The Mini-14 is a lightweight semi-automatic rifle manufactured by Sturm, Ruger & Co. used by military personnel, law enforcement personnel, and civilians. A .223 caliber (5.56 mm) firearm, it is made in a number of variants, including the Ranch Rifle (a basic, civilian variant), the Mini-14 GB (designed for military and law-enforcement use), and the Mini Thirty, which is chambered for 7.62×39mm.
History and design
Stainless steel Mini-14 Ranch Rifle with various accessories
The Mini-14 was first introduced in 1973 by Sturm, Ruger & Co. The name Mini-14 was coined because it resembles a smaller version of the military M14 rifle. Designed by L. James Sullivan and William B. Ruger, it incorporated numerous innovations and cost-saving engineering changes. The Mini-14 rifle employs an investment cast, heat-treatedreceiver and is mechanically similar to the M1 rifle, with a self-cleaning, fixed-piston gas system. 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.
The original Mini-14 rifle had a rear aperture sight with large protective wings and no integral scope bases. In 1982, Ruger introduced the Ranch Rifle with an integral scope base on the receiver, a new folding aperture rear sight and factory scope rings.
In 1987, Ruger introduced the Mini Thirty rifle chambered for the Russian 7.62×39mm cartridge. At the time, large quantities of surplus military ammunition were being imported into the United States at rock-bottom prices. Also, the 7.62×39mm is ballistically similar to the .30-30 Winchester cartridge. As a result, the Mini Thirty proved to be an effective deer rifle.
In 2003, the design was overhauled to improve accuracy and update the styling while at the same time reducing production costs. The standard Mini-14 was discontinued and the name became the family name for all Mini-14 type rifles. As of 2005, all Mini-14 type rifles are now based on the Ranch Rifle design, with integral scope bases, a non-folding ghost ring aperture rear sight and a winged front sight similar to that used on the Ruger Police Carbine. These upgraded rifles have serial numbers beginning with 580 and are sometimes referred to as 580 series Ranch Rifles. They also have a new modified gas system designed to reduce barrel vibration and are capable of shooting 2 inch groups at 100 yards (2 minute of angle (MOA) accuracy).
Sometime between 2007 and 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. All Mini-14 type rifles are available in stainless steel or blued finish with hardwood, synthetic, or laminated stocks with 16.12-inch (409 mm) or 18.5-inch (470 mm) barrels.
Ranch Rifle. Note: scope mounts and ghost ring rear sight
The Ranch Rifle is a basic model offered in a wood or synthetic rifle stock paired with a blued or stainless steel receiver and a standard 18.5" tapered barrel (1:9" RH twist rate). These rifles feature an adjustable ghost ring rear sight and winged front sight, and they are sold with a detachable scope rail mount and a choice of two 20-round or 5-round detachable box magazines to comply with some U.S. states and other countries which have laws restricting magazine capacity. All models are chambered in both .223 Remington and 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition except the Target Rifle variant (which is .223 only).
Introduced in 2007, the "Target Rifle" version has a 22-inch (560 mm) cold hammer-forged heavy barrel, adjustable harmonic tuner with adjustable minute-of-angle accuracy, and either a laminated wood or Hogue overmolded synthetic stock. The Target Rifle does not have iron sights but includes the standard scope rings and Picatinny rail mount. It is designed for use with the .223 Remington round only; 5.56 NATO is not warranted by Ruger.
A stainless Mini-14 Tactical (top) and Mini-14 GB-F
Introduced in 2009, the "Tactical Rifle" is the newest variant, which includes the shorter 16.12" barrel with flash suppressor, and is available with a standard fixed stock/forend, or a collapsible ATI-brand stock with Picatinny rails. This model is chambered in both .223 Remington/5.56×45mm NATO and .300 AAC Blackout as of 2015.
Early Mini-Thirty rifle is identical to the Ranch Rifle. Note: folding rear sight
Ruger Mini Thirty with pistol grip folding stock, Harris bipod, 30-round magazine, AK-74 style flash hider with added flash diverter and 3-9×40mm scope on Ruger high-post rings
In 1987, Ruger began production of the Mini Thirty. The Mini Thirty is chambered for the Russian 7.62×39mm cartridge, used in the SKS and AK-47, as many states prohibit hunting of deer with calibers smaller than 6 mm (.243 in). The 7.62×39mm has ballistics similar to the well-known .30-30 Winchester. The Mini Thirty is available with a 16.12" (Tactical Model) or 18.50" barrel having a twist rate of 1:10" RH, and is sold with two 20-round or 5-round box magazines. Ruger does not currently produce 30-round Mini Thirty magazines. The Mini Thirty shares many of the same design and accessory options with those of the smaller caliber Mini-14 Ranch Rifle.
Mini Thirty Tactical Rifle
The "Mini Thirty Tactical Rifle" variant was introduced in 2010. It closely mimics the Mini-14 Tactical Rifle variant, but in 7.62x39mm. It also has a shorter 16.12" barrel with flash suppressor, and is available with a standard fixed stock/forend, or a collapsible ATI-brand stock with Picatinny rails.
Ruger Mini-14GB with a pistol grip, side folding stock, 30-round magazine, bayonet lug, threaded barrel, flash suppressor and M7 bayonet.
The Mini-14 GB ("government bayonet"):579 models feature either a pistol grip, side folding stock or a standard semi-pistol grip rifle stock, a 20 or 30-round magazine, bayonet lug, threaded barrel, and flash suppressor. Sales were intended only for law enforcement, military and private security markets, and could only be found in Ruger's Law Enforcement Catalog. However, many have entered the civilian market.
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 was dropped from production in 1999 and Ruger stopped offering service for the rifle in 2009.
French CRS police officer with Mousqueton A.M.D. with tangent rear sight. Note: selector lever at the rear of the receiver.
A small number of straight-pull only (a.k.a. bolt-action only) Mini-14 and Mini-30 rifles were manufactured for sale in the United Kingdom as a result of legislation which banned semi-automatic centerfire rifles in 1988.
Other calibers and accessories
Mini-14 with various accessories
Disassembled Mini-14 with various accessories
Ruger produced a .222 Remington caliber model as of 1984. Designated Mini-14/5R.222, these rifles were made mostly for the European market and were discontinued in the early 1980s.
6.8 mm Remington
In 2007, Ruger began production of the Mini-6.8 utilizing the commercial 6.8mm Remington SPC cartridge. However, they were discontinued in 2012 and are no longer listed in the Ruger catalog.
Bermuda: The Royal Bermuda Regiment has used the Mini-14GB/20 as its standard service rifle since 1983. Original wooden stocks were replaced with Choate black plastic stocks about 1990. The regiment received L85A2 rifles in August, 2015, and the Ruger was phased out in January, 2016.
The Ruger Mini-14 was used in several notable crimes:
Robert Hansen, a prolific American serial killer active between 1971 and 1983, killed his victims with a Ruger Mini-14 and a knife.
In 1989, Gordon Kahl, his son Yorie, and friend Scott Faul used Ruger Mini-14 rifles in two bloody shootouts in separate times with the police.
Darkley killings, Three men with at least one armed with a Ruger Mini-14 opened fire upon worshippers attending a church service at Mountain Lodge Pentecostal Church, killing three Protestant civilians and wounding seven. The attack was claimed by the "Catholic Reaction Force" a cover name for members of the Irish National Liberation Army in retaliation for murders of catholic civilians carried out by the Protestant Action Force.
Michael Lee Platt used a Ruger Mini-14 in the 1986 FBI Miami shootout, which resulted in FBI agents and other American law enforcement agencies switching to more powerful, higher-capacity handguns, and stronger body armor.
The Ruger Mini-14 was seen extensively in many episodes of The A-Team, an NBC television series that aired from 1983 to 1987. It was chosen because of its reputation for reliably firing blanks, which tend to clog a gun's action.
George Clooney's character uses the Ruger Mini-14 as a sniper rifle with collapsible stock, side-mounted scope and large homemade suppressor in the 2010 film The American.