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Best Ruger Mini-14 & Mini-30 Models

Ruger Mini-14 is an incredibly well-known and popular rifle among sport shooters, hunters, law enforcement, and military alike.

It offers almost the same durability, reliability, and ease of use as an AR-15 or M1, but with the traditional looks of a Garand or classic hunting rifle.

Behold, the Ruger Mini-14

There are some features that all Mini-14s have in common, but you also get to choose among various configurations to get the Mini-14 that’s best for you.

The Mini-14 comes in three main variants: the Ranch Rifle, the Tactical Rifle, and the Mini-30. Within each variant, there are a handful of different models that you can choose from.

Mini-14 (2)
Bolt Handle on Right Side of the Mini-14 Ranch

But what are the differences between these models?

By the end you’ll know some history…along with the best choice for you in either Ruger 14 or 30 flavor.

About the Mini-14

The Ruger Mini-14 was introduced in 1973 as a miniature version of the M14 (hence the name “Mini-14”), but has been redesigned a few times over the years for a higher quality gun.

Note that there are also a few law enforcement and military-only versions, as well as some distributor exclusive models, but I’m just going to talk about models that are widely available to civilians here.

Mini-14 in Bermuda
Mini-14 in Bermuda military service

Starting in 2005 the classic standard Mini-14 was renamed the Mini-14 Ranch rifle, so keep that in mind if you choose to buy a secondhand Mini-14.

at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Regardless of the model or variant you go with, there are certain things you can expect from any modern Mini-14:

It will have a cold hammer-forged barrel for higher precision rifling, which lends accuracy, extends the barrel’s life, and makes cleaning easier. Mini-14 barrels are also tapered, which also improves accuracy.

Moving back on the gun, every Mini-14 has a Garand-style action. The action includes a breech bolt locking system and a fixed-piston gas system with a self-cleaning moving gas cylinder.

All of this works together to create an action that functions reliability in virtually any conditions – and reliably cycles blanks, which has led the Mini-14 to be incredibly popular in film.

mini-14 in a team
Mini-14 in the A-Team

You can spot Mini-14s throughout the television show, The A-Team, as well as in films like The American, in which it was handled by George Clooney’s character, and Romancing the Stone, where it can be spotted in the hands of Michael Douglas’s character.

Anyway, back to the features of the rifle itself.

The solid steel receiver is drilled and tapped, ready to mount the included Picatinny rail. The receiver has also been machined with patented integral scope mounts for an ideal mounting surface for the included scope rings.

at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

You don’t necessarily need a scope, though, thanks to the Mini-14’s sighting system, including a non-glare blade front sight and a ghost ring adjustable rear aperture sight.

In addition to the scope rings and Picatinny rail, the rifle also includes two magazines.

Now that you know some general info about the Mini-14, let’s go into some more detail about each of the three variants: the Ranch Rifle, the Tactical Rifle, and the Mini 30.

Best Ruger Mini-14

Ranch Rifles

The Ranch Rifle is the standard version of the Mini-14 and comes in eight different flavors, including one Talo Distributor Exclusive.

These rifles are chambered for both .223 Remington and 5.56×45mm NATO ammo and for the most part (there’s one exception that I’ll tell you more about below) feature 18.5” tapered barrels and are available with either 5 or 20 round capacity magazines.

The Ranch Rifle comes in both hardwood stock and synthetic stock versions with either blued or matte stainless steel finishes.

Models with synthetic furniture are lighter, slightly shorter, and have a slightly shorter length of pull. If you’re not too concerned about aesthetics, the synthetic version might be the better way to go for shooters with small frames.

Now that you’ve been introduced to the Ranch Rifle, let’s talk some recs.

1. Mini-14 Ranch, Model 5801

I like the Model 5801 because I’m a sucker for a classic looking rifle. There’s not much else to say about it.

Classic Mini-14
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Model 5801 Ruger Mini-14 has a hardwood stock and blued finish with a 5 capacity magazine.

If you’re looking for a matte stainless finish, you can get the 5802 model! 

Now…we also have a hands-on review of a couple of Mini-14 Ranch rifles.

Mini-14 (4)
Two Tested Mini-14 Ranch Rifles

2. Mini-14 Ranch, Model 5820

A little different from the rest of the Ranch Rifles is the Model 5802.

It has a shorter barrel than the others, just 16.2” like the Mini-14 Tactical Rifles that I’ll talk about next.

It’s styled more like the Tactical Rifles as well, with a synthetic stock and matte stainless steel finish, with no counterpart models available with a hardwood stock or blued finish.

There’s also no 20+1 capacity counterpart.

The main difference between the Model 5802 is the lack of barrel accessory.

What am I talking about?

Let’s move on to the Tactical Rifles to make it more clear.

Ruger Mini-14 Tactical Rifles

The Mini-14 Tactical Rifle variant is the newest, introduced in 2009, and is distinct from the standard Ranch Rifle in a couple of ways.

First, the Tactical Rifles has a shorter 16.12” barrel. Second, the barrel comes equipped with a factory-installed flash suppressor.

The Tactical Rifles also have a more, well, tactical aesthetic and are only available with the black synthetic stock, though both blued and matte stainless steel finishes are available.

There five models of the Tactical Rifle available, but here are a couple of my favorites:

3. Mini-14 Tactical, Model 5846

The Model 5846 is perfect for those of you that love an AR-style rifle, but one something that’s, at least in my opinion, better looking than your average AR.

Mini-14 Modernized
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Sporting the ATI 6-position collapsible and folding stock with a 7” Picatinny rail mounted on top, plus additional 2” rails on each side and the bottom of the stock. The six sling attachment points (yes, you read that right) on the stock, plus the forend sling attachment point give you plenty of options for how to position your sling of choice.

The 20+1 round capacity rounds out the utility of the model, while the blued metal finish on all external metal parts adds the finishing touch to the model’s great looks.

4. Mini-14 Tactical, Model 5864

All other Ruger Mini-14 Tactical Rifle models are chambered for both .223 Remington and 5.56×45mm NATO ammo, but the Model 5864 is chambered for 300 BLK.

at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

5.56 is great, but 300 BLK more effectively penetrates and is more easily silenced, making it ideal for hunting. It’s also specifically designed for shorter barrels, but burns at max potential in a 9” barrel.

What’s your take on the tactical model?

Readers' Ratings

4.96/5 (539)

Your Rating?

Best Mini-30 Rifle

the younger brother of the Mini-14, the Ruger Mini-30, introduced in 1987, is chambered in Russian 7.62×39mm, the same round as the AK-47.

(Don’t forget to stock up on some 7.62×39!)

The Mini-30 is an excellent deer rifle, especially since in many places it’s illegal to hunt deer with calibers smaller than 6mm.

Deer Through Night Vision
Elk Through Night Vision

With models based on both the Ranch Rifle and Tactical rifle, but chambered for 7.62x39mm.

There are six models of the Mini 30 in total, but here is a couple that I particularly like:

1. Mini-30 Ranch, Model 5804

The Model 5804 is a Ranch Rifle style version of the Mini 30. Like the Ranch Rifle, it has a 18.5-inch barrel and a tapered barrel with no flash suppressor.

Ruger Mini-30

It has a hardwood stock for a classic look, though I will say I wish a blued finish version was available; the Model 5804 has a matte stainless steel finish.

2. Mini-30 Ranch, Model 5853

Also in the more Ranch style of the Mini-30, it has an 18.5” barrel, synthetic stock, and a nice matte stainless steel finish.

at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Great option for a lightweight rifle for hog hunting or protection against wild critters.


So there you have a few options that you can choose from when picking out a Ruger Mini-14.

The Mini-14 is an excellent rifle, so no matter which one you go with, it’s a good choice. Just choose the one that most matches your needs and wants.

So which model of the Ruger Mini-14 did you go with? Don’t forget to check out our other favorite guns and gear in Editor’s Picks!

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22 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    What scope should I get for my mini-14 ranch rifle (new production, 2021)? I have a tech sight rear sight replacement I'm planning on throwing on there once I go pick it up next week... but I'm wondering if i should also add a scope. I know very little about scopes. I like the Burris RT-6 that I have on another rifle. But I see some people put redfield scopes and vortex crossfires/diamondbacks on their mini-14s and I simply can't decide which way to go. Also mixed reports about ejected brass hitting (or not hitting) the scope at velocities close to eldritch space behemoths ejaculating. So many questions.... suprisingly little info out there in internet land.

    August 22, 2021 1:34 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Brian Jones

    I bought a Mini-30 around 1995. Horrible accuracy. At the same time, I bought two SKS's. I paid about $600 for the Mini, and $125 each for the SKS's. My SKS's shoot circles around my Mini. It's not even close. I'm a marksman with my SKS, and Ray Charles with my Mini. Very disappointing.

    July 25, 2021 7:42 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Lewis Sharpe

    Any opinion on a good gun to get to consider putting in a cachet and burying

    July 7, 2021 3:23 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    show the Model 5802 which is supposedly CA compliant with a takedown pin

    March 16, 2021 5:54 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Scotty loveless

    i just want that ventelated silver handgaurd

    June 14, 2020 7:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Brian Hall

    Nicely written article! I have a Mini 14 and Mini 30 with the pencil barrels.both are reliable, but string when they warm up. My youngest son and I both have the Mini 6.8 SPC. Love it! Both are nice shooters. With the right ammo, MOA shooters. I wish Ruger would bring the Mini 6.8 back with a 6.8 SPC II chamber and maybr a 1:11 twist barrel. A tactical version would sell very well in my opinion.

    April 8, 2020 9:30 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Randy Shook

    what about mini 14 6.8

    August 10, 2019 8:06 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    No mention of 6.8spc ? No matter. I love both my 5.56 & 6.8spc btw , no gun , rifle cleans itself. And they are 1-2 moa rifles , take care of them & they will function great.

    April 14, 2019 8:22 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    james mcfadden

    mini-14,30 ruger review: what a great review!

    April 8, 2019 11:21 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dexter Winslett

    Mine is pre Clinton. I love it.

    April 8, 2019 9:05 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Silvanus Rempel

    Danget now should I get the 300blk or the 7.62-39??

    April 8, 2019 7:24 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      for the price of these im getting a ar15

      April 10, 2019 6:53 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Francis H Nichols Jr

      I had a Mini-30 when they first came out and it was a tack driver at any range.
      I think I will go for the 7.62X39 and not the Mini-14.
      Thanks for the great review.

      March 8, 2020 8:06 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Have 2- Mini 30s, great rifles but accuracy suffers at distance. Finally hunted all the mags needed from Ruger . Great truck gun

    April 7, 2019 6:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Had two: old-style inaccurate pencil-barrel (.223), and new-style tapered barrel (5.56). Good for 100 yard rifles, eats ANY ammo as long as you use a Ruger mag...period. Lots of shock, bang, and flash - tends to knock scope mounts loose. Shells tend to get thrown 20 yards down right range - Heads Up! Rear sights are nearly worthless; new-style 5.56 models will not accept Garand and Carbine sights upgrades. Gas cylinders are NOT self-cleaning. Builds up lots of carbon and have to be scrubbed like a Garand and Carbine. Triggers are easily updated to two-step by "Accuracy" specialists found on the web. Would be great for laying down cover fire as fast as you can pull the trigger with 30-round mag. NOT for competition - 4 inch groups normal (according to Ruger Service Dept.). All in all, fun rifle, but not for $900.

    April 7, 2019 5:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Love my Mini 30 tactical...I’m up to 500 rounds with zero jams or miss fires.

    April 7, 2019 5:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The “choice s” could use a webit more depth- what are the differences in the three basic modeles are what would one to know in order to make a inforamed choice

    April 7, 2019 1:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    That is not a deer in night vision . That is a elk in night vision

    April 7, 2019 10:24 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Forgot about the target models

    April 7, 2019 7:34 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    "30-inch barrel" on a mini-30....wow that's a lot of barrel

    April 6, 2019 6:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Read it again. No where does it say 30" barrel

      April 7, 2019 12:31 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        That was cut and paste it has been revised......lol

        April 7, 2019 6:40 pm