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New and improved: Ruger Mini-14 Range Rifle.

Can a rifle, still in production, be considered a "classic"? It's an interesting question, and if public acceptance is the prime consideration, then the answer would have to be yes!

Ruger's Mini-14 rifle sales are stratospheric, especially in light that this .223 caliber autoloading mini-marauder has only been on the shooting scene since 1975. Unquestionably, the most important reason for the Mini-14's overwhelming success is its retail price--$362.50--dollar for dollar and ounce for ounce, the Ruger Mini-14 is the best .223 semi-auto rifle buy available today!

With the original Mini-14's obvious success, why did Ruger recently introduce a new and improved version? Was there anything drastically wrong with the original model? Not really, except that Ruger found that most Mini-14 owners chose to mount a scope and had to seek aftermarket suppliers for a mount and rings. Second, those who did mount a scope on the original model found ejected cases would bounce off the underside of the scope or mount and fly erratically. And, finally, there was the force in which the slide block striking the receiver during recoil could place additional stress and strain on the delicate mechanism of a telescope.

All of these inconveniences have been resolved with the Ranch Rifle. First and foremost, it has integral scope mounts which will accept all standard Ruger No. 1 rings of various heights. The standard Mini-14 front sight has been retained with a newly designed rear sight that is a low-profile, folding-type aperture, adjustable for both windage and elevation.

A unique buffer system has been incorporated which redirects and effectively absorbs the shock of the slide block slamming against the receiver during recoil. The bolt has been redesigned and the plunger-type ejector has been removed, and instead, the ejector has been incorporated into the bolt stop so that spent casings are ejected straight out from the side of the receiver to prevent striking and possibly damaging the bottom of the scope tube.

The hardwood stock is protected by a dull-finish epoxy and should effectively discourage stock warpage if the rifle is subjected to damp weather. Imbedded in the stock is a metal forearm liner which provides additional strengthening of the stock and also helps to prevent warpage. The Mini-14 can withstand severe abuse under a wide range of climatical and shooting conditions and still come back for more.

The Ruger Ranch Rifle is simplistic and straightforward in both design and operation. Based on the time-honored Garand operating system, it is composed of only 61 parts, which include all springs, pins and screws. Gas-operated, the Mini-14 will function reliably with a wide variety of .223 Remington (5.56 mm NATO) fodder running the gamut from G.I.-type ammo through lower velocity, commercially made factory rounds.

The Mini-14 Ranch Rifle boasts a bolt lock mechanism that holds the bolt open after the last shot is fired--provided, of course, the magazine is locked in place. When the magazine is empty after the last shot is fired, the magazine follower engages the bolt lock to hold the bolt and operating slide in the rearward position. A word of caution though; some shooters believe that when the bolt is locked to the rear, the rifle is in a "safe" position--not true! If a loaded magazine is in place, and the bolt is "locked" back, a sharp rap on the buttplate could release the bolt, and sending it forward under spring tension, will cause the bolt to strip off a cartridge from the magazine and place the rifle in battery.

The manually operated safety mechanism is a two-position lever located at the front part of the triggerguard. When the blade is moved to the rear, it blocks both the hammer and sear, yet the bolt and slide can still be operated. To move the safety to the "off" position, all the shooter has to do is move his trigger finger forward and the Ranch Rifle is ready to fire.

The factory-supplied five-shot detachable box-type magazine is a staggered column, double row design. The magazine must be pivoted by inserting the front end first into the magazine well and then pulling the bottom of the magazine rearward until the magazine latch engages into a corresponding notch milled into the back of the magazine well.

Due to the popularity of the Ruger Mini-14, there are a raft of aftermarket magazines available. And unlike roses, a magazine is not a magazine, etc. Whereas the standard Mini-14 employs a spring-loaded type magazine catch and will accept a wider variety of non-standard Ruger magazines--some of which have an "indent" instead of a drilled .190-inch hole located at the front of the magazine catch and only magazines so drilled with this properly sized hole can be used. The "indented" type will not lock into place on the Ranch Rifle.

The newly designed rear sight is an improvement over the standard version in both looks and performance. Elevation adjustments are accomplished with a furnished .075-inch Allen wrench. Windage adjustments are made with the aid of a small-bladed screwdriver. Once properly adjusted and locked, generated recoil or rough handling are unlikely to affect the rifle's zero.

The front sight design has been retained from previous models and is a high-profile, ramp type with tapered sides that silhouettes itself readily in the rear aperture. The sight is mounted on a sleeve that encompasses the barrel. Should the owner wish to remove the front sight, simply drifting out the front sight crosspin allows the entire assembly to be slid forward off the muzzle to provide the Ranch Rifle with a clean, lean look.

The rifle is equipped with one-inch sling swivels, and a black fiberglass handguard is mounted above the barrel to protect the shooter's hands from barrel heat.

Where the new Ranch Rifle really shines is out on the rifle line. Armed with a wide selection of both factory and handloaded 5.56 mm (.223 Remington) ammunition, we set up our gear at Angeles Shooting Range located in San Fernando, California. We had previously installed a 4X leupold "Compact" scope secured by Ruger one-inch rings and snugged to the carbine's integral scope mounts. We fired a few magazines of ammunition through the Ranch Rifle to become familiar with its operating characteristics.

While the 4X Leupold is an excellent choice for all-around shooting, we decided to install a 10X Redfield for our final accuracy testing. The higher power allows a bit more precise holding at the 100-yard butt, particularly when the point of aim is a conventional bullseye rather than a target designed for scope sight shooting.

Our groups were satisfying 1 1/2-inch average, using both our handloads and factory ammunition. It would appear that today's autoloaders are turning in groups that would have been the envy of bolt-action sporters just a few years ago. Incidentally, this targeting consumed over 200 rounds of ammunition so the 1 1/2-inch groups were no fluke.

The Ranch Rifle is one of the handiest firearms any rifleman could own. It's compact, only 37 3/4 inches long, light, 6 3/4 pounds and its 18 1/2-inch barrel proved to be accurate. The length of pull is a universally comfortable 13 1/4 inches long and the hardwood stock is capped with a nearly indestructible black plastic buttplate. All in all, the Ruger Ranch Rifle proved to be a solid and unpretentious performer. Like its military predecessor--the Garand--the Ruger Ranch Rifle is always ready, able and willing to get the job done.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:evaluation
Author:Blatt, Art
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Apr 1, 1984
Previous Article:A break in tradition: Winchester's Short-Action Model 70.
Next Article:Don't mix your brass!

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