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Old June 26, 2012, 09:57 AM   #1
jmstr
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.223 semi comparison: Saiga vs Mini-14 Ranch

I am thinking of getting a new .223 semi-auto and want one with a 'traditional' rifle stock: not a pistol grip.

I was wondering which of these two rifles has the potential to be made the most accurate, without losing reliability: a Saiga .223/5.56 [ak-style] or the new [580 series or newer] Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle.

What do you think and why?

I am interested in both accuracy out of the box as well as the ability to tune the accuracy with aftermarket barrels/parts.

The prospective role for this rifle would be a range toy and possible SHTF home defense, but it is doubtful I'd ever be seriously trying to hit anything beyond 300 meters, and I'd prefer a bigger caliber if I were trying to inflict damage at 300 meters or beyond anyway.

So, anyone have any head-to-head info on accuracy and potential accuracy tuning on these two .223/5.56 semi-auto rifles?


Since I don't want a pistol grip, I am not interested in the AK-look Saiga, or of any AR-15 variants. But thanks for thinking of other options.
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Old June 26, 2012, 10:03 AM   #2
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CDNN has some beautiful wood Mini-14 GB's for about $600, and you get a 30 round Ruger magazine and a set of Ruger scope rings with it. The stocks are very nice walnut. People compliment me on mine when they walk by at the range.

I can't comment on the accuracy because I'm a lousy shot (but I'm working on that!)
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Old June 26, 2012, 10:13 AM   #3
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I own both and would go with the Mini-14 for several reasons.

Sturdier scope mounting
Ability to tune the gas system with a gas bushing kit. This alone will improve accuracy as factory guns are over-gassed for reliability.
Several manufacturers of barrel struts that increase the accuracy of the Mini-14. No such options are available for the Saiga.
The Mini has a better factory trigger and the trigger can be improved further depending on your skill level. The only real way to improve the Saiga trigger is to convert the gun.
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Old June 26, 2012, 10:45 AM   #4
RedBowTies88
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If you're not going to convert the saiga its not worth having.

I have one that I converted and LOVE it. But stock its akward to hold and fire and the trigger is HORRIBLE in factory form. its just not right.

So if you really want a traditional stock get yourself a mini. If not the saiga wins hands down IMHO
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Old June 26, 2012, 11:13 AM   #5
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The traditional weakness of the Mini was the pencil thin 18" barrel that would vibrate and whip making it a ~3MOA rifle. The cure for that was to shorten the barrel to the legal minimum and add weight to the tip in the form of a compensator. Ruger finally addressed this in their latest generation of Minis by thickening the barrel a bit and offering a 16" version.

The second issue is the ~7lb lawyer blessed trigger. Both Great Western Gunsmithing (GunDoc) and Brimstone offer trigger jobs for the Mini. In addition GW offers full accurizing services for the Mini. I had GunDoc give one of my older Minis the full treatment including shortening the barrel and adding a compensator/sight combination that I came up with. They also bedded the factory stock, modified the gas block, added a sling stud, and tuned the trigger to a crisp 3lbs. It's as accurate as I am over open sights but I've never gotten around to trying it with a scope and giving it a real accuracy workout.

The final weakness of the Mini is the cost of magazines. Except for the old and long gone Thermolds I have yet to see a non-Ruger magazine that I'd trust my life to and at $40ea 30rd Ruger magazines are obscenely expensive. Don't get me wrong, I love my Minis but by the time you buy the rifle and a dozen factory 30rd magazines you've spend almost enough to buy a top quality AR and a dozen magazines, and that doesn't include the cost of accurizing the Mini.


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Last edited by sholling; June 26, 2012 at 11:27 PM.
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Old June 26, 2012, 12:01 PM   #6
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I love my Minis but by the time you buy the rifle and a dozen factory 30rd magazines you've spend almost enough to buy a top quality AR and a dozen magazines, and that doesn't include the cost of accurizing the Mini.
I started to buy a bunch of magazines for my Mini -- then got to thinking "how many magazines do I need?" I'm getting along just fine with 2 mags (a 20 and a 30); will probably buy 3 more "just because" next time I find them on sale.

I keep the 30-round Ruger mag topped up all the time with green-tip 5.56 NATO ammo, and I use the aftermarket 20-round at the range.
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Old June 26, 2012, 12:01 PM   #7
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I'd like to see all minis with threaded muzzles and adjustable gas ports. I like my mini just fine, but the pile driver action of the big ol hunk of op-rod thing makes it a tad quirky for unsupported follow-up shots.

I've never done any serious accuracy testing with my taper barrel 581 but I haven't seen anything alarming about it neither
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Old June 26, 2012, 01:11 PM   #8
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I started to buy a bunch of magazines for my Mini -- then got to thinking "how many magazines do I need?" I'm getting along just fine with 2 mags (a 20 and a 30); will probably buy 3 more "just because" next time I find them on sale.
It depends on your individual needs. You don't need much for a fun day out or scaring off a burglar. On the other hand I figure that 5 (150rds) per rifle is the bare minimum for a major emergency - but if I had to bug out due to civil unrest I'd want a lot more even though my goal would be a simple discreet (no shooting or getting shot) exit from the area. It's just a sick feeling to not have enough ammo on hand to get your butt out of a bad situation. I keep one of these bandoleers with 120rds (4x30) of 55gr PSP for the Mini and 2 mags of 230JHP for my M&P45 ready to go and have another loaded mag in a safe next to the above Mini and I have still more stored empty in safe. I stocked up on lifetime supplies of full-caps for several of my rifles back before the last ban and won't be caught short before the next one.
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Old June 26, 2012, 01:14 PM   #9
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If I were in your shoes, with your line of thought I would choose the Mini.

The Saiga is a great rifle, dependable, and accurate enought to be minute of meat at 200-300 yards. Its dowfalls are: The factory trigger is, by all means an AK trigger..therefore functional yet, ick. Magazines for a saiga .223 are not as readily available as mini mags, though I have seen an adapter to make them take AR mags, but cant verify how reliable these are. As far as accurizing them, you are extremely limited, theres just not much out there to accurize an AK.

The Mini, ilmost every bit as reliable, in my opinion. They meet your accuracy standards out of the box, magazines and other accurizing mods are readily available.

I like both weapon platforms, but in this case I would definately choose the Mini.
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Old June 26, 2012, 10:13 PM   #10
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The Mini is more comfortable,But I like them both.
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Old June 27, 2012, 11:14 AM   #11
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I'd choose the Mini just for the location and function of the safety.
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Old June 27, 2012, 05:02 PM   #12
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Saiga if you convert, mini if you don't.
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Old June 27, 2012, 06:24 PM   #13
eldorendo
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Isn't this kind of like comparing a Chevette to a Yugo??
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Old June 27, 2012, 08:00 PM   #14
rickyrick
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That's wrong, the mini is at least a 70's crown Vic.
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Old June 27, 2012, 09:32 PM   #15
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That's wrong, the mini is at least a 70's crown Vic.
Not sure that one works either. My Mini ends up being lighter than my friends ARs, mainly from the lack of an HO scale railroad set on the forearm.
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Old June 27, 2012, 09:37 PM   #16
rickyrick
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Lol I was referring to quality and available technology, but you're right, it's all wrong for the weight analogy.
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Old June 27, 2012, 09:40 PM   #17
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Isn't this kind of like comparing a Chevette to a Yugo??
Actually, that is a very brilliant statement.
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Old June 27, 2012, 09:48 PM   #18
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Ok, I'm tapping out. Rofl
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Old June 27, 2012, 10:46 PM   #19
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Isn't this kind of like comparing a Chevette to a Yugo??
Actually, the Yugo wasn't that bad of a car IF YOU MAINTAINED IT.

One major problem was that the timing belt was only good for 40,000 miles, a fact made VERY clear in the manual. The Yugo had an interference engine, timing belt failure will destroy the engine. People also neglected regular oil changes.
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Old June 28, 2012, 03:13 AM   #20
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The mini 14 is a dream to shoot. Its so smooth. I really love mine, so thats what my vote is for. I've never shot a siaga, but I'm sure its a fine gun.
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Old June 28, 2012, 03:37 AM   #21
Bamashooter
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Saiga makes a good roust rifle and so does ruger which goes without saying. I think the mini is slightly better built and considerably more accurate. I would definatly go with the mini-14
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Old June 28, 2012, 08:31 AM   #22
RedBowTies88
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I think the mini is slightly better built and considerably more accurate
I have to disagree with this, I think both rifles are about the same on both points.
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Old June 28, 2012, 12:18 PM   #23
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Personally, I'd take a Mini-14 with a high quality heavy aftermarket barrel, decent muzzle brake and nice wooden stock over an AR or AK any day of the week. Granted, I'd have as much into this as I would a higher-end AR. I really don't need more than 3-5 magazines, and you get what you pay for with factory Ruger magazines.

Performance-wise, both a good quality AR and the rifle I described above will be equally accurate and reliable. What I'm talking about is something about like this:


Trust me, the Mini-14 (modified) is a much classier rifle than most AR's, and you will like it as much, or likely much more, 20 years from now. AR's are a dime a dozen and they tend to look dated in just a few years. And as far as AK's go, I'd take the above Mini-14 build over a Polytech Legend - even the Legend doesn't compare in quality..

Last edited by Skans; June 28, 2012 at 12:26 PM.
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Old June 28, 2012, 12:46 PM   #24
jmstr
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Thanks all. I have an AR and a Saiga .308, so I was wondering about these two other .223 rifles. I would not convert the Saiga, so I ordered a SS mini-14 ranch rifle: more parts to tune it.

Thanks for the info! Now to wait 12 days (my vacation and dros period don't play nice).

sent ftom tapatalk on Evo3G
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Old June 28, 2012, 12:49 PM   #25
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I started to buy a bunch of magazines for my Mini -- then got to thinking "how many magazines do I need?" I'm getting along just fine with 2 mags (a 20 and a 30); will probably buy 3 more "just because" next time I find them on sale.
Weren't into guns during the 1994-2004 ban were you?

Mags, even the much vaunted Mini mag, is an expendable item. If you use it, it will eventually fail. Even if not for mechanical failure, drop it wrong, step on it, drop something on it. Even the smallest dent, in the wrong place, may prevent the mag from ever working right again.

I would get as many magazines as you ever think you will need for the life of your gun. As one fails, replace it with a new one, if you can. That way, if the worst happens and we have another ban (or your gun goes out of production), you will have enough that you won't need to worry about it.

I, for one, lived through the 1994 ban and paid exorbitant prices for "high cap" magazines, if they could be found at all. I personally don't plan on doing that again.
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