View Full Version : Update2: Mini 14 Cycling Problems

August 17, 2010, 06:56 PM
Just got my brand new Mini 14 back from Ruger. Original description of the problem here:



In a nutshell, the rifle wouldn't cycle reliably, so I sent it back to Ruger. According to Ruger, they "replaced the bolt and repaired the slide".

Well....guess what. I still have the exact same problem. I took it to an indoor range today to try it out. Exact.......same......problem. Now, I know bad language isn't tolerated here, so I'll leave it to your imagination as to what words were coming out of me when I discovered that my brand new, newly-repaired rifle still didn't work correctly. If you think of George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words" bit, you'd be on the right track.

I took three brands of ammo with me: Tula, PMC, and American Eagle Tactical .223. Of the three, the American Eagle was the only one that didn't repeatedly jam or fail to extract.

I snapped a few pics with my phone (sorry about the quality):




So, what to do? Does anyone want to try to convince me that some rifles just prefer certain kinds of ammo, and that I should use what it likes? Go ahead, but I'm not buying it. Instead, I'm going to call Ruger 1st thing in the morning and ask them if maybe they think it might be a good idea to actually test a repaired rifle before they send it back to a loyal Ruger customer.

I mean, it should have worked out of the box, right? And if not, they should have made darn sure it worked before they sent it back to me, right?

In the immortal words of the eminent sage and freak extraordinaire Alice Cooper......no more mr. nice guy.


Ok, I'm done ranting. Seriously, what should I demand of Ruger at this point? This is the first time I've had a problem with a firearm I purchased, and I'm really disappointed. I bought this rifle to have fun with.

I'm most definitely not having fun.

August 17, 2010, 07:05 PM
the mini should funtion reliably on any ammo, no matter how crappy, it would probably work on black powder....

I don't know what to ask from ruger...sounds like time for lots of calls and e-mails till they fix it.

sorry your'e having trouble

August 17, 2010, 07:07 PM
I wouldn't think that demanding a new rifle would be too much to ask. I've fired many 14s and never had an issue with any of them.

Good luck, Ruger has a great rep for customer service, so I think you'll end up fine. However, you're right, the new gun should run, period!

August 17, 2010, 07:09 PM
Email them and demand compensation... This is a bad rep for the mini. They should fix it ASAP

August 17, 2010, 07:30 PM
Man, scott, you have the kind of luck I have. I feel for ya, as I've had rifles disappoint me before. You will be best served by keeping a level head, call them and tell them you really can't believe that it was test-fired. I'd tell them I want a new rifle. I'd be pretty ticked off myself. stay calm. Hope your luck gets better soon...:confused:

August 17, 2010, 07:36 PM
Thanks everyone.

What I'm hearing is that I wouldn't be out of line to ask for a new rifle. That was my thinking too, but I didn't know if it would be appropriate.

August 17, 2010, 07:55 PM
Sounds like something is wrong with the gas block/piston. Not enough gas is hitting the piston. Either the bushing is wrong or the gas port in barrel is crooked or something else around there.

August 17, 2010, 10:33 PM
Is the guide rod in right side up? The blade side goes down towards the barrel. Sometimes its the simple stuff.

If not Ruger should do a rifle swap out.

Good luck hope to hear all is well soon.

August 18, 2010, 06:31 PM
Well, they won't give me a new one.....yet. I called today, and despite all of my arguments, they insisted I send it back for another shot at a repair.

What frosts my rear is that they didn't once apologize to me for my trouble or offer me anything over and above trying again to repair it.

I think I'm gonna scratch that GP100 off my wish list.

August 19, 2010, 08:19 AM
This sux.

If it is any consolation, I have had similar issues with every single American made firearm I have purchased in the last several years. It is really disheartening.

Even so, I don't know what else to do other than send it back like you did. Also, check your state laws on warranties or products liability type consumer protection laws. Maybe there is something in there which would grant you some relief.

August 19, 2010, 08:38 AM
1. What kind of magazine are you using. 2. Have you tried a different magazine. If the magazine is out of spec, it could cause a cycling problem - I've seen where bent feed lips touch the bolt, preventing it from working correctly. Bad magazines cause 99% of the reliability problems in Mini-14's.

Do this - with the magazine inserted and unloaded, cycle the action and watch the bolt as it goes passed the feed lips on the magazine - is it touching? If so, I'd bet that's your problem.

If the same thing happens with different magazines, then I'd suspect that something's not lined up correctly in the gas block - bushing is clogged or out of spec, or like someone else said, gas port isn't lined up correctly. Especially if it's stovepiping - that would be an indication that you have something out of spec in your gas block. However, this would be very unusual for a new Mini-14, and you'd think that Ruger would check this first. It's also unusual that there would be a problem with the bolt - that's not where I'd look for the problem.

August 19, 2010, 02:43 PM
Skans, I only had the original factory mag to try. But I did try firing it with the mag out, and still had the problem.

For what it's worth, I just talked to a customer service supervisor at Ruger. I asked him what kind of ammo they use when they test. He told me they use mostly Federal. I believe Federal is who makes the "American Eagle" brand, right? That's one of the only brands of ammo that actually cycled fairly reliably in my gun, which I explicitly stated in the problem description that I wrote up and sent with the gun. I asked them to be SURE to test it with other commercially-available brands. And the guy acknowledged that it shouldn't be picky about what kind of ammo it shoots.

I'm betting on a gas system problem too. You'd have thought they would have checked that first-thing.

It's on it's way to Ruger via UPS Next Day Air, so I should have some answers pretty quickly. The guy at Ruger sounded pretty sincere about making sure this got taken care of quickly and correctly.

August 19, 2010, 03:43 PM
Scott, Ruger's customer service is usually some of the best - they'll get it running right. FWIW, there are some aftermarket gas bushings that are different sizes, i.e. bleed off more or less gas to the op-rod. But, you really shouldn't have to get into that - they're used for folks who add suppressors to their Mini's. I've even seen an adjustable gas block - but I believe it was experimental. Based on what you're describing, it's got to be in the gas block or gas port. Please post what the problem is when you find out.

August 19, 2010, 07:53 PM
To me it looks like the action is not cycling completely from the photos. I’m not that knowledgeable with the workings of the 14, but what in the action causes the empty case to be ejected?
I’m with everyone on the gas system having a problem. Recently I installed an adjustable gas cylinder lock screw on my M1 grand. There is a small allen screw in the end to adjust the amount of gas pressure that pushes the operating rod which cycles the action. I did this so I could shoot commercial ammo in the gun.
The way you adjust it is to turn it so that the gun shoots like a single action, with very little gas getting to the action. Then adjust until it functions correctly.
The reason I am telling this boring story is that while I was adjusting the gas plug I was getting the exact same failures as the first two photos. Then once I adjusted for more pressure it functioned correctly with no failures.

August 20, 2010, 08:40 AM
I agree that it's probably a problem somehwere in the gas system, especially since Ruger has already replaced the bolt and repaired the slide (whatever that means). Ruger will be receiving the riflle this morning, so I hope to have an update by Monday. I will definitely post an update when I find something out.

August 20, 2010, 09:04 AM
While waiting to hear from Ruger, I have a question, Scott. When this rifle actually did completely cycle some rounds, how far did the ejected empty casings fly from your shooting position?

August 20, 2010, 09:30 AM
This is an important question posted by KMO. The brass from a mini usually flies a LONG way.

August 20, 2010, 11:53 AM
Good question. When it did cycle, I'd say the brass flew maybe 4 ft. I can't say for sure, because the last couple of times I shot it was at an indoor range with a lane partition 18" to my right. But, I can say for sure that it didn't expel the brass as forcefully as Mini's normally do. If it behaved like most mini's I've seen, I would have expected the brass to be bouncing off the partition and whacking me in the head.

Bottom line is that it just wasn't driving the action back with as much force as it should have.

August 20, 2010, 03:04 PM
Yeah, most minis throw them a looooong way, a lot farther than four feet.

August 20, 2010, 03:42 PM
It's in Ruger's posession now. I'm hoping to hear from them Monday. I'm pretty confident they'll get it fixed.

I'll let you all know how it shakes out.

August 20, 2010, 07:47 PM
Hmmm...Most Mini's do throw brass a bit too far in their factory condition. If yours tosses brass only 4 feet, and you haven't done anything to the rifle to purposely reduce that ejection distance, then I suspect there is some sort of obstruction in at least one of three potential areas:

1) The gas port on the underside of the barrel
2) The gas port bushing may be defective, or partially crushed from an improper initial installation.
3) The gas pipe may be obstructed or defective.

Ruger should have disassembled the gas block to check these components the first time you turned it over to them. I would advise that you insist they disassemble and inspect the gas block components this time.

August 26, 2010, 08:11 PM
Ok, good news/bad news on my mini-14 saga.

First the bad news. Ruger couldn't identify any specific problem with my mini. They said they tried 5 different brands of ammo, and 4 out the 5 cycled fine. They only had a problem with one of them. Obviously, I wasn't happy to hear that, because I know there's some problem with this rifle. So they asked me what I would like to do. I told them that, at a minimum, I wanted a replacement rifle.

Now, for the good news (and it's pretty darned good). When I was talking to Customer Service, I mentioned that I was getting a little discouraged, and I was starting to lose confidence in the mini-14. I said that if they REALLY wanted me to be a happy, satisfied Ruger customer, they would replace my mini with an SR-556. I don't really think they would be willing to do that, but it was worth a shot. The customer service person I was talking to chuckled a little, but said she would pass my request on to her manager.

Well, guess what. I got a phone call today from Ruger, letting me know that they were indeed going to replace my mini with an SR-556, free of charge :eek:

Needless to say, I'm pretty pleased. I had heard from numerous people, including people on this forum, that Ruger's customer service was first-rate. But I was starting to doubt that. Obviously, I was wrong. This is an example of company that is genuinely concerned about their customers. A true measure of a company is not the mistakes they make, but how they handle those mistakes. And, in my opinion, this proves that Ruger is (still) a great company.

Dude......I'm gettin' an SR-556!!:D

August 26, 2010, 08:47 PM
Well, Scott, we're all happy for you, but now we're never going to know what the true problem was with that Mini-14. The mystery remains unsolved...:(

Hey, who did you deal with at Ruger? I'll offer to buy your old Mini-14 (at a discount of course) and we'll see what the deal is with it...

Have fun with that AR...

August 26, 2010, 08:53 PM
Wow, you lucky dog.

August 27, 2010, 09:11 AM
KMO, I talked to several people at Ruger, but the person who was most helpful was Louise, in customer service. But I really have to wonder if they would be willing to let the Mini get back out into the hands of the public.

August 27, 2010, 09:20 AM
Going to the range this weekend to wring out a mini I bought last year. Hopefully it fails to cycle?!;)

August 27, 2010, 09:50 AM
So I'm guessing that the GP100 is back on the wish list?

August 27, 2010, 09:51 AM
Dang it! My new Mini Tactical works perfectly.

August 27, 2010, 11:10 AM
Going to the range this weekend to wring out a mini I bought last year. Hopefully it fails to cycle?!

You can always hope :)

So I'm guessing that the GP100 is back on the wish list?

Truth be told, it was never really off the list. But, had this situation turned out badly, I would have sworn off any new Ruger product. But I am really impressed with Ruger's customer service. With this act of goodwill, they have turned me into a happy, loyal customer. They have exceeded my expectations, which is what good customer service ought to always strive to do.

September 11, 2010, 09:38 PM
Now, for the good news (and it's pretty darned good). When I was talking to Customer Service, I mentioned that I was getting a little discouraged, and I was starting to lose confidence in the mini-14. I said that if they REALLY wanted me to be a happy, satisfied Ruger customer, they would replace my mini with an SR-556. I don't really think they would be willing to do that, but it was worth a shot. The customer service person I was talking to chuckled a little, but said she would pass my request on to her manager.

Well, guess what. I got a phone call today from Ruger, letting me know that they were indeed going to replace my mini with an SR-556, free of charge

Quick update: Got the SR-556 a few days ago. I've had it to the range twice, and I've deliberately mixed it up as far as ammo is concerned. I've used some Tula steel-cased, some PMC bronze, some Federal, and some Milsurp stuff as well. I've put about 300 rds through it without a single malfunction of any kind. Am I a happy camper? You bet I am!

So far, I really like the SR-556. It's a little on the heavy side, and the factory trigger is pretty bad. But the thing is really fun to shoot, it's solid as a rock, and I'm impressed with the accuracy so far.

I'm telling anyone who's willing to listen about how Ruger treated me in this situation. It really says a lot about the company.

September 11, 2010, 09:54 PM
Man, scott, I'm glad you're happy. I told you Ruger was great about fiixing problems. I wish I'd gotten my rifles replaced. Happy shootin!!

September 11, 2010, 10:24 PM
ZS, thanks. Yeah, you did say that, but I was starting to wonder. Now, as long as I don't end up going nuts with AR-15 mods and whatnot, it'll be a case of "all's well that ends well".

Do you happen to know where I can get a rail-mounted nightvision, red-dot, 10X magnifying, laser-rangefinding, microwave scope for cheap?


September 12, 2010, 08:06 AM
Dude, you got an awsome deal, hope that you give the mini a try again one day...cograts.:D

I saw that scope you were asking about at Cabela's, right between to the rocket return springs and the in-flight missle repair kits.;)

September 12, 2010, 08:25 AM
I have an older 183-series Mini-14 and one of the things its always done real good is eat anything I feed it. I have a brass catcher for it because I reload and don't want to look all over the back-forty for my brass, but if it's not wearing the brass catcher it really slings it a long way. :eek:

Your particular new Mini-14 must have had a gas problem, it deoesn't seem logical that it was an extractor problem. I'm glad they did right by you and got you the new SR-556. You really made out like a bandit. They look nice, but I'm just too cheap to spend that kind of money for one. My old Mini works great and is a hoot to shoot anyway. :cool:

September 12, 2010, 08:49 AM
I've got nothing against Mini's in general. Heck, that's why I bought one in the first place. If I run across a good deal on one somewhere down the road, I wouldn't hesitate to get another one. I agree that it was probably a gas problem. I'm just perplexed as to why Ruger had such a difficult time diagnosing and repairing the problem.. It ain't rocket surgery.

While I did want an AR, I'm not sure I would have dropped the coin for an SR-556. The tightwad in me kicks in at $1k. But I'm very happy with it so far. I put an inexpensive Aimpoint M4 clone on it, and it's tons of fun to plink with.

Art Eatman
September 12, 2010, 11:44 AM
Started out with Minis; let's leave it at that. :)