View Full Version : Mini-30 : Pros & Cons

January 9, 1999, 01:42 AM
I recently came across a used Mini-30 ranch rifle. It looked like new,price was reasonable, ammo is cheap, Y2K? So I said what the heck and bought it. Thing is I know next to nothing about semi-auto centerfire rifles. I just never had much intrest in them till now. So I'd be interested in hearing opinions from people who know this gun. Good, bad, problems or whatever.

January 9, 1999, 05:46 PM
Pros = Ruger quality and its American made. BIG Con = An SKS is 1/2 the price and shoots at least as good if not better.

4V50 Gary
January 10, 1999, 09:13 AM

Rob Pincus
January 10, 1999, 01:39 PM
What Bailout said is true.

I would add that I , personally, hate non-detachable mags and that is a big minus in my book for the SKS (but I have two ;)). I guess that how much you are going to have to pay for the Mini-30 has a lot to do with it.


Michael Carlin
January 10, 1999, 06:33 PM
IMHO the SKS is a better gun all around. I am unimpressed with the Ruger mini 14 in either caliber; 5.56 or 7.62.

My limited experience places the accuracy of the Ruger about on a par with an AK, and SKS will shoot better generally and costs much less.

For a Y2K contingency i would prefer SKS to the Ruger and spend the difference on other essentials.

Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship


January 10, 1999, 10:52 PM
I appreciate your input, but I think you missed the part that said I already bought the gun. OK, so you like the SKS better, thats fine. But, I was looking for opinons and info on this rifle. I can hold my own in discussions about bolt actions or lever guns, however the last semi-auto I had was made by GM and belonged to Uncle Sam. I saw the mini at a local gunshow, just happened to have the money (that was a truely rare event) and gave in to a whim. Besides I like the gun. I was just looking for some information. Gee, cut me some slack, OK. :)

January 10, 1999, 11:01 PM
The fact that you can't buy spare parts for this gun from anyone other than ruger limits its effectiveness as a defense weapon if the hype everyone associates with Y2K proves true. I've owned two of these things and I couldn't get either one to group as well as my 20" SKS. The mini-30 will give you some enjoyment as a plinker(thats all I used mine for after trying for a month to pull something better than 4.5" groups out of it) but thats about all its good for, IMHO.

"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist."

Rob Pincus
January 10, 1999, 11:10 PM
This is note a smart-alecky post, this is serious:

I have heard so much negative stuff about Mini-14's that it really makes me wonder if I have some kind of "special" one. It shoots on par with my regular CAR, which is to say, very well.
It is the "LE" or "GB" version with the factory bird cage, plastic pistol grip, folding stock and bayo lug. Was their some accurizing done to this model or something, that anyone knows of?

4V50 Gary
January 11, 1999, 01:25 AM
GunParts Inc. sells parts for the Mini14. For the safety of the shooter and to ensure reliability of the firearm, certain parts should be purchased from the factory. This would include the hammer and bolt (the two must be fitted and Ruger has about a dozen different hammer sizes). So, if you're ever worred about your Mini being stolen, just separate the trigger group from the rest. Ruger won't sell you a trigger group unless you send in the entire rifle for fitting.

Accuracy varies from Mini to Mini. A lot of it has to do with how straight the barrel is when it leaves the factory. There's a special jig which they use to accomplish this - described in another thread somewhere. Mine will consistenly hit clay pigeons at 100 yards - until the barrel heats up. Then, like most sporter barrels, it becomes like a spaghetti and whips around all over the place until it is allowed to cool down.

In response to Rob's question, early GBs varied from the regular Mini14 in that the rear sight base was made of steel as opposed to aluminum. Modernly, all non-Ranch Minis have steel sight bases (at least they told me they were going over to one type). No other special modification was made other than for the folding stock version which had a side slight mount on the gas-cylinder assembly. BTW, "GB" stands for "Grenade Launcher - Bayonet Mount."

4v50 Gary

Rob Pincus
January 11, 1999, 01:32 AM
A rec.guns guru has recently insisted that the Mini-14 was never intended to have a Bayonet mounted to it. He insists this, though he acknowledges that ruger did produce and ship the gun with a Bayo Lug.. that's rec.guns for you, I guess.

I'm wondering, Gary, if you know what the GB version is all about?
Seems like I have seen some one which the "tubing" of the stock has "LE only" stamped into it, though mine does not....

4V50 Gary
January 11, 1999, 12:06 PM

My info was learned from attending Armorer's School for the Mini14. The Rec Gun guru is right in that civilian/sporting Mini14s were not meant to have a bayonet mount/grenade launcher. Only the military & police GB version does (and some, when discarded, will find their way into the civilian market). I suppose it's a matter of clarification and specificity (lawyerese - aggghh!!!). I'm speculating that the post-ban Mini14s have, "LE only" stamped on them, but this was not discussed in class. I'll email a friend who has a post-ban folder and will repost when he responds. BTW, my GB also does not have LE only stamped on it - nor does the folding stock.


Michael Carlin
January 11, 1999, 01:23 PM

Sorry if I contributed to your discomfort. You asked for opinions, I gave mine. I do understand that the typical rifle will benefit markedly from a good "bedding" job with Acraglass or such.

There is nothing really "wrong" with the rifle, I just don't like them much. I don't remember who it was but 30 years ago I read one of the gun pundits (might have been Whelen) who said "If it isn't accurate it isn't interesting". I could not agree more.

The standard for interesting accuracy is very subjective, mine is based on this:

If I am shooting at rifle ranges (200+ yards) I should be able to call the shot within 2 MOA. In other words at 200 I ought to be able (shooting iron sights) call the shot within 4 inches. I can see to about a minute or a minute +, and if the rifle shots about a minute I have 2 MOA or a or little worse.

Trying to really develop marksmanship skills with a rifle of less than 2.5 MOA (bigger number than 2.5) is an exercise in frustration. It can be done, but is very much more difficult.

If your requirements are less stringent then the Ruger should serve you well, and I hope you enjoy it. They seem reliable enough in my limited experience with them.

I went back and you did ask for opinions on the rifle and I gave you mine. Apparently others feel about the same way about the rifle. (BTW the rifle's rating is not related to the CEO's rating, if you are concerned about the objectivity of my comments).

Have a good one!

Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship


January 11, 1999, 08:24 PM
I love my minis. I have a 14 that shoots as well as my 20" AR, and a 30 that is on par with my best SKS. I would hope that my mini30 could keep me alive if ever the situation called for such behavior.
My only gripe is the huge cache of really crappy magazines for either the 14 or 30. It takes a lot of wasted money to find mags that work flawlessly.

January 12, 1999, 12:12 AM
No, you didn't offend me. I ask for honest opinions and thats what I expect. I was just trying to keep this from turning into an SKS thread and having my question lost in the shuffle.
To all-
One of the things I really like about this forum is the honesty of it's members. Always say what you think and never worry about offending me. This ol' fox has a pretty thick hide! :)

4V50 Gary
January 12, 1999, 12:58 AM
I forgot to mention that for the .223 Ruger tends to chamber it for 5.56x45 instead of .223. The looser military chamber is favored becaused of the strong likelihood of consumers using surplus ammo. Surplus ammo in commerical guns (with SAAMI chambers) can result in high pressure. So, to keep it on the safe side, mil-spec chambers are standard. Naturally this isn't conducive to the highest standards of accuracy.

For Mini30 users, you can't trade trigger housing, receiver, bolts or even stocks with the Mini14. The Mini30 parts are larger.

4V50 Gary
January 15, 1999, 10:58 AM
My friend's post-ban Mini14 BG does indeed have "Law Enforcement Only" stamped on the receiver.

March 31, 1999, 04:17 PM

I have a Mini-30 and it used to be my primary deer hunting weapon. Here are some of my thoughts:

- You can get some parts from Gun Parts. However, if you don't fool with the weapon, how often are you going to need to replace any of them (keep in mind, I don't subscribe to the military-type/survival senario's you read on some of these pages, so take it for what's it worth)
- There is one part I recommend getting and that is the gas piston (one thread on this site mentioned having this part rust when two police officers tried to use their Mini's). It's around $15 or so from Brownells. This is probably the only part you really need to have a spare for. Comments anyone???

- To shoot well, you really need to bed the rifle with Acraglas Gel (use the Gel, it doesn't run). Use the NRA Gusnmithing Guide and the article on the M1A. It made my shoot much better, both accurately and mechanically (my Mini used to disassemble itself on firing!! The side screws were very loose and I didn't know it since they were covered by camo tape)).

- Accuracy, as someone else has already said, is relative. If 2-3" (or more) with a scope at 100 yards is OK with you, you'll be happy. If you want more accuracy, you'll probably end up eventually with another rifle.

- I disagree with several: I would much rather have a Mini (-14 or -30) than an SKS (I have both), but don't ask me if I would rather have an AR!!!).

- You may not want to hear this part: The Mini is in the back of the gun safe:
- I use a Rem. Model 7 in 7mm-08 for hunting (probably a 45-70 Guide Gun next year). Why? Better cartridge in a smaller and lighter package.
- I found out about AR's (I now have two).
- Bottom line: I'll doubt I'll ever buy another Mini again.

None of the above is meant to flame and/or dissuade you from enjoying your new rifle, I hope you do. I know I did when I was using it and firing it a lot; I've just moved onto other rifles.



Art Eatman
April 2, 1999, 12:12 AM
I've had a couple of blued and a couple of stainless Mini-14s, although all in .223. My first one was the only one I tried with the iron sights; my eyes made scopes mandatory on through the years with the other Minis. However, they all ran around two minutes of angle.

With decent magazines, they've all been quite reliable.

If you're thinking Y2K, it seems to me that the probable ranges and the probable targets make two minutes or so of angle adequately useful. After all, that was about standard in all non-custom rifles until the 1960s. I recall many articles in the Rifleman or in Field & Stream speaking of 3" groups at 100 yards as "hunting accuracy". We are indeed spoile in today's world...

A plus in our politically correct world is that they ain't black plastic. They look like a "real" gun, as has been commented upon in other threads...

Just enjoy the dern thing! Art

April 2, 1999, 02:43 AM
I hate to disappoint you, but thanks to Choate my Mini-30 is now black plastic. I hate to admit it but, Once I saw all the neat gizmos and goodies avalible for this gun, I sort of got carried away with it. The end result looks like a refugee from "Star Trek". Its plenty accurate enough and surplus Russian ammo is cheap. I'm having a ball with this new toy. Not to mention the laughs when people ask "What the h*** is that?

Keith Rogan
April 2, 1999, 10:51 AM

Everyone has their preferences on rifles but one thing that can be said about the Ruger Mini's is that they are reliable. For some reason beyond my ken, Alaskan natives have taken to the Ruger Mini 14 and use it on caribou and moose. Word is that you can strap one of these on the back of a snowmobile at minus 50 and it will work, reliably, when you grab it and shoot.
That can't be said about a lot of rifles in those conditions.
The Ruger mini 30 has one peculiarity that most people aren't aware of. American .30 mikes out to .308, Russian .30 is about .312 - Ruger couldn't decide which way to go so they split the difference and their barrels are at .310....
Because of this, the mini 30 will never be a tack driver, but its accurate enough to do any job you'd ask it to do.
I don't own a Ruger, but I own an SKS with detachable mags. I'll swap for a Ruger any day.

The Bears and Bear Maulings Page: members.xoom.com/keithrogan (http://members.xoom.com/keithrogan)

April 4, 1999, 06:41 AM
Michael Carlin and other collectors of great firearms quotes.

"Only accurate rifles are interesting"

Jack O'Connor, guru of the 270 Win. in pre64 Winchester #70. Spoken about 50 years ago.

April 4, 1999, 09:00 PM
I never said it was interesting, I said it was fun! :)

4V50 Gary
April 4, 1999, 09:31 PM
Does anything else matter?

Shutoku Shia
April 6, 1999, 08:33 PM
Grayfox, it is my understanding that most long gun confrontations are under 100 yards (and if my memory serves me right, the longest distance in 1998 was approx. 80 yards). If you are going to use the carbine/rifle for self-defense, I think that for all practical purposes, RELIABILITY ranks at the top of the scale with ADEQUATE ACCURACY to hit center mass at 50 yards and less coming in close second.

With that in mind, I would think that the Mini-14/Mini-30 would be an adequate, if not an excellent tool, for self-defense for typical engagement distances from 7 to 50 yards (would someone care to comment on this as I am assuming these figures). Ergonomics in regards to ease of magazine reloading is not that important in my opinion. I would try to focus on practicing: (1) getting the first, accurate shot as quickly as possible from the 3 ready positions (high, low, and indoor ready); (2) utilization of cover from various positions; (3) learning to combine movement with cover.


April 8, 1999, 02:46 PM
I like Minis in any caliber. I almost bought one of the new synthetic-stocked Ranch Rifles a couple of weeks ago, but somebody else got it first.

Anyway, my problem with Minis is not the gun itself, but the poor availability of larger capacity (i.e., greater than 5-round) magazines. Ruger factory 20- and 30-round mags are expensive and hard to find for the Mini-14, and they've never existed (as far as I know) for the Mini-30. It would help if Ruger produced a legal-limit (10-round) magazine for both of these rifles.

BTW, the most interesting Mini-14 I ever saw came with a factory stock that was left over--so I was told--from the failed .308 Mini project. This particular stock was different from the ordinary Mini-14 stock and was an improvement, I thought. Unfortunately, the dealer kept that gun for himself.

[This message has been edited by jimmy (edited April 08, 1999).]

4V50 Gary
April 8, 1999, 04:04 PM
You're talking about the XGI. About 20 preproduction models were made and released for review by the gun community. Bill Ruger really didn't like the way his engineers resolved the flier problem (the 5th shot was always a flier) and figured that it would cost him at least a million to tool up for production. He could make the same amount with the Minis and not spend a million, so that's the way he went.

I saw a wax casting for the XGI receiver and while the gun was based on the Garand, it was certainly a longer receiver. I thought it was about 10" long.

Jimmy, if you ever get your mitts on the XGI, grab it, it's a keeper and it is very unlikely that Bill Ruger will ever allow that gun to see production.

April 17, 2002, 07:02 PM
check out this it may be of help http://www.beartoothbullets.com/tips/archive_tips.htm/1

Duke of Lawnchair
April 18, 2002, 04:46 AM
I have to agree with a few of the other members concerning Ruger's little carbines. In all honesty, I think they're perfect little "ranch" rifles. What I mean by that is that they're VERY light, feed two VERY commonly found cartridges, reliable (in my experiences), point easily (for me), are accurate out to short distances and are relatively inexpensive. My personal preference leans towards the standards instead of the "ranch" models. I just do not like the flip-sight on the ranch models, and this is based upon my father's mini30 which an aperture that literally drifts left and right. Note, this is just one example and have not noticed this on other ranch rifles. Irregardless, I'd rather have a standard over a ranch.

As to the Mini30 vs SKS debate, I don't have much to offer. Both are fine little rifles but I'd give the nod to the mini30. I find it much more ergonomic than the SKS.

Enjoy your rifle. If you don't, sell it and find something else that suits your wants/needs.

BTW I think that "accuracy" is a word that has many definitions for all. Service rifle and highpower shooters most likely have different standards than do the benchrest crowd.


April 18, 2002, 07:59 PM
I tried the Mini-30 myself and I think the best thing about it was that I found it completely reliable with USA brand 20 round mags unlike the Mini-14. With available hi-caps that work the rifle has alot more going for it than it's .223 sibling in my opinion. Not a bad little rifle, but I the best I could manage with a 4x scope off the bench was about 2" at 50 yds with about 6 different brands of ammo. I want to like the little Rugers and if it had shot about 1-1.5" at the same distance I'd probably still have it.

David Wile
April 18, 2002, 08:26 PM
Hey Fox,

To paraphrase Will R., I never met a gun I didn't like. Like you said, you already bought it, so enjoy it.

In semi-auto have some ARs, some M1 Garands, some AKs, some SKS, a Ljungman, and one Ruger Mini-30 sainless Ranch model. I had no need for the Mini-30, but that is true about everything else I have, too. Like Art mentioned, a three inch group at 100 yards is better than most hunters are capable of doing. We do have more accurate rifles off the rack today than we did forty years ago, but my Mini-30 sure isn't shabby. I must confess that I have no idea what it does when the barrel gets too hot. I have never fired thirty rounds out of it in less than fifteen or twenty minutes, so I really never got it "battle hot." Then again, I did not get it to do battle; I got it just because I thought it was neat, and I have never regretted it.

I bought my Mini-30 about 1995 maybe, and, at the same time, I ordered a whole bunch of 30 round magazines. It came with a dumb five round mag. The big mags I have all function properly, and I shoot my own reloaded ammunition - including cast bullets.

Like Art, I need a scope to see something at 100 yards, so I went for the Ranch model which included quick detachable mounts. I would like to also say that I can take the scope off and put it back on at the same aim point. The only problem I have with the scope mounts is that the thumbscrews need to be checked often to make sure they are still tight. Is this quick detachable scope a good thing for a battle rifle? No, but neither is a scope. Like I said before, I did not buy it for a battle rifle. I like Ruger guns, and that is all the justification I require to buy and enjoy the Mini-30.

I must admit the rear sight on my Ranch rifle is not too good. I have seen some ideas mentioned here on that issue, and I am wondering if the replacement sights mentioned can be used with the scope in place? The best thing I can say about the rear sight is that it is able to fold flat for scope use. Any insights from others about the rear sight would be appreciated.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

Steve Smith
April 18, 2002, 08:40 PM

Jamie Young
April 18, 2002, 10:13 PM
I thought I was having back flashes or something.:eek:

April 19, 2002, 01:44 AM
I've had a SS Mini-14 for years and still like to shoot it.

Seems one thing I remember about the Mini-30 from years ago was that they recommended not using any bulk chinese/russian made 7.62x39 (back when you could buy 1000 rnds for almost nothing). Seems it had something to do with the bore size as Keith Rogan mentioned. The smaller bore causes the pressure to exceed design pressure when using the commie ammo.

April 19, 2002, 04:52 AM
That is because the Mini-30 does not have the proper bore for 7.62x39 ammunition (.311) but is set up for .308 diameter bullets. Why they did this I have no idea. The 7.62x39 is a Russian caliber, 99% of the 7.62x39 ammunition you will find on earth is Russian spec, .311. Only American 7.62x39 ammo is .308.

David Wile
April 19, 2002, 11:49 PM
Thanks Steve,

Now I really feel the fool. My only saving face is that I was not the first dummy. Small consolation.

Best wishes folks,
Dave Wile

Keith Rogan
April 21, 2002, 01:29 PM
I think people make way too much of the accuracy (or lack of) inherent in the Mini 14/30 design. The rifle is accurate enough to do what it is supposed to do, which is center punch a beer can at 75 yards or a deer/coyote at 200. It's a good working gun that makes no pretense at being a match rifle.

I own a nice old Russian SKS and I love to shoot it, but let's face it - it's heavier than it needs to be and not terribly egonomic. I could buy an after-market stock, detachable mag and decent sights and make it a good working rifle, but by the time I was done I'd have more invested than if I'd just bought a Mini 30 in the first place.

The Mini 14 version is almost an Alaskan Icon. Wherever you go in the interior in winter, you seem to run into a native guy with a Mini 14 strapped to his snow machine. They love these rifles because they are reliable under any weather conditions and they simply don't worry about whether that caribou gets knocked down with one or a half dozen shots. Load up some FMJ's and knock down a wolf or other furbearer. Load up some soft points and perforate a moose's ribs till he falls down. No problem.

It's a reliable working rifle - nothing more, nothing less. Enjoy it!


March 23, 2007, 04:58 AM
Somebody was talking about post-2005 mini 30s being more accurate due to a burlier barrel. Any truth in this?

January 1, 2009, 11:14 PM
Ten years ago the accuracy of the Mini's was being called into question.

I am considering getting one (as opposed to going the AR-15 off-list lower route) for home defense/plinking. I have been told that Ruger updated them and that they're more accurate than before (although nothing like a good AR).

Anyone care to weigh in one way or the other?

Rifleman 173
January 1, 2009, 11:56 PM
Mini 14s have a place in some guys' arsenals. Not mine any more. I've owned 3 of them and won't buy any more of them. Don't get me wrong. If I were desperate and came across a Mini 14 or Mini 30 I would try to adapt it to work for me. But because I've learned my lesson with previous Mini 14s, I'm not going to voluntarily buy any more of them when a decent AR-15 or M-4 clone will outdo the Mini 14s right out of the box for accuracy. The SKS does out-shoot the Mini 30. Every now and again, legend has it that Ruger puts out a really accurate Mini 14 or Mini 30. Trouble is that legend also tells us that there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow too. And, of course, there is the famous, "Sure. I'll respect you in the morning..." But I digress. Mini 14s and Mini 30s can be made to be more accurate if you are willing and have the time and money to spend to fix something that shouldn't be in the majority of the Ruger firearms in the first place. Trouble is that I should NOT have to ship my Ruger firearm to Timbuktu to have a voodoo shaman dance around my gun, drip chicken blood on it and have him set a cryogenic frozen heavy barrel on it for all the family's monies for the next 6 generations. C'mon!!

January 2, 2009, 12:54 AM
I was 12 when this post was first made. I didn't look at the date and I was like uhh Y2K is over [color=#FF0000]█[/color][color=#FF0000]█[/color][color=#FF0000]█[/color]. it has been revived twice before now.

there are other threads about the mini system if you look around.


Ignition Override
January 2, 2009, 12:58 AM
As an older gun novice who only enjoys shooting objects (versus paper) at short range, standing with iron sights,
Minis are ideal, although a good SKS can cost a bit less for the same purpose.

For simple fun, the only problem with the 14 is the higher price of ammo.
Have the 14 and 30. The classic American military styling of these type rifles has always appealed to me.
Won't mention Russian styles in this topic...

January 2, 2009, 01:42 AM
That's crazy, this thread has now been resurected 3x.. that's gotta be close to a record! :)

Rifleman, I kinda gotta disagree with you on this one. If you are going to make it a money matter, people drop all sorts of money on their ARs just to make it look a certain way. Granted a plane jane AR (now costing $900?? instead of $650) very well outshoot a Mini with some work done on it, but the performance gap probably isn't that big. When you consider the fact that Mini's are cheaper, especially if you buy a used one, you've got a fair amount of $$ to put into until you are at the price of an AR. Also, I've read there are a few things you can do that make a noteworthy difference in the accuracy that don't cost a thing.. they say there are some screws you can re-torque to a correct amount of pressure, for example.

But seriously, to each his own. Doesn't bother me one way or the other if you decide to never purchase a Mini again. I just don't understand how people can drop $1800 on an AR and then call you nuts when you spend $1500 on an accurized Mini simply because they have a bad reputaion of not being accurate to begin with. Certainly their reliabillity has never been brought into question like the AR has (although I don't believe they have reliability issues anymore like some people claim)

****So I just went to my normal websites to double check the prices I quoted and they have taken down the prices and said "price on request". So I might not be spot on with that number. But either way, I still feel my point is valid as that was just a rough number for comparison.