Tell me about the Mini 14

Tell me about the Mini 14

This is a discussion on Tell me about the Mini 14 within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have the wants and I have them bad. I want a Mini 14. In fact, I am considering trading the AR for one. (I'd ...

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Thread: Tell me about the Mini 14

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array TN_Mike's Avatar
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    Tell me about the Mini 14

    I have the wants and I have them bad. I want a Mini 14. In fact, I am considering trading the AR for one. (I'd hate to do this but it's something I'm considering)

    I actually do not know much about the Mini 14 but from what I have read so far, it looks like a much simpler design than an AR. I've shot one before and i really like it. Seems similar to the M1 in operation but chambered in 223.

    So, I'm a noob to Mini 14, school me, please. What to look for, what to avoid, give me some direction.
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  2. #2
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    First, my disclaimer - I don't have one, but I've shot 'em. Accuracy is so-so. Decent for defense work and for coyotes if you're not fussy about humane, 1-shot kills past 100 yards. Magazines are pricey, compared to those for ARs.

    That said, they're lighter than the AR and certainly fun to shoot. The newest models (within the past year or so) are supposedly more accurate, but I don't know what specific changes were made in that regard. If you're buying new, I think the chances are that you'll be happier than if you buy used.

    From a functional standpoint, I much prefer the "standard" bolt handle on the Mini as opposed to the counter-intuitive charging handle on the ARs. The reliability of the Garand-style piston action is legendary, and certainly gives up nothing to the direct-impingement AR action.
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  3. #3
    Ex Member Array Yankeejib's Avatar
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    I've perused various .223 rifles as BUG to my AR, and I like my Rugers. There's lot's of used 14's around as various agencies have unloaded them in recent years. They used to be standard issue for State Police, sheriffs, and prison guards. Why are they all going to the AR platform?

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    I have the Mini 14 Ranch Rifle in stainless, and like it a lot. The newer ones have a tapered barrel, and are made on new equipment. Accuracy is darn good - contrary to the naysayers out there.

    The only complaint I have is with the rear iron sight - I was hitting left, and ran out of adjustment. I solved the issue by mounting a scope, using the Ruger scope rings, which are very solid.

    Factory Ruger Mini 14 mags are more expensive than AR or AK mags, but avoid the temptation to buy cheaper aftermarket mags.

    I like the M1/M14 operating system much better than the AR system. The receiver in my Mini stays much cleaner. I like that I can get to the bolt and chamber area, which you cannot do with either the AR or the AK. Takedown is easy, and it breaks down into large parts - unlike the fiddly little pins that keep the AR's bolt and bolt carrier together (ever drop those things in the grass - at night? ugh!)

    And finally - the Mini does not get the "assault rifle" stigma that the AR and AK get. In some places, that matters.

    I would not run the cheap steel cased Russian ammo in my Mini.

    All that said, I find myself leaning more toward my Marlin 336 lever gun. I'll never get rid of my Mini - 5.56/.223 ammo is just everywhere - but I really like me some 170 gr .30-30 JSPs for solving social problems, especially behind cover.

    Hope this helps!
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  5. #5
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    Array QKShooter's Avatar
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    Buy one of the spanky new ones.
    The newest Ruger Mini 14s are all being done on all brand new "state of the art" equipment.
    Accuracy is much better - tolerances are tighter &... it's more expensive. But, new CNC equipment costs huge money.

    I had an early one and I liked it but, I've yet to check out a new one.

  6. #6
    Member Array gunguy82's Avatar
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    When you buy one the mags are more expensive compared to the ar platform, great reliable rifle throw a scope on it and blast away, I have a stainless ranch model and a couple ar's, I'm getting a mini 30 for myself next month and a mini 14 for my wife, not to mention mini's have a legendary simple combat proven action, the reason everyone is going to the ar platform is because there are more goodies and with so many different companies making the aftermarket goodies they are less expensive
    And so when man and horse go down beneath a saber keen, or in a roaring charge of fierce melee you stop a bullet clean, and the hostiles come to get your scalp, just empty your canteen, put your pistol to your head and go to Fiddlers green. U.S Army Cavalry

  7. #7
    Member Array gunguy82's Avatar
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    Oh and make sure you buy ruger mags only, the aftermarket ones are cheaper but do not work very well, I learned that the hard way
    And so when man and horse go down beneath a saber keen, or in a roaring charge of fierce melee you stop a bullet clean, and the hostiles come to get your scalp, just empty your canteen, put your pistol to your head and go to Fiddlers green. U.S Army Cavalry

  8. #8
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    I know that I could be seen as a bit biased on this, but I would not trade in an AR for a Mini-14. Back in the day, before I joined the service, I wanted a semi-auto .223, and wound up with a stainless ranch model 14. The cost of mags was prohibitive, and still is. The Ruger ones are the only ones that are really reliable, as has been said.

    Accuracy was so-so, nothing to write home about. But the rifle is well balanced, and the action on it just soaks up recoil. The stock sights on mine are pretty bad, I want to replace the rear with a better peep sight, and still may someday, maybe that will help the accuracy some. Although I expect it will never be as accurate as my AR.

    Aftermarket support is decent, but you do need to be cognizant that some accessories are only for certain models or serial number ranges. I think augmenting your collection with one, and keeping the AR, is a much better choice than selling the AR though, if that is possible
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  9. #9
    Ex Member Array gunther71's Avatar
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    I remember back in the day when the volunteer swat guys for smaller departments had them before they adopted the militarys m4 or ar15.
    They are fun to shoot............but what kind of ar are you considering trading it for? I ask because i seen that walmart has ruger ranch's for 650$

  10. #10
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Regarding prices on mags...that does not concern me too much, because I do not see a need for a whole bunch of mags for a civilian defensive rifle. Really, I cannot envision a realistic defensive scenario where I would need to fire more than a few shots from my rifle without having time to reload or top off.

    Now, if you are planning on taking some courses or doing some competition, where you would be burning through several mags per course of fire, then yes, mag cost can become an issue. But a lot of those courses are really more geared toward a more offensive (military/LEO) situation than the purely defensive mode most civilians would ever need to be in.

    Heck - one more reason to like a lever gun...no worries about mags!
    The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off.
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  11. #11
    Member Array TSKnight's Avatar
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    Good advise so far.
    I've had 3 Mini-14's over the years. Two standard and one Ranch, all older models with the lighter barrel.
    None have been as accurate as my Bushmaster AR, but the Mini's have all digested anything I put through them as far as ammo. Can't say that for my Bushmaster, it didn't like anything but high quality factory or custom hand loads.

    If you are looking for long-range accuracy, keep the AR and do some custom work on it to make it a real tack driver. If you want solid reliability in a more traditional package, go with the Mini-14.
    Would I trade my AR for a Mini-14? Probably not, but I wouldn't be afraid to add a Mini-14 to the collection alongside an AR.
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  12. #12
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    The newer Ruger Minis have been somewhat re-engineered with harmonic dampening which is what the increased accuracy is attributed to in combination w/ a reconfigured barrel design. I'm not really totally up to speed on what all Ruger did but, if anybody knows exactly what changes were made to the new ones then feel free to post it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    The newer Ruger Minis have been somewhat re-engineered with harmonic dampening which is what the increased accuracy is attributed to in combination w/ a reconfigured barrel design. I'm not really totally up to speed on what all Ruger did but, if anybody knows exactly what changes were made to the new ones then feel free to post it.
    The Target model has a harmonic dampner at the end of the barrel, that might be the model you are thinking of.

    Just looking at the pics of the ranch rifle on Ruger's sight, the two biggest differences I see are a heavier barrel, and better sights (I bought mine IIRC, sometime around 2004ish). MSRP is also significantly more than when I bought mine.

    Regarding prices on mags...that does not concern me too much, because I do not see a need for a whole bunch of mags for a civilian defensive rifle. Really, I cannot envision a realistic defensive scenario where I would need to fire more than a few shots from my rifle without having time to reload or top off.

    Now, if you are planning on taking some courses or doing some competition, where you would be burning through several mags per course of fire, then yes, mag cost can become an issue. But a lot of those courses are really more geared toward a more offensive (military/LEO) situation than the purely defensive mode most civilians would ever need to be in.
    I still do see the cost of mags as prohibitive. As a general rule, I try to keep at least 3 functioning mags for pistols, and 6 for rifles. So that is something that needs to be factored in with the cost. I can get two AR-15 30 round P-mags for the price of one 20 round Ruger Mini-14 magazine. Now, maybe you think that keeping 6 mags around per rifle is a silly idea, but I don't want to limit my opportunities. I don't like going to the range with just one mag per weapon, and I like having spares around.

    Do I ever think I would go through 30 rounds in an AR mag and need more in a civilian SD scenario, no, but that doesn't mean I am going to just have one mag for my rifle. So, while mag cost isn't something that disqualifies the mini-14 from my collection (I have one) for a while, I was limited in what I could do with it, because at the time I couldn't shell out the bucks for a bunch of Ruger mags.
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  14. #14
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    What I heard was that Ruger also went through all of the older tolerance "design specifications" and were able to tighten everything up due to the more modern CNC fully-automated machining process. I have no way to verify that but, it sounds logical and makes common sense.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    What I heard was that Ruger also went through all of the older tolerance "design specifications" and were able to tighten everything up due to the more modern CNC fully-automated machining process. I have no way to verify that but, it sounds logical and makes common sense.
    That does make sense, I was just pointing out what was immediately obvious to me. And the harmonic dampner is not on all models, just the target model.
    QKShooter likes this.
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