Recently there was an article posted on a shooting magazine’s Facebook page. They touted the Ruger Mini-14 as “better” than the AR15. The article in question read like it was written by a poorly lobotomized third grader but that’s not the fault of either firearm. Also, all that’s cited is “an AR15”. At no time did the writer cite a specific make AR. This would seem to be a rather conspicous omission. Let’s actually look at the merits of the argument though.
Claim #1 “Lower Profile” This one is subjective. With modern coatings the “evil black” AR15 can certainly be toned down a notch. I’ve seen some ARs with wood stocks that actually looked half way decent though they removed the functionality of having a telescoping stock. Similarly, Ruger offers all black “scary” looking versions of the Mini 14 as well. If you really want to go low profile with an AR, try the ARES SCR lower and a wood stock.
Claim #2 “Stock Trigger” I can only surmise that the writer was speaking of trigger pull weight. A typical mil-spec trigger should be about 6 pounds. Some will run higher and some will run lower. The Mini-14 is in the same range. So again, we have a wash. But guess what, there are a ton of replacement trigger options for the AR. There are probably some for the Mini-14 but I sure didn’t see them in the first two pages of my Google search results. In the video the author cites, host measures one Mini 14 trigger that may or may not have had a trigger job.
Claim #3 “Shorter Enhances Maneuverability” Not sure where’s he’s getting this. Depends on the stock and barrel lengths for the AR. Ruger doesn’t seem to have a factory folding stock option for the Mini-14 these days. That requires going aftermarket.
Claim #4 “Longer Sight Radius” This really depends on the configuration of the AR. Irons on a 16″ barrel AR with a 15″ hand guard can have a longer sight radius than than a Mini-14. In the end though most people use red dot sights now which remove this even being an issue.
Claim #5 “Piston Operated so it’s cleaner” This one might actually be accurate. This is probably the only time “Mini-14” and “accurate” can be used in the same sentence.
Claim #6 “Accuracy” Ruger apparently claims these days that you can get 2 MOA (minute of angle, 1 MOA is roughly 1 inch at 100 yards) with the Mini-14. Guess what. Most decent ARs can do this too. In fact, with a good barrel, you can get an AR to shoot sub MOA without a lot of problem.
Claim #7 “Cold Hammer Forged Barrel – For longer barrel life” Ruger doesn’t share what alloy they cold hammer forge. Cold hammer forging doesn’t mean crap without the right steel alloys. Many AR manufacturers at least disclose what alloy of steel they are using.
Claim #8 “All Stainless” This is touted as though it will somehow magically prevent corrosion from ever appearing. Stain-LESS not stain proof. Maybe if you’re in the desert it won’t be an issue. The stainless typically used in guns is generally a high carbon alloy. It can still develop rust relatively easily. On an AR at least you have corrosion resistant finishes available such as salt bath nitride/QPQ. On the AR, hard anodizing typically protects the aluminum from corrosion. That means that unless that coating wears off, the chances of corrosion are very minimal.
Ok, now that I’ve finished tearing that apart, let’s look at a couple of things that give the AR a genuine advantage.
- Magzines are inexpensive and plentiful (unless you live a constitution free state). The same cannot said for quality Ruger Mini 14 magazines. In fact, the best thing Ruger could do for mags is adapt the Mini to take AR mags.
- There is a staggering array of parts available for the AR. That makes the AR adaptable to just about every conceivable need.
- Right now, a decent ARs are cheaper than a Mini-14. In fact can buy a good AR-15 for Mini-14 money..
And the final point… if the Mini-14 was superior why does Ruger now offer two AR15 pattern rifles?