The Mini-14 is a lightweight semi-automatic rifle manufactured by Sturm, Ruger & Co. used by law enforcement personnel and civilians. A .223 caliber (5.56 mm) firearm, it is made in a number of variants including the Ranch Rifle with an integral scope base on the receiver and the Mini Thirty which is chambered for 7.62×39mm.
History and design 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-treated receiver and is mechanically similar to the M1 Garand 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.
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 have new iron sights and a modified gas system designed to reduce barrel vibration and are capable of shooting 2 inch groups at 100 yards or 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
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).
- Target Rifle
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.
- Tactical Rifle
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.
- Mini Thirty
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 shares many of the same design and accessory options with those of the smaller caliber Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, including a Mini Thirty Tactical Rifle variant released in 2010 which closely mimics the Mini-14 Tactical Rifle variant. 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 Ruger Deerfield Carbine is a .44 Magnum semi-automatic rifle based on the rotating-bolt short-stroke gas-piston Mini-14 action. Produced between 2000–2006.
- Government models
- Mini-14 GB
The Mini-14 GB ("government bayonet") models feature either a pistol grip, side folding stock or a standard semi-pistol grip stock, a 20 or 30-round magazine, bayonet lug, threaded barrel, and flash suppressor. The GB models also come with standard rifle stocks. Sales are intended for only the law enforcement, military and private security markets, and can only be found in their Law Enforcement Catalog. However, some 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 AC-556GF is fully automatic. 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.
- Mousqueton A.M.D
In France, the AC-556 is known as the Mousqueton A.M.D. where it was used by several governmental agencies within the French Interior Ministry: the Police Aux Frontières ("P.A.F."—Border Police), the Police Nationale Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (or "C.R.S."—Riot Control Brigade) and even the Army`s Groupe d`Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale ("GIGN") special operations unit.
- Straight-pull action
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
- .222 Remington
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.
- 300 Blackout
In 2015 Ruger introduced the Mini-14 Tactical chambered in .300 AAC Blackout.
There are a wide range of aftermarket accessories available for the Mini-14 and Mini-30, including numerous stocks, magazines, weaver and Picatinny rail mounts.
Used by - Australia: Currently used by the New South Wales Department of Corrective Services. - 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. - France: Mousqueton A.M.D. variant used by French police forces (Police Aux Frontières, GIGN, CRS). Frequently seen since the period of increased Jihadist activity in Europe. - Honduras - Hong Kong: Used by the Hong Kong Police Force Hit Team and Hong Kong Correctional Services. - Rhodesia: Mini-14s were used in Rhodesia. - United Kingdom: The Surrey Constabulary Firearms Support Team (now known as the Tactical Firearms Unit) was armed with Mini-14s in the 1980s modified with folding stocks. The Royal Ulster Constabulary had used the AC-556 model prior to its inventory being destroyed by 1995. - United States: Mini-14s were used by the New York City Police Department Emergency Service Unit with the rifles eventually being replaced by the M4 carbine. The NYPD`s Organized Crime Control Bureau is armed with the Mini-14s. The Mini-14 is the main rifle used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the North Carolina Department of Correction. US Marines that serve as guards at certain US embassies are sometimes issued Mini-14s. Delta Force has some Mini-14s in inventory.
Criminal use The Ruger Mini-14 was used in several notable incidents:
- 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.
- École Polytechnique Massacre, which resulted in the Canada Firearms Act, 1995 and new police response procedures.
- Carel Johannes Delport used a Ruger Mini-14, along with a .357 Magnum revolver, in a shooting spree in Ladysmith, South Africa in 1992.
- 2011 Norway attacks, during which the perpetrator fatally shot 67 people on an island retreat and was further responsible for 10 additional deaths, in what became Norway`s deadliest attack since World War II.
In popular culture 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 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.