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Mini-30 Scope Damage

This is a discussion on Mini-30 Scope Damage within the Ruger Semi-Auto forums, part of the Rifle & Shotgun Forum category; I have destroyed two scopes over the years with my Mini-30. All have been covered under warranty. I have received a new better scope from ...

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Old February 28th, 2020, 04:14 PM   #1
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Mini-30 Scope Damage

I have destroyed two scopes over the years with my Mini-30. All have been covered under warranty. I have received a new better scope from Bushnell and it has large windage knobs which are hit by ejected brass. I suspect this is what happened to the others as all of them were tactical 1-4x24mm Illuminated reticle scopes.

Does anyone know of a sight effective to 200 yards that would not get hit by brass, or a brass deflector that could be mounted under the windage knob, or any other suggestion? Thanks

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Old February 28th, 2020, 04:51 PM   #2
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As silly as it sounds I’ve heard of guys rotating their scope 90 degrees.......
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Old February 29th, 2020, 02:35 AM   #3
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You could try that suggested by Mark, rotate the scope so the turrets aren't getting hit.
So scopes were destroyed by brass hitting the turrets, not by the op-rod slamming forward ? Mini's are hard on scopes because the op-rod slams into the gas block with metal to metal contact, use of a buffer up front will help the optic live longer.

Use of a good scope will help also, frankly I've never been too impressed with Bushnell.
I've never had a problem with brass hitting my scope, as my scope, a Nikon 2.5-8x, is mounted well away from the action and flying brass on an Ultimak railed handguard.
Using a forward mount has many other advantages, no interference with your rear sight, easier to remove bolt for cleaning, much improved peripheral vision, and you can mount the optic very low, so you keep your cheek weld on the stock.

Mounted over the action, either with the supplied Ruger scope rings or the rail on newer models, requires the scope to be mounted too high, and you end up with more of a chin weld on the stock. Despite being mounted overly high, some guys still have to remove the rear peep to clear the scope, or like you have problems with ejecting brass hitting the scope.

Notice how low the scope is in this pic, almost as low as the iron sights. No having to scoot your head up on the stock to see thru the scope.
Many think they "need" a scope, but face it, a Mini isn't a precision target rifle.

I only have my scope mounted for load testing, 98 % of the time, all 3 of my Mini-30's have a Fastfire red dot on them. They offer a good pound weight savings over a scope, much faster and great in low light, much easier to engage multiple targets rapidly, much better handling, and vastly increased peripheral vision.
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Old February 29th, 2020, 08:59 AM   #4
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Thanks for the input. What kind of buffer could I use? What is the rail in front of the action? I can try taller sights and rotating scope 90 degrees but that puts the illuminated reticle knob on the bottom and the AR sight sideways. Talked to a Ruger guy who looked personally at my rifle and he said his only guess what impact of brass on tactical knobs.
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Old February 29th, 2020, 01:59 PM   #5
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kennedkj, the railed upper handguard is made by Ultimak. The very best place to mount an optic on a Mini, well out of the way of the action. But for that you'll need a scope with longer than normal eye relief.
Most dot sights have no set eye relief, so you can mount them as far forward as you want.
I'd have mine even farther forward if I could for better peripheral vision, but I like to be able to reach the sight comfortably with my shorter arms.

Many guys that run buffers only put one on the rear, but for optics use the front one is much more important.
When the op-rod comes back, it does make contact with the top rear of the receiver, but it has been slowed down almost completely by the recoil spring being compressed.
When the op-rod goes forward, there is NOTHING to slow it down until it slams into the gas block.

That slamming creates "reverse recoil" like a springer air rifle, another type of gun known to be hard on optics.
Scopes are made to withstand a rearward force (recoil), not a frontward force.
So the Mini can be hard on scopes.

Buffers used are Wilson 1911 buffers (Shok-Buffs). Place one around the gas pipe:

And one around the guide rod that goes inside the recoil spring for the rear buffer:

Make sure the pointy end of that guide rod is facing UP when reassembling, or your Mini won't want to cycle properly:
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Old February 29th, 2020, 03:05 PM   #6
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I only use the 1911 recoil buffer at the rear of all my mini carbines. I reload my own ammo and have found the best accuracy with reduced power loads so that's what I shoot and I've never had any issues with any of my scopes being damaged by ejecting brass. If you don't reload your own ammo you could try changing the gas port bushing to a smaller one so the brass wont be ejected with as much force. Another idea might be modifying or replacing the ejector with one that will deflect the brass more to the side and not as much upwards.
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Old March 16th, 2020, 06:08 PM   #7
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So I see the Ultimak attaches to the gas port fasteners. Where does the breech end attach? I thought messing with gas port fasteners was a no-no. I'm thinking of a picatinny rail to raise up the entire scope. What is a good one? Great answers so far. Thx
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Old March 17th, 2020, 05:04 AM   #8
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The Ultimak attaches at the rear with a metal band that goes around the barrel just ahead of the chamber.
Ruger doesn't want anyone messing with the gas block, but Ruger doesn't want anyone messing with any part of the Mini.

No downside to replacing the top half of the Ultimak.
Some Minis come from the factory with the gas block gaps uneven or they are improperly torqued, so if you have your gas block apart, at least you'll know you put it back together correctly.
Even gaps front to back and side to side, tighten in a criss cross pattern to 30 inch pounds (not ft. lbs.) Some will check the gaps with an auto feeler gauge, but I just eyeball the gaps.

If you have a torque tool like the Wheeler Fat Wrench ($50) great. If you don't have one, just get the gas block screws as tight as you can holding the short end of the Allen.
If you tighten holding the long end of the Allen, you could over torque them.

Raising up the scope will reduce the chance of brass hitting it, but that opens up other problems. A high mounted scope will require a chin weld instead of a proper cheek weld, you'll probably need to strap a cheek riser onto your stock.
When you put the Mini on your shoulder to shoot, you'll have to take a second or two to scoot your head up slightly to be able to see through the scope.

Minis stocks have some drop to the stock. The irons sights are low, so the stock has to have some drop or you'd really have to scrunch down to be able to use them.
If Mini's had a straight stock with no drop, it would be like an AR, you'd need really tall iron sights, and a tall riser under your scope or dot.

Ideally, you want a scope or dot on a Mini to be very close to the same plane as your irons.
Look at this scope mounted over the action with a GG&G rail, and see how tall it is:
Now look at how low you can put a scope ( or dot) on the Ultimak railed hand guard:

Forward mounted, it is out of the way of flying brass, bolt removal, no interference with your rear sight, ease of carrying with no scope over the balance point, and MUCH IMPROVED PERIPHERAL VISION.

That last one is the most important, no "tunnel vision like you have with a scope pressed up against your head.
And, the Ultimak has the same benefits as a strut, helps stiffen the barrel and acts as a heat sink.
When you throw your Mini to your shoulder with a dot or scope on the Ultimak, you are looking right through the center of the optic, no having to scoot your head up to see through it.

I might add that I use a scope ONLY for load development, 98 % of the time, I much prefer to have a Fastfire red dot sight like the one pictured.
Only weighs one ounce compared to 1 to 2 pounds of a scope and rings, doesn't make your Mini a heavy cumbersome pig.
Better in low light and moving targets, while still able to hit center or mass out past 300 yards.

I know many younger guys have grown up not knowing how to shoot without a scope.
I'm 62, and have scopes on a couple bolt guns, but have no problems using a good dot.
A Mini really shines with the Ultimak/Fastfire set up, retains it's good handling and light weight. Try it, you'll never go back to a big bulky scope.
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Old March 17th, 2020, 07:05 AM   #9
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A few things at play here, understanding I only have Mini-14s in .223/5.56. But the actions are the same.
1) many scopes are designed for a rear-ward "recoil" that is a function of gas pressure, but not necessarily metal-to-metal recoil. A bolt gun and most shotguns only produce a powder recoil, without introducing a metal-to-metal factor. Metal to metal is the equivalent of driving your car on steel rims, rather than using tires...

2) many scopes are designed for the non-metal-to-metal shock. A scope for a .50 BMG bolt gun may very well likely fail for a stock .223/5.56 Mini. Eliminating the metal-to-metal impact of cycling does a world of wonders! Rear buffers for the op-rod fix that with few problems and little coin.

3) Many scopes are built with the rearward recoil of a shootin' iron addressed, but few address the forward recoil/shock resulting with the Garand design - which includes the Mini family. The metal-to-metal slamming of the op-rod into the gas block is a tough "forward recoil" for scopes not designed for that. Curiously, scopes designed for air guns are designed for the "forward shock". Minis have a reputation as "scope-killers", but that seems to be mostly because of that forward shock...

4) A front op-rod buffer eliminates the metal-to-metal shock of the forward action, and it is the primary reason many of we Mini-14 owners like them. It not only helps the survival of lesser scopes, but seriously changes the whole felt nature of firing a Mini. Again: tires versus steel rims...

5) To be sure, front buffers don't last very long without some mods to the op-rod. That pesky lip on most serves as a "slicer/dicer" along the line of REMCO products, but the sharp edges can be smoothed out a bit with PATIENT filing, or removed altogether with a wet/dry tool sharpener. I did the latter, accepting that a front buffer will likely always be required. But they'll last forever, so I consider them as just another consumable part in my Mini. They're cheap to stock and easy to replace during normal cleaning. For my 1977-vintage Mini-14 I bought in 1980, I'm still using the original buffer I built (from Vinyl baseboard material) I installed well over five years ago.

6) I've not experienced any problems with later-model Mini-14s hitting the windage knob of a scope because with the Ranch design, Ruger shifted the eject pattern more to horizontal than vertical (for the original Mini-14s that were never designed for a scope). If you've got scallops on your Mini's receiver, you are generally GTG. But as mentioned earlier, if possible rotating the scope 90 counter clockwise will do the trick. Otherwise, consider a VERY inexpensive investment of water-pipe insulation - available at most hardware stores in 4'-6' sections for about a buck - and slicing a 1" piece to put around your windage know. Not elegant, but will cushion any impacts of ejecting brass.

7) lastly, strongly consider replacing the gas bushing (plenty of threads and comments here) to reduce the eject force (and pattern). Ruger's primary focus is reliability, but sometimes that results in less-preferred events, and ejection force is one of those.

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Old March 17th, 2020, 05:59 PM   #10
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My Ruger 44mag carbine came with a leather sleeve to put around a scope to prevent damage to the scope. Make one easily, a tube with a velcro closure.
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Old March 17th, 2020, 06:18 PM   #11
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I am one of Sandogs disciples, the Ultimak with a FFIII is the cats meow with this rifle
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Old March 18th, 2020, 07:17 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by kennedkj View Post
Does anyone know of a sight effective to 200 yards that would not get hit by brass, or a brass deflector that could be mounted under the windage knob, or any other suggestion? Thanks
Yes, a $65 TechSight Rear Iron Sight with a $15 Insert Ready Aperture System and .042" Target Aperture installed plus a thinned front sight blade. This will give you NM like sights on your Mini. The sight set will look like this when completed:

Rear TechSight with Target Aperture and Thinned Front Sight:


I've used this system to shoot at bowling pins at 200 yds for years. While they are 15" tall, there is less than a 2" high portion of the body where the pin is slightly over 2 MOA wide at 200 yds (4") so they make a challenging target. Clay pigeons (4" diameter) are also a worthy 200 yd target, however, your range may not allow them as mine doesn't outside the shotgun range, hence my using the bowling pins.

Practice with decent ammo, forget Tula and Wolff, and proper technique and you'll be surprised at your progress. The target aperture held close to your eye increases your Depth of Field (DoF) so that both the front sight and the target will be surprisingly clear at the same time. (Google DoF and learn what it can do for you.)

Even if you are older or your eyes aren't that good, you'll be amazed what an increased DoF will do for sighting with irons. The secret is a small aperture held close to your eye. Another secret is wear yellow tinted shooting glasses, never sun glasses as you want your iris closed down as small as possible from the bright light. That's what gives you your best precision sighting.

I'm 72, wear blended lens glasses, am farsighted, have astigmatisms, and I can do it so you should be able to as well. Thinning down to .050" wide is easy. Just take your time, file by hand not a Dremel, and follow these steps:

1st) Measure the current thickness of your sight blade with a set of calipers (should be about .073"-.077").
2nd) Subtract .050" from thickness, divide by 2 and add that to .050".
3rd) Carefully file down one side only of your sight blade frequently checking the thickness with calipers until you have a flat surface that measures the number in 2 above.
4th) When satisfied with the first side, reset your calipers to .050" and then start carefully filing the other side of the blade until the thickness is .050".

Your front sight blade will now be thinner but still centered on the bore axis and you'll have a set of National Match like iron sights for your Mini. It's the lightest option for your carbine and there is nothing to get hit by the brass. Best of all, it's cheaper than a scope or red dot and the US fought WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and in RVN with iron sights. Worked for them and they will work for you.
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