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Questions about the Mini-14 and Mini-30

This is a discussion on Questions about the Mini-14 and Mini-30 within the Ruger Semi-Auto forums, part of the Rifle & Shotgun Forum category; Good morning, all. I would like to purchase a rifle for the sky-has-fallen/zombie apocalypse/rabid communist gopher uprising scenario(s). I like neither AR nor AK platforms ...

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Old March 16th, 2017, 05:41 AM   #1
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Questions about the Mini-14 and Mini-30

Good morning, all.

I would like to purchase a rifle for the sky-has-fallen/zombie apocalypse/rabid communist gopher uprising scenario(s). I like neither AR nor AK platforms for a variety of reasons, but would like a semi auto rifle. The Minis have always appealed to me, but I have never purchased one. I am now researching them with gusto, and have a concern about them being overgassed. I don't reload so the brass being armed is not a deal breaker. I worry, however, of the wear and tear on the rifle. Are there any modifications that can be done to remedy the gas issue? If I purchase, it will be a new production model in either caliber, if that helps.

If this has been beaten into the ground, I apologize. I have Googled and YouTubed and really can't seem to get any clear answers. Any assistance you can off this poor hillbilly is greatly appreciated.

Take care, and have a great day!

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Old March 16th, 2017, 07:19 AM   #2
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Greetings. I've had my 581 Tactical Mini 14 and put a couple thousand rounds through with no abnormal wear and it's a bit over moa.
You can get a gas block bushing if you're concerned about the operating pressures or an adjustable gas block. I reload and have no problem reloading my Mini 14 brass. It looks as good as my AR brass.
you might want to check out Ruger Mini Remington AR10 AR15 Accuracy Custom Accurate Rifles Barrel
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Old March 16th, 2017, 07:54 AM   #3
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While I've got ARs (RRA 16" Mid length carbine and RRA 20" A4) I, like you aren't that wild about them. I'm much more apt to shoot my M1, M1 Carbine, and M1A so I shared your interest in the Minis. I tried a couple in the 80's and wasn't that impressed with the 'pencil' barrel's propensity for large groups so I passed even though the idea of it was appealing. Fast forward to 2015 when a friend at the range bought a NIB 583 Series Mini14 and let me try it out. Stock, with cheap ammo it was a 2-3MOA shooter, however, he turned me on to a site, PerfectUnion.com, and their Mini forum where he claimed there were easy ways to bring the Mini to a near 1MOA shooter; consistent with my M1A with NM sights.

After reading the forum, I decided to take the plunge and got a NIB 583 Series Mini14 Ranch Rifle (wood stock) and set out to make the simple mods to make it shoot up to my expectations. Using my Hornady 62grn FMJ handloads with the simple mods listed below, my Mini is now a 1ľ"-1Ĺ" group shooter at 100yds. As an 'Irons Only' shooter, I've not used the more expensive target bullets and tried for sub MOA groups with mine as others have done. My favorite pastime is shooting bowling pins at 200yds with it (a 2MOA target at that range). While 200yds isn't that hard anymore, 300yds is still a challenge. I absolutely love my Mini now and my ARs sit idle at home most of the time.

The Mini30 is also a great carbine idea. If you also want to go for light game and a 30 cal, 125grn class bullet you've got a great combo there. That said, the Mini30s don't like the cheap Tula or Wolf ammo as their hard and deep set primers can lead to missfires. Better ammo (Red army Std, PPU, etc.) avoids the problem. Reloading for the 7.62x39 will keep the costs down, however, the .311 dia bullets aren't as common as the .308 and brass, boxer primer brass is more expensive so component costs will be higher. The up side is with decent bullets and proper handloading, many Mini30 shooters can produce sub MOA groups.

The mods you'll want is dependent upon what you type of Mini you have and what you intend to do with your rifle. Is it an older model with a pencil barrel or a newer series with a thicker barrel? Is it a tactical model or a Ranch Rifle? Will it be used as a plinker, a hunter, an all-around, or a tactical? Scoped, Red Dot, or Irons only? What type of ammo you'll use in it. Cheap Commie blasting ammo? Decent commercial ammo? Handloads? (BTW, expecting high precision and tight groups with cheap blasting ammo is a pipe dream.)

Here is the list of things I did to my New, 583 Series Ranch Rifle. I wanted a reliable, fun all around irons only shooter with decent accuracy that was reminiscent of my M14 in the Army and my M1A. The list below shows what mods I made, how much they cost, and what they are for. Your list will likely be different as you may have a different Mini and your own idea on what you want.

Choate Handguard swap: $15 - Choate Handguard not only looks better but it cools the barrel much better than Ruger's. No, it doesn't cover the op rod but neither does the handguard on 5.5 million M1 Garands, 6.5 million M1 Carbines, and 1.4 million M14s.

Wilson 1911 Buffers: $6 (set of 6) - Addition of 2 Wilson 1911 (yep, pistol) bushing, one around the gas pipe in the front and one on the Op rod spring at the rear. Together, they will tone down the cycling jolts and eliminate metal to metal slamming.

Mini200 Rear Sight: $65 - Tech Sights' Mini200 rear sight gives better irons sighting and adjustment than Ruger's stock one. Add to that their $15 optional aperture package with 3 different aperture sizes and when you use the target .042" aperture, you have a NM like rear sight.

Thinned Front Sight: $0 - Thinning down the .075"-.077" thick front sight to .050", combined with a target .042" rear aperture gives you a 'NM' equivalent sight set.

Gas Bushing Reduction: $50 - Swap of the overly large stock Gas Bushing with a smaller one. Sets of .040", .045", .050", and .060" are available. My .045" Gas Bushing reduces the cycling violence which improves accuracy on the Mini14 while the .060" version works well with the Mini30. Shorter barreled Tactical models need a slightly larger aperture size. (The reduced size gas bushing gives the added benefit of reducing the distance your Mini throws brass. Mine went from 50-60 ft NIB to 12-15 ft currently with my handloads.)

Gas Block Torque: $0 - We've found that torqueing the gas block bolts to 30 in/lbs when reassembling and keeping the upper and lower halve gaps consistent aides in accuracy.

Shimmed Receiver: $0 - I found that my action was fairly tight in my stock with it set in without the trigger group installed but I wanted to get a real tight fit so there was no fore or aft nor side to side movement of the action at all. I found that shimming the action with a bit of tin on both sides really tightened up things well. The plates are held in place with the stiffener screw so itís an easy fit. It seems to help with repeatability.

Barrel Strut: $80 - Accu-Strut or $105 Mo-Rod, both barrel struts clamp to barrel and gas block to both dampen barrel harmonics and aide barrel cooling. Developed for pencil barreled where they do a lot of good but also help a bit on the new 58X series Minis. Both single and double clamp versions are available. Double clamps give the most rigidity and is best for pencil barreled versions. Single clamp looks cool.

Trigger Job: $55-$65 - Trigger Group job where the first stage is shortened and second stage is lightened. Just like a precision trigger on an AR, it really helps your precision shooting and if you want small groups, it's money well spent. Not needed for plinking but really helps decrease your group size.

Ruger Brand 20rd Magazines: $26-$28 on sale - Yes they are a bit more, however, they are durable and extremely reliable. Well worth the extra few bucks over the aftermarket versions because they flat work.

Of note for irons shooters. Even though Ruger advertises that the Minis have a 'normal' 13.5" LOP, I found that the 'Heel to Aperture' distance (top of the buttstock to the rear sight aperture) on the current model Mini Ranch Rifles measures 15.5". This is as opposed to a 14" Heel to Aperture distance on M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, and M14/M1As. I found that this caused me to strain my neck forward trying to gain the same sight picture I am use to with the other platforms. As I have all three other platforms, plus more 'irons' rifles with the same 14" distance, I found the stock Mini rear sight awkward to use.

Adding the Techsight's great Mini200 rear sight does help a bit as it mounts such that the aperture is moved back .5" giving one a 15" Heel to Aperture distance. While a bit better, it still didn't feel right to me so I removed the buttpad and cut down the birch stock 1", reattached the buttpad, and sanded it down to meet the new buttstock profile. This made a significant difference for me in that 1, I'm able to hold a natural sight picture with the rear sight, and 2, with my eye closer to the rear aperture, the use of a smaller aperture helps increase the DoF giving me a clearer view of the front sight and target; something us more 'seasoned' shooter need. Further, I donít notice the shorter LOP as Iím up tight on the sights and action and it just works better.

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Old March 16th, 2017, 10:37 AM   #4
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Nice post Steve. Now I know why I was compelled to cut an inch off of my Mini 14 stock! LOL
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Old March 16th, 2017, 10:58 AM   #5
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The West Virginian,

Howdy, neighbor!

I own two Mini-14s: one I've had since 1980, and a new one I bought last summer. There is nothing to worry about the over-gassing in terms of wear. They are over-gassed to provide the greatest degree of reliability across a broad range of ammo.

I don't know how many thousands of rounds I've put on my first Mini-14, but it has NEVER had even the hint of a malfunction. Never. For a SHTF scenario, that is the highest in my priority department. Curiously, it only ejects brass about 3-4 feet. Aside from a different stock and a funky scope/P-rail mount (the early ones weren't set up for scopes), the only mod I've done is add M1911 buffers (or their equivalent) to the front and rear of the op rod. The original gas bushing is still there. They certainly change the nature of the recoil (softer - less jarring), and the front one might reduce the over-gassing a small bit as the op rod doesn't fully seat onto the gas pipe. It certainly helps survivability for sensitive optics as they generally aren't designed for the forward impact of the op rod (air-gun scopes are).

My newer Mini-14 is a blued Tactical (16" barrel with flash hider). The two inches shorter barrel does, by itself, reduce some of the over-gassing because the gas pressure has less time to build up before the bullet has left the barrel. Ranch models (18" barrel) typically eject brass 20-30'. My tactical, with the original factory bushing, ejects 10-12'. I run buffers fore and aft of the op rod with no problems whatsoever. The only mod I've done to it is to grind off a protruding "lip" off of the front of the op rod (to match the flat face of my older Mini). That preserves the front buffer.

I have less than 100 rounds through my new one, but it has been flawless.

As to a Mini-14 or a Mini-30, I just offer these considerations, some which may be important to you, some of which may not.

- .223/5.56 is probably more abundant than 7.63X39, particularly in a SHTF scenario. It is also less expensive, usually, which makes it easier on the wallet to practice a lot. While I don't personally use it, the cheap Russkie ammo reportedly does well in a Mini-14, but not necessarily in a Mini-30, as COSteve pointed out.

- endless debates on the lethality of either round: both have killed lots of good guys and bad guys. Depending on the hunting rules in WV, you may or may not be allowed to hunt deer with a .223/5.56. You can't in VA, but I don't hunt. Further, in a SHTF scenario, those rules are likely the least relevant argument for one over the other.

- in general, the .223/5.56 likely has a better longer accurate range than the 7.73X39. There are exceptions - particularly for re-loaders. If "reaching out" over a clear line of fire is part of your scenario, then the .223/5.56 might be more appropriate. If you're punching through brush, then perhaps the 7.62X39 is more appropriate.

- either the Mini-14 or the Mini-30 will likely have a 2 MOA with decent factory ammo. Better than MILSPEC, which is usually 3 or 4 MOA.

- the newer Minis (particularly the Tactical ones) don't suffer from the stringing the earlier Minis had because they have a thicker (tapered) barrel. The use of an Accustrut for the newer ones - particularly the Tacticals - is more for heat dissipation than for accuracy improvements. But they look cool!

- my 583 Tactical, in its factory synthetic stock, with a TRS-25 red dot, sling, and a fully loaded 20-round mag weighs just under eight pounds. It also has a shorter length-of-pull than the wooden stock by about 3/4" and close to a pound lighter than the wooden stock. I'm a "wood and blued" kinda guy, but the synthetic stock won me over.

- if you prefer irons over optics, understand that the newer Ruger rear sights generally suck. Enough to get by in a pinch. The very first thing I did to my new Mini-14 - after looking through the sights - was to order a Tech Sights rear sight. Made a world of difference, and I did that before my first firing.

Mags are not cheap compared to AR mags, but factory-Ruger mags are usually 100% reliable, without need for "tweaking". If you make the plunge, keep on the lookout for sales and stock up - particularly for a SHTF scenario. 20-rounders are generally the most reliable in either the Mini-14 or the Mini-30.

If eject distance is a concern (it doesn't seem to be), you can certainly reduce it with a reduced-sized gas bushing. But the Tactical model really does cut down on that eject distance due to the shorter barrel. I was mentally prepared to replace the bushing, but after the first 60 rounds, decided it wasn't worth the expense or effort (both of which are minimal).

New Minis come with both a P-rail and scope rings (either 1" or 30mm). If the size ring isn't what you needed, Ruger will happily replace yours with the correct size.

The P-rail is scalloped to allow for ejection, so a short scope may not have sufficient latitude for eye-relief adjustments.

There are plenty of after-market options, depending on your desires and/or interests, so don't feel like you're limited in your enhancement options.

Hope this helps.

I love my Minis and, as Charleston Heston would say: ..."from my cold, dead hands"...

Last edited by RJF; March 16th, 2017 at 11:01 AM.
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Old March 16th, 2017, 11:50 AM   #6
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Thank you Sr40ken.

RJF's post is very well done and I believe spot on.

I forgot to mention, I have 1,500+rds of trouble free shooting through my Mini-14 (not a single failure to feed, fire, or eject). Like RJF, I also did the smoothing of the mold line sharp edges on the front of my op rod and I've still got the original front Wilson bushing so smoothing the edges off seems to have stopped the cutting of the buffer some experience.

The Mini14 is my choice over the Mini30 because I can handload .223/5.56 ammo for it considerably cheaper than I can the 7.62x39 ammo due to the availability of cheaper 55grn and 62grn bulk FMJ bullets as well as plentiful, free, once fired LC 5.56 brass. I'm a plinker, not a dedicated hunter nor a SHTF type, so I see no difference between hitting an apple, a steel plate, or a bowling pin with a 22 cal bullet or a 30 cal bullet.

Yes, it's true that the 30 cal x39 rd produces more muzzle energy to smack steel harder and is a better rd for medium game. However, I already handloaded 55grn, 62grn, and 68grn 5.56 level loads for my other rifles so the Mini14 was a natural choice for me. In truth, I don't need the capability of the more powerful 7.62x39 so I've stuck with the cheaper caliber to handload.

In addition, the .223/5.56 has a slightly flatter trajectory so I can sight my Mini in at 200yds and everything between the muzzle and 250yds is within 2" of line of sight. That means that I can leave the sights alone and give it a bit of 'Kentucky Windage' for most ranges I use an irons sight rifle at. I haven't tried it at 400yds as I have my M1A with it's adjustable rear sight but that's OK as I have a scoped AR I use at that range already.

Another picture of my Mini with it's older brother . . . . . (I can't help myself, I just love my Mini.)

BTW, as I said in my list above, adding TechSight's optional target rear aperture and thinning the front sight (thereby giving it NM equivalent iron sights like my M1A) is a real plus for longer range shooting, especially when one shortens the stock so that the shooter's eye is close to the rear aperture because the smaller aperture helps increase the Depth of Field allowing even us 'more seasoned' shooter to see the front sight and target more clearly.

Last edited by COSteve; March 16th, 2017 at 11:56 AM.
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Old March 17th, 2017, 05:02 AM   #7
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OP, the Mini30 will fit the bill for you. Very dependable.
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Old March 17th, 2017, 09:10 AM   #8
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A recent thread asked if you would by ANOTHER mini14. I replied "probably not", even though I like the old 181 mini I already have. THEN I saw a newer style tactical mini used at my local Cabellas WITH a reflex sight on it for $390! I thought about it and went back to get it but it was gone. Moral of the story - watch the used market for some great deals.
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Old March 17th, 2017, 10:11 AM   #9
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COSteve and RJF have pretty much summed up everything. I can only add three things:

1. The historical reliability coming from the M1 Garand family of bolt/receivers is in the Mini. Shooting a rifle descending from the rifles that helped win WWII and has killed more of our Country's enemies than any other platform is special. The reliability means it can bounce around behind the seat of your pickup, go through various weather and outdoor conditions, and you can still be confident that it will put rounds downrange when you need it to.

2. I have done most of the mods mentioned and they work. Took a good rifle shooting experience to great. I do believe it is a great assist for me as I work on my marksmanship.

3. Anyone from West-by-Gawd-Virginia needs to add a Mini to their collection.
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Old March 17th, 2017, 10:19 AM   #10
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Interesting thread. I have a 185 series (ok, 186) from 1999 which I like. Debating now whether to get an AR. Don't know if I am afraid I won't like it or if I will like it too much. I know I need to shoot my Mini more than I do!

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Old March 17th, 2017, 03:24 PM   #11
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Jeff, if you're itching for an additional carbine, consider the 583 Tactical in a synthetic stock. More accurate than our older Minis, 2" shorter barrel, and about 3/4 pound lighter, and takes your current Mini's Ruger mags just fine (interchangeability). Stocks are also interchangeable. New ones come with a provision for either a scope or a P-rail (scope rings and P-rail are included, as well as two mags). I love mine.
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Old March 18th, 2017, 04:38 AM   #12
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I have a 580 series mini 14, bought it new a few years ago. It's the tactical model with the shorter barrel and synthetic stock, it's a real good shooter and very dependable. Many of my friends have AR's and convinced me to get one, and I really tried to like it. After 2 months of shooting the AR, I finally came to my senses and sold it off. Just "not my cup of tea" I'm very happy with my mini and it's a keeper for sure. I've added a wooden stock, choate hand guard, and wilson buffers front and rear and a sling. I've often thought about putting in a smaller gas bushing, but not really sure if it's needed. Mine throws brass 10' or so. When I first bought it I shot a lot of wolf steel case ammo out of it, the lacquer coating on the ammo gummed up the chamber pretty quick. I've since switch to brass and never a problem, she shoots real good.
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Old March 18th, 2017, 05:26 AM   #13
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I have a many years old 182 mini 14 and it will start to string shots from aheated barrel far more quickly than a 580 series. i like he min because it fits me better than a ar which I do have.
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Old March 18th, 2017, 06:09 AM   #14
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Nero, my 583 Tactical Mini-14 also ejects brass about 10-12' (from a standing position). Far less than a Ranch Rifle with an 18" barrel. The shorter barrel makes a difference in that department. I decided to pass on a reduced-size bushing. For now... If you do decide to go with a reduced size bushing, make sure it is for a Tactical model, something in the .07 range rather than smaller. Ones that work for a Ranch Rifle will make your Tactical inoperable, or at best, unreliable.

bwinters, an Accustrut (6") will fix the stringing measurably on your 182 both by stiffening the barrel and dissipating heat. An UltiMak scout rail will also stiffen the barrel between the receiver and the gas block and help dissipate heat. Perfect position for a Red-Dot, too. There are other, less-reversible tricks (like shortening the barrel to 16"), too. But you knew all that...

Last edited by RJF; March 18th, 2017 at 06:11 AM.
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Old March 18th, 2017, 07:26 AM   #15
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Nothing to add here. I'm a new first time Mini 14 owner and just wanted to thank COSteve and RJF for their informative posts.
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