My Mini 14 vs. My AR-15

Discussion in 'General Rifle Discussion' started by hawkguy, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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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

    EDIT: PLEASE WAIT FOR REPLIES UNTIL I HAVE COMPLETED ALL POSTS, THANKS!
     

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  2. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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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.

    SO, HOW DID THESE RIFLES SHOOT SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE SAME SHOOTER?

    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!
     

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  3. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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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).
     

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  4. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    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.
     

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  5. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    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:

    ACCURACY: ADVANTAGE AR-15
     
  6. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    Reliability

    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.

    RELIABILITY: EVEN
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  7. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    craftsmanship

    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.

    CRAFTSMANSHIP/QUALITY: ADVANTAGE MINI 14
     
  8. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    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.

    "SHOOTABILITY": EVEN
     
  9. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    Extras

    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 uh...market is "OK" for the mini, but just doesn't compare. factory mags are GREAT, but about $10 a pop more than my AR's.

    EXTRAS: ADVANTAGE AR
     
  10. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    maintainance

    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.
     
  11. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    Conclusion

    ITS EASY, IF YOU CAN, OWN BOTH!

    my overall thoughts MY AR-15 and MINI 14:

    ACCUARCY: AR
    RELIABILTY: EVEN
    CRAFTSMANSHIP/QUALITY: MINI 14
    "SHOOTABILITY" EVEN
    "EXTRAS": AR
    MAINTAINANCE UNDETERMINED AT THIS POINT

    both guns are a fine choice at this price point imo. i still slightly prefer the mini 14, but that is just a preference. from my expereince, IGNORE overexaggerations of the mini 14's poor accuarcy (EDIT: on the new models, older models often have serious accuracy issues) AND the AR's bad rep for reliability. i see no issues with either thus far.

    DO understand however, a mini will require some time and TLC to make it a good shooter. if you like to tinker, this is great. if you want to pull it out the box and expect its best, this isn't so great.

    THANKS for looking at this thread, i hope it helps posters looking for info on these rifles. it took some time, $, and effort. please make any comments and questions you wish. however, PLEASE keep all comments nice and try not to "WAR" on this subject. we can all agree to disagree on any of it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  12. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

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    You started to lose me when you included a "strut" on the Mini-14 to make it accurate. Then it went downhill for me from there when you didn't i.d. the ranges you were shooting at, didn't i.d. the ammo, didn't actually bother to score the targets (all of them, or ANY of them properly), claimed one unidentitfied Mini-14 failure is effectively the same as none in the AR, dismiss a group 20% larger than another as about equal, i.d. the craftsmanship/quality of the Mini-14 as better when I don't even think they can be compared frankly...

    I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm, and I appreciate the effort you took to share, but I'm not sure you are equipped to make the comparisons you aspired to for anyone else. Forgive me if I skip the future update(s)...
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  13. jpattersonnh

    jpattersonnh Active Member

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    11 posts? Why not just 1??
     
  14. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    well, although it was basically negative, i appreciate your input all the same.

    please allow me to elaborate/clarify a few points.

    ammo first was a combination of federal 55grain, american eagle hollowpoints 50 grain, 62 grain green tip penetrators, federal m193 ball, and hornady 55 grain v-max. the v-max is mostly represented in the accuracy shooting.

    i was open about the strut from the begining, so fail to understand your problem there. i think the groups to the naked eye looked virtually the same myself. i gave the AR the advantage because 1) i took measures to improve the mini 2) i have FAR less trigger time with the AR. please note AGAIN that i gave the accuarcy edge to the AR, even though the groups were very close imo.

    i rated the reliabilty as EVEN because i have put over 1,300 rounds through my mini and less than 300 through my AR. until the AR round count is close, i can't say it is more reliable. that is why i rated them even at this point. does this make sense?

    as far as craftsmanship, getting a stainless steel rifle for the same price as black aluminum, wins this issue alone. stainless models of the same rifle are generally $80-150 more, no? but this can be so subjective, so agree to disagree here.

    as for "scoring targets," all i did was compare rough sizes of groups side to side. not an exact science, i will agree. but good enough to get an idea that at least in this trip, both guns shoot within a close range of each other.

    hope this helps & again, thanks for your input.
     
  15. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

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    increase post count? :D

    it just helps me organize my thoughts better this way. i hope the thread was helpful in some way?
     
  16. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

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    Hawk;
    I know you think your explanations support and improve your review thread but I am fairly certain it actually further demonstrates that you were a little premature in pulling the trigger there, a dozen posts nothwithstanding...
     
  17. 2hot2handle

    2hot2handle New Member

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    Hey Hawk, I thoroughly enjoyed the review and found it quite helpful. Thanks for all your time, effort and for sharing.
     
  18. BlueTurf

    BlueTurf New Member

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    Well, all I can say is if you like your rifles and enjoy shooting them that sounds good to me.

    I just wish I knew someone who had a Mini-14 or AR that I could go shooting with. I have an M-14 and like shooting military-type rifles. Most of the people I know just want to shoot their bolt-action rifles, which is okay, but sometimes I get the itch to go through several magazines of ammo in rapid fire-fashion.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  19. PlaysWithZombies

    PlaysWithZombies New Member

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    Sure it wasn't a "proffesional" level review, but who cares? I thought it was a good review and i appreciate the effort the OP put into it.
     
  20. BenLuby

    BenLuby New Member

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    This is a forum for gun aficionado's, not professional writers who nitpick every little detail. Was it the best ever review? No. But it was unbiased and honest. He gave his assessment, and I think it was fairly accurate and he worked hard to get it right. Everything he missed can be corrected, and one doesn't write at a superior level on their first try.
    If you don't like the article, then write your own.
    I found it thought out. Only issues, which I think are minor? Shoot the same loadout in each magazine. If you shoot 55 grain federal with ten rounds, then shoot the same load on the AR, an compare them that way.
    The critique, I give you credit for. You acknowledged the accuracy was because you hadn't shot the AR before. The only thing I'd ask on that? You said your buddies AR had issues. My questions would be what kind of AR does he have, the BCG within it, and his maintenance and upkeep of it.
    Overall, it was thought out well and reliable. It gives someone who isn't well versed enough information to eliminate some of the rumors concerning both firearms.
    Good job.