OK...so my next question is, with all the drama in my state on so called "assault weapons" I was considering a semi-auto long gun for defensive purposes, but without the drama. Plus, AR's and AK's here need either fin-grips or action breaks to be legal.
I was considering the Mini-14, (the newer variety) and wanted to hear from the group what their experience has been?
Is the accuracy of the newer guns as bad as they say?
How reliable are they?
How effective would they be in a SHTF role? I
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Consider that a Special Forces team used them in California for years and never hit anyone.
My first job issued Minis for a while back in the day. Inside of 100, it’ll do ok.
Inside of a house, it won’t be the most ergonomic, but I’d take one if I had no other choice.
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The new model Mini-14s (580 series) from the mid-2000s onward are more accurate than the older Minis (180 series) with their pencil barrels.
You're still not going to win any bullseye competitions, but my late 2000s production Mini is accurate enough for defensive use out to 100+ yards, which is as far as I've shot it.
Forum user kkina is kinda the guru of Mini-14 accuracy around here, having done testing on old and new Minis while prototyping his Mini-14 accurizing strut, some of which is detailed on his website: https://accu-strut.com/main-page.html He reports newer Minis being capable of 1.5-2 MOA or so, while the old ones are more like 4-5.
Mags are more expensive than an AR. (Duh.) Accessories are less common than an AR. (Duh.) Disassembly is not as easy as an AR, especially removing the BCG. (Duh.)
Don't know about hardcore reliability testing results, but Mini-14s were used by a number of LE agencies from the 1980s through the 2010s, including big ones like the NYPD, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office, and the French national police. So that's something. They were even used by the military of Bermuda (though I'm not sure how much of a brag that is... )
I like mine well enough. I wouldn't pick it over an AR, but if I couldn't get (or could no longer own) an AR, I wouldn't feel bad about having to use a Mini-14 for defensive purposes.
They're light and handy, and point well, especially the 16" barreled ones. Mine's a special edition with a (true) 16" barrel and no muzzle device, which is roughly the same size as a M1 Carbine. Looks like the shortest they offer now are Tactical models with 16.1" barrels and even longer threaded muzzle devices, while other Mini-14s are 18.5".
Tech Sights makes a great replacement rear iron sight, and/or you can install an Ultimak rail to use a cowitnessed micro red dot. I have both on my Mini-14.
Another option you might consider is the Ares SCR, which uses a standard AR upper and mags with a ban-friendly Mini-style lower and a proprietary bolt carrier:
I have a Ranch model in stainless with wood stock. Iron sights. I can easily hit an 8 inch target with it unsupported at 70 yards. Have not tried beyond that. I bought it about 3 years ago. From what I have read, it was the older ones with a different barrel than the new models that had the rep for being wildly inaccurate. I also put an Accustrut stabilizer on it, but didn't really do any kind of analysis to see how much improvement it made. Can't hurt. Mine has been completely reliable although I probably only have about 300 rounds through it. In a SHTF scenario there are better options but it would do.
Removing the BCG is not hard. Putting it back in is a bitch and a half. There is a Ruger Tech Tip video for reassembly which doesn't mention the technique but if you watch closely you will see he has his index finger of the supporting hand inserted underneath the lower to guide the tab on the bolt into the notch it has to go into for the bolt to drop into place. hard to describe but if you look for it you will see what I am referring to.
With all that said I like mine but the Ares SCR RogueJSK posted looks like a better choice for a non AR AR.
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Came here to post the same thing.
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For realistic distances, 40-50 yards, it is a great gun. I have had a few older models, (580 and post guns) and was able to hit out to 100 yards no problem until the barrel heated up and then it got a little tricky. As far as reliability, I consider it like an AK variant and they are still built like they were. Mine always ate anything I fed it. The mags are pricey for them though. I wouldn't feel outgunned with one.
Another option, at least for me if I were in a similar situation, would be a nice lever gun in a handgun caliber to match my home defense revolver. Granted they don't have the capacity or quicker reloading capability but I have one I use for home defense and many add-ons can be had for them.
I wouldn’t waste any time on this decision. Buy TWO. Since you’re in CA and can’t have an AR.
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I had an older one. I bought it because I wanted a Garand or an M1A but couldn't afford one. It was also during a time in my gun "career" that I was trying to standardize around just a few calibers, and the idea of a "Baby Garand" in .223 seemed absolutely perfect.
It was a very handy little rifle with good balance and ergonomics. The low bore to sight offset was also nice. Reliability was superb, and spent case ejection was impressive (it would throw them like 30 feet).
The problem was that accuracy was absolute garbage. For a home defense rifle it would do the job, but it would barely hold a paper plate group at 50 yards off a bench.
A couple of years after I bought the Mini, I got into reloading and the caliber standardization thing went out the window. I also discovered the CMP, and ended up with 3 Garands (2 for me and one for my son). Then one day I took the Mini to the range along with an old sporterized Krag and realized that I was putting up better groups with a 120 year-old military rifle with a sewer-pipe bore than I was with the Mini. The Garand lust had been satiated by the real thing, I had several ARs to do the serious stuff, and I realized there just wasn't any point in keeping the Mini around anymore. I traded it a week later on a Beretta 92X Compact that had caught my fancy. I miss the way that mini looked and felt, but I don't really miss the gun.
I hear the new ones are better. If I was in CA and couldn't own an un-neutered AR, I might give one a look. But for what they are asking for them and given my experience with the old one, I'm not likely to buy another unless I can get it at half price. They're a neat idea and they do work, but they're inferior to an AR in just about every way.
Oh, and like somebody else said above, getting the bolt back in is a PITA! I always felt like I just had to get lucky to finally get it back in...sometimes I'd get it in 10 seconds and other times it was 10 minutes. I'd happily disassemble and reassemble my Ruger MkII 10x before doing a Mini once!
Honestly, that Ares SCR that Rogue posted looks like a pretty sweet option. You'd still get some of the modularity of the AR platform with the ergos of a traditional stock in a CA legal package. I'd honestly love to try one, as I think it would be interesting to see how the stock and lack of a pistol grip changes the handling of the platform.
They're great home defense rifles because with factory magazines and quality ammunition, they're very reliable, but beyond a few yards, you shouldn't expect decent accuracy.
the bolt is not hard to take out and reinstall, esp if you have ever cleaned an M14/M1A or a Garand,
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I had one in the early 2000s. At the time, between federal and California AWBs and Ruger's internal policy, only five-round factory magazines were available. Excluding that limitation, the gun was 100% reliable. I recall it ejecting cases extremely forcefully. I'd buy one again if not for their cost, which (the last time I looked) is ~50% more than budget-priced ARs, including Ruger's own AR-556 (which I own).This message has been edited. Last edited by: egregore,
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Mine was markedly worse than a Garand. I'm not sure why, just something about the dimensions and the way the firing pin extension lines up with the receiver cut, but I can get any of my Garand bolts back in on the first try, every time. That Mini bolt was a PITA, though.
I forgot to say in my original post that I bought mine at a garage sale for $500. It's one of the few guns that I've traded at a gun shop and not lost money on, so in that regard it was a decent deal. If Ruger could get the new ones down around that price I'd probably be willing to give one a try to see if they actually have figured out the accuracy problem, but I'm not rolling the dice on $1000-$1100.
Couple other options that go in opposite directions- for heavy a shuff’s mini G in 308.
Lighter lower cost with a good reputation but in a pistol caliber the ruger 9mm carbine
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I had a mini-30 and a Gov't mini-14. I really enjoy them, but the thing that had me let go was the unique property of them only running well with Ruger mags. They really stand out in that regard among guns. If you aren't in a dumb state like mine, getting new Ruger mags prolly is no big. If I could just get new Ruger standard cap mags whenever, I'd definitely still have one in the stable. Didn't a member here make an accurizing brace for them?
The Ruger I shouldn't have let slip is the Deerfield. Very cool guns.
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Recent advice I received was to get the PC9 takedown - since I already have the lever gun mentioned above (Rossi 92 in .357). I may do that snd grab a Ruger American ranch Rifle.
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I don't own a Mini 14, but have shot one a number of times, my buddy's 1980s Ranch model. It was reliable, and accuracy not too bad considering it was not a "580" model. Never shot at paper targets, it was always Campbells Chunky Soup cans and a row of small steel targets at approx. 25 yards offhand, and I was able to hit them almost every time. At 50 yards, I could clang an 8" steel bull consistently.
IMO, a home defense rifle means a rifle caliber firearm, something with more oomph than a handgun caliber. IMO, a Mini 14 is a perfectly good substitute for an AR15.
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I have an older 1994-made stainless Ranch Rifle with an accu-strut and it works well. Very reliable with factory magazines which are made of steel and are expensive compared to AR mags. I shoot long guns lefty so I love the manual of arms which is similar to the Garand and M14.
The accu strut took it from paper plate at 50 yards to tennis ball at 50 yards, which is good enough for me. I shot it in a 3-gun match and was able to clean the long range stage offhand with torso targets out to 350 yards with factory open sights. You’re not going to be under-gunned if you go with a Mini-14.
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PC9 is a bit heavy for 9mm in my opinion. That said, I did get one when I lived in California, and then put the Magpul Backpacker stock on it. In addition to having useful storage space, it is almost a pound lighter. Makes it more appropriate weight for the cartridge.
I have a Gucci'd out 580+ series Mini-14 Tactical with the normal straight stock. Did an Ulitmak rail, Aimpoint Micro, and light. Excellent for shooting close up and I don't have to worry about height over bore offset. Generally quite reliable. Ergo's blow vs. a modern fighting rifle but I still love it.
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