The new ruger mini-14's are considerably more accurate than their predicessors. Had mine since 2008 and started with just under 3" groups at 100 yards and with trigger job and butt stack plates to correct pull length am now shooting just at 1-3/4" groups at 100 yards. Yes, I feel they are considerably more reliable than AR type rifles and will still work well if really neglected and drug around in the muck and mire. The 6.8 spec version is really good and is just as much if not slightly more accurate than the .223, especially at longer distance. You may get a more accurate AR out the the box, but the AR just cant take the abuse and neglect thar the Ruger can and still fire reliably. IMO. One thing about 6.8 spec ammo; it can be hard to find and there is no cheap 6.8 ball made to date. And yes, white tail deer hunters are having good results with this round.