One of my all-favorite rifles is the Ruger Mini-14. I have liked this gun ever since the first time I heard of it, even before Ruger released it for sale to the public in 1976. It has its detractors, but, I believe that the good outweighs the bad.
During the 60s, Ruger decided to make a semi-auto military style rifle based on the M1/M14 action. He thought (correctly, I feel) that the many returning GIs would like to own a rifle similar to the then standard issue M14. He even named it the “XGI” to show his intent. But, somehow he was unable to make it work in .308 and he shelved the project.
About that time, the US Army started to transition to the M16/AR15 family of rifles. One big difference about these guns was that they were chambered for the .223 Remington/5.56X45. Ruger then decided to offer his new rifle in that caliber. To show its resemblance to the M14 he called it the “Mini-14.” But, he made it for several years before he introduced it to the public.
At that time, there were no ARs, AK47s, SKS’s. or any other of the small caliber military type guns available. So, the Mini-14 won the popularity contest by default.
I was buying all of the survival publications (such as American Survival Guide, Survive, and a couple of others) in those days. I read them from cover to cover. Many articles featured the Mini-14. It was extremely popular with survivalists. If Ruger had of used their heads, they could have built that gun into the number one survival gun in the country. After all, it had a big head start! But, for some reason Ruger totally missed the boat on that one!
There are some who feel that the Mini is only a light duty gun. However, I have read a number of reports from people who claim that they have fired thousands of rounds through their Minis with NO malfunction! I believe that it is possible. Being based on the old M1 Garand can’t be all bad!
But, as a former mechanic, I know that any machine or other man made product can break and need to be repaired. Therein lies my main complaint about the Mini. For some reason, Ruger does not seem to want to sell some spare parts for it. I have heard too many reports of Minis breaking their firing pins to not believe it. Any part can break. But Ruger will resist efforts to sell some replacement parts. If you can persuade them to sell you a firing pin, you will have to send the entire gun back to them. You will have to pay for shipping 2 ways, the parts, and the labor to fit them. Try doing that if TSHTF! I don’t know of any reason that you could not send only the bolt from the gun. They could use the old firing pin to fit replacements. That would be a lot less expensive than sending the entire rifle. But, Ruger does not seem to be interested in doing this. Midway sells a replacement firing pin made by a company named Glend. I don’t know how good it is, but, I think I will buy a couple and have a local gunsmith fit them. Then, I will do all my practicing with replacement parts and save my factory part for a possible TSHTF need.
I, personally, like the Mini. I like its looks, the way it handles, its dependability, and, the fact that the Mini does not frighten anti-gunners the way that the AK and AR do. It doesn’t look like an evil “assault rifle” and is more acceptable to some people.
Some people complain about the accuracy of this gun. Well, I admit that it won’t shoot every bullet through the eye of a gnat at 200 yards, but, it will hit minute of potbelly. Ruger does make a target version for more money, but, the regular gun is fine for its intended purpose, being on target at 200 to 300 yards. You don’t really need any more than that.
If I had the money back that I spent on my Mini, I might consider buying an AR. Because of the number of companies that now manufacture the AR, the price has come down a long ways the last few years. But, I have what I have and I think I will still be OK.