A strut will give you the most gain for accuracy, positioning in the right place for the most common load you shoot. If you reload, you can get some great groups with a strut keeping the rifle tuned to a specific load, I can do 1 1/2- 1-1/4 with my standard mini. To do better than that I shoot my target mini.
If you shoot a lot, get a cryo job, I had mine done at Cryo Pro. It eliminates the stringing as the barrel gets hot from extended shooting with high cap mags. It also helps in cold/hot weather shooting, your shots won't deviate as much while hunting. I practice and shoot a lot in the fall and wait for hunting in cooler weather. I don't have to worry about the shot dropping 3" from temp variances.
Tri70 - Is your standard Mini blued or Stainless? With my Target Mini which of course is Stainless, Cryo stopped it from Stringing. My 16" Stainless Mini on the other hand, was bought used and supposedly had been Cryo'd. Now that I've had more time to shoot the 16" Mini extensively I am realizing it does have a stringing problem, contrary to info I have posted previously. Maybe the person I got it from BS'd about the Cryo job. Or maybe the type of SS Barrel in the skinny barrel 580 doesn't respond well to Cryo.
There is considerable information available that says Cryo doesn't do much of anything for Stainless barrels, but my target Model Mini-14 exhibited 4" stringing at 100 yds before Cryo and none after. So Cryo was very effective on my Stainless Target Mini.
At this point I am at a quandary about what to do with the 16" skinny barrel 580. If it really was Cryo'd by the previous owner then I'd be throwing away money to send it off to be treated. Of course, selling it and getting a new thick barreled 581 would cost me a lot more.
Anyone with documented experience before and after of Cryo effectiveness on Stainless skinny barrel Mini-14? If those skinny stainless barrels respond well to Cryo, it'd be worth the gamble to have it Cryo'd. Otherwise I am going to sell it and replace with a thick barrel model maybe blued. I am just not a fan of the Barrel Struts so that isn't an option for me.
Tri70 - is your stainless standard Mini a thin barrel one or one of the later tapered barrel models? Mine is one of the early 580 Models from the transitional period where it got the benefit of the retooling except shipped with old pencil style barrel.
It is quite accurate too. Will do 1 1/2" -2" with good ammo and 2-3" with XM-193s until it starts heating up, then strings straight down.
As mentioned, cryoing and barrel struts do two different things, although there is overlap.
Struts reduce group size due to excessive vibration. They work almost universally on the early skinny Mini-14 barrel, less frequently or to a smaller degree on the new fat barrel. They will also help/eliminate stringing.
Cryoing addresses thermal stringing. If if reduces group size at all, it is to a much lesser amount than a strut.
I recommend doing both for people looking for maximum accurization.
If you like to shoot 50+ rds on a weekend or any day for that fact, sit down on a prairie dog town, backyard gun range and buddies. The cyro treatment really pays off, the more heat you generate on the barrel the more the poi moves especially during summer time. Get a cryo for $35 and don't worry about it, blast away. If you only shot 10 rds and clean put the gun away, don't mess with a cryo job.
I plan to mostly be shooting with iron sights, both off hand and off a rest, from 50-100 yds. And I definitely plan on at least 100 rds per range session through it. I think I'll probably end up going cryo first and then adding a strut.
The question remains unanswered though. Does a regular ranch w/cryo and a strut shoot better than just a mini 14 tactical 16"? What about if the tactical has cryo and a strut?
(does the tactical really need either, or should it be fine?)
I've been inclined to grab a tactical version for that very reason. Even though the barrel is shorter, however, it's still going to have the same stress points in the metal (from the hammer forging process).