The Ruger Mini 14

Design of the Ruger Mini 14

Designed by L. James Sullivan and William B. Ruger, the Mini 14 employs an investment cast, heat-treated receiver and a version of the M1 rifle locking mechanism with a self-cleaning, fixed-piston gas system. The Mini 14 product page describes it as a “simple, rugged Garand-style breechbolt locking system, with a fixed-piston gas system and self-cleaning, moving gas cylinder. The rifle is available in stainless or blued finish with hardwood, synthetic, or laminated stocks and an 18.5-inch (470 mm) barrel. Target models are currently available only in .223 Remington and are not chambered to fire the 5.56x45mm NATO round. They feature a 22-inch (560 mm) heavy barrel and either a laminated wood or Hogue overmolded synthetic stock. Most Mini 14 models have a classic sporter appearance, in contrast to comparable autoloading rifles such as the AK-47 and M16 rifle. However Ruger now offers some Mini 14 rifles in a black ATI adjustable folding stock with a pistol grip. While the magazines of the Mini 14 resemble M16-style STANAG magazines, the two designs are not interchangeable.


Ruger Mini 14 Production versions

Initial rifles were produced with a complex, exposed bolt hold open device with no button for manual engagement. Stocks were somewhat angular and heat shields were made of wood. These rifles, with serial number prefixes before 181, were tooled and redesigned with a new stock, new bolt hold-open mechanism, and other small changes.

In 2003, Ruger again overhauled the design and the production process to improve accuracy and update the styling while at the same time reducing production costs. The new models, marketed as Ranch Rifles, are based on the previous Ranch models, with integral scope bases. In 2005, the new ranch rifles carried serial numbers beginning with 580. These rifles are sometimes referred to as 580 series ranch rifles. These new models use a modified gas system designed to reduce barrel vibration, and new iron sights.

At an unspecified time in 2007 to 2008, Ruger added a heavier tapered barrel to the mini series. The heavier barrel had an overall larger diameter with the barrel visibly becoming thicker in the final inches as the barrel approaches the gas block from the muzzle. These changes combined with tighter tolerances result in greater potential accuracy. The new mini 14 rifles are arguably capable of shooting under 2 MOA (Minute of angle) accuracy. The “target model” Mini 14 supposedly can shoot under 1 MOA.


History of the Ruger Mini 14

The Mini 14 was first introduced in 1974 by Ruger. The name Mini 14 is derived from the military M14 rifle implying a miniature version of the M14. Ruger used the M14 as a model for the new rifle while incorporating numerous innovations and cost-saving engineering changes. The Mini 14 proved popular with small-game hunters, ranchers, law enforcement, security personnel and target shooters.


Mini 14 Variants

The rear sight on standard models was an aperture sight with large protective wings, and there were no integral scope bases, until recently. In 2005, Ruger made design alterations to the Mini-14 altering the receiver, rear and front sights. All new Mini-14s are built with integral scope bases, non-folding ghost ring aperture rear sight and a winged front sight similar to that used on the Ruger Police Carbine.


Mini 14 Ranch Rifle

In 2008 Ruger began marking many Mini-14 rifles as “RANCH RIFLE” instead of Mini-14 on the receiver. These rifles are the most basic models, they generally come in a wood rifle stock, and feature a 18.5″ tapered barrel; although some are available with a 16″ barrel. These rifles feature an adjustable ghost ring rear sight and winged front sight. They are sold with a 20 round detachable magazine, however in some states like California where High capacity magazines are illegal, the rifles are sold with 5 round magazines instead. The “Ranch Rifle” variant has scope bases integrated into the receiver, and an ejector that ejects the spent cartridge case at a lower angle to avoid hitting a low-mounted scope. The old original Ranch Rifle rear sight was a folding-type aperture, which would fit under a scope, and lacked a winged front sight. This model will chamber both .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.


Mini 14 Tactical Rifle

Mini 14 Tactical

Ruger Mini-14/F30GB semi-automatic rifle is completely original Ruger issue featuring a pistol grip, folding stock, 30 round magazine, bayonet lug, threaded barrel, and flash suppressor.

The Mini-14/20GB featured a flash suppressor and a bayonet lug. A “Target Rifle” version with a heavy barrel, adjustable harmonic dampener and target stock was introduced in 2006. While never adopted by the U.S. military, both civilian and military Mini-14 variants are popular with many police departments as an affordable medium-range patrol rifle to fill the gap between short-range weapons (handguns and shotguns) and sniper rifles. Newer models have a 16.12″ barrel (1:9″ RH twist rate) with flash suppressor, and are available with a standard fixed stock/forend, or a collapsible ATI brand stock with Picatinny rails. This rifle is marked on the receiver as “Tactical Rifle”. It is very similar to the “Ranch” model except for the “bird cage” flash suppressor, synthetic stock, and shorter barrel. This model will chamber both .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.


Mini 14 AC-556

The AC-556 is a selective-fire version of the Mini-14 marketed for military and law enforcement use. The design incorporates a selector on the right/rear of the receiver to select either semi-automatic, 3-round burst, or full-automatic fire modes; the manual safety at the front of the trigger guard operates the same as a standard Mini-14. The front sight is winged and incorporates a bayonet lug. The 13-inch (330 mm) or 18-inch (460 mm) barrel incorporates a flash suppressor, which can be used to launch approved tear-gas and smoke grenades. A folding stock was used on the AC-556F and AC-556K. The rifle came equipped with 20-round magazines and a 30-round version was available for a time. The AC-556 is currently not in production.

Mini 14 with Bipod

Ruger Mini Thirty with pistol grip folding stock, Harris bipod, 30rd magazine, AK-74 style flash hider with added flash diverter and 3-9x40mm scope on Ruger high-post rings

Ruger Mini 14

Mini-14 with various accessories


Mini 14 NRA Model

In 2008 Ruger introduced a National Rifle Association model, with a shorter 16.25-inch (413 mm) barrel, polymer stock and two 20-round magazines.


Ruger Mini Thirty

In 1987, Ruger began production of the Mini Thirty. The Mini Thirty is chambered for the Russian 7.62x39mm cartridge, used in the SKS and AK-47, as many states prohibit hunting of deer with calibers smaller than 6 mm (.243 in). The 7.62×39 mm has similar ballistics to the well-known .30-30 Winchester. The Mini Thirty was only available as a Ranch Rifle, with integral scope base. Current production Mini Thirtys are similar to Mini-14’s except for caliber. The Mini-30 is available with a 16.12″ or 18.50″ barrel, with a twist rate of 1:10″ RH.


Other Calibers of Mini 14

Some early Mini-14 rifles were chambered in the .222 Remington cartridge. Since the .222 Remington is not completely dimensionally equivalent to the 5.56x45mm, Ruger chambered Mini-14s for both 5.56 and .222 Remington. Civilian firearms chambered in 5.56 are highly restricted in countries that restrict or prohibit firearms that chamber military cartridges (such as Mexico). By chambering the Mini-14 in the similar but not interchangeable .222 Remington caliber, the Mini-14 could be sold in those countries.

In 2007, Ruger began production the Mini-6.8 utilizing the commercial 6.8 mm Remington SPC cartridge. As of 2012, the Mini-6.8 has been discontinued and is no longer listed in the Ruger catalog.

A larger version of the Mini-14, called the XGI, was developed by Ruger in .308 Winchester and .243 Winchester. Although it was advertised in 1984–1985, it never entered production due to unresolved mechanical and production issues.


Mini 14 Bolt-Action Only (BOA)

A small number of straight-pull, bolt-action only Mini 14 and Mini-30 rifles were manufactured for sale in the United Kingdom.


Mini 14 Accessories

There is a wide range of after-market accessories available for the Mini 14 (e.g., folding stocks, scopes, flash hiders, bi-pods, etc.) all of which make the Mini-14 a highly adaptable rifle and add to its popularity.