Mini-14 suggested 'improvements'


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GunTech
October 2, 2009, 02:08 PM
So I have my new 580 series tactical mini-14, and I am thinking about what 'improvements', if any I should consider. This is my first Mini I about 10 years, and am hoping the reports of improved accuracy are accurate. I only want a 2 MOA gun - not expecting a tack driver.

Based on what I am hearing, I am considering the following mods:

Heavier recoil spring. Wolff recoil spring since I am told by many the gun is undersprung and really batters the action.

Recoil spring buffer: see above

Smaller port bushing. I don't need brass thrown into the next county but I want 100 percent reliability, so not sure about this one.

Stone sear. I considered the Accuracy Systems adjustable trigger, but don't know if it's worth it for a field gun.

Ultimak rail: Possible. Depends on if I put an optic or not. Also not sure how it will effect accuracy.

Finger adjustable rear sight. Does anyone make one for the 58x series? Looks like the Accuracy Systems only fits 180x series ranch rifles.

Any other thoughts? I don't want to turn this into a $1500 rifle. Just looking for low cost, high payoff add-ons/fixes.

Thanks

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Candiru
October 2, 2009, 03:47 PM
So I have my new 580 series tactical mini-14, and I am thinking about
what 'improvements', if any I should consider. This is my first Mini I
about 10 years, and am hoping the reports of improved accuracy are
accurate. I only want a 2 MOA gun - not expecting a tack driver.


The ones I've shot have been about 2 MOA.


Based on what I am hearing, I am considering the following mods:
Heavier recoil spring. Wolff recoil spring since I am told by many the
gun is undersprung and really batters the action.

Recoil spring buffer: see above


As with almost any semi-auto, the recoil spring is not designed to cushion the action so much as to store up energy. It doesn't need to be any stronger than necessary to chamber the next round. While an excessively weak spring may contribute to premature wear, the stop surfaces are intended to sustain repeated impact, so worries about battering the action are kind of like worrying about battering your sledgehammer by breaking concrete. Recoil buffers may also degrade reliability by shortening the length of the stroke.

A more important consideration is that springs work both ways. Given that the Mini uses a floating firing pin, you probably don't want to be slamming the cartridge into the chamber with any more force than is strictly necessary.


Smaller port bushing. I don't need brass thrown into the next county
but I want 100 percent reliability, so not sure about this one.


This is a good modification. Mini-14s aren't so much undersprung as overgassed. The direct impingement gas system plus generous bushing apertures allow it to remain reliable given severe neglect. Provided you clean it at all, you will not notice a reliability decrease from a smaller bushing.

My 16" Tactical model loves to chuck brass, much more so than my father's 18" Ranch Rifle. Even after dramatically reducing the bushing diameter using bushings purchased from Walkenbear on the perfectunion.com forums, it still throws brass about 30 feet and dents it some. This is fine by me, as it's defensive gun and therefore reliability takes precedence; just be prepared to experiment a bit with bushing sizes, and know that getting the gas block off the first time is going to be a hair-raising experience. (Those staked bolts really don't want to come off.)

As for the line between reliability and gentleness, my rule of thumb has always been that with a fixed-ejecter system like the Mini-14 uses, cases ejecting forward is a sign of insufficient ejection power relative to the extractor strength.



Stone sear. I considered the Accuracy Systems adjustable trigger, but
don't know if it's worth it for a field gun.


Your call. My Mini came with a horribly creepy trigger, so I sent it to Bill Springfield to have the break cleaned up but weight retained.



Ultimak rail: Possible. Depends on if I put an optic or not. Also not
sure how it will effect accuracy.


I got one and like it a lot, especially when paired with a red dot type optic. You can technically co-witness through a tube sight, but the sights are so low that this occurs right at the very bottom of the sight.

Here's a photo of my setup (click for larger):

http://how-i-did-it.org/img/THE_TACTICAL/tn_front_angle_full_frontlit.jpg (http://how-i-did-it.org/img/THE_TACTICAL/front_angle_full_frontlit.jpg)

I've noticed no accuracy difference with the Ultimak rail, but then I haven't tested the gun for accuracy since installing it.



Finger adjustable rear sight. Does anyone make one for the 58x series?
Looks like the Accuracy Systems only fits 180x series ranch rifles.


I don't think anyone makes one of these. One option could be finding thumbscrew style round screws that fit the threading on the sight, which will at least allow you to adjust it without using an allen wrench. Supposedly the earlier models had some warranty-voiding modifications that could be done to install an M1 Carbine rear sight, but that has the additional disadvantage of being tuned for .30 Carbine ballistics and therefore being something of a hack. For ad-hoc shooting, you might be better served with an M4-style battle zero that takes advantage of .223's flat trajectory to allow hits at the widest variety of ranges. Pair that with an optic and you've pretty much eliminated the need for adjustable rear sights.



Any other thoughts? I don't want to turn this into a $1500 rifle. Just
looking for low cost, high payoff add-ons/fixes.


If the length of pull provided by the factory plastic stock seems a little short for you, a Hogue stock will make the rifle feel a little fuller and will space it out a bit more for a bladed stance. FYI, the LOP and trigger location for the factory stock with rubber buttplate is almost identical to that found on an M14.

As mentioned above, I'd eschew alteration of recoil springs or addition of buffers, as those aren't going to gain you much and could introduce costs you don't want. Gas bushing changes are the right way to go about reducing recoil and ejection distance, provided you don't mind modifying your gun.

If you put optics on your Mini, don't cheap out. A ring-mounted scope on the receiver will have to contend with fairly violent recoil, which many of the cheaper models can't handle. The aluminum Ultimak rail will act like a heatsink on the barrel; theoretically, this should minimize POI shifts and add stiffness to the barrel, but one practical side effect is that any optic attached to the rail get really hot during long strings of fire. Inexpensive optics often can't take the heat.

As for the trigger, as long as it breaks cleanly, I'd leave it as-is. Trigger quality enhances the component of accuracy provided by the shooter, but if the Mini is used as a field rifle, the inaccuracy introduced by field positions and the mechanical limitations of the rifle is going to diminish the value of trigger work.

The only other advice that I'd offer is to shoot it a bunch before jumping into any alterations, then only change the parts that get in the way of your enjoyment. Too many people jump into modification for modification's sake; n.b. the number of 1911 threads where people who have just bought a "GI" style 1911 ask, "what should I change on it?" If you're not sure what to alter, shoot it until areas for improvement jump out at you. That way you spend less and know that the money you spend produces a positive result, and on top of that you end up with something customized to your exact intended use, with no extraneous features to get in the way.

GunTech
October 2, 2009, 04:01 PM
Just did a trigger job on the mini. Stuck it in my Power Custom sear stoning fixture. I took the primary sear down a few thousandth's, checked the secondary sear engagement, and polished everything. I decided not to clip the secondary sear spring. Trigger now has a distinct 2 stage feel and breaks at 4.6 pounds. Simple to work on.

If I put the ultimak on, the rifle will either get an Aimpoint CompM3 or Burris Fastfire with wing mounts. If I could get a decent finger adjustable rear, I'd leave it with irons.

The Factory stock seems a little short, but OK and will fit my son and wife, so will leave it as is. I may bed it, if I get feeling motivated, but the stock is fairly tight.

I'm going to look into the bushing solution, Thanks.

http://guntech.com/m14/mini-maxi.jpg

GunTech
October 2, 2009, 04:03 PM
BTW, what sized port did you end up using on your 16? I have the same model.

niteowl
October 2, 2009, 04:36 PM
In my experience, they need to be broken in. Go out and put some rounds through it. After a couple hundred, and a good cleaning you should find exactly what you are looking for... a 2" MOA field gun.

jordan1948
October 2, 2009, 06:18 PM
www.accustrut.com The accustrut is like $100 I think but it's well worth it. Also get a good trigger job. Costs about $50 but like the accustrut it's worth the money. I added a compensator/muzzle break to mine as well and it seams to help. btw mine is a 181 series Mini

GunTech
October 2, 2009, 07:11 PM
Shot it a little while ago. Trigger helps.

Pretty reliable 2 inches at 100 yards. Flings brass about 50 feet. Holy $%^$&^%#

This was a lightly used gun, and the first box of ammo (Remington 55gn SP) was not too great. The bore looked a little dirty, so I ran a felt plug with Butches Bore paste util it looked nice and shiny. Followed up with some bore shine just for kicks. I also retorqued the gas block per spec.

Groups are very consistent. I had a number of MOA groups with one flyer that opened it up to 1.75 to 2 inches. Winchester Powerpoint 64gn gave the best groups at about 1.5 inches.

After about 100 rounds, I started to notice a little vertical stringing, but still under 2.5 inches.

I noticed a couple of interesting things.

Letting the fore end rest on the bag was a no-no. Groups opened up with any significant pressure on the fore end. I don't know if this is typical.

As expected, head position is critical with iron sights. As long as I was careful to be consistent, groups stayed small.

So far I am pleased. It doesn't have the accuracy of my ARs, but is more than accurate enough for my purposes.

Zero malfunctions in 300 rounds. I do think the gun is overgassed, so I am going to look into a new gas bushing.

GunTech
October 2, 2009, 07:18 PM
BTW, Candiru

What did you use to paint your stock? Krylon?

And nice handle. I know about that little fishy. It hurts just thinking about it. :)

Red State
October 2, 2009, 07:31 PM
Maybe someone can double check me on this, but I seem to remember hearing/reading that shooting heavier bullets will increase the Mini 14's accuracy.

Does this sound right to anybody?

rhinoh
October 2, 2009, 09:21 PM
If you play with the gas bushings get an assortment. I replaced the bushings in both my Mini14 and Mini30. I now drop the brass about 8-10 ft away, just perfect IMO. I bought the SS ones from Walkenbear over on perfectunion.com. The staked gas block screws- one set came right out the other was a bear, can't remember which gun was which now but Walkenbear sells replacement screws cheap as well, might as well get a set of them too in case you booger up the original ones. I run a 1911 poly bushing on the backside only, stock spring.

JAV8000
October 2, 2009, 10:34 PM
I just got a Mini 14 tactical 16" w/flash hider. Shoots great with heavier bullets and acceptable with GI ball. I think the 16" flash hider model is everything a Mini should be. The Holy Grail of Mini's if you will. The stiff 16" barrell and flash hider help with accuracy (and looks). The 20 rnd. mag, in combination with the rifle stock, offers sufficient capacity for any use I can think of, yet doesn't get in the way of prone shooting. The new ghost ring sight is servicably accurate and very rugged. Adding rails and optics will just weigh down one of the lightest, handiest "all-round" field/SHTF/SD carbines money can buy. I shoot 2MOA with irons all day long. I'm sure I'd do better with a scope or dot, but they are too ungainly to me with this type of rifle.

Water Garden
October 2, 2009, 10:57 PM
The Mini is a good camp rifle.. I think your money would be better spent on buying a different rifle that meets your accuracy needs rather than trying to improve your mini.

Candiru
October 3, 2009, 12:43 AM
BTW, Candiru

What did you use to paint your stock? Krylon?

And nice handle. I know about that little fishy. It hurts just thinking about it. :)


I used Brownells AlumaHyde II in OD Green. It's a fairly rugged finish if you're willing to invest the time it takes to cure: at least two weeks of fairly warm temperatures. I sprayed mine during the warmest part of summer and let it hang outside in the sun and hot air for almost three weeks before handling the stock extensively.

GunTech
October 3, 2009, 02:33 AM
The Mini is a good camp rifle.. I think your money would be better spent on buying a different rifle that meets your accuracy needs rather than trying to improve your mini.

As noted, looking for low cost, high payoff mods. I have plenty of ARs and other rifles if I need more accuracy. Looking for a simple, reasonably accurate (2MOA) rifle. At my age, I have trouble with peep sights, so a dot is a big plus, hence the Ultimak.

bestseller92
October 3, 2009, 05:31 PM
One good thing about the Minis these days is that factory mags are available and MUCH less expensive than they used to be. CDNN has the 20 rounders for $26.99 and the 30 rounders for $29.99.

I do love my Mini!

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