My thoughts on the Mini 14 after now owning an AR15 - Shooting Sports Forum


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

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Old 10-08-2012, 11:04   #1
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My thoughts on the Mini 14 after now owning an AR15

So I decided to buy a piston AR a month and half ago and I went with the Ruger SR-556E model. It is a fine weapon and has received all of my attention and money. I haven't fired my Mini 14 since I got it, but that isn't to say that I don't appreciate it. Actually the contrary, now that I own an AR I can say confidently that the Mini 14 is pretty damn close in several regards. I am not trying to start a whole AR vs Mini 14 thread, actually now that I own both (and have an unbiased opinion) there are really only small differences in performance.



We all know that the rifles have esthetic and functional differences. Although the Mini does have plenty of accessories and stocks, it isn't nearly as easily to upgrade as most modern ARs with plenty of rail space. That is coming from a guy who went for the smooth railed SR-556E because I prefer less clutter, weight, and accessories. The main advantage I give to the AR is the flat top rail (which isn't standard on all ARs) that will accept back up iron sights and an optic together with little to no modification. Well on to performance...

I now have about 500 rounds down range with the SR and with only Troy BUIS and both rifles shoot comparably. The SR does shoot slightly tighter groups and doesn't tend to open up as it heats up. Also I don't get the occasional flyer I get with my Mini, but they are close enough for combat or defensive shooting. I am not a big fan of the stock trigger that comes with the SR and it has nearly a 9 lbs pull weight. It is a single stage trigger so it is very sudden and unpredictable. Maybe I would get used to it over time, but I prefer the 2 stage trigger of my Mini 14. Granted I did do my own trigger job a few years back, so it has a 4 lbs pull and very little take up. I am hoping to remedy this soon with a Geissele SSA trigger, but at the moment I give the Mini 14 a leg up, even with the stock trigger.

I haven't had any reliability issues with either rifle, and that is why I chose a piston AR to begin with. Both are easy to clean and maintain and they both function flawlessly. I can't speak for DI AR's and their reliability and their maintenance. Both are well built and are durable, although I am sure the Mini is slightly more rugged with it's wood stock.

After owning both rifles I can say that I am surprised at how close they are in performance. To tell you guys the truth I had a preset notion that the AR was going to blow the Mini away, and that is really not the case. If I really needed either I would have total confidence in both of them. The one major advantage I give to the AR is the availability of spare parts, and that most problems can be remedied without sending it in for service. But that is what we have a few different rifles for, right?
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:20   #2
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I, too, have both a AR, a Mini 14, and a Mini 30. I love them all. They all have their advantages, and their quirks. I do give the accuracy advantage to my AR, but any of them will do the job that they where intended to do.
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:02   #3
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Originally Posted by BangBangPlay View Post
The one major advantage I give to the AR is the availability of spare parts, and that most problems can be remedied without sending it in for service.
For me (and just my humble opinion here) that is the only advantage the AR has over the Mini.
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Old 10-08-2012, 13:29   #4
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I own a Mini-14, AC-556, Bushmaster AR-15

I dont shoot my Mini-14 anymore (580 series).

For accuracy the AR just plain out shoots my mini. Never had a failure of any kind out of the AR. And I love have the ability to replace anything on the gun without sending it back to the manufacturer.

My favorite gun is my AC-556, its actually more accurate at 100 yards than my 580 series mini. But its a 13" barrel vs a 18" barrel.
But nothing brings a smile to ones face easier than having a 3-6 round burst when you pull that trigger (when on full auto)
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Old 10-08-2012, 14:25   #5
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Yeah I never intended to start a debate here and I know everyone has their own preferences and loyalty. I feel great about owning both rifles and I would recommend the same to everyone here. Although both rifles perform about the same (I haven't shot my AR at long distances yet) they do both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is wise to cover all your bases.

I do have a great appreciation for what the Mini 14/30 is now that I own both. I love the reliability and ruggedness of the mini and the versatility and comfort of the AR. When I say comfort I am reffering to the pistol grip, collapsable stock (varying length of pull), and higher line of sight. I know that you can swap the stock on the Mini and achieve this effect but I love the wood stock M1A look. Instead of making the Mini into something that its not, I opted to buy another rifle. Needless to say I am happy with both purchases and they both fit their own niche in my collection.
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:54   #6
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My experiences are similar to the OP's. I like both Mini and AR, but every time I see someone talk about how their ARs blow Minis out of the water in accuracy.. they compare an AR that either costs a lot more, weighs a lot more, or often both.

No doubt about it.. parts and customization is where the AR really outshines the Mini.. but if you're someone like me who loves traditional rifle stock and keeping things nice and light, the Mini is just as viable of a platform.
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Old 10-10-2012, 14:43   #7
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My experiences are similar to BBP and gorenut. I had a dislike for AR's for a long time then a real good deal came up on some and I bought two thinking I would turn them and make a few bucks. I started shooting one and it kind of grew on me. I packed the other up and stored it. About a month later I went and bought a brand new Colt 6920.

Pretty nice gun. More accurate then the Mini's off the bench but for practical accuracy offhand or run and gun the Mini runs right up there with them. I have to say though, the more I practice with the AR it will be the one I grab for any kind of serious social situation. In a SHTF situation and I was trying to keep a low profile or keep long arms out of sight I probably would put my Mini in my Choate folding stock and carry it.
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Old 10-10-2012, 15:18   #8
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I want to convey that both rifles are fine choices, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Mini 14 owners shouldn't dismiss the AR because they simply don't own it and vice versa. Go with what you prefer or buy both like many here did. Morale of the story is that the Mini 14 is right up there with most ARs when it comes to general usage like self defense, plinking, or basic target shooting.
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Old 10-10-2012, 15:31   #9
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I never bash either one, even when I only owned a Mini, but I have bashed the bashers a time or two. Sometimes I'm a bad bad boy.
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Old 10-11-2012, 19:44   #10
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to the op that is a nice looking rifle .congratulations. personally I have not felt the need for a piston driven ar my di rifles work just fine but I am curious about how well the piston rifles run. its nice having options and thats the way I feel about my ar rifles (I own 7) and my mini14 . I have stated before I am not going to snub any gun just because it isnt the in clique item of the day.
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Old 10-12-2012, 15:23   #11
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Originally Posted by jwb47 View Post
to the op that is a nice looking rifle .congratulations. personally I have not felt the need for a piston driven ar my di rifles work just fine but I am curious about how well the piston rifles run. its nice having options and thats the way I feel about my ar rifles (I own 7) and my mini14 . I have stated before I am not going to snub any gun just because it isnt the in clique item of the day.
Thanks man, to your question about how the piston AR has functioned; perfect. Granted it is my only AR so I really can't compare it to anything, but it has run flawlessly. I haven't played around with the gas settings and have left it at the factory 2 out of 3. I suppose the ability to turn off the gas is a nice feature for guys that want to run a suppressor. I have put around 500 rounds through it and I don't notice any carrier tilt, so that is a plus. It remains extremely clean and is very easy to clean, including the chrome plated gas system (which is the dirtiest part).

So far I love it, although it basically performs the same as my Mini 14. Reliability is my number one concern when I research and eventually purchase a weapon. I went with the Ruger piston AR because people had great things to say about it, and the same with my Mini 14. I know that all weapons systems have their hiccups, and no system is totally bulletproof. I would trust any of my weapons with my life.
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Old 10-13-2012, 12:33   #12
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An AR built as closely to the military technical data package as possible is well ahead of the Mini 14. I own 2 minis 2 AR's one professional grade form Bravo company USA and one Custom built in the early 90's. The Mini to me is a light duty rifle for general use from recreational shooting to hunting to use a s a patrol rifle out to 150 to 200 meters.
The Professional grade AR is designed to go and go in a combat environment giving better accuracy than the Mini but at greater cost. Not everyone needs a 1200 dollar AR or wants one. They are both good weapons systems within their design limits. I use my Minis as House guns for repelling borders/home invasion. My AR is my patrol Carbine type gun for civil unrest get home from the big city to the house situation.

They don't compete against each other but complement each other in the grand scheme of things in the way I see it.
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Old 10-14-2012, 03:42   #13
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cool thanks a lot.


I like the 556SR E a lot.


However I am in debt and on a budget and can spend a lot of money...


I do respect the advice of people telling me to get a spare MINI 14 just in case the firing pin ever breaks.


And it will be cheaper for me to by a 2nd MINI 14 and keep the mags all uniform.


I will go that route, but will buy a 556sr E someday. And 20 magazines.
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Old 10-14-2012, 12:01   #14
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Originally Posted by Magog View Post
I do respect the advice of people telling me to get a spare MINI 14 just in case the firing pin ever breaks.
Midway is now selling spare Mini 14 firing pins for around $20. I am not sure how many they have in stock, and last I checked was a few days ago. The firing pins are an aftermarket brand, Glend Arms I believe. At least now you know you can grab a spare pin or two without having to buy an entire rifle.
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Old 10-14-2012, 15:49   #15
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Mini-14 will outlast any AR15! they might not be as accurate when the barrel heats up but it will last a long time and keep going bang every time!
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Old 10-16-2012, 18:39   #16
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BangBangPlay I'm assuming you have a newer series Mini-14?

There are significant problems comparing the Mini-14 to the AR platform. One being how many AR platforms exist out there. The Mini has changed little since it was introduced and is only built by Ruger. So basically a Mini is a Mini is a Mini, except for the better and newer 581 series. There are countless AR combinations out there. I would suspect a lot of problems with the AR platform come from part combinations that don't play nice, also assuming there are a lot of 'cheap' ARs on the market and would guess that these make up the majority of the problems that have contributed to the ARs reputation for reliability.

It would also help to lessen confusion that only the newer 581 rifle is used in any comparison. The 581 addressed the only real short coming of the original, by adding a thicker barrel.

The only fair comparison of the AR to the Mini imo would be mass produced ARs in the same general price range as the Mini. And really should be a manufacturer that has built them for at least a decade and has a proven track record.

Suggestions?
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:41   #17
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Originally Posted by ThomasPaine View Post
They are both good weapons systems within their design limits.

They don't compete against each other but complement each other in the grand scheme of things in the way I see it.
Agree with both sentiments.

However, disregarding full auto capability, if our GI's were shooting a mix of M4's and Mini 14's, do you suppose the Taliban could tell the difference? If the Taliban were shooting Mini 30's instead of AK's, do you suppose our guys would be in less danger?

Five MOA is the mil spec for M4 accuracy, and yes they will shoot half that or better. But the 5 MOA spec reinforces the fact that most direct combat occurs at less than 100 yds. In those battle situations, range accuracy is not the most pressing requirement.
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:33   #18
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I too use both. I own two Minis but carry an AR (16" bbl) and carried an M4 when they were first fielded in the Army back in '97-'00 and the older M16 A2 before that.

I'm a police officer, some of us that are better shots get the opportunity to go to the 50 hour rifle class our range conducts and we get an AR upon graduation (quarterly qual.). It's got a Colt upper, LWRC lower, is piston operated, has quad rails, a light and an Aimpoint sight that's co-witnessed with the irons - it's really nice! As with the Mini, I really like the piston operation which is unlike the M4/16 I used in the Army. It's SOOOO much easier to clean! I also like the magazine release and that I can jam a new mag straight into the well and keep on goin' and the narrower front sight post.

What I don't like about the AR is not so much functional as it is just subjective. It's just too ordinary. It's probably a better combat rifle, I won't dispute that (all of my M4/16s and ARs have been outstanding in the reliability department), but they're a dime a dozen. It seems that they're all anyone has and what everyone aspires to own - not without cause either - they're great rifles! Until I got my first Mini, I'd never seen one (except in a gun store).

When I was getting my own, I didn't want to spend a fortune (I'm well aware that an AR doesn't have to break the bank) and I wanted something different. I also really like the traditional stock ergonomics. So - in my personal rifle I got the Mini Tactical. It's piston operated, has nice ergonomics, it's lighter than my AR (which surprised me), and fires the same rounds which means it's just as effective if you hit your intended target - which brings me to another topic.

I haven't fired my Mini at anything farther than 50 yards. I don't realistically see engaging anything at ranges farther than that and I could do so with a bolt gun regardless and have the Mini for closer ranges and the Mossberg 590 for internal home use. In reality, I don't see any of those scenarios happening - but it just a feel good thing. So - back on topic - My Minis have thus far been very accurate at 50 yards. I had some issues when I scoped one of them and I chased my zero all over the place but once I took the scope off my irons (Techsights) were still dead-on. I write that off to busting a cheapo scope since the rifles maintained their iron sight zero and are completely accurate hot or not. With Irons it's more accurate than I can see, I can shoot and hit about a 2" target at 50 yards - but it's probably a bit of guesswork on my part because the front sight blade is so wide I have to guestimate where the center of it is. As far as mag. changes go with the Mini... I don't care about them. The AR is marginally easier, but if I ever had to use a Mini in a real situation - if I haven't taken care of my "issue" within 30 rounds I'm pretty well screwed regadless.

As far as the safety goes - eh. Don't really care much about them either. The AR is nice, it's probably a bit safer and better suited to quick usage without having a finger in the trigger guard as one raises and lowers the rifle but my Mini's feels fine too. The AR style wouldn't work on the traditional shaped stock anyways.

I'm not sure I care too much about chrome lined vs non-chrome lined either. I've read all kinds of opinions on the 'net that claim the Mini will wear out in 1-5,000 rounds and I just don't believe it. Chrome lined is a nice to have, but not a need to have. They do minimize wear, they are great in an environment when one doesn't clean their rifle much, but it's not a deal-breaker for me. I'm sure that the old M1 carbines used in the Pacific campaign were in some pretty horrid conditions with rain, humidity, sand, etc. and I don't recall ever reading about anyone having issues with them (same basic op. system).

So - I don't really have much of a conclusion. My AR is a better combat rifle, but for my money and enjoyment - I prefer the Mini for subjective reasons really. It feels nice, I love the action, I like the sound and feel of steel moving on steel, it just speaks to me.
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:35   #19
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Sorry - gotta ammend my previous rambling post. My AR at work has a Colt lower and an LWRC upper, my mistake!
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Old 10-20-2012, 12:12   #20
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Originally Posted by BangBangPlay View Post
Midway is now selling spare Mini 14 firing pins for around $20. I am not sure how many they have in stock, and last I checked was a few days ago. The firing pins are an aftermarket brand, Glend Arms I believe. At least now you know you can grab a spare pin or two without having to buy an entire rifle.
They are not Ruger firing pins, Rugers are one piece the one Midway sells are 2 piece aftermarket, which will have to be fitted for your specific Mini, which an be a pain. They also don't seem to last very long.
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Old 10-22-2012, 13:52   #21
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I have one knock against both rifles. My Dad has a DI AR and I have a 581 Mini 14

-The annoying ping from the buffer spring is something that annoys me in the AR
-The Mini 14 definitely falls a little short in the accuracy deparment out of the box

All and all I prefer the traditional looking guns more, hence why I picked the Mini over the AR. I did months of research on both rifles before making my choice and I am more than happy with it.
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Old 10-22-2012, 17:43   #22
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Originally Posted by kking199 View Post
BangBangPlay I'm assuming you have a newer series Mini-14?

There are significant problems comparing the Mini-14 to the AR platform. One being how many AR platforms exist out there. The Mini has changed little since it was introduced and is only built by Ruger. So basically a Mini is a Mini is a Mini, except for the better and newer 581 series. There are countless AR combinations out there. I would suspect a lot of problems with the AR platform come from part combinations that don't play nice, also assuming there are a lot of 'cheap' ARs on the market and would guess that these make up the majority of the problems that have contributed to the ARs reputation for reliability.

It would also help to lessen confusion that only the newer 581 rifle is used in any comparison. The 581 addressed the only real short coming of the original, by adding a thicker barrel.

The only fair comparison of the AR to the Mini imo would be mass produced ARs in the same general price range as the Mini. And really should be a manufacturer that has built them for at least a decade and has a proven track record.

Suggestions?
I get where you are coming from, and I agree that the comparison is a bit shallow. I am merely going from my own personal experience with both rifles, and I am not trashing either. Actually I am stating that I am surprised at how well the Mini competes with the AR, although I prefer the AR now. That is the purpose of this thread, to pay homage to the Mini 14 and salute it's performance vs the price you pay for it.

This "issue" between comparing the rifles isn't my doing, and has been debated over and over here. The bottom line is many shooters have to make the decision between the two when they decide to buy a rifle. Now that I own both I would just say that although they are a bit different, the Mini 14 is a fine rifle.

*I own a 580 series tactical model, and it has never malfunctioned once. Same goes for my newer Ruger piston AR.
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Old 10-22-2012, 17:46   #23
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Originally Posted by Amrhein View Post
They are not Ruger firing pins, Rugers are one piece the one Midway sells are 2 piece aftermarket, which will have to be fitted for your specific Mini, which an be a pain. They also don't seem to last very long.
When you say fitted it is just the measurement of the protrusion of the firing pin from the bolt. I didn't notice that they were 2 piece, but that could be the case. It is a decent alternative in a SHTF or DIY mindset, and offers the Mini owner some sort of backup. In other words it is better than nothing....
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:43   #24
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Originally Posted by BangBangPlay View Post
When you say fitted it is just the measurement of the protrusion of the firing pin from the bolt. I didn't notice that they were 2 piece, but that could be the case. It is a decent alternative in a SHTF or DIY mindset, and offers the Mini owner some sort of backup. In other words it is better than nothing....
Buy a spare bolt assembly. Make sure its headspace is good when installed in your gun.

I bought a spare 181 series bolt assembly for my AC-556 since Ruger frowns on seriving my gun. It head spaces within specs of my AC-556.

Ive never broken anything on my AC556, but did break a pin on my old 580 series mini
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Old 10-23-2012, 19:39   #25
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Originally Posted by Valor View Post
Mini-14 will outlast any AR15! they might not be as accurate when the barrel heats up but it will last a long time and keep going bang every time!
Im sorry but that dog just dont hunt. I own a mini-14 and several ar15s along with other automatic rifles. I bought my first ar in 1975 and my first mini in 1977
so I can say with experience the ar is no where as fragile as alot of people would like to think or suggest. the mini-14 can be an accurate rifle with some work and is also durable it can also be a pain in the ass with any magazine other than the sky high oem ruger mags and the sights just plain suck when it comes time for adjustment.
neither is perfect but both are sufficiant and the ar has more perks.
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