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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Folks,

I have a very nice Mini 14 Stainless Ranch (584 prefix) that I got new around Christmas last year, and it has had a few hundred rounds through it, performing flawlessly. I started with the original gas bushing, but tried the .05", .045", and .04", and the gun functioned very positively with all 3, plus obviously the factory one. I settled on the .045", as it seems to smooth things up, but still flings brass very far and appears to give more than enough gas, even with very low-powered ammo. I want ultimate functional reliability, and I think the .045" bushing achieves this, while still taming the action and improving accuracy.

Other than this bushing and a Tech Sight rear aperture, the gun has all original parts, and functioned extremely well every time I took it out, until last weekend. Over that weekend I first put 3 30 round magazines loaded with 5.56 M193 (full power stuff) through it at a decent rate of fire, though not one after another. It worked perfectly with these 90 rounds, and locked back smartly after each magazine. The gun cooled completely between shot strings, as I was working on the ranch and would shoot a bit, and then keep backfilling the water line trench. On the fourth of the 30-round magazines (I only own and use Ruger factory magazines), about halfway through I encountered a bolt-over-base malfunction, which is very strange. It was easy to clear, but I had never had any kind of failure on my Mini before, and with over 100k rounds through my various ARs over the last 12 years, I have never had any such malfunction with them. I have only ever seen this type of jam on M1 Garands with out-of-spec en blocs. I am wondering whether this malfunction was simply because of follower tilt in the magazine, as I was surprised that even the Ruger factory magazines do not have anti-tilt followers. It worries me, however, that this may be because of my reduced gas bushing, but this seems unlikely, as the rifle still flings brass very far, even with low-powered ammo, which the ammo in the offending magazine was not.

After clearing the jam I emptied the remaining 15 or so rounds in the magazine with no hiccups, and the bolt locked back, as it always does. I then immediately inserted a 20-round magazine of lower-powered stuff (PMC Bronze, pushing a 55 grain bullet at 2,700fps), and let fly. All 20 fired and ejected forcefully, and the bolt locked open on the last round. Everything seemed fine, and I ejected the magazine, set the rifle down on the table to cool, and went about my work. About half an hour later I was finished and ready to pack the rifles back into the house, so I closed the bolts and decocked both the ARs I was shooting first. Then I tried to do the same on the Mini, but while the operating rod handle responded by moving a bit, the bolt would not budge. I looked in the action, and the bolt stop was up, but was in a position I had never seen before, and cannot now recreate since getting the rifle running again. The long protruding arm of the bolt stop was not in front of the bolt with some space between it and the bolt face as normally happens when a Mini is locked open, but was pressing directly against the face of the bolt. The bolt stop plunger was stuck in the down position, and even exerting significant force on the operating rod handle backwards would not draw the bolt back.

I had read about "frozen bolt syndrome" on Minis, usually occurring when the bolt is forward, and occasionally when the bolt is stuck to the rear, but I had never heard of nor seen pictures of the bolt stuck back with the bolt stop arm pressing directly against its face. Pressing down on the bolt stop arm with my fingers (while hooking the carry handle on a chair leg to keep the bolt from snapping closed on my hand) made no difference.

I then grabbed a brass punch and hammer I had in my toolbox, placed the punch on the protruding end of the bolt stop arm, rapped the punch with the hammer smartly but not very hard, and the bolt stop dropped, allowing the bolt to close. I worked the bolt a good bit after that, locked it, released it, and it all seemed fine. I could not, and still cannot, recreate the way the bolt stop was contacting the bolt face directly.

When I got home from our ranch, I tore the rifle down, and opened the bolt stop assembly. There was a ton of grease in there, as I believe I not only overlubricated it, but grease had migrated in from the receiver rails through the space under the bolt stop arm. Coming to the Mini from the M1 Garand and ARs, I used a ton of grease to lubricate my Mini, but calling Ruger and then consulting Gunblue490 (Youtube's expert on the Mini), I saw that you actually aren't supposed to use grease, and just rub a little oil from a rag on the working parts before reassembly. After cleaning the rifle of all fouling and grease and doing just that, but still leaving some grease in the operating rod recess that engages the bolt cam, according to Gunblue's advice, I put the rifle back together.

I have not had a chance to shoot it again, but everything seems in order and it is smooth to rack and dry-fire after the cleaning and reassembly. I disassembled the magazine that had the bolt-over-base issue and compared it to one that had functioned perfectly, and found no difference.

If anybody has any experience or possible explanation as to why I encountered either (or both) of these issues, I would love to hear it. I adore my Mini, and despite being an AR guy at heart, I really want it to work well and stay in my roster. There is something about its traditional style, the softer and smoother cycling of it compared to my M4 (very snappy and harsh cycling), and the fact that it can run forever without cleaning or lubrication that make it very attractive to me.

Thanks in advance! :)
 

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Formerly "raf"
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I would remove all grease from the mechanism that locks the bolt back except for a thin film. Suggest you also mark all your magazines with individual and unique markings so you can positively identify problematic mags.

It is a possibility that some or all of your mags might need to be dis-assembled, cleaned, and examined for internal "roughness" that might cause the spring/follower to hang up; if so, carefully remove the problem. It may also be that there are sharp edges on the plastic follower which could be gently sanded and rounded off.

I believe Midway has Ruger followers, and perhaps they might be an improvement over your existing Ruger followers.

While some differ, I prefer to use a thin film of light synthetic grease on the sliding parts of the Bolt, Op-Rod, and a few other parts/locations. This is consonant with longstanding practice concerning the M1 and M1A, which are mechanically similar to the Mini.

IOW, light syn grease on sliding parts, light syn oil on most other parts. A little of both goes a long way; beware of over-lubricating the Mini.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have a short attention span.
Ha, I get that a lot! Being an author and lawyer, the simplest things turn into reference books with me ;)

Here is the short version:
1. Experienced bolt-over-base malfunction with M193. Is it magazine issue or undergassing due to 0.045" gas bushing? Doubt it is undergassing, as weak ammo still throws brass very far.
2. Bolt locked back after magazine with bolt stop arm pressing on bolt face. Took hammer and punch to clear and allow bolt to move. Rifle looks fine now. Used a lot of grease, since removed almost all and added light coat of oil. Possible causes of bolt stuck to rear?
 

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...Coming to the Mini from the M1 Garand and ARs, I used a ton of grease to lubricate my Mini, but calling Ruger and then consulting Gunblue490 (Youtube's expert on the Mini), I saw that you actually aren't supposed to use grease, and just rub a little oil from a rag on the working parts before reassembly. After cleaning the rifle of all fouling and grease and doing just that, but still leaving some grease in the operating rod recess that engages the bolt cam, according to Gunblue's advice, I put the rifle back together...
A "ton" of grease is not needed to lubricate the M1 Garand. The early Army manuals even indicate oil as the lubricant for the entire rifle. Grease only came about for lubrication in wet conditions, due to the normal oil being washed out of the action. For the Mini 14, Ruger indicates that only a light amount of oil is needed to lubricate the action. I do that with my Mini 14, and currently use Slip 2000 EWL oil for it. I haven't experienced any issues from only using oil. For my M1 rifle, I use a small amount of Lubriplate 130A grease applied to only the points specified in Figure 33, pg 21, in the most recent Army manual (FM 25-5, 1965) for the M1.

As for the Ranch Rifle style of ejector/bolt stop on the Mini 14, you should carefully inspect the condition of the stop and the groove in the bolt where it rides, for deformation and excessive wear. Others have noted issues in those areas.
 

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Formerly "raf"
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Many users seem to "over-lubricate" the Mini. A light film of grease and/or oil, applied properly, is all that is needed, IMHO.

Many rifles, such as the M1, M-14/M1A, M-1 Carbine, and the Mini have been run bone-dry of lubricants when the circumstances called for doing so.
 

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quite detailed range report, yes I agree little lube is needed, if sustained firing is anticipated a smear of grease on bolt and action rod sliding surfaces and visible oil film on most others is advised.
if hunting where few shots are anticipated little lube is necessary. carry a small needle oiler bottle in your range bag.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the advice, y'all! When I took the Mini down upon getting home I examined the bolt stop assembly in detail and it looks fine. I still picked up several spares of each part just as a precaution, but examining the original against the OEM spares it looks identical. I am at the ranch (what better place to shoot a Mini 14 Ranch?) this weekend and will shoot the Mini a bunch to test it out and see whether any issues recur. If they do, it is on its way back to Ruger for service, and if not, it goes back into the SHTF ready rotation.

I tend to go pretty heavy on lubrication, coming from ARs and all, so whenever I start on a new weapons platform, I tend to overdo it on lubrication. I even found that my ARs (all high quality builds) require far less lube than I originally though. I have even run some of the AR-15s in competition completely dry, and have literally never had a malfunction (if one does not count failure to lock back on some 1960s GI 20 round mags). I am hoping that with the light coat of Slip 2000 EWL on the working parts, and a little bit of the Slip 2000 EWG (grease) in the camming recess/bolt lug captive area, the lubrication will be sufficient, but not excessive.
 

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OK it depends on the grease used. temperature, type of steel,
and environmental conditions. There are products that are better
then others. After intense study and use of multiple products
I have found EEzox for cleaning, lubrication, and protecting surfaces
one of the best.
For grease I choose Mobile SHC 32 as it is all weather capable and
has a higher then normal oil content it is a synthetic grease.
Granted these are pricey but a little goes a long way.
They work very well on blue and stainless steels.
 

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Experienced bolt-over-base malfunction = Failure To Feed
Bolt locked back after magazine with bolt stop arm pressing on bolt face. =
Weak recoil spring, maybe. Check length. 11 9/16" to 12" is new length.
 

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Experienced bolt-over-base malfunction = Failure To Feed
Bolt locked back after magazine with bolt stop arm pressing on bolt face. =
Weak recoil spring, maybe. Check length. 11 9/16" to 12" is new length.
That particular FTF can also be caused by weak/worn mag springs, and even very (internally) dirty mags. New 30-rd mag springs are fairly cheap, and can be carefully cut-down to use in 20-rd mags. Not saying you're wrong, just adding a possible cause.
 

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Ok I honestly read your list and now forgot everything you wrote. What ammo. Even might put factory bushing back and retest. Look at the contact of the bolt to the cartridge as it tries to push the tour out of mag. Next ruger factory 20’s is your best mag to test . I gave a new enough SS 583 going back to ruger for bolt jumping over cartridge. The mag is off center and sits low. Find my pistol and look at the pictures I posted. One is my blued 583. It’s perfect. Then look at my SS . Hardly any contact with cartridge. Thus malfunctioning on that side of mag. You might gave the same thing going on. I run federal xm193. Ruger mags. 20’s. Good luck sir. Put that factory bushing back also. At least for testing. Cheers Wardawg
 
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