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Ruger Mini-14

Ruger Mini-14: Homestead Defender Pt 1

by nutnfancy

Viewed by 569,857 Persons

Uploaded on Nov 11, 2008

PART 1 OF 3:

The Ruger Mini-14 is everything that Ruger says it is: light, fast handling, and durable. Right or wrong, Ruger has always marketed the Mini-14 as ranch rifle and varmint rifle. However it also is a viable, high-value defensive rifle choice that makes a lot of sense and thousands of good people have purchased a Mini-14 with that exact use in mind. Nutnfancy has had a lot of trigger time behind Minis and can attest to their durability, reliability, and indeed impressive handling characteristics.

For those users wanting customization, the Mini-14 can be outfitted with folding stocks (Butler Creek folder being the best) barrel shrouds, flash suppressors (older Minis), normal capacity magazines, and optics. In recent years the Mini-14 was finally improved by Ruger: thicker, more accurate barrel, an improved synthetic stock, and improved iron peep sights. Nicely done.

The Mini-14 represents a good value in tactical carbines that can serve well in the defensive/offensive role as needed by law enforcement, select military users, and good ole civilian sheepdogs. But it has some definite downsides that a potential buyer should consider.

First, its touted lightweight will be worsened by the fitment of optics using the heavy steel Ruger rings (included). And the normal capacity, quality magazines for the Mini-14 (like ProMag brand and Ruger factory mags) are usually made of steel and will add even more weight to your loadout (compared to AR-15 alternatives).

Other downsides include: still unimpressive accuracy of only about 3 MOA with standard ammo, lack of an integral Picatinny rail system for optics mounting, inability to mount flash suppressors to new Mini-14, lack of accessory railing for light mounts, and a higher cost for magazines.

The Target versions of the Mini-14 with their adjustable harmonic barrel dampeners totally correct the accuracy problems inherent in the design and they shoot tight groups. However they are much heavier (add 2 lbs) and more expensive, negating the high value advantage of the Mini-14.

The design also comes in 6.8 SPC and 7.62x39mm loadings but their mags are harder still to find and Nutnfancy recommends the standard .223 version unless you want a deer rifle as well (get the 6.8 SPC in that case). Also be advised the 7.62x39mm Mini has a looser chamber to accommodate surplus ammo and it is even more inaccurate.

But despite a few drawbacks, the Mini-14 remains a high-selling favorite among American shooters.

For defensive use out to 100 yrds, the Mini would serve admirably despite its lack of ultimate accuracy. Couple that will diehard reliability and reasonable cost, the Ruger Mini-14 still remains a smart choice for the tactical carbine buyer.

Likeability Scale: 7 out of 10

If you own a gun of ANY kind and are not a member of the NRA you need to change your ways. Political battles rage that serve to disarm you, leaving you the potential victim of criminals who have NEVER obeyed gun laws. Join the NRA today and donate generously to the NRA/ILA. This is a patriotic, freedom organization that fights tirelessly to maintain our freedoms and it advocates no political party.

Fair Use Source:

hydrashok556 2 days ago

Mini 14 is only reliable with expensive Ruger brand magazines and even then it is no more reliable than a quality AR15. Mini 14 is only meant to stand up to commercial usage as oppose to being a tactical firearm, it also employs many cast parts, it is definitely not more durable than a quality AR15. AR15 has a self cleaning piston too, it's called a bolt with gas rings.

Also Mini 14 requires tools to field strip and you can't get spare parts for it. Plus the Mini 14 is nearly $700, they suck.

  • Ranch Rifle
  • Mini Thirty
  • Mini-6.8
  • XGI
  • Bolt-Action Only (BOA)
  • AC-556
  • GB
  • Target
  • Tactical
  • NRA Edition

|weight= 6 lb 6oz (2.90 kg)


The Mini-14, Mini Thirty, and Mini-6.8 are small, lightweight semi-automatic carbines manufactured by the U.S. firearms company Sturm, Ruger. The Mini-14 non-target versions can fire both the .223 Remington cartridge and the similar military 5.56x45mm cartridge.<ref name=manual>Mini-14 Owner's manual</ref> The target model Mini-14 rifles are chambered only for the .223 Remington cartridge. The Mini Thirty uses the 7.62×39mm and the Mini-6.8 fires 6.8 mm Remington SPC.

Ruger offered a selective fire variant of the Mini-14, the AC-556, to police and military customers. AC-556 models have a slightly longer receiver (shared with early production “series 180” models) to allow for full automatic operation. These models are available with features such as short barrels and bayonet lugs. The Mini-14GB model is a semi-automatic variant for police and military use with the additional factory options of a short barrel, folding paratrooper stock, flash suppressor and a bayonet lug.<ref>



Designed by L. James Sullivan<ref>NDM Article - Focus on Basics, Urges Small Arms Designer<!-- Bot generated title --></ref> and William B. Ruger, the rifle employs an investment cast, heat-treated receiver and a version of the M1 rifle locking mechanism with a self-cleaning, fixed-piston gas system. The Mini-14 product page<ref>Mini-14 product page</ref> describes it as a “simple, rugged Garand-style breechbolt locking system, with a fixed-piston gas system and self-cleaning, moving gas cylinder.”<ref name=manual/><ref name=guthrie>

</ref> The rifle is available in stainless or blued finish with hardwood, synthetic, or laminated stocks and an

barrel. Target models are currently available only in .223 Remington and are not chambered to fire the 5.56x45mm NATO round. They feature a

heavy barrel and either a laminated wood or Hogue overmolded synthetic stock.<ref name=targetPR>Ruger press release on Ranch Rifle Target model with overmolded stock</ref> Most Mini-14s have a classic sporter appearance, in contrast to comparable autoloading rifles such as the SKS and AR-15. However Ruger now offers some Mini-14 rifles in a black ATI adjustable folding stock with a pistol grip. While the magazines of the Mini-14 resemble M16-style STANAG magazines, the two designs are not interchangeable.

Production versions

Initial rifles were produced with a complex, exposed bolt hold open device with no button for manual engagement. Stocks were somewhat angular and heat shields were made of wood. These rifles, with serial number prefixes before 181, were tooled and redesigned with a new stock, new bolt hold-open mechanism, and other small changes.

In 2003, Ruger again overhauled the design and the production process to improve accuracy and update the styling while at the same time reducing production costs. The new models, marketed as Ranch Rifles, are based on the previous Ranch models, with integral scope bases. In 2005, the new ranch rifles carried serial numbers beginning with 580. These rifles are sometimes referred to as 580 series ranch rifles. These new models use a modified gas system designed to reduce barrel vibration, and new iron sights.

At an unspecified time in 2007 to 2008, Ruger added a heavier tapered barrel to the Mini series. The heavier barrel had an overall larger diameter with the barrel visibly becoming thicker in the final inches as the barrel approaches the gas block from the muzzle. These changes combined with tighter tolerances result in greater potential accuracy.<ref name=guthrie/> The new mini-14 rifles are arguably capable of shooting under 2 MOA (Minute of angle) accuracy. The “target model” Mini-14 supposedly can shoot under 1 MOA.


The Mini-14 was first introduced in 1974 by Ruger. The name Mini-14 is derived from the military M14 rifle implying a miniature version of the M14. Ruger used the M14 as a model for the new rifle while incorporating numerous innovations and cost-saving engineering changes. The Mini-14 proved popular with small-game hunters, ranchers, law enforcement, security personnel and target shooters.


The rear sight on standard models was an aperture sight with large protective wings, and there were no integral scope bases, until recently. In 2005, Ruger made design alterations to the Mini-14 altering the receiver, rear and front sights. All new Mini-14s are built with integral scope bases, non-folding ghost ring aperture rear sight and a winged front sight similar to that used on the Ruger Police Carbine.

Ranch Rifle

In 2008 Ruger began marking many Mini-14 rifles as “RANCH RIFLE” instead of “Mini-14” on the receiver. These rifles are the most basic models, they generally come in a wood rifle stock or synthetic stock with black or stainless receiver, and feature a 18.5“ tapered barrel.<ref name=“Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle Models”>

</ref> Although some are available with a 16” barrel such as the NRA edition. These rifles feature an adjustable ghost ring rear sight and winged front sight. They are sold with a 20 round detachable magazine, however in some states like New York, New Jersey and California where high capacity magazines are illegal, the rifles are sold with 5 round magazines instead. The “Ranch Rifle” variant has scope bases integrated into the receiver and is supplied from the factory with Ruger scope rings. The rifle's ejector is set to eject the spent cartridge case at a lower angle to avoid hitting a low-mounted scope. The older Ranch Rifle's rear sight was a folding-type aperture, which would fit under a scope. The older models also lacked a winged front sight. This model will chamber both .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.

Mini-14 Tactical Rifle

The Mini-14/20GB featured a flash suppressor and a bayonet lug. A “Target Rifle” version with a heavy barrel, adjustable harmonic dampener<ref> Harmonic Dampener spec sheet (Ruger)</ref> and target stock was introduced in 2006. While never adopted by the U.S. military, both civilian and military Mini-14 variants are popular with many police departments as an affordable medium-range patrol rifle to fill the gap between short-range weapons (handguns and shotguns) and sniper rifles. Newer models have a 16.12“ barrel (1:9” RH twist rate) with flash suppressor, and are available with a standard fixed stock/forend, or a collapsible ATI brand stock with Picatinny rails.<ref></ref> This rifle is marked on the receiver as “Tactical Rifle”. It is very similar to the “Ranch” model except for the “bird cage” flash suppressor, folding stock, and shorter barrel. This model will chamber both .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.


The AC-556 is a selective-fire version of the Mini-14 marketed for military and law enforcement use. The design incorporates a selector on the right/rear of the receiver to select either semi-automatic, 3-round burst, or full-automatic fire modes; the manual safety at the front of the trigger guard operates the same as a standard Mini-14. The front sight is winged and incorporates a bayonet lug. The


barrel incorporates a flash suppressor, which can be used to launch approved tear-gas and smoke grenades.<ref> | Technical Manual for Ruger AC-556</ref> A folding stock was used on the AC-556F and AC-556K. The rifle came equipped with 20-round magazines and a 30-round version was available for a time. The AC-556 was dropped from production in 1999 and Ruger stopped offering service for the rifle in 2009.<ref>



In 2008 Ruger introduced a National Rifle Association model, with a shorter

barrel, polymer stock and two 20-round magazines.<ref name=nra>


Mini Thirty

In 1987, Ruger began production of the Mini Thirty. The Mini Thirty is chambered for the Russian 7.62x39mm cartridge, used in the SKS and AK-47, as many states prohibit hunting of deer with calibers smaller than 6&nbsp;mm (.243 in). The 7.62×39 mm has similar ballistics to the well-known .30-30 Winchester. The Mini Thirty was only available as a Ranch Rifle, with integral scope base. Current production Mini Thirtys are similar to Mini-14's except for caliber. The Mini-30 is available with a 16.12“ or 18.50” barrel, with a twist rate of 1:10“ RH.<ref></ref>

Other calibers

Some early Mini-14 rifles were chambered in the .223 Remington cartridge. Since the .223 Remington is not completely dimensionally equivalent to the 5.56x45mm, Ruger chambered Mini-14s for both 5.56 and .223 Remington. Civilian firearms chambered in 5.56 are highly restricted in countries that restrict or prohibit firearms that chamber military cartridges (such as Mexico). By chambering the Mini-14 in the similar but not interchangeable .222 Remington caliber, the Mini-14 could be sold in those countries.<ref>

|volume=88|issue=10|journal=Firld & Stream}}</ref>

In 2007, Ruger began production of the Mini-6.8 utilizing the commercial 6.8 mm Remington SPC cartridge. As of 2012, the Mini-6.8 has been discontinued and is no longer listed in the Ruger catalog.<ref></ref>


A larger version of the Mini-14, called the XGI, was developed by Ruger in .308 Winchester and .243 Winchester. Although it was advertised in 1984–1985, it never entered production due to unresolved mechanical and production issues.<ref>


Bolt-Action Only (BOA)

A small number of straight-pull, bolt-action only Mini-14 and Mini-30 rifles were manufactured for sale in the United Kingdom as a result of legislation which banned semi-automatic centrefire rifles in 1988.<ref>



There is a wide range of after-market accessories available for the Mini-14 and Mini-30 to include numerous stocks, magazines, weaver and picatinny rail mounts. Ruger also sells slings, magazines and various spare parts for the rifles on their website.


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ruger_mini-14.txt · Last modified: 2019/12/19 13:45 (external edit)