Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why do Mini-14s get such a bad rap?

This question was asked on an email list to which I belong -

"Why is it that Ruger Mini-14s that typically group 3 to 5 MOA for the older model and 2 to 4 for the new & improved model are such bad rifles, yet AKs that typically group 3 to 6 MOA, have bad triggers and funky safety levers are good?"

To which I replied -

My own take on it is that we expect that any gun chambered in .223 has to match the benchmark for semi-auto accuracy in that caliber, which is the AR platform.

The AK gets a pass on accuracy because of its reliability and the effectiveness of the 7.62x39mm round both in wounding and in shooting through things. Not a lot of people bother with AKs in .223, and the 5.45x39 AK hasn't been as popular as the .30 version. Even the Russians are switching back to the 7.62x39 in some cases. I'm of the opinion, which I think the majority of gun buyers share, that if I'm going to have to put up with the deficiencies of the AK as a platform then I'm going to choose it in the caliber I prefer for fighting at the distances that I envision using it for fighting, not just plinking.

People assume that you can reach out further with the .223 than you can with the 7.62x39, which is generally true. For longer ranges, the AR is a better platform and the .223 a better round than the AK and its cartridge. Not necessarily more effective when it hits you 'way out past Fort Mudge, mind you, but easier to use to make the hit. It's a varmint shooter mentality, really.

Will most of us ever employ the intrinsic accuracy of the AR and the .223 at really long ranges? No. We keep carbines for engagements under 200 yards, pretty much. But if we are going to shoot a .223 it damn well better be capable of those long shots or we spurn it.

Ergo, if you're going to settle for a .223 it has to be in a gun that has enough inherent accuracy to justify that selection. The Mini-14 doesn't make the grade in that respect. It's not as accurate as the AR, so not as many shooters want it.

That, and Americans have always leaned toward choosing the same guns that the military uses. Shooters idolize M1 Garands and M1As, from whence sprang the Mini-14, so it isn't that they don't like the type or the mechanism. But until the Marines or the Army adopt the Mini-14 it will lack style points, no matter that George Peppard and the A-Team thought it was hot stuff.

Then, of course, there's all that crap about the magazine ban and Bill Ruger, may he rot in hell, etc. but that's another subject and not part of my own decision-making.

What would be wonderful is a gun that has the ergonomics of the AR combined with the reliability of the AK that shoots a bullet that lands with a solid whack. I believe that the FN SCAR Heavy is that rifle, but only time will tell.

And that's what I think about it. But what do I know? I'm just a white boy lost in the blues.

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