By Shawn Skipper, American Rifleman
Decades old and still vastly popular, Ruger’s Mini-14 has few limits. The company’s miniaturized version of the legendary M14, the Mini-14 is ideal for use on the farm and ranch, in the woods, at the range or for personal defense.
There’s a lot to say about any gun with that much history, so we decided to track down a few things you might not know about the famous rifle. Check out our eight facts below, and be sure to weigh in with your own in the comments.
8. The model’s 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—all the while incorporating a number of cost-saving alterations and innovations.
7. That said, 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.
6. It’s said 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.
5. The Ruger Mini Thirty, an evolution of the Mini-14, developed its own following upon its introduction in 1987. Yes, 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.
4. The infamous 1986 FBI Miami shootout nearly single-handedly spurred the FBI and police departments around the country to begin carrying more powerful handguns. 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.
3. 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.
2. 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.
1. It’s possible, albeit 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.