One of the guns with which Ruger enthusiasts are most familiar is the Mini-14. Designed by L. James Sullivan and William B. Ruger, this lightweight, semi-automatic carbine was a popular choice upon introduction and has continued to be a go-to in the decades since. Although the original design has come to be available in many newer, varied forms, the basic concept behind the Mini-14 remains the same, as does the widespread following it has maintained over the years.
Photo: Perfect Union
Though there is much known about the Mini-14, there are a few historical facts that are not as commonly discussed as the gun itself. It is easy enough to appreciate a great firearm without knowing the rest of the story, but the backstory might help you appreciate the Mini-14 just that much more. Here are some Mini-14 facts:
1. Prior to 1986, police departments were not quite as armed to the teeth as they are today. The reason for this is that they did not need to be due to the firepower they encountered on a regular basis. That is, until the Mini-14 changed the game. Used in a bank robbery in 1986, the Mini-14 put law enforcement's fire power to shame, forcing agencies far and wide to re-evaluate their carry.
2. The Mini-14 has Hollywood history. As reported by the always-entertaining Internet Media Firearms Database, having made an appearance on big and small screens alike, the Mini-14 was there to keep us entertained. In The American, a Mini-14 was customized by actor George Clooney and fitted with a suppressor made from car parts as a central part of the film's plot.
Other movies that feature the Mini-14 include Boondock Saints, The Dark Knight, The Usual Suspects, and Romancing the Stone. It was also paired with Mr. T's character, Bosco Albert "B. A." (Bad Attitude) Baracus in The A-Team, as well as showing up in other shows such as CSI: Miami, Monk, Prison Break, and Longmire. Video games such as Fallout Tactics and Grand Theft Auto embrace the Mini-14 as well.
3. It was nearly possible at one time to acquire Mini-14 versions chambered in .243 and .308 Winchester but production issues brought such plans to a halt. It is possible to find a Mini-14 chambered in .222 Remington, however, although locating one will likely prove difficult. This chambering came about due to a ban in countries that disallowed ownership of firearms by civilians that are chambered for use with military rounds. Because if this, guns that were made in .222 have now become a rare collector's item. Of course you can get a few of these in 6.8 and then there is always the 7.62x39mm Mini-30-- but that's the subject of another article!
4. The M14 was the inspiration, and the namesake, for the Mini-14. Modeled after the M14, the Mini-14 saw some changes that allowed less expensive production. Though it is rumored that Bill Ruger thought the Mini-12 could serve a military purpose as a follower of the M14, the these two guns were actually quite different. In addition to a gas system and rotating bolt unlike the M14, the Mini-14 also typically utilizes .223 Rem./5.56x45mm NATO as opposed to the .308 Win./7.62x51mm NATO of the M14.
5. After the recent terrorist attack on French publication Charlie Hebdo, the response by the French Police Nationale was widely broadcast on television for the world to see. These officers were not armed with weapons that are French in origin, instead carrying the Ruger Mini-14. The version they use is the AMD which was developed in 1978.
Photo: Talking Points Memo
With its large following and widespread visibility in the gun world, the Mini-14 boasts a lot of respect. Is there one in your gun cabinet? Do you have any Mini-14 trivia you'd like to add? Let us know in the comments!