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Centerfire Rifles - Semiautomatic or Gas Operated Centerfire rifles, carbines and other gas operated rifles.

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  #1  
Old 08-30-2019, 10:23 AM
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Default Ode to the Mini-14

THIS IS AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF THE MINI-14, NOT SAYING IT IS BETTER THAN ANYONES PRECIOUS AR15 OR AK! JUST A HISTORY LESSON.... I HAVE OWNED OR STILL OWN AR15s, AKs, AND OTHER ASSORTED "BLACK RIFLES," AS WELL AS MY MINI-14.

A post on Perfect Union forum stirred my thoughts about the Mini-14 and its origins. It has been several years since I have really covered it, so I will do a short post for new members who may not be familiar with its beginnings.

The Ruger Mini-14 actually has its origins in the late 1950s when the Army commissioned the SCHV (Small Caliber, High Velocity) rifle trials, and requested submissions of new designs from the firearms industry.

These tests spawned Eugene Stoner and his chief design engineer, L. James Sullivan to introduce the Armalite AR15 prototype in 1957. It was a revolutionary design with steel barrel and bolt, but the rest was primarily 6061 Aluminum with fiberglass/polymer furniture. The AR15 was in ."222 Remington Special", which was the original name of the .223 and later 5.56 cartridge.

Winchester also submitted an entry in the trials, its .224 WLMR (Winchester Light Military Rifle) in a proprietary .224 Winchester. The cartridge used the same case as the .22 Remington Special, but used a stubbier (shorter) 53 grain flat base projectile. While an AR15 could fire the Winchester round, the Winchester could not fire the Armalite round. The Winchester offering was a more traditional wood and steel military rifle with a steel 20 round magazine, that resembled an M1 Carbine on steroids. While good design, i had a very light weight fluted barrel that had accuracy issues when it warmed up (sound familiar?). Because of these accuracy issues, the Armalite offering prevailed over the Winchester.

Armalite then sold rights to the AR15 to Colt, and the Colt AR15 (later M16) was born in the early 1960s. Because of McNamara's "Whiz Kids" and their budget cuts, the early M16s had issues caused incorrect powder being used, no chrome lining as recommended, and no cleaning kits. In a vacuum, so to speak, the .223 cartridge itself performed exceptionally well, causing horrific injuries. It was the platform itself that was a disaster in its first incarnations.

In the mid 1960s, a visionary firearms producer, Bill Ruger, recruited the Armalite's AR15's senior design engineer L. James Sullivan to come to work for him at Ruger. Bill Ruger wanted to produce a standard wood and steel semi-automatic rifle in .223/5.56 for law enforcement and civilian markets. Rather than creating a brand new platform like Winchester's ill fated WLMR, Ruger had come up with an idea to scale down the successful and reliable 7.62x51 Nato M14, to accommodate the .223/5.56 cartridge. L. James Sullivan would have been familiar with the WLMR submission that competed against his AR15, so I think it is fair to say that the WLMR may have influenced Ruger and Sullivan on the Mini-14 project.

Around 1972, Ruger introduced their new "Ruger Mini-14" semi-automatic carbine, marketing it as the perfect Ranch Rifle (though that term was only used in literature at that time.) The first offering was a 180 series, with wood and blued steel. In 1978, they introduced the improved 181 Series, that worked out minor bugs and production improvements.

It's popularity has increased exponentially through the years. In the 1970s and 1980s, Colt AR15 semi-autos were not common and were very expensive. The Mini-14 was about the only game in town. It was not until the mid to late 1990s that the AR15 platform started to proliferate. Now, 48 years later, it is still going strong, in a wide variety of options and caliber combinations.

Personally, I have been shooting (and have regularly owned) Ruger Mini-14s and Mini-30s since my first 180 series I carried as an LEO trunk weapon in 1982. IO have also personally been shooting (and have owned) the AR15 platform since I was first issued an M16A1 in 1974. With that said, I do own both an AR15 M4gery and a 186 Series Min-14. The Mini-14 is by far my favorite, and my go-to home and ranch defensive carbine, Zombie, Troll, Goblin, Raving Insurrectionist, and Coyote thumper.

Winchester Light Military Rifle:





582 Series Mini-14:





My Current 186 Series Mini-14 with 1/7 twist and threaded barrel with muzzle brake





Jeff Cooper's 1972 Mini-14 article:




Last edited by imarangemaster; 08-30-2019 at 10:39 AM..
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  #2  
Old 08-30-2019, 10:35 AM
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I have an older mini that I had the barrel shortened to 16 inches and put an AC 556 front gas block sight on it. It has since become my favorite go to rifle.
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Old 08-30-2019, 3:43 PM
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Got my mini-14 back in 86.Sorry to say that it does not get as much fun time as it used to.I remember riding my dirt bike at Texas Cyn and other parts of the Cailfornia desert(when you still do those sort of things )...
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Old 08-30-2019, 5:05 PM
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bought mine in 1992

Sold it for about $800 about 1o years ago. Never cried at all. Love the wood and steel, but the thing sucked.
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Old 08-30-2019, 5:24 PM
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Eventually I'll get a new production Mini-30 just to see how I like it.

Cool stuff, thanks OP!

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Old 08-30-2019, 5:38 PM
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Started with a 180 in the mid 70s and have a 186 now. Love it.
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Old 08-30-2019, 5:39 PM
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I bought a 186 series Mini 30 in 1987 from Siegles Guns from Bill himself at a parking lot sale in back I got the last one they had. I have taken bambi's with it and its very accurate with the cheap 4 X tasco scope that has been on it since "88 and the daughter has also taken bambi's with it. She informed me that it is hers now yes I agreed. Whatever some don't like about these guns I have have had no issues with this one. Its been a loong time since 1987 and maybe Ruger has had issue since then, but I have not. Peace Bros.

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Old 08-30-2019, 9:26 PM
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I remember them selling for 360.00 at Turners. A good deal compared to the ridiculous price of 799.00 for H&K 91's, 93's, and 94's.
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Old 08-31-2019, 7:10 PM
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Guns are items of personal choice like cars, haircuts, clothing, or favorite foods. Just because you like one brand of car or beer better than another, it does not make it necessarily any better or worse than the other brands.

In the last 45+ years, I have owned half a dozen AKs, a few more than that of the MINI-14/30, and untold number of AR15s, (especially since I started building and selling them in the late 1980 built with surplus parts). I have also had 2 M1As, two HK 91 clones, two FALs, a Galil clone, two AR180s, an Uzi Model B, a MAC 9, a couple SU-16s, and half a dozen or more M1 carbines.

Much of that time I was an active FFL and a LEO. The "ones and twos" I tried and liked well enough, but never loved them enough to make them forever guns. The AK was an indestructible war fighter platform, but largely inaccurate for my needs, compared to an AR15. My Ar15 and my Mini-14 will both break clay pigeons on the berm at 100 yards. At best, the AKs I have had were not that accurate. Best was a Saiga I restored to military, that was about 75%. I am not fighting a war, so I don't need an AK.

I am a big fan of Stoner/Sullivan's AR15 (especially retros), and have had at least one continuously since I had a Colt SP1 CAR-15 back in the mid-1980s. My current is a JD Machine lightweight M4gery (6 lbs, 3 ozs) with a Bushnell Enrage 2 MOA red dot.

I am also a big fan of the Mini-14, and have generally had one (or a Mini-30) since my first 180 series in 1982. I used it as my primary LEO trunk gun, even when I had an AR. (except for the year or so when I had a seized XM177E2 full auto AR, until a SWAT Sgt. relieved me of it so he could carry it).

My current Mini-14 is a 186 series with a 1/7 twist that I threaded the muzzle for a brake. It loves the MK262 MOD1 77 grainers that I also use in my 1/7 twist AR15 M4gery. It gives me 1.6 MOA from the Mini-14 and a bit better from the M4gery. The 77s make a serious thumper. The last coyote I shot in our yard with one was DRT, and had a fist sized exit hole on the opposite side of the single heart/lung shot.
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Old 09-01-2019, 8:43 PM
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Over the decades, I've owned several Minis (all 223)---still got a couple---during the Rodney King Riots I was managing a gunstore in the SFV---my typical sidearm was my old reliable P35 Hi Power, but it seemed something more potent was a good idea and a local police commander gave me his business card and said if I ran into any problems with the police that they were to call him and he would "take care of it." Our store was manned 24 hours every day of the riots by at least three armed personal at all times---we were not looted and burned like several stores were and in fact supplied several police depts. with ammo during the riots as their ammo supply was extremely limited.
My rifle of choice was my was my stainless Mini 14 with a few factory Ruger 20rd magazines. I felt reasonably well armed with these two firearms...
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Old 09-01-2019, 8:58 PM
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My stepdad had one in the 80’s when I was a kid. He also had an M1A and even as a 10 year old kid I knew which one was for fighting and which one was for fun.
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Old 09-01-2019, 10:21 PM
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Iíve got the newest model 5847 tactical with the thicker stiffer 16.1Ē barrel, 2Ē shorter than the std ranch rifle barrel, and flashhider. I swapped out the factory synthetic stock with a factory walnut stock. I also dumped the factory rear sight and replaced it with a tech sight. Itís a lovely shooter. Lots of fun and utterly reliable with more than adequate iron sight accuracy. My steel plates at 100 meters and beyond donít discriminate. Reliability has been 100% with Ruger factory 20ís. Itíd never be my one and only, but Iím very happy to have one. Theyíre kind of expensive these days, considering you can get a colt 6920 for about a hundred bucks more. Itís a great gun to have in my collection once other wants were met. I really enjoy shooting it. Itís ok to own and shoot a gun thatís just fun. A new mini is just fun.


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Old 09-01-2019, 10:44 PM
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Old 09-02-2019, 8:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyo View Post
Over the decades, I've owned several Minis (all 223)---still got a couple---during the Rodney King Riots I was managing a gunstore in the SFV---my typical sidearm was my old reliable P35 Hi Power, but it seemed something more potent was a good idea and a local police commander gave me his business card and said if I ran into any problems with the police that they were to call him and he would "take care of it." Our store was manned 24 hours every day of the riots by at least three armed personal at all times---we were not looted and burned like several stores were and in fact supplied several police depts. with ammo during the riots as their ammo supply was extremely limited.
My rifle of choice was my was my stainless Mini 14 with a few factory Ruger 20rd magazines. I felt reasonably well armed with these two firearms...

There is a picture taken during the Rodney King riots of Koreans on the roofs of their shops, armed to the teeth to defend their stores. Mini-14s and shotguns were the weapon of choice for them too.
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Old 09-02-2019, 8:22 AM
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They're nice looking gun, but ends there. I'd love to buy one if they fix the accuracy issue. Like, 2moa would be nice...Mines were about 20moa....20FeetMoa.
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Old 09-02-2019, 8:24 AM
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Bermuda defense Force used them as their main battle rifle up until recently
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Old 09-02-2019, 8:37 AM
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The 580 series with the heavier, tapered barrel does 2 MOA with decent ammo. On perfect union, there are guys hand loading gettin sub-1.5 MOA. My 582 I had gave me under 2 MOA with MK 262 MOD1 (even though it was a 1/9 twist) and also Federal M193.

The 580 also has a better ghost ring rear sight with an M1/M16 style post and wing front sight than the older ones. Much better sight picture than the old mile high front ramp of the pre-580s. I put a 580 series post and wing front sight and brake on my 186 Series, and I get 1.6 MOA from the MK 262 with its 1/7 twist barrel from a sandbag rest.






Last edited by imarangemaster; 09-02-2019 at 10:10 AM..
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Old 09-08-2019, 7:44 PM
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Old pencil barreled Mini-14 GB models, with the post and wing front sight/bayonet lug assembly back from the muzzle and the flash hider have a reputation for shooting much better than the standard pencil barrel ones with the mile high front sight blade. The Mini-14 GB's barrel harmonics just seem to be better than standard. I think the reason my 186 shoots better than it did with the original front blade is because I somewhat replicated a GB model's harmonics with the muzzle brake and set back front sight. I have little group dispersion when it heats up. After 100 rounds, I can still break clay pigeons on the berm at 100 yards.

Last edited by imarangemaster; 09-08-2019 at 8:10 PM..
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Old 09-16-2019, 1:31 PM
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580 Series:







GR
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Old 09-17-2019, 2:45 AM
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The gun's styling, charm, history, and concept are all great. It has all the makings of a good gun. I wish they could either fix this platform or come out with the Mini-15 already.



I mean I get it, ARs are the most popular sporting arm... to make a gun and get it to market, let alone at a price that's affordable and you can sell enough to make a profit on, is a whole collection of challenges. But it seems to me like the California market alone for a gun like the Mini that actually works would be insane.



People are in some cases building ARs for less than 500, definitely 550... Why isn't there an option like the Mini, that works, and that can compete with that price point? There has to be market demand for this. It's always puzzled me. Maybe I'm the crazy one.
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Old 09-17-2019, 3:35 AM
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My Dad bought me one of the first back in 1978, when I was in early teens, to hunt coyotes with, and put a 4x redfield on top of her. He also bought a basic RCBS reloading press and accoutrements. After much practice and learning the ins and outs of reloading I ended up with a pretty nice little coyote/woodchuck gun. Have great memories of bombing around on a snowmobile in the winter on my folks ranch in MT with that carbine strapped to my back or sitting half frozen on a windy snowy ridge trying to call in coyotes. Sadly I lost it in a divorce years later but bought a stainless steel in 2000 at the PX in 29 Palms and after the usual attempts at making it into an AR looker (I could not afford an AR back then) I put original furniture back on her and nice 4x scope. Wanted to find the same Redfield my Dad put on the orginal but could not remember what model and nothing seemed to spark memory. With 55 or 62 gr reloads she shoots desert plate accuracy at 200m, certainly limited by my abilities. She will begin to string shots to the left after 8-10 rounds but thats ok, let her cool and the group narrows back down. I am a big fan of the Mini.
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Old 09-17-2019, 5:24 AM
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Old 09-21-2019, 9:54 AM
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I haven't seen any posts about Mini 14s for awhile so I thought I'd chime in.

I took my series 185 to the range today with the intent to blast away at the 40 yd short range bay. I finished shooting my three Martini rifles at the 100 yd range and thought 'what the heck, let's take 5 shots with the Mini before moving on'.

I used my reloads which employ Armscor 62 GR FMJBT, not the most consistent projectiles out there but they were cheap when I bought them. 748 powder and CCI primers powered the bullets.

I fired 5 round sitting from a bench but with just my elbows stabilizing the rifle,
no real rest.



I suspect the two rounds to the left were the first 2 as the rifle seems to throw a flyer or two until it warms up.

Later on at the 40 yd bay I fired at a reduced size silhouette target free hand rapid fire. Only the head shot was deliberate aiming, the rest were pull the trigger and stay on the target. I'd say the reduced size target was a close approximation for the human form at 100 yds.



Nope, not all 30-some rounds are touching in the X ring but there's some real hurt being brought on target with this Mini.



I've said all along the Mini can shoot, even the pencil barrels Minis. The best enhancement are better sights.

This was done by a glasses wearing 65 year old guy (me).
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Old 09-21-2019, 2:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbn620 View Post
The gun's styling, charm, history, and concept are all great. It has all the makings of a good gun. I wish they could either fix this platform or come out with the Mini-15 already.

Maybe I'm the crazy one?
You need to go shoot a newer one. They are more accurate than you probably are and the reliability is excellent.

Any 580 series (2005) or beyond is where the new ones are and the newest 584 series rifles are the best Ruger has ever made.

Here a group from my 580 gun. Shot at 100 yards with Federal Factory Ammo. It was shot with a Red Dot Sight.

Randy


Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_1139.jpg (77.1 KB, 75 views)
File Type: jpg 100464989.jpg (56.3 KB, 74 views)
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