Ranch front magazine catch vs. Standard Mini 14 magazine catch? - Shooting Sports Forum


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

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Old 01-05-2020, 08:33   #1
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So, when the Ranch model began, the new design changes over the standard non scope ready Mini 14 included having a front magazine catch that was now part of the receiver itself, (being casted as part of the receiver).
I am wondering if this design change was simply to lower the cost a bit by eliminating the prior catch that required a separate part and a tiny bit more machining?
Also, are there any advantages with one design over the other in relation to what this part does?
I have never heard of the Ranch' cast in magazine front catch pin breaking or wearing down, but with the original Mini 14' front magazine catch pin having actually been a seperate piece, it could be easily replaced if it indeed were ever to have broken or been worn out in some way.
The older style was also spring loaded via the recoil spring/rod assembly, and I imagine may have been a little more forgiving in accepting a bit of sloppy magazine insertions by the operator of the firearm.
In any case, I will appreciate hearing out some of your personal opinions and insights you may have on this little, but critical area, of the Ruger Mini 14.
Thank you all in advance 🙂

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Old 01-05-2020, 08:46   #2
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Oh, and for those that own the Ranch with the cast in magazine front catch pin, have you guys ever noticed any wear to it after a lot of use, or, ever have that pin break, (which I would imagine would cause Ruger to then replace the entire firearm, rather than replace the receiver with a new one having your original serial number)?
Thanks again! 🙂
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Old 01-05-2020, 17:33   #3
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I was also wondering about how the M14/M1A magazine retention is done on the front portion of the magazine.
Being that the Mini 14 takes many of it's cues from that rifle system, I am wondering if the retention is similarly done on the M14?

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Old 01-06-2020, 05:39   #4
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Don't believe everything you read or hear about Mini's. You can't even always get a straight answer when you call Ruger. I've called back after talking to one of the phone ladies and got a completely different answer than the one I'd just talked to.
Unless you are sitting next to a Ruger engineer at a bar asking him these questions, take all info with a grain of salt.

I have 3 older Mini-30's, made from late 1989 to 1991.
All are Ranch models, and all have the spring loaded pin for the magazine locator.
I'm not sure when (or if) the pin started being cast into the receiver, but it didn't start with the Ranch model's introduction as you were led to believe.
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Old 01-06-2020, 09:29   #5
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I looked up a 580 series parts diagram online, I didn't see the front magazine pin shown in it, but that of course is no definitive on whether it now has a cast in pin, (the pin in the receiver that inserts into the small front hole found on the box magazine).
I would appreciate any insight that a 580+ series owner can share on the matter, (just a curiosity thing) 🙂

Here is a pic I found online with the view of a 580 series magazine well. It shows the front magazine catch/pin, although it's hard to tell if it's casted as part of the receiver, or a separate piece.
That said, it does seem to be casted as one with the receiver.


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Old 01-07-2020, 02:55   #6
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Here is another pic found online of a mini 14 schematic. The part I speak of is listed here as KM504000. As one can see, it is a separate component, not one with the receiver. It also requires a cross pin for it's retention in the receiver. Of course it also requires two holes drilled into the receiver for these two components.

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Old 01-07-2020, 08:43   #7
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Pocket, I have some problems with your attachment..

The schematic is clearly a pre-ranch model, based on the rear sight and lack of a metal buffer. The title says otherwise.

As per the front pin holding in the mag, I can't frankly differentiate between a pre-ranch and a ranch model, and I have both. Haven't studied them enough...all I know is that both handle new and old mags just fine.
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Old 01-07-2020, 09:07   #8
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Thanks for your input.
And, yes, the schematic above shows the components of the basic 181 to 197 series non Ranch mini 14. At the top of the page it specifically does say Mini 14, but when it includes the other versions, it means some following pages that were offered. I only placed the schematic of the basic mini because I wanted to have something that showed the pin I have been talking about here. The schematic of the Ranch actually didn't show this pin as being a separate component.
That aside, I still would like to know, (out of curiosity), if at any point the Ranch versions received a cast with the receiver front magazine retention pin? The photo I have above showing the mag well of a 580 series, seems to be showing that pin as a cast with the receiver feature.
Thanks in advance 🙂

The following is a 580 series Mini 14 schematic, it does not show the mag retaining pin I speak of, and it's another reason I believe that Ruger went with a cast in at some point.


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Old 01-07-2020, 11:39   #9
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Btw, the basic pre 580 series (non Ranch) Mini 14's front mag retaining pin, is one that is not totally fixed in place without movement. It can be pushed a little bit inward in it's drilled out hole within the receiver, with the recoil spring assembly that's behind it pushing it back into place when you release the tension on it.
If I'm correct in my guess that the new Ranch version has a cast in pin, then that cast pin will not budge at all, since in fact it would be a part of the cast receiver.
I did believe this may have started on the pre 580 series Ranch models too, but am hoping some folks here that own some 580+ and pre 580 series rifles, can give me a definitive on this.

Here are a couple photos I found online showing the front mag catch pin, and it's cross pin retainer. These pieces can both be replaced if there is ever a reason to do so. If the pin is casted into the receiver, then of course replacement would not be possible.



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Old 01-07-2020, 16:10   #10
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I haven't owned any 580+ Mini's, but all of the pre 580 ones I've seen and worked on have the floating pin. I doubt that a fixed pin cast into the receiver started with the introduction of the Ranch models, or are present on any of the pre 580 Ranch models.
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Old 01-07-2020, 17:07   #11
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Originally Posted by sandog View Post
I have 3 older Mini-30's, made from late 1989 to 1991.
All are Ranch models, and all have the spring loaded pin for the magazine locator.
I'm not sure when (or if) the pin started being cast into the receiver, but it didn't start with the Ranch model's introduction as you were led to believe.
Interesting. On my 189 Series Mini-30 made in July of 1989 the front magazine pin is fixed, doesn't move at all, and there's no place or way to remove it.

I would like to see a 186 series Mini-30 to compare. I've never seen that first 1986 model, not even from a distance.

The original paper manual I got with my then brand new Mini-30 doesn't show the pin as a separate part either. The only thing that far forward near the barrel is the Buffer Cross Pin. My manual has a copyright of 1987 and is Ruger part number MS3-2-87 R2. The mystery deepens.
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Old 01-08-2020, 01:07   #12
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Thanks, Beck, for your input.
I was starting to believe I was crazy to even think that a cast in mag pin, (in any Ranch model Mini 14), was a reality.

So, are those that are saying that the pre 580 series Ranch minis had free floating mag pins, simply mistaken? Or, could the pre 580 series Ranch models have been offered both ways, where maybe they were started off with free floating mag pins, then design changed with cast in pins?
My guess would be that the cast in pin was part of the design changes made right from the start of the pre 580 series Ranch model configuration, and that it likely continued with the 580 series and beyond. By the looks of it, it may have been necessary to go this way because of the incorporation of the Ranch' buffer system that was added to save any scope mounted to the newly scope mountable design.
This guess of why they went this way, (the cast in pin), is because it looks like the whole new buffer system idea on the Ranch versions had one pesky thing to overcome for it's incorporation... And that one thing seems to have been the free floating pin that was located right in the way of their buffer system idea. They likely had to figure out a way to steal enough real estate that was being used by the free floating magazine pin on the basic non Ranch Mini-14, to allow the placement of the new buffer system. But, of course, the mag pin still needed to be there, and it being cast in was likely the final result.

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Old 01-08-2020, 17:13   #13
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Ruger has a way of making little tweaks without announcing it. Evidently both types of front pins for the magazine are out there. If someone says the pin on their Mini is free floating I don't doubt that it is. I've never heard of one failing, so I'm sure it's considered a non-issue by Ruger.

What Sandog said about Ruger not even knowing for sure is correct. One would think Ruger would be an authoritative source. In truth there is likely no one left at Ruger who knows it all. None of us know it all. We can share what we know from experience.

I know more about the Mini-30 than the Mini-14 because I've owned one since 1989 and I bought it new in box at a retail outlet. I can tell you about the one I have most of all. It's never been sent to Ruger for service or serviced by anyone else. It's the same as when I bought it new, except for the changes I've made to it.

From exchanging information with other Mini owners I don't believe there are always hard dates we can look at and say this is when this or that design change was implemented. The changes Ruger makes appear to be introduced incrementally. That leaves us with different experiences and different ideas as to what a Mini-14 or Mini-30 is.

Like most gun makers, Ruger's full engineering details aren't easily accessible by the general public. Some things are unknowable. We have to be comfortable with not knowing for sure.
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Last edited by Beck; 01-08-2020 at 23:02.
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Old 01-08-2020, 20:22   #14
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Just took a look at a 580 blued 14 and sure enough its a cast in projection. Think the magazine would take more damage and wear then its mounting points on the receiver.

I suppose one could drill out the post and install the pre-580 mag catch if repair were required.
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:27   #15
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Originally Posted by jor-el View Post
Just took a look at a 580 blued 14 and sure enough its a cast in projection. Think the magazine would take more damage and wear then its mounting points on the receiver.

I suppose one could drill out the post and install the pre-580 mag catch if repair were required.
Thanks for checking and sharing your findings 🙂
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Old 04-12-2020, 08:01   #16
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Sorry to weigh in on an older thread, but I've been doing some gun maintenance since going out is not so much an option here-and-now. Anyway, it keeps my mind off all the BS going on....

Anyway, I can second Pocketknife Jimmy's observations. Compared an 80's vintage Mini 14 to a modern 580+ series and by golly that front locator pin is indeed cast in place on the newer guns, whereas its a separate pinned in piece in the older ones. I believe that the analysis that the new buffer was the cause of the change is correct. Also compared to an M1A and I definitely like the older separate piece design better. That said, if one broke it would be a major PITA to get it fixed. Probably best to send it to Ruger if one ever were to shear off and let them work their magic. Not going to say its impossible either, had a S&W J frame that sheared its trigger pin off years ago, so anything is possible.

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Old 04-13-2020, 04:15   #17
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Originally Posted by Pocketknifejimmy View Post
I was also wondering about how the M14/M1A magazine retention is done on the front portion of the magazine.
Being that the Mini 14 takes many of it's cues from that rifle system, I am wondering if the retention is similarly done on the M14?
The M14 uses a cutout in the magazine that indexes on the tip of the recoil spring guide.
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