Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ruger Mini-14 and Bill's Birthday

Today is Bill Ruger’s 100th birthday! He has been gone since 2002 but his legacy lives on. Now before you hit me with Bill Ruger’s controversial statements and attempt to pacify gun-haters, let me remind you of the great guns Bill is responsible for, the 10-22, The Red Hawk, the Mini-14, these are what I celebrate in Bill Ruger’s life. He changed gun manufacturing regardless of hi “politics”.
With this celebration I present some little known facts about the Mini-14. My, how I love that gun! Some hate it and give their reasons, I have never had the problems that they had with this magnificent weapon.
The Mini-14 was first introduced in 1974 by Ruger. 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.
In 2003, Ruger again overhauled the design and the production process to improve accuracy and update the styling while at the same time reducing production costs. The new models, marketed as Ranch Rifles, are based on the previous Ranch models, with integral scope bases. In 2005, the new ranch rifles carried serial numbers beginning with 580. These rifles are sometimes referred to as 580 series ranch rifles. These new models use a modified gas system designed to reduce barrel vibration, and new iron sights.
At an unspecified time in 2007 to 2008, Ruger added a heavier tapered barrel to the 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. The new Mini-14 rifles are capable of shooting under 2 MOA (Minute of angle) accuracy. I have a 1980’s model and I have shot 2 MOA for years with it. Sometimes it can shoot 1 MOA.
The Mini-14 proved popular with small-game hunters, ranchers, law enforcement, security personnel, and target shooters.

The name, Mini-14, is derived from the military’s M14 rifle. While developing the Mini-14, Ruger used the M14 as a base model for the new rifle. While incorporating a number of cost-saving alterations and innovations. So, the Mini-14 doesn’t share quite as much in common with the M14 as its name might suggest. Aside from shooting .223 Rem./5.56x45mm NATO rather than .308 Win./7.62x51mm NATO, the rifle uses a Garand style rotating bolt and simplified gas system.
Bill Ruger felt that, with better timing, the Mini-14 would have been the military’s choice as a successor to the M14. As we all know, history favored the AR-15 design that Colt had purchased from ArmaLite, instead, and the M16 was born.
The Mini-30, an evolution of the Mini-14, developed its own following upon its introduction in 1987. The Mini Thirty’s 7.62×39 mm chambering made it popular with owners of the venerable AK-47 build, but it made an impact on hunters, too. The cartridge’s ballistics were deemed more suitable for deer and similar game than the Mini-14’s .223 Rem.
The infamous 1986 FBI Miami shootout nearly single-handedly spurred the FBI and police departments around the country to begin carrying more powerful handguns and carbines. Why? During the fight, bank robber Michael Lee Platt did most of the regrettable incident’s damage while armed with his Mini-14, which possessed significantly more firepower than anything the responding law enforcement officials had brought with them.
At one point, Ruger began developing versions of the Mini-14 that were to be chambered in .308 Win. and .243 Win. Unfortunately, mechanical and production issues kept the rifles from ever being produced.
Like most of history’s more famous firearms, the Mini-14 has made its rounds in Hollywood. Versions of the rifle have popped up on screens large and small throughout the years, though the Mini-14’s most notable appearances probably came on “The A-Team.” During the show’s run, “Hannibal” Smith, Templeton “Faceman” Peck, “Howling Mad” Murdock and “B.A.” Baracus were all seen with at least one prop variant of the rifle. What beats Mr. T and a Mini-14? That’s a rhetorical question, mind you.
It’s possible, though difficult, to find a Ruger Mini-14 chambered in the .222 Remington cartridge. In an attempt to broaden its marketplace, Ruger once produced a number of rifles in .222 Rem. for sale in countries that prohibit civilian ownership of firearms that chamber military cartridges. The practice is a thing of the past, making Mini-14’s chambered in .222 Rem. one of the model’s rarest variants.
Bill Ruger is truly an innovator in the gun industry. I choose to ignore the ideas of his that I don’t agree with, and remember the great Ruger’s that I own and shoot.

Semper Paratus
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