Gun Review: Ruger Mini-14 Tactical in 300 BLK

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The Ruger Mini-14 is one of Ruger’s flagship rifles. First designed in the late 1960’s as a smaller civilian version of the U.S. Military M-14, the rifle has been used by generations of hunters and target shooters. It’s also been featured prominently in movies and TV shows throughout the years. This rifle was the AR-15 of the 1970’s and 1980’s, the semi-auto firearm of choice — and for good reason. There’s just something quintessentially American about the look of the Mini-14, and now Ruger has released a version in my favorite caliber: 300 AAC Blackout. Is it the awesome “peanut butter in my chocolate” moment that hunters like me have been waiting for? . . .

The Mini-14 looks and feels like someone left an M-14 in the dryer a little too long. All the parts are present and accounted for including the stylized charging handle, just a little reduced in size. The gun functions exactly the same as an M-14 (minus the giggle switch) or an M1 Carbine, but there are some differences in the parts quality as well as minor design changes that differentiate this gun from a reduced photocopy of the military gun.

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Out front, the muzzle is threaded in a 5/8×24 pitch that is fairly standard for 30 caliber applications. The rifle ships with a flash hider threaded onto the muzzle, but this is easily removed as Ruger has helpfully not slathered it in Loctite before shipment. For those buying the Mini-14 Tactical in 300 BLK I get the feeling that the flash hider is there more as a thread protector than anything else before the end user’s silencer makes an appearance. Right behind the muzzle there’s a fixed front post for the iron sights permanently attached to the barrel (more or less).

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The receiver is a little bit disappointing. My M1 Garand may have spoiled me, but I’ve gotten used to the solid feel of that well-built action slamming home. With the Mini-14, it feels like the receiver is made of pot metal rather than something substantial. Working the action is like slamming the door on a cheap Kia — it feels hollow and without substance.

Part of the problem might be the stock, since Ruger uses a durable synthetic material for their Tactical line of Mini-14 rifles instead of the thicker wood stocks used on their Ranch Rifle and other guns in the line. That synthetic material is lighter and cheaper, but also thinner.

Ruger ships these guns with iron sights, as well as a proprietary scope mounting system already attached to the receiver. The rifle I received came with a set of matching scope rings, and so I dutifully used them to attach Nikon’s new 300 BLK BDC scope to the gun for testing. But I quickly ran into a major issue: the supplied rings are terrible. Three rounds into a shooting session and the scope was already loose no matter how much Loctite I used. That’s really disappointing, since having a scope on this gun would be pretty cool for hunting.

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The magazines for this gun are proprietary. The gun is a scaled down M-14 after all, and that includes the AK-style magazine release mechanism. The M1 Carbine had a push-button magazine release way back in WWII, but the later 1950’s era M-14 required the end user to rock the magazine into place using a stud in the forward section of the receiver and a release in the rear to keep the magazine from moving around.

It would be really cool if Ruger had re-engineered the gun to use the much more common AR-15 magazines, but nope. The mags are helpfully marked with “300 AAC BLACKOUT” to ensure that you don’t go slamming the wrong ammo into the wrong gun, but otherwise they are pretty much standard 5.56 Mini-14 magazines.

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Moving down to the fire controls, they are simply no bueno. The trigger is so creepy that even clowns avoid it. And it stacks so much that it was just hired to run Amazon’s warehouses. Not good at all, and it definitely has an impact on accuracy downrange. Another thing that I don’t like about the fire controls is the trigger guard safety. I love the idea and the implementation in the M1 Garand, but in the Mini-14 the same design feels very cheap and flimsy. 

Disassembly is basically identical to the M14, but with a couple extra added bonuses.

So what we have here is the firearms equivalent of a Fiat Panda. But while it may seem like a bit of a let-down looking at the parts alone, once you load it up the gun is a blast to shoot.

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Out on the range, the gun cycles both supersonic and subsonic 300 BLK ammunition without any issues. I tried it both with and without a silencer (before Tyler killed my can with a baffle strike) and the gun functioned perfectly. The only issue I ran into was the one I already mentioned: the scope rings are awful. The good news is that there are tons of aftermarket options available, including Picatinny rails you can add to the gun that clamp onto the existing scope bases or even aftermarket scope rings. So while the supplied rings are terrible, you should be able to get some good ones and really stretch the gun’s legs.

Shooting the gun is tons of fun. The synthetic stock is designed for iron sights, so if you leave the scope at home, your cheek weld will be fairly solid on the gun. The stock comes with a rubber recoil pad to absorb some of the increased kick of the 300 BLK rounds, and the result is a gun that is downright fun to fire. Especially with a can on the end.

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Since Eagle Eye Ammunition (our official ammo sponsor) doesn’t yet make 300 AAC Blackout ammunition I had to find a substitute. I tested the gun (using iron sights only, since the scope wasn’t reliable) at 50 yards using some commercially available 300 BLK loads, and the following is the best 5 round group I could muster,

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Ruger itself puts the accuracy of the Mini-14 at about 2 MoA. Out at 50 yards, with the provided iron sights, the best I could muster was about 5 MoA. There’s not a whole lot to compare this to other guns apples-to-apples since we do most of our testing with scopes, but consider that my usual hobbies include putting 5.56 NATO rounds through a target the size of a silver dollar with an M-16 with iron sights. Standing. Offhand. At 200 yards.

Still, that’s not too shabby considering the intended use.

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Most people who I’ve talked to about the rifle think that it perfectly fits one very specific niche: truck gun. The rifle is just inexpensive enough that you could conceivably chuck it in the back of your vehicle along with a couple magazines and forget about it — until you needed it to shoot something, that is. The action on the Mini-14 might seem Kia-esque, but the short stroke gas system and chunky operating rod mean you’re getting close to AK-47 levels of reliability. And while the accuracy isn’t stellar, that’s more than enough to get rounds on a deer for food — or a human for self defense.

It’s a cool toy, but compared to the competition it doesn’t really stack up. CMMG offers a 300 BLK rifle for almost the exact same MSRP, but their gun has a keymod handguard, full length Picatinny rail, adjustable stock, and takes standard 30-round magazines. At that point the Mini-14 really doesn’t make sense financially — you get so much more with the CMMG rifle, and the Mini-14 doesn’t really offer any improvements in return.

There’s no doubt that this is an incredibly fun gun to shoot and that it would do well in a pinch, but I’m not sold. I love that Ruger is expanding the 300 AAC BLK cartridge to more guns but this is one case where the end result is still a mediocre firearm. Cheap AR-15 builds have pretty much eliminated the market for older designs, so unless you really really like the look of the gun (which does look sexy) then I suggest going with the CMMG instead.

Specifications: Ruger Mini-14 Tactical

Caliber: 300 AAC Blackout
Action: Semi-auto
Weight: 6.75 pounds
Barrel: 16.1″
Magazine: Two 20-round magazines included
MSRP: $1,019

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * *
Its okay. With some good scope rings this would be a shooter, and most people seem to be getting right around 2 MoA with this model so I would expect the same from the 300 BLK version as well. I’ll let it slide on the “1 MoA for $1k” rule of thumb, since retail is well below that mark.

Ergonomics: * * *
The stock is optimized for iron sights, not a scope. So if you want to put a scope on this gun you might need a cheek riser. The synthetic stock is okay, but it isn’t as nice as a wood stock. The trigger is awful.

Reliability: * * * * *
Bang. Every time.

Customization: *
There are aftermarket scope rings and stocks, but that’s it. The magazines are proprietary, and not enough people own and shoot these guns these days to warrant a truly booming replacement part market.

Overall: * *
There are better guns available on the market for the same amount of money, so that automatically precludes a 3-star rating. That said, the gun is an absolute hoot to shoot.

comments

  1. avatar Texheim says:

    I’m not going to spend over a $1,000 for a 2 MOA rifle!

    1. avatar TTACer says:

      But what if it was a 5 moa gun?! (more is better, right?)

      1. avatar Texheim says:

        Bingo, just like 1 trillion is less than 45 million because the 1 is smaller than 45!

      2. avatar Gunr says:

        This is what happens when you use the “new math” system

        1. avatar Virginia Gunner says:

          It’s known as Fuzzy MOA.

          It is more inclusive of guns that have been oppressed by insensitive slurs like ‘inaccurate’, which are hurtful.

        2. avatar MAC][ says:

          Curse you Common Core!!!

  2. avatar CHLChris says:

    Uh…please more on this point. Did you get a baffle strike because Ruger’s machining of the threads was sub-par and non-concentric? Or perhaps was the twist rate on the barrel causing subsonic ammo to tumble? Or was the strike during supersonic ammo? The primary reason for 300Blk is its ability to shoot subsonic ammo with a silencer. So you really need to give more information about this strike. It is the only thing I care about this rifle…will it be a good suppressor host? And this article suggests that the only thing this rifle would be good for–a suppressor host–it ISN’T!

    1. avatar CHLChris says:

      “(before Tyler killed my can with a baffle strike)”

      I meant to attach this quote from the article.

    2. avatar Stacy says:

      I was wondering this too. Is this due to barrel warping? Not quite the same threads on muzzle and can? Tolerance somewhere between chamber and muzzle? These things just happen sometimes?

    3. avatar Kyle in CT says:

      My understanding is that the incident was unrelated to this rifle.

    4. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      Tyler killed my can on a different gun. The Mini-14 performed flawlessly with the silencer attached, no end cap strikes at all.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Tyler killing your can had *nothing* to do with you killing his family’s farm buggy?

        🙂

  3. avatar achmed says:

    Disappointing. Oh well it is a Mini14. Ruger makes other things I really like, this rifle is not one of them.

  4. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    It’s a little ridiculous to provide accuracy data without using a scope.
    One of the basic rules of scientific research is to remove as many variables as possible.

    1. avatar achmed says:

      Well, he’s up front about the fact that he didn’t use a scope. Also the practical accuracy with iron sights matters also. And if the rifle was accurate then a good cmp rifle shooter would drop rounds into a much tighter group at a mere 50 yards.

      1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        Does the group size represent the accuracy of the rifle, or the quality of the sights? We all have good days and bad days at the range. When we test products, we need to remove the human element as much as possible.

    2. avatar GreatScott says:

      It looks like he tried the scope, but it wouldn’t stay still. Frankly, that is an issue with this antiquated platform (in addition to the lame rings they supplied of course). Scoping up an M1a for instance isn’t a great (or cheap) experience – and you essentially lose your wonderful irons along the way. Also hard to keep it from wobbling a bit honestly… I love my M1A, but I have accepted it for what it is – a legacy platform that does not do the things that a newer platform does (in the way of the safety mech, mag changes, Optics and Sight options, Sling options, Accessorizing, etc). But it still is fun, and has it’s place. I’m just not sure all that is needed for 300 Blk. It’s a modern round, it’s better enjoyed out of a modern platform, IMO. I certainly get your point about removing all extraneous elements, but I don’t think he was focusing on a ‘pure accuracy analysis’, as this wouldn’t really be a ‘precision’ rifle per say

  5. avatar DrewN says:

    Without a decent refresh the Mini absolutely makes no sense anymore, and this is coming from a guy with 4 of them including 2 pretty pricey customs. The stock irons are junk, the mags are unreliable and expensive, the synthetic furniture has unbelievable amounts of slop (on one of mine you could fit a freaking quarter on each side between the receiver and stock), the scope mounts require lapping and loads of loctite (the Warnes are great though), Ruger’s policy on replacement parts is a joke (wait until you need a firing pin) and on and on. Still great to shoot and I prefer the ergos to an AR, but I doubt this rifle is ever going to get the update it needs. Hell, just making it AR magazine compatible seems to be something Ruger won’t even consider, which is a joke because the Scout uses AI mags, so someone there must not have their head up their ass.

    1. avatar Jeff says:

      At one point I wanted a Mini years ago, but that passed over quickly. Ruger appears to have rectified a lot of the accuracy issues with the Mini-14 by going with a heavy barrel, but the magazine issue is still annoying. I don’t understand why Ruger doesn’t include an AR adapter or permanent magwell, so that people could use common magazines with the Mini.

      Heck, it costs less to outfit a 5.56 AK with magazines these days than it does a Mini-14.

  6. avatar LCB says:

    HEY! Don’t be dissing on cheap Kia’s…some of us have to drive them yah know…so we can afford other toys!!!

    LOL

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      I really do like my Optima, bonus assembly in Georgia!

  7. Ruger is really pricing themselves out of the market with the Mini-14 these days, and the magazine situation isn’t helping.

    1. avatar JT says:

      Pretty much. When you could get a Mini for $700 and the cheapest AR was over $1000, they were a good deal. But now a bare bones Mini is still $700 yet you can get an entry level AR (from Ruger no less) for $650. The incentive to get one is gone unless you are in a ban state.

  8. avatar Swarf says:

    You keep saying Kia. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/2015-us-initial-quality-study-iqs#

    More on topic: I sure wish there were more companies making autoloading centerfire rifles with traditional stocks.

    I really dislike the look of the pistol grip stocks; I want a modern weapon with an old school look. For $700.

    And a unicorn.

    1. avatar JT says:

      “Initial” quality. Not long term quality.

      1. avatar Swarf says:

        Not that this is really the forum for it, but for what it’s worth I’ve had a Kia as my daily commuter car since 2006 and never (knock wood) had a significant problem with it. I’d buy another in a heartbeat.

        Of course I also have a big ol Dodge for when I want to haul dirt, or compensate… or something.

  9. avatar David says:

    On the level Nick – do you have something against the 7.62×39?

    Impact currently has Mini-30’s in the $750 ballpark. I agree that 1,000 + is too much for a mini in any cartridge but I do not see this blackout rifle doing anything a mini-30 cannot. I have heard mostly good things about the mini-30; the main gripe(s) center around mag availability.

    “The trigger is so creepy that even clowns avoid it.”

    Arguably the best line by a TTAG writer yet 🙂

    1. avatar DrewN says:

      The -30s have a (slight to moderate) tendency to break firing pins on cheap surplus ammo with hard primers, which kind of defeats the purpose of a 7.62 x 39 IMO. Still makes alot more sense than .300 though.

    2. avatar RocketScientist says:

      “I do not see this blackout rifle doing anything a mini-30 cannot. ”

      It can fire a popular factory-loaded subsonic caliber for effective suppressor use…. kind of the defining characteristic/raison d’etre for the whole cartridge.

    3. avatar Stinkeye says:

      Suppressors, man, suppressors. That’s what .300 BLK is all about.

    4. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

      I looked at the mini 30 a while back. Then I started thinking, it would be really nice if I could get one of these that was a bit more reliable, easy to maintain, with cheaper mags, and with more options for customization. You know, something kind of like……an AK?

    5. avatar josh says:

      i own a mini 30 581 series, the pre 06 models had what one would call a pencil barrel, the guns shot reliably but would overheat and you would notice stringing of the shots( also for the ar snobs who have not a f*&&^ing clue, the first m16A1 had a pencil barrel and would string shots as well,Ps i love ar’s but i can’t stand fanboys.) With the newer models and tooling they shoot A LOT better. Sounds dumb but get the Spartan Stock from Promag, it will make the receiver hold in place more rigidly, and then add an accu strut. I notice with all mini’s that the stock has too much slop because therefore decreasing accuracy, the new barrels have a thicker profile and dont heat up nearly as bad but still get an accu strut really does work. Also did I mention I admire both platforms, so dont tear me up about moding my mini,(the same people that will tear me up over modifying my mini buy cheaply ar’s and then sink a grand into them….dafuq ) I don’t know if this is possible or not, and or if they would do it, but if I sent ttag my platform I know they would eat it up. Wish i could attach a pic.

  10. avatar GreatScott says:

    That was a good honest review. Gotta love TTAG. Also cracked up a bit at the trigger ‘creep’ and ‘stacking’ lines, so got a laugh in as well. I think the proprietary mag issue alone would scare me away, and the antiquated safety mech and lame-o trigger don’t help any either. And from being an M1A owner, I know how much of a pain scoping these puppies up right can be. Sure doesn’t have the flexibility of an AR platform, having to deal with the action on the top and all. Frankly, it’s an antiquated platform. And as much as I love 300Blk, it’s still expensive as all get-out. I was hoping the MCX would be 300 Blk piston platform I was looking for, but at this point, I’m through with ‘early-adopting’ and gonna let others be the guinea pigs for a change…

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      The proprietary mag issue makes no sense.

      .300 BLK is made from .556-.223 brass, no?

      Why in the hell do mags need to be proprietary?

      1. avatar GreatScott says:

        right? that was one of the biggest benefits of 300Blk – you could use your same mags. I guess they weren’t investing a whole ton in modding this legacy platform (to accept AR mags) with the realistic prospect of limited sales

      2. avatar Stinkeye says:

        I don’t think the mags are proprietary because it’s .300 BLK. The mags are proprietary because it’s a Ruger. The Mini has always had proprietary mags. I would imagine that standard .223 Mini-14 mags would work in this rifle just fine.

  11. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    Spend the money on a LRB M1A…..

    1. avatar Jjimmyjonga says:

      Agreed…I really like mine, including the m25 with scope rail built in, but not lightweights. The scoped m25 with jea stock will shoot fgmm 1 MOA no problem. Neat guns, affordable mags and ammo, but gotta pay for quality. I have m1a’s too, and would not buy another mini-14/30 – in 30cal, stick with the m1a, anything smaller, go with AR platform (I’ll take m14 over ar10 any day thank you)

  12. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    I owned Mini-14s many years ago and I liked the ones I owned, but they always kinda stank in the accuracy department. With the price relative to good quality AR types that will easily shoot well inside the three to four MOA that the Mini typically produces, it will never again be the big seller it once was.

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      Ruger shut down and retooled the Mini-14 line a few years ago. The tolerances are now much tighter and they use a heavier tapered barrel. They’re also 5.56 now instead of .223. 2moa is about what to expect out of a Mini now, which puts it on par with a cheap AR.

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        I took a quick look over at Ruger’s site where you can look up the serial numbers. Looks like Ruger made almost 50,000 of them last year.

  13. avatar Bill Kohnke says:

    Wow, an inaccurate Mini-14! What are the odds? (sarcasm)

    1. avatar DrewN says:

      The newer ones are alot better than they used to be, generally a bedding job along with a reduced size gas bushing and properly fitting the gas block will help exponentially.

  14. avatar Art out West says:

    Other than the ability to run subsonic, this gun does nothing that my basic Saiga 7.62X39 wouldn’t. The Saiga cost me $300, five years ago. I looked at the Mini and the AR, back in 2010. At the time, with the price difference, it was no contest. At todays prices, I might go AR, but certainly not Mini.

    1. avatar Vitsaus says:

      You beat me to the comparison. Even today, a Saiga with a similar configuration to a Mini-14/30 is just about $650 or less, which is still considerably less expensive that you’ll find a Mini variant. Accuracy is similar between the two, but at least in the 7.62 version, you have the option of modifying it for normal AK mags, meaning your mag cost, options, and availability are improved.You can scope it as well, so there’s very little benefit in the Mini series anymore, though they price them right in the same range as some of the better low end AR15s, or the bottom tier of mid range…

  15. avatar Kyle in CT says:

    The “selling point” that a lot of people are forgetting is this: for those of us in states with logic-challenged governments, this is one of two semi-auto, magazine fed rifle options (at least that I am aware of) you can still legally buy. The other is the Ares Defense SCR. It’s a pretty captive audience, particularly since everybody knows about the mini, but relatively few will be aware of the SCR.

    1. avatar Art out West says:

      Even in restricted states, you can still usually buy Saiga’s and VEPR’s, since they lack the “evil” pistol grip, and flash hider, and they come with 10 round magazines.

      Living in a “free” state, I had to buy some 30 rounders, and do just enough 922r compliance. Replacing one part will allow you to use US made 30 round mags like SGM/Surefire. Replace a couple more, and you can use the standard AK mags.

      If for some terrible reason, I had to move to Cali, I’d just take my Saiga with the 10 round mags. I don’t think you even have to do the bullet button crap with the Saiga.

  16. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    Wow, even with your final ratings at the end this gun still gives me a boner… TMI?

  17. avatar Red In Texas says:

    The only Mini worth owning, is the AC556 model. All others are meh, at best.

    1. avatar Don says:

      Have a 181- Mini-14 — made about 1980.Shot hundreds of prairie dogs from 150-225 yds. Must have the only accurate one out there.

  18. avatar mike says:

    I’ll just stick with the Handi Rifle (with cheek pad holding ammo) as my truck gun.

  19. avatar Larry Blunk says:

    I’m interested to know more about the rings coming loose. I have shot thousands of rounds using Ruger’s proprietary system on their other rifles and have dropped one down a mountain – none of them ever lost zero. I noticed in one of the pics you posted the ring is missing at least one screw and they do not appear properly torqued. What’s going on there? Does is have more to do with the mating to the receiver or the rings themselves?

  20. avatar SurfGW says:

    Fired a friends Mini-30 many times. I see many issues with the Mini’s design:
    1) safety manipulation is known to cause NDs
    2) point of impact shifts significantly with a hot barrel
    3) easily overheats – shooting 100 rounds was enough to overheat it to the point where we had to wait for it to cool down so that the charging handle could cycle
    4) pulling back on the front of the magazine for better control in the standing can cause the trigger group to fall out while firing.
    5) the .300 blackout is an expensive niche round
    I would save my money and buy an SKS for much less

    1. avatar tom12121112 says:

      Is there even one recorded case of a ND with the mini 14/30, or the m1a platform? I hear that about the safety all the time, but i also hear that open carry is terrible because someone might target you first in an assault, and I’ve seen no evidence of either.

      1. avatar Gene says:

        The Garand would have the same issue.

  21. avatar Art out West says:

    “Truck Gun” = $160 Pardner Pump 12 guage
    $1000 does not equal “Truck Gun” for most middle class folks.

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      I was thinking the same thing. A gun I’d be comfortable leaving in a vehicle all the time would have to be a lot less expensive than this one.

  22. avatar JWM says:

    Maybe my memory is slipping. But weren’t mini-14’s supposed to be a cheaper alternative to AR’s?

  23. avatar BN says:

    I purchased one of these and I love it. I have avoided getting an AR in 300 BLK because I don’t want to risk a kaboom because I (or one of my grown kids) grabbed the wrong ammo for my AR. The Mini is a great truck gun and it solves the issue of stuffing a mag full of 300 BLK into the wrong rifle.

  24. avatar Dale Smith says:

    (In the video) That’s a field strip?!?! Holy Sh!t!!! What a pain in that ass that would be.

  25. avatar Miles Lippincott says:

    What an odd review. It seemed more about the problems of the Mini platform then this particular version. Perhaps it would have been more of a fair comparison to contrast it with the standard Mini then try and use the M1 as the standard.

    1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      We review the whole gun as-is from the factory compared to other similarly priced firearms in the same general category. We’re not comparing whether this Mini-14 is better than another Mini-14, we’re reviewing whether this gun is worthy of your money at all.

  26. avatar LongBeach says:

    Where’s that Mini-14 accuracy excuses target photo when you need it…

  27. avatar Royal Tony says:

    Great news for any A-Team reenactment enthusiast wishing to bring a tacticool flair to the event.

  28. avatar =BCE56= says:

    Bought a Mini 30 years ago for about $475 out the door (over twice what the Chinese SKS cost.) I class it in the realm of an M1 Carbine, but in a more effective chambering.

    A bit of tabletop gunsmithing made the trigger acceptable. Early feeding issues were the fault of the mags, both factory and a variety of aftermarket. So I monkeyed around with those mags for a while, and installed a little red dot in the factory rings.
    Then I moved the Mini to the back of the gun safe and started some other projects.

    Eventually I sold the SKS to help finance an AR in X39. Because I really like the X 39.
    Then I went through a similar process with the AR.

    My impressions at this point:
    The SKS was a brick. I doubt if you could break it.
    I oiled it every once in a while. It put rounds downrange all day, every day. Fed it with a stripper clip. It had an ugly trigger, but it went Bang!

    The mini was more finicky, and maybe not quite as accurate as the SKS, which had a stiffer barrel.

    The AR is a bit more accurate than the Mini, due I believe to it’s medium contour barrel.
    Massaging the trigger helped.
    The AR is not as easy to run as the other rifles, and cleaning it is a real PITA.

    I still like the X 39 cart. over the boutique .30’s, but the case taper is a consideration.
    I do not care for the 5.56, heavy or light.
    AAC/Blackout, .30 Wilson etc. are not in my future, unless somebody else buys my ammo.( .30 AR looked promising, but it seems the marketplace has spoken…)

    So I guess that is a long way of saying the Mini has its limitations, no matter what caliber.

    My $.02.

    P.S. Your best bang for the buck IMO? SKS for sure. Now THAT is a Truck Gun.
    You can gussie it up if you want, but why bother?

    Carry on, guys.

  29. avatar Rob says:

    Had a mid nineties mini 14. Ar-s were very expensive. It was a one magazine gun before the barrel heated up to red hot levels that sprayed bullets like shotgun pellets. I almost bought the new tactical version a couple years back , but came to my senses and got a very nice lightly used M-4 patrolman carbine for $700 and have never looked back. I’m no fan boy of AR’s. I’ve put a couple hundred rounds through it. I’ve never hung any lights, scopes, lasers or other doodads on it. I may at some point, after I find the “perfect” carry gun…hahaha. The mini 14 is over priced and under-engineered, imho.

  30. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    The Mini-14 isn’t that accurate. I’ve never seen any example that could hold a group better than 2 MOA, and 3 to 4 MOA were pretty typical.

    With a rack-grade M-1A, I can hold a group of a little more than a MOA at 100 yards with match .308 ammo. Rifles that have been tightened up, bedded, etc can be better than a MOA. I’ve never seen a Mini-14 come anywhere near those results, not without a lot of work.

    The Ruger Mini-14 has always been a disappointment to me – such a great idea, but such a far cry from the original design in terms of results.

  31. avatar Jimmyjames says:

    $1000 for a Mini-14? I sold a Mini-14 and a Mini-30 six or so years ago for $600. The owner just tried to sell them back to me for same and I politely declined. They would not hit a hog in the butt at 50yds much less a silver dollar. Silver dollar groups at 200yds with irons from a service rifle is damn fine shooting sir!

  32. avatar ad-lib says:

    “Most people who I’ve talked to about the rifle think that it perfectly fits one very specific niche: truck gun.”

    …or you live in a state with limited options and still want to keep buying guns.

  33. avatar Ladybug says:

    I have owned 4 Mini 14’s in the past 4 years.

    Two were tactical, one black synthetic and one Circassian wood. Both were sent to a certain gunsmith
    in Montana to work the triggers, bedding, etc. and both place their first two shots within a quarter inch with Hornady Tap 60 grain V Max. The triggers match my finest custom bolt action rifles and frankly I have some damn fine rifles. Of course, that was with scopes and at 100 yards.

    I tested several other quality factory offerings with excellent results. Getting too old to reload with any patience to find the right “vibration.”

    The other two, Ranch models, also, ran sub MOA with this same factory ammo, and trigger jobs, etc.. No, I have not pushed them over 3 shot groups.

    I had the same problem with the scope rings shooting loose within 25 rounds usually.

    I, too, love the P Mags and the efficient, rapid mag change of the AR’s, and the accuracy cannot be disputed on a good AR.

    However, it’s an individual thing I reckon cause I’d pick up the Mini 14’s before the AR’s if I was in trouble. I’m from the over 65 generation and we have bad memories-M 16. They still cannot handle a hellatious,
    long,intense firefight and that has been demonstrated in these past tow AO’s. I’d prefer the AK 47, AK 74,
    and SKS if my life were on the line. Every long time operator I know of chooses the AK system over the M 16
    and trembles even at mentions of an M 16 system. But those guys have seen the worst there is as far as
    combat with both systems.

    It’s just my quirky preference for wood, steel, pistons and the feel of something similar to a M 1 or M 14.

    1. avatar Nam Marine says:

      AMEN my Brother. Vietnam 1968-69, 3rd Marine Division. M-16 was JUNK !
      When I got out, I traded my AR-15 for a mini-14 tactical and never looked back !

  34. avatar Wes Williams says:

    I have had several Mini 14’s. My current one is an SS with synthetic stock that I bought @ five years ago. I have killed hogs and coyotes with it out to 60/70 yds. with iron sights and no problem. I prefer the 150 gr. cartridges, but 170 gr. are ok. I carry this rifle everywhere in the truck, shoot it often, and find it to be reliable and easy to maintain. It is also easy to field strip and clean compared to an AR, which I hate. I also hated the M-16. Any rifle that needs an “assist” to lock the action after sustained use or that is that hard to keep clean is screwed in my mind. I do agree….use only Ruger mags and 20 rnd. are best.

  35. Excellent article. I certainly love this site.
    Continue the good work!

  36. avatar Keiler says:

    People think hunting is bad, its not poaching is, sustainablity is key, selective and legal hunting of non endangered species strengthens the whole species and in turn ecosystem thru natural selection

  37. avatar Scotty Nicholson says:

    The review lost me when the author seemed to Imply regular quarter sized groups with an iron sighted AR, at 200 yards. Really? You can’t even see a quarter at 200 yards, and a front sight would be way wider than a quarter. One might luck out with one accidental group that size, but The Truth About Guns just lost me, along with any truth that the article may have contained. I understand how ego can color anyone’s accounting, but…really??? A quarter???

  38. avatar Scotty Nicholson says:

    The review lost me when the author seemed to Imply regular quarter sized groups with an iron sighted AR, at 200 yards. Really? You can’t even see a quarter at 200 yards, and a front sight would be way wider than a quarter. One might luck out with one accidental group that size, but The Truth About Guns just lost me, along with any truth that the article may have contained. I understand how ego can color anyone’s accounting, but…really??? A quarter???

    Whoops…I mean a Silver Dollar. Still.. 200 Yards?

    1. avatar Steve Wills says:

      Scotty Nicholson, your comments got me to thinking.

      200yds? Silver dollar? Iron sights? Off-hand? I wouldn’t dare call anybody out or try to make a ruckus, but just the math alone would make that some impressive shooting.

      I checked the size of a traditional “silver” dollar, like the old Eisenhower dollars or the older, Morgan dollars. They are 38.1mm or exactly 1.5″. Although I speak for myself only, I’d bet that most everyone “knows” 25yds from your local indoor range. One-and-a-half inches is appx 6MOA at the 25yd line. For reference, align 2 quarters together, rim-to-rim; quarters are right at 0.75″, so a pair of ’em is right at 1.5″. (I learned this by way of some “hand-did” targets with 1:1 scaled coins that I use regularly.)

      Now, move that silver dollar out to 200yds and – if my math is correct – we’re looking at, roughly, 0.75MOA. That is TIGHT. Conversely, to approximate/simulate this at the 25yd mark, the bull would be right at 0.1875″||3/16″. Let’s ante up another quarter, then stack it with the other 2. The height of that stack is going to be very close to 0.1875||3/16″ … but a bit BIGGER!

      Tell you what, let’s make it even easier to simulate that target at 25yds. Keep the quarters in your pocket, but find a spent/empty 22LR casing off the floor at your range, then use it as guide or template to draw your simulated 200yd bullseye. Yes, the casing diameter is larger than 0.1875″||3/16″, 1.20 or 20 percent larger, and your drawn circle will certainly be a big bigger, but that’s okay … because, I don’t know that an object under 0.25″ in size will be viewable by very many, unless they have eyesight like Chuck Yeager or Clarence Bud/Andy Anderson. Personally, I can barely, and not always, make out the quarter-inch, dayglo-red “dot” on a hi-viz target at my usual indoor range at 25yds. It’s a little easier outdoors, in the sunlight.

      Well, I targets with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, as well as an 1849 gold dollar. That gold dollar is a tad under 0.5″, so it’s mmy (almost) 2MOA objective (again, at 1:1 scale). Shooting supported/off bench, where all I did was aim, steady, and shoot the rifle, my 10/22TD and I have managed at least once to “make change” out of that dollar, 3 overlapping holes with a group size right at .155″, center-to-center from farthest holes. That’s appx 0.6MOA, probably my best (deliberate) 3-shot group to-date.

      However, as I said in my previous post, I’m a middle-aged rookie, so I’m not claiming talent, skill, or expertise. I’ll just be grateful for things I’ve learned and a lotta’ luck, because I could barely see the much-darker and bigger penny image, much less that danged gold dollar!

      I don’t have much trouble consistently punching holes into hitting baseball-to-softball-size targets off-hand at 25yds, but I’d sure be curious, and impressed, to see somebody doing that to a silver-dollar, offhand, iron-sights, at 200yds.

      Steve in Memphis

  39. avatar Steve says:

    Call me a rookie, call me a liberal, call me old school, but my only complaint about my Mini-14 300 BLK is the width of the center blade on the front sight; I estimate that thing to be somewhere between 12 and 16 MOA wide. Only been shooting for about 9 months, now, first with a 10/22TD, then I bought the Mini, even after reading this review. I now know that I’ve been spoiled by the Tech-Sights I put on the front and rear of the 10/22, with front post spec’d at 7.63MOA.

    So, to the point, this past Saturday, I installed new rear sight (from Tech-Sights) and a new Ulitmak rail on the Mini. I was itchin’ to get to a range and find a zero with the new sights. So, I drove to Montgomery County Shooting Complex (Tennessee, south of Fort Campbell, a really great range), to test it out. In intermittent rain, mostly a left-to-right cross-wind, sometimes changing to a head-wind, using 150gr supersonic ammo, I aimed, shot, assessed, and adjusted my new “irons” at 50yds until I put 3 a set of 4 consecutive rounds into a 1″ circle, then 2 straight sets of 3 shots into, first, a 2″ square, then, into a 2″ circle. After that, I moved to 100yds and put my first 3rds from the Mini into the bull, with group diameter right at 2.25″.

    (My results with 10/22 were, in general, slightly better, after I gauged the drop.)

    I know that is not at the level of Alvin York or Carlos Hathcock, but, based upon what I’ve read from so many folks who dismiss pretty much all variants of the Mini, insofar as accuracy goes, my results seem to border on outstanding.

    (No animals were harmed during my session, but, 8 out of 10 squirrels agree, they would have been.)

    I can also confirm that Ruger Mini-14 .223/5.56 mag’s work just fine. I also have a Pro-Mag that (usually) works fine. So far, it has cycled a-ok, unsuppressed, with the 3 makes of sub-sonic ammo I have fed it. I have seen few reviewers note this, but I am pretty sure that the barrel on the Mini-14 300 BLK is the heaviest one in the line; although it’s the same as the others from receiver to gas block – that’s why the Ultimak rail worked just fine – it’s much thicker from the gas block to the muzzle. IOW, it should be stiffer and tolerate more heating, perhaps even preventing that vertical-stringing I’ve read about on the .223/5.56 version.

    Again, I’m still in my rookie year of shooting any firearm and I can’t be considered an expert. Also, I will confess that I truly prefer the more traditional look of the Mini to that of anything else I’ve seen in its product segment. (I rate the M1A offerings from Springfield as gorgeous, too, and I looked at them, but I didn’t want to spend that much, so I put them in a different market. However, I think my Mini now looks even better than NIB, a bit more elegantly bad-a$$, since I added that Ultimak rail.)

    So, in the end, if this rookie, using iron sights and middle-aged eyeballs, on a breezy day, with good-quality-but-reloaded ammo, is consistently putting 300 BLK rounds into a 3″ circle at 100yds, this here Mini-14 just has to be better than so many folks say it is.

  40. avatar Mike says:

    I don’t know what you’re doing with those rings, but I GUARANTEE you are doing something wrong. The ruger rings
    are well known for their superior strength. I have those rings on an older mini 14 ranch, and also on an m77 hawkeye in .338 magnum. Both have been mounted for several years, and neither has moved at all. I used no loctite. I did lap both sets of rings before mounting the scopes, and torqued all screws properly. As for accuracy, thanks for letting us know that the mini 14 is not a particularly accurate rifle. Here and I always thought they were absolute tack drivers…. especially with the all new totally invincible Wonder Cartridge!

  41. avatar Mcclain says:

    I bought a mini last year in 300 BLK and it’s awesome! Had an AR for a while and couldn’t get used to it, ended up trading it off, partly because I didn’t want to look like one of the AR fanboys or some range ninja. Everyone keeps jabbing about the inaccuracy of the mini, the 300BLK version is a 300 yard gun at most, and that’s because of the round itself, not the gun! It’s supposed to be an ultra-reliable truck gun that you can knock down deer or coyotes or other varmints with. I’m not going to throw a $700 AR in the truck and bounce around the ranch all weekend, something on it will break, it will jam, or some other kind of failure. Don’t have to worry about that with the Mini, it goes bang every time, no matter what you throw at it. And if I want to shoot at something more than 300 yards off I’m not going to use a 300BLK or 5.56 in any platform. That’s what .270 .308 30.06 and so on are for!

  42. avatar John says:

    I hit chicken eggs at 200 yds. with a .223 that had a 12x scope, 3 times, standing offhand, with no sling, and won over $200 at the events. That was with a total of 26 shots. After shooting high power silhouette for 33 years, seeing the best shooters in the country at offhand shooting, I find it difficult to believe that anyone could hit a silver dollar with open sights at 200 yds. at a regular interval. We can all get lucky sometime. Makes the whole evaluation of the rifle seem a little “iffy”.

  43. avatar Corey Jordan says:

    “but consider that my usual hobbies include putting 5.56 NATO rounds through a target the size of a silver dollar with an M-16 with iron sights. Standing. Offhand. At 200 yards.”

    Sub-one MOA, Military issue M16 with iron sights, standing, offhand at 200 yards, shooting NATO mil-spec ball ammo is remarkable, almost astounding bullshit. He forgot the 30 knot crosswind…

    Having thrown even a shred of credibility to the wind, I can’t accept anything Leghorn says.

    My 5805 Mini-14 has a vastly better trigger than any mil-spec M16/M4 I’ve fired.

    My scope doesn’t shoot loose. Ruger rings are heavy, but they tighten up and stay tight.

    How accurate is my Mini-14? It varies with what ammo I shoot. Ordinary XM193 5 grain ball ammo shoots between 1.8 and 2.5 MOA from the bench. Some ammo shoots better, some worse. However, I did find that IMI M193 FMJ boat tail 55 grain shoots exceptionally well. With this ammo, it averages just over 1 MOA (1.4), with my best ever group at a freakish 0.72″ at 100 yards. I don’t expect to see many groups like that.

    My scope? A Nikon P-223 3-9 x 40mm.

    I often dismount the scope and have fun with the excellent iron sights.

    Ultimately, this rifle is outstanding at what it was engineered to do. It runs like a Rolex.

    Yeah, the proprietary magazine issue should have been resolved shortly after Bill Ruger died….

    https://flic.kr/p/XFyD95

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