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I am interested in buying a friend's used Mini-30 with serial number 189-8XXXX indicating it is a 1997 year of manufacture. For reference, from the Ruger web site, here is a portion of the serial number reference list:
Beginning Serial Number: Years of Production:

189-00001 1987
189-15143 1988
189-17652 1989
189-25005 1990
189-38805 1991
189-51041 1992
189-52528 1993
189-59348 1994
189-65480 1995
189-75697 1996
189-82126 1997
189-84971 1998
189-89313 1999
189-96162 2000
Then the serial numbers go into the 196- range.

I am wondering what the differences in design and manufacture of these older models are compared to the newer, late-581- models? For one thing, I know that at some time, Ruger thickened up the barrels and thereby reduced barrel whip and improved precision from 5-6 MoA to 1-3 MoA. But that was long after the 189- series ended....

What other improvements and changes were made that impact the 189- series and when exactly did they hit the streets?
 

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AFAIK, all series of the Mini-30 were the same, up until the 581 retooling. No real changes were made.

They all had flip-up rear sights (ala Mini-14 Ranch Rifle), integral scope mounts, and single-blade front sights.

Pencil barrels stuck around until late in the 581s or early 582s, as you mention.
 

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I have a 189 Series Mini-30, bought in 1990 I believe. Great rifle, took a little to break in and at the time, only factory magazine's were 5 rd'ers. Now though, with the factory 20 rd'ers. Took the rifle to a whole different level.Tightest magazine lock up I have ever had with the Mini platform.

My rifle's bore is the .308" bore. The new Mini-30's I are .310" or .311". I can't remember which one it is. One of the two. :)
 
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