Mini 14 Advice Needed

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Walter Rego

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Dec 27, 2004
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I have decided that a Mini 14 would be a useful firearm to have. I understand that the 180 series and above are greatly improved over the originals. I have looked at a used 195 series gun in excellent shape for a reasonable price (for California anyway). It is marked .223 caliber. That would put the production era between 1996-1999. I'm guessing it is a Ranch Rifle as it has a wood stock with plastic ventilated handguard and the top of the receiver is grooved for Ruger scope rings like my old M77R.
A few questions:
  • I understand the more current production guns are chambered in 5.56 rather than .223. Is this just a change in chamber dimensions or does it also involve the rifling characteristics like twist rate that would affect accuracy?
  • As far as ammo availability, is .223 more readily available or less expensive than 5.56 ?
  • At what series were the accuracy issues that Mini 14's had resolved ?
  • I have read of the caution about firing 5.56mm rounds in a .223 chamber but also read that older Ruger Mini 14 guns had chamber and throat dimensions that were safe for 5.56 rounds as opposed to most bolt action sporters chambered for .223. Is that true ?
  • Would a 195 Series Mini 14 be "one of the good ones" or should I hold out for a newer production version ?
Thanks guys
 

hittman

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If you are looking for a target rifle, skip the Mini 14. I don't think it was designed or advertised as such.

My experience is 223 has been more readily available and less expensive than 5.56.

There's a can of worms that comes along with the 223 v 5.56 argument. For ME, if the barrel is marked Multi-Cal or 5.56 I will use 5.56 or 223. If the barrel is marked 223, I use only 223.

Always always always do what the owners manual says.
 

Actnbill

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It all depends on how much it is......and how much longer will you be able to buy one in California ???

The price of Mini 14's keeps going up while AR's are flat ..... ( can buy 2 basic AR's for the price of 1 Mini 14 )
 

Walter Rego

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Dec 27, 2004
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Would a newer 584 Series gun have come with a hardwood stock and handguard and curved aluminum buttplate or has it been monkeyed with and has an older stock fitted ? Pictures of more recent Ranch Rifles I have seen online show a hardwood stock w/ plastic handguard and rubber buttpad.
Seems like a lot of people restocked Mini 14's with aftermarket synthetic stocks and maybe tried to "restore" them later.
 
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There's plenty of ammo available in either/both .223 & 5.56 and generally, there's nothing gained by using 5.56. The big issue came when trying to shoot 5.56 855 ammo(62 grain bullets) in some of the .223 chambers that have short throats/leade. In the typical 'CYA' mode, it's easier to just say DON'T do it than to explain the problem to folks who wouldn't understand anyway.
I'm not a Mini fan due to the sketchy accuracy but there's a chance you might happen onto a combination of ammo/rifle that is satisfactory.
 

Sgt Duncan

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Except for the target model Mini-14 that is no longer made, all Mini-14's are chambered to fire .556, regardless of weather it is marked .223 or .556
I have read that from many sources as well. Ordinarily I would be skeptical but I can say that I have run many hundreds of rounds of 5.56 ammo through my 188 series Mini 14 Ranch model with no apparent ill effects.

I have also heard that Mini 14s are notorious for poor accuracy but that has not been my experience. I do not consider myself a great shot but using my 188 series Mini 14 Ranch I have been able to run a string of 10 plates at 300 meters which seems pretty darn good to me !
 
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My only experience with the Mini was in the early 80's. Ammo selections weren't great(possibly a factor) but the typical accuracy wasn't good enough for my needs. A coyote beyond 150-200 yards was iffy. I sold that Mini to a guy who was self described as 'a terrible shot'. He said he hit more coyotes with that Mini than he'd hit before because it shot a 'wider pattern'. :eek:
Maybe this wasn't typical of the Mini accuracy but it certainly was for that specimen.
I went back to the bolt action until AR's became popular and the AR is what I'm using these days.
 
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My only experience with the Mini was in the early 80's. Ammo selections weren't great(possibly a factor) but the typical accuracy wasn't good enough for my needs. A coyote beyond 150-200 yards was iffy. I sold that Mini to a guy who was self described as 'a terrible shot'. He said he hit more coyotes with that Mini than he'd hit before because it shot a 'wider pattern'. :eek:
Maybe this wasn't typical of the Mini accuracy but it certainly was for that specimen.
I went back to the bolt action until AR's became popular and the AR is what I'm using these days.
Yeah random chance was better than his ability.
 

rem58sport

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Jan 8, 2023
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N Calif
Disclaimer: I have never fired a Mini-14 but I have shopped for one hard. (Long winded to follow)

I just went through a couple of months researching the mini-14 and their availability new in N. Calif. The best information the in internet provided was something like, "There is only two reasons to buy a Mini-14, nostalgia or living in a restricted assault weapon State." So, the real question for myself was why I wanted one. I fit both the above criteria plus wanting to accurately punch paper with a larger caliber than a .22 and I do have a supply of .223/5.56 rounds and a few AR mags.

I wanted the Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, wood stock, new model 5.56 and I found two new on the shelf with about an hours drive, in two different directions from home. So with my 2-months of mind bending on-line reading, off I went to actually hold one in my hands; knowing "everything" the internet could offer about accuracy, reliability and upgrading.

I was not disappointed when actually holding one in my hands, it was as expected. Nice weight, good wood feel, plenty of nostalgia ( after eliminating an M1 Garand and M1 Carbine purchase to not introduce more calibers and expense to the safe). And it is a simi-auto calibered in the 556/223.

Thank goodness I was in a store, located in a bit out of the way area and the manager/sales person was very gracious with their time and information. With the question in my mind of repeated paper punching accuracy I asked the question, what else is in the rack that uses the same caliber with a reported better accuracy? And obviously Cal legal. Without hesitation he reached over and handed me a ............... Ruger American Ranch Rifle in 5.56/.223 using AR mags. (face plant)

Talk about a U-turn. The RARR as they are called, checked all my boxes AND at about 1/3 of the price of a Mini-14. I will leave the RARR details out but I will say, accurate, light weight, dependable and used AR mags, you do need to provide optics or adaptable irons. With another internet deep dive for research and availability, I found one new, on the rack and 20 minutes away. I pick it up in 2-days.

So sorry for the long winded personal story, perhaps this is just a Cal person to a Cal person story (Please save the Calif. bashing for an other thread) With limited availability and access, there is all the more reason to be as informed as possible.
 

Actnbill

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 16, 2023
Messages
255
Location
Seacoast NH
Disclaimer: I have never fired a Mini-14 but I have shopped for one hard. (Long winded to follow)

I just went through a couple of months researching the mini-14 and their availability new in N. Calif. The best information the in internet provided was something like, "There is only two reasons to buy a Mini-14, nostalgia or living in a restricted assault weapon State." So, the real question for myself was why I wanted one. I fit both the above criteria plus wanting to accurately punch paper with a larger caliber than a .22 and I do have a supply of .223/5.56 rounds and a few AR mags.

I wanted the Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, wood stock, new model 5.56 and I found two new on the shelf with about an hours drive, in two different directions from home. So with my 2-months of mind bending on-line reading, off I went to actually hold one in my hands; knowing "everything" the internet could offer about accuracy, reliability and upgrading.

So sorry for the long winded personal story, perhaps this is just a Cal person to a Cal person story (Please save the Calif. bashing for an other thread) With limited availability and access, there is all the more reason to be as informed as possible.
The Ruger American Ranch Rifle sounds like a great option for CA.....Being a bolt action I am guessing it is more accurate than an every day Mini 14.......
That being said.... It won't replace the joy of chucking brass 30' away like with my 80's era Mini 14.... :)
 

Hylander

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May 1, 2008
Messages
409
Location
California
I have a few of both platforms,
AR and Mini. Like them both, but like the Mini better.
No the Mini does not use AR mags, who cares? AR mags are not the be all end all.
Yes my AR's are bit more accurate out of the box. But at The range, I usually out shoot every guy there with a standard AR.
Again, I like both, but the Mini just suits me and accuracy is dead Coyote everytime at 300yds.
 

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