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Old January 21, 2013, 08:22 PM   #1
Mausermolt
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Mini-14 horror stories

Over the years ive heard many bad stories about the Ruger Mini series rifles. such as horrible reliability, Minute of Mount Rushmore accuracy, and burnt out barrels in 2K rounds. ive also heard that the early production rifles were great, then they began to go down hill in quality rapidly. I love the idea of the Garand style action in a small handy package, but Ive held off adding one to the collection due to the fact of all the bad stuff ive heard. Is there any truth to these rumors? If so; what should I look for to find the ones of higher quality?
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Old January 21, 2013, 08:42 PM   #2
mxsailor803
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I think the newer versions are much better than the older ones. But I'm also looking for one of the newer ones since AR's are stupid expensive right now. Can someone shed some more light on what to look for? And I mean people that actually has/had one. Not the black rifle only crowd that bashes everything that isn't AR Stoner design.
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Old January 21, 2013, 08:42 PM   #3
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I'm not an expert, but I've read that Ruger addressed the accuracy issues, and if you get one with a serial number > 500000 you shouldn't have a problem. I have a 581-series GB model and I like it.

The reliability problems are probably just bad magazines.
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Old January 21, 2013, 09:01 PM   #4
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what kind of accuracy are you getting?
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Old January 21, 2013, 09:10 PM   #5
zxcvbob
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I couldn't really say; I'm a good shot with a revolver and a lousy shot with a pistol or rifle.

I can hit a "dessert" sized paper plate every time at 25 yards shooting offhand, standing, with open sights -- but it looks more like a shotgun pattern than a grouping. I need to try dinner-sized plate at 100 yards.
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Old January 21, 2013, 09:26 PM   #6
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I would say that reliability was their strong suit accuracy was their weakness.

In a happy story I recently traded mine in for twice what I paid for it.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:00 PM   #7
stu925
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Any Mini-14 built after 2004 should be fine. Starting with the 580 series of rifles they are all built on retooled equipment. Starting with the 581 series they all have the heavier profile barrel (later 580s had this barrel too, earlier ones did not) which helped to get rid of the barrel whip the earlier rifles were known for. Most that have owned early rifles will tell you that accuracy was acceptable for hunting (first 3 shots from a cold barrel would go right where they were supposed to) but as the barrels heated up they would start vertical stringing. My 581 series rifle will put factory ammo into a 2" 5 shot group @ 100yds, it'll ground handloads into 1 1/2" (although I still need to tweak that load to see if I can shrink that). This is perfectly acceptable accuracy for it's intended purpose as an all around ranch rifle. All Minis except the target version are 5.56 chambers even though they say .223 Rem, target versions are .223 Rem only. If you like the Garand style action you will love the Minis, I wouldn't trade mine for anything.

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Old January 21, 2013, 10:05 PM   #8
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My Mini was purchased in the early 1970's with a serial number starting with 181. At 100 yards it is acccurate within 3" which is fine by me.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:23 PM   #9
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how about the Mini-30? my dad had one for a long time and my brother actually took his first deer with it. Im still angry he sold it! can anyone vouch for the 30?
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:28 PM   #10
Art Eatman
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I had four early models, trading in and out through the years. On each, I put a Weaver K4.

Reliability was 100%.

Three-shot groups of about 1.5 inches at 100 yards was common. The best part for me, as a hunter, was that the first shot was always right where I wanted it.

Since I used mine pretty much mostly as hunting rifles, bench rest groups beyond three shots weren't part of my deal.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:40 PM   #11
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I heeerd that them chevys rust faster than them fords, which you have to fix or repair daily...


I have a mini 14. Its a 580 model and it is a hoot to shoot. I was at a range and shot at 18'' steel plates from the standing position. I hit the plate 10 out of 10 times at 200 yards. I literally, and yes I do mean literally, had 3 complete strangers with custom ar15's walk over and ask me "what ammo are you using?", "is that a target barrel?" "What modifications have you made to it?".

Its a completely stock Ruger ranch rifle that was shooting bulk american eagle ammo. Sure, its not a target rifle and it will not win a precision rifle competition, but neither will most other stock rifles. Its a great gun and I really like it. If you don't, that's fine. Its one more Ruger for someone who will appreciate it. Its well made and is very reliable. If you miss a soda can at 100 yards, its your fault, not the rifle's.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:42 PM   #12
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Any reliability issues you may of heard about with the Mini-14 is bunk. As stated, that's it strong point.

As for accuracy issue with the older ones.......... IMO that's bunk too. No they aren't target guns, no thye aren't as accurate as the average AR. But does that mean they're trash? Not by a long shot. They have advantages over AR series guns.

Buy old or new with confidence but don't expect it to be something it was never intended to be.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:48 PM   #13
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Never had any reliability issues. Accuracy on the ones I had was nothing to write home about, but not as bad as they sometimes get credit for. There were a few small foreign militaries that tried them as well as a few US police agencies as a cheaper alternative to an AR back in the 70's and 80's. The word is that for a lot of sustained fire they don't hold up well. But that is not what they were designed for, and not what most use them for.

They were designed as an inexpensive farm or ranch rifle that could be exposed to a lot of dirt and dust while carried on a tractor or behind the seat of a pick-up and for the occasional shot at a coyote or fox. They serve that role well enough. I'd trust one just fine for SD purposes as long as I could get Ruger factory magazines. I'd bet any horror stories on reliabilty were with cheap aftermarket magazines.

I actually like the rifles and owned several when they sold for $300 and an AR was selling for $1,000. They made a lot of sense then, but when Mini's started selling for $700 and an AR was $700 it was a no brainer. I changed over to AR's. For the same money my AR's do everything better.

It will be interesting to see how things work out over the next few weeks and months. The Mini may start looking a lot better again.
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Old January 21, 2013, 11:02 PM   #14
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i already have an Bushmaster 20'' AR, and i have a Rock River Coyote Carbine upper ordered that i want to build a lower for...when i get it is a different story. the Mini-14 idea was more of a "those are kinda cool i should get one" type of idea. the more i think about it i wonder: "im going to have 2 AR's why the heck should i buy a Mini-14, it will just turn into another safe queen" so the Mini-30 is what im leaning toward now. i would like something in the common, (pre-histaria) cheep and good for just about anything i wanna shoot at 7.62X39. the SKS's and AK's are cool, but big and heavy to tote around as a "utility rifle". ARRRGGG!!! when the gun bug bites, it sure does bite hard!
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Old January 21, 2013, 11:13 PM   #15
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oh BTW, i wont be buying anything anytime soon...just looked at gunbroker.com......i didnt see anything going for less than 900$ :O
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Old January 22, 2013, 12:16 AM   #16
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Yeah, my local store has one for $1600. And, it's got a factory folder so it's probably so old Ruger can't fix it if there's problems.
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Old January 22, 2013, 01:02 AM   #17
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I wouldn't buy any Mini right now unless you want to pay stupid money for it.

That being said, I just sold a Tactical that I considered accurate. Something like 2.25" 3-shot groups at 100, sometimes a hair bigger. I would buy again.

I've had a buch of earlier Minis over the years (pre-580 series) that I couldn't hit the side of a barn with. I would love to have them back again to re-test with a top of the line scope, though.

The Mini has a super power - it can jack-hammer the innards of any cheap scope so badly that the optic itself becomes unreliable. I believe that is the main reason people can't hit anything with them. In my rashness, I just didn't realize my scopes were no longer holding zero, and that is how I explain my 8-inch groups. Instead of buying a good scope like I should, I sold the guns.

If you have quality glass, I wouldn't hesitate to buy any new Mini based on the last model I owned.
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Old January 22, 2013, 03:20 AM   #18
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Mini-14 prices have gone as high as ARs now. At least in the classifieds and at dealers and funshows.

But then, I been trying for a FTF trade of a minty SAIGA for an older Mini-14 - no takers. The used $400.00 Minis I used to walk past at the funshows are now worth their weight in gold.
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Old January 22, 2013, 08:21 AM   #19
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I have an AC556 (full-auto mini-14) built sometime prior to '86. I've fired it many times in semi and full-auto. It's very reliable, durable and accurate enough for a 13"-barrel carbine. I've never had anything break on it and have not had to replace the barrel.

Mini-14's were built to be able to withstand full-auto fire. I am very skeptical about stories of Mini-14's wearing out barrels and breaking parts. Accuracy out of the box is a different story. If you demand AR-or-better accuracy from a Mini-14, that usually means replacing the stock barrel with a heavier aftermarket one.
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Old January 22, 2013, 08:36 AM   #20
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I have a late 90 s mini 30 that I can rapid fire into a paper plate at 100 yards all day long with any ammo. Absolutely reliable. Occasional dud primer but never ever had a jam.
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Old January 22, 2013, 09:16 AM   #21
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This story is about the older Mini 14s (mid to late '80s), I have no knowledge about the newer ones.

Back in the '80s the Anchorage Police Dept started their SWAT team, (called them CRT). I was chosen to provide the initial rifle training for the program.

They bought Mini 14s. (I thought this was silly since they could have gottne M16a1s from the Army FREE). Anyway we had difficulities qualifying with those rifles. Some malfunctions but mostly these guns were not near accurate enough to be use as a police rifle.

It wasn't the shooters, I got some NG M16s for them to try and they had no difficulity qualifying with the '16s, it was the gun.

I'm not talking about target quality rifle. I use the KD range to 400 yards, and the Army's "pop up" 300 meter targets. We could get better groups at 400 yards with the M16s then we could with the Minis at 200. We were using hte same ammo in both guns.

They just couldn't meet my standards or what I thought a Police Rifle was capable of shooting.

The Department did eventually go to M16s, not sure what they use now, I retired 19 years ago.

Again, this was the older rifles, the newer Mini's may be different, I haven't shot them much.
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Old January 22, 2013, 10:42 AM   #22
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We shoot Mini 14's for work (Michigan Department of Corrections). They have synthic stocks, 20 round mags. They are Government Models, if that makes a diffrence. We have to quailify once a yr from up 100 yards. I can hit a silloette target at 100 yards for score with open sights every time. Its not a sniper or compatition rifle, so it should'nt be compaired to them. It does what we need it to do. Yeah it would be great to get AR-15's but I dont see that happening, because we just got brand new TASERs.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:13 AM   #23
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Most of the horror stories on the Mini-14 are from the haters. Haters are going to hate regardless. I have 3 mini's, A 181 series I bought back in 1979, a 183 series GB folder and a recent production Mini-30 tactical. Never had any issues with any of them. They are essentially very reliable and rugged, an American AK-47 if you will. Ruger has some of the best customer support in the industry.

If you are looking for a Mini-14, just avoid the 180 series because Ruger no longer has any parts for them and any aftermarket accessories support only the 181 series and later models.

The thinner barreled older models did have some issues with accuracy due to barrel whip. There are products on the market that will stiffen the barrel and improve accuracy like the Accu-Strut. www.accu-strut.com. Also there has been noted improvement using the Ultimak as well www.ultimak.com .

Right now as most are aware, pricing on Mini's have skyrocketed due to the scares of mag bans and banning of assault weapons. There are still some good deals out there, you just need to look for them.
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Old January 22, 2013, 11:57 AM   #24
Skans
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Quote:
Ruger has some of the best customer support in the industry.
I disagree with this. Ruger stopped supporting the AC556. Not only is it difficult to get parts, because Ruger never makes parts available to the public, no one has a chance to stock up on parts before they decide not to support one of their products. To be fair, I think Ruger will still try to fix a broken AC556 if they have parts. But, the lack of support for AC556's is disappointing.
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Old January 22, 2013, 12:01 PM   #25
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I had an older Mini. I loved the light weight and reliability but it was a bit lacking in the accuracy department.
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