What is a most valuable feature of a firearm?
Many people would say either reliability or accuracy. Personally, we vote for accuracy as the most important for sporting guns. We have to agree with the great Col. Townsend Whelen, one of the most-quoted gun writers,: "Only accurate rifles are interesting."
Since the first semi-automatic rifles for the civilian market came out in the early 1900s, they’ve suffered from a reputation for poor accuracy. The Ruger Mini carbines made 70 years later were no exception.
Keep reading the article for a more in depth look at these scopes as well as our review on them.
Quick Comparison Chart for the Best Mini 14 Scopes
Bushnell Trophy 3-9x 40mm
Crosman CenterPoint Adventure Class 2-7x32mm
Nikon - P-223 Scope 3-9x40mm BDC 600 Range Ready Kit
Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20×50 Riflescope
Leupold 115389 Mark AR MOD 1 Rifle
Is a Scope Worth It?
There is nothing wrong with this handy rifle. It definitely does what it’s designed for. It’s made to be a utility rifle intended for plinking at 50yds. For more than 40 years, the Mini 14 Rifle has outshined other semi-automatics in the .223 Remington ammo class.
But it’s important to remember that accuracy and reliability in the autoloader's action can be inversely proportional. The Ruger Mini 14 definitely doesn't belong among the tack driver rifles. However, it is worth scoping because it can dramatically diminish your point of impact (POI) groupings from an average 4" to only 1"- 1.5 inches 3-round group.
Of course, Ruger has also retooled the Mini 14 production line. The newly-redesigned version is more accurate due to improved manufacturing tolerances and a heavier barrel. Many feel that with its violent jarring of the action, the Mini is particularly hard on scopes. Realistically, the impulse of .223 loads could hardly ruin a decent scope or solid mount.
The Mini was never intended to be a particularly accurate rifle. But investing in good, quality optics can enhance your shooting ability, making longer-range shots both more natural and more precise. However, considering the semi-automatic Mini 14 and its small caliber, scopes with low to medium magnification are the best solution. This compact carbine chambered in .223, of course, has a limited ballistic trajectory and effective range, and seeing further won’t make it shoot further.
Although we found numerous recommendations for straight-tubed scopes such as in the 1-4x24 or 1.5-5x20 range, we advise lower-profiled optics but with bigger glasses. The Mini 14 is not only a great plinker but fantastic for hunting predators and small game, so we want to take that into account.
When hunting for animals active primarily at dawn and dusk, bigger objectives and low-powered variable optics with the widest FOV possible is the most logical and natural solution. It’ss better to have a lower-powered variable that allows for fast shouldering and target acquisition with an objective lens adequate for low light conditions.
Reviews of the Best Scopes for the Mini 14
There’s a huge range of optics that will work well with the Mini 14. We’ve summarized just a few here. They’re all great choices, and come in at various price points according to your budget and expectations.
The 3-9x 40mm Trophy Bushnell is one of our favorite riflescopes in the economy class. It’s also tailor-made for the Mini 14 scenario we laid out above. Bushnell Company makes some of the most well-known working-man's optics in the hunting and shooting community. Their Trophy line riflescopes let in a lot of light making it ideal for dawn or dusk shooting when predators are most active. A Bushnell Trophy one-piece main tube riflescope does look massive on the Ruger Mini 14 with its 12-inch length. But it is surprisingly lightweight measuring less than 14 ounces.
As an “introductory” optic, this scope provides a reasonably bright and crisp image thanks to the multicoated optics. Bushnell refers to it as their “Amber-Bright” high-contrast lens coatings which offer 91% light transmission.
This particular riflescope sports the Multi-X reticle that makes it popular with most hunters. The Bushnell Trophy is also available with a DOA 600 (Dead On Accurate at 600 yards) and Mil-Dot reticle that use the second focal plane - although that might be a bit much for your for your Mini 14.
With a relatively low price, the quality of Bushnell optics is usually perceived as being average, but acceptable for ‘practical’ accuracy. With low-priced glasses, it is understandable that the clarity of the optics is not pristine. Particularly on bigger magnifications the edge sharpness is visibly degraded compared to the center sharpness. For its Bushnell Trophy 3-9x 40mm is completely acceptable hunting scope. It’s reasonably good, although not fancy enough for the serious or recreational hunter. But that’s probably not what you’re doing with your Mini 14 anyway.
While there were other very admirable optics in the low-powered line, the Crosman CenterPoint 2-7x32mm Scope caught our attention. For the cost-conscious shooter who occasionally use his Ruger Mini 14, this riflescope from Crosman, Adventure line provides remarkable features that he would expect to find in a more expensive scope.
At a weight of only 12.8 Oz. and overall length of 11.5”, the short main tube stays out of your way. This Crosman product is well made, machined of one-piece aircraft-grade aluminum alloy tube. Though advertised as a Shotgun Scope with a generous 48.5-feet field of view at 100 yards, this lightweight and compact optics is fast in target acquisition and aiming. That helps make it perfect hardware for your Ruger Mini 14 Ranch rifle.
This straight-tubed scope is 100% waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof. It offers bright and clear parallax-free images at 100 yards distance with just a single adjustable ocular lens. The scope provides an easy-to-focus feature with 1/4 MOA at 100-yard quick adjustments and a dual red/green illuminated Mil-Dot reticle.
This decent scope has a few drawbacks, such as easily losing the sight picture at 2x. This is due to a very small sweet spot. There is also a limited range in low light because of the low twilight performance of the 32mm lens.
However, the Crosman CenterPoint Adventure Class 2-7x32mm outperforms a lot of much higher-priced scopes. It offers tremendous value for the money. In the end, this budget-priced riflescope designed for field hunting and scouting will serve your Mini 14 well.
As one of the leading companies in the industry, Nikon introduced a new line of a polymer all-weather casing riflescopes. The P223 series started in 2012.
Along with the scope, the package includes Nikon mount rings designed for the AR platform and a “Spot On Wind Meter” that enables shooters to get on target quickly. The- P-223 Scope 3-9x40mm sports a 1-inch main body tube with an overall length of 12.4," and weight of the only 17.1oz.
The Nikon P223 optics is lighter than other all-metal scopes in its category. However, Nikon distinguished itself from the competition with a few novelties. Among these are the BDC reticle and the Spot-On ballistics program. The Spot On is a wind meter that ensures you can get on target quickly.
This effective variable zoom riflescope is intended for everything from range shooting to tree stand hunting. The BDC 600 reticle is optimized to correspond to the trajectory of the .223 Remington high-ballistic coefficient (BC), 55-grain polymer tip bullet. Perfect for your Mini 14!
The spring-loaded adjustment knob makes precise adjustment easy and quick. The scope has more-than-adequate 3.6" eye relief and has a large field of view of 33.8 ft. at 100 yards with 3x magnification. As a standard feature, Nikon has a preset to eliminate parallax at 100 yards.
Nikon advertises that the P223 has 98% light transmission, providing crisp and clear visuals even in poor lighting conditions. This might be a slight exaggeration since the more expensive M-223 only offers light transmission up to 95%. Still, it’s a great choice.
This reasonably-priced Nikon offering definitely has professional-grade features. It delivers a quality target image unaffected adverse weather conditions.
This scope from Trijicon may be overkill for the small, moderately powered Mini 14 carbine, but if you want to push the limits of what you can do, it’s a good choice.
Trijicon is one of the names that come to mind when you want outstanding performance from tactical optics for close work. However, the new line of Trijicon variable-powered riflescopes is perfect for shooting targets at around 1,000 yards. It competes very favorably with some other higher-end scopes such as Nightforce, Nikon, or Leupold at this price point.
Actually, the Trijicon TR23 AccuPoint is really among the top options in this category due to its superior-quality glass with multiple lens coating. It offers extraordinary clarity and light-gathering capability with zero distortion.
The 30mm tube ends with an awesome light-gathering 50mm objective lens. This gives you the ability to shoot in any light with perfect accuracy. The scope body is crafted from rugged, aircraft-grade hard-anodized aluminum. Its interior is filled with dry nitrogen to keep away corrosion and eliminate fogging.
This Trijicon scope features Second Focal Plane (SFP) Standard Duplex and Mil-Dot Crosshair reticles. These have the unique characteristic of using both fiber optics and tritium to illuminate a small dot at the very center of the crosshairs. However, this green center dot is very small and difficult to see on a bright day. The chief benefit, though, is that this system means the scope is battery-free.
The Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20×50 employs massive elevation and windage knobs with 0.25 MOA per click adjustment, allowing a total amount of elevation adjustment of 47 MOA. Some consider this enough for long-range hunting. However, others say that long-range shooting and tactical use requires 60+ MOA, and they consider this feature as one of the scope limitations. If you’re only using the scope for your Mini 14, that’s a non-issue. But if you intend to also use it on other guns, it’s something to consider.
With the bigger price tag and higher quality also comes size. This good-looking scope measures 13.6″ long and weighs a hefty 26.9 oz. As one the best scopes for the Mini 14 Rifle, the package includes a 3″ sunshade, lens pen, manuals and a bikini-style scope cover.
The golden mean riflescope for Ruger Mini 14 could be the Leupold series of optics adapted for the AR platform and optimized for .223 caliber. The Leupold 115389 Mark AR MOD 1 Rifle Scope comes with an advertised 3-9x magnification (the actual optical system features 3.3-8.6x zoom). It has a 40mm objective lens with Multicoat 4 anti-glare coatings.
It also features DiamondCoat, an extra layer of anti-scratch coating that defends the surface from accidental damage. It has a lockable fast-focus eyepiece with a low-profile tactile zoom lever to get the optimum magnification level with zero distortion, giving a bright, clean image.
The Leupold Riflescope utilizes a second focal plane reticle available in a Duplex, Mil-Dot or Illuminated FireDot-G TMR pattern. The Illuminated FireDot-G Tactical Milling Reticle is an elegant Leupold reticle variant of the Mil-Dot. It features an illuminated green center dot visible day or night
It’s good to remember that the Leupold TMR utilizes 0.1 mil P5 dials with an elevation BDC dial for a .223/5.56, 55gr FMJ bullet instead of .25 or .5 minute adjustments.
Leupold built this scope over a one-inch tube made with a proprietary 2nd Generation argon-krypton gas blend that should keep it more fog-proof and waterproof. The aluminum scope body has an attractive matte black finish. It measures 12.6 inches long and weighs 11.20 ounces. That makes it ones of the lightest scopes in the 3-9x 40 category.
Unlike a cheap China-made "tactical" scope, this one has the standard high Leupold quality approaching the upper-class VX-II glass.
One word of caution: the Leupold Mark AR riflescope features exposed tactical P5 elevation turrets. You’ll have to be careful not to bump the turrets or your shots will be off the mark.
This scope is designed for short-to-medium-range shooting and can be used for instinctive and close-range engagements. The Mini 14 rifle and a Leopold AR Scope are a great combo for target shooting, varmint hunting and some of the local 3 Gun Competitions.
The market is overflowing with many riflescopes ranging from ordinary garbage to high-end European glasses. Finding the best of the best can be a daunting task. We hope our short overview of few typical representative riflescopes will simplify your hunt and help increase the fun and usability of your Mini 14.