I love mine too, but there is a vocal contingent that do not like them because they are perceived as being less than tack-drivers. Mine, however, has taken a number of woodchuck without a hiccup. There are plenty of aftermarket items to boot if you need to dress it up. Mine is plain except for a 4x scope.
The ranch model has flimsy sights, but the basic rifle is unbeatable. I have a government model that I use for daily patrol as well as SWAT duty. The only accessories I have are an Aimpoint sight & folding stock. The rifle has never malfunctioned or jammed & will easily hold 4" groups at 100 yards (with a 3 MOA aiming dot on the sight). I trust my life with it.
IMHO the Mini14 is an excellent concept w/flawed execution. Spare parts are very hard to come by, POI/group size changes as the barrel heats, sights are a joke and decent hicap mags are inordinately expensive. On the plus side the Mini shoulders/point-aims better for me than anything else.
I have to agree. They are not very accurate and get worse as the barrel heats. The sights are suspect at best, and mags are a big issue. They are very reliable, and shoulder well, but in the two calibers offered, the AR family and the Kalashnikovs are superior.
What I never got was why the rifle was never chambered for .308. A poor mans M14 would sell like hotcakes and interest many a hunter. This decision, as well as Rugers' indifference to fielding a pump shotgun has vexed me for some time. With an outside chance of the '94 ban sunsetting and new hicaps being available, I think it would be wise for the Mini to get a new .308 chambering and decent, affordable 20 rounders.
Ruger did have plans to market a .308 version of the Mini (I forget what it was called) and even got so far as advertising and a few preproduction models but Bill wasn't satisfied with the apparent lack of accuracy (sound familiar?) and scuttled the project at the 11th hour.
Why can't they do some minor mods to improve accuracy? not cost effective? Would it take more than minor mods maybe? I know I never would have sold mine if I could at least get a respectable group, and a "mini 308" or whatever would sure be cool.
The Mini-14 is an unfortunate rifle that could have been so much better with only minor design changes.
Bill Ruger cheaped out, I'm afraid.
It's a good-enough little plinker, based on the M1 action, very sturdy and robust, but that durn thin barrel starts to string shots vertically as it heats up.
A fix involves stiffening the existing barrel (Clark's makes a gizmo for this purpose), or rebarreling the bugger with a heavier, stiffer barrel, which obviously turns a bargain shooter into an expensive rifle!
I had one that I fiddled with for a long time and eventually sold when I got tired of "throwing good money after bad". I think part of the problem is that expectations for .223 rifles' accuracy are based on the performance of the AR15 (mine are, certainly), and the Mini-14 doesn't measure up. If your expectations are more modest, then the Mini-14 is a nice handy little rifle.
I guess it depends on how many shots you intend to fire in an engagement. I can shoot controlled rapid fire and dump an entire 30 round mag into the head of a silhouette target at 50 yards. Accurate enough for me. Is it a target rifle? Probably not.
I bought a Mini-30 to burn up a bunch of commie ammo I had sitting around. It's a hoot! I never noticed any diminishing accuracy, maybe that's more of a problem with the Mini-14. Mine has dropped countless coyotes and shamed many Eastern European models of the same caliber!
Please don't anyone take this as a direct attack on anyone on this forum, but I have often wondered if a lot of the people who complain about the lack of accuracy in the Mini 14 are really just blaming the rifle for their own lack of shooting skills. I have never shot at anything with mine and missed and been able to honestly blame it on the rifle. If I miss with my Mini, it is my fault, not the rifle's. Mine has been just about as accurate as I am capable of being in the standing offhand position. Now from prone or sandbags or a bench, I guess I have rifles that exhibit greater accuracy, but they sure as heck aren't as handy as my Mini. The Mini is worth every penny of the $400 I have invested in mine. If I wanted a rifle that was twice as accurate, I guess I could spend twice as much and buy an AR. But my Mini hits what I aim at just fine. Just repeat after me...IT IS NOT A TARGET RIFLE. Don't hold it to a higher standard than that for which it was designed. Just shoot the thing and enjoy yourself.
I am one who doesn't now own one due to accuracy. I guess this is because that I compare it to the AR and, in my experiences (I have had three Mini-14s), the ARs are much more accurate - usually 1.5-2MOA for an AR vs. 3-4MOA for the Mini14. These have all been experiences using stock version guns.
My first Mini-14 was bought in the late 70's and it was my beginning in the .223 military rifle rage. I do owe the rifle the gratitude for steering me down that path.
I would wonder the same thing if in your position, but I can tell you that at least my rifle was very inaccurate. I am a decent shot, not great shot, but with an m-16 I can consistently hit a man sized target at 500 yards with open sights (calm wind, prone) and I couldn't get any sort of respectable grouping with a mini-14. It is very possible that mine was worse than others, because I couldn't even get a group like other describe here! With so many other people that concur I find that they are probably just inaccurate though. Also maybe yours is out of the ordinary, I heard of one other guy on another forum who shot great groups with one.
However, the relatively thin barrel of the Mini does create accuracy issues that are not user related.
I had a Mini 14 GB with the factory folding stock. Great looking rifle for sure. I solved any reliability issues by only using PMI or factory Ruger hi-cap mags.
The rifle was a great plinker, and probably would serve well in the proverbial SHTF scenarios that some subscribe to.
But the mechanical accuracy does leave a little to be desired, if that is what you are looking for. A friend and I locked mine down in a solid rest. If we allowed 30-60 seconds(closer to 60) between shots, with match ammo, we could get roughly 1.25 inch 10 shot groups at 100 yards. Not too shabby. However, if we shot the rifle in a manner that allowed the barrel to heat up, the groups opened up to 3" or greater-still acceptable "battle accuracy".
Ol' Bill Ruger never intended the rifle to be a target gun, but rather an inexpensive(relatively) rifle in .223. Bill also believed the "normal" citizen did not need high capacity magazines so he never released them in quantity to the public.
Aside from the midstream dimensional changes of other parts, there is no reason why the Mini-14 should cost any more with a thicker heavier barrel.
I haven't read any firsthand stuff about their work and wares; but there is an outfit down in Texas that specializes in what they describe as sub MOA mini-14s, with various packages from modification to complete rifles.
Sounds like some of you guys have had awfully good luck with stock Mini-14s. The ones I've seen were pretty inaccurate. I've read that they can be expected to shoot 4-5 MOA, and from what I've seen that's about right.
I've totally whiffed targets with a Mini-14 that I absolutely drilled with a CAR-15.
The Mini-14 would be a nice package if Ruger would stop cutting corners on barrel manufacture (there's something in their process that saves manufacturing time but hurts the accuracy of the barrel--can't remember the exact details) and put a decent tube on it.
For about $300 you can put a barrel stiffener on it, and for about $400 you can have a match barrel put on it. The match barrel would probably give you one MOA or better--but puts you in the price range of an AR-15.
If you happen to be in the People's Republic of California, where AR15s are verboten, the Mini-14 match barrel conversion might be a particularly attractive option.
Something that might be a factor with the poor accuracy experienced by some is the barrel twist rates. The twist rate of the Mini-14 factory barrel is too slow to stabilize some of the more recent 5.56 military loads - especially in low temperatures. This is why some military arms have gone to twist rates as fast as 1 in 7.
And these are the guys down in Texas that do specialist work on Mini-14s (they advertize in Rifle Magazine)...