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 rifle 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.
The Mini 14 Ranch
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 am 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.
The Mini 14 Tactical
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.
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. O
ne 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.
The Mini 30
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 in 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 deers 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
This rifle is intended for those government agencies seeking select fire capabilities since the AC-556 assault rifles are found in different part 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.
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.
The Mini 14 has been in 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 in the market cater to different needs. But overall, the Mini 14 is a sturdy, reliable and inexpensive rifle.