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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Y'all,

I had read and studied on and off for years regarding the Mini-14/30 platform, and only recently have begun not only taking it seriously, but preparing to acquire some. Now, there are fans of ARs, and then there is I. Few people my age (early 30s) can show quite the credentials for their enthrallment by ARs; I am the author the Collector Grade Publications title The ArmaLite AR-10: World's Finest Battle Rifle.

I have recently become enamored of the Mini-14, however, and while my admiration for the AR-10/15 platform has not diminished, I wanted to come to the hub of knowledge and scholarship on this weapons system.

A little about me, besides being a firearms author, I am an attorney in my day job, as well as a writer for outdoor publications. However, far more important to me than my occupation is being a proud husband and dad. I have been an avid outdoorsman since I was 3, and I am blessed to have a wife and daughter who share this love with me. While we currently reside in the nauseatingly-leftist DC metro area (northern Virginia), we own a big spread high in the WV mountains with a trout stream that starts on the property, and we take annual trips in the summer to the high country of Wyoming and Idaho. My wife, who when we met did not know the word "trout" in any language, now holds 3 women's fishing world records (2lb line class Bull, Cutthroat, and Golden Trout), and this past summer my daughter broke the Girl's under-11 world record for Golden Trout, which was, to our surprise and delight, heavily featured in the media. The fact that she is cute, extremely tough (hiked 12 miles with mommy and daddy at over 2 miles of altitude through the wilderness to get to the fishing location), and was just shy of 5 years old when she caught her record, makes us all the prouder of her. I am humbled in their mighty company, but at least have held 1 record to my name; Idaho catch-and-release Golden Trout.

I am also an avid linguist and Orientalist, and spent many years of my late teens and twenties in China. I completed part of my undergraduate and law school course work at Peking University, where I met my wife. I also lived more years working in Peking as a document translator and interpreter, and still cook Chinese food most every night for the family, and practice traditional Sino-Japanese woodworking. I also continue to speak Chinese at home, and my daughter's first language is Chinese, though we usually use English for fishing and outdoors topics.

I am very please to meet y'all, and I look forward to learning from you fine folks all about the Mini-14!
 

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Welcome.
Some years back there was a debate on a well known preppers forum on which was the better rifle. I feel the true answer is a little more complex. Care to share your thoughts?
 

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The first firearm I ever owned was a Mini-14. Long story, but I was in an Army Nurse's BOQ off-post in Frankfurt when the Baeder-Mainhof/Red Army Faction was active in 1980. There was no security and this was also at the height of the Cold War. I sort of felt defenseless, frankly. A departing MP in the BOQ offered to sell me his Mini-14 (181-series) and I took him up on it. Had it been an AR platform, I would have still bought it, but it wasn't and thus began my life-long love of the Mini platform. Never cared for the M16. A few months later, I also bought a new Colt Model 70 Government model through the Frankfurt Rod and Gun Club - my first pistol. I'm still "AR-Free". Personal preference/dislike perhaps.

Still have both and still love both.
 

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Well, I'll say this: Ever since Ruger improved the fit between the barrel and receiver, and stabilized the gas block connection, the Mini-14 has been a much straighter long range shooter. With this being said, I don't particularly care for doing any sort of long range rifle work with either the Mini-14, or an AR-15. Instead, I'll take a Remington Model 700, a Winchester M70, or a Garand M1D every time.

From one gun writer and survivalist to another: Welcome to the forum! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, I'll say this: Ever since Ruger improved the fit between the barrel and receiver, and stabilized the gas block connection, the Mini-14 has been a much straighter long range shooter. With this being said, I don't particularly care for doing any sort of long range rifle work with either the Mini-14, or an AR-15. Instead, I'll take a Remington Model 700, a Winchester M70, or a Garand M1D every time.

From one gun writer and survivalist to another: Welcome to the forum! :)
Hi there folks, and thanks for the warm welcome! My apologies on not responding earlier; running my business and being a full-time dad is more time-demanding than even Big Law (I thank God every day I am no longer at a boutique firm full of leftist sociopaths).

I have studied the improvements that Ruger made in the 2005-2007 retooling, and I gather that accuracy has improved to the extent that I might not even see much of any improvement from the Accuracy Systems Harmonic Barrel Stabilizer. However, I am holding off on acquiring all the parts I want to use to improve my future Minis until I can spend some serious time behind one and confirm that I like the platform.

May I ask what gun stuff you've written? I have developed real friendships with fellow gun authors like Chris Bartocci, and the great R. Blake Stevens, whom I was honored to know before he passed away.
 

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Draw, Varmint!
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Hi there folks, and thanks for the warm welcome! My apologies on not responding earlier; running my business and being a full-time dad is more time-demanding than even Big Law (I thank God every day I am no longer at a boutique firm full of leftist sociopaths).
Now, THAT is really funny! 😃

May I ask what gun stuff you've written? I have developed real friendships with fellow gun authors like Chris Bartocci, and the great R. Blake Stevens, whom I was honored to know before he passed away.
I am—or, at least, I was—a freelance author, editor, and proofreader for Upwork.com. Much of my finished work has appeared under the names of other better known: firearm, survival, and homesteading authors. Until a recent heart attack put me down, I was also the founding administrator of Facebook's ‘SHTF Survival, Preparation, And Homesteading’ Group Page—Where I enjoyed a popular following as a knowledgable authority in several different outdoor fields.

I have also done a lot of gun writing for both myself, and others. If you like, send me your email address in a PM, and I will forward my Upwork Portfolio for you to look over. I have specialties in disciplines like: AR-15 setup and mechanics, precision long range rifle work, combat handgunning, and numerous outdoor survival skills. (I don't usually brag, or talk about myself; but you did ask, and I don't mind sharing information!) ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Welcome.
Some years back there was a debate on a well known preppers forum on which was the better rifle. I feel the true answer is a little more complex. Care to share your thoughts?
Hi partner, I'd be happy to share my few pieces of knowledge and many thoughts!

While my knowledge of the Mini 14 is purely academic, I think I can still weigh in constructively on this one. It is strange that I have experience behind most every self-loading rifle platform (AR-10/15/18, Kalashnikov, SKS/AVS-36/SVT-40, CETME/G3/HK93, Madsen, Valmet/Galil, AR70/ARX, MAS-40/49/56, FAMAS, Ljungman M/42B/Hakim/Rasheed, FN-49/FAL/FNC, Garand, M14, and even the select-fire Types 81 and 95 in China, which are total rattletraps, by the way), but so far have not fired a single round from Minis. However, I think I would consider my time behind Garands and M14s (as well as my armorer's work on both platforms) to give me at least some insight into the advantages and nature of the Mini.

From my studies and experience with various platforms, the AR-10/15 still occupies the pinnacle of "high-performance," meaning that at the ragged edge of accuracy and precision, controllability, ease of use, reliability against external fouling (dust, mud, blowing sand, etc.), and innovation/development, the AR will always be ahead, and this will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future. However, when compared to some platforms that are produced with good quality control in developed countries, that ragged edge of advantage is marginal, and is often totally unnecessary, and other systems carry certain inherent advantages over the AR, which matter more or less depending on the application. I do not consider all rifle systems to be created equal, however. For example, I consider the Kalashnikov platform to be wholly inferior to most everything I have ever shot, even the Chinese domestic designs like the 81 and 95. I have owned several very high-end Kalashnikovs (Arsenal Bulgarian and Saiga AKMs and 74s) that were all properly spec'd and using new-old-stock Soviet magazines, and none of them could compare to my ARs, M14s, or FALs in any category, even reliability. While they were rare, I had more malfunctions with the AKs (maybe 1 failure to feed or eject out of every 200-300 rounds) than with anything else, and the rate was pretty consistent across all 6 of them, which rules out that 1 or 2 were lemons.

I believe, from my studies, that the Mini 14 falls squarely into the camp of rifle systems that are only outclassed marginally in important areas like accuracy/precision, controllability, and ease of use by the AR, and that due to the application here considered being that of a prepper/survival rifle, I would posit that the ARs advantages are essentially meaningless for the purpose of this discussion. Moreover, like all systems, the Mini brings advantages to the table that are unique to it, most of which make it shine in the prepper role. I see those advantages as being, first and foremost, mechanical reliability and longevity, combined with low maintenance requirements, both routine and preventative. While the AR is exceedingly reliable, and I have observed that many of the concerns about the internal piston system are overblown, a weapon like the Mini 14 that uses an external piston does certainly keep the inside of the receiver cleaner and cooler. This means that the bolt stays cleaner, does not burn off lubrication as quickly, and can run longer without service. The cooler-running, however, is not universally the case. While I do notice that the bolts on my M1s, M14s, and FALs are cooler after the same round count in the same time period than my ARs, the Kalashnikovs I used to own would have their bolts grow markedly hotter when compared fairly to the ARs. The way gas flows through an AR's upper receiver does help it expel foreign matter and is as important in that rifle's near-imperviousness to malfunctions being caked in mud or buried/blown with sand and grit as is its very closed-off design. However, when not dropped in mud or sand dunes, the Mini will almost certainly keep firing without malfunctions longer than the AR, due to the reduced fouling and reduced lubrication loss from the piston not being present within the receiver.

For special mission units with excellent logistical support, the foreign debris resilience of the AR, being able to drag it through mud or pull it out of a swamp and fire it with confidence that it will not malfunction is very desirable and makes it the optimum weapon. The prepper/survivalist, however, is far more likely to have to go long periods without support or maintenance, than he or she is to submerge his or her chosen weapon in mud and then immediately have to lay down a high volume of fire with it.

In addition to the fact that the Mini stays cleaner and keeps its lubricant working longer, another critical aspect of the Mini that is within the scope of the relaxed maintenance schedule and durability of the system, is the fact that critical parts do not seem to wear out on the Mini. The AR has excellent longevity, and most of its parts have a very long life as well, but the bolt itself is considered a wear part and is replaced at regular intervals in preventative maintenance. This is no big deal to a soldier in a unit with an armorer, but for the prepper means having a lot of spare bolts on hand, and both changing them regularly based on round count, and carrying a spare in the field. In all my reading on the Mini, and in my considerable experience with M1 Garands and M14s, I have never heard of, nor experienced, bolts "wearing out" on those systems. In fact, I do know the stories - some of which I have heard from officers who experienced them - from various LE and corrections agencies of Minis being run hundreds of thousands of rounds - some of them with quite a bit of that on full auto - without even spring replacement, and them only being serviced because the barrels were starting to get worn in the throats. While I would not dream of not replacing springs as regular preventative maintenance based on round count in any self-loading weapon, and I always keep at least 1 spare headspaced bolt for any firearm I use seriously (and that is all of them, I don't believe in safe queens) in case of a catastrophic case of Murphy showing up, the confidence one (I include myself in that) can have in an off-the-shelf weapon that is not going to break a critical part would be inestimable in a survival situation.

Now, the issue of the AR's bolt being a wear part is essentially confined to the AR-15 series in 5.56 with the standard-type bolt (it may well be for other calibers like 6.5 Grendel, 6.8SPC, etc., but I have not shot those calibers enough to encounter issues); the AR-10s' bolt is not known to give out for any reason other than problematic ammunition or a manufacturing defect. I have personally owned and currently own multiple AR-10s (both 1959-1961 Dutch-production and modern ArmaLites, the latter of which I still own) that have individually fired each in excess of 40,000 rounds, and their bolts are still in perfect working condition with no problematic wear. The inevitable bolt failure problem was just one of the issues that surfaced when the AR-10 action was scaled down to fit the smaller cartridge. The demise of the in-carry-handle charging handle was not because of heating, but was actually due to upper receivers forming stress cracks in the .223 prototypes when top-charging was used. Smaller parts with less metal containing pressure and performing violent movements pushed the design farther than it was originally meant to go. Also, I should add that ArmaLite greatly extended the round count of the standard mil-spec bolt with its patented recessed 5th lug before LMT essentially solved the "bolt-as-a-wear-part" problem with their Enhanced Bolt, and so all my ARs are fitted with bolts that do not break from normal use (LMT E-Bolts in the 15s, AR-10s with the recessed 5th lug, even though it is not really needed in the larger caliber). However, it still stands that virtually every AR-15 out of the box, and that is 99% of what the gun buying public acquires in the field of ARs, comes standard with a bolt that will break and require headspaced replacement within a few thousand rounds. Furthermore, an LMT bolt - when one can even be found - costs about half the total price of today's entry-level ARs, and the average shooter/prepper/survivalist will not even have the facilities and tools to strip an AR bolt for headspacing, let alone the proper headspace gauges.

Therefore, while my go-to personal weapon in a WROL/SHTF/survival scenario (against the possibility of which I pray nightly), no matter how much the Mini-14 impresses me when I acquire 1 or 2, will forever be one of my modern ArmaLite AR-10s. However, for the general survivalist/prepper, I would say that a stainless Mini-14 would be the best all-around survival weapon.
 
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