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I hear a lot of negative thoughts on the value of them as a shooter, too used to be a collector, but seems like a good price at 500. Any thoughts? Don't need need, but.,,
 

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Be sure to check on the series number, which is indicated by the first 3 numbers of the serial number (stamped on side of receiver). Some early versions of the Mini-14 were actually a different caliber (.222), and some are not supported by Ruger any longer.

180 Series
Produced from 1974-1977.
Brass ejects upwards.
Shipped from factory with wood handguard installed.
Original Mini-14, no longer supported by Ruger (i.e., no 180-specific parts available)

181 - 186 Series
Produced from 1978-1999.
"Standard" Mini-14
No factory scope mounts, single blade front sight, low round rear peep sight.
Brass ejects upwards.
Still supported by Ruger factory parts.

196 - 197 Series
Produced from 2000-2004.
Same as 181-186 Series.

187 - 188 Series
Produced from 1982-1995.
Mini-14 Ranch Rifle
Factory Scope Mounts, flip-up rear sight, single blade front sight.
Brass ejects to side to avoid contact with scope.
Still supported by Ruger factory parts.

195 - 197 Series
Produced from 1996-2004.
Mini-14 Ranch Rifle.
Same as 187-188 Series.

580 - 582 Series
Produced from 2005-Present.
Mini-14 Ranch Rifle.
Winged Rear Peep Sight, Winged (3-blade) Front Sight.
Integrated Scope Mounts.
At some point in the 580 Series, Ruger introduced the "heavier," flanged/tapered barrel which improved accuracy and decreased heat sensitivity (stringing).
 
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