I am thinking of a carbine-length mid-power rifle for farm and home defense. Seems like the mid-power 7.62 x 39 mm NATO/Russian round is the .30 cal sweetspot for that, so I am looking for rifles for that. Want something semi-auto and that the wife and kids can tote and shoot without grimace. :cool: Don't want something that looks like an AK-47, so as not to freak out the neighboring folk. But want something with equivalent firepower.
Sooooo...... After searching around, the rifle that keeps popping up is:
The current offerings at the Ruger web site (http://www.ruger.com/products/miniThirty/models.html) show synthetic stock, stainless steel metal, barrel lengths of 18.5" and 16", magazines of 5 rds or 20 rds. Basically a kilobuck! ($966 MSRP)
IS THIS MY ONLY CHOICE?
I have seen some rifle-ized, sportsterized AKs, like from Saiga and others. They might be OK. (I will not buy a Norinko Chinese-made unit, even though some look like regular rifles and not assault rifles.)
WHAT IS THE OPINION OF THE RUGER? Is it a shooter? Fit and finish? Failure-to-feed, failure-to-eject (FTF, FTE, etc) rates of occurance?
I assume it is a natural pointer and nice handling?
Can you get a Picatinny rail for optic? Maybe mid-length mount for 1X reflex sight or long-eye-relief scope (like seen on lever rifles sometimes)?
Other comments? If somebody died and left you one as an inheritance, would you keep it or sell it?
I see some used ones on the market. What about the older-year manufacture dates? With wood stock? Is there any difference in function? Did Ruger make a big improvement at some year?
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December 21, 2011, 10:59 AM
The Saiga sporters are almost certainly the best deal going in a 7.62x39 carbine. They don't look much like an AK (unless you know more about AKs than your average person) and they are proving to be surprisingly accurate.
They're going to be a lot less expensive than the Ruger and may prove a bit more accurate. Magazines will also be easier to find, most likely.
There are a few optic possibilities for the Mini, and that one appears cut for the Ruger scope mounts. You can also go with the UltimAK mount if you prefer forward mounting: http://ultimak.com/m4.htm
December 21, 2011, 11:06 AM
An unconverted Saiga will be cheaper than the Mini by about half, but in my experience (lots of Saigas and Mini30s) a late-model Mini30 will prove more accurate than any Saiga (and the 16" Saigas have proven more accurate than the 21" Saigas, for me). If you throw AK's back into the cost analysis, a good stamped receiver AK (including a converted Saiga) isn't going to be less expensive than a Mini, and you won't find a milled receiver AK for nearly the same price as the Mini30.
The Mini30 has a vastly superior sighting setup (both irons and optics) to any AK, and IMO carries and shoulders better. On the other hand, the AK has the advantage of cheaper surplus magazine availablility - right now, the best I can get for Ruger 20rd factory Mini30 magazines is $30/each while new ComBloc AK style magazines go for less than $20.
My current Mini30 is a 2011-vintage Tactical unit, and with its heavier barrel and good sighting setup it's proven quite satisfying. It also cost me less than seven bills out the door.
December 21, 2011, 11:10 AM
Merry Christmas Bill.
I own both a Mini-Thirty and a Saiga in 7.62 x 39.
To me, that caliber is an excellent all-around choice for your purposes. It seems to split the difference between the 5.56/.223 and 7.62 x 51/.308
The Saiga is a good rifle for the price. It goes BANG when you pull the trigger and will shoot any kind of cheap ammo, including Russian steel. It's accurate enough for me, reliable and easy to clean. I put a red dot on it and it's fun to shoot. The iron sights to me are just OK.
My Ruger Mini-Thirty will not shoot steel case ammo. No worries as it shoots everything else.
A lot of folks beat up the Ruger on accuracy issues but that has not been my experience. Mine puts the bullet where you want it to go, although it may not be a "tack driver".
The Ruger Mini-Thirty is well-made, Made in USA, very reliable, easy to handle, easy to clean and can be used with optics, although the iron sights are great. It has a proven Garand-style action. With the synthetic stock, it is light to handle but yet a very solid rifle. It should also be a good fit for you wife because of its size and weight.
It makes me smile broadly when shooting it. In fact, I love it! If it was not for the M1 and M1A, it would be my favorite rifle.
You should be able to find one for well under that MSRP. I highly recommend it for your needs.
December 21, 2011, 11:17 AM
i like the safety on the mini30 alot better than the saiga and the one i have used shot steel cased ammo all day long without a hiccup it isnt a tack driver like said above but its accurate enough to do whatever you need.
December 21, 2011, 11:25 AM
I think, given your scenario, it's a very good pick. The Mini 30 has a less-threatening look than Saiga/AK. The Scout Scope set-up is readily available and (if you haven't tried one) is faster than I can explain. The caliber is quite effective to 250-300 yards, more than okay for home/ranch defensive range. The gun design has a well-deserved reputation for no-fuss reliability/durability (you see a LOT of them running in extreme environments; lashed to Alaskan snowmobiles, thrown in the back of Bush Planes, etc.). Natural pointer, conventional action, lots of parts/accessories available. Yep, good pick! You might visit over at the "Perfect Union" forum. They know the Mini like fleas know hounds. I fact, now...I WANT another ONE!
December 21, 2011, 11:37 AM
If the assault rifle appearance is are not an option then i think the Saiga would be a good choice. If i'm not mistaken you will be limited to lower capacity magazines by law unless you add enough american parts to comply with 922R. Also, higher capacity magazines for the Saiga will be the AK banana clip. With the Ruger 922R compliance is not an issue because it is american made.
The only other option i can think of would me a M1 carbine but i'd prefer the 7.62x39 over it's round.
Also, i you should be able to find a min30 for around $700 new.
On a side note, i don't think the 7.62 x 39 has been adopted by NATO.
Marlin 45 carbine
December 21, 2011, 11:39 AM
I own a 189 series M30 - it would take a lot to get it from me.
the earlier model had a reputation for not so good accuracy. the newer heavy barrels are known as good shooters.
I use mine for doe tags, allong with my muzzlers.
I've experimented with handloads and some 'tweaking' of mine and got to very near MOA off the bench.
working on a 150gr Speer sp load now as I don't consider the lightly made 123gr slugs available sufficient for larger whitetail at beyond about 125 yds and that with a good shot presented. I'm hopeing to stretch the sure killing shot to around 175 yds. maybe rakeing shot too.
AK's won't come close for accuracy but I've 'tweaked' some SKS for folks that would really sock in good ammo off the bench.
December 21, 2011, 11:59 AM
You can typically find an SKS for 300 or less. They're not sub MOA tack drivers but than again neither is the mini-30
December 21, 2011, 05:28 PM
I couldn't be happier with all your comments and instruction!
I think I am going with a Ruger Mini-30 after all. <$700 new and some good used ones around.
Sam: Excellent find --> UltimAK mount if you prefer forward mounting: http://ultimak.com/m4.htm
rbernie: Thanks for The Mini30 has a vastly superior sighting setup (both irons and optics) to any AK, and IMO carries and shoulders better. On the other hand, the AK has the advantage of cheaper surplus magazine availablility - right now, the best I can get for Ruger 20rd factory Mini30 magazines is $30/each while new ComBloc AK style magazines go for less than $20.
My current Mini30 is a 2011-vintage Tactical unit, and with its heavier barrel and good sighting setup it's proven quite satisfying. It also cost me less than seven bills out the door.Bud's Gun Shop has 20-rnd mags for ~ $26. But I have never seen 30-rnd mag. But that would look clunky. A pouch full of 20-rnd mags should do for all but a Zombie Apocalypse from an over-populated grave yard.
Ghost Tracker: Thanks for pointer --> You might visit over at the "Perfect Union" forum. They know the Mini like fleas know hounds.
Marlin 45: Wow! trying to push 150 gr by casing designed for 123 gr. You da man! --> working on a 150gr Speer sp load now as I don't consider the lightly made 123gr slugs available sufficient for larger whitetail at beyond about 125 yds and that with a good shot presented. I'm hopeing to stretch the sure killing shot to around 175 yds. maybe rakeing shot too.
I was thinking a good soft-point in 123 gr. would be good for smallish large game, up to younger whitetail. No? (At shorter range and good presentation, as you say)
December 21, 2011, 05:33 PM
IMO a sporterized AK like the Saiga, or even a SKS with a monte carlo stock and the bayonet removed looks less like the evil "assault rifle" than the Mini-14/30.
I have to ask... you say farm defense, but your location puts you inside the beltway?
I understand that the neighbors up in NOVA can be a bit annoying, but that is what a rifle case is for. Any other part of VA you shouldn't have any problems with funny looks from the neighbors no matter what you are carrying.
December 21, 2011, 11:20 PM
Justin: I agree with "The only other option i can think of would me a M1 carbine but i'd prefer the 7.62x39 over it's round". Yeh, there is a thread going on now about the M1 .30 carbine, and the wimpy ammo is an issue for a lot of members: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=630582
essayons21: I didn't say it was for my farm. And there are some pretty big outdoor parcels even in my home town here. Just FYI, the purported named town doesn't actually exist as a governmental unit, but if it did it, it would straddle the Wash. DC beltway. 'Course, outside the beltway we have another 5-10 miles of suburbs any direction a crow flies. OK, so if I end up with a 7.62x39 mm rifle for my own residence, it would be more for neighborhood defense rather than farm defense. And also, any east coast "city" has way more deer per square mile than I've ever seen in the country side. If we have a currency/financial system collapse, I can eat well and don't need a .30-06 to do so. Just a sermon, not a thought. (As a preacher on a local radio advert says. Wait! Maybe I got something a little wrong there....)
Regarding "a sporterized AK like the Saiga, or even a SKS with a monte carlo stock and the bayonet removed looks less like the evil "assault rifle" than the Mini-14/30", maybe so. I like the older year-model Mini-14/30s with wooden stocks, which mitigates what you say a bit.
December 22, 2011, 12:54 AM
I own the converted Saiga, Mini-30 Tactical, and the AR in that caliber. If I had to give up all but one? Hmmm, let me think about that awhile.:cool:
The AR can run 7.62x39 ammo reliably and accurately if you don't mind the Evil Black Rifle...
Heck you could always paint it:
December 22, 2011, 01:43 AM
Heck, I didn't even know you could find an AR-15 in 7.62x39 mm. I guess it's really a short-action AR-10? Can you buy such a caliber/receiver mix off-the-shelf or did you have to do a special build yourself?
Thanks for mentioning the "AR-39". That's actually a possibilty. An AR look-alike is more "socially acceptable" than what is clearly a ComBlock assault rifle. Least I think so, around these parts. Not in Virginia so much, but farther south people hunt deer and wild boar with ARs. Not at all uncommon to see them at the range...
December 22, 2011, 01:53 AM
Several folks make an 7.62x39 AR upper that fits any standard 5.56 lower. Spikes Tactical makes a nifty one. You could even build one yourself.
I have 1 of these - love it - had to replace hammer spring with a Wolff spring to get consistant firing of hard primered Berdan cases.
I also have a Mini-30. - BUY THE AR-15 with this Upper!
December 22, 2011, 04:29 AM
I have a Mini 30 all weather. It is ready to accept optics (even came with the rings) It is a nice shooter but still prefer a Saiga to the Mini. The Mini does look more conventional than the Saiga and people on this side of the pond find the ergos more friendly. Not sure why the SKS was dismissed so easily as it is a great option out of the box or with a synthetic monte carlo stock (or any other aftermarket stock).
I looked at the X39 AR's but could not find one that ran consistently. I have read that some folks have great luck with that platform. I am thinking that changing the springs would help some of the issues but not the FTE's I experienced with the few I was looking at. I would still like to eventually add an AR upper in X39 to the collection if I could find one that actually worked as reliable as any of my AK variants.
December 22, 2011, 04:08 PM
I had a mini 30. Accuracy was passable. The one thing I was really surprised about was how heavy the mini was. The recoil was quite pronounced also. Be careful of after market mags. I had two 20 round Promags that wouldn't fire the last five rounds without help. ie they wouldn't feed. I put a sling on it and a 3x9 scope. At 250 yds it/me would put them in a 6 inch circle.
December 22, 2011, 05:59 PM
My MINI 30 has been very dependable with good ammo. Wolf and it's cousins are hit and miss as far as reliability goes in my late model SS gun. Accuracy is minute of pop can at 100 yards with 123 grain Remington soft points.
All of the factory mags both 5 round and 20 round have functioned perfectly in this rifle. Pro Mags were a complete nightmare to get working and then they were just so so. If you choose this rifle invest in good mags and you wont regret it.
I have killed quite a few hogs and a couple deer with this rifle and 123 grain SP ammo. It is my beater gun that gets tossed in the truck or on the quad and also one of my favorites.
The only drawback I have found is the lack of a replacement rear site. It comes factory with a rear peep site and I wish that a standard notched site was an option. Just a personal preference not really a defect.
Luck with your purchase.
December 22, 2011, 06:19 PM
Sorry, I got tired of waiting for somebody else to wave the Keltec banner.
After having compared the Ruger and an SKS side-by-side, I chose the SKS. It was less expensive, more rugged, and with Tech-Sights installed, very acceptably precise to 200 meters.
I've been looking hard at the Kel-Tec Panzer is showing off, but on the Kel-Tec forum they were mentioning some cracking, which concerns me. It is about half the weight of the others, though, and works more or less off a Stoner gas system.
December 23, 2011, 03:11 AM
OK, Okay, now that's two of you saying to look at the SKS again. Gotta admit, it is my first time looking at all these Russian and Eastern European makes. And their Chinese copy-cats. For a while I thought the SKS was purely a Chinese pattern. But evidently the Chinese ones are another copy-cat. Or maybe I've got it all wrong. I need something like a graphical "family tree" of all these ComBlock and ChiCom 7.62x39 manufacturers and designations.
That's another thing. Except for the standard AK-47 pattern, there seem to be tons of different butt stock, fore stock, etc. patterns or variants. I can't make sense of them all. TMI -- too much information.
Specifically what stock for SKS should I be looking for from the factory, since I am buying a "farm rifle" rather than an assault rifle? And 6x6pinz, you mentioned --> "synthetic monte carlo stock (or any other aftermarket stock)." Got some pics or links?
Thanks and Merry Christmas!
December 23, 2011, 03:17 AM
December 23, 2011, 09:07 AM
Something like this is pretty commonly seen on the SKS, especially if the wood is not in good shape. It give the rifle a nice feel and all the modern sling attachment point and butt pad.
December 24, 2011, 12:30 AM
6x6, Thanks for links to Monte Carlo stocks for SKS. I guess I didn't know what a Monte Carlo stock was/is. $60 including recoil pad and USA made - not bad. I was looking to stay with the carbine size of gun, tho'. The Monte Carlo stock makes it look longer. Maybe not - it is as long as it is...
OK, so SKS or Saiga? What's the difference? Either/both of them related to Kalishnikov AK-47?
Like I said, I am total newb when it comes to ComBlock/ChiCom 7.62x39mm-chambered rifles. I actually searched on line for a family tree diagram. Here is the closest I have come so far: AK47: The Complete Kalashnikov Family Of Assault Rifles (http://www.amazon.com/AK47-Complete-Kalashnikov-Family-Assault/dp/0873644778). Anybody read that?
Here was a likely looking hit: Survivalist Forum > Downloads > AK-47, AK-74 & SKS Family of Firearms (http://www.survivalistboards.com/downloads.php?do=cat&id=5&sort=date). But it disappointed; only offered illicit copies of incredibly difficult-to-find manuals and blueprints. ;)
Oh, one other hit implies the SKS was older than the AK-47 and "Kalashnikov changed his design in 1944 to match the newer 7.62x39mm cartridges. He developed a selective fire carbine that used a rotating bolt operated by a cam lug moving in a groove in the bolt carrier. It had a fixed magazine, like the SKS, but it used many features which would later re-appear in the AK47. Kalashnikov's project died when the SKS was adopted by the Soviet Army as their semi-automatic battle rifle." See http://mouseguns.com/ak47info/ak47info.htm
Anyway, I am still confused. I think I like the look of the AK-47 and its sporter/civilian variants better than SKS; but that's just looks....
Joshua M. Smith
December 24, 2011, 12:59 AM
The SKS is a Simonov design. It is actually based on a scaled-down anti-tank rifle and started as the SKS-41, introduced in that year in 7.62x54R, and then later the SKS-45, the design most people know.
So in effect what you have is a carbine (20.5" barrel in most cases) designed around a .30-06 class cartridge but chambered for a mid-range cartridge (think .30 Carbine or 5.56 NATO).
In other words, it's massively overbuilt. I even wonder if it was overbuilt for the 7.62x54R, but I'll concede a "probably not" there!
It's not going to break on you.
On the other hand, the AK is based on the Sturmgewehr 44's shape, but that's about it. It uses a rotating bolt instead of the SKS's tilting bolt and is designed for a less-than-full-power cartridge.
I believe the SKS would serve most best if needing a semi-automatic .30 caliber that's affordable. (I'd likely go with a Garand or M1 Carbine if I were going to spend more money.) If you're willing to take a bolt action, I truly believe you'd be best served by the M1903, Kar98, or Mosin-Nagant.
December 24, 2011, 09:34 AM
OK so you want a shorter version of the SKS
The Saiga is a great choice and you can pick from a variety of calibers. It can also be modified into what ever you want but it starts getting up in price when converting and brings in a lot of other choices. the 223, 545x39 and 762 x39 will work ok in stock configuration but are standard rifle length rifles. Converting them and putting a folding stock would serve well for storage and still allow it to be deployed into a long gun.
December 24, 2011, 10:02 AM
Another SKS vote.
Mine (Chinese, milled receiver) shoots as well or better than any Mini-30.
December 24, 2011, 10:59 AM
My 189 series...
Trigger job, adjusted gas block, glass bedded stock, Wilson Combat 1911 buffers.
Shoots 2" groups @100yds with WWB 123 fmj's, better with hand loads before the barrel gets warm-then she starts to string some. Took a bunch of Blacktails with it in S.E. AK while I was there. Never had a single problem with it-just a great little carbine!
December 24, 2011, 03:37 PM
I owned and shot a Mini regularly for over a decade. I never warmed up to it's ho-hum accuracy and sold it. The recent price drop on Saiga's got me interested again in this type of carbine. Mine was $316.00 shipping included. Even if it has the same ho-hum accuracy of the Mini I will have a rifle of the same quality as a Mini at the third of the money.
December 27, 2011, 08:58 PM
So as I was starting to clue in on, there is no geneological relationship between the AK and the SKS. See, this is confusing to us noobs.
Wow. Cool little bullpup stock. I thought the mag well would have to be behind the trigger for bullpup. Oh wait! It is! (How'd they do that? It means that most any rifle could be converted to a bullpup with just a stock change - and here I thought there was some mystery...)
Sweet lookin' carbine! You say trigger job? What did you have done and can any gunsmith do it? Or is there a specialty shop? Also, what width of webbing do the D-rings for the sling like?
If you look closely at the newer models, looks like they thickened the barrel all the way out past the front gas block clamp (or whatever that is). Some say this will give more shots before barrel heating becomes a factor. When yours starts stringing, do the bullets drift up, down, left or what? Did Ruger ever put out any with thicker barrel and wood stock? Can you buy a wood stock to replace the syn stock on the new stainless/thick barrel models? What year did Ruger go to the thicker barrel? The syn stock?
I bought a used Mini-30. (Still waiting for it to arrive.) But the guy who sold it to me held on to his SKS. Go figure. There's no accounting for taste in this world. Or for screwed up thinking....
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