Mini 14 vs. Mini Thirty

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joshuway

Bearcat
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
5
Greetings!
I'm sure this question has been asked many times before, but I'm a long time Ruger fan and am proud to own a Vaquero and a Single Six, but most of my experience with rifles is either with flintlocks or the M16/M4. Anyway, I'm looking for a good all purpose rifle and am interested in opinions on the Mini 14 versus the Mini Thirty. Fire away!
 

Geoff Timm

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
238
Location
NE Florida
The 5.56/.223 is a varmint round.
7.62x39 is a .30-30 light bullet equivalent.
Neither is a big game rifle. What is your intended target? Other alternatives? Local cost of ammunition?
Some farming folks want Ruger to bring back the .44 Magnum Deerfield. Similar characteristics as the Mini, but more short range punch for wild pigs.
Geoff
Who has a second model Mini.
 

joshuway

Bearcat
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
5
I've been shooting and hunting for about 25 years, and have 5 combat deployments with the US Army. So .223 vs 7.62 capabilities and performance is known to me. On the homefront, however, is where I lack knowledge of modern rifles. Was just wanting some general opinions and experience regarding the 14 and the Thirty. For instance, how hard/easy is it to find 7.62x39mm in the US?
 

DGW1949

Hunter
Joined
Apr 10, 2005
Messages
3,942
Location
Dixie
For the uses I put light rifle to, I prefer the 7.62X39 cartridge over the 5.56 .
That said though, the Mini-30 wasn't designed around the 7.62X39. What I'm saying is that the Mini-30 was an after thought, which as a practical matter, was too little-too late.....meaning that it aint suited very well to cheap (steel-cased) ammo, or to the berdan primers used in even the better (brass-cased) milsurp ammo. Ruger recognized this early on and in fact, recomends that seel cased ammo not be used. I see no warning in their manual against using berdan primed ammo but still, it's becoming rather well known in some circles that regularly using such ammo can/will eventualy lead to a broken firing pin. What those things mean to me is that it's best to use USA brand name ammo, which by extension means ammo made for the commercial market, which is neither cheap nor widely available. By contrast, the Mini-14 can use about any commercial or NATO-marked milsurp that can be found....which BTW, is both widely available and cheaper.

On the other hand, the Mini-30 does have a lot going for it. In my experience, an out of the box Mini-30 is a bit more accurate than an out of the box Mini-14 when both are using comparable ammo. I also beiieve that it's cartridge hits harder, and to me at least, is much easier to reload.

All in all, I guess it depends on what you want the gun for, what you expect it to do, and how mich you expect to actually use it.
Me personaly, when I considered all the pro's 'n con's of both, I picked the Mini-14....but I shoot a lot, which means that I buy ammo by the case...which means that when looking at the cost of (good) .556 ammo VS (good) 7.62X39 ammo, it was perty-plain to me that the cost savings between the two would soon pay for the gun.

But I aint you. Your needs may be quite different than mine....dunno.

DGW
 

K1500

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 8, 2013
Messages
121
I think you need to define what you want to do with the rifle. Since caliber is the only thing different between the two, its hard not to focus on it.

With the advancements in modern projectiles, there is little the 5.56x45 can do that the 7.62x39 cannot (I am sure others will disagree). The latest homogeneous bullets such as the Barnes TSX turn the 5.56 into a legit deer and pig cartridge at most normal ranges. The 7.62 is perhaps a bit better, but the difference is fairly small and it runs out of steam at around the same distance as a 5.56. Neither are as effective a .30-06, but you probably knew that already. Despite all that, I think the 7.62 just engenders more confidence with most people when hunting deer and pig sized game.

I wanted a Mini 30 for a while, but I shoot quite a bit, already have some 5.56 rifles, and the 5.56 will do anything I ask of it. From deer in down, I'm happy with the 5.56. The problem with the Mini 30 has already been mentioned, the need to use brass cased ammo. From what I have read, the steel cased ammo in the Mini 30 contributes to a fair number of malfunctions and broken firing pins. Steel cased ammo runs fine in a Mini 14.

Brass cased 7.62 is generally harder to find and more expensive than brass cased 5.56. If I owned a Mini 30, I believe I would run brass cased ammo for hunting and steel cased at the range. For what you save on ammo, you can buy a bunch of firing pins.

If you are happy with the caliber, I would stick with the Mini 14.
 

joshuway

Bearcat
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
5
This is all really great info and I really appreciate it. Mid-sized game, such as whitetails and (hopefully someday!) wild pig would be what I'd be using it for. Having seen the 5.56 NATO round in action, I have much less confidence in it's knock-down power than 7.62; however, I do know that it DOES work, and reliability is more important to me, anyway. Again, thanks for all the info!
 

Passtime

Bearcat
Joined
Jul 16, 2013
Messages
92
Location
Cackalcky
Last year I was researching the same question. I started out looking at the AR platform and then to AK's. I noticed that what was steering me in that direction boiled down to the looks and popularity in those two platforms. After a reality check, I came to the conclusion that what I was really looking for was a hunting/defensive rifle that had good stopping power in the 100 yard range. I got very interested in the Mini platform and then started researching the pros and cons of the .223/5.56 and 7.62x39 calibers. After a few months of extensive research I chose the Mini-30. I like the platform and the caliber and it fit what I was looking for exactly. I have had 0 problems shooting steel cased berden primed ammo. As far as problems with the berdan primed ammo some say they have had problems shooting in the Mini-30, I have had none. I have noticed that the berden primed ammo's primers are pressed deeper into the cartridge than the boxer primed ammo and this may be why they are having problems. Anyway, good luck.
 

wwb

Hunter
Joined
Nov 18, 2004
Messages
2,886
Location
wisconsin
Ever consider an AR? You can get a whole bunch of calibers that offer more ooomph than the 5.56. The 6.8 SPC is a pretty respectable all-around choice. There are also some real thumpers like the .50 Beowolf. Plus, all you need is another upper and magazine, and you have another caliber.
 

eveled

Hawkeye
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
5,610
You should check your local laws if you plan to use it to hunt deer. The .223 round is not legal for deer in some states. Good luck with whatever you decide on, you can't go wrong with a Ruger. Ed
 

clang444

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Messages
12
If you have to have one, get the mini-14. If you want 7.62x39, find an SKS or a AK if you have the money.
A good .30-30 lever action is also a good choice if you want an affordable intermediate power rifle.

AR platform is a good alternative to the Mini-14, it's not as cool, but it is inherently more accurate.
 

OldNavy

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 30, 2005
Messages
151
Location
Pensacola, FL, USA
...and Ruger also offers the Mini in 6.8 (I have no experience with that caliber), and both .357 & .44 Magnums in their both action carbines if you are looking for 'light and handy'.
 

Kyberz

Bearcat
Joined
Oct 24, 2010
Messages
91
Location
Diamond Springs, CA
"If you have to have one, get the mini-14. If you want 7.62x39, find an SKS or a AK if you have the money."


Good point. Problem solved! :D Buy a mini 14 and an SKS. But then I'm a bit out of date on current SKS prices. I was real lucky back in 1993 before the Clinton ban. Bought a 1954 IZZY as a C&R for the princely sum of 109.00 out the door. Now days? I don't think so. However a Russian SKS is a nice gun to own and a lot of fun too!
 

joshuway

Bearcat
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
5
I haven't checked this post in about a week, but during that time I've actually been looking at SKSs! hahahaha Thanks again for all the info!
 

Kyberz

Bearcat
Joined
Oct 24, 2010
Messages
91
Location
Diamond Springs, CA
joshuway said:
I haven't checked this post in about a week, but during that time I've actually been looking at SKSs! hahahaha Thanks again for all the info!

Go to sksboards.com There is a plethora of really good info there.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Messages
10,630
Location
Greenville, SC: USA
joshuway said:
I haven't checked this post in about a week, but during that time I've actually been looking at SKSs! hahahaha Thanks again for all the info!

Just keep in mind you are now comparing Apples to......chow main....


Mini-14 or 30.... made in America for Americans....

SKS... made in China for 3rd world soldiers to use for a few minutes and then the guy behind them picks it up and uses it for a while (same as an AK).

My suggestion... mini-14.
 

Bayouhunter

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 23, 2010
Messages
388
Location
South Alabama
I have the tactical mini 30. It did not like the the cheap imported ammo. it misfired 1-2 rounds per 20 rd mag shooting the Herters ammo. Now I Handload for it. Any of the 125 to 150 gr 3030 bullets feed reliably in it.
 

Ruger Nut10

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 18, 2010
Messages
228
Location
N Texas
I own both, and I like the edge the Mini30 gives, but I've shot quite a few deer and hogs with the Mini14 and it flat out works like a charm. Granted here in the central Texas area the deer seem to average 85 lbs field dressed,so I really don't need to break out the 30.06 for anything but long range hunting. I current hunt an area where 100 yds is a long shot and these little guns are perfect.
I have used the following for deer with great success over a dozen + one shot kills.(Mini30 154gr SP Wolf). (my gun likes them.) I have used the Hornady V-max - one buck at 45 yds. They really open up and eat up meat. May be too soft. The Hornady SST may be the trick, but they just don't group well enough in my mini30 to even try to hunt with them. 10" groups at 100 yds.
I did try Silver Bear 125 gr last year but missed one deer, so no luck there. I switched to my 6mm M77 for the remainder of the season, since I was pissed at missing a deer and of course I blamed the gun not my bad shooting :).

For the Mini14 - I used the Brown Bear 62gr SP - Great round on hogs and deer.
My daughter has taken 2 deer with the USA 62gr SP. I have buckets of Silver Bear 62 gr SP to try, but until I run out of the USA brand 62 gr. I'm sticking with those.
Remember these are all one shot kills from 15 yds to no more than 100yds, and it really has changed my "Big Gun" mentality over the past 10 years using the Mini14/30 for small deer.

Some guns are more friendly to the Steel Case than others, but try different brands and see what works in your gun (If you can find any).
 

Richbaker

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
Messages
641
Location
Tucson, AZ
blume357 said:
SKS... made in China for 3rd world soldiers to use for a few minutes and then the guy behind them picks it up and uses it for a while (same as an AK).

My suggestion... mini-14.

As well as Russia(originally designed and produced there), Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia and probably several other countries I haven't thought of.....
 

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