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hawkguy 04-22-2012 06:35 PM

My Mini 14 vs. My AR-15
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before i went out on my most recent trip to the range, i realized a had a good opportunity to review two firearms side-by-side.

please realize this entire thread is based off my experiences and opinions, and please respect that they might vary from yours.

what i realized about my mini 14 and my AR-15 is that they cost virtually the same amount of money off the shelf. my AR isn't a heavy varmit or competition barrel that costs $900-2000 as some do. i figured this was a great opportunity to see how they stack up against each other in a few categories considering they cost the same.

here are the two guns i am comparing.

my ruger mini 14 (580 ranch rifle, stainless steel model, 18.5" barrel, accu-strut, caliber 5.56/.223). cost $675 +strut+accessories

my ar-15 (S&W M&P sport, rail & grip added, caliber 5.56/.223). cost $679+ accessories

imo, great rifles to compare because they are right in the same price range.

sitting at the range, ready to go. :D


hawkguy 04-22-2012 06:59 PM

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OK, of course the first thing we should discuss is ACCURACY.

the mini has a bad rep for accuracy. it just does. i almost didn't the gun because of the statements i read on the internet about them. but after some tinkering with my mini (with help from some ver knowledgable folks), i am very happy with its shooting.

the AR on the other hand, has an outstanding rep. when it comes to accuracy. i have shot my friends bushmaster on many occasions & it is a GREAT shooter.

i have no optics for my AR at this time. so i chose to compare the accuracy at 50 yards with irons (this is my limit to shoot well with irons). the first groups here, are off the bench. they represent my best 2 sets of groups from both guns.


first, my new AR! :D the two 5 shot groups you see are my 2 best. they come in at apx 1.2 inches and 1.5 inches. happy! :D more time with this gun and i think its going to be a crazy good shooter!

hawkguy 04-22-2012 07:09 PM

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ok, the MINI 14 is up to bat.

my 2 best groups came out to about 1.5 inches and 1.75 inches (please realize that for both rifles, these were roughly measured with a tape).

hawkguy 04-22-2012 07:28 PM

2 Attachment(s)
here are my off hand (standing) groups at 50 yards with irons for both guns.

i think i need more practice shooting off a bench. not any huge difference in accuracy shooting offhand between the two, but imo the AR's overall group was a little more consistant. also, imo the AR was more comfortable to shoot off hand. idk what good offhand shooting is, but i don't think this is it. ;)

AR-15: group at widest off hand was about 8", the majority landed within about 4.5" though.

MINI 14: group at widest off hand was about 9-10", the majority however also landed at about 4.5-5"

first target is the mini.

hawkguy 04-22-2012 07:37 PM

Accuracy conclusion
well, i was a bit surprised with the shooting. i expected the AR to shine off the bench, and the offhand shooting to be the same basically.

imo, the bench was a wash considering the groups really didn't have more than about .25 to .5" difference between them.

i think the AR slightly outperformed the mini with my off hand shooting, which kind of surprised me. but the AR is lighter and a little more comfortable to shoot standing.

i will also mention this is an "out of the box" AR vs a mini i had modified slightly. also, i have MUCH less trigger time with this AR. with more time, i think the AR will nudge ahead.

though practically speaking, i think they are both good shooters. after my testing, i spent some time popping apples and bottles, neither had any problem there.

considering the above, i must conclude that, at this point:


hawkguy 04-22-2012 07:44 PM

next, firearm RELIABILITY

like the mini 14's accuracy, the AR has gotten a bad rep for reliability among many posters/shooters. but today, i didn't see any problems at all.

both guns performed without a single malfunction today. i put about 150-200 rounds through my AR, and about 50-80 through my MINI 14.

MY MINI 14: i have now fired 1300+ rounds with 1 single malfunction. nuff said....its a shooter!

MY AR-15: no problems! zero malfunctions thus far. however, my friends AR has had several FTF when i fired it. but, this is more about MY guns than my overall AR experience. EDIT: however, less than 300 rounds through my AR so far.


hawkguy 04-22-2012 07:56 PM

next, my impressions on craftsmanship, quality & aesthectics.

this is perhaps more opinion based, so bear with me. :rolleyes:

MY AR-15: a great deal of plastic and aluminum. at the pricepoint, my AR-15 does not have a forward assist, dust cover, heat shield. it did however, come with great sights (as many in the price range don't) the stock and much of the build has a great amount of "play" in it. it does however, look pretty damn cool.

MY MINI 14: is stainless steel (though somewhat rough), hammer forged barrel, orginally had a cheap plastic stock i replaced (with a very cheap, but beautiful wood stock), quality sights and scope rings. generally feels very "solid." as it sits now, it is a very nice looking gun imo.

imo, my AR gets blown away here at the same price point. it just doesn't seem in the same league as the mini 14's overall quality and beauty imo.


hawkguy 04-22-2012 08:13 PM

overall handiness
next, overall hadiness and "shootability"

again, another topic that is heavily opinion based.

MY MINI 14: i personally prefer traditional rifle set ups, so i feel very comfortable with my mini. it is however, much heavier than my AR, making prolonged shooting off the bench a bit more problematic. but with my orginal synthetic stock, they are probably closer in weight. the mini is a GREAT size for overall hanidiness and shooting. i like the garand action/charging handle much better. mags changes are slower. no recoil, good sights, decent optics mounting. great gun.

MY AR 15: light and handy. shoots great off hand, better than my mini in its current set up. i like the irons much better overall. great fun to shoot and handles like a dream imo. so far, i dislike the placement/function of the charging handle. mag changes are quicker and better.

can't go wrong here with either. THEY BOTH HAVE THEIR UPS AND DOWNS IMO. the fun factor is off the charts for both.


hawkguy 04-22-2012 08:21 PM

ok, this part will wrap up important EXTRAS.

when it comes to the topics of optics mounting & aftermarket parts, i'm afraid there isn't much to compare here.

MY AR: has a whole UNIVERSE of parts and aftermarket accessories, all parts are available from multiple sources at competitive prices. mags are cheaper, optics mounting options diverse.

MY MINI 14: gets well...DESTROYED in this category. :( the (super smart) company ruger restricts certain parts. although the mini has nice, standard scope mounts, rails are problematic on the ranch model. however, if my mini was a more "tactical" set up, this would be much better. the aftermarket is "OK" for the mini, but just doesn't compare. factory mags are GREAT, but about $10 a pop more than my AR's.


hawkguy 04-22-2012 08:35 PM

overall maintainance, cleaning, and care

will update later.:)

i have only shot my AR twice and broken it down to clean once BEFORE shooting. i will return to report back on this.

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