. I put a stronger Wolff hammer spring in my 30 and it helped but still didn't fix 100%. I now load brass specifically for my 30...sure wished the russian ammo would have worked better in it, I have a lot of it, but I also have an AK and it works great in it.:)

Then there is the pesky hi-cap mag problem with the 30...I just haven't found any worth a darn. I have 3 Ruger brand 20rnd mags for my 14, wish they made them for the 30.

November 21, 2008, 06:53 PM
I've had both. The 30 was a tad more accurate than the 223. Both were older guns. When I got my AR, the 223 never came out at all anymore and I sold it. I bought the 30 to replace my SKS. That SKS never "grew" on me. The 30 was more accurate than the SKS. And it never missed a beat with the com block ammo I ran through it, be it lacquer coated or copper washed steel cased ammo. Never tried Wolf in it though. I like the 30 better than the 223. But I just got an AR with a 7.62x39 upper so the Mini 30 will have to go to make room.

November 22, 2008, 06:13 PM
I had a Mini-30 that worked great if you ran American ammo in, it the second you threw some of the Com Bloc stuff at it, it had fits(primers were too hard). As for accuracy it was acceptable, despite what people think these guns are not and never will be sniper rifles. I sold it to buy an Vector AK primarily because of the ammo issue.

The Mini-14 is a good rifle as well, accuracy is more than acceptable, you can finally get decent magazines from Ruger, and it will shoot both .223 and 5.56 safely. If I had to chose between the two it would defiantly be the 14. Also despite what people think; with the right ammo you can take deer regularly. Whitetail around here fall often to a Mini's bark.

November 22, 2008, 07:59 PM
the mini 30 did NOT like steel cartridges.

My Mini-30 has so far shot nothing but Wolf steel cases. The real issue is magazines. Ruger only makes a 10 rounder for the Mini-30 but recently opened up Mini-14 20 round mags to all comers.

So far my ProMags have worked fine, but most need a little filing on the outside to insert smoothly when loaded (they are made a bit too thick) and a few have hand problems with the follower binding until I cleaned up the follower and inside the mag with a bit of very fine sand paper.

If you are only going to get one, I go with the Mini-14 first for sure and stock up on factory 20 round mags if you can.


November 22, 2008, 08:19 PM
The select fire Mini-14 was good enough for the A-Team, n'uff said...

Before I got my M1a I was looking at the mini-30, think I would just go AK instead of mini-30 and AR instead of Mini-14

November 22, 2008, 10:22 PM
I couldn't decide either so I got both. Just received them last week. Planning on firing them next Friday. I'm gonna shoot 'em as is to see what that's like, then I'll add the Wolf Hammer and recoil springs, then the bushing, then the Hogue stock and see how it works. I'm kinda excited. Don't think I have enough ammo though. I've got 20 rounds of two or three different grains and manufacturers to see what it likes best.

November 23, 2008, 08:19 AM
I noticed my local WalMart had blued Mini-14s for $604+tax. That's the cheapest I've seen around here.
Didn't think to look to see if it was the long have they been out?

November 23, 2008, 08:40 AM
With mil-surp steel-case ammo

Trivial issue: you can get 7.62X39 mil-surp, but there is no 5.56 steel mil-surp. That's all new production.

November 23, 2008, 09:01 AM
I thought I liked my Mini-30 until I got an AK, now the Mini-30 stays home.

November 23, 2008, 11:06 AM
I noticed my local WalMart had blued Mini-14s for $604+tax. That's the cheapest I've seen around here.
Didn't think to look to see if it was the long have they been out?
Wal-Mart doesn't stock old merchandise for long, so they're almost certainly the new ones. The 580 series has been out at least a year, maybe two.

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