The Ruger Mini 14 is a versatile Garand-style semiautomatic rifle manufactured by Sturm, Ruger & Co. It has long been favored by civilian and police forces due to its low weight and a high degree of maneuverability. It was first introduced in 1973 and has resulted in a number of different variants developed to meet different needs.
The Ranch Rifle is the original version that came with an 18.5” barrel, with adjustable sights and a detachable Picatinny scope rail. Many of those who bought this firearm new had the choice of two 5 round or 20 round magazines, depending on the state law compliance requirements. It is chambered to accept either the 5.56×45mm NATO or .223 Remington ammunition, with the exception of the “Target Rifle” variant which is restricted to .223 only.
The Target Rifle variant has a 22” barrel, as well as an adjustable harmonic tuner that features variable MOA accuracy. The Target Rifle does not have any iron sights but features a ghost ring with a Picatinny scope rail. The Tactical Rifle variant clocks a much shorter barrel, at just 16.12” with a flash suppressor. It also can feature either a fixed stock or a collapsable ATI stock.
Best Scopes for Mini 14 Rifles
- Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9X40
- Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II-E 1-6×24
- Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1×20
- EOTECH 512 Holographic
- ATN Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope
Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9X40
For those on the search for a high-quality scope at a lower price, the Freedom from Leupold would be a great choice. Leupold is known for its budget-friendly products, but that doesn’t generally include accessories. The Freedom includes the instruction manual and the scope.
The matte black finish looks great and is extremely durable. With an objective diameter of 40mm, you have a nice lens that can help pick up plenty of light. This scope is lightweight, making it ideal for long hunting excursions and for moving around quickly.
- Weighs just 12.2 oz
- Affordable price
Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II-E 1-6×24
Vortex Optics is known for making high-quality scopes, and the Razor is no exception. Great for short and medium shooting, this scope can be used in a variety of settings. If you want a lightweight scope that allows quick, swift movements, this may be the right scope for you.
Whether you plan on using your scope for hunting or tactical, the Razor can handle it. You’ll even be able to see up close and in situations with poor lighting conditions, thanks to the daylight-bright illuminated center dot. It has a VMR-2 MRAD reticle that is intended to make long-distance shooting easier.
- Easy to sight in
Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1×20
As the most affordable scope on the list, the Romeo5 is a fantastic choice, especially for those that are new to shooting and want something that is easy to use and will last. One of the coolest things about this scope is that it has 2 night vision settings, allowing you to use it in any lighting conditions.
The battery life in this scope is really great, at more than 40,000 hours. If you are looking for a scope for learning with, this red dot sight would be a good choice. You can even take it out in the rain, as it is water-resistant. No matter what you’re doing, this would be great.
- Really affordable
EOTECH 512 Holographic
If you’re looking for a scope that you can use in tactical situations, the EOTECH 512 is a great choice. Ideal for short distances, this scope is easy to sight in and accurately hits targets at close ranges. This scope is fairly simple, which many enthusiasts enjoy. It even has reasonable battery life, lasting up to 1,000 hours before needing to replace them.
The A65 reticle is simple and easy to use, making it a great choice for beginners. The drawback is, however, that there is no night vision so you are limited to just daytime use.
- Affordable price
- Simple operation
ATN Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope
As one of the more expensive scopes on the list, the optics and features you’ll get to enjoy are pretty amazing. The ATN Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope is everything you need for hunting in any type of lighting condition.
One of the biggest perks to this particular scope is that it is a digital thermal scope, and allows you to see the image in the daytime, but it also has various modes that allow you to see at night. You’re able to see the image in black hot, white-hot, and infrared. This is great because regular night vision scopes are damaged by daylight.
- 10+ hours of battery life
- Can be used at night as well as during the day
- One of the most affordable thermal scopes available
Now not everyone will agree with this, but the AR platform is not appealing to everyone nor is it applicable to every situation. There are situations where the AR platform may project too “tactical” of an image and may draw a significant amount of unwanted attention. The controls may also not be right for the physical geometry of the shooter, and may not be familiar or obvious to those who aren’t previously trained. This makes the Mini a formidable alternative.
The Mini has overall experienced a very divided opinion of its performance history, often having a very noted reputation for being inaccurate at both close and mid ranges. Since the retooling of the Mini 14 design in 2005, however, this problem seems to have been eliminated. Now the Mini is capable of a 2” target group at 100 yards. While this degree of accuracy is nice to have, there are few commonly experienced situations that would call for it.
If you shoot in an area where corrosion can be an issue, you may look at the Mini as a viable .223 platform since it is one of the few that are available in stainless steel. This helps mitigate the constant need for immediate and thorough maintenance after each outing. Another reason the Mini is so good in this respect is the rotating bolt and a pair of heavy locking lugs. Keep in mind, however, that all of this extra steel is going to affect the weight if you were watching that.
The Mini is now available from Ruger in a .300 Blackout version, bringing .30-cal. versatility to the Mini platform. This makes it a great option for those who may want to use the same magazines as their .223 Rem Mini. The 300 AAC Blackout model will feed from the same high-capacity magazines that are already widely available.
Why Use A Scope For Your Mini 14 Rifle
The Mini 14 is primarily a short-range rifle, so using a scope can give you some great benefits even if they are not as exaggerated as with other platforms. Initially, even if you’re using the rifle at close range, using a scope with a holo target or red dot can hasten target acquisition and make every shot feel rock solid. When using the Mini 14 for hunting, however, you will almost certainly want something that has a variable magnification.
Since the Mini 14 is effective at ranges of 300m or more you should make sure that you have a few options in your arsenal so that you can swap out if the situation warrants it. With close quarters only needing 1x-4x magnification, there are some scopes for mid-range use that can approach the 10x mark that is more or less the cutoff before hitting the long-range scopes.
There are some people that maintain that the Mini 14 is still acceptably effective at long ranges, or ranges over 350-400m, but even many of the biggest Ruger adherents will admit that is where the accuracy begins to dip too much. In this article, we won’t focus on any long-range scopes since there is plenty of meat on the bone for short and medium-range
Choosing The Best Scope For Your Mini 14
This is where the Mini shines, but it is also where many scopes are ineffective. Keep your magnification at no more than 4x, to make sure you can stay effective. If you may be experiencing CQB keep a red dot or a holo on it.
A mid-range scope will be perfect for landowners to hunt and put down varmints and other outdoor pests. If you think you’ll primarily be using your Mini to deal with prairie dogs, coyotes, assorted wild dogs, and rabbits, you should look for something with 10x or less magnification.