Mini 14 accuracy test in the desert

The Mini 14 accuracy review.

Yes, this is yet another quick review of the ever popular and yet much maligned Ruger Mini 14.   The Mini 14 and later the Mini 30 have been popular with shooters since their creation, and there are many reasons why. They are light, handy, reliable little rifles that serve well as truck guns, ranch guns and home defense carbines. While it is true that the older versions of the Mini 14 had a reputation for inaccuracy, the newer models shoot quite well and are much more accurate then their predecessors.  That said, if you have an older model, don’t despair. Increasing the accuracy and performance of an older Mini-14 is pretty easy and doesn’t cost much.  For example: I took a Mini 14 that was built in 1990 and increased the 100 yard accuracy dramatically without making any permanent changes to the gun.  When I first tested the rifle at 100 yards, the average group was between 5 and 8 inches… Yuk!  In the hope of improving upon that rather sad performance, I took the following steps:

  • Purchased and installed an Accu-Strut. (under $100).
  • Bedded the stock (under $12).
  • Changed the ammunition.  I started using heavier bullets (69 grains and 72 grains).  The cost of ammo is about the same.

These three simple changes reduced the average 100 yard group with this old Mini 14 from “minute of milk jug” to an average of 2.5 inches.  That is an amazing improvement for a very little cost and no gunsmith required.

The Accu-Strut addressed the issues caused by the thin barrel on the older rifle (barrel harmonics and temperature).   Since the barrel is very thin, it experienced significant movement during firing as a result of a lack of stiffness. The Accur-Strut added to the stiffness of the barrel and reduced the barrel harmonics.  Likewise, the barrel got very hot very quickly, which caused accuracy to decrease as the barrel heated up.  The Accu-Strut acts as a heat-sync drawing heat away from the barrel and decreasing the barrel’s tendency to overheat, thus improving accuracy and consistency of shot placement.

Bedding the stock keeps the action from moving around in the stock during firing.  While the movement might be slight, it doesn’t take much movement to change the bullet’s point of impact.   It’s a simple process to add some fiberglass bedding to a stock.  The kits are inexpensive and come with simple directions.

The older Mini 14 has rifling with a 1 in 7 twist rate.   This rate of twist can often over rotate a light bullet such as the 55 grain projectiles that are common to 5.56 mm and .223 Remington ammunition, causing the bullet’s flight to be less stable and accuracy to decrease.   By making the change to heavier bullets, such as the 69 and 72 grain projectiles, I was able to feed the rifle ammunition that is more compatible with the twist rate of it’s rifling.  The heavier bullets actually seem to like the faster twist rate and stabilize nicely. This resulted in tighter groups and an overall increase in accuracy.

These three simple and inexpensive adjustments took a rifle that was fun for messing around at close range and turned it into a very effective self defense rifle that will hold it’s own when compared to other popular platforms.