The Ruger Mini-14, A Rifle Folks Love to Hate – Part 1 of 3

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

The Ruger Mini-14 has been in production in one variant or another since 1973. Nearly three million have been made so far, the two most common models being the standard Mini-14 and the Ranch Rifle, which starting in 2005, was redesigned and the standard Mini-14 and Ranch Rifle became the same when the 580 Series came online.

The original Mini-14 was an iron-sight-only rifle and the Ranch Rifle had a small folding rear sight that gave the shooter the option of mounting a scope. The current production redesigned the rear sight to be solid while still giving the shooter the ability to mount an optic.

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Early Production 182 Series Rifle

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Pre 580 Series Ranch Rifle w/ Butler Creek Folding Stock & replacement Tech Sight.

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Current production 580 Series Mini-14.

More variants have since been added. There was the Ruger AC556 and AC556K, of course, the regular Mini’s full-auto cousin introduced to the market in 1978. The AC556 is a standard 18-inch barreled Mini-14 with a giggle switch. The AC556K is the 13-inch version. Both came with a flash hider and the full-size model also came with a bayonet lug.

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

AC556K

There was also the French contract Mousqueton AMD, a standard Mini-14 made for the French National Police with a checkered walnut stock, rubber butt pad and different receiver markings plus a M1 carbine-style sling & oiler mount.

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Other variants were target models with adjustable barrel weights that look like a suppressor to dampen harmonics and even odd chamberings like the ‘Triple Deuce‘ (.222 Remington), along with more modern loads like the 6.8 SPC and .300 BLK.

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

But the most sought after variant that is available in the US market is the Ruger Mini-14 GB.

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

It was a semi-auto clone of the AC556, Ruger’s main Mini for law enforcement sales. The key distinguishers were the pistol grip and folding stock inspired for the AC556K. A solid design from a bygone era of wood and steel. In today’s markets; the folding stock actually costs as much as a current production Mini-14 due to popularity and scarcity.

Here my factory folder with all the proper hardware. They’re getting very hard to find these days.

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

The stocks were only commercially sold to the public until 1989 when Bill Ruger pulled them from the civilian market as a response to the Cleveland Elementary School shooting in Stockton, California. After that, until production ceased in the mid 1990s, they were sold only to law enforcement agencies.

Here’s my personal stainless GB Model in a factory laminated stock with all stainless components.

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

Mine was made in December of 1989 and shipped in January 1990 with full production ending in 2003. The Ruger Mini-14 GB is in my opinion the best variant of the rifle ever brought to market. Especially when it’s combined with the factory folding stock. You have a compact, lightweight, capable rifle chambered in 5.56 NATO that can withstands the rigorous of outdoor use in places like an airboat in the brackish humid swamps of south Florida.

Many bash the Mini-14 as a rifle that can only hit the side of a barn from the inside. They say the ergos and layout suck compared to those of the AR-15. But the most common complaint I hear from Mini-14 haters concerns the magazine.

Everyone always says that they’d buy a Mini-14 if they took standard AR-15 mags. Well, here’s the thing. The Mini-14 was designed in the late 1960s and hit the market in 1973, when the AR wasn’t what it is today. The idea of a rifle that ran on AR mags wouldn’t have made sense since at the time, the AR-15 was not popular on the civilian and law enforcement market. In that era, Steyr, Heckler & Koch, Armalite, and others all had their own 5.56 designs and they used their own proprietary magazines.

I grew up with Mini-14s and AR-15s and I can say this. The Mini-14 is a great rifle for its intended task. A small, compact rifle that feeds from reliable 20- and 30-round magazines that’s accurate at bad guy/nuisance animal distances. But every time someone mentions a Mini-14 on any online forum, this always seems to get posted:

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

The Mini-14 is accurate enough for self-defense and varmint/pest hunting. Here’s a seven-inch 15-round group shot in under two minutes from an unsupported sitting position at 100 yards.

Ruger Mini-14 Rifle Love to Hate

It won’t win any competitions, but that looks minute of bad guy to me.

Folks can bash it all they want. But prior to the popularity explosion that the AR-15 had after the end of the Clinton AWB, the Mini-14 was a popular, affordable rifle and sold well in the civilian market. But along with civilian sales; the Ruger Mini-14 also sold very well to the law enforcement market as well as overseas.

For more of that juicy information, you’re going to have to read part two.

comments

  1. avatar DrewN says:

    I love Minis but they are well overpriced now. ARs are just better rifles,and .30 carbines are more fun for plinking. What it costs to make a Mini 1.5 to 2.0 MOA will make your eyes water (see ASI’s website). Still, since I’m in California I keep a couple in the safe (until Newsome outlaws all semi’s after he’s elected at least).

    1. avatar Son Of Alan says:

      Actually looking for one of the Troy PAR (pump actions) for future bans. It sucks but I buy in California based of what next they will ban or restrict. Always need a trunk gun and when they throw in transport restrictions, it isn’t worth it

      1. avatar Anon in Ct says:

        That really sucks – but the PAR is actually a pretty cool gun to shoot. CT isn’t quite as bad as Cali (yet), but it is useful to have a gun that won’t get you jammed up by the cops if you accidentally drive into NY state.

      2. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunnies says:

        Relax. The ban hammer itself will soon be banned. Hopefully trumps next SCOTUS appointment will end fun control in our lifetime. Huffpo seams to think so.

    2. avatar Rad Man says:

      Here in Massachusetts it’s one of the few centerfire mag fed semiautos still available for sale. Thanks Maura Healey!

  2. avatar Autofill says:

    I learn something new every day. Not once in my decades have I heard a bad word about Mini 14’s.

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      Good, not just me then. I guess we were very sheltered or something.

    2. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

      They’re before my time. The only bad thing I could say would be the magazine incompatibility. As mentioned in the article, though, the rifle was a product if its time and its time was different from today.

      So that would probably be judging it by the wrong standard. The lesson seems to have been learned, though. Were this rifle introduced today, it would take standard AR mags. After all, Ruger just introduced its PCC rifle in December. It takes not only Ruger pistol magazines, but also Glock magazine using the provided mag well adapter. Glock, of course, is basically the standard for 9mm magazines which most pistol caliber carbines design to.

      1. avatar Anon in Ct says:

        Hopefully we’ll soon see inserts for the PCC to take other common double-stack pistol mags like P226/229, P320, M&P and maybe even PPQs. Hell, throw in CZ-75B too. Maybe even Browning Hi-Power for the classic look.

    3. avatar BLAMMO says:

      Any time someone starts a conversation on the Mini-14, someone will chime in with the obligatory AR alternative. It’s like some AR enthusiasts are insecure. As if to say, “Why do we need the Mini-14, when there are ARs?” Most of the people who rag on them have probably never fired one.

      Yes, the AR platform is superior to the Mini in most, if not every way. Just don’t try to slip an AR into a scabbard. I like my stainless / synthetic Ranch right out of the box, sights and all. A nice tight, solid little carbine. I love my ARs and I can’t stop bulding them, but there’s something special about shooting the Mini. Something satisfying about the way it feels.

      And there’s still something to be said about a gun made entirely out of blued steel and checkered hard wood, as opposed to recycled Schlitz cans and melted Pringles lids.

      1. avatar Steve S. says:

        “And there’s still something to be said about a gun made entirely out of blued steel and checkered hard wood, as opposed to recycled Schlitz cans and melted Pringles lids.”

        Thank you Blammo. I just couldn’t find the words to express my feelings so eloquently. Plus, no snowflakes melt down needlessly when they see a Mini-14. About all you’re likely to hear from them upon them seeing one is: “My, what a cute rifle. Is that a new kind of .22?” Yeah, a .223, in fact. Same bullet diameter as the .22 you’re thinking of but with a whole lot more oomph behind it!

        1. avatar Marty says:

          Still love my mini’s, but I will admit my AR is a lot better at removing and inserting magazines. There really is no comparison. If in a self defense situation, I’d really rather have my AR.

    4. avatar Brasstard says:

      it has cast parts that that are more prone to break then forged and milled parts. The bolts have been known to crack, the extractors are also cast and break. I like the mini and own one but it’s not the greatest thing ever. If it was so good it would be used by militaries and be used in competition.

  3. avatar RA-15 says:

    Let the haters , hate !! I love the stainless w folding stock. Black stock , stainless steel , bad ass ness. I’m sure the haters would all hate to be on the business end of this great rifle. But to each his/ her own. I love my Ruger pc9 takedown. Fluted barrel chrome lined great factory furniture. Fits in my Ruger 50 yr anniversary 10/22 takedown bag with the 22. What’s not to love. Pc9 even takes glock mag’s with a quick glock mag adapter.

    1. I own 2-Ruger Mini 30s chambered in 7.62X39mm. Both are scoped and I manage to get 4” groups at 100 yrds. Extremely rugged and reliable rifles. I use Ruger factory 20 round mags. One has a wooden stock. The other, black synthetic. Both are topped with Leopold rifleman glass in 3X9. The synthetic stock 30 stays in my trucks toolbox and takes a bit of abuse but never an issue or malfunction of any kind. Great rifles although not the accuracy of any AR. Certainly out performs my Century Arms AKM. Neither have bayonet lugs and the wood furniture model has a traditional Ruger flash supressor while the black stock model uses the winged traditional front sight post. Would trust my life to either one in a SHTF situation.

      1. avatar Ropy saliva says:

        Ditto, SSgt. We’ve killed a lot of critters and varmints with the 14 and the 30. Our guns get used, inadvertently abused, on occasion. They hold up well.

    2. avatar CHS says:

      FYI, the Ruger PC9 was a gun that takes P89 only magazines and discontinued in the mid-2000’s.

      You’re talking about the new gun, the Ruger PC Carbine, or PCC.

  4. avatar Sich says:

    I’d might be interested if the Mini-14 was chambered to fire the FN5.7×28, but because it isn’t. I’ll stick with either the IAI M888 (M1A1 Carbine) in FN5.7×28 or the Sandy Gun Works M1 Carbine 5.7 Johnson Spitfire chambered in FN5.7×28. Which make great “Stow-Away” Trunk Guns…

    1. avatar Cymond says:

      Huh?
      You do know that FN 5.7×28 is not the same cartridge as Johnson 5.7×33, right?
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/.22_Spitfire

      1. avatar Sich says:

        As I recall I did mention that it was “Chambered” in FN 5.7×28! Apparently you missed that qualifier and only saw the 5.7 Johnson Spitfire .22…

  5. avatar pwrserge says:

    The problem with the minis is that they are sadly outdated. The M1 operating system leaves your bolt / chamber interface open to the elements and the lack of solid bolt-chamber lockup due to the two lug system leads to below-average accuracy compared to modern multi-lug bolt system. Is it bad? No. It’s a perfectly serviceable option, but it’s not the best available option. (Yes I know the AK is also a two-lug system…) The main problem the minis have is that they don’t do anything that an AR (or AK) doesn’t do better. Add to that the fact that the mini-30 is notorious for being ammo finicky and you better come in at a bargain price point to compete with the literally hundreds of quality AR-15 and AK options available on the market today.

    1. avatar Kroglikepie says:

      100% spot on. My Mini-30 is fun to tool around with, but I shoot competitively with my ARs for a reason.

    2. avatar Toni says:

      only had a tiny bit to do with the ruger mini 14. now it may well have been just that rifle but every shot it was mashing the necks of the cases. not good if you want to reload. it also was not accurate enough for our purposes. would love an AR but sadly very hard to get here in australia. needs to be a massive change in govt (eg all parties we currently have ousted in a big way) and a return to our founding documents along with a few things added like the second amendment for one

      1. avatar Steve S. says:

        Toni,
        What IS the Second Amendment in Oz? What does it say? Just curious as this is the first time I’ve heard someone who isn’t a citizen of the USA refer to it in this manner.

        1. avatar Toni says:

          Steve we dont have a second amendment as such however the right to keep and bear arms was written into magna carta, bill of rights 1689 and one or 2 others. these however were not quite as strongly written as the 2A. these were brought into Australian law along with the rest of British common law in our constitution if you can find a copy of the original. the lines of the constitution where all that was mentioned have been quietly omitted without referendum. it has gotten to the point now where when it suits the govt they can use the constitution against us but we cant use it against them. all the bits that have been omitted over the years have been serious acts of treason and sedition against the Australian people and parliament needs to be brought to account for it in a big way. this is why if i had my way i would make it so govt cant even piss their pants without permission from the people let alone use the damn toilet. i would also make sure that the right to keep and bear arms for use against criminals of all stripes be they civilian or govt and for defense of the nation was written directly into the constitution. in it i would also define a militia as what it is, being a military of civilian origin that is in no way controlled by the govt but is totally independent of govt so it could be used to get rid of corrupt govt

    3. Both my Mini-30s run flawlessly with any and all ammo available. I use Wolf, Silver Bear, Norinco, Winchester, Hornady, ammo I picked up in middle east and Somalia. Possible I own the 2 best 30s ever made but unlikely. Sorry you’re having ammo issues. Semper Fi!

      1. avatar Big Bill says:

        I have a Mini-30, too.
        The only ammo problem I’ve heard of is they sometimes won’t fire surplus ammo because of the hard military primers. A heavier hammer spring (Wolf, for example) fixes that easily. Mine fires my older surplus ammo fine without the heavier spring.
        I find mine to be a fun rifle to shoot.
        I also have a WASR AK and an SKS. All fun to shoot.

  6. avatar California Richard says:

    ….ya, but does it come in 6.5 CM?

    1. avatar Sich says:

      In one word NO. It can be easily rechambered in either 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 Spc…

      1. avatar Binder says:

        4 words, Yes, from another manufacturer.

        M1a MA9826C65CA

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          That’s a maxi-14, not a mini-14.

          Still dripping with awesomeness though (sarc).

        2. avatar Sich says:

          And how did you go from a Ruger Mini-14 to an Springfield M1A (M-14) which weren’t even is the same Caliber in the original Firearm Design…

        3. avatar Binder says:

          And the mini-14 is “Same Caliber in the original Firearm Design”. In that case it would be .276 Pedersen. 🙂

      2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        They did offer it in 6.8SPC back when it was the latest Creedmoor cartridge. I’d definitely be interested in that if I could find one at a reasonable price.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Ol’ Twin Beard reviewed it. – http://www.gunblast.com/Ruger-RanchRifle68.htm

          Couldn’t find any on Gunbroker though.

      3. avatar DrewN says:

        Easily rechambered for sure. But Grendel won’t feed from any factory Ruger or aftermarket Mini magazine. Some folks can get 3 rounds in a factory five to work,but not everybody. Source: I’ve had a Grendel from ASI for 12 years or so. I actually gave up on that gun, but I don’t want to spend the money to get it rebarreled in 7.62 again.

        1. avatar Sich says:

          It’s a ~$799.99 Conversion from “accuraremini14.com” , near the bottom of the page …

        2. avatar DrewN says:

          Plus your gun. I’m not spending another $800 bucks just to turn mine back into a 7.62×39. Why wouldn’t I just buy an SKS or an AK instead?

    2. avatar California Richard says:

      All of you are wrong…. it was a trick question. Guns don’t accept 6.5 CM. You present your gun before 6.5 CM’s throne, and 6.5 CM either accepts or rejects your gun.

      1. avatar Steve S. says:

        Too funny!

  7. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    I had a Mini a few years ago. The biggest selling point to me was that it wasn’t an AR. Unfortunately it had some issues with failures to eject so I sent it back to S,R&Co. They immediately emailed me a shipping label and had the rifle back in 2 weeks with a new barrel, bolt and slide. Stellar service, but it still had a few issues, albeit much improved. So when I was strapped for cash it made it onto the chopping block. I’d definitely consider another, but it would be nice if they could get the price down a couple hundred to be more competitive with the more basic ARs.

  8. avatar Shire-man says:

    What soured me on the mini was the consolation prize feeling of shame that came with it under the AWB. I felt dirty buying it then and I always resented it right up until I traded it in toward a proper AR. As much as I love the A-Team the mini will always have the taint of “you can’t have what you really want for no reason other than I said so but hey, here’s a mini. It’s almost as good.”

    1. avatar Binder says:

      ARs were readily available under the federal AWB. All it took was a fixed stock and no flash or bayonet lug.
      The only advantage the Mini had at the time was price. And you could actually get 20 round AR mags if you were willing to pay the price. Mini 20 rounders required a second mortgage.

  9. avatar New Continental Army says:

    “Many bash the Mini-14 as a rifle that can only hit the side of a barn from the inside.”

    I never understood this statement. A rifles accuracy is mainly the result of the user. There are exceptions to poorly made firearms or rifles, that for whatever reason, are made with a piss poor barrel like the carcano. Is this the case with the mini 14? I just doubt ruger would make a poor rifle barrel for 40 years out of ignorance.

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      It’s mostly from inheriting the M1 bolt system. The Minis, just like the M1A, will never be sub MOA guns without PILES of work. Can it be done? Sure, absolutely. However, it’s ergonomics suck for a tactical carbine and it doesn’t have the cult following of the M1A to spend thousands of dollars turning an inherently flawed system into something competitive.

      1. avatar New Continental Army says:

        Ah. I see. So is that mainly due to the bolt/action design?

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          Pretty much. It’s a mechanically inferior design when compared to a free-floated AR-15.

        2. avatar Mark H says:

          It’s due to the way the gas tube is crimped onto the barrel. Newer minis are better than older ones. Mine was a 3 moa rifle at best.

      2. avatar Steve S. says:

        Why is everyone so damned hung up on rifle being of tactical variety quality??? I feel that if I am in possession of a decent quality firearm and I do MY part, the firearm will do its part! It’s not as if the majority of the new breed of firearms buffs will be in need of having to perform “tactical missions”. I prefer to target shoot for fun, relaxation becoming more accurate so I don’t need to fire more than one to two rounds hit my intended target. (Maybe this is why I’m so fascinated by Ruger #1’s and their ilk. They are of beautiful craftsmanship ans what I consider to be works of mechanical art and sculpture. They require one to focus on and hone one’s shooting skills.) It seems as if everyone HAS to have an AR/AK/’name your choice of battle implement’ so they can be just like everyone else and join the cool kids’ club. Granted, the AR does allow one to build their dream of what a rifle should be with the components/features the individual desires, but in the end they mostly end up LOOKING the same! There is no initial discernible difference or uniqueness. Perhaps this is why I am enamored of so many vintage mil-surp pieces.

    2. avatar Luke 22 says:

      The problem is the oversized gas bushing that comes standard in both the 14 and 30. They are over-gassed, like the AK and SKS, which really slams the bolt back, but works every time, regardless of carbon fouling. (Try that with an AR) Accuracy Systems sells a bushing kit for $19-$25 to reduce the battering of the receiver. My Mini-30 throws casings 20+ feet, and this will tame that problem too. I haven’t installed the new bushing yet, but I am working on low power, lead bullet loads that shoot MOA at 100yds. with no mods to the old 182 series rifle, so it isn’t the barrel. It likes 9gr. of Blue Dot behind a gas checked Lee C309-180 cast from wheel weights (Cost under 10 cents per round)

  10. avatar Jimmy james says:

    $600+ is the cheapest price i could find quickly. Just paid $330 for a PSA AR upper and lower. More accurate and much quicker to change mags. I owned Mini 14 and 30, twenty years ago and the accuracy sucked.

  11. avatar Jack says:

    God, I loved me some A-team!!!

    1. avatar ELKII says:

      Me to. The El Rey network shows two hours of The A-Team every weekday.

    2. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

      Yep. And you do remember they never hit shit with the mini’s.

      1. avatar Stereodude says:

        Well, they hit plenty of stuff. Just never any people.

  12. avatar Chris says:

    I will take minute-of-bad-guy all day, everyday.

  13. avatar Nightw50 says:

    I couldn’t get a group under 5 inches with my 2 one in 10″ twist minis.

  14. avatar Rick says:

    I had one of the thin profile stainless barrel models, and the first couple of shots were reasonably accurate, but then the barrel heated up and the rounds were all over the place. I hated it.

  15. avatar WiffleballTony says:

    The Mini is a solid “meh” for me, especially at the price they sell for. IMHO there are only two reasons to buy one, either its the best you can get due to legislative rules, or you hate the AR and the AK.

  16. avatar Mr. savage says:

    I kept my mini and sold both ar’s, for ONE big reason, reliability. my ar15’s would be finicky with mags, ammo, too much lube, not enough lube, and so on, my mini is 187 series, shoots accurately enough to hunt or trust my life to, I have both a beautiful wood stock, as well as an ugly black folder plastic stock for going into the brush, and it’s reliable. I’ll probably end up with another ar15, likely build another instead of buying, but if I have the “itch” to go play with an AR15 pattern rifle, I still have my .243 ar10.

  17. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Many bash the Mini-14 as a rifle that can only hit the side of a barn from the inside.
    Mine was very inaccurate so I sold it.

    1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      I will say it was very reliable. You could take into snow storm and get crap all over the open receiver and it would still work.

      1. avatar Big Bill says:

        It is reliable.
        The open top bolt design as seen in the M1 Garand went from the Sahara Desert to the jungles of the South Pacific to the Aleutian Islands and all over Europe without the environment being a problem. The Mini-14 uses the same design.
        Those who reject the Mini based on that design saying it’s unreliable because of stuff getting in the action simply do not understand history.

  18. avatar Tim says:

    The first rifle I bought was a Mini-30 Ranch rifle (a Mini-14 in 7.62×39) in the early 2000’s… And it was a blast to shoot! The aftermarket 25-round magazines at the time were crap (my understanding was that a bunch of them were cranked out with bad QC prior to the onset of the 1994 AWB.) I’d bought it due to the cheap Russian 7.62×39, and learned the hard way that the primers on the Russian ammo were harder… and would peen and mushroom and eventually break the firing pin.

    An $8 part on an AR, right? On a Mini-XX, that’s a trip back to the factory. So, I sold it to my brother, and let him take care of the factory bit. Kept the 7.62×39 for the SKS, though!

    1. avatar Illie Csorba says:

      I bought a new stainless Rancher for $299
      Chabered in 223 in 1998. In those days, one needed $1,500 to buy an AR. The dealer threw in two 30 round clips. I also bought a 200 round can of Israeli .223 military surplus head stamped 1973. Took it home (I owned 20 acres off the AT) and loaded up a 30 round mag. The gun jammed on the second round! Loaded the stock 20 round mag…gun jammed on the second round. I stopped at Walmart and bought a box of Winchester .223 and loaded the stock mag…Jammed on the forth round. Finally, I tried Remmington .223 soft point rounds I had for my Sako Vixen (most accurate gun I ever owned). Fired all 20 with no problem.

      Now, I bought the Rancher to plink and have fun. The only round it would fire cost $1 per round. Took it back to the dealer. He said” after you cycle a couple hundred rounds it should loosen up”. My basic gun rule is,” if I pull the trigger and it doesn’t go ‘boom’, I get rid of it. I traded it back to him even for a Century FNFAL L1A1. Best gun i ever owned.

      Because of what I perceived as poor quality, i have and will never own another Ruger.

      1. avatar Tim says:

        I will say the factory 5-round mag in mine functioned flawlessly… It just ran dry too quickly!

        The two aftermarket 25-rounders I had at the time really required tweaking to get to work, but they only jammed occasionally. IIRC, the nose of the cartridge wouldn’t make it into the chamber, and it got “stuck” below. I had no luck with aftermarket ones post 2004 as well.

        Although, the factory 20-round ones at the time (LEO-only, and weren’t sold to the public) were allegedly reliable, but expensive and hard to come by. Now, of course, they’re making those again!

    2. avatar Big Bill says:

      A heavier hammer spring fixes that hard primer problem.
      A $7 part, user installed.
      Time marches on.

  19. avatar Jon Nuss says:

    This article makes me sick. And you know why? When I was in the service back in 81 my Chief talked me in to buying a Mini-14. And I did. The exact stainless folding stock version the author has. I loved that rifle. And then I hit a time in the mid-80’s when I needed some cash and sold it for $300. Auggh!

    I have a Ranch now and it’s a wonderful rifle. My daughter uses it for deer hunting because it’s just perfect for her.

    But I miss my old Mini!

  20. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    IIRC, Series 180 parts are no longer available, so I would stay away from them unless you buy two. I had one and traded for something that had a longer life span.

  21. avatar Squiggy81 says:

    Love mine. I don’t see much difference in accuracy between it and my ARs. One major upside is that it will eat cheap steel ammo and not get stuck cases like my ARs do. That capability really makes the price difference less of a factor.

  22. avatar jwm says:

    Why is every one always wanting to shoot at farm buildings?

    1. avatar Stereodude says:

      They had a bad experience.

      1. avatar Mike Cole says:

        LoL @ farm building! 🤣

  23. avatar DrVino says:

    “The Mini-14 is accurate enough for self-defense and varmint/pest hunting. ”
    Yeah. If you shoot one shot an hour. Your target shows clear thermal stringing.
    That’s OK. Mine does the same. And the AccuStrut shifted my POI waaaaaaay higher than I could adjust my POA…..

  24. avatar Greg Hawkins says:

    I’m a proud owner of the GB and have shot it regularly over the past 25 years, as it was our department (CDCR) primary weapon. We regularly qualified with it at 100 yards, supported/unsupported standing and kneeling with no problem. It has ended the life of crime of many a felonious doubter!

  25. avatar Mike Cole says:

    Great write up. Can’t wait to see the follow up articles.

  26. avatar Mike says:

    “Love to hate”? WTF! Every time I pull out my paratrooper… Here come the smiles! Great rifle, awesome design and amazing “A-Team” heritage! I also have a mini 30 that will take on my N-Pap any day of the week!

  27. avatar AZgunner says:

    I’ve shot a mini-14. It was finicky and not particularly accurate. Didn’t care for the ergonomics at all. In fact, it’s probably one of my least favorite semi-auto rifles I’ve ever shot. For what it costs, there are a lot of better options.

    1. avatar Mike Cole says:

      For those of us in Commifornia, the mini provides a good option. Saving pennies for an M1A.

      1. avatar Mike Cole says:

        Scout, that is.

      2. avatar Sich says:

        Norino M305 is a “Cheap” Clone Copy of the M14, but is only available in Canada…

  28. avatar Wally1 says:

    I still have a stainless Mini 14 chambered in 6.8 SPC, I bought it years ago because it is a legal caliber for deer in my state, (5.56 is not). It shoots fine and is accurate to 250 yards. It is 100 % reliable and simple. I really wish they would make one in 308. Nice thing about a mini 14 is how tough they are, built like a tank. One of the best semi auto’s ever made. Nothing against AR,s, but being from Alaska, I will take reliability over accuracy every time.

  29. avatar Marty says:

    I’ve had several Mini’s. I currently have a Ranch model and they have all functioned perfectly as long as I used factory mags. I’ve never found a non factory mag to function worth a crap. And a correction to your article, the Cleveland Elementary School shooting was in San Diego. I was the SWAT sniper in that incident.

    1. avatar Sich says:

      Put less tension on the Spring. In WWII, 30-round magazines where typically loaded with 27-rounds. Those that put 30-rounds into M1 Carbine Magazine had to replace magazines every seven days. Because the magazine springs wore out…

      1. avatar Marty says:

        Yea, been doing that for years, even now a days. I’ve been told by the experts it’s no longer necessary as the newer spring steel, like for the last 20 years or so, doesn’t have that problem. Like I’ve previously said, I’ve never had problems with quality factory USA mags. It was only the after market crap. I didn’t have to get hit in the head more than twice to learn.

    2. avatar Steve S. says:

      Marty, I used to live in Stuckton not more than a mile from the Cleveland Elementary School. I moved from there over 11 years ago. If that wasn’t the site of the shooting, why did they have a memorial plaque on the the school lawn at the time I was living there? The shooting occurred on Jan 17, 1989 at the school on East Fulton Street in Stockton, CA. Check the records if you don’t believe me. And how could you have been there as a SWAT team member unless you were brought in from San Diego? Somehow I doubt that your skill were/are so remarkable that they sent for you. The time it would have taken you to arrive precludes the possibility of you being there.

      1. avatar Marty says:

        Steve, can’t answer that. Do an internet search on Brenda Spencer. She was a 17 year old who lived right across the street from Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego. She said she didn’t like Mondays. She opened fire on the school with a Ruger 10-22 shooting at teachers, students, the Principal and a San Diego police officer. She was one of two incidents I was given a “Green Light” (engage at first possible opportunity) as a SWAT sniper.

        1. avatar Cymond says:

          I looked it up for both of you.
          Cleveland Elementary School shooting San Diego January 29, 1979
          Cleveland Elementary School shooting Stockton January 17, 1989

          Freaking weird

        2. avatar Marty says:

          Thanks Cymond, If I ever knew about the Stockton incident, I have since forgotten. I’ll blame my aging mind lol. In this case, I owe the author an apology.

  30. avatar Jugchoke says:

    My very early model would shoot inch groups at two hundred yards with the right hand loaded Ammo!
    No other ammo even came close.

    The crowning glory was one night that my youngest son won the “timed” benchrest match at the varmint club! Oh my, were those bench resters ever pissed!

    Homemade scope mount with a 2.5x Weaver post sight. Took many a coyote with that set up!

    1. avatar DrVino says:

      My pre-ban Ranch Rifle really likes PPU 69 grain.
      That, of course, is relative.
      Even with that load it is subject to thermal stringing and does not shoot anything remotely close to 1 MOA

  31. avatar the ghost of ironicatbest says:

    Bought a mini 14 from my cousin, sold it to my youngest son, he lets me keep it for him because he lives in a shady town and don’t want it stolen. My cousin wants it back, I want it back, and my son won’t sell it because he’s an asshole. The next rifle I sell him( $250, six mags, folding stock Rankine I think, choate camouflage stock, and original wood stock, with 1000 rounds) will be so overpriced he won’t want it…… I’m going to shoot it for 4th of July and not clean it, so there Son o Mine

  32. avatar neiowa says:

    Legacy of old man Rugers FUD history. Long since time to update to a Mini 15 that will accept standard AR mags.

  33. avatar little horn says:

    never really been a fan of the mini14. the prices now are just laughable.

  34. avatar MIO says:

    I owned a couple I never hated it. It just wasn’t as good.

  35. avatar Jack says:

    Ah, the Mini-14, once upon a time, Jim’s by Fort Bragg, NC had ’em for $219.00. LOT of rifle for that price, even in the ’80s! Every one of my Army cohorts had at least one.

  36. avatar Donkey Lips says:

    If you’ve got one that survives a day of shooting drills (200-500+ rds), then you have yourself a keeper. Most do not and suffer some kind of breakage or catastrophic failure.

    Not worth it IMO unless you can get a deal on it and want it only as a plinker.

    1. avatar Jack says:

      Quality must have gone way down, we used to pump thousands of rounds through ours. Outside of a few that were a little magazine finicky, we never had a problem. And since we all had at least one M1A, the magazine issues seemed very minimal in comparison.

  37. avatar samuraichatter says:

    First world problems when it comes to mags. At least you can get 20 and 30 round mini-14 mags fairly cheap and easily. Not like AR mags but few things are. Still, I am old enough to remember dudes complain about that. I would even venture a guess and state that is one of the factors that accelerated the minis decline and sped up the rise of the AR. If Ruger had flooded the market with cheap 20 & 30 round mags back in the 80’s & 90’s (yeah I know 94 ban kinda hurt everybody on that) then the mini-14 story might be much different today.

  38. avatar ebd10 says:

    “a seven-inch 15-round group at 100 yards”

    Pretty much tells me everything I need to know. I have a Chinese SKS that shoots better than that.

  39. avatar Darrin says:

    Love my mini. Bought it new in 1999. Still coyote hunting with it today. Accuracy is good. Most mini 14’s love heavier grain bullets, 64 grain and up, 72 gr match in particular for mine. Will shot a 1.5″ group which is fine for pigs, coyotes and uninvited guests.

  40. avatar AR Fanboi says:

    Owned one. Took a carbine class with my AR and another student brought their Mini. They were miserable. Mag changes–glacially slow. Malfunctions too. Oh, and accuracy–is that important? Sold my Mini the next week. Never regretted it for a second. Interesting historically, but. . . Why. Bother. Anymore?

    ARs rule

  41. avatar Charles Perry says:

    My father-in-law has one and loves it, as do I. I will have one eventually. I have an AR15. Different animals. I like both.

  42. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

    I guess if I’m going to buy a rifle with an inferior bolt design I’ll stick with an M1A1 that I’ve been jones-ing for.

    1. avatar Marty says:

      Ansel, you won’t go wrong. I love mine, but again, just like the mini’s, watch out for after market mags. I’m not fond of the pistol grips which the mini’s and the M1A1 lack, but I won’t sell my AR anytime soon.

  43. avatar Enufistoomuch says:

    I’d always heard comments that the Mini-14 lacked accuracy, that it was a garden hose with a spray nozzle. But the only one I’ve shot was quite good at 150 yards, maybe 2.5 inches with original sights. Owner has never done a thing to it but maintain it properly.

    I’d buy one but with two AR-15’s already, the high price just doesn’t seem worth it.

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