M1A versus Mini-14

Discussion in 'M1A /M14 Talk' started by 51st Georgia, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. 51st Georgia

    51st Georgia XDTalk 100 Member

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    Hello All,
    I really want an M-14-type rifle for all-around enjoyment, and defense capability in case things go sour. I love the walnut-stocked M1A from Springfield but I am concerned about the cost. I am on a real budget and I know they run about 1500 new plus .308 is not the cheapest ammo.

    I know many disparage the Ruger Mini-14 but some say quality has improved and I know they are about 1/2 the M1A in price and 5.56 is a cheaper round. I also like the smaller size of the Mini but bemoan the loss of punching power the .308 has in an emergency.

    I am not interested in an AR or anything else. Is the M1A worth the double price for the purposes of what I want it for? I would appreciate some advice.
     
  2. zipgun

    zipgun XDTalk 1K Member

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    I have both and each has it's advantages and disadvantages.

    The M1A is expensive and heavy. Its mags, ammo and accessories are expensive. It is, IMO, overkill for most self defense purposes.

    The Mini 14 is universally badmouthed by internet commandos, though one rarely sees anyone giving one away cheap. The hit on the older ones is due to poor accuracy (allegedly) not quality. I've always seemed to be able to hit what I aim at with mine, so I don't have any excuses. The newer versions are not so bashed as much. They are handy little carbines. Factory mags are expensive compared to AR or AK mags. If you are uncomfortable with the 5.56 consider getting a Mini 30. Same gun, larger bore. Ruger now sells hi-cap factory mags for them.
     
  3. oklawall

    oklawall XDTalk 30K Member Founding Member

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    I have both and got rid of the mini 14. I love the M1A !!!! but you could get a Mini 30 more punch in the 7.62X39 round but again I would go with the M1A
     
  4. AirForceAce357

    AirForceAce357 XDTalk 2K Member

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    This jives with what I've read as well. My understanding is that the very thin, lower quality barrels used in older Minis were the cause of much of the accuracy issues. the newer models, which have 58** model numbers, have thicker, cold hammer forged barrels which seem to fix some of the accuracy issues. For the record, I don't own a Mini but I have examined both the older and newer ones and the barrel is noticeably thicker in the new ones.

    Now a Mini 14/30 won't be as accurate as an M1A (new Minis seem to be 2-3 MOA from the reports I've seen), but still more than sufficient for defensive shooting, especially considering most SD shootings are at relatively short ranges anyway.

    I think the Mini would be a great defensive rifle, especially for the price relative to an M1A and I in fact have put the Mini-14 Tactical toward the top of my gun "wish list".

    Like others have said if you want a little more punch, go with the Mini-30, which, like the Mini-14, is now offered in a "tactical" version that has a 16" barrel and a flash suppressor and now has 30 round factory mags available. Either of the Mini's calibers will also be much easier to find and cheaper to buy as well.

    Hope this is helpful.
     
  5. 51st Georgia

    51st Georgia XDTalk 100 Member

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    Thank you all. This is great information.
     
  6. Charlie Xray

    Charlie Xray XDTalk 500 Member

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    I had a Mini 30 (I know you said Mini14) because I love the Garand system and thought the little cousin would be great too. I was very disappointed. I glass bedded that rifle with pressure on the barrel just like I have done for my match M1s and M14s, and accuracy barely improved to only about 2" even with handloads. I got rid of it.

    I have since heard others had similar issues with Ruger barrel accuracy, and on other Ruger products as well, not just the Mini series. Maybe they have improved the barrels as someone posted, but I would investigate before I jumped. If they have, it is otherwise a great little rifle, but I still like the power of the .308. They do make a bolt-on device that is supposed to stiffen the barrel and improve accuracy. Makes it look kinda like an M14 gas system but longer.

    I have AKs that are as accurate as my Mini30 was and more fun, plus gun and mags are cheaper.

    CX
     
  7. 51st Georgia

    51st Georgia XDTalk 100 Member

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    is there anyone out there who can comment definitively about the barrel issue and Rugers? Have they indeed changed their manufacturing process to correct this? I see lots of posts regarding inaccurate Mini 14s and lots of posts saying "mine shoots great". I was wondering if anyone has seen some reviews or research that comments on this?
    I have seen a lot of posts like Charlie XRays saying the Mini 30 was far less accurate than the 14 and the barrel gets super hot after 3 rounds or so. Charlie, was that your experience?

    Thanks to all!
     
  8. texan_eagle_scout

    texan_eagle_scout XDTalk 5K Member

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  9. Charlie Xray

    Charlie Xray XDTalk 500 Member

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    My experience with it was 20+ years ago and I bought it for deer hunting at close ranges. I never noticed a heat issue, but then I generally avoid grabbing barrels when shooting. (I forget that about once every five years and get retrained with blisters.)

    I was disappointed in the accuracy and the fact that it did not respond to traditional accuracy improving methods that work on other Garand type systems. I did a lot of experimenting with loads and never found one it liked. To be fair 2" at 100 yards is really more than acceptable for what I intended to use it for, but I was used to better from my M1A and M1s. I guess I was picky. I live with that from my AKs and love them.

    I have friends with bolt Rugers and they complained the accuracy was only average. Ruger makes a great product but their barrels sucked back then. Maybe they are better now? But my Remingtons, even my cheap Sportsman 70, once bedded, all shoot under 1" easily with a number of loads. I own a Ruger 1022 Target with a hammer forged barrel, and it is a tack driver, so maybe things have changed.

    Back then - sounds like I am an old-timer - there was an outfit in Texas that produced sub-minute Ruger Mini14s, but they put in new barrels, among other things.

    Sorry I can't help more. There must be several Ruger forums around. Go lurk on a few and you will probably find your answers.

    CX
     
  10. AirForceAce357

    AirForceAce357 XDTalk 2K Member

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    I think this may give you some info on the newer barrels of the Minis. He discusses the newer barrels versus the older ones.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycagSJTvaJs]YouTube - Ruger Mini-14 Tactical: "Arrival of the Underdog" by Nutnfancy[/ame]

    I can't find it at the moment, but I also read an article about 2 years ago written by Ken Jorgensen from Ruger, where he stated that they completely re-tooled to make the newer Mini 14/30s, bringing back one of the original product engineers to supervise the project. IIRC, the article said they spent about 18 months re tooling and re engineering for the Minis before re introducing the newer 580 series (the ones with the newer barrels.) If I can find this article, I'll post it for you.

    Hope this helps.
     
  11. Ski098

    Ski098 XDTalk 500 Member

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    The Ruger Gunsite Scout looks like a nice rifle, but I'll wait until it gets reviewed and approved by the market before I jump into a new model rifle.

    Not to confuse this topic anymore, but I'd been looking at a Kel-tec SU16. They seem to be pretty hard to find in North Carolina, I've only seen one vendor at the local gun shows that carries one. But it looks like a nice little .223 plinker. I don't expect it to hold up as well as some of the higher priced alternatives, but for less than 500$ for the stock rifle that seems like a good deal to me. And it accepts standard M16 magazines so you would have a large variety of quality magazines to choose from.
     
  12. zipgun

    zipgun XDTalk 1K Member

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    A bolt action 308 wasn't on the list of wants by the OP. If he wanted some other type of battle rifle we could get into some of HK91 clones, FN/FALs, CETME, Saiga, and others.

    Besides, the Gunsite Ruger Scout rifle is little more than an expensive range toy.
     
  13. texan_eagle_scout

    texan_eagle_scout XDTalk 5K Member

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    He specified something other than an AR, and like a Mini-14 or M1A. I realize it's not a semi-auto "battle rifle". It does fit his "wish" of a .308 rifle for significantly less than the M1A.

    Testing so far has shown the Scout to test very well out to 400yds and beyond. This is ideal for a SHTF scenario, and could be a viable alternative to the OP's mentioned choices. The difference in cost buys a LOT of ammo.
     
  14. 51st Georgia

    51st Georgia XDTalk 100 Member

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    while I am primarily interested in the M1A and Mini-14, I appreciate any comments or suggestions anyone has. Thanks to all. Great last few posts, esp. the video on the Mini-14.
     
  15. zipgun

    zipgun XDTalk 1K Member

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    See my response in red above...
     
  16. Bidah

    Bidah XDTalk 500 Member

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    My wife and I had two of the second series. We did shoot them quite a bit and they held up well to some abuse. I found ours to be 2MOA (using irons, not scoped) rifles, certainly battle accurate but not match level. I also had our trigger groups tuned and that did help. In the end we moved on to something that was easier to work on and customize, as well as easier to get spare parts for. They were nice handy rifles though.

    -Bidah
     
  17. 51st Georgia

    51st Georgia XDTalk 100 Member

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    What did you move on to?
     
  18. Haywood

    Haywood XDTalk 100 Member

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    I have a well used 1985-ish Mini-14 with the thinner barrel. It's fairly easy to fix the 'stringing' issues with those barrels by adding on a harmonizer/stabilizer.

    Personally, I put a "Mo-Rod" on mine and it cured the accuracy woes enough that it doesn't string anymore when the barrel gets hot. It's no M1/14 in the accuracy dept. but it's a significant improvement.
     

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  19. KP Ling

    KP Ling XDTalk 1K Member

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    IMHO, save up and get the M1A. While I have nothing bad to say about the other poster's suggestions, if you do actually buy the M1A you will never regret it. You do have the drawback of blowing your budget and having relatively expensive ammo and magazines to buy but, as I said, you will never regret the purchase.

    I can understand being on a budget and the need to have something now. What is your budget for the rifle and accessories (such as magazines, scope, scope mount, ammo, etc.) for a minimum level of usefulness? Let us know and maybe the suggestions might open up. You specifically counted out ARs, would you be willing to get another type of system, like maybe a retro-fit piston, an AK, or the Sig 556, if it is within your budget?
     
  20. Haywood

    Haywood XDTalk 100 Member

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    No worries here! :D

    I just happened to have picked up the Mini-14 because it came along at the right time. An M1A of some sort is in my lineup when the time comes... ;)
     

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