Ruger Mini-14 Review

Published by the Author on January 4, 2010 at 12:01 am > Gun and Accessory Reviews > Ruger Mini-14 Review

Below is my review of the Ruger Mini-14:

Ruger Mini-14


The Ruger Mini-14 is a gas operated semi-automatic rifle chambered for .223/5.56mm.  Introduced in 1974, the Mini-14 was offered to the public as an alternative to the AR-15, and can be thought of as a smaller (and semi-automatic) version of the M-14 service rifle. It uses a gas piston system (rather than the direct impingement system used on the AR-15), and a bolt locking mechanism based upon that used by the M1 Garand service rifle.  The Mini-14 has gone through a series of design changes over the years, improving accuracy and reducing complexity.  The current version of the Mini-14 is marketed under the name “Ranch Rifle,” apparently to try and avoid having the rifle characterized as a so-called “assault weapon.”


Mini-14s can be found with traditional wood stocks and blued barrels.  They can also be found with polymer folding/telescopic stocks, pistol grips, accessory rails, barrel shrouds, and flash suppressors.  This is a versatile rifle that can be configured to match the tastes of just about any shooter.  I tend to prefer black plastic over wood, hence the above picture.

Reliability and Build Quality

I’ve found the Mini-14 to be reliable, which is what I’ve come to expect from Ruger rifles.  That reliability likely comes from the simple gas piston system and the design improvements that Ruger has made over the last 30+ years.  That said, for self defense purposes, I still prefer pump action shotguns over any semiautomatic rifle.

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I also don’t have any complaints about the Mini-14’s build quality.  It feels like a solid Ruger rifle, which is a good thing.


Among the gun owners I’ve spoken with, the consensus seems to be that the Mini-14 is not quite as accurate as other rifles chambered for .223/5.56mm, such as the AR-15.  I can’t say that I’ve noticed too much of an accuracy difference, but that could be because I’m not a competitive long range rifle shooter.  Regardless, I’m more than satisfied with the Mini-14’s accuracy.


The Mini-14 is a popular rifle that has developed quite an aftermarket following.  There are plenty of sighting options, tactical lights, handguards, stocks, etc. available. It is easy to spend more customizing one’s Mini-14 than was spent to purchase the rifle.  Note that standard AR-15 and Mini-14 magazines are not interchangeable.


The Ruger Mini-14 is a nice rifle at a very nice price.  It is reliable, well built, accurate, and fun to shoot.  There are plenty of variants and aftermarket parts available, allowing the rifle to be configured to suit the personal preferences of just about any gun owner.  The only thing I don’t like is that the Mini-14 doesn’t work with standard AR-15 magazines, since I already have plenty of those laying around.  Overall, I still prefer my AR-15 – but then again that AR-15 cost twice as much as the Mini-14.

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Click here to purchase a Ruger Mini-14 online.

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  • William Wise

    Excellent review as always. Keep up the good work.

  • Cory

    I love these guns. Personal preference is the wooden stock. Best part is the price, compared to an AR platform rifle. Still, semi-auto, good accuracy, decently potent caliber.

  • Diana

    I love my Mini-14. I have 2 AR’s as well, but the Mini is a great addition to my gun collection. I have heard about accuracy issues too, but I haven’t noticed when I take it the the range, it’s plenty accurate for me.

  • Josey

    I have the synthetic/stainless version and think it's a great gun. I can shoot 1" groups at 50 yards with no scope… plenty accurate for a hack like me!!

  • BasinBictory

    I just recently bought a Mini 30 (identical model to the Mini 14, except chambered for the 7.62×39 cartridge instead of .223), and from what I've gleaned, Ruger has revamped the production of the Mini series rifles. The main complaint of older rifles, that they were generally less accurate than ARs (sometimes by a wide margin), has supposedly been alleviated by the newer, heavier barrels installed on the 580- and 581- series rifles.

    I'd get an AR if I could, but here in CA, unless you get a neutered version, you can't have one. I'm not a fan of bastardized (or is it Kalifornicated?) rifles with bullet buttons, 10-rounds only magazines, fixed magazines, funky grips so as not to have the pistol grips as the rifle was designed to have in the first place, so the Mini is a favorite of mine. The mini I buy in CA is essentially the same Mini available anywhere in the country. I can live with the 10-rounders, but not the other ridiculous restrictions that do nothing to decrease the lethality of the rifle, just make it harder for law-abiding Californians to own America's most popular rifle.

  • William Peterson

    My wife bought me the Mini-14 Tactical for Fathers Day last year. I can honestly say that it is a fine weapon. I have put everything from high end to the cheapest Russian ammunition I can find through it, and I have never had a FTF or FTE. This is definately my "The Road" gun. I highly recommend it as well.

    By the way, I really enjoy your website. Well thought out and well written. I have recommended it to several friends.

  • christian

    my 580 mini 14 has been a fine rifle. i keep mine in a nice wood stock, which does make it look more the role of "ranch rifle." i can put almost all my shoots at 100 yards in a 2" dot, so it is accurate enough for me (but i made a few simple mods to improve accuracy). it shot 700+ rounds before i had a jam, so it is reliable. some have had troubles with the most recent models (581) however.

    heck of a fun gun to own & shoot. way cheaper than a good AR, and less "evil" looking. recommended!

  • Bernie Schaeffer

    There are two versions of this technique that are commonly used, but the concept is the same: when the trigger of the gun is pulled, the screen is blanked out to black, and the diode begins reception. All or part of the screen is painted white in a way that allows the computer to judge where the gun is pointing, based on when the diode detects light.