If you seriously want small groups on a regular basis, I would encourage you to use a different gun and make it a group shooter. You can keep pumping money into the mini 14 platform, and it may or not give you what you want. That's just an honest opinion, granted it's mine. Driving screws with hammers can be satisfying, but often it just leads to frustration and buying better hammers. Use the right tool and you'll be much happier. I'm not picking on target shooters, I'm picking on the mini 14. I like them, but I also understand their limitations and know that they're not always the best choice for the shooting I intend to do.
Actually I think that's really great advice, and based on my recent experiences, it's also what I'd suggest to someone else if they asked me. You have no idea how much I appreciate your candor on this, I was starting to wonder about my sanity (ok, not really, but it WAS bugging me as to whether I was just missing something obvious). And in fact, I've already reached that conclusion and put it into action before we talked. Last week, I ordered an AR upper from White Oak Armament, which I will be using with a Rock River lower for CMP competition shooting in service matches.
As for the Mini, I agree with you, I still like and will shoot it, but I think I've reached a point where, unless some savvy person like you who works full-time with Minis (or enjoys part-time tinkering with them--like some folks in our forum) comes up with an approach that soundly resolves this issue, I am just going to chalk it up to the limitations of the Mini's design, stop flogging the issue, and move on. From the responses I've gotten so far when I ask others about this, it appears that almost everyone sees some form of this behavior, though they describe it in different terms. Bottom line: ask someone to take ten shots in 10 minutes at 100 yards, using your favorite optic, do that several times, and take the average group size. I'd be willing to bet well over half of Minis, even accurized ones that can shoot better 3 to 5 shot groups than others (and mine is happily in that category, thanks to you
), will see some degree of this bimodal pattern (or at least, a number of flyers, even if the flyer pattern itself is not consistent) reproduced in those 10-shot groups.
Does that mean Mini's are terrible guns, or a waste of time? No, but in their current form they're obviously ruled out as serious NRA competition guns, even in local competitions. Further, though many can and do hunt with them, on any given hunt I expect folks who have this issue should be prepared for varying degrees of success esp. at longer ranges, like the guy in our current forum who shot well at 50 yards, and then was disappointed to find that he had missed a coyote that seemed well within range. I think that Minis are at the best for probably 3 types of situations: informal fun shooting (and it's the "fun" aspect that probably appeals to most of us) or plinking in semi-auto mode (the kid in me still enjoys "blasting stuff", sorry it's juvenile, but I can't help it), hunting from fairly close range where the outcome is not critical to you, and self defense situations from primarily 75 yards or less, where the Mini's varying degrees of accuracy will be small enough that it would not make much difference on a human sized target. I realize others will probably strongly disagree, and certainly the above pattern is not happening with all Mini's, but in all honesty I do expect it is probably the typical experience if folks will shoot a larger test group and be realistic about the patterns they are seeing.
But having said all that, if you ever DO come across some brilliant idea for addressing this problem--and you would be a likely person to do so--I sure hope you'll share it with us or make it available at your shop. I'll be the first in line to buy the solution, if you do! Thanks for the feedback!