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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Took my new Ruger Mini-Thirty Tactical to the range this morning with 200 rounds of berdan primed ammunition. This was its first time to the range. I fired five types of ammunition through the rifle at 100, 200 and 300 yards:

Lapua brass case berdan primed (40 rounds)
Wolf Black Box steel case berdan primed (60 rounds)
Wolf MC 123 gr HP (8M3) steel case berdan primed (60 rounds)
Norinco Yellow Box "71" over "92" headstamp (20 rounds)
Silver Bear 123 gr HP (20 rounds)

The rifle, cleaned and lubed prior to range trip:


The 200 yard range--a tree had blown down before I got there:


Out of 200 rounds, I had two failures to feed from the magazine and two failures to fire, once with Wolf Military Classic and once with the Norinco Yellow Box ammunition. Both failures exhibited light primer strikes. Both cartridges fired through the rifle without issue when loaded up a second time.

Both failures to feed involved the rifle not picking up the last cartridge from a factory 20-round magazine. It happened with two different magazines, again occurring once with the Wolf MC and once with the Norinco Yellow Box.

No failures of any type with the Wolf Black Box, the Lapua or the Silver Bear.

Solid primer strikes on each type of berdan primed ammunition tested. From left to right: Wolf Black Box, Wolf MC, Silver Bear, Norinco, Lapua:


In terms of accuracy, the Mini-Thirty is more accurate than my M1 carbine and less accurate than my M1A. The sights were way off from the factory. Starting at 100 yards, I fired ten rounds of Lapua; none were even on paper. I had to increase elevation substantially. The windage was very close from the factory, requiring only a slight adjustment to the left.

At 200 yards, it became clear that the Lapua shot to a different point of aim than the other four types of ammunition. At 200 yards, the Lapua shot groups five inches lower than the other types of ammunition. Best group of the day came from the Silver Bear--a 200 yard five-shot, four-inch group. The Silver Bear was surprisingly good ammunition. I will be buying a quantity now for this rifle.

At 300 yards, shooting at a 12" steel target, about one in four shots would hit the steel. The aperture sights are good, but at this range, the top of the front sight is nearly twice as large as the target. Also, the wind had picked up and was blowing pretty hard at this point, so I suspect the rifle can do better with a better shot behind it or on a calmer day.

My overall impression is that this rifle seems to do just fine with steel case and berdan primed ammunition, which is a relief (2 rounds in 200 failed to fire, which is a 1% failure rate). It is surprisingly accurate and (less surprisingly) fun to shoot. My biggest complaints are that the factory sling swivels will not accept a 1 1/4" M14 sling and the nebulous nature of rear sight adjustments.

I have a sealed crate of Yugo M67 ball that I plan to feed to this M30 Tactical next:
 

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Good show! Your sure to love your new M-30!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Didn't know Lapua made any x39 ammo with Berdan primed brass. Mind helping out with a link to were I can get some of this?
SOG (Southern Ohio Gun) had this maybe 18-24 months ago. It's '79 milsurp from Finland. Great ammo, but berdan primed. It sold out after a few months. I grabbed a bunch when the grabbin' was good...
 

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If you plan to shoot mostly berdan primed ammo, please keep track of the round count, we need more data on the longivity of new mini-30 pins (when fed a berdan diet).
 

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I am jealous of the long range shoots! Glad to here you like the mini 30 tactical, I may have to get one!;) I may be get out to close to 200 yds, I bought a cordless drill and circular saw combo to open up hunting and shooting areas.
 

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SOG (Southern Ohio Gun) had this maybe 18-24 months ago. It's '79 milsurp from Finland. Great ammo, but berdan primed. It sold out after a few months. I grabbed a bunch when the grabbin' was good...
it is good ammo - so is the Sako they sold also.
unfortunately all sold out now.
I managed to buy several 100's rounds before it went out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you plan to shoot mostly berdan primed ammo, please keep track of the round count, we need more data on the longivity of new mini-30 pins (when fed a berdan diet).
Will do. There are 1,100+ rounds in that crate of M67 ball. If it can eat them all, I figure I won't need to worry much about the firing pin.

Cleaned the Mini-Thirty today from the first range session. Minimal wear of finish on friction-exposed internal parts. That Ruger "blued" finish looks cheap, but it appears quite durable. Hardest thing to get real clean was the factory flash hider. The rest of the rifle cleaned right up. The barrel held a fair amount of copper, more than you would think could be caused by 200 rounds. But it came clean, too.

All ready to go:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Returned to the range this morning to shoot some of the Yugo surplus ammo. I had six 20-round factory magazines loaded and ready to go when I got to the range:

The 100 yard line was empty, so I took it. First five-shot group with the Yugo surplus was just under two inches. Excellent accuracy.

Primer strikes were deep and ignition was reliable and consistent. The ammo was Igman (NK) 1971 from AIM Surplus. (I also have some '70 and '84, but as described below, didn't get that deep into the shooting today because of the sight malfunction)

Unfortunately, the groups began to get larger and larger after the first five shot run. After approximately 80 rounds, accuracy was seriously decreased. Then, I realized the rear sight had worked completely loose. It could be moved approximately a quarter inch either way and was flopping around on recoil. I used the Allen wrench and snugged up the sight. After another 40 rounds or so, it was once again loose as a goose. A lot of CLP was under the rear sight. I suspect my usual cleaning regimen doesn't agree with the Mini-Thirty. The CLP has been sitting on the threads of the rear sight for several weeks, working as something like a penetrating oil.

After 180 rounds, the rifle was too inconsistent so I called it a day. The rear sight remains loose. I will use some Loctite and start over with getting the sights adjusted.

The Yugo surplus was hot, consistent and accurate ammo. I like it a lot. THere were zero malfunctions of any type. Even the problems previously reported with the rifle failing to pick up the last round from a magazine did not occur with this ammunition.

Total round count so far is 480, with 200 as reported above, 180 Yugo surplus and 100 rounds of mixed boxer primed (Winchester White Box and MFS).
 

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Mister Q - Great write ups and a nice range facility. Where is it BTW?

I've been thinking about adding a Mini-30 to the collection for some time. Will probably be a while before I can have the money budgeted to do so, but it's definitely on the short list.
I noticed you've been extolling what nice Ammo the Silver Bear is. Seems like pretty near every place that is selling Silver Bear, is also selling Golden Bear with what looks to be the same 123 gr HP bullet. Is there any difference between the Silver Bear and the Golden Bear other than one is zinc plated and the other brass plated? Is brass plated as good?

Again, thanks for these detailed reports.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
The range is the Prickly Pear Sportsmen's Ass'n range on the Continental Divide, Montana. It's been raining for the past few weeks here, so it's pretty wet. The earlier pictures of the 200/300 yard ranges shows more green--today the grass was calf-high and some wildflowers are blooming.

The Silver Bear 123 gr. HP is the soviet 8M3 "Saspan" bullet. It's a vicious bullet designed to fragment. However, it is also a very accurate round.

Don't know about the zinc-coated Silver Bear verses the Golden Bear, as I have never shot any of the latter.

I didn't expect the Silver Bear to outshoot the Lapua. I wouldn't expect that to be the case in every rifle, but it is how it worked out with mine. I would also put the Yugo up there with the most accurate stuff I've shot so far. If the rear sight hasn't gone loose on me, I suspect I'd have done real well with it today.
 

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Thanks for posting the report. The rear sight on my new Mini-14 came loose the first 30 rounds. I don't know what Ruger is thinking letting them leave the factory with the sight screw loose like that. I tightened mine back up snug, but I think lock tite is the ultimate answer to the problem.
 

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good report

do you know that the yugo ammo is slightly corrosive due to the primer compound? a few squirts of windex takes care of that residue.
I'm sort of surprised the silver bear did as well for you. I didn't have much luck w/it.
maybe a different batch I had
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yes, the ammo is mildly corrosive--no worse than WWII era M2 ball, though. The rifle was thoroughly cleaned shortly after returning home from the range. After 48 hours there is no corrosion forming. I have shot a fair amount of corrosive surplus ammo and never had a problem when cleaning is done right away.

As for the Silver Bear, I was surprised, too. I expected the Lapua to be the best of the bunch, but it wasn't so. I picked up a 500 round case of the Silver Bear and will perform a more thorough evaluation in the coming months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
96 hour update--still no signs of corrosion whatsoever on this rifle. A good cleaning is all that was required after firing 180 rounds of corrosive milsurp ammo.
 

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Thanks for the report, and the information on the various brands performance in your rifle.

I have been shooting some copper washed ball of unknown brand to me. (Case was open, and I bought what was left, it was a square box, cut open to a jagged knife with russian writing on it in places. The cases are steel, but copper washed and the bullets have copper coated steel jackets. (They spark like a bugger at night on steel targets.. No barrel wear, or copper loading either.)

They have all gone bang, and my Pro Mag 30 round mag works fine as does the 5 round stock mag that came with the rifle. (Need to buy some more mags.)

I just bought some Egyptian brass cased stuff, and will be trying it out soon. My 30 is stainless, so zero corrosion issues at this time. (Just normal cleaning that I do on all my weapons after use.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Reached the 600-round mark today. Took some Silver Bear 123 gr. HP to the range early this morning. Last time out I had issues with the rear sight coming very loose. I retightened with an Allen wrench, but the purple loctite I ordered from Midway hasn't yet arrived.

The Silver Bear:


I set up on the 200/300 yard range:


I figured I would have to run over to the 50 yard or 100 yard range to get the sights readjusted, but figured I'd give it a try at 200. The first 3-shot group, taken just to see where I was on paper was pretty darn good (and I knew I slightly pulled one to the right):


Looking back to the shooting line from the 200 yard target:


20 rounds, offhand, rapid fire at 200 yards on a military silhouette target. Safe to say that the Mini-Thirty is plenty effective on engaging a man-size target quickly:


Moved on to the 300-yard steel targets. The Silver Bear was hitting steel 25% of the time. Part of the problem was the width of the front sight--the sight is several times wider than the target at 300 yards. The other problem is the way early morning light and shadows work to make the target difficult to pick up at all. Still, the cartridge does the job when it comes to ringing the steel:



Policed up the brass and headed home:


Total of 120 rounds fired today, which brings total round count for the rifle to 600, with 500 of those being Berdan primed. There were no failures to fire with the Silver Bear ammo. There were no failures to feed either. In the past 300 rounds fired there have been no failures whatsoever, and the earlier reported problems with the last cartridge in a magazine occasionally not being picked up have disappeared. I suspect it was just part of getting this rifle broken in. Only dented primers I have had remain those reported initially, one cartridge of Wolf MC and one of Norinco. Everything else has run 100%. Total round count is now 600.
 
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