Mini 14 Models: The Complete Overview [2019]

The Ruger Mini 14 is a widely-known rifle. It is used by hunters, sport shooters, and law enforcement agencies. It shoots both 5.56 and .223 remington bullets and comes in a number of variants. From law agencies to Hollywood movies, the Mini 14 has made a lot of appearances in public. Here we’ll look into the various models of Ruger Mini 14 rifles that are currently in production.

Here we'll just talk about currently-produced models. You can also learn about the history of the Mini 14 and earlier models.

Comparison Chart of the Best Mini 14 Models

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Ruger MINI-14 Ranch

  • Scope rings included.
  • Includes an adjustable rear sight.
  • Chambered in 5.56 NATO rounds.
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Ruger Mini-14 Tactical

  • Includes a compact, hammer-forged barrel.
  • Includes an adjustable ghost ring rear sight.
  • Available in either 5.56 NATO, .223, or 300 Blackout shots.
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Mini 30

  • Made in the USA
  • 5+1 Rounds
  • 22" Stainless Barrel and Laminate Thumbhole Stock
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What is the Effective Range of a Mini 14?

According to many users, most of them were able to hit their targets with effectiveness from about 200 yards out without any optic attached. However, some users would add on a scope only to have it go as far out as 400 yards in a hunting application.

So the effective range will depend on whether or not you equip a rifle scope or not. The applications will also play a factor in the rifle’s effective range coverage.

Review of the Best Mini 14 Models

The following is a list of the four best Mini 14 Models that are currently on the market as of this writing. As you look through each one, it is important to take note of any characteristics and features that will make a rifle stand out. You may have a good idea of what your ideal Mini 14 model will look like.

So if you find one that matches what you’re looking for, then you might consider it a winning choice. Now, let’s get started by taking a look at the first rifle on our list:

Best Overall:
Ruger MINI-14 Ranch

ranch nato

Pros

  • Firepower is excellent
  • Will work in most applications
  • The rear sight is easy to adjust
  • Picatinny rail will fit a good amount of rifle scopes
  • Scope rings hold the scope in place and retain the zero settings

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users were happy overall with the rifle. They said that it shoots well and can reach some pretty good distances with or without a scope. One user gave it a try with the sights only and was able to hit the bullseye of his paper target consistently from about 150 yards out. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This rifle is one of the best Mini 14 models for hunters. Especially the ones who often look for varmint or small game targets. This is made from all kinds of high-quality materials that will not only make the rifle tough from the inside and out, but it has that classic look that reminds you of your father’s or grandfather’s hunting rifle. If you want something that looks like it’s aged quite well over the years, this might be the kind of Ruger 14 that you can appreciate.

The Mini 14 Ranch was the first prominent upgrade made to the original Mini 14 rifles since their introduction in 1973. This semi-automatic model was introduced in 1982 with the major improvement being a new scope mount rail machined into the receiver which provides a stable mounting base. The receiver is drilled and tapped to install Picatinny rails as well.

Other additions to the rifle included an improved ejector, folding rear sight, bolt buffer and a synthetic stock.

The Mini 14 Ranch took the market by storm and was so successful that later the entire line of Mini 14 rifles featured scope mounts and proprietary Ruger scope rings.

The Mini 14 Ranch rifle features a blued stainless steel receiver along with an 18.5 inch tapered barrel with a twist rate of 1:9” for modern ammunition. The rifle has an M1 Garand-style bolt-locking mechanism with a bolt buffer and a cold hammer-forged barrel which helps in rifling thus improving the accuracy of the rifle. The overall length of the Mini 14 Ranch rifle is 37.5” and it weighs only 6.75 pounds. It’s available in hardwood and synthetic stock variants.

The Mini 14 Ranch shoots 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington cartridges. It has winged iron sights with a front blade and folding-leaf adjustable rear sight. The factory-packed Mini 14 Ranch came with a 5-round detachable box magazine with available aftermarket upgrades of 10, 20, 30, 40 and 100 round mags. Recently, however, the company began offering 20-round mags as well. Previously these magazines were only available to law enforcement.

Ruger’s original motive behind designing the Mini 14 rifles was to get them accepted into the US Army. However, the rifle was not considered suitable according to military standards. Instead, the Mini 14 proved to be an amazing rifle for hunting varmints, sport shooting and personal defense.

The addition of features like the scope rail and folding stock made the gun quite popular among the masses. Due to its accuracy, efficiency, self-cleaning action and low maintenance the rifle became more useful for people who own ranches or took it to the woods for plinking and small game hunting.

Ruger has recently introduced another version of the Mini 14 Ranch rifle to comply with the specifications supporting the NRA’s initiative on the second amendment. The new rifle, known as NRA-ILA Mini 14, is more compact with a shorter barrel size which makes it quite handy.

Who Will Use This Most 

Expect this to be a rifle that will be used by varmint and small game hunters alike. It does have the distance for you to knock down such targets. Not to mention, it’s got the firepower to boot. If you want something that will be reliable in the situations that matter, this might be your kind of Mini 14.

Bottom Line

The Ruger Mini 14 Ranch can pack on the firing power and can be accurate with or without any scopes at all. If you want something that can be effective at any distance with either the use of a sight or scope, you’ll know that this rifle will be your best friend on the field. 

mini 14 tactical 5.56

Pros

  • It can fit most Picatinny rails
  • Reduced recoil right out of the box
  • It will be more effective with a scope or optic
  • Flash suppressor does a good job preventing night blindness
  • Super sturdy construction, it can take on the bumps and bangs

Cons

  • Front sight may not be as reliable sometimes
  • Some slings may have trouble fitting into the sling swivel
  • Some magazines might be a little too tight to fit in the mag well

What Recent Buyers Report

Many recent buyers were satisfied with the rifle. They used it for target shooting and tactical situations. A good number of these buyers are either military or law enforcement personnel. One user said that it has become his go-to tactical rifle in situations where things can get a little rough in an instant. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This rifle may look like an AR-15, but it isn’t. It’s a Ruger Mini 14 that is designed for battle. Of course, for a rifle like this, it’s made from the best materials that can handle the bumps and bruises of some applications like tactical or even competition shooting situations. When you need to move around quickly while navigating corners, this rifle is light enough for you to carry and make those quick movements.

The tactical version is the latest addition to the product line of Ruger Mini 14 Rifles. The Mini 14 Tactical features a shorter 16.12” barrel with a 1:7” twist rate. The barrel is cold hammer-forged which results in precise rifling. It has straight non-tapered profiling of 0.75”.

The barrel is threaded on the forend for mounting a removable flash suppressor.  All the major components of the Mini 14 tactical have been manufactured from blued steel to maintain its reputation as a durable firearm. The rifle is chambered for .223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO and .300 AAC Blackout(7.62x35mm) rounds.

The Mini 14 tactical features iron sights with an adjustable ghost ring rear sight and a protected non-glare blade sight in the front. Similar to the Ranch models, the Tactical model has a scope mount drilled and tapped onto the receiver. You can also attach a 4.25” compatible Picatinny rail to the rifle using three screws.

The polymer folding stock is lightweight and easy to use. Another advantage is that it doesn’t require the same special care as conventional wooden stocks. The butt of the Mini 14 Tactical is complimented with a recoil pad for a smoother recoil and comfortable plinking sessions.

The shoulder sling loops are mounted on the gas blocks and the shoulder stock. The trigger has a  5 lb 10oz. pull. The safety switch is placed ahead of the trigger guard for convenient usage.

The bolt remains open when the last round is fired, which is a native property of Mini 14 rifles. The rifle has an overall length of 36.25” and weighs 6.75 pounds. The rifle ships with two 20-round Ruger OEM magazines along with a Picatinny rail and two scope mounts.

Who Will Use This Most 

This rifle will be used by law enforcement and military personnel among others. Even in a situation where they’ll need something tough and reliable in the dangerous situations that they face each day, they need to be ready to defend themselves. It will also come in handy as a good self-defense rifle for those who want to be prepared for when a prowler decides to invade your home. 

Bottom Line

The Ruger Mini 14 Tactical is a rifle that can get the job done and deter any attacker in a tactical or self-defense situation. Plus, the rugged design and its ability to customize make this a force to be reckoned with. If you want a rifle that will stick with you during the rough applications, you’d be crazy to pass up on the opportunity to give this a closer look.

Best for the Money:
 Mini 30

mini 30

Pros

  • Little to no recoil right out of the box
  • It can be used for many applications
  • Super durable construction, it can take on impact and abuse
  • Has effective accuracy at about 50 to 100 yards without a scope
  • Feeds through most 7.62x39 rounds well, no jamming or reliability issues to report

Cons

  • Some have had issues with the firing pin
  • Windage adjustment may be a little stiff at first
  • It may be a little difficult to sight the rifle in properly

What Recent Buyers Report

The buyers of this rifle were quite satisfied with the overall performance. They were able to load this with their favorite 7.62x39 rounds and fired off at targets situated from 100 to 150 yards out. As expected, they hit their targets with effective accuracy. Other than the accuracy, they were quite happy with the lack of recoil right out of the box.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Ruger Mini 30 is another rifle that will be just as effective as any Mini 14 rifle on the market. Yes, they’re from the same manufacturer, and like the many Mini 14s in existence, the 30 provides a great deal of firepower and is effective at various distances (with the possibility of hitting targets beyond 200 yards). It’s smooth, accurate, and as reliable as it can get.

The Ruger Mini Thirty is an advanced version of the Mini 14 Ranch, chambered for the 7.62x39mm round. The Mini 14 Ranch model was performing exceptionally well on the market, but soon Ruger realized the need to introduce a rifle more suitable for hunting bigger game. In fact, many states prohibited the hunting of deer with calibers smaller than .243(6”). This led of the introduction of Ruger Mini Thirty in 1987.

The Ruger Mini Thirty has ballistics similar to the Winchester .30-30. The features and specification of this model are similar to the previous basic and ranch versions. The only difference is the caliber.

The rifle features a synthetic stock with a pistol grip. It has a winged blade front and adjustable rear sights for quicker target acquisition. The Mini Thirty is available in 16.12” and 18.5” barrel length variants with a twist rate of 1:10” and an overall length of 36.75”.

All the basic parts including the receiver, bolt, trigger assembly, trigger guard, barrel and sights have been manufactured from blued steel. The 7.62x39mm chambering of the Mini 30 has made it popular among people who like the design of the AK-47. The Mini Thirty is generally used for hunting big game because of the larger Russian 7.62x39mm round.

The heavy chambering makes it suitable for hunting and has decent accuracy up to 150 yards. The 7.62.39mm round has enough power to kill a whitetail or a hog sitting at 200 yards. It doesn’t hurt that the Russian 7.62x39mm ammo is quite cheap. Also, the self-cleaning fixed gas-piston system of the Mini 14 doesn’t have a problem with Russian or surplus ammo.

The Mini 30 is a tough and dependable rifle. You can upgrade it using aftermarket accessories to suit your needs.

Who Will Use This Most 

This might be used as a possible rifle for hunting small game and some large game targets like deer. It will be a favorite for those who hold accuracy and reliability to a high standard. If you also have some 7.62x39 rounds laying around, chances are you might find this rifle to be more useful to you than any other rifle that is chambered to fire these shots. Especially if your next hunting goal is to nail a big trophy buck.

Bottom Line

The Mini 30 might be your kind of rifle if you’re looking for something that will give you a good deal of firepower and accuracy in any hunting application. Don’t be surprised if this rifle can last you a long time. As long as you take the best care of it, it will take care of you in return. 

mini 14 target

Pros

  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Accurate at various distances
  • Excellent for hunting applications
  • The recoil pad reduces a good amount of felt recoil
  • Super sturdy construction, it can take on impact and bangs

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users were quite surprised with this rifle. According to them, it’s insanely lightweight thanks to the design. Meanwhile, they also added that it was a very accurate and durable rifle. One user said that he was able to knock down a few varmint targets from about 150 yards out without the use of a scope.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

One of the things that made this puppy stand out is the ambidextrous thumbhole. It not only makes the rifle lightweight, but it stood out as a really good rifle that can be used by both right-handed and left-handed shooters. Granted, the latter category benefited from this rifle the most. Other than that, the overall design is rugged and gives it an intimidating look.

The Mini was never built to be a precision rifle, but a recent addition to the Mini 14 rifle family breaks all stereotypes about its accuracy. The Target Model features a sporterized black laminate thumbhole stock. It has an adjustable length of pull and a heavier 22″ barrel, which includes adjustable harmonic dampeners designed to tune barrel harmonics. Ruger also offers another Target version with a Hogue OverMolded stock.

Both models feature 42 1⁄2- inch overall lengths and weigh a hefty 9.5-pounds compared to the 6.7 lbs. of a standard rifle. 

One note for the Target model: while other Minis will shoot either 5.56x45mm NATO or .223 Remington, the Mini 14 Target Rifle version accepts .223 Remington cartridges exclusively. The Mini 14 Target rifle is optimized for accuracy via the use of optical sights so it can provide a five-shot group of one-and-a-half inches or less at 100 yards, which is very accurate for its intended purpose.

Who Will Use This Most 

This has all the makings of a heavy-duty hunting rifle. This can do some serious damage against varmint, small game targets, and maybe larger targets like a whitetail deer. No matter what your targets are, this rifle will be reliable and will have the potential to last a long time. If you want a durable rifle that will give you many years of dependable service, you might find this Mini 14 rifle to be your best hunting buddy.

Bottom Line

The Ruger Mini 14 Target Rifle is a tough rifle that will give you a decent amount of firing power for any hunting or target shooting application. No matter how you use it, this rifle will give you consistent accuracy at some pretty effective ranges even if you just rely on the sights

Service-Issue Mini 14s

A couple Mini 14 models aren't for direct sale, but are in production for law enforcement and military use. Let's look quickly at those.

Mini 14/30 GB

The GB in this variant’s name stands for ‘Government Bayonet’. Yes, this variant does have a bayonet lug. The Mini 14/30 GB rifles were originally manufactured for law-enforcement agencies. After the mass shootout of 1986 at Miami, the law enforcement agencies were forced to find a better weapon that fits their purpose. This gun was specially made for just that need.

The Mini 14/30 GB comes in standard stock as well as side-folding models. This model is primarily used by police, federal law enforcement agencies and private security agencies. It is not sold to civilians. The main reason for its incorporation by the law enforcement agencies was the need for a capable semi-auto rifle and the prohibition on full automatic ones.

mini14gb

The rifle features a standard semi-pistol grip stock, a threaded barrel, a flash suppressor and a bayonet lug. The flash suppressor mounted on the barrel crown serves multiple purposes. It can also be used to fire tear gas and smoke grenades using blank 5.56 rounds.

Five inches behind the muzzle is a bayonet lug which has been bolted on. This lug can be used to attach a bayonet which makes the rifle adaptable for handling riots and similar situations. The Mini 14/30 GB rifles are also used by several small armies around the world. The Mini 14 GB rifles are marked with “For Government and Law Enforcement Use Only” on the receiver and the magazine.

It weighs just 6.4 lbs and measures 33.5” in length. Otherwise, it’s just a Mini 14 modified to suit the needs of the law enforcement officers.  

AC-556

The AC-556 is Ruger’s other Mini 14 service weapon. Like the Mini 14 GB-F, the AC-556 is militarized but provided with selective fire; a three-round burst capability.

The AC-556 rifles had a slightly longer receiver to housing the fire mode switch at its rear part.  It shares the same aesthetics as the GB-F, including the folding stock, protected front sight, extended flash suppressor and a bayonet lug.

mini14ac556

This rifle is intended for those government agencies seeking select fire capabilities since the AC-556 assault rifles are found in different parts of the world. It is designed for those government agencies seeking full-auto firearms.

While the Mini was never the military success, the AC-556 with its folding plastic stocks does have a few homes. The Bermuda Regiment uses it, as does Northern Ireland’s heavily-armed Royal Ulster Constabulary. It’s also used by the US Navy's Special Warfare groups and is in the inventory of US Marine security guards at US Embassies around the world.

Trivia

The Mini 14 GB model has been seen in various Hollywood movies and TV shows like the “A-team.” If you find old episodes of Hannibal, Face, Howling Mad Murdock and BA Baracus, you’ll see them using this gun. Looking closely, you’ll notice that they’re handling it as a semi-automatic - even though sound effects of full automatic fire were added!

The 'GB' has also been featured prominently in movies throughout the years. Among these was "Romancing the Stone" (1984) with Michael Douglas. Standard Mini 14 rifles (pre-2005 style) with a Ruger factory folding stock showed up in "The American" (2010) starring George Clooney.

Why would this gun be so popular in Hollywood? The answer lies in the gun’s reputation for reliably firing blanks, which tend to jam a gun's action.

Conclusion

The Mini 14 has been on the market for more than four decades and is still a widely used weapon. It’s generally used for hunting, plinking and by law enforcement agencies. With minor changes in its design, the variants available on the market cater to different needs, but overall, the Mini 14 is a sturdy, reliable and inexpensive rifle.

3 thoughts on “Mini 14 Models: The Complete Overview [2019]”

  1. I have a Mini-14 stainless steel with a lot of ammo and clips and magazines and carrying case and so forth that I would like to sell I’m in Tucson Arizona it’s in perfect shape I’ve just too old to use it anymore I would really like to sell it

  2. I have a Mini-14 stainless steel with a lot of ammo and clips and magazines and carrying case and so forth that I would like to sell I’m in Tucson Arizona it’s in perfect shape I’ve just too old to use it anymore I would really like to sell it

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