Ruger Mini-14 Tactical: "Arrival of the Underdog" by Nutnfancy
It's built like a tank and costs around $650 in 2010. That's the high value of the now-improved Mini-14 "Tactical" offers. Model #5847 is reviewed here but its representative of the whole Ruger Mini-14 Tactical and Ranch rifle lineup. Some will discount the Mini as a viable tactical choice, saying that it is wildly inaccurate and cannot be depended upon for hard use. The accuracy criticisms held some truth as the older Mini-14s (and their poor quality, pencil-thin barrels) often had heat-stringing issues and about 4-7 MOA accuracy (with rack-grade ammunition). In this thorough Nutnfancy review of Mini-14 Tactical model (and NRA Model providing more data points), I cut through this chaff and attempt to get to the truth. Fact is, with factory Ruger mags or other high quality options (discussed), the fixed-piston Mini-14 is has been a durable and ultra-reliable rifle (when used with good mags), proven in my own shooting since 1983. Based on the battle-proven M1 Garand action, the rotating open bolt design is tolerant of mud, water, and dust and keeps shucking, often when other gun systems have shut down in tough conditions. But a main focus of this review is not the long-established reliability but the improvements made on the 580 Series of Minis since 2004, particularly BARREL IMPROVEMENTS. In shooting hundreds and hundreds of rounds through the two newer Mini-14s shown, indeed the gun showed itself to be superior to its inaccurate predecessors. With PMC 55 gr FMJ ammuntion, 2 MOA was achieved from the bench with the guns; even affordable Wolf and S&B ammo shot well too. Expect 2-3 MOA with standard ammuniton in the hands of a capable shooter achieving good stability (bench or bipod usually). I feel it is possible to achieve sub 2-MOA performance with handloads and careful shooting. The thicker barrel Is now hammer forged and is responsible for this marked improvement and I agree that the shorter barrel is stiffer and may provide more accuracy and stability at a slight velocity loss. The Mini-14 Tactical and NRA version when scoped with Weaver "V7" and "V10" models, delivered impressive and reliable performances in Nutnfancy RunNGun testing, including the "Sledgehammer Drill." Though not all-inclusive, the drills were challenging and the Mini answered the call. The Mini-14 Tactical proved to be the equal of other outstanding and TNP-proven carbines like the Rock River "Entry Tactical" AR-15 and Arsenal SGL31; achieving fist-sized groups at 82 yards while being fired in somewhat stressful conditions (see my "Mini-14 Against the World" videos This hard-use testing of these Minis reaffirmed my confidence in the gun and may restore enthusiasm to jaded Mini-14 fans. Some minor issues will still linger in these conventional stocked Mini-14s: difficulty in mounting lights, bipods, and VGs, the necessity of using Ruger's heavy steel scope rings (5-6 ounces of steel...come on Ruger make aluminum ones!), inability to accept AR-14/M4 muzzle devices, more work to fully fieldstrip, the need to use the heavier Ruger factory full-cap mags for max reliability (9 oz empty for 30 rd versions!), and a conventional sling setup. Some of these issues can be rectified by the motivated owner like the application of short Picatinny rails on the stock. The standard Ruger flash hider is fitted and offers another compelling reason to go with the Tactical model. Tough, lightweight, durable, and easy to DuraCoat ("Underbrush" color used on this Tactical), the Ruger synthetic stock is a winner and is equal to previous aftermarket offering like Choate's. Topped off with a nice rubber butt pad, it is ergonomic, comfortable, and trim. Battery of arms for the Mini-14 Tactical (and all Minis) is fast to the practiced user that has accustomed himself to it (reciprocating slide assembly, rocked-in mag insertions, no bolt release). Steel magazines not withstanding, the weight is excellent in the Mini-14 Tactical at 6.75 lbs (actual weights of the systems given in video). This is a remarkable achievement with the thicker 16.1" barrels (Tactical and NRA versions, Ranch rifles will have 18.5" barrel). A key attractant to the Mini-14 systems is the amount of reliability and now accuracy provided by such a cost-effective platform. At $650 or so US Dollars, few tactical carbines can compete (perhaps the also-excellent Kel-Tec SU-16). I recommend against expensive modifications to the Mini-14 as that will erase this value advantage as the AR-15 and AK platforms still offer amazing versatility and capabilities at those more-elevated price levels. But as proven now in TNP, the newer Mini-14s are a whole different animal from the guns of yesteryear. Truly the Underdog has arrived. ///////// Nutnfancy Likeability Scale: 9 out of 10 /////// Music: Jimmy Gelhaar ////////// One image: royalty-free worldwide unpaid distribution through agreement to Photobucket.com TOU.