Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 family of rifles

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Old 08-03-2007, 12:15   #1
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Mini-14 in police Patrol Rifle Class

Yesterday I finished a three day patrol rifle class using my 580 stainless, plastic stock, Leupold 1.5 x 5 Heavy Duplex scope, flash hider, factory 20 rd mags. I was the only one of 30 students who didn't have some version of the AR-15, most had short barrels, collapsible stocks, and Aimpoint or Eotech sights. Observations:

The shorter/lighter AR's have an advantage over the Min at ranges less than 25 yards. They are also easily adapted to a slingle point sling, and the shorter barrel keeps your muzzle out of the dirt when crouching or bending. The electronic sights are slighter quicker, but not by much. Of course, I kept my scope at the lowest power. Overall, the AR is the better tool for this job, more comfortable and easier to use.

Some folks say the AR is less rugged than the Mini. We didn't try pounding nails with any of the guns, but I saw only one problem with a AR- the gun was totally dry of oil, snapped off the extractor after about 600 rds of steel cased Wolf ammo.

We finished up at a National Guard range, shooting 30 electronically controlled/electronically scored pop-up targets that would appear for a few seconds from 50 to 300 yards. Setting my scope at 3 power seemed best, there wasn't time to switch power between targets, anything higher was too much for the quick shots at shorter ranges. This is where my Mini should have really creamed the AR's, but it sucked. The gun got so hot that I could barely hold the bottom of the plastic forearm, and I burned the hell out of my hand twice when I accidentally touched the bottom of the gas block.
EDITED:
MAG PROBLEM WAS NOT CAUSED BY HEAT. DISREGARD THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH. SEE MY REPLY.
Worse, the same mags and same technique that had worked ok for the first two days, couldn't seat the second mag during three of the fours runs on this course. The heat was apparently distorting the mag well or mag catch mechanism so much that the mag could not be seated without a lot of rocking, pounding, and cussing. I expected to be high score in my class but ended up middle of the pack, missed too many targets trying to reload.
END OF EDIT
There were also a couple of times when the bolt stayed open with rounds still in the mag. Now that the gun has cooled off, everything seems fine, but I'm still ****ed, and looking for a Colt 6920.

If you expect to fire only a few shots, at ranges of 50-200 yards, the Mini seems equal or even slightly superior to the AR. For shorter ranges, skip it.

Last edited by Gearhead Jim; 08-03-2007 at 16:22.
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Old 08-03-2007, 13:22   #2
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Thanks for the report.

Anyone rethinking their SHTF plans?
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Old 08-03-2007, 13:26   #3
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Originally Posted by texastom View Post
Thanks for the report.

Anyone rethinking their SHTF plans?
NO.....I will still grab my AK
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Old 08-03-2007, 13:52   #4
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Originally Posted by Gearhead Jim View Post
...
If you expect to fire only a few shots, at ranges of 50-200 yards, the Mini seems equal or even slightly superior to the AR. For shorter ranges, or sustained fire, skip it.
I edited the original to add this paragraph, because I think that the 580 still can do good work under some circumstances. And there are some bad AR's out there, I just don't know which ones.

Previously, I owned 3 older stainless Minis. They were all horribly inaccurate, especially when hot. One couldn't stay on the target paper at 100 yds (benchrest) after firing 20 rds in 3 minutes, the other 2 weren't much better. My current gun stays within 4" at 100 yds even when warm, yesterday's shots at 300 yds had enough hits to make me think it's probably ok even when hot. If I can just get the damn thing to work...

Last edited by Gearhead Jim; 08-03-2007 at 13:55.
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Old 08-03-2007, 15:21   #5
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How many shots had you put through the Mini before you went to the pop up range? Every time we went to the range when I was in the NG, we got like 40 target for 40 shots and they were all timed with a few seconds in between. I can't believe the Mini got hot enough to keep a magazine from locking in based on past experience but it sounds like it's true. kwg
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Old 08-03-2007, 15:34   #6
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Originally Posted by kwg020 View Post
How many shots had you put through the Mini before you went to the pop up range? Every time we went to the range when I was in the NG, we got like 40 target for 40 shots and they were all timed with a few seconds in between. I can't believe the Mini got hot enough to keep a magazine from locking in based on past experience but it sounds like it's true. kwg
It was over 90'F that day, and no shade for the rifle. We had fired other courses before the popups, probably 200 rds spaced over about 3 hours. It seemed like my Mini just wouldn't cool off even before the popups, then I fired about 120 rds in 20 minutes. I've never handled a gun that hot.
EDIT:
I just finished some more experimenting, and now I think that the mag problem was not caused by the hot gun, although the other issues remain.
The confined space of the concrete "foxhole" forced me to hold the Mini in a different position for reloading, it was higher and further away from my body than normal. I believe this caused me to sometimes not get enough "rock" motion on the mag when I was inserting it, and then nothing fits right.
The peculiar rocking motion that the Mini (and M-14/M-1A) require for magazine insertion is a disadvantage, as is the fact that you have to kinda "guess" or fumble-check where the mag goes in. I'll try to figure out a technique that gets it right regardless of gun location; too much angle can be as bad as too little. Stay tuned for further experiments.

Last edited by Gearhead Jim; 08-03-2007 at 16:18.
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Old 08-03-2007, 16:26   #7
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Was the bolt open or closed when you tried the reload? I'm guessing open if you changed magazines because you ran out of bullets in the first magazine. kwg
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Old 08-03-2007, 17:27   #8
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I was the only one of 30 students who didn't have some version of the AR-15, most had short barrels, collapsible stocks, and Aimpoint or Eotech sights.
Sounds like a rigorous test for any rifle.

Several members have shortened their barrel, installed a flash hider, modified the stock to accept the collapsible stock, and installed Aimpoint or Eotech sights. If that is a better configuration, gundoc can do the barrel work. A shorter barrel would be a bit cooler as more burning powder would be vented. A few have Crioed their barrel and say it helped the barrel stay cooler.

There are also better vented hand guards than the std one. Yep installing a magazine takes a bit more practice for speed. Make sure there isn't some burr or excess plastick in the magwell rubbing the mags. Installing as extended mag release may help, but it will be easier to bump by accident if not careful.

Just some thoughts you might could use.
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Last edited by cajungeo; 08-03-2007 at 17:30.
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Old 08-03-2007, 17:31   #9
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Originally Posted by kwg020 View Post
Was the bolt open or closed when you tried the reload? I'm guessing open if you changed magazines because you ran out of bullets in the first magazine. kwg
Open twice, closed twice. Didn't seem to make any difference, which would be logical since it now seems that the mag problem was not heat related.
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Old 08-03-2007, 17:55   #10
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Yo Jim,
Like cajungeo said " There are also better vented hand guards than the std one."

Choate Hand Guard Mini 14

If you decide to keep your mini after getting your AR you might want to take a look at the choate hand guard for the mini.
A lot more venting area. Does not cover the operating rod, allowing more air for cooling to get under and into the heat spots.
The Ruger factory handguard has 8, 3/8" holes at the front of the hand guard, not exactly what I would call free air flowing for cooling and one of the hottest spots, the chamber, is completely enclosed.
The Choate hand guard also looks to have some relief slots on the receiver to hand guard contact area that would also enhance air flow.
I don't see how more ventilation could not help but keep things cooler. People say the accuracy is affected in the minis when they get hot. Could be that poor ventilation from the factory handguard contributes to the problem.
The only drawback on the choate that I can see would be use in heavy rain,
but even that shouldn't be to much of a problem.

Just a thought,
W B

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Old 08-03-2007, 18:26   #11
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I didn't see the high spot by the rivet on the Choate, might give more scope clearance also.
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Old 08-03-2007, 19:18   #12
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Originally Posted by texastom View Post
Thanks for the report.

Anyone rethinking their SHTF plans?
I read this an hour ago and have had it on my mind ever since. I guess that means Yes - I am thinking about it.

My wife and I have three Mini-14's that qualify as our SHTF rifles. One 184 series and two 188 series. All have had some "doctoring" and have proven to be reasonably accurate and highly dependable rifles.

Yet when I think about it, none have been "stress tested" in a tactical sense. We have fired up to 300 rounds per rifle in sessions running about 2 hours in length with no noticeable loss in accuracy. However, that is quite different than a true tactical rifle class where much many more rounds are fired in a much shorter time period. Most of our sessions involve firing 40 or 50 rounds each, alternating back and forth between shooters and rifles. Obviously the rifles have some time to cool, and probably never really get hot.

I read a couple of years ago that some of the big name training centers have had poor experiences with the Mini's in their tactical rifle courses. I have never heard that directly from any of them, but when you look at the equipment requirments on their internet sites, you see that they tend to specify AR's - and don't mention Mini's.

I know from experience that the M-16 fires dependably for extended periods at high rates of fire. I have never truly tested my Mini's under such conditions.

Have any of you had experince with the Mini at high and extended rates of fire like Gearhead Jim described? I suspect many on our board would be interested in hearing some reports from those who have really stressed their Mini's - while the rest of feel a little stupid for not doing it ourselves already.
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Old 08-03-2007, 19:57   #13
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I know my magazines will not seat well if I try to reload a full magazine with a closed bolt. You are in effect pushing down the stack of bullets in the magazine as you try to insert the fresh magazine if the bolt is closed. Some magazines allow the bullets to "ride higher" or protrude out more in the magazine than others. kwg
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Old 08-03-2007, 20:31   #14
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How about full auto?

I read this an hour ago and have had it on my mind ever since. I guess that means Yes - I am thinking about it.

My wife and I have three Mini-14's that qualify as our SHTF rifles. One 184 series and two 188 series. All have had some "doctoring" and have proven to be reasonably accurate and highly dependable rifles.

Yet when I think about it, none have been "stress tested" in a tactical sense. We have fired up to 300 rounds per rifle in sessions running about 2 hours in length with no noticeable loss in accuracy. However, that is quite different than a true tactical rifle class where much many more rounds are fired in a much shorter time period. Most of our sessions involve firing 40 or 50 rounds each, alternating back and forth between shooters and rifles. Obviously the rifles have some time to cool, and probably never really get hot.

I read a couple of years ago that some of the big name training centers have had poor experiences with the Mini's in their tactical rifle courses. I have never heard that directly from any of them, but when you look at the equipment requirments on their internet sites, you see that they tend to specify AR's - and don't mention Mini's.

I know from experience that the M-16 fires dependably for extended periods at high rates of fire. I have never truly tested my Mini's under such conditions.

Have any of you had experince with the Mini at high and extended rates of fire like Gearhead Jim described? I suspect many on our board would be interested in hearing some reports from those who have really stressed their Mini's - while the rest of feel a little stupid for not doing it ourselves already.

Well, I have never fired a Mini 14. However, I do own and use HEAVILY two AC556 carbines. The only mechanical differences between the two are the reciever dimentions and the fire controls. That said, here is my take on Mini reliability under harsh conditions. By the way, I also have A LOT of experience with the M16/AR15 platform as well.

I have fired my AC's over several tactical carbine scenarios. I have fired in excess of 300 rounds in less than 15 minutes on full auto mostly using 3 to 4 round bursts. I have fired about 600 rounds in the course of one 3 hour period, again mostly using three roud bursts. Engaging a target in semi mode at any time during this cycle of fire has proven to be adequate but not spectacular in terms of accuracy, but I could at least hit at or near center mass on any given target. I have fired over 1500 rounds over a three day course WITHOUT CLEANING and never had a failure. In the last 8 months alone I have put approximately 3500 rounds through each rifle. The only problems I have had have been due to bad ammo. Ironically, the only ammo that I have not had ANY problems with has been Wolf steel case.
EDIT:
I almost forgot, I did have my selector switch break once during a course of fire. The rifle was in full auto when this occured and remained that way. However, it did not cause the rifle to stop firing.
End of Edit.

I would'nt be so quick to judge the Mini as being inferior to the AR15/M16 platform in terms of real world reliability and useful accuracy. The M16 has its flaws as well. It really starts to get persnikety as the round count rises. The Mini is much less sensitive to being dirty.

Is the M16 a better weapon overall compared to the Mini for real world combat? Absolutely! As long as it is kept CLEAN the M16 platform will perform very well. Having used both platforms in real world situations (real or simulated) would I hesitate to use a Mini as my main battle weapon? Absolutely not! I would feel quite comfortable with a Mini if my life depended on it.
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Last edited by JasonAC556; 08-03-2007 at 20:37. Reason: Added Info
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Old 08-03-2007, 20:59   #15
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Lots of good comments, thanks to you all.

Although an AR would have definitely been a better gun for the course I took, that doesn't mean it would be better for YOU. Do you really need a rifle hanging around your neck on a single point sling, with a short barrel for close quarters work and a pistol grip for some oddball ready positions, easy speed reloads, easy mounting for an electronic sight, and flip-up backup sights? If so, definitely get a shorty AR. But if you want an "ordinary" rifle for use at 50-200 yards, that will easily mount a conventional low-power scope, then the Mini might be a good choice.
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Old 08-03-2007, 22:02   #16
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Guys, I don't mean to step on anyones toes here. I have defended the Mini 14 for a long time, but not anymore. Why the change? I finally broke down and bought an AR. Honestly, they are not even in the same league. The Mini is more like a American AK than an AR. And it isn't even as good as an AK IMHO. I have owned at least 3 Mini 14s, including my current 580 series. All were minure of pie plate at 100 yards. You did not get groups, you got patterns. And once the Mini heats up you can forget it. You can watch your shots continue to drop until they are in the dirt. Yes, the Mini is reliable, I will say that. Mine has never jammed or stopped working in any shape, form or fashion. But, neither has my AR. I grant you I have not had it that long, but I have shot my AR at least 500 rounds through it since I have had it with zero stoppages. And it will shot inch or less groups. Does not matter what bullet weight. Does not matter if the barrel gets hot. It just keeps hitting the target with remarkable regularity. I liked it so much I bought a build kit and put me together another one.
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Old 08-04-2007, 05:38   #17
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It looks to me the biggest problem might be found in the first sentence of Gearhead Jim's post. His Mini has a plastic stock. I may be wrong but I don't remember seeing any AC556's ever stocked in other than wood. Those weapons were designed for sustained auto fire so the heat build up is expected. I would imagine that wood is a much better insulator & handles the heat much better than plastic. All the the hot gases from firing a round are dumped right into the handgaurd area of a Mini & they are bound to get hot. A plastic stock on a tactical Mini to me is a poor choice. The problem with closed bolt or tactical reloads, is also a problem. Unless you download your mags, sometimes a tactical reload is near impossible with a Mini. For home defence the Mini would probably be ok as you'd most likely never need to do a mag change before the situation was resolved. I know if I were a leo & my department made me use a Mini I'd be less than happy. Just my 2.
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:39   #18
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"Guys, I don't mean to step on anyones toes here. I have defended the Mini 14 for a long time, but not anymore. Why the change? I finally broke down and bought an AR. Honestly, they are not even in the same league."

I also have a new AR, but will be keeping at least my RR. I have not had the great performance from the AR as far as reliabilty goes and haven't even seen one that will work dirty like my minis will so am remaining sceptical for now. That said, it seems as tho the 580 series is less rugged than the old ones in the stock and mag well dept and Rugers refusal to rework that sorry carbine bbl. is gonna cost them lots of sales. I think the mini is best thought of as a sporting carbine that could be used in a pinch as a fighting tool. It has the added benefit of looking the sporting part if you want it to. In many circles taking an AR to a hunt is like taking a hooker to the company picnic, She may be a lot of fun but don't be surprised if poeple talk about you.

As a p.s. my HK91 clone gets so hot it hurts to hold it and it has Milspec. furniture.
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:43   #19
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Originally Posted by bushwack View Post
It looks to me the biggest problem might be found in the first sentence of Gearhead Jim's post. His Mini has a plastic stock. I may be wrong but I don't remember seeing any AC556's ever stocked in other than wood. Those weapons were designed for sustained auto fire so the heat build up is expected. I would imagine that wood is a much better insulator & handles the heat much better than plastic. All the the hot gases from firing a round are dumped right into the handgaurd area of a Mini & they are bound to get hot. A plastic stock on a tactical Mini to me is a poor choice. The problem with closed bolt or tactical reloads, is also a problem. Unless you download your mags, sometimes a tactical reload is near impossible with a Mini. For home defence the Mini would probably be ok as you'd most likely never need to do a mag change before the situation was resolved. I know if I were a leo & my department made me use a Mini I'd be less than happy. Just my 2.
The lead instructor told me that the wood stock on a Mini was not satisfactory for a class like this, but he did not explain why; I forgot to ask more about the issue. My gun was so hot that I'd worry about a wood stock getting charred inside.

But, how many civilians will ever need to fire more than 20 rds in a defensive situation? There certainly can be exceptions, but the vast majority of cases will find that one or the other of you either is dead or has run away by then. Even major police engagements seldom fire a lot of rounds per gun; offhand I can't think of any that exceeded 50.

Last edited by Gearhead Jim; 08-04-2007 at 11:47.
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:43   #20
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Originally Posted by bushwack View Post
It looks to me the biggest problem might be found in the first sentence of Gearhead Jim's post. His Mini has a plastic stock. I may be wrong but I don't remember seeing any AC556's ever stocked in other than wood. Those weapons were designed for sustained auto fire so the heat build up is expected. I would imagine that wood is a much better insulator & handles the heat much better than plastic. All the the hot gases from firing a round are dumped right into the handgaurd area of a Mini & they are bound to get hot. A plastic stock on a tactical Mini to me is a poor choice.
My 580 series gun I talk about above is/was wood stocked and believe me, it does not dissipate heat and better than a plastic stocked one. Heck, the early Minis with the wood handguard and no metal insulaters would actually burn the wood!
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:53   #21
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Originally Posted by p35bhp55 View Post
...
In many circles taking an AR to a hunt is like taking a hooker to the company picnic, She may be a lot of fun but don't be surprised if poeple talk about you.
...

Best quote of the month!!!
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Old 08-04-2007, 13:03   #22
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http://www.bushmaster.com/shopping/u.../bura2b16d.asp

I think they may have been thinking of you when they built this.
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Old 08-04-2007, 18:28   #23
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Have any of you had experince with the Mini at high and extended rates of fire like Gearhead Jim described?
Yes. I have hosted a few events where some of my students are invited to spend a day at the range. One such event involved over 40 shooters. Two of my Mini-14's were used to put 1500+ rounds of Wolf downrange. That's 1500+ rounds per rifle in about a 4 hour period.

One of them was fired almost constantly throughout the day, and did suffer a small amount of stock melting at the tip of the forend.
(A friend's ARF experienced a similar fate on a different day of intense shooting. His bolt fractured, too.)

No other problems were encountered. In fact, the stock melt was not noticed until I broke the rifles down for cleaning that evening.

Before re-thinking your Mini as a SHTF weapon, you should thoroughly test it. In fact, this should be done with any weapon that you may have to stake your life, and your family member's lives on someday.
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Old 08-04-2007, 18:48   #24
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I have fired my mini over a hundred rds in about an hour during summer plinking sessions but that really in a grueling test. It fired everytime for me and I'm sure if I had and AR it would have done the same. Sometimes I go out and shoot up some older reloads from 50-100 rds. I'm happy with what I shoot and would place my life in what I shoot. I wish we had a 3 gun event around this area. This is a good test for the mini and if it did not pass, get a new gun or different gun. I like the simple breakdown on the mini, I polished the action for smooth operation. I don't know if that would make a difference in a field test like this or not. Thanks for the report!
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Old 08-05-2007, 01:24   #25
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Thumbs up SHTF Mini

I "campaigned" a Mini 14 last fall at a Tactical Carbine class I took. Most of the other attendees to the class were Federal Police running M-16/AR15/M4's, and me with my humble Mini.

I have a 182 series Mini with a Butler Creek folder and a 1-7X scope on a B-Square mount that allows me to also see the Mini's factory iron sights. It carried easily on a Specter CQB sling attached to side mounted sling rings. Mag changes were done by ejecting the empty mags on to the ground, which was sand. This resulted in the only malfunction I had which was with one cheap no-name 40 round mag that wouldn't feed after being exposed to the sand, but all four of my 20 round Ruger factory mags and one PMI 30 round mag functioned without hiccup even when gritty with sand.

The most intense period of firing resulted in 350 rounds going downrange over a 3 hour time period. I have seen no evidence of the Butler Creek stock suffering any ill effects from the heat. I do have a metal hand guard that dissipates the heat pretty well, but the hot barrel has and will burn my arm if not handled carefully.

All of the exercises were within 25 yards and my Mini kept up with the high-speed/low-drag AR shooters just fine, put rounds on target as good as any and better than some, and unlike a few, never jammed with good mags even after shooting several hundred rounds of dirty steel-cased Wolf ammo. That Mini was a good tool for the intended SHTF purpose.


Last edited by eldomatic; 08-05-2007 at 01:28.
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