Got a chance to take my new Mini 14 Ranch Rifle to the range today for an hour. Main goal was to zero the iron sights - at the ranges I would anticipate using this carbine, I prefer the faster target acquisition of the iron sights. No scope for me!
I cleaned and lubed it prior to the range trip - this is one of the cleanest firearms I've ever received from a factory. Only my Glock 26 was as clean out of the box. That shows attention to detail.
Function was flawless except for one failure to feed that was my fault - I didn't fully seat one of the short 5-rd mags. Another reason to use the 20-rd mags - better leverage and easier to grip!
With Winchester and Remington 55-gr FMJ ammo (from Wal Mart), accuracy was very good. At 25 yards, if I did my part, I could keep my shot groups small enough to cover with my thumb nail. The groups opened up a bit at 100 yards - more due to my eyes than the carbine. Still plenty accurate for the intended purpose. The newer Mini's with the tapered barrels do indeed seem more accurate than the older ones.
My only complaint is with the iron sights - they require an allen wrench for making adjustments (which is included) and are a bit fiddly. My preference for a combat rifle is for the iron sights being adjustable with no tools (other than maybe a bullet point). I also found that the adjustment range was limited - despite moving the sight fully to the right, I found my groups were still a bit left.
Overall, I really like this carbine, and would recommend it as a home defense gun! For the price, it is hard to beat.