Since 1973, the Ruger Mini-14 has been in production in one variant or another. Nearly 3 million have been made so far. The two most common being the standard Mini-14 and the Ranch Rifle, which starting in 2005, was redesigned and the standard Mini-14 and Ranch Rifle became the same when the 580 Series came online. The original Mini-14 was a Iron Sight only rifle and the Ranch Rifle had a small folding rear sight that gave the shooter the option of mounting a scope. The current production redesigned the rear sight to be solid and still give the shooter the ability to mount a scope.
Early Production 182 Series Rifle
Pre 580 Series Ranch Rifle w/ Butler Creek Folding Stock & replacement Tech Sight.
Current production 580 Series Mini-14.
But between 1973 and the present time. There has been other, more interesting variants. The Ruger AC556 and AC556K of course; the regular Mini's full-auto cousin introduced to the market in 1978. The AC556 is a standard 18 inch barreled Mini-14 with a giggle switch and the AC556K is the 13 inch barreled version. Both came with a flash hider and the full-size model came with a bayonet lug also.
Additionally, there was also the French contract Mousqueton AMD. A standard Mini-14 made for the French National Police with a checkered walnut stock with rubber butt pad and different receiver markings plus a M1 Carbine style oiler/sling mount.
Other variants were target models with adjustable barrel weights that look like a suppressor to dampen harmonics and even odd chamberings like the 'Triple Deuce' (.222 Remington), along with more modern loadings like the 6.8 SPC and .300 BLK.
But the most sought after variant that is available in the US market is the Ruger Mini-14 GB.
A semi-auto clone of the AC556. Ruger's main Mini for Law Enforcement sales. The key accessory for the rifle, other than the rifle itself was the folding stock that was inspired for the AC556K. A solid piece of design from a bygone era of wood and steel. In today's markets; the folding stock actually costs as much as a current production Mini-14 due to popularity and rarity.
Here my factory folder with all the proper hardware. They are getting very hard to find these days.
The stocks were only commercially sold to the public until 1989 when Bill Ruger pulled them from the civilian market as a response to the Cleveland School shooting in Stockton, California. After that until production ceased in the mid 1990s; they were sold only to law enforcement agencies.
Here is my personal stainless GB Model in a factory laminated stock with all stainless components.
Mine was made in December of 1989 and shipped out to the market in January 1990 with full production ending in 2003. The Ruger Mini-14 GB is in my opinion the best variant of the rifle ever brought to market. Especially when it is combined with the factory folding stock. You have a compact, lightweight, capable rifle chambered in 5.56x45mm that can withstands the rigorous of outdoor use in places like a airboat in the brackish humid swamps of Florida.
Many bash the Mini-14 as a rifle that can only hit the side of a barn from the inside and that the ergos and layout sucks compared to an AR-15. But the most common complaint I hear from Mini-14 haters is the magazine. Everyone always says that they'd buy a Mini-14 if they took standard AR-15 mags. Well, here's the thing. The Mini-14 was designed in the late 1960s and hit the market in 1973. The AR-15 was not what it is today. The idea of a rifle that ran off Ar-15s wouldn't have made sense since at the time, the Ar-15 was not popular on the civilian and law enforcement market. In that era, Steyr, Heckler & Koch, Armalite, and others all had their own 5.56xmm designs and guess what folks. They all ran off their own proprietary designs for magazines.
I grew up with Mini-14s and AR-15s and I can say this. The Mini-14 is a great rifle for its intended task. A small, compact rifle that feeds from reliable 20rd & 30rd magazines and is accurate at bad guy / pest animal distances. But every time someone mentions a Mini-14 on any inline forum, this always gets posted as the running gag.
The Mini-14 is accurate enough for self defense and varmint/pest hunting. It is especially capable of being useful when needed. Here's a 7 15 round group shot in under 2 minutes from sitting, unsupported at 100 yards.
That looks minute of bad guy accurate to me.
Folks can bash it all they want. But prior to the popularity explosion that the AR-15 had after the end of the Clinton Assault Weapon Ban, the Mini-14 was a very popular rifle and sold well in the Civilian Market. But along with civilian sales; the Ruger Mini-14 sold very well in the law enforcement market and also some interesting overseas markets.
A small UK colony off the coast of the US in the Atlantic. Bermuda has its own territorial militia and it participates in regional security operations within the Caribbean as an associate member of CARICOM. A regional economic and security alliance of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies.
RBR on a CARICOM Security Mission
When the UK adopted the SA80/L-85 Pattern bullpup rifle to replace the FN FAL, Bermuda didn't want it. The bullpup had a number of issues and as a territorial force, they were allowed to select their own arms for their own particular needs. The M16 still had the stigma attached to it from its introduction during Vietnam and HKs were still ungodly expensive. So in 1983, the Royal Bermuda Regiment adopted the Ruger Mini-14 GB.
Late 80s OPFOR training in Bermuda
With their adoption, the RBR swapped out the factory wooded stocks for a fixed Choate Machine & Tool polymer stock. Other than that, their Mini-14 GBs were bone stock.
The RBR was so good with their Mini-14s that they even beat the Bermuda Police Force ERT (Emergency Response Team) armed with AR-15s.
The RBR even used them at Camp LeJeune and set some records with them when they did joint training with the USMC.
Alas, the Mini-14 was finally retired from the RBR in January 2016. The RBR replaced the Mini-14 with the new HK reworked L-85A2 series of bullpups. The replacement might have happened due to the UK Ministry of Defence providing them free of charge to the RBR.
The Mini-14 being put out to pasture by the RBR. As with all things soldierly. They don't die, they just fade away.
In 1979, the Royal Ulster Constabulary began to buy Ruger AC-556 rifles for their Special Patrol Groups, Special Operations (E Services) and exposed border police stations and units. These rifles saw extensive service for twenty years, only being replaced by the HK33 when the RUC became the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 1999 after the Good Friday Agreement.
The RUC was involved in heavy police action against the IRA and PRIA during The Troubles. Originally, the RUC armed their officers with M1 Carbines but as the The Torubles kicked up and the IRA and PIRA became better armed due to their American Cousins in Boston and Uncle Gaddafi in Libya sending them money and arms.
The RUC needed something with more of a punch. Cost was an issue as was appearance. The could have used the British FN FAL (LA1A) but since they were a territorial police force. It would not be good for public relations to police the community with weapons of war. So they chose the Ruger AC556.
As mentioned, the Ruger AC556 served the RUC until 1999 when the agency was disbanded altogether in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement.
The Ruger Mini-14 saw some limited but very interesting service the southern end of Africa. Rhodesia and South Africa to be exact. Though the service in South Africa was more of a historical event than an official military one.
Mini-14s saw limited official use in Rhodesia, Al J. Venter used a Ruger Mini-14 while covering the bush war in Rhodesia 1978. Photo from a reprint of the 1979 G&A article Guns of the Mercenaries.
From left to right standing: Three Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR) troopers, Robert K. Brown, former French Foreign Legionnaire Jerry O'Brien, and SOF art director Craig Nunn. Kneeling: RAR trooper, "Reb" Pierce, a guitar player from Atlanta; Major Darrell Winkler, OIC of the RAR unit; and Belgian army veteran Yves DeBray.
Robert Brown and Darrel Winkler are carrying stainless steel Ruger Mini-14's in 5.56 mm. Bill Ruger, CEO of Ruger Firearms at the time and close friend of Robert Brown and provided SOF with said guns at a "special price". Robert Brown essentially smuggled them out of the U.S., as there was an arms embargo on Rhodesia. Bill Ruger subsequently provided a number of Ruger Mini-14s free to SOF for operations in El Salvador. "He was a good dude," commented Robert Brown.
Eugne Terre'Blanche on the far right
Another interesting case was the fact that Eugne Terre'Blanche's Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging used Mini-14 rifles when they stormed the Kempton Park World Trade Centre in 1993 during the lead up to the elections that put the ANC into power in South Africa. In that era, semi-auto FALs were common and yet it was the Mini-14 that that used. The AWB also saw paramilitary action in the former Bantustan of Bophuthatswana during the coup d'tat of 1994.
It didn't end well for them.
The Rugers were purchased to replace the odd assortment of SMGs the CRS had floating around after WWII. With the military replacing the MAS-49/56 and adopting the FAMAS in 5.56x45mm. The French National Police needed something in the same cartridge. So of course, Ruger stepped up to the plate and the Compagnies Rpublicaines de Scurit had a special contract drawn up with Ruger and adopted the Mini-14 as the Mousqueton AMD.
The contract specified that a Mini-14 with a 18 inch barrel be made for the French National Police with a checkered walnut stock, non slip rubber butt pad, a M1 Carbine style oiler/sling mount, and different markings on the receiver heel.
The CRS are the general police reserves for the Franch National Police. They are primarily involved in general security missions but the task for which they are best known is crowd and riot control. They are organized on the company level with 60 "general services" units that are tasked to take part in maintaining public order and crowd control. Additionally they have some specialized units for mountain rescue, motor cycle units, and highway patrol. But their main focus in large scale riot control. The CRS is often mistaken for the Gendarmerie Mobile; but they are in no way related. They can be distinguished by uniform. The uniform of the CRS is blue while that of the Gendarmes Mobiles is black. The CRS wear a big red CRS patch and their helmets sport yellow bands; the gendarmes have a stylized grenade on their medium-blue helmets.
In January 2009, the French Government implemented a rapprochement ("bringing together") of the police and the gendarmerie. While this policy falls short of a complete merger, as the gendarmes have kept their military status (while the CRS are a highly unionized civilian body), this has led to more commonality in terms of equipment for the two forces. Additionally, the Mini-14 is not to be replaced and is to be kept in service since that frees up other rifles like the FAMAS and HK G36 for more front-line police units.
The CRS has been called out due to numerous terrorist attacks over the years and have taken part in the manhunts and security missions that have resulted in said terror attacks.
United States of America
Across the US, the Ruger Mini-14 in one form or another as served in various law enforcement agencies. Two of the more famous ones are the New York City Police Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. First, let's look at the NYPD.
Here we have officers using Mini-14s for Force on Force training at the Rodmans Neck Fire Range in the Bronx, NY.
And here we have Detectives training at the shooting range during firearm quals at the Rodmans Neck Fire Range in the Bronx, NY.
NYPD ESU out on the streets with both a Ruger and a AR-15.
But now let's look at the biggest and current user of the Mini-14 in the US. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. The story of how the San Bernardino Sheriff became equipped with the Mini-14 is a interestign tale. It all started with the Norco Shootout of 1980.
The Norco shootout was an armed confrontation between five heavily armed bank robbers and deputies of the Riverside County and San Bernardino County sheriffs' epartments in Norco, California on May 9, 1980. Two of the five perpetrators and one sheriff's deputy were killed, nine other law enforcement officers were wounded, and gunfire damaged at least 30 police cars and one police helicopter.
At approximately 3:40 p.m., five men armed with shotguns, an AR-15, an HK91, an HK93, handguns, and an improvised explosive device robbed the Norco branch of Security Pacific Bank. Deputies of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department responding to the bank robbery call confronted the perpetrators outside the bank and a shootout ensued, killing one perpetrator. The perpetrators then stole a vehicle in the bank parking lot and fled the scene, leading police on a 25-mile car chase into neighboring San Bernardino County.
Riverside County deputies were joined in the pursuit by officers of other area law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. The perpetrators then ambushed the pursuing deputies and engaged them in another shootout in unincorporated San Bernardino County near Lytle Creek before escaping into a wooded area in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.
The day after the Norco Shootout, Sheriff Frank Bland ordered as many Mini-14s from Ruger as they could and had them flown to San Bernardino on a private plane to better equip his deputies.
Two days later, three of the four surviving perpetrators were arrested in the area of the ambush; the fourth was killed by police. The three who were arrested were convicted of 46 felonies and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Ever since then, the San Bernardino Sheriff have been buying and issuing Mini-14s and was one of the first agencies in the US to equip itself with rifles at the patrol level.
San Bernardino Sheriff has continued to use the Mini-14 even when all the surrounding agencies have gone to the AR-15. Some of the more famous responses has been during the Christopher Dorner Manhunt and the 2015 Terrorist Attack.
On a more news worthy and less official uses of the Mini-14 was when Ammon Bundy and his militia took over and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. The Ruger was front and center.
In the end, the Ruger Mini-14 as served and continues to serve. It has seen service in the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Africa, and Latin America. It has been dependable, reliable, and long lasting. Though it has been outpaced by the AR-15. It isn't outclassed for today's civil needs.
I own them and enjoy them and they serve right along side my other non AR-15 pattern rifles.
Daewoo K2, Ruger Mini-14, Zastava M90NP, MSAR XM17-E4, and Kel-Tec SU-16C. The Mini-14 does a good job at punching paper and protecting the homestead alongside the others shown.
So stop hating the Mini-14 and embrace your inner A-Team. You'll be surprised at how well you might like them.
Some were made with a Masuer style rear sight.
Originally Posted By osprey21:
The guy's thumb is covering it.
What is a good price for a new tactical mini 14?
Very good piece of history in this thread thanks for posting! The Mini 14 served as an unofficial patrol carbine for many Police Officers in Illinois in years past. My small PD had a couple of M-1 Carbines, a couple of 45 ACP Commando Arms Thompson look a like PCC and a couple of Mini 14’s. Several Troopers/LEO’s purchased Mini 14’s because they could be considerably cheaper than an SP1 Colt in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
There was a Trooper and another Officer murdered near Paxton Illinois during a traffic stop where a perpetrator was armed with a Mini 14. After that shooting many Mini 14’s found their way into police cars in Illinois whether in or out of policy. I had a SS model 183 which I eventually sold and bought an AR-15. I carried my Mini 14 a lot and used it on a couple of call outs. Only issue I’ve ever seen with the Mini 14 is the trigger guard will come unlatched. Otherwise the Mini 14 was very reliable and accurate enough for most patrol functions.
Excellent write up OP! Despite being almost 65 and owing several different Mini's over the years (still got 2) I learned a lot! Thanks!
Excellent historical time line of the Mini 14. I just got a good education !