Some random Rumination about Mini-14 (or Ranch Rifle) thoughts - Shooting Sports Forum


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

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Old 06-14-2020, 13:03   #1
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Exclamation Some random Rumination about Mini-14 (or Ranch Rifle) thoughts

Now that I have had a chance to fiddle with, tune up and shoot the 581 stainless I got, some thoughts as I settle back into Mini Ownership.

1) STOCKS: The Poly stock is half pound lighter than the factory wood, which is something when you tote the Mini in the hills. I am at heart, however, a retro wood and steel guy (ie: my love for the M1 Carbine, the Mini's little uncle). While I like the shorter length of pull in the early wood and current poly stocks, I prefer wood to poly for home defense where I am not toting it in the hills. maybe some day I'll cut it down to early stock length.

2) SCOPES: While I plan running factory irons for Home defense since I moved back to my neighborhood house (all 1/2 to 5 acres), for distance shooting (200 or more), a scope is necessary for my 68 year old eyes. I am very happy with the Bushnell Banner 2.5X in Ruger rings. The advantage of the Ruger rings in my experience, is that when uninstalled/re-installed, they return very close to zero

3) Blued vs Stainless: I like blued rifles better. More traditional. For my Mini, though,I went with stainless because of how I intend to use it: HD hiking, camping, etc.. In my experience, blued high carbon steel tends to be smoother machined than stainless steel, but when properly broken in, the stainless is fine.

4) Buffers and Such: Running a Wilson 1911 front buffer and a Buffer Tech rear really seem to take the snap and clank out of the Mini and make it smoother shooting. Also nicer on the optics! I did have a Min-30 that I could not even run a 1911 buffer on the front, but that was an exception.

5) Gas Bushings: I don't mind over gassed, as it will generally cycle anything (including some loads I have that won't cycle my AR15). If it is launching the brass 40 ft, etc. a reduced bushing is a good idea. That is just too over gassed. My 581 does about 12 feet to the 1:30/2:00 o'clock since I got it, so I am not messing with it. Have not bothered to check and see if it has standard bushing or not.

6) Springs: I like the Ruger factory recoil springs. They work great, but they do have a finite life. Mine in the used Mini I got was about 5/8" shorter than the factory replacement I got. Good indiction it has a lot of rounds since it was made in 2009. I see no need for a Wolff replacement.

7) Magazines: There is no doubt that Ruger factory are the best. They are built tough, and I find them 100% reliable whether it is a 5, 10, 20, or 30. Yes there are other aftermarket that work: PMI, Masen, Fed Ord, early USAs, etc. Tapco Gen IIs, which are now going the way of the Dodo bird, PMI, Fed Ord, etc. are excellent magazines also. I do use them a lot for general shooting. If you are going to fight a war, go factory Ruger all the way. My favorite magazine of all is the Ruger factory 20. I wish it was a nicely done as Ruger factory 30s with the welded locking lug, but it IMHO is the handiest all around Mini-14 magazine. I keep a Ruger factory 20 in the weapon for HD duty.

Last edited by imarangemaster; 06-16-2020 at 11:12.
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Old 06-14-2020, 16:20   #2
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I am pretty much in agreement with your thoughts on the mini 14, but i would like to expand upon them just a bit.

#6) Recoil springs - My observation is that the shrinking length you mentioned is not necessarily related to round count, but age. My first mini, which i still have, a 182 purchased brand new in 1980, had the recoil shrink to the point where it wasn't functioning well, and i was puzzled at the problem until one time when i field stripped it, and saw how short it was without tension. A new spring brought that mini back to life! When i first bought that mini, i put about 2000 rounds through it in the first 3 or 4 yrs. After that i put maybe 1000 rounds through it in the next 20 years. At year 25 is when the severe functioning issues started.

I would recommend replacement of the recoil spring every 10 yrs ( or sooner) no matter the round count. Even with very little use, that spring is under constant tension just sitting around in your Gun safe, or wherever. You could leave your mini in a field stripped state, when not in use, but i would rather have my gun ready to go at a moments notice, than laying around in parts with the chance of some part getting misplaced.

Magazines - i would agree that the 20 round ruger factory magazine is the absolutely best, most reliable magazine for function in a mini 14. I have never had a fuction failure caused by a 20 round ruger magazine. The same could be said of the factory lo-cap 5 rnd mags. That said, i am not entirely happy with recent production 20 rnd ruger mags. The quality control of the seams and welds on the back have degraded, and it is fairly easy to get a slice cut on your finger from the raised seams on the back of the mags.

30 round mags- these are also great magazines with great fit and fuction, but i have had function issues with these mags with some mini's. It is not the fault of the magazine, but rather the fact that the magazine well dimensions are not consistant from one mini to another. This problem is most prevalent in the wood stock mini's, later production, right before the 580 series came out. Doesn't seem to be as much of a problem in the synthetic stock mini's.

As for the ammo, i have not shot any that have bullets weighing more than 69 gr. I can agree that 55gr. 5.56 nato seems to shoot the best ( most accurate, and consistent) out of my 182 mini, but the 182 has a 1 in 10" twist barrel, so it may be different in the newer mini's
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Old 06-14-2020, 18:16   #3
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A note about the Mini-14 factory 30 round. I seem to remember with my 583 that I had an occasional bobble with the factory 30s if I loaded a full 30. I can say that I never recall having a single malfunction when I loaded them only to 28 like I do with my AR15 mags. I have NEVER had a malfunction with a factory 5, 10, or 20, even fully loaded. That is why I keep either a factory 10 or 20 in it for HD.

That makes a lot of sense about the passage of time degrading the recoil springs. I know in the dozens of M1 Carbines I have had personally and through my FFL, I have always replaced the recoil spring with one 10 1/4" long. Even the minty late war Inland, Underwood post war rebuild I just got, had a 10" recoil spring, even though it was unlikely that it was shot since the rebuild. Thanks for that.
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Old 06-16-2020, 11:05   #4
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I haven't posted this 1975 Guns & Ammo magazine article about the "new Mini-14" by Jeff Cooper in a couple years. Here it is for new folks.

For you "young folks" Jeff Cooper was a long time firearms guru of the 1960s through 1990s evaluated the Mini-14 when it cam out in 1973. He was a former Marine officer and a 1911, M1 Garand, M14 kind of guy. He founded The Gunsite Institute. He dubbed the Mini-14 "the ranch gun" It is a fun read from almost 50 years ago...

ON a side note, in about 1970 (after he designed the AR15), L James Sullivan was recruited away from Stoner and Armalite by Bill Ruger. Ruger had Sullivan scale down the M-14 to 5.56, and arguably Winchester's .223 Light Military Rifle (in my avatar) was a partial inspiration. The primary designer of the AR15 was also the primary designer of the Mini-14!



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