Ruger’s First-Class .223: The Mini-14 Rifle

Light haired young man in gray t-shirt sghts the Mini 14 with a wooded area in the background

The .223 self-loader does not have to be an AR-15. There are some who like the classic handling of a wooden dog and semi-pistol grip. Do not put down anyone and do not get into a debate, as long as the choice works for them. As for myself, I obtained a Ruger Mini-14 as soon as possible after its introduction. I found the Mini-14 an excellent choice for personal defense, police work, and predator calling.

Light haired young man in gray t-shirt sghts the Mini 14 with a wooded area in the background
Walking and firing shows the Mini-14 has what it takes to get the job done.

The rifle is sometimes called a scaled-down M14. There is nothing wrong with that; the M14 was a great rifle, and the Springfield M1A semi-auto version is great as well. I see the Mini-14 more as a modern .30 carbine updated for the powerful .223 Remington cartridge.

I have owned and used several AR-15 rifles and cannot recall a tie-up with any of them. I have used blue and stainless steel versions. The rifles are friendly in handling, reliable and accurate enough for most chores.

Why the Mini-14 is a Favorite

As for accuracy, most any carbine puts all of its shots into a single, ragged hole at 25 yards and a 2-inch group at 50 yards. I know that some AR-15 rifles cut a 1-inch group at 100 yards, and the Mini-14 gets the job done at moderate range for most.

The New York City Special Services District used the Ruger and enjoyed excellent results. That was before my time, but the special unit’s use of the M1 Carbine may have led to the adoption of the Ruger.

Brown Ruger Mini 14 lying on a wooden background.
The Ruger is inexpensive compared to many centerfire calibers and a ball of fun to fire and use.

The Ruger is also affordable. A well-outfitted Mini-14 sets you back about half as much as the AR-15. Quality is not an issue—this is a Ruger, remember? The rifle always hit where I aimed it, and it popped a few predators and feral dogs along the way. The .223 was an emphatic stopper, and I do not recall needing a single follow-up shot.

My friend, Roger, took 12 deer in a few years with his personal Ruger Mini-14 loaded with the Winchester 69-grain jacketed soft point. One shot each—on the ground and out! The Ruger handles brilliantly fast. AR ergonomics aside, try the Mini-14 sometimes because it is a revelation. For the chores for which you may really need a rifle, the Ruger shines. However, riflemen appreciate accuracy. When we took the time to bench rest the Ruger, we discovered our handy, light-kicking rifle was not that accurate at a long 100 yards. Even with the better grade of commercial ammunition, a 100-yard group of 3 inches was excellent, but 4 inches was more common.

If you disassembled the rifle and did not properly adjust the gas block, accuracy was worse. Some sought custom-grade barrels, and those did work well. A less expensive trick is simply relieving the stock around the gas block area, and in some cases, relieving the gas block itself, stopping metal-on-metal friction.

The result was often shaving an inch off the total group size, sometimes more. With proper bedding and a bit of judicious gunsmithing, the Ruger became more useful. The point is, however, that straight out of the box, the least accurate rifles were as accurate as the US M1 .30 carbine and far more powerful.

Light haired man in black uniform leans on a silver vehicle, aiming a Ruger Mini 14
Even the older model Ruger Mini-14 was capable of staying on a man-sized target well past 200 yards. That is excellent accuracy for a relatively inexpensive rifle.

I am speaking of previous generations of the Mini-14. The new rifle features a gas block redesign that alleviates much of the concerns with the old rifle. There were no reliability concerns and still are not; however, accuracy is better. That upgrade occurred several years ago, so any Mini-14 over serial number prefix 580 has it.

New is Better When it Comes to Ruger

I am not eager to trade my long-serving Mini-14 while admitting the new product is a better rifle. That is as it should be. Some products are cheapened for ease of manufacture; Ruger has improved machinery. You can count on the current rifle for 3-shot, 100-yard groups of 2 inches with quality ammunition. The present incarnation gives you a good all-around accurate rifle. We tested the Fiocchi 69-grain Sierra Match King loading in the latest rifle.

Results were excellent with a three-shot group just under 2 inches. When you consider how light and handy the rifle is, that is excellent performance. The rifle is 38 inches long and weighs 7 pounds.


When all is said and done, the Ruger Mini-14 is a great all-around rifle. If I trust the rifle for police service and the special units of NYPD do the same, it is probably going to do anything you need. My son, Alan, is the best shot I know, and he also likes the Mini-14. However, he prefers to load his own ammunition and the stainless steel rifle. That is fine; either is a great choice.

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About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (95)

  1. Just as another 580 owner result, my 2008 stainless version seems to shoot XM193 and AE .223 about the same as my Colt 6720 at 50yds with issue sights, with 3 and 5 rd groups running 1″-1.25″ for a 50yd/circa 200-225m zero. With my age and eyes, two other Colt uppers do the same, whether 14.5″ M4 or 20″ A4, on top of the LW upper. I am pleased as an older Mini owner whose gun was more a 4″-6″ 100yd useful carbine, while the new gun gets me into rifle class shooting.

  2. I have the newer model Mini in stainless and a wooden stock. I would
    like a nice looking military style leather sling but the Mini only accepts 1 inch slings? Anyone have any thoughts about a sling? Thanks


    1. Friends of mine, along with self, use the SKS or AK Chinese surplus slings with total satisfaction, as for a canvas sling. The SKS more an OD, while the AK a Forest Green or somesuch.

  3. I don’t know about the original 180 series I have a 185 series gb model that as yours will shoot 1 1/2 groups @ 100 yrds. all day never any problems or jams I understand that in the manufacture ruger would put aside all the best parts that came off the line for the gb”s the gb’;s were supposed to destine for law enforcement I was fortunate to have a family member work for ruger at the time I have owned this weapon since 1987 I am the only owner and will never sell it too much fun

  4. O.K., my bad. I had an M-14 that was made in 1954 by Springfield Armpry, so that may be why I thought they had them ther. But then it was the M-1 which was too big and too heavy for the smaller Korean soldier to use effectively. That was why they brought in the second-string — the M-16, with all its worts! — And we have been stuck with it since, even in its revised form, which is not much in the middle East.

  5. My original Mini 14 was a 180 series. Though it would only shoot minute of barn wall at 100 yards, I still loved that old rifle.
    My current one is a 581 series with an after market pistol grip adjustable stock and the standard factory sights. It will and does shoot an 1 1/2 groups all day at a hundred yards and is a pure blast to shoot. Totally reliable with any and all brands of ammo and bullet weights.

  6. Time to get some history straight!
    The M-14 was dumped during the Korean war because the Korean military was smaller in stature and needed a smaller weapon! That is why the M-16 was adopted even tho it could not perform like the M-14! The other reason was weapon size — the M-1 was unwieldy in the jungle and too hard to swing quickly with all the brush, so a shorter weapon was needed. Again the poorer shooting M-16! Some folks swear by it, others who had to put up with it swear at it! They called it a “mattel Special”!

    1. This is so wrong it is almost funny.
      The Korean War was fought from 1950 to 1953, before the M14 was even developed.
      Be careful with research.

    2. O.K., my bad. I had an M-14 that was made in 1954 by Springfield Armpry, so that may be why I thought they had them ther. But then it was the M-1 which was too big and too heavy for the smaller Korean soldier to use effectively. That was why they brought in the second-string — the M-16, with all its worts! — And we have been stuck with it since, even in its revised form, which is not much in the middle East.

  7. My tactical Mini-14 has an Eotech sight mounted on board. I can keep both eyes open when sighting down range.

  8. I bought a NcStar rail, said to be for the Mini14 and Mini30 rifles. It does not fit on the late model rifles! Holes do not line up !

  9. I have a Mini 30 and it is accurate enough for 50 yards on deer or hogs. It is about 5 inch group off of a rented lead sled at 100 yards. I have tried several brands of ammo, but get the best accuracy with handloads using 125 grain bullets made for 7.62X39 ammunition. They give 3 inch 100 yard groups. I would like to be able to find the 20 round magazines for it locally. It is boringly reliable with any ammo I can find, even when I deliberately put it away dirty and don’t clean it for several range sessions. Mine is stainless, and I wanted to see how dirty I could get it before it failed. I couldn’t make it fail. For a short range rifle that is handy, reliable, easy to use, accurate enough for quick shots, and compact enough for use in close cover, the Mini rifles fit the bill. It you want a target rifle, you might want to look elsewhere. If you want a gun that you can keep in a vehicle and rely on it to do the job, get a Mini.

  10. My eyesight is not that good anymore. Does the Mini 14 and 30 have the option to use optics? If not, that would keep me away from such a product.

    1. Some models easier than others, but yes models such as those with a Picatinny rail will accept an optic easily. ~Dave Dolbee

    2. On current revised model, you don’t need a rail! Use Ruger rings, made to fit receiver. I have them and a Bushnell 4-12 power scope on a mini 30!

    3. Mine came with Ruger rings. The receiver on mine has cutouts where the rings fit and only the Ruger rings will work.

  11. Who carries the new mini-14 in Knoxville, Tn. Wal-mart use to have the rifle, and I have always been partial to Ruger. I have a 10/22 for my grandson, but need to scope it. Any suggestions for a scope? Wally

  12. I own a 581 series in stainless. I topped it with a silver Bushnell 3X9X40 and this has become my “go-to” pig gun. Accuracy is never a problem with hand loads using 22.4 gr of Hodgdon H335 behind a 55 gr Hornandy V-Max. This combo pushes 3000’/sec and has taken out many hogs with ear or eye shots out to 75 yards+. I always liked a Ruger, whether it be rifle or pistol and when I found this rifle at a gun show at a price I was willing to pay, I had to have it. It carries easily and is a pleasure to shoot. Hogs, coyotes and coons are no match for this rifle. Easily one of my favorites.

  13. I used to have a 180 series Mini14. Reliability was second to none, but accuracy was minute of pie plate at a hundred yards.
    I purchased a 581 series 3 years ago. It has the same perfect reliability but this one will shoot a 5 shot group you can cover with a quarter at a hundred yards.

  14. Wasn’t sure what to think about all these posts that claim the 580+ series Mini 14’s are a 2 to 3 MOA rifle at best. I own one, in the tactical version, and wanted to see for myself. I installed a G,G & G rail, Weaver tactical rings, a Nikon Prostaff 3-9×40 BDC scope and a Mo Rod stabilizer. With the gritty factory trigger, I was able to get consistent 1 MOA 3 shot groups with my best groups measuring .750″ and .656″. I was on a bench with rifle on a bi-pod. I have 25 years of shooting experience under my belt, and I’m sure that helped. But unless I was lucky enough to obtain one of the most accurate Mini 14’s ever built, I say the Mini’s get an undeserved bad rap on accuracy. I used 2 different handloads of mine, both utilizing 55 grain bullets. The .656″ group was shot with 55gr Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets with 25 grains of BLC-2 and Wolf SR Magnum primers. Lake City brass COL 2.245″ and a medium crimp using a Lee Factory Crimp Die. The purpose of my testing was not to try to build a bench rest rifle, but rather to see what the rifle was capable of at distance for myself. My conclusion is that the inaccuracy myth concerning the Mini 14 has been dispelled.

  15. The .223 caliber is better suited as a varmint round. If you like the Ruger, better the Mini 30 for use on deer.

  16. I’ve got a 1991 Mini that my brother gave me, God bless ’em. Everybody, especially my 11 year grandson, loves that little rifle. The author mentioned something about during disassembley to properly adjust the gas block. Maybe that’s part of the reason empty cases get thrown out about 50 feet and get a flat spot on the case mouth on mine. Could someone tell me about a gas block adjustment for a Mini-14?

    1. The gas block adjustment for accuracy is just torque all 4 screws evenly and don’t over tighten. This could be a little tricky if the screws are staked from the factory. Use threadlocker loctite when putting the screws back. To fix the over gassing problem you have to replace the gas bushing inside the block with a smaller one from Midway or Great Western Gunsmithing. You can purchase an adjustible gas block from Accuracy Systems, but that will run you $140.

  17. I have a stainless Mini 14 that I bought in the early 80’s after reading Mel Tappen’s “Survival Guns.” It is still my favorite gun. I have not noticed any accuracy or reliability problems. I think that the criticisms of the accuracy are irrelevant musings of gun range commandos, wannabes and techno shooters. Even if they only get 4″ groups at 100 yards, so what? If you are in the real world, and can put a bullet into a 4 inch circle at 100 yards, then you are getting the job done. I spent 30 years in the military, and know the AR inside and out. It’s a great rifle, but I think that the Mini 14 is better. More reliable, easier to clean, and easier to clear if you do have a malfunction.

  18. Well written article. It seems like today everyone has to something they like, and everything else is “garbage” or some other unprintable description. It’s good to see a review that showcases the abilities of the mini without bashing either it or the AR rifles – they are all good (unless they are made in some crappy factory in a third-would country). I wanted an inexpensive .223 and the range rifle was perfect for my needs. The AR variants are nice also, just not the choice for me.

  19. ihave 1986 20gb great rifle good accuracy for a semmi auto assult weapon i wuold say most acuraccy issues are due to the trigger i did a triger job and improved the overall performance an accuracy i would recomend the mini 14 to anyone alonng with a quality trigger jbo

  20. Older gen with accu strut. Swapped stock for an ATI and mounted a red dot scout style. Very easy to shoot with both eyes open and accurate enough for the sights @ 150 yds on ‘yotes, etc. I use a scoped ar for chucks and longer shots. You can never go wrong with a ruger.

  21. I was givin a 182 series Mini M14 from a friend. I love it. Wooden stock,exposed slide et al. What a pleasure it is to shoot. Wouldn’t trade it or change it for anything…

  22. Mr. Campbell, I’ve been a long-time follower. Good writing, keep it up please. I agree with you 100% on the mini-14. I’m retired from Ga. Dept. of Corrections, with 10+yrs. as a firearms instructor. Being able to purchase your own firearms is conducive to proficiency. Though carry of personal firearms is not recommended, even if allowed in certain depts of law-enforcement, practice with dept.-approved items does establish familiarity ,and therefore, proficiency.
    I have the Ranch model, and the first five rds. were covered by a nickel @ 75 yds., the max range at that particular institution (with factory peeps). I definitely cannot do that now, But with a B-Square mount for the other model -14 -( the shoulders fore/aft under the set -screws needed re-contouring), I can access either the factory peeps or the red-dot or the 3-9×50 Bushnell at will. That very first group was with dept.-issue FEDERAL AMERICAN 55gr. ball. I have 1 box put away somewhere but the only loads I shoot now are Win. 46 gr. varmint (Two-legged species who just happen to ‘accidently’ stumble into my home at most-inopportune times), and a hand-load straight out of the Speer #10 manual. I substituted the 70 gr. bullet with the Sierra 63 gr. at first, and recently with Nosler’s 64 gr. bonded iteration. The Sierras, Speer’s 70gr., Win.’s 64gr p.p. and Hornady’s 60 gr spire point were/are still extremely accurate, but I want to try the Nosler on some the hogs that are invading my deer’s space and they are complaining. Rotator cuff injury makes it extremely painful with the larger calibers-.30s and above after a few rounds of practice and such, but who can shoot just a few rounds and call it quits?
    Regardless of those nay-sayers who dispel the accuracy of the Mini-14s, mine is extremely accurate. So much so in fact, my daughter and the grandkids argue over who gets to use it, and I just sit back, knowing that when they leave, I’ll have all to myself.- After I check the bags and vehicle before they leave; that is. Can’t be too careful, can you?
    Will….I’m gone.

  23. I have a 1st Gen mini 14… Very heavy but shoots well… I recently cleaned and oiled it. Now it won’t throw the round into the barrel or spit the fired round… The slide doesn’t go back far enough… What is the problem?

    1. Just read about your problem with your mini-14. It`s possible that while cleaning your rifle bore, you may have partially plugged up the orifice to the gas block. There is a small channel drilled into the rifle bore that allows gas from the fired round to pass into the gas block. The gas block, in turn channels gas to the piston and the bolt. Insufficient gas pressure to the bolt and piston can cause the rifle to cycle improperly. This can happen during cleaning since the copper and powder solvent turn the deposits into sludge which we can accidentally force into the orifice with the bore brush or cotton patches. using a lot of gun oil in the bore can make the problem even worse. It may be necessary to remove the gas block from the barrel to clean out the small channel drilled in the bore. to prevent this in the future, you should brush out the bore with a dry brush to remove the excess powder residue, before using the solvent chemicals. this minimizes the sludge that can plug up the gas channel in the bore. if this does not help, check the long floppy spring that returns the bolt to the closed position. Make sure it`s not binding, and that it`s properly seated in the front of the receiver. Hope this does it for you

  24. I have many AR-15s and one Ruger Mini 14 that was purchased in 1994. The Mini 14 is not as accurate as my ARs. But it is more reliable, without roll pins, small springs and gas rings. The Mini 14 would be the one I would keep.

  25. My Mini 14, is a black tactical firearm! Burris full-field scope, Harris bi-pod, many mags, Promag, Thermo, etc. I shoot both 223 and 5.56. Same deadly abilities. My prime targets are life size card board pics of the liberals in this nation and around the world. When I put them out on the shooting range, they don’t last long, at any distance. The range I attend is run by the county government. It is packed on holidays&weekends, 500 hundred plus people,in all sizes shapes and colors. I live in California, Northern California. This range is open to the public and never a charge. Recycle business should talk to the county about getting all the metal that is out their.
    Mini 14’s are great, in every aspect of shooting.
    Ruger has a Scout rifle, bolt action .308, with 10 rd mag, that is the same quality as the Mini 14., looking for a black model to match the 14.

  26. I have also fired both the M-14 and M-16 rifles many times before, and I agree with your opinion that it was the best U.S. service weapon of all time. We are not alone either, since many military veterans I have spoken to say the same thing. The M-14 eliminated the awkward reloading process of the M-1 Garand,and solved the ammo capacity problem with the external higher capacity box magazine. I`ve heard many stories about how our soldiers could fire right through tree branches and other forms of cover to neutralize a well hidden opponent with the M-14. The rotating bolt design, and robust construction, made the rifle extremely reliable, and has not really changed in design since the Garand. If something works well don`t mess with it! I do feel sorry, however, for the troopers who had to hump the M`14 around in some nasty hot and humid locales since both the rifle and ammo are pretty heavy. The mini 14 solved the weight and unwieldiness issues perfectly, while still retaining the timeless and indestructable rotating bolt. Kudos to Ruger for a job well done!

  27. I was in the US Army for 30 years and consequently, fired the M16/M4 series rifles hundreds of times. I actually like the Ruger Mini-14 more! I own both the old type, with a wood stock and a new model with synthetic stock and flash hider. I believe that the original M14 in 7.62mm was the greatest rifle ever made. Powerful, accurate and reliable!

    1. I agree with your assessment of the M-14. I always wondered why ruger never came out with a .308 caliber version of the mini 14. I guess you would have to call it a maxi 14.

  28. I have owned a mini 14 for over 25 years. I have put several thousand rounds through it and never had a malfunction. It is accurate enough to get the job done as long as you use the heaver weight bullets. Mine has never liked the 55 grain. It is more accurate than an AK 47 and in my opinion just as dependable. Plus it has the Ruger warranty.

  29. I have both the Mini 14 and a Bushmaster AR 15. I love them both.

    However, I disagree with your comment that AR 15s can be twice the price. It’s actually the AR 15s which are inexpensive these days. You can get a great AR 15 for about the same price as a Mini 14 (actually, probably less).

    As for the gun itself, it’s a beauty. Old world feel, like an M1 Garand. Nice and solid feeling. The wood furniture makes it feel like you’re holding an American classic firearm. It’s like driving a classic muscle car nothing can compare.

    However, based on merit alone, I’d take an AR 15 over the Mini if I had a choice. Lighter, many more accessory options, and (probably) more accurate. The AR is a platform designed in the 1950s; the M-1 Garand is a platform designed in 1919. Nothing bad about an older design; the 1911 was designed a bit before the Garand; but there is some argument for the more modern, efficient design of the AR (and I’m happy to be disproven, that’s just my opinion).

    The biggest reason to have a Mini 14 (putting aside that it’s just a wonderful firearm) is that the gun-banners haven’t figured out that it’s identical in functionality to an AR 15 (in other words, it doesn’t look scary, it looks like a typical hunting rifle). So there’s a better chance it won’t be banned. It’s a “safer” gun to own. Mark my words, guns with “pistol grip” and “muzzle suppressors” will be in the sights of the gun banners again, while the Mini-14 will sit innocently by the side, just being a “varmit rifle”. It’s worth a sad, sardonic snicker on the state of affairs.

    In any rate, I like both the AR 15 and the Mini 14 and so, own both. But that’s a luxury not everyone can have.

  30. I inherited a 181 series when dad passed away. I modified the stock to an ATI and did a couple of small things like an optics rail and scope. As I get older the eyes aren’t as good. With a warm barrel at 100yards I have put 3 in a quarter sized group. Stock barrel. Cheap 55gr ammo. No Mo-rod or other stabilizers. From a bench with a bipod. Stay away from cheap metal mags. Stay with stock ruger ones or Tapco 2nd gens. Can’t go wrong.

  31. What’s not to like , that’s what I am talking about. I love my #580 always goes bang and as accurate as I need….Ever!

  32. A retired border patrol agent introduced me to firearms, hunting, and the Mini. I have fired this thing literally every week since i bought mine used in 2011. Mine is a 181 model in it has NOT ONCE jammed on me. It fires the cheapest, worst possible ammo with ease and sends quality ammo down range flawlessly. With a little work on my part it has become my go-to auto loader. Threw in a barrel stabilizer (though now i feel it hardly needed it) and a hooded front sight/flash hider as well as an ATI stock ( before Ruger sold them together). Not gonna lie, it weighs at 9lbs with a 30 rd mag but it keeps my recoil near unnoticeable. I have read about several safety mechanism malfunctions but i have never had that problem. I don’t mind sharing that i climb with this thing on my back and have even dropped it a sheer 25 some odd feet, it scratched the finish but i could still pick it up immedietely after and put 2 rounds in succession on a tree stump 60 yards away. Can’t say enough good things about it.

  33. I own a stainless steel, synthetic stocked Mini14 and love it. I had wanted one, ever since I had first laid my eyes upon the one that a former lady co-worker owned (former enlisted US Army lady coworker).
    The author misspoke, when he referred to the .223 cal./5.56mm round as being ‘high powered’ though. It is a middle powered varmint round, that the US Army adopted. Their thinking was; it had better multiple enemy soldier penetration capabilities, than the .308 cal./7.63mm, was more apt to wound than kill (which takes additional enemy soldiers off of the battlefield to care for the wounded), the ammo is lighter and thus our soldiers could carry more of it, the AR was lighter than the previous M14, thus making the typical soldier’s load lighter to hump. I’m sure that there were other reasons, as well, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind.
    The .223 cal. is Not recommended for hunting deer sized animals and even illegal to use on such, in many states. That doesn’t mean that it cannot be used for such. I had a former coworker who took a deer, out the back door at work (at night, over bait) using a .22 Magnum rifle. It’s all about shot placement.
    Having said all of that. I love my Mini14 for exactly what it’s good for, varmint hunting, at medium ranges, as well as home defense, after my 12 ga. shot gun, and .45 cal. pistol, of course. The 12 ga. & the .45 don’t have the tendency to over penetrate or travel through walls, as the .233/5.56 has, putting innocents at risk.

  34. Yes it will shoot 5.56 and .223. Mine shoots anything and likes it. No broblameo amigo. That’s why I own one, if you want a target gun get a bolt gun. If you want reliability get one( mini 14) always goes bang and gets the job done.

    1. Hey Greg. Look on the barrel near the receiver. If it says 5.56 then by all means, shoot 5.56 through it. If it says .223, shooting 5.56 is not recommended as 5.56 ammo might be too long in overall length and be forced into the rifling causing an overpressure situation. Make certain the rifle is chambered for the military 5.56.

  35. There’s a great circular diagnostic target I once saw, segmented by the typical errors a shooter may make. In the segments around the outside, each said “Mini-14”.

    I have two of their Ranch Rifles. First three shots out of each are .5″ MOA, 100 yds. But all following shots are between 6″ and 12″ MOA ! Incredibly inaccurate !

  36. I’ve got a 183 series mini 14 stainless & love it! Did a tactical carbine class with it and my AR. Surprisingly I came away from that class with a new respect & admiration for the mini. I had multiple malfunctions with the AR, & zero with the old mini…..I was shocked. I couldn’t believe how well that gun performed & how well it felt in my hands. I could go on and on…..I just bought a Mini 30!

  37. My observations of the cost of a Mini-14 versus an AR-15 differ from the article author from recent years. I can remember long ago that what he said regarding the Mini-14 costing much less than the AR-15 was true and some called the Mini-14 a poor man’s AR. During the last big gun scare I saw people asking prices for Mini-14s in the realm of AR prices. And after the fear reduced on gun bans AR prices fell drastically and the Mini asking prices where even more similar to some AR prices.

  38. Thumbs up for the Mini-14! Glad to see there’s somebody promoting this great and inexpensive weapon. I have shot everything from 45 grain whizzers to 69 grain heavies and it doesn’t take long to get it re-sighted in. BTW, the Mini was bought for the wife but she didn’t like it because she learned to shoot in the NG on the M-16, thus her rifle is a Bushmaster AR…

  39. Not sure when this article was actually written, but the price of a mini-14 is by no means cheap anymore. Factor in buying reliable ( i.e. factory ) magazines at $40 a pop and this gun gets expensive real quick. When you can pick up a S&W MP 15 sport for less, get 3 p-mags for what one factory ruger mag costs, it just doesn’t make since anymore to keep buying the mini. While I did own a couple of minis in the past, it had it’s limitations when compared with the AR. Ergonomics was ok, the ranch factory sights were pretty dismal, mag changes were slow. God forbid you ever break a firing pin or anything else on your mini, “replacement parts” is non-existant.

  40. Sorry I think I got switched from the blog, it was about a light weight scope 1x, max 4 for my Ruger 40 cal carbine truck gun. Bad eyes. Anyways. Stay safe. Thx

  41. Thank you
    I will check them out are they made in USA I know there is quality made all over the world but just got laid off work and a few years left before retiring, born here gonna die here. So have to buy here only ( made in the good old USA Only)
    God Bless, stay safe, aim straight!! One shot one kill. Don’t waste ammo. BH

  42. If it has a trigger, sights and goes bang you need one. Grab the best of what you have given your immediate situation. Price wise $800 for a mini or an OK AR is what they go for in my neck of the woods. Want a tack driver? Grab a long barrel heavy rifle. Want to practice safety, shooting technique, or just have fun? Grab something in your safe with sights, a trigger and that goes “bang” reliably.

  43. I have the synthetic/stainless topped with a Nikon M-223. Love this gun and so far have only had opportunity to shoot a groundhog at about 90 yards. Using it as my deer gun this year. Took it out first time this year to check accuracy. Dead on at 100. Less than 2″ groups.

  44. I have a early Mini 14, the barrel is stamped “Made in the 200 hundredth year of American liberty”. I have had a lot of enjoyment shooting this rifle but lately it does not fire all the time, I wonder if the firing pin spring is broken. Does anybody know about the firing pin on the Mini 14?

  45. Traded off my mini 14 + cash for a 308 battle rifle.years ago. I don’t miss it. Hated the pencil thin barrel. Proud to say my collection is Ruger free, thanks to Bill Ruger’s willingness to sell out gun owners over hi cap magazines.

  46. First off, I carried a true M1A1 full time for four years. The AR,s – I have a few, who doesn’t, and they point ok. I have 2 Mini 14’s, a ranch and a GB. They balance and point very much like their name sake. Carry a 14 like I did, field strip and clean is a joy. Agreed, out of box one pushes mini’s to exceed 100′ consistently …. But civilian wise, who cares. Value wise they exceed the finicky AR. They gobble up and reliably spit out any 223/556 ammo you feed um’. Something the ARs just can’t do.

  47. Own both the law enforcement and tactical model. The law enforcement model is a straight shooter. Bred for a special duty. To protect and serve not just the public, but the man behind the trigger. Reliable, accurate and competitively priced. A SUPERB firearm. The tactical model has a collapsible and foldering stock all in one, more sling attachment points than any other rifle I have ever seen and enough rails to equipment it for special ops or patrol use. These Ruger Mini-14’s can handle 5.56 rounds with ease. They are designed and built to withstand the rigors and punishment associated with police duties or to stand in a tower of a prison with the knowledge if needed, the weapon WILL perform flawlessly. Can not say enough about these firearms. I trust my life to them.

  48. Very insightful article on the Mini-14. My police department allows either the AR-15 configuration or the Mini-14 for on-duty carry. I opted to purchase the Mini-14. Mr. Monroe’s comments were very pertinent and timely to me. I have not had an opportunity to shoot and/or qualify with the rifle but I will definitely take Mr. Monroe’s comments into consideration when I shoot and clean the rifle.

    I did base my purchase on NYPD’s Emergency Services Unit’s utilization of the rifle. I am aware that the AR-15 has served both the military and police well, but I was swayed by the rifle’s use in a large, metropolitan police department on a daily basis.

    On a side note, I was also a big fan of the A-Team. If a rifle is good enough for Hannibal, Face, Murdock, and B. A. Barracus, it’s good enough for me.

  49. I have a 580 series stainless/synthetic. and love it. I handload and get decent groups with a 65 grain Sierra. 55 grain is ok for plinking. I would not trade it for a finicky AR15. It seems I can do what I want with this rifle and it keeps on working. Take it apart and clean it and ready to go again. Friends with the AR are constantly shielding theirs from the weather and constantly cleaning, as well as having to pick and choose the ammo that will work. The mini eats anything I put in it.

  50. I always read all articles and comments about the mini 14 with great interest, since I own an older 185 serial example, and I am always surprised about the accuracy issues that other owners talk about. I bought my example used from an elderly gentleman about three years ago, and have since put well over 3,000 rounds through it. It eats any ammo I feed it, and I cannot remember more than two malfunctions in all the time I`ve used it. On those occassions, I had two failures to eject, which was caused by the Rube Goldberg scope mount I was using at the time. The base of the mount was too close to the ejection port, and caused interference as the empty case was cycled from the action. I consistently shoot two inch groups at 100 yards, and with the addition of a mo-rod barrel stabilizer, I have done even better. I consistently out shoot my buddies with their expensive AR -15s. I think the secret is to keep the rifle very clean, especially the rifle bore, and the gas block. It`s not enough to run a brass brush through the barrel a few times. I noticed that deposits in the rifling can be very stubborn in this rifle, and it takes more scrubbing than usual to get the bore clean. I clean the gas block with stiff pipe cleaners and Q Tip swabs to make sure I get into all the nooks and crannies. If your mini 14 is shooting inaccurately, and you start to see frequent “flyers” that are outside the target ring, check the bore carefully and I`m sure you will see patches of copper or lead deposits stuck in the rifling. These deposits very slightly deform the smooth aerodynamic shape of the bullet, and in some cases will strip a few milligrams of material from the side of the projectile, causing it to destabilize in flight. Use a high quality copper solvent like Hoppe`s and be sure to swab through with a lightly oiled patch after scrubbing the bore.A good bore light, and a pair of optivisor magnifier glasses will be necessary to see these deposits clearly. When my mini 14 is cleaned properly, I would not trade it for any AR-15!

    1. Tank,

      See my comment just above yours (perhaps on the previous page) on the Mini-30 Tactical. It is a medium/heavy barrel version of the Mini-30 that “fixes” some of the earlier issues with the madly inaccurate early 30’s. I have seen guys post 1.75 inch groups at 100 yards with QUALITY ammo.

      I have not had the time or health to completely wring it out but I loaned it to a friends wife for WI deer last fall and she shot it well during sight in with a fixed 3 power scope. What little I have shot it has been at 50 yards off hand with PMC Bronze.. I look forward to getting back on my feet and making some good handloads for it.

      It shoots better than any AK/SKS/Saiga/Vepr that I know. Certainly Wolf/Tula/MilSurp/Bear isn’t going to give accuracy worth a hoot. With a 5 round flush mag it is better for deer sized game than the .223 version out to 100 yards, looks like a regular hunting rifle, and is so, so handy.

      The long and short of it is that the Mini-30 holds all the great qualities the author describes in a caliber that packs a little more punch out to about 125 yards or so.

  51. Over the years I have owned and enjoyed a Mini 14 Ranch, a stainless 580 series, and the newer Mini-30 Tactical. The Mini-30 has always had its issues with chamber pecs, twist rate and accuracy. Without getting to a caliber spit fight, the 30 tac is what the 30 should have been. It has all the great qualities of a semi-auto carbine, is far more accurate with modern ammo that any 7,62×39, packs more umph at close range and is good to excellent out to and past 100 yards. My wife can handle it and with a 3×33 Nikon on it is just about perfect for me. Of course the stainless is a great carbine and serves its purpose but love the Mini-30 Tactical.

  52. A mini 14, really? If you consider accuarcy 5 inch groups at 80 yards with factory ammo accurate, go for it.

    If you want 2″ groups at 80 yards, try 52g Sierra Match Kings with 22.3g of AA2015.

  53. The good thing about it is you can leave both eyes open instead of closing one and squinting over iron sights; more of a head’s up display. Mine is the L-3 model. Takes a battery to run it so carry spares. It will shut off by itself after a few hours so it won’t run down. Overall an outstanding sight system for a weapon that has the rail to mount it on.

    1. Thx my friend I agree on eyes open will go shopping, wanted to keep it light and not made in China crap.

    1. Marcus.
      What’s your comfort range with your Eotech, was thinking of getting one for a short carbine. Ruger pc40 , I have never owned one I here good things about them better to wait and get the good stuff. my eyes are getting old like me. Thx

    2. 50 yards out is about all I have room for. I don’t hunt and it’s mostly for critter control of the dangerous kind in the driveway. I do have neighbors within range so gots to be careful out here. I got a laser bore sighter, pointed it down range at a black dot on a paper plate and adjusted the sight to put it’s red dot on my red laser dot. load it up and the rest is up to the operator.

    3. Marcus
      Thx my 40 cal truck gun carbine needs a sight cuz my eyes sight sucks hard to focus with open sights,that’s what happens when we get older, want to keep it light, it’s good to 50-75 yards after that I am guessing. (My eyes)I’ll check one out. They make a lot of models anybody’s input will help.which one.? Thanks the old man.

    4. BH, Aimpoint also has a variety of good 1x red dots available. I run one on my AR and have no issue hitting 2-litre bottles around 100 yards.

  54. I have owned 2 mini 14s for 34 years. one of the best guns I own. Gave one to my son a couple years ago and he loves it to.

  55. I am on my second mini, the current model is a blue ranch model with a Nikon 3×9 scope on it. With a 5 round flush magazine it looks like a mundane hunting rifle to the the anti assault rifle crowd. I am very happy with the handling and style of the mini 14 and it is a great gun to shoot and it is accurate enough for me. It”s very reliable and well made.

    1. With the short carbine, check out the true 1x scopes(both eyes open) my 1×4 nikon monarch. W/ German #4 retical , it’s the money, for close in predictors they have no chance. At 200-300 yards 4x is plenty. Good shooting stay safe.

  56. I own a Mini and a Palmetto State Armory AR Mid Length, I enjoy both but if I had to give one up it would not be the Mini. It is more enjoyable to shoot…and I really don’t know why.

    1. I know what it is its a ruger with a garrand action, hi power,feels like a garrand and sounds like one, you can use it like a club if needed with half the weight of the M1 and no recoil, equals
      A lot Of shots on target. But one usually does the job. Remember you can’t call the shot back, stay safe, stay armed.

    2. SLAMSKIE:Betcha I know Why Slam? HINT: The Halfbreed in DC goes through it like it is water! And you spent more on the AR? Ya think?LOL

  57. Bob
    I love my mini 14,# 580 series stainless with black plastic stock , I never worry about scrathes or dings A nikon 1×4 monarch african sits atop. Good to 300+ yards, with a butstock ammo pouch strapped to her butt. If i had to sell all, this would never leave my side. straight shooter quick to handle and i dont look like iam back in the military.and it always goes bang even when dirty just the way i like my girls.Best friend i have ever had and I have had a lot of them . BH

  58. I would have appreciated your noting the barrel twist rate. Also, I’m sure that you are aware of the new adjustable anti-harmonic barrel-end weights now being offered with the Mini-14. Saw it a couple of days ago on the tube. I don’t remember if these weights were an option or if they will be offered across-the-board with all new Minis.

    Nice article, BTW.

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