The Ruger Mini-14, A Rifle Folks Love to Hate – Part 2 of 3

In part one we discussed the Mini-14’s features and some of the variants. But many only know the Mini-14 as a civilian-marketed firearm. The history and service this rifle has given over the years is far more interesting and it has popped up in a number of surprising places around the world. Let’s take a look at a few.


A small UK colony off the US east coast, Bermuda has its own territorial militia and it participates in regional security operations in the Caribbean as an associate member of CARICOM. A regional economic and security alliance of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies.

RBR on a CARICOM Security Mission

When the UK adopted the SA80/L-85 Pattern bullpup rifle to replace the FN FAL, Bermuda wasn’t interested. The bullpup had a number of issues and as a territorial force, they were allowed to select their own arms to meet their particular needs. The M16 still had the stigma attached to it from its introduction during Vietnam and HKs were ungodly expensive. So in 1983, the Royal Bermuda Regiment adopted the Ruger Mini-14 GB.

Late 80s OPFOR training in Bermuda

With their adoption, the RBR swapped out the factory wood stocks for a fixed Choate Machine & Tool polymer stock. Other than that, their Mini-14 GBs were bone stock.

The RBR was so good with their Mini-14s that they even beat the Bermuda Police Force ERT (Emergency Response Team) armed with AR-15s.

The RBR used the Mini-14 GBs at Camp LeJeune and set some records with them in joint training with the USMC.

Alas, the Mini-14 was finally finally retired from the RBR in January 2016. It was replaced with the reworked HK L-85A2 series of bullpups. The choice may have had something to do with the UK Ministry of Defence providing them free of charge to the RBR.

So the Mini-14 being put out to pasture by the RBR. As with all things soldierly. They don’t die, they just fade away.

Northern Ireland

In 1979, the Royal Ulster Constabulary began to buy Ruger AC-556 rifles for their Special Patrol Groups, Special Operations (E Services) and exposed border police stations and units. These rifles saw extensive service for twenty years, only being replaced by the HK33 when the RUC became the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 1999 after the Good Friday Agreement.

The RUC was involved in heavy police action against the IRA and PIRA during The Troubles. Originally, the RUC armed their officers with M1 Carbines but the situation heated up as the IRA and PIRA became better armed due to their American cousins in Boston and Uncle Gaddafi in Libya sending them money and arms.

The RUC needed something with more punch. Cost was an issue as was appearance. They could have used the British FN FAL (LA1A) but since they were a territorial police force, it would have been bad optics to police the community with weapons of war. So they chose the Ruger AC556.

RUC Officers with AC-556 and M1 Carbine.

The Ruger AC556 served the RUC until 1999 when the agency was disbanded in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement.


The Ruger Mini-14 saw some limited, but interesting service the Rhodesia and South Africa, though the service in South Africa was more of a historical event than an official military one.

Mini-14s saw limited official use in Rhodesia. Al J. Venter used a Ruger Mini-14 while covering the bush war in Rhodesia 1978. Photo from a reprint of the 1979 G&A article ‘Guns of the Mercenaries.’

From left to right standing: Three Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR) troopers, Robert K. Brown, former French Foreign Legionnaire Jerry O’Brien, and SOF art director Craig Nunn. Kneeling: RAR trooper, “Reb” Pierce, a guitar player from Atlanta; Major Darrell Winkler, OIC of the RAR unit; and Belgian army veteran Yves DeBray.

Robert Brown and Darrel Winkler are carrying stainless steel Ruger Mini-14’s in 5.56 mm. Bill Ruger, a close friend of Robert Brown, provided SOF with said guns at a “special price.” Robert Brown essentially smuggled them out of the U.S., as there was an arms embargo on Rhodesia at the time. Bill Ruger subsequently provided a number of Ruger Mini-14s free to SOF for operations in El Salvador. “He was a good dude,” commented Robert Brown.

South Africa

Eugène Terre’Blanche on the far right

Eugène Terre’Blanche’s Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging used Mini-14 rifles when they stormed the Kempton Park World Trade Centre in 1993 during the lead up to the elections that put the ANC into power in South Africa. In that era, semi-auto FALs were common and yet it was the Mini-14 that that used. The AWB also saw paramilitary action in the former Bantustan of Bophuthatswana during the coup d’état of 1994.

It didn’t end well for them.

Still with me? Here’s part three.


  1. avatar Random NYer says:

    Huh. I knew the mini 14 and its variants saw use across the US in police forces, but never knew that it saw any actual service. As my username implies, I live in NY. Must say I’m considering getting one in the future, since everything else other than some mini 14 and SKS variants are just embarrassing.

    1. avatar Spot On says:

      Hate the Mini14? Hate is such a strong word these days. I’d be happy if all the Mini14s were just deported.

      1. avatar raptor jesus says:

        Get a pinned magazine, full feature evil AR-15 and load through the ejection port with a quick loader like mean arms or bear flag defense.

        Make it a 300 BLK SBR, register it as a pistol and brace it for added pearl clutching factor.

        1. avatar Random NYer says:

          My understanding is that you can’t in NY. SAFE Act has a maximum weight limit on pistols, plus pistols have to be registered with the state. I know the SAFE Act isn’t enforced in many jurisdictions, but I’d rather not test that in the one I’m in.

      2. avatar BLAMMO says:

        Nobody’s going to force you to own one. Why would you prohibit the rest of us from owning one?

  2. As I recall, Eugene Terre’Blanche and his two cohorts were Executed for their Efforts too…

    1. avatar Bob says:

      Eugene Terre’Blanche was killed on property in a Farm Murder.

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Two (or three) AWB members were shot and killed after they waived a gun out the window of a car as they passed a group of police from one of the homelands.

      Darwinism at work.

  3. avatar Wedge259 says:

    I know the Mini 14 is super inaccurate, I’ve personally seen the A Team fire thousands of rounds through them and never hit anything!!

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      Little-known fact, though: the Mini-14 also generates an anti-bullet shield around you, as proven by the fact that nobody in the A Team ever got shot, either.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        Has been decades since I saw the moronic show but wasn’t the Cowboy (nonbleeding hand) shot a staple of the “plot”.

    2. avatar Stereodude says:

      That’s not really accurate. They hit lots of things. Just not the people they were shooting toward.

      1. avatar Swarf says:

        Yeah, they fired bleaunks. They cause property damage, but are incapable of hurting a human. They’re French.

        1. avatar Edward Knox II says:

          On the show they flat out said they weren’t killers. They were on the run for a crime they didn’t do and the last thing they wanted to do is add murder to the list.

          Besides, they wanted to bring the slimeballs to justice.

    3. More Americans lost their lives in the civil war then all wars put together. This was accomplished using Kentucky long rifles and Flint locks. I own five assult rifles and countless hand guns. Mini is deadly at 100yards open sight. How are saying that a smooth bore a
      (No riflings) black powder ball . That’s what you are saying. You obviously don’t know what you are talking about .

      1. avatar rt66paul says:

        I think pneumonia and infection were the main causes of death on both sides of the War of Northern Aggression. While many were killed by firearms and the long rifle was a major contributor here, the bad food and worn down immune systems did most of the damage.

        1. avatar troutbum5 says:

          Add cholera and dysentery, among other diseases common to military camps back then. And quite frequently, the treatment was worse and more deadly than the wound.

        2. avatar Longhaired Redneck says:

          Rt66paul, thank you for using the correct terminology when referring to the “War of Northern Aggression”, also inaccurately called the civil war! There is so much incorrect information about that war, and as a result, so many people have been brainwashed into believing the mythical newspeak.

      2. avatar Paul McMichael says:

        Uh, it was mostly rifled muskets firing mini-ball ammunition discharged with a precussion cap.

      3. avatar CC says:

        More Americans lost their lives in the civil war then all wars put together

        And? You are are making an absurd statement.

        1) Most of those deaths were disease. this was the first geographically integrated troop training, throwing farm boys who had no disease resistance in with other draftees. the large scale mixing around of populations caused massive disease in civil populations as well

        2) of course the civil war would have more casualties of American, it was Americans fighting Americans, thereby doubling the causalities

        3) the civil war was fought on US soil, and the 1/2 of causalities that were Americans civilians would not be present on WWII, WWII, Vietnam etc. Way more French got killed in WWI than English– because the war was fought in France

  4. avatar Michael says:

    Some time in the late ’80’s a small batch stamped in .222 Remington came out of the Ruger factory. Five were sold through where I worked. They may only have been stamped this way to get them into somewhere
    .223 was not allowed, I don’t know. Meeting Mr. William B. was like meeting Browning or Colt. I was working late and he came over to show my boss his cased, minty Borchard semi-auto pistol…wow. Good times. 30

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Sounds like Mexico. Mil itary calibers are strictly verboten there and have been forever. So for instance .38 super is a popular pistol chambering there since .45 and 9 mm are not allowed. The fact that the super is more powerful than the other two seems to have been missed by the federales.

      1. avatar Bob says:

        .38 Super is restricted in Mexico these days.

        .380 Auto is legal.

        The .222 Minis were mostly for France since the lower level permits allowed semi-autos in non-military chamberings.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          What a couple of suck ass countries.

    2. avatar KMc says:

      I picked up 2 of these NIB last year, nice additions to the collection.

  5. avatar Sian says:


    No professional military issues or has ever issued the AR-15 as a service arm.

    The Mini-14, in the exact form you can buy off the shelf, has been issued by several professional militaries.

    Leftists want the AR-15 banned as a military weapon only good for killing as many people as possible but the Mini-14 is a friendly fudd-gun.

    1. avatar Virginianus says:

      Yes they have. The internet meme that the full auto/burst M16 is not an AR-15 is disingenuous at best. They are substantially the same firearm, the difference being mainly an extra hole.

      As an army infantry veteran, I will attest that I get the exact same utility from my ar as I did from my m16. I never used burst but once.

      1. avatar callmecarla says:

        In other words, functionally indistinguishable from any other magazine-fed semi in existence. So are you saying that you support the full Clinton-era AWB, with the elimination of silly loopholes like bayonet lugs?

        There is a huge difference between true assault rifles like the M-16 and MSRs; select fire. New anti-2a ban-hibitionists have been making huge amounts of noise and some progress by confusing people about that difference by calling everything they don’t like or find scary an “automatic killamagig.” Let’s stop helping them.

        1. avatar Virginianus says:

          No I absolutely do not support an assault weapons ban. I have no problem with the citizenry having standard military arms.

          I see all these arguments trying to minimize the AR15’s danger or whatever (“it’s not high powered” “it only shoots a .22, it’s not legal for deer hunting!” Etc) when in reality the AR is a powerful, effective weapon for protecting life liberty and property.

          We need to stand by that. Pretending the AR 15 is less effective than it is not going to fool anyone.

      2. avatar frank speak says:

        …bit more to it than that….even with a drop-in auto-sear….

    2. avatar Seans says:

      The M16 is a AR15. Thats all it is. And before the military gave the AR15 a M series designation. They were using AR15s in Vietnam. AR15 does not mean semi auto only.

      1. avatar frank speak says:

        true…but only briefly…the “sporter” defined the distinction….

  6. avatar ThomasR says:

    Let’s celebrate Ruger Day with quotes from Bill Ruger
    “No honest man needs more than 10 rounds in any gun.” -Bill Ruger

    “I never meant for simple civilians to have my 20 or 30 round mags or my folding stock.” -Bill Ruger

    “The best way to address the firepower concern is therefore not to try to outlaw or license many millions of older and perfectly legitimate firearms (which would be a licensing effort of staggering proportions) but to prohibit the possession of high capacity magazines.

    By a simple, complete, and unequivocal ban on large capacity magazines, all the difficulty of defining ‘assault rifles’ and ‘semi-automatic rifles’ is eliminated. The large capacity magazine itself, separate or attached to the firearm, becomes the prohibited item.

    A single amendment to Federal firearms laws could prohibit their possession or sale and would effectively implement these objectives.” -From the Congressional Record, an excerpt from the March 30, 1989 letter Bill Ruger sent to every member of Congress

    This was one of the main reasons why I never bought a Mini-14. I know Ruger is making some fairly decent AR style rifles currently, but old Bill Ruger definitely set back his company when he so blatantly showed his hatred and contempt for the American public and for the second amendment.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      The guy has been dead since Jul 06, 2002 (today would be the day to celebrate if that is in your nature).

      The Company has more than made amends over the last 10yrs with a huge range of excellent new firearms, great customer service and a superior focus on their customers. Lighten up Marta it’s NOT Apple/Google/etc

    2. avatar Swarf says:

      Bill Ruger is long dead. Long live Ruger.

    3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Alexander Sturm on the other hand was a staunch supporter of the 2A. That’s why his name comes first on the company letterhead.

      1. avatar Steve S. says:

        I thought Alexander Sturn’s name came first since he was the seed money behind Sturm, Ruger and Co. Without his $$$ I doubt that Bill Ruger would have gotten his firearm manufacturing off the ground. I also don’t see how Bill Ruger set back his company or the 2A in any way, shape or form with his contention that their is no need for a civilian magazine capacity greater than 10 rounds. I see that as quite prudent. If a person can’t hit what he/she is supposedly aiming at with 10 rounds they should train considerably more until they are able. This would be like a professional baseball player being unable to bat even .100 (that’s 10%, people).

        1. avatar Scoutino says:

          That implies using whole magazine on one target. There (not their) are situations in life where ten rounds in magazine is not enough.

          For example sporting events like 3 gun with plethora of targets or home defence against a rioting mob.
          But most importantly defence of free state against enemies foreign and domestic.
          Btw. Who the hell are you to tell us what we need and don’t need?

        2. avatar Sich says:

          @ Steve S.

          The Three Largest Stockholders of Ruger Firearems are:
          1. BlackRock Financial Planning and Investment Management of Singapore w/approximately 2.9-million shares.
          2. Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility of NYC, NY.
          3. Sister’s of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary of Maryhurst, OR.

          They control the Lion’s Share of ALL Ruger Firearms Stock! And don’t expect to even try to Buy Out “BlackRock” of their Share’s. Because they (By Themselves) have nearly ~$6-TRILLION USD in Assets…

    4. avatar frank speak says:

      that comment was made well before the advent of 3D printers….

  7. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Just a bit curious. Can you get your thumb smacked with the Mini 14 like with a Garand??

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      While you can, indeed, do that (I’ve seem some do it while I was in the Army), it can’t be done like the M1 Garand did it, simply because the M14 and the Mini-14 (which is patterned after the M14, not the M1) use detachable magazines instead of clips.

      1. avatar mrchuck says:

        YES, finally someone used the word “clip” corretcly!! I salute you!

  8. avatar Ogre says:

    Caliber wasn’t mentioned in the article, so I’m presuming that all the Mini-14s were in 5.56mm. Or were there any 7.62x39mm Mini-30s in that list? It would make sense, since their use in some areas of Africa would mean that 7.62mm would be easier to get, since that’s probably what the opposition was using.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      South Africa adopted the R4, a 5.56x45mm clone of the Israeli Galil.

      5.56x45mm is extremely popular in South Africa when Eugene Terre’Blanche stormed the place.

      As for Rhodesia. At that period, only the US was using the 5.56x45mm. Both the Rhodies and South Africans issued the 7.62x51mm FAL as the main rifle ane the Rhodies used Portuguese G3s as a secondary arm. On the sporting side, .223 was starting to make in roads into the South African Market.

  9. avatar tdiinva says:

    The Mini got its bad reputation from rifles made with worn tooling. That has long been corrected. TFB had a video showing that any Mini made this Century is a 2 MOA rifle. So unless you are competitive shooter there is practical different in accuracy from an AR-15. For the average gun owner it is a less maintenance intensive rifle Now someone will chime in about the external operating rod, which didn’t seem to be an issue with the M-1 and how really, really hard it is to insert a magazine.

  10. avatar New Continental Army says:

    Cool. More articles like this please.

  11. avatar Moltar says:

    God can no one just like a damn rifle anymore!?!? Is the AR crowd that damn insecure? I say I like AKs, the AR crowd shouts about inaccuracy past x number of meters, group size, and that one time an AK jammed in some movie. I say I like the Mini14 the AR boys screams about the inaccuracy, Bill Ruger, and the mini’s other failures. Ok we get it the AR is a great rifle albeit with its own issues; yes it’s super accurate, yes it’s light but seriously guys just let us like a different kind of rifle. Respect them all for what they do and quit being jackasses to everyone who doesn’t worship at the altar of Glock, Creedmoor, and AR.

    1. avatar Raoul Duke says:

      I will +1 your comment since I agree with you.

      I call those types basic fan b***** since it is all they know and want to know.

    2. avatar DR. D says:

      Bravo sir!

  12. avatar million says:

    A treasure of history in those photos. Yves (Rhodesia picture, far right, front row) was killed by a sniper in Aleppo back in 2013. He became a war correspondent.

  13. avatar MIO says:

    Why did this take 3 parts to say? Again I don’t hate it but there was better so I moved on just like the 1911

  14. avatar Gordon Grimes says:

    Hate too strong a word. I have both AR’s and mini-14’s no complaints about the mini if used properly the chamber is a bit tight needs either factory ammo or properly sized reloads I also have an AC-556 which functions very well and as with any full auto you can rarely hit anything after the first shot but the giggle switch is sure fun! The ranch rifle I own is good for at least 200 yards and it will string shots as it heats up with the wimpy factory barrel rate of twist is also an issue with heavier bullets but it will shoot fine with 55 grain pills. Bill Ruger did not design the thing as a target rifle I’ll take it as it is and continue to use the things guess I’m not snob enough!

  15. avatar Lew says:

    “I love it when a plan comes together”….
    Hannibal Smith

  16. avatar DD says:

    My first mini was a stainless ranch i purchased in i thought i was one bad mf when i carried it.couldnt hit shit past 75 yards but i didnt care!..federal ordnance 30 round magazines mag dumps were awesome!.hmm that could have been part of the problem?

  17. avatar Paul McMichael says:

    I’ve owned a lot of Mini 14s over the years. Most of them had accuracy on par with an AK. Although, I had a stainless GB model that would drive tacks. Wish I still had it. That said, remember, reliability is #1. I can honestly say I never had a Mini-14 malfunction. Of course, I always used factory mags. On the the other hand, I was never issued, or owned, an AR pattern rifle that didn’t malfunction. In fairness, Mag Pull wasn’t around in those days, but you still have that gas system to deal with. So, stainless Mini-14 w/20 rd mag for ready rifle in the house. Galil and HK in the safe for when the zombie apocalypse arrives, or the M-1, the ’03-A3, or…

  18. avatar skiff says:

    The Armalite 180, aka “the widow maker” as described by the IRA.

  19. avatar skiff says:

    Seeing Rhodesian soldiers wearing their classic camouflage and holding Mini-14’s in the bush just doesn’t seem right. I never would have believed it. Holding FAL’s or G3’s makes for a better photo. Bill Ruger and company must have made a lot of $ supplying police departments and the military around the world.

  20. avatar skiff says:

    Unlike the RUC, the IRA didn’t care about politically correct firearms.

  21. avatar skiff says:

    William B. Ruger, born 6-21-1916, died today, 7-6-2002. He sold out people of the gun for his own financial gain.

    1. And while William Ruger was doing this, did you “Still” buy his Firearms!/?

  22. avatar skiff says:

    Bill Ruger and company attempted to make the Mini-14 in .308 sometime in the 1980’s. It was big news in the usual publications like Guns & Ammo etc. It was never brought into production.

    1. avatar Raoul Duke says:

      It was never brought into production because that gun already exists, it’s called the M14/M1A.

  23. avatar skiff says:

    To Slow Rodriguez, the answer is no.

  24. avatar Michael says:

    Ruger also had the 9mm P-85, tried casting the barrel and chamber separately, couldn’t get it to work, had to abandon it for a traditional one piece barrel, didn’t get into production ’til early ’90’s. Still sold them faster than they could make ’em. The most successful Mini was the ACC-5.56 K. Short barrel, select fire, like the M14, high polished wood and pistol grip mated to the standard Mini side-folding stock. His globe trotting sales force dropped those things everywhere. The worked very well and are the only modern full auto, albeit, produced in comparatively small numbers, but all made pre’86, and transferable. Full and short barrel rifle ACC-5.56, Stainless full and short barrel K-ACC-5.56. Worn machinery? Please, Rugers from the Mk 1 .22 to today are by design mostly made from castings. Very little fitting, no machining required. Haters gotta have something to hate, I guess. How many industry changing products have Y’all succesfully brought to market and how many skilled, well paid people have you employed in the firearms industry? Asking for a friend…30

  25. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    A buddy of mine has an AC556. Paid like 1,500 bucks for it back in the ‘90’s.
    It’s a fun little shooter.
    Must be kept very clean and well lubed or it’s a jam-o-matic.

    I had no idea it was in service in so many areas around the world.

    Love me some firearms history!

  26. avatar Michael says:

    One of the first police “service” uses of the Ruger mini was back in the late ’70’s when a polar bear “escaped” from it’s cage at the Slater Park Zoo. The P.P.D. Shot that critter to doll rags. Not sure if they had full auto or semi… that long ago it was probably semi. So, let’s put to rest, once and for all, debate about .223/5.56 effectiveness and the reliability and accuracy of the Mini. Minute of polar bear, under very stressful circumstances is good enough for me. 30

  27. avatar Mikial says:

    I had a mini back in the early 80’s. I sold it to a fellow combat arms officer while on active duty in 1985. It was an excellent gun and I would buy one again if the situation seemed right. These days, honestly, ARs are no more expensive and a lot more customizable as well as the standardized parts and magazines. Still, Mini-14s remain excellent little guns.

  28. avatar Cymond says:

    Good ol’ Bill! No honest citizen needs more than 10 rounds, but he’ll gladly supply mercenaries so they can smuggle them out of the country.

  29. avatar Dave F says:

    All British OUT of IRELAND! Support the I R A 🇮🇪☘️💥💀. The People Want A FREE & INDEPENDENT Country of their OWN! We Kicked the Torries & Royal Army Out during Our REVOLUTIONARY War & suffered MANY Causulties , & TERRORIZING consequents from the Crown! James Connolly,Bobby Sands & hundreds more gave their All in persuit of Freedom for Their Country. Trump wouldn’t bow to the Queen, Why should The Irish do so?🇮🇪☘️🇮🇪☠️💥

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