1911 Buffers for Mini-14: Pure Genius! - Shooting Sports Forum


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

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Old 02-12-2020, 16:53   #1
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1911 Buffers for Mini-14: Pure Genius!

I'd like to thank all the folks who have contributed over the years to the numerous discussions on using 1911 buffers on the Mini-14. I installed Wilson 1911 buffers front and back last week, then went to the range over the weekend. Recoil reduced to the point that it felt like a different rifle. So thank you all - pure genius!
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Old 02-13-2020, 02:17   #2
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Darn, now I'm going to have to put them on my rifle. I've had a set for awhile and haven't used them.
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Old 02-13-2020, 09:23   #3
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The difference between riding on steel rims on a gravel drive to nice tires on asphalt...
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Old 02-13-2020, 12:28   #4
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I did the same thing. I put Wilson Combat 1911 Shok-Buffs at the front and rear of the action spring. I really liked how they made the action seem quieter.

Then I received four new 20-round magazines and a 5-round magazine in the mail and decided to function test them. So I essentially mag-dumped 85 rounds. This served to both test the magazines' function and to stress-test the buffer setup. Science!

Needless to say, the barrel got STUPID-hot BUT everything worked great. The bolt even locked-back on empty magazines. I was very pleased.

The next day I took the rifle out to do some zeroing with a load. From the beginning the first round would go bang, but I would get a click on the second round. The bolt would push the fresh round into the chamber but wouldn't move forward enough to snap the extractor over the rim. This was a consistent problem.

I disassembled the rifle. Sure enough, I found that the front buffer had melted at the gas block the day before and was now charred, broken, and warped. I took the front buffer out and everything was good to go again.

Now, mag-dumping 85 rounds through a Mini is excessive and I doubt that I would ever find occasion to do it again, but I just pass this along to advise that there are limits to what the Shok-Buff can take. For low round-count slow fire it's probably okay.

Before:


After:


I guess I know what was causing all that smoke around the gas block.

Last edited by familyman357oh; 02-13-2020 at 12:35. Reason: Mo' pictures, mo' better.
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Old 02-13-2020, 13:03   #5
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Yup, the newer Minis (Ranch on up) have a tendency to chew up the front buffer. Some smoothing of the forward "lip" of the op-rod will help things, but consider the front buffer a "consumable item"; worth checking/replacing during regular disassembly/cleaning.

For me, I just ground off that offensive lip (have a 181 that didn't have one and loved buffers - a front buffer made from Vinyl Baseboard material that has been fine for over five years) on my 583 Tactical. Buffer problem solved! I would recommend, but this is something that is not reversible, so I don't recommend for those who might not like an unknown outcome. For me, without that lip, I will always need a front buffer. Then again, I'm happy with that as buffers are cheap, will be readily visible during cleaning/inspection, they will last forever, and the shooting experience is so much better.

The rear buffer will likely last to the end of times...

Have a new 583 Ranch and will likely grind off the lip on its op-rod too. Still debating with myself...
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Old 02-13-2020, 13:19   #6
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6 for $7 on Midway. Just replace it with a fresh one when cleaning. I'm sure it gets compressed and less effective over time.
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:20   #7
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I have a target rifle, so no mag dumps here, probably taking a shot every 5 seconds or so: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgpvVvB4SOo And I can make the front buffer last about 500 rounds with the lipped slide assembly. I would have never thought to do it until I joined these forums. I learned a lot more about my Mini 14 the first few days of reading post from Sandog, and CoSteve than I had with the 20 previous years of owning the thing People will dispute me, but it is my belief a broke-in buffer will add accuracy to the rifle. I notice a little more consistency with my groups and POI is always the same. It's my belief that the buffer forms to the shape of the face of the slide assembly and gasblock, giving the slide assembly a more even lift from the gasblock. But this will only happen once the buffer has been used and broke-in, and before it wears out. But hey I failed physics in high school so I could be wrong.
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Old 02-14-2020, 17:33   #8
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Yep, buffers are a good thing. But I only use a rear buffer due to the above mentioned failures. A rear buffer alone make a big difference... I'm happy. My concern with a front buffer is the possibility of it failing and causing reliability issues with your Mini when your life depends on it. So there's that.
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Old 02-15-2020, 04:29   #9
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I've shot several Mini's enough times over the last 7 years to have confidence in my front buffer. All of those being older Mini-30s that have a smooth front edge on the op-rod.
Had the front edge have been sharp I would have made it smooth.

My front buffer will eventually get charred enough that it gets hard and no longer provides any cushion, so I replace it, but that takes a good 500-600 rounds.
None of my front buffers have ever become torn or mangled, if they had, I'd probably lose confidence in them as well.
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Old 02-15-2020, 11:02   #10
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As with many things, a buffer wears out - not unlike oil and an oil filter. If you can't deal with that, you shouldn't drive; or shoot your Mini.

Sorry if that is harsh, but taking care of your Mini or anything else is kinda important; particularly one whose life you may depend on...
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Old 02-16-2020, 16:44   #11
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Yeah, like I was saying buffers are a good thing, but the trick for using the front one is frequent change out before it really needs changing..

The background that has formed my thinking is law enforcement and self-defense. I'm not a hunter (Not deer anyway). I would enjoy pig hunting if we had them around here. I'd have to drive to Missouri for that.

My Mini-30 is a fighting/self-defense/law enforcement carbine, so reliability even edges out bench accuracy. I don't do a lot of bench shooting. Only enough to test a new mod or new type of ammo.

Front buffers are just peachy as long as you change them out more than you think you need to. If you get in a situation where your front buffer goes south and your bolt won't fully close your mini is no better than a big stick to club perpetrators over the head with. Just hope you have a sidearm.

I always have my Taurus old model 66 357 Mag, or S&W 5904 at my side at the remote, isolated ranges I frequent. If I'm really lazy I have a Davis derringer in 38 Spl in my pocket. (I'm not usually that lazy though)

My rear buffer works great. I've not had to change it yet. It looks as good as the day I installed it. I always carry a couple spare buffers nonetheless.

I don't do crazy mag dumps, but I am guilty of belt-loop bumb-firing through a 20-Round mag on a couple occasions just for fun. Well... for fun and to test my Mini-30 to the extreme. It passed the test with flying colors. Bump-firing can have practical application. It would make a group of zombies think twice about messing with you.

I'm still toying with the idea of doing the Harris mod, so the front of the op-rod would make no contact with the gas block at all. Not sure about it though. Need to do more research. It can't be reversed short of buying a new op-rod.
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:49   #12
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With a smooth front edge, front buffers will last forever. I tend to "roll my own" and one made from vinyl baseboard has been just great for five years on my 181 (smooth front edge). Once you accept you will always need a front buffer (easy to do), a smooth front edge of the op-rod is wonderful, and likely never need to replace it with the right material (but worthy of inspecting during a cleaning).

Best that the front buffer is at least as thick as the depth of the lip before grinding...

The "feel" is very much worth it!
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:11   #13
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Originally Posted by RJF View Post
With a smooth front edge, front buffers will last forever. I tend to "roll my own" and one made from vinyl baseboard has been just great for five years on my 181 (smooth front edge). Once you accept you will always need a front buffer (easy to do), a smooth front edge of the op-rod is wonderful, and likely never need to replace it with the right material (but worthy of inspecting during a cleaning).

Best that the front buffer is at least as thick as the depth of the lip before grinding...

The "feel" is very much worth it!
I believe you, RJF. It sounds like you found the perfect material for a front buffer. When I was talking about buffer failure I was thinking about the 1911 type and similar based on familyman's photo in post #4, and other photos and reports over the years of that type of front buffer failing and causing malfunctions.



I'd like nothing better than to have a front buffer on my Mini-30, and I confess I tend to err on the side of caution. I had a Wilson type on the front for a while at one time. It never failed and worked well, but I didn't put more than a couple hundred rounds through my Mini with the buffer.

I took it back off in perfectly good condition. Not knowing if and when it might fail reduced my confidence in a weapon I might need to save my life or someone else's. I may give it another try, but I'll go through a lot of them. I wouldn't want something like that to get anywhere close to its failure point. I do like the feel of front and rear buffers. I agree it makes a positive difference.

Rolling my own like you have may be a better option for long-term. There are materials out there in industry that take a lot more heat and punishment than the Mini can dish out around the gas block/gas pipe area; cushioning material in industries like automotive and aviation that stay in place for years. I guess for me it's finding that material I can have 100% confidence in based on its track record. That vinyl you use sounds like a good contender for consideration.
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Old 02-17-2020, 13:03   #14
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Beck, I'm still considering using used serpentine belts, but the vinyl stuff holds up well. Not so much a cushion as just something that eliminates metal-metal slamming. Toying around is fun, and I have plenty of material around to test.

Some folks have tried vacuum cleaner belts and they worked well. I'm leaning more toward leather from an old belt, soaked in oil. 9mm cartridge serves as a good punch for the gas pipe in any event. But that baseboard vinyl seems to last forever.
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Old 02-20-2020, 16:29   #15
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Gundoc put a rear buffer in my 580 when he tuned it up a few years ago, but none in the front. IIRC, he used Ed Brown buffers because he said they lasted longer; that may or may not be true today.
My normal ammo is XM193, so the bolt cycles harder than it would with lighter (.223) loads. At about a thousand rds fired, that rear buffer was beginning to crack. This time; I'll replace it at 500 rds, then go 700 rds on the next one, etc, until I find a comfortable interval for replacement.

I don't like to remove the action from the wood stock any more often than necessary, it seems to take a couple of dozen rds before the groups and POI/POA settle down.
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Old 02-21-2020, 10:20   #16
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Gear, I generally field strip my Mini after each shooting (old Army training). Buffers are cheap and I consider them expendable - much like oil and air filters.

Others will defer that maintenance, which is usually fine, but not inspecting the wear of you firearm has "challenges".

But to each their own...without the offending lip on the front of the op-rod, I feel less of a need to check the condition of the front buffer,
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Old 02-26-2020, 22:05   #17
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Originally Posted by Gearhead Jim View Post
...I don't like to remove the action from the wood stock any more often than necessary, it seems to take a couple of dozen rds before the groups and POI/POA settle down.
Yep: like the M1 rifle. Most competitive M1 rifle shooters only break down their rifle(s) during the off season. Epoxy bedding the Mini 14 wood stock would likely minimize POI change between action R&Rs.

I have all the supplies, but have yet to bed the action on my Mini 14.
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Old 02-26-2020, 23:38   #18
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Originally Posted by RJF View Post
Gear, I generally field strip my Mini after each shooting (old Army training). Buffers are cheap and I consider them expendable - much like oil and air filters.
Yep me too (old Military Brat training). My dad was a lifer... over 20 years in the Air Force and 8 years in the Reserves after that.

He taught me how to shoot and maintain my firearms of course. Field strip and a good cleaning after each range trip was reinforced in the years I spent as an LEO in the 1990s. It works for me, but as you said others have different ways that work for them... and that's ok.
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:00   #19
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Beck, my nephew's son LOVES shooting, but has not shown much interest in the post-shooting cleaning routine we both follow - as much a camaraderie routine as shooting, IMHO. But, at 12, he'll grow into it as an almost-religion...

Full field-strip is my norm by Army training, but am considering the prospects of perhaps something less (metal and soft-bristle brush for the bolt face and a bore-snake for the barrel). That is counter to everything I've been taught since 1969.
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Old 03-04-2020, 09:19   #20
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It tickles me that on this forum a shock buffer in your mini is a good thing even with it at the high temperature gas block while if you use one in your 1911 on the Wild Bunch forum they talk ugly about you. I use them in my mini and 1911s, steel battering on steel can’t be good but the important thing to remember is that they are a consumable so replace as needed. Duh.
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Old 03-04-2020, 13:30   #21
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Originally Posted by Gearhead Jim View Post
Gundoc put a rear buffer in my 580 when he tuned it up a few years ago, but none in the front. IIRC, he used Ed Brown buffers because he said they lasted longer; that may or may not be true today.
My normal ammo is XM193, so the bolt cycles harder than it would with lighter (.223) loads. At about a thousand rds fired, that rear buffer was beginning to crack. This time; I'll replace it at 500 rds, then go 700 rds on the next one, etc, until I find a comfortable interval for replacement.

I don't like to remove the action from the wood stock any more often than necessary, it seems to take a couple of dozen rds before the groups and POI/POA settle down.

I don't recall where I heard this term but it primarily applies to guns in wood stocks. (think M1 Garand) It's call harmonic settling. After cleaning a rifle and getting it back out to the range it takes some rounds down range to get the gun back into the accuracy mode that harmonic settling creates.


I went all summer a couple of years ago and I did not clean my Mini. It might be a week between shooting sessions but if I did not take the gun apart it seemed to pick up where it left off accuracy wise. This was with a plastic stock but It's possible the same concept applies short of a pillar bedded rifle. My rifle is stainless and I only pulled a bore snake through the barrel and dropped some oil in it every so often to make sure everything was lubed.
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:22   #22
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kwg, interesting observation. I don't target-shoot my Minis and use factory loads (mostly PMC Bronze). 3-4 MOA supported or hand or supported works for my needs and expectations.

Nonetheless, things like harmonic settling are worth looking into! My 181GB seems to have settled the harmonic settling - either willingly or inadvertently (flash hider and front sight/bayo lug) 3-4 MOA with an impatient shooter (me)!

A 16" cut on a skinny barrel seems to do the same...

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Old 03-06-2020, 00:02   #23
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Oh yeah, I remember age 12 and not being real excited about the clean up after an afternoon of target shooting. Those regular post-range tear-downs and thorough cleanings have helped my Mini-30 stay like new sort of by accident. When I first bought it 30 years ago I didn't know much about corrosive ammo. I was using all kinds of ammo, including Chinese copper washed surplus with dates of manufacture going back to 1973.

That stuff was corrosive for sure. It wasn't long before I knew the difference. There was enough lag time that I put a lot if it through the Mini beforehand. My Mini-30 has no corrosion or rust inside or out. It has a nice shiny barrel with sharp grooves... no wear, no pitting, no problems. It's a clean machine.

In my case those maintenance habits likely kept me out of trouble in my first couple years of Mini-30 rookie days. Federal American Eagle was my favorite US made x39. Other than that, Lapua, and PMC, it ate a lot of Norinko and Chinese surplus from Factory 31, 71, etc. I put some Yugo surplus through it in the beginning that was 1974 vintage, but not much. Mostly Chinese because it was 10 cents a round or less.

Originally Posted by RJF View Post
Beck, my nephew's son LOVES shooting, but has not shown much interest in the post-shooting cleaning routine we both follow - as much a camaraderie routine as shooting, IMHO. But, at 12, he'll grow into it as an almost-religion...

Full field-strip is my norm by Army training, but am considering the prospects of perhaps something less (metal and soft-bristle brush for the bolt face and a bore-snake for the barrel). That is counter to everything I've been taught since 1969.
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Old 05-29-2020, 07:17   #24
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Originally Posted by RJF View Post
Yup, the newer Minis (Ranch on up) have a tendency to chew up the front buffer. Some smoothing of the forward "lip" of the op-rod will help things, but consider the front buffer a "consumable item"; worth checking/replacing during regular disassembly/cleaning.

For me, I just ground off that offensive lip (have a 181 that didn't have one and loved buffers - a front buffer made from Vinyl Baseboard material that has been fine for over five years) on my 583 Tactical. Buffer problem solved! I would recommend, but this is something that is not reversible, so I don't recommend for those who might not like an unknown outcome. For me, without that lip, I will always need a front buffer. Then again, I'm happy with that as buffers are cheap, will be readily visible during cleaning/inspection, they will last forever, and the shooting experience is so much better.

The rear buffer will likely last to the end of times...

Have a new 583 Ranch and will likely grind off the lip on its op-rod too. Still debating with myself...
Does anyone have a before and after picture of what needs to be done to the newer Op rod to run a front buffer?
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Old 05-29-2020, 12:23   #25
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xtratoy, there are several posts here, but the "cliff notes" are pretty much two solutions:
1) smooth out the sharp edges of the op-rod's lip
2) eliminate the lip altogether

I chose #2, since my 181GB's op-rod came from the factory with no lip and the buffer I put on it several years ago is in fine shape (and REALLY changed the whole nature of the cycling once I put buffers in!). My 583 (formerly with the "lip") works fine without it and the buffer survives well as it isn't chopped up with the lip.

COSteve has had some success with smoothing out the lip for his Ranch Rifle, but he exhibited a patience I didn't have. To be honest, I might have never tried my "Harris Mod" if I didn't have my 181 without the lip. But my 181 (built in 1977) has been 100% in every aspect - before and after adding buffers. So that gave me some intestinal fortitude, partially supported with some adult beverage. I started out smoothing the sharp edges recommended by COSteve, but got carried away with my motorized sharpening stone. No regrets, but appreciate that I will always need a buffer of some sort the thickness of the original lip. To me - personally - the difference between the metal-metal contact versus something with a buffer is huge. With a smooth front on the op-rod, the buffer will last pretty much forever. I consider buffers a functional part of my Mini now.

To be honest, I have a new Ranch Rifle (583) un-touched in any way and un-fired. The jury is still out as to whether or not I eliminate the lip, but an inclined to to that. It will match my 583 Tactical should I do that. It worked well, but I had a nice grinding wheel to do that. NOT a Dremel! There is some importance to keeping the op-rod's front face even and smooth. A buffer accounts for some irregularities, but not all.

Understand shoud you do the "Harris Mod", you will always need front buffers, but they are inexpensive and last pretty much forever. The only need is to inspect them when cleaning, and replace as necessary. Kinda like an oil change or tire inspection...
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