From its introduction in 1973, the Ruger Mini 14 established itself as a wonderful plinker, reliable hunting rifle and a successor and modern rendition of the lever action a cowboy would carry in his saddle boot.
However, with some upgrades this compact and robust weapon chambered in .223 can offer much more than an ordinary backseat rifle. The most common way of modifying this fine carbine is with a rifle scope.
Quick Comparison Chart of the Best Mini 14 Scope Mounts
GG&G Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle Optic Mount
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Sun Optics USA Ruger Mini-14 Sport Scope Mount
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UltiMAK Ruger Mini-14 Scope Mount
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Does Model Matter?
The older Minis had two models to pick from. The 1973 "regular" Mini 14 model came without any mount option. So the side cover mounts were both the most used and cheapest solution. The "Ranch" model came out in 1982 and has integrated mounting grooves on the receiver, making it much simpler to scope it.
Becoming a cultural icon of the 1970s and '80s, the Mini 14 was a working man's rifle, pure and simple. But demand for a reliable optics installation was among the factors that led to the introduction of the Ranch Rifle in 1982. Sturm, Ruger & Co. has made a number of changes to the Minis over the years. This new generation of Ranch Rifle uses Ruger’s patented optical sight mount. This is claimed to provide accuracy superior to any other rifle in this caliber.
Today the Ranch Rifle is the standard flagship model of the Ruger Mini 14 family of rifles. It has a lower ejection angle, which means that the spent brass ejects up and to the right. Also, this new version features an integral scope base machined into the receiver.
It has little half-moon indents that accommodate the factory-supplied Ruger proprietary scope rings. The package also includes a Picatinny-style rail for more sight-fitting options. All this saves time, money and hassle.
What to Look for in a Mini 14 Scope Mount
If you don’t have one of these Ranch Rifles with its own scope base - or if it just doesn’t suit your needs - you do have several options. We’ll look at some of the options that are available. You may want to choose between the standard positioning and the “Scout” style.
Unlike traditional optics positioning, the “Scout” rifle concept allows for a forward-mounted sight system. This offers long eye relief for quick target acquisition. This old idea was significantly refined by Col. Jeff Cooper. It’s definitely handy, although it may be awkward and pricey for a new shooter.
In any case, no matter what you are choosing to put on your Mini 14, you should find the right balance between eye relief and the optimal number of devices.
Best Scope Mounts for the Mini 14
We’ve looked at some of the options that will fit your Mini 14. Let’s go through them now!
The B-Square mount platform is probably the most reasonable rail-mounting solution for this gun design. It’s also probably the easiest way to put a scope on older Minis. The B-Square one-piece scope base requires no gunsmithing since it takes the place of a stock bolt-stop cover plate, which is threaded. The mount features front, and rear alignment set screw used for locking it down tightly and adjusting scope-zero.
Despite some negative feedback about the use of the side-mounted bracket, the B-Square Mini 14 mount is better than others. This is because you can make a couple more adjustments to tighten the mount down. You should also use blue Loctite or the equivalent.
The unit is made from 6061-T6 high-grade aluminum and allows for the usage of iron sights. The B-Square optic base measures 7.8 inches long and weighs 7.2 ounces. It’s a multi-slotted Weaver-style mounting rail for perfect ring spacing. The package includes a pair of 1-Inch medium height Weaver style rings, called InterLock rings.
Another side mount comes from famous GG&G, an Arizona.based manufacturer of rifle accessories. Like the B-Square, the GG&G mount attaches directly to the side of the receiver without the need of a gunsmith. It also replaces the bolt stop cover plate. It’s slightly shorter, at 5.7 inches long. This is a MIL-STD-1913 dovetail rail.
Similar to other side mounts, this Mini 14 scope mount is designed as a "See-Under" type to permit the use of iron sights.
Manufactured on CNC machines from rugged 6061-T6 aluminum and weighing 3.5oz, the GG&G hardware supplies a sturdy mounting base for a magnified scope or red dot sight to meet the rigors associated with harshest conditions.
While the side mounts are recommended for the older Ruger production rifles, most Ruger specialists suggest top-mounted rails on the newer models. Most designs clamp directly to factory-integrated scope mounts, and this one from GG&G applies the same principle.
This way of attaching the scope accommodates the low-profile optics designs and affords a high cheek weld. The GG&G Mini 14 MIL-STD-1913 Model is a Picatinny rail with fourteen slots. This lets you place your scope far enough forward for optimal eye relief. At the same time, it’s still secured with a dual locking screw leveling system.
In case you’re worried about case ejection problems, the engineers from GG&G thought of that too. They’ve added machined relief cuts on the underside of the rail to ensure unimpeded ejection. Made from aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminum and measuring 5.7 inches in length, these Mini 14 scope mounts place the mini-red dot or powered scopes forward for long eye relief and fast target acquisition.
The Sun Optics Sport Scope Mount is another very affordable option among the few options for the older Mini 14. Side mounts are the easiest way to install optics on your Mini 14 since they attach directly to the receiver without permanent changes or gunsmithing. This Sun Optics mount offers additional support in the form of an extended rectangular bar on the bolt lock cover plate. The bar inserts into the lower bracket of the mount providing a very secure and tight fitting assembly.
The Sun Optics USA Ruger Mini 14 Sport Mount is constructed of 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum and features 5" Picatinny style rail, which allows more eye relief than similar mounts.
Like other See-Through mounts that allow the use of the iron sights, this hardware also places the scope high enough above the bore so the shooter may need to install a built-up cheek rest in order to achieve any kind of a decent stock weld.
As a tip, we found on the web a common advice to put a small amount of blue Loctite on the threads of the hand screw bolt to ensure a long-term use.
As you’ll find, the market for scope mounts for older Minis is somewhat limited. Plus, if your Mini is a standard version, you might have case-ejection issues if you put a mount above the carbine’s receiver. However, you can find a couple of mounts that still make good options for these older models.
These mounts design keeps the optics close to bore and low for a good cheek weld. They are known as a Scout mounts, and they require long eye relief scopes.
One of those, the UltiMAK Ruger Mini 14 Scope Mount allows the use of Intermediate Eye Relief (IER) "Scout" optics, holographic weapon sights and reflex sights. The Ultimak low-profile mount enables the use of iron and optic sights without reconfiguration or a raised cheekpiece for a proper hold.
The Ultimak Scout Scope mount is built from durable 2024 aluminum. It clamps directly to the barrel of Standard and Ranch rifles for added stability and does not interface with the stock in any way.
At over ten inches in length, the ProMag Picatinny Tactical Scope Rail is the longest one on the market. As such, it offers additional flexibility when mounting longer scopes, electronic sights or night vision.
The PM141A scope rail requires no permanent alterations to the rifle. However, the installation process requires more attention to detail. This piece of ProMag hardware attaches directly to the built-in scope base grooves. The installation points on the ProMag perfectly match the points on the Mini 14 Ranch, Mini 30, and 6.8 Ranch rifles.
The rail is machined from rugged T6 aluminum and offers ten-and-a-half inches of Picatinny rail slots, providing more points of attachment. Moreover, this lightweight “universal” mount rail accepts both Weaver-style and Picatinny rings. It also places the scope over the receiver for better balance and better eye alignment.
A Note on Cleaning
When you’ve decided if you need a regular scope or a scout scope, you’ve done only half the job. With some of the early receiver mounts, the owner has to remove them to get the bolt out when cleaning the weapon because of design issues.
On the other hand, the Scout-style mounts allow full access to the receiver mechanism with optics in place. They also allow faster targeting with better field of view. However, they are more expensive and offer non-traditional sight systems requiring extended training and getting used to by an average gun owner.
The original Mini 14 wasn’t designed for a scope at all, and even on the Ranch, many people would rather upgrade the rail. We’ve looked at some of the options available and hope you’ve found what you need. Let’s keep those shots on target!