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Reviews : Arsenal

Sturm, Ruger & Company Mini-14 Tactical Carbine

This update to the Mini-14 platform is designed for close-quarter combat using optics.

June 18, 2012  |  by Nick Jacobellis - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of Ruger.
Photo courtesy of Ruger.

Editor's note: View our Mini-14 Tactical Carbine photo gallery for extended coverage of this carbine.

There was a time when the Ruger Mini-14 was one of the most popular patrol and tactical rifles in U.S. law enforcement. But it fell out of favor, as AR platform rifles added adjustable stocks and Picatinny rails. That's why I wanted to evaluate the latest version of the Ruger Mini-14 Tactical Rifle with the ATI adjustable stock and accessory rail. I was eager to see if this rifle could be viewed as a serious contender in the 21st century patrol or tactical law enforcement rifle market.

I first became familiar with the Ruger Mini-14 back in the early 1980s. At the time these rifles were being widely issued and used in law enforcement. So when I transitioned from police officer to U.S. Customs agent, I trained with a Mini-14 before I qualified with and used other rifles. I also qualified with and carried a personally owned blued steel Mini-14 GB Model. Then when I retired I acquired a stainless steel version of the Mini-14 that was fitted with an aftermarket side-folding paratrooper stock.

Loading and Unloading

From my experience, I can tell you that there are some drawbacks to the Mini-14 design when compared to other patrol and tactical rifles, especially the AR.

The biggest problem is loading the Mini-14. With an AR, you just slap in a mag. In contrast, the Mini-14 is loaded by inserting the magazine at a slight angle then rocking it to the rear to lock it into position. Now don’t get me wrong. A trained shooter can certainly load a Mini-14 fast enough to get back into the fight. It’s just a lot easier with an AR.

The reason I mention this is because even though I consider myself to be an experienced end-user of the Mini-14, there are times when even I have experienced a problem loading one of these carbines and had to fiddle around with the magazines a bit in order to get them to lock into position.

Ruger also uses proprietary magazines instead of AR magazines on the Mini-14. I think this was a big mistake that needs to be rectified in the future. AR magazines are significantly more plentiful than Mini-14 magazines and therefore much cheaper than Mini-14 mags.

Several years ago Ruger modified the Mini-14 to operate with both .223 and 5.56mm ammunition. This is a confusing point because the receiver is marked .223 but my contact at Ruger confirmed that the notation on the box is correct and the new Mini-14s are designed to be used with all kinds of 5.56mm ammo. I tested the sample Mini-14 with both .223 and 5.56mm ammo. There was no noticeable difference in accuracy or reliability.

Tactical Model

The Mini-14 Tactical with an ATI stock and accessory rail is the only model in the Mini-14 line that includes any modern options worth noting. But it has one major fault. The accessory rail is a bit too high and partially obstructs a portion of the front sight blade. This makes it difficult to quickly acquire targets. The solution, of course, is not to use the iron sights.

The accessory rail on the Tactical Model Mini-14 allows you to fit it with a high-quality optic. And that makes this rifle a much more effective tool for law enforcement operations and home defense.

Tags: Ruger, Carbines, Firearms Reviews

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Comments (19)

Displaying 1 - 19 of 19

John Tate (New Mex.) @ 6/19/2012 9:10 PM

It's as hard to find fault with this review as it is to find favor with the Mini-14. My combat & target rifle was and is the M14. Silly me, I thought Ruger could make as functional and accurage a rifle in .223. WRONG. The little thing is certainly functional. But, as said in the article, accuracy is abominable. Bottom line, this ain't a shrunken M14. It's good for BIG and CLOSE targets - that's all.

Bryon @ 6/20/2012 6:33 AM

For those looking for a QUALITY, US MADE Mini 14 stock (conventional, side folding, or M4 telescoping) look no further than Choate Machine & Tool (www.riflestock.com) 800-972-6390. We are a major OEM manufacturer for many of the US rifle and shotgun manufacturers. We are looking at a rail system for our M4 telescoping Mini14 stock and the conventional and side folder. Our products offer a LIFETIME warranty. Try getting that from a non-US manufacturer. For the few warranty issues we have ever had, simply return it to us, here in the US, and we will fix or replace it.

easy610 @ 6/20/2012 7:15 AM

$939?!?!

Are you guys at Ruger serious?

The only reason I could see someone opting for this rifle is if the pricing was just too low to pass up.

I can buy ARs from reputable companies for $775-900 all day long. MUCH more accurate, simple system, COMMON parts and if you have any Mil vets very easy training issues...

The Mini14 was an interesting carbine...in 1978.

I never get why people continue to review them...

Cookie @ 7/12/2012 9:28 PM

I've always loved the M-14 and the mini 14 rifle. Looking at the Tactical Mini 14, I truely beleive

DKL @ 10/8/2012 7:19 PM

It has annoyed me since the introduction of the mini-14 that Ruger deliberately named and marketed the gun as a 'scaled-down' m-14. The gas system bears a much stronger resemblance to the m-1 carbine than the m-14, and I would say the mini-14 is about as effective as an m-1 carbine, given the pathetic accuracy.

Lawdog47 @ 10/26/2012 1:23 AM

You All could be right, but it worked for the A-Team thats all they used. But for reality do you all rember the FBI shoot out in Florida back in 1986. The two scums used a mini 14 rancher to take down six agents, but it was close combat. In the debreafing the seviving agents stated that the mini 14 was dead on and devastating. I only wish the F.B.I. agents had a few that day.

Ron Spicer @ 11/4/2012 8:29 PM

I bought my MINI 14 580 rifle because it was only 600 bucks via CDNN. Hammer forged heavy barrel no AR POS kit can come close to in quality. I love this rifle. It is built like a tank and does not fail to feed or fire, and will eat any ammo you run in it. This thing does not stop running it is the American AK. The 1-2 MOA groups are just what AR's are putting up and NUTNFANCY vid MINI 14 againts the world shows the world the MINI 14 beat the AR and the AK in simulated battle runs. So you can spend a lot more and get nothing better out of an AR if you like. Its your money spend it like an idiot all you want.

Jim @ 11/25/2012 1:06 PM

Question : I use an older ( 1982 ) Mini-14 . I put a burris scope 4X fixed S/K mount. Ejected cases struck the adjustmrnt bos and kept moving the scope. No problem, right ? Just rotate the scope 90 degrees counterclockwise, and compensate during adjustment. So then the ejects still struck the scope barrel but not the mount itself. Ruined scope and accuracy.

Anyone have that problem? Is that rather vertical ejection ? It doesnt look like it. Empties go where they should. Brass dings on scope barrel. Besides some sort of deflector contraption, does anyone have any solutions or suggestions. Hope to hear from someone before I back the truck over the contraption.

Jim

bojan1911 @ 12/11/2012 1:46 AM

has anyone with a mini 14 shot it til the bolt wont properly rotate and move not forward enough to touch cartridge..a friend asked me to have a look at it i have been shooting for 40 years just never had a mini 14.....idk looks to me like its never been cleaned just oiled but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

DUANE @ 1/25/2013 5:42 AM

SHOP TIL U DROP...REGUARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS IN CONGRESS IN THE NEAR FUTURE, ON THE ASSAULT RIFLE BAN, IT SEEMS THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THIS DEMAND FOR THIS "STYLE" OF RIFLE! NOT BECAUSE OF THE "BAD-BOY" IMAGE IT MAY OR MAY NOT PORTRAY, BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE A HELL-UVA LOT OF FUN TO SHOOT! I'V BEEN LOOKING ALL OVER FOR THAT NEXT .223 RIFLE TO FILL THE VOID OF LOSING MY LAST MINI TO A SCUM BAG THIEF!!!{INSIDE JOB} IT'S BEEN SINCE THE MID 80'S SINCE I OWNED MY MINI...AND HAVE MISSED IT EVERY DAY!!! LIKE I SAID I'M NOW IN A POSITION TO REPLACE THAT .223 ROUND IN MY COLLECTION, AND AFTER READING ALL THE REVIEWS ABOUT ALL THE DIFFERENT "AR'S" I HAVE FOUND MYSELF COMING FULL CIRCLE BACK TO MY BELOVED "MINI-14"! I LOVED THAT GUN, AND EVERY THING ABOUT THAT GUN IN THE 80'S. IT WAS SUPER ACCURATE WITH THE PEEP-SIGHT! AND WITH THE SHOULDER SLING SHOOTING IT FROM THE HIP...I COULD HAVE GIVEN "THE RIFLEMAN" A RUN FOR HIS MONEY! {YEAH I'M BRAGGIN' ALITTLE"} BUT SERIOUSLY...WHAT A GREAT GUN, NEVER ONCE JAMMED, AND I WOULD BLAZE HUNDREDS OF ROUNDS THROUGH IT AT A TIME! NO PROBLEMO! I HOPE RUGER HASN'T DONE ANYHTING TO COMPROMISE IT'S QUALITY SINCE THE 80'S BECAUSE I PRETTY MUCH KNOW WHERE MY MONEY IS GOING TO END UP! BACK INTO BUYING MY BABY BACK! AND JUST REMEMBER SHOPPER'S YOU ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU PAT FOR, EVEN IF YOU SPEND A COUPLE OF EXTRA BUCKS, SAVING UP FOR A COUPLE MORE MONTHS TO GET WHAT YOU WANT...IS A WHOLE LOT BETTER THAN BUYIN' SOMETHING THAT YOU HATE SHOOTING OR CAN'T SHOOT THE HELL OUT OF IT WITHOUT HAVING ANY PROBLEMS!

MD @ 2/4/2013 10:11 AM

Mini-14. Got mine for $680 before the election and all the insanity. For those of you who have not followed him I like the reviewer up top, encourage you to check out the video review of the Mini by Nutnfancy.
The Mini-14 was dramatically improved a few years back. Thicker barrell, better accuracy. It is compact, tough, with the most dependable action you will find. True the rock-in mags are a minor inconvenience but no sweat. My version is the Fixed Stock-Tactical Model 5847
Nutnfancy agrees if you are willing to spend $400 or so more, than a quality AR may be a more versatile choice. That said there are many quality AR's out there but also, ALLOT of JUNK.
As for me; Very Satisfied with the Mini-14.
(Of Course at This Writing There Is Not a High-Cap Mag to be Found...for Anything) Arggg!!

Philo @ 2/25/2013 4:20 PM

I also bought this rifle shortly before the election, (they gave me a free 30-round mag with the rifle. Can you imagine now a days, a FREE 30-round mag!?! LoL). I also noticed right away the top rail seemed to block the iron sights, although it doesn't infringe on my shooting.
I simply love this rifle. I've owned many different defense rifles over the years; this one is my.overall favorite by far. It's compact, durable, accurate, and for what you get -is cheap. You will probably have a hard time finding them now, what with all the insanity the fascists in DC are pushing for, but if you do, but it. You won't be dissapointed.

Jeff @ 5/19/2013 3:52 AM

110 grains on top of a .223....really? If that is true (which I don't believe) then 1 in 9 barrel is completely inappropriate for accuracy testing.

spencer.24112@comcast.net @ 7/1/2013 1:54 AM

I dont get the accurcy problems every one talks about. Factory FMJ @ 100meters i can put 20 rounds in a 6 in circle with factory peep?sights on my stainless mini 14 carbine. Its not a AR 15 style weapon but it is a asualt rifle that is accurate. I just put a nikon 12x scope on it so i can try and get a per say beanch group measurement.

Brian @ 9/18/2013 2:05 PM

Any review of a mini 14 is out of date if the gun isn't a 580 series. No, even the 580 series isn't

Brian @ 9/18/2013 2:21 PM

Ate my comment, so here goes, again.
Accuracy is great since the 580 series. Some ARs are more accu

ed @ 11/10/2013 9:45 AM

I got a 1 3/4 inch group at 100 yards with the irons on a 182 series Mini 14.

I'm very happy with it.

no a liar like u @ 2/21/2014 4:51 PM

110gr .223 ammo.... suuuure...

Big El @ 3/6/2014 7:51 PM

Jeff Cooper, in his Gunsite Gossip newsletter years ago, wrote that he considered "Five inches at 200 meters passing," which does seem reasonable. If a Mini-14 can't swing that, I don't care how inexpensive it is.

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