Ruger Mini 14 GB - The Alternative Black Rifle

These are the cheapest straight-pull on the U.K market, with a decent price ranging from £350 and below in my opinion.

Government Barrel (GB) refers to the flash suppressor, and barrel mounted front sight/bayonet lug not featured on other models. This is to the best of my knowledge. These are quite rare in the U.S, but I imagine given the limited distribution, Ruger decided to off-load a few here, since it was legal. The more common pre-05 front sight with screw-cut barrel are also available.

The Mini-14 is a compact rifle designed for vermin control, defensive use and target shooting or whatever you rather essentially. These cheap and effective rifles have been hugely popular in the U.S since the 1970's, and still remain favoured over lower end AR15s by many. Current models are much more effective than previously.

Not your usual AR

It certainly isn't an SGC AR or Bradley Arms.

Basically they are a fun rifle, although with the right load, they can shoot quite well, and it would make a fair vermin rifle at shortish .223 range.

The open sights consist of a folding rear sight and a basic blade for the front. The rear sight is basically an aperture sight. These are pretty crude, and I would replace the rear-sight with one of the many alternatives for ranges over 100m.

All models in the U.K should take Rugers special Mini 14 mounts which come in most regular sizes and heights. These are pretty expensive; I was quoted about £60 each, so £120 a pair. They are quite nice mounts, although on the heavy side being made from steel. I don't know much about after market mounts on this series, although earlier models had many options.

Folding Stock

The basic stocks are either synthetic or hardwood/walnut. They are similar to 10/22 stocks, and I disliked the synthetic especially. This one has a Butler Creek folding stock it came with which does very well. Many good after market stocks available.

Barrel length is about 18" inches. The twist rate varied between productions, and I am not sure what this particular one is. It has a preference towards .223, and things like RG had real issues cycling, including one round being unable to extract from the chamber. 62gr Eagle and some of the Winchester stuff shot well; Winchester managed about 1" inch at 100m. They heat up quickly which doesn't do the accuracy any good; something improved on later models with a thicker barrel.

Keep it Clean

The action cycles nicely, and they need very little cleaning outside the barrel. I do not lubricate the moving parts; it attracts more dirt, it didn't like dri-lube, and provided it's clean, I find it none the worse. Magazines are specific with Rugers own being the best option. 5/10/20/30rnds are standard sizes; I normally use the 5rnd. They do take a knack to insert; requiring an odd tilting action to fit.

It has all the controls one could want; safety, manual bolt-catch, and a well positioned magazine release. The safety is inside the trigger guard, the bolt-catch in thumb reach of the top-left side of the action.

Field stripping is quite easy, although scopes can block removal of the bolt carrier. The bolt is a bit fiddly at first, but is easy enough to handle. You need a screwdriver or similar to strip them; the trigger guard swings down which releases it from the stock.

In Conclusion

The trigger is usable. They improve a fair bit with some polishing. Probably plenty of info available online.

Overall, it's a lot of fun. If you enjoy 10/22s or M14s, these are a good compromise. I wouldn't pay over £400 for one though. It will not shoot like a top-end AR, but it isn't riddled with problems either. Ruger no longer make U.K legal models.

Author Sam