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1976 Mini-14 issue

This is a discussion on 1976 Mini-14 issue within the Ruger Semi-Auto forums, part of the Rifle & Shotgun Forum category; I've searched however I haven't seen anything about my problem. Using factory 10 and 5 round mags I have the same issue. When releasing the ...

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Old January 3rd, 2017, 07:46 PM   #1
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1976 Mini-14 issue

I've searched however I haven't seen anything about my problem. Using factory 10 and 5 round mags I have the same issue. When releasing the bolt, it has a hard time feeding the first round into the chamber. When I do get it to feed it normally won't fire the first round unless I force the bolt fully closed. After that it seems to feed and fire fine. I just ordered a new op rod spring and bushing. Any other ideas?

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Old January 3rd, 2017, 10:23 PM   #2
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Is the gun cleaned and lubed properly?
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Old January 4th, 2017, 03:08 AM   #3
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If your's was made in 1976, it would be a 180 series, made from 1974 to 1977. They had some differences from later Mini's, notably where the ejector was located.
Mini 14 Serial numbers and year they were produced - Shooting Sports Forum
Ruger Mini-14 Serial Number History
I can't recall all the differences, but I know the parts that are exclusive for them are no longer available from Ruger.
The op rod spring should be the same, if your Mini has a high round count, a new spring might fix things.
Are you inserting a magazine with the bolt closed ? Sometimes that can cause issues with the first round feeding. By the way, what brand magazines are you using ?
Some aftermarket mags work for some, but they are few and far between. Genuine Ruger mags are the best, stick with those.
When reassembling the Mini after cleaning, make sure the pointy end of the op-rod guide is UP, toward the handguard, as in this pic, as installing it the other way will bind up the action. I doubt this is the issue with your's, as you say it cycles fine after the first round, just be aware it, as we all at one time reassembled it wrong.

What "buffer" did you order along with the spring ? What Ruger calls a buffer is the steel cylinder that the guide rod end goes into, as in my pic above. Those don't wear out or need to be replaced.
What we here on this forum, and over on PerfectUnion's Mini forum, call a buffer is the disc of polymer that goes on each end of the spring. You can see the blue thingy on the end of the spring in the pic above. The other buffer goes around the gas pipe at the other end of the spring. Helps cushion the jolt and metal to metal contact, and makes things easier on a scope or red dot. Some guys just use one buffer instead of both.
Most use Wilson "Shok-Buffs" made for the 1911 pistol. They work great on the Mini's.
And be sure and lube both sides of the bolt with some grease. Any kind of grease is better than not using any, axle grease, gun grease, whatever.
I'm sure others will respond with some other suggestions. If we can't get your problem sorted out, you can always have Ruger take a look at it.
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Old January 4th, 2017, 04:17 AM   #4
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Ohms, first and foremost, welcome to the forum from Central Virginia!

I have a 181 series Mini, built in 1977. The 180s are different animals from the 181s on up, and with the introduction of the Ranch Rifle, the innards changed again.

Aside from cleaned and lubed and using Ruger factory mags, there may be a few other things to check. A new recoil spring is probably warranted if it is the original and one for a 181 series should work (they are available through a number of vendors). You may also want to check by hand-cycling without a mag inserted and see if it binds. Most likely culprit is the op rod rubbing against the heat shield, and you would notice that.

To avoid some confusion, the op rod spring guide shown in Sandog's picture is for Ranch Rifles and newer Minis. Yours is very likely round at the end with a nipple that goes into a hole in the receiver (just like my 181's). There is no upside-down, and no metal buffer on the early ones.

If you insert a mag with an odd-number of rounds while the bolt is forward, you may wind up denting the first round (see my picture). That happens to me with both of my Minis, and inserting the mag is very difficult. If that happens, then chambering that round is very difficult and your forcing it may work. All the other rounds will feed fine as they are not damaged/dented. So, try out inserting the mag with the bolt to the rear and see how that does (after checking that there is no damaged/dented brass). If that works, then stick to an even number of rounds in the mag and try again inserting on a closed bolt.

Let us know!
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Old January 7th, 2017, 11:08 AM   #5
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Thanks for the quick responses. I'm using the factory magazines (both 20 and 5 round) as well as cleaning and greasing the bolt on both sides. It cycles with no binding that I can tell. I always put a magazine in with the bolt back (military training) and everything seems to work with no ammo in the magazine. I didn't see any dents so I don't think that is the problem. It's almost like the round is extremely difficult to load from the magazine to the breech. I've had to pull the bolt back several times to get the first round to load.
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Old January 7th, 2017, 12:25 PM   #6
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My Mini 14 and Mini 30 both seem to have similar difficulty loading that first round. I've always attibuted it to the higher friction and spring forces when a magazine is full. If it takes more force to get that last round into a magazine, maybe it takes more force to get it out as will.
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Old January 7th, 2017, 12:55 PM   #7
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I have the problem on my stainless mini 30 if it has more than a few hundred rounds fired. I just keep it cleaned and lubed.
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Old January 7th, 2017, 05:41 PM   #8
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I'm stumped here, but will follow with interest to see what comes up.

Only thought would be to clean out the mags, smooth out any rough edges, and re-assemble with some dry lube. Certainly sounds mag-related. Try loading few than max capacity to see if that works (e.g. 10 rounds in the 20 mag, 2 rounds in the 5 mag). Not a solution, but may indicate the problem.

That, and making sure the chamber is really clean...
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Old January 8th, 2017, 06:32 AM   #9
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How are you chambering the first rd? Do you pull the charging handle all the way to the rear and let it go or do you 'ride' the handle forward? If you aren't pulling it all the way to the rear and then letting it go, it's likely your problem. If you are cycling them correctly, then the fault is very likely the mags; seating too high, the follower too high, them dirty, dented, or rough inside so the followers aren't pushing the rd into position correctly.

The system is meant to function with the full force of the cycle, not being 'babied' into place. Many shooters think they'll hurt their rifles by allowing them to cycle forcefully, however, that's exactly how they were designed to function and easing them into place will actually increase the likelihood of a malfunction.

Back in the 60's we taught the 'cruits' in the Army to jack the charging handle back firmly and let it go, then tap it forward to make sure the first rd was seated and the bolt completely closed. We taught them to "rack and tap" the charging handle to make sure the action was fully closed. We also made sure that they cleaned their mags when they cleaned their rifles to ensure the the whole system functioned smoothly. I do that today on my M1 Garands, M1A, M1 Carbines, and my Mini-14; all from the habits I learned in the Army and as a result never have an issue of the bolt not fully cycling.
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Old January 9th, 2017, 10:40 AM   #10
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COSteve, that looks like good advice. Thanks for sharing. -Steve in Memphis
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