Comments about 181 series in particular - Shooting Sports Forum


Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 family of rifles

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Old 07-30-2019, 08:34   #1
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Comments about the 181 series in particular

Just wondering if there was anything particularly good or bad about the 181 series, and what Ruger decided they needed to change to go to the next versions, the 182 and 183. No need to get into accuracy in general or the even later versions, unless the 181 had a glaring omission that was corrected later on.

And is the bolt in the 181 considered as solid as the later versions? I read the bolt was weak on the 180.

Some blade sight Minis have that 3 inch long solid steel flash hider that slips over the sight. Was that a Ruger factory item? Was it also intended as a balancer?

Thanks.
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Old 07-30-2019, 09:38   #2
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I can't comment on all your questions, nor do I present myself as any authority or expert.

That said, I do own a 181 series Mini-14 and had no issues with it what so ever. It has been many years since I have shot it, having utilized progressive generations as they have come along.

Visually I prefer the earlier series of rifles like the 181 series with the robust "military" sight. I am an iron sight user so the challenges in using a scope with this design were not problematic for me. I prefer the top ejection of these rifles to the side ejection that has been used from the first Ranchrifles to the present.

I experienced no glaring "omissions" with the earlier version of the rifle. I experienced no issues with the bolt. Nothing in my experience gave me any reason to question the 181 series rifle, it seemed to me that it was very much as robust as later versions.

Although I have never owned a initial production 180 series rifle, it was my understanding that they were somewhat "prototypical" and rather different from the "main series" production rifles. By the time I had found my way to the Wonderful World of the Mini-14 the 180 series rifles were long out of production and (I believe) no longer being supported by Ruger and I understood that replacement parts were getting hard to obtain and so I deliberately passed on several opportunities to purchase 180 series rifles over the years. Had I purchased one it would have been only to have the example as a "museum piece"...not to use in actual service.

The muzzle device you describe was aftermarket. I never saw it as anything more than an attempt to create a tacti-cool appearance. Perhaps it had actual utility, I don't know. I never liked the look of it (though I do very much like the Ruger factory flash suppressor) so I do remember purchasing at least 1 used rifle with the muzzle device you describe installed and I promptly uninstalled it and returned the rifle to factory presentation.

That is my 2 cents...perhaps you can glean something useful from it....or perhaps not. YMMV
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Old 07-30-2019, 11:57   #3
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Taco, I bought a 181-series Mini-14 (built in 1977 - first year of production) in 1980. It was my first firearm. I still have it and prefer shooting it over my 583 Tactical Mini-14 (although it is close).

181-series Minis were the first year for new tooling, so just from the aspect of wear and tear on the tooling, the lower the S/N, the better.

In the 39+ years of ownership - and untold thousands of rounds through it - I have NEVER experienced even a hint of a malfunction. It is rock-solid, as it left the factory (except for buffers), and I would guess a 2-4 MOA shooter. It takes down, reliably, pop-up half-silhouettes at 300 meters using standard NATO M193 and iron sights (at least it did when I was younger).

I prefer the disassembly and cleaning of the 181 over the 583: just easier and without the pesky metal "buffer" the Ranches have. Also easier to get the bolt out and back in. The ejector is in the bolt, rather than in the bolt-stop, so ejection distance is independent from the gas-action. The bushing is the same one installed in the factory in 1977 and ejects are about 3-4' consistently.

It is a stout rifle and without question my favorite firearm. IMHO, the workmanship is better than the 583.

Mine is a GB model, with a factory bayo lug and factory flash suppressor. The flash suppressor is pretty much the same as the current flash suppressors that come on the Tactical models (but likely a different thread).

As far as going to a 182-and higher, I think Ruger just ran out of numbers: the S/N is the first three digit prefix, then five trailing numbers. In 1980, the starting S/N for a 181 was 181-84879, so only about 15,120 more until it kicked into the 182-series. There were likely 45,600 182-series produced in 1980, so it looks like Ruger was cranking out about 60,000 Minis each year; at least in 1980. No change in design, and likely no change in tooling. A 181 bolt will likely interchange with a 182-186 series bolt (although might require "fitting" since "every Mini is different"...). The only design change was starting with the 185-series, when the barrel twist went from 10:1 to 7:1.

Here's a handy rundown:
Sunflower Ammo.com: Ruger Mini-14/30 Barrel Twist Rates
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Old 07-30-2019, 13:47   #4
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Excellent info, the history of the gun and of individual owners of them, is interesting.

That flash hider I saw was solid machined blue steel and fit extremely tight on the barrel/sight, so much that the owner thought it was part of the sight and not removable.

And, looking at the 181 receiver, it looks like machined steel. Were these older receivers machined, while the later ones cast?

Was the original butt plate made of steel, or plastic? Am I right the butt plate is the same as the 10/22 butt plate?
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Old 07-30-2019, 18:23   #5
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My first Mini-14 was a 180 series I bought about 1982. I always found it reliable, as used it as an LEO trunk weapon. I have had 583 and 584 Mini-14s, but actually stepped back to the 186 series I have now, For all the reason above (ejector in bolt, top eject, robust rear sight). Also for about 10 years, they made Mini-14s in 1/7 twist, just like Colt did. My 186 is 1/7 and loves 77 grain MK262 MOD1 ammo. I did install a 580 series front sight on mu 186, though, as I like the M1 style post and wing over the mile high blade of the pre-580 series. It is slightly shorter, though, so my rear sight is high.
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Old 07-31-2019, 07:50   #6
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My 186 Mini-14. It now has a Choate ventilated handguard instead of wood for better cooling. I replaced the blade front with a 580 series post and wing front sight, and threaded the muzzle 1/2x28 and installed a Commiefornia legal muzzle brake.

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Old 07-31-2019, 09:27   #7
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Taco, I can't say if the 181 receiver was machined or cast. Just that it is sweet and nicer-looking than my 583's.

My 181, when I bought it, was in an early Choate folder (pic below), so I can't personally verify what the butt plate was made of but, I think, it was metal. IMA's stock looks original (BTW, IMA: very nice wood hand guard!) and the butt plate is likely metal. Not having an original stock, I can't compare to my circa-1983 10/22's.

For individual history, I got my 181GB in January 1980 shortly after arriving in Germany. (a little ibt of history of why in the other thread you started). It was used: I bought it from a fellow BOQ neighbor who was unloading it before he went back to the 'States and I'm reasonably sure he bought it new through the Frankfurt Area Rod and Gun Club. I think the only mod he made from the factory was the stock. Too bad I didn't know enough to ask him about the original stock...I knew nothing about Mini-14s! In fact, I thought the Choate folder was a Ruger factory folder until I joined this forum a bit over four years ago...
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Old 07-31-2019, 13:59   #8
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I like the looks of the wood handguard best, but the Choate one cools better that wood or factory fiberglass.
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Old 07-31-2019, 16:11   #9
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Originally Posted by RJF View Post
Taco, I can't say if the 181 receiver was machined or cast.
The mini 14 reciever is cast, machined where needed, then it goes through a hardening process. Very similar to what Springfield Armory does with their M1-A recievers.
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Old 07-31-2019, 17:54   #10
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"I replaced the blade front with a 580 series post and wing front sight".

How hard or what part # is needed to replace the front sight with a 580 version?
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Old 07-31-2019, 19:33   #11
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Originally Posted by 40nascar View Post
The mini 14 reciever is cast, machined where needed, then it goes through a hardening process. Very similar to what Springfield Armory does with their M1-A recievers.


This. ^^^


The only difference I can find between the pre 2005 Minis and the later 580 series Minis is the receiver is slightly bulkier. If you get a caliper out and do some measuring you will see the later receivers have a little more metal in them. Mine fit slightly snugger in my old 181 series wood stocks.


kwg
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