Let's beat a dead horse. Mini 14 Tactical vs. DPMS Sportical

This is a discussion on Let's beat a dead horse. Mini 14 Tactical vs. DPMS Sportical within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Originally Posted by Random Hmm - maybe a slightly different question, then: How would you define an entry-level AR? Hmm - how would you define ...

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Thread: Let's beat a dead horse. Mini 14 Tactical vs. DPMS Sportical

  1. #16
    Member Array Rayman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Random View Post
    Hmm - maybe a slightly different question, then: How would you define an entry-level AR?
    Hmm - how would you define vexatious?

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  3. #17
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    I've read from other trainers that the mini isn't as reliable as the AR, M1-A1, FAL, G3, AK, and SKS in an extended exercise. I believe serious action competitors favor the 1911 and AR platforms. My DPMS customers have been very happy, so far. I have a DPMS LR308B, but it's more than I need for defensive use. I hate to deviate from your thread, but I've had more darn fun with the AK/SKS out to 100+ yds, and used the savings to get the 308, a bit more serious caliber than the 223.

    IMO people just have to get over this whole accuracy thing in a defensive arm. Think running and running. It's different if you're hunting or going on the offensive, Mr Snipes.

    Sorry to add any confusion. But don't worry, it won't be the last rifle in your safe.
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  4. #18
    BAC
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10thmtn View Post
    Personally, I like the Mini better. I just hate the direct gas system on most AR rifles - blows hot dirty gases right into the action. This was done to reduce weight by eliminating the operating rod. Makes for baked-on crud that is hard to clean.
    You realize that the AR doesn't need to be clean to run well, and that most ARs are more durable by far than Minis, right?

    As for the original post, I'd get the AR. As others have said, the AR will hold resale value much better than the Mini, has a much stronger market following for parts and accessories, and is most likely going to be much more accurate. I'd personally get a different AR; DPMS has done little to endear themselves to a rather large number of people who spent a lot of money on their products but have not seen them over a year later, nor have had any calls or emails responded to. Until they start making a solid product and clean up their business practices, I cannot recommend DPMS.

    Gunthorp, for a defensive firearm I am especially concerned about accuracy. There is no margin of error if a lawyer follows every miss and every miss might ruin someone else's life. If I'm using a firearm to defend myself, it'll be hard enough as it is to hit what I want with the adrenaline pumping with an accurate weapon.


    -B
    RIP, Jeff Dorr: 1964 - July 17, 2009. You will be missed.


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  5. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BAC View Post
    DPMS has done little to endear themselves to a rather large number of people who spent a lot of money on their products but have not seen them over a year later, nor have had any calls or emails responded to. Until they start making a solid product and clean up their business practices, I cannot recommend DPMS.

    Gunthorp, for a defensive firearm I am especially concerned about accuracy. There is no margin of error if a lawyer follows every miss and every miss might ruin someone else's life. If I'm using a firearm to defend myself, it'll be hard enough as it is to hit what I want with the adrenaline pumping with an accurate weapon.


    -B
    DPMS fell way behind because they make one of the best. They wouldn't give out delivery dates, because they were so swamped and didn't want to over-promise. I'm sorry you and your friends are disappointed. Mine took a year, but it was well worth it. It stays inside an inch at 200 yards.

    Concerning accuracy: In a DEFENSIVE use, at what range do you suppose you will engage? Take my DPMS, at 50 Yards it has 1/4" groups. Take any SKS, at 50 yards it has 1" groups or better. If 3/4" or less group size difference makes that big of a deal, carry on. I am simply more concerned with running reliability in a sustained exercise. If I want long range accuracy and effectiveness, I'll reach for my 338 bolt gun. It will reach out and turn cover into mere concealment, even better than my DPMS 308.
    Liberty, Property, or Death - Jonathan Gardner's powder horn inscription 1776

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  6. #20
    BAC
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    Actually I was thinking of the couple family-member hostages taken during break-ins within the last few years (looking for links, but it's admittedly been a while). I understand and fully support the search for a durable, reliable firearm, but accuracy is not unimportant. Anything that helps me to successfully put that quarter-to-third-inch pill into a dangerous foe is as important to me as the weapon's proper function.


    -B
    RIP, Jeff Dorr: 1964 - July 17, 2009. You will be missed.


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  7. #21
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BAC View Post
    You realize that the AR doesn't need to be clean to run well, and that most ARs are more durable by far than Minis, right?
    My experience with M16s in the sands of Somalia would lead me to say - wrong. We went through great pains to keep our M16s clean, and even then...

    Ever have a soldier lose his cotter pin in the field?

    Ever had an entire group of soldiers trying to clean baked-on crud from their bolts and bolt carriers?

    As I said before - the AR direct gas design "poops where it eats." I would consider a piston-driven AR, if they weren't so expensive.

    For extended shooting in the field, exposed to dirt and grit, the AR design is sub-optimal. A piston driven system is better. Cleaner, and cooler operating too. We've had troops killed because their over-heated weapons seized up during rapid, sustained fire. Maybe not an issue for civilians, but absolutely an issue with the design.
    The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off.
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  8. #22
    BAC
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10thmtn View Post
    My experience with M16s in the sands of Somalia would lead me to say - wrong. We went through great pains to keep our M16s clean, and even then...

    Ever have a soldier lose his cotter pin in the field?

    Ever had an entire group of soldiers trying to clean baked-on crud from their bolts and bolt carriers?
    Did your soldiers keep their weapons well lubed and occasionally knock the crud out of the BCG with Carbon Killer? Are you positive that the problems experienced were related to the gas system, as opposed to worn out extractors, mags, and plan shot-out uppers? Did you make sure your soldiers had spare bolts or BCGs readily available?

    As I said before - the AR direct gas design "poops where it eats." I would consider a piston-driven AR, if they weren't so expensive.

    For extended shooting in the field, exposed to dirt and grit, the AR design is sub-optimal.
    Make sure that you tell Kyle Lamb, Larry Vickers, Michael Pannone, Pat Rogers, Paul Howe, and many others that they have an awful lot of faith in a 'sub optimal' weapon system. The AR has performed too well in too many environments for that to be a valid argument. People who actually maintain their weapons (or who shoot to failure), keep their rifles well-lubed, and who shoot more than most other servicemen under the same conditions or equally harsh but different conditions don't have many complaints about the AR except when a 203 has to be hung off it.

    We've had troops killed because their over-heated weapons seized up during rapid, sustained fire.
    I hope that more recent post here is not what you're basing this on...


    -B
    RIP, Jeff Dorr: 1964 - July 17, 2009. You will be missed.


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  9. #23
    Senior Member Array Sky Pilot's Avatar
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    You pays-a you money and takes-a you choice.
    Both are good.
    Many have a preference.
    Ideally, if I could modify a Mini so it had the same mag release as an AR or the AK, I would be delighted!
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  10. #24
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    Seems we've ventured into an area where folks have a near-religious affinity for a particular piece of equipment.

    The fact that you need to keep an AR "well lubed" kind of is illustrative of the point.

    No, soldiers do not carry around extra bolts and bolt carriers. Those are only available at the armorer level or higher, IIRC. Again, proves the point.

    Let me put it very simply - Does anyone think it is a GOOD IDEA to vent hot dirty gases directly into the action of a firearm?

    Can an AR work? Of course. Do they work? Yes. Is the direct gas design (done solely to reduce the weight associated with an operating rod) the BEST design, from a reliability perspective?

    NO. Period.

    There is a reason some Special Forces have gone with piston-driven ARs.

    For the average civilian, an AR will work just fine, as I said before. That does not change the fact that the direct gas system is a bad design trade-off, IMHO.

    Would you vent your car's exhaust into the passenger compartment? Sure, you could drive that way - for a while...

    Look, use which ever one floats your boat. Just don't try to tell me that venting exhaust into the action is a good idea, or a good design trade-off.
    The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off.
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  11. #25
    BAC
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10thmtn View Post
    Seems we've ventured into an area where folks have a near-religious affinity for a particular piece of equipment.
    Not at all. There's a significant difference between voicing support for a piece of equipment and worshiping a piece of equipment. The AR works, whether you like that fact or not. It's not the best (I don't believe anyone has stated otherwise), but it's certainly not 'sub optimal' as you describe. I again direct you to the men mentioned in my prior post.

    Take your favorite piston gun and run it dry through the same firing schedule. You'll notice something akin to what's see in the AR during that same firing schedule. Why do you think that is?

    Let me put it very simply - Does anyone think it is a GOOD IDEA to vent hot dirty gases directly into the action of a firearm?

    Can an AR work? Of course. Do they work? Yes. Is the direct gas design (done solely to reduce the weight associated with an operating rod) the BEST design, from a reliability perspective?
    You're confusing durability for reliability; the two are quite different. An AR is an extremely reliable weapon. As stated previously, there are too many functioning too well in harsh areas around the world to think otherwise. There are too many functioning too well in the hands of people who shoot tens of thousands of rounds per year more than a soldier on deployment to think otherwise.

    Durability, being the overall service life of a firearm, is where the two designs differ. A piston gun will always have a longer service life. Nobody has said anything to the contrary. That does not mean the direct impingement system is bad, or sub-optimal. It just means it has a shorter service life. Interestingly, current ARs still compare well to to many other service rifles around the world from a durability standpoint as well as a reliability standpoint. The 416 and other piston ARs have not been the be all, end all of either category and have had their own sets of unique problems.

    Whether you like the operating system or not is irrelevant. SF tried to move toward the piston system because they shot/shoot a lot more than regular non-SF types. To pretend our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen are poorly served by the M4 and M16 is either disingenuous or ignorant of the weapons' service records (to speak nothing of ignorant of how to maintain the gun at the user level).


    -B
    RIP, Jeff Dorr: 1964 - July 17, 2009. You will be missed.


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  12. #26
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    I bought the Mini-14 Tactical a few months back. Like you, I wrestled with the AR option. Here's my thinking, for what it's worth.

    1. The Mini-14 Tactical is a Series 581 weapon. So toss all concerns you have or read about just plain bad accuracy out the window. Those concerns do not apply.

    2. How much accuracy do I really need? Is the '14 Tactical a nail driver? No. If you dream of hitting prairie dogs in the head at 500 yards, get something else. Woodchuck or something larger at 100 yards? Take the '14 and go have fun.

    3. How much reliability do I need? This is going to be one of my primary tools when SHTF. So...

    a. it has to eat pretty much any .223 and 5.56 I feed it,
    b. if I drop it in the mud, and I shake it out, it's going to go "bang" when I pull the trigger,
    c. if I drop it on the pavement and kick it across the street, same result, and
    d. if I don't have the time, the safe space, or the materials to clean it for a few days (or weeks), same result.

    Can I say that about most AR-15s? No.

    4. If I want to have accuracy related fun in the field, I will pick the AR.

    5. If I need a long range accurate tool after SHTF, I won't pick the AR for reasons stated. There are plenty of dependable deer rifles out there with half the moving parts of an AR.

    6. In choosing the '14 Tactical, did I make any compromises that may come back to bite me? I don't think so. I chose a reliable tool with reasonable accuracy over a more accurate tool that requires frequent maintenance which I may not be able to provide.

    The '14 Tactical is a compromise, but a compromise I can live with.

  13. #27
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    When a direct gas AR is fired a lot, the bolt/bolt carrier get very hot. This tends to burn off the lube. Piston driven rifles (Mini, AK, etc) do not have this concern - they run cooler.

    Adding more lube to a direct gas AR to compensate, in a dusty environment, can lead to "mud" in the action.

    Darned if you do, darned if you don't. Both situations can lead to jams. So, it is indeed a reliability issue, as well as a durability issue.

    The newer lubes are supposedly better, but back in my day we only had CLP.

    Do not confuse a sterile range, or competition, for combat.

    The fact that our troops make the AR design work is a testament to them, more than the design. I know I tried my best to have my troops keep their M16s as clean as was possible, in the dusty, windy desert we were in. The fact that most of them are happy with it (in troop surveys) speaks more to it being the only weapon most of them know and have experience with, IMHO.

    The AR design has many good points - it is accurate, soft recoiling, adaptable, and ergonomic. That direct gas system, however, is not the best idea - and was only done because Eugene Stoner was trying to save every ounce of weight, because the original spec was for a weight of less than 5 lbs!

    If you feel the direct gas system is OK, and the other advantages of the AR are more important to you, then run an AR by all means. I'm sure it will serve you well. Personally, I just do not like "schmutz" being injected into my action with every shot.

    FWIW, my preference in intermediate caliber rifles/carbines, in descending order:

    Mini 14
    Mini 30
    Piston AR
    AK
    SKS
    Direct gas AR

    Hopefully, this friendly debate will help others decide for themselves.
    The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off.
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  14. #28
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    Toron - I think you nailed it!
    The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off.
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  15. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toron View Post
    I bought the Mini-14 Tactical a few months back. Like you, I wrestled with the AR option. Here's my thinking, for what it's worth.

    1. The Mini-14 Tactical is a Series 581 weapon. So toss all concerns you have or read about just plain bad accuracy out the window. Those concerns do not apply.

    2. How much accuracy do I really need? Is the '14 Tactical a nail driver? No. If you dream of hitting prairie dogs in the head at 500 yards, get something else. Woodchuck or something larger at 100 yards? Take the '14 and go have fun.

    The '14 Tactical is a compromise, but a compromise I can live with.
    What kind of accuracy are you talking about? Have you shot your Mini at these ranges? Previously, people are saying that the Mini will only shoot 3" @ 100 yds. I find that unacceptable. I'm thinking 3" @ 250 yds is better.
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

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  16. #30
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    I have not done any field testing yet. Others have reported under 3 inches at 100 with the 581 Series.

    I admit there is more than a little philosophy driving my choice. I would like 3 inches at 250 also but at what price? If I have to tighten tolerances on parts to get that accuracy, I don't want it. Tighter tolerances mean higher maintenance. And in a SHTF environment, I don't want tools that require high maintenance because I may not be able to provide that maintenance.

    I'd pick a Glock over a 1911 for the same reason.

    [Yes, I know I'm going to get beaten up now...LOL]

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