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Maine weather reports are broadcast with Midwest-like frequency; all day long, lots of analysis and a prime topic of coffee shop discussion. Unfortunately, unlike Midwestern weather reports, the local weather… persons always get it wrong. So I’ve been sitting in the shop, sweltering in a hooded sweatshirt and mittens, and it is 82°F… which is like -2700°C for you metric loving engineering types and other Euro groupies.
 
This is my second run at the Ruger Mini. The first encounter was the Mini-14®, a project that was really a lot of fun. If there was a reservation regarding utility, it was addressed in the chamber bump from .223 Remington to 7.62×39 Russian, which moved the Mini from a very credible varmint rifle to a credible deer rifle.
 

Overview Weights & Measures

Manufacturer

Ruger
Model Mini-30 Tactical
Hardware Finish Blued Carbon Steel
Stock Black Synthetic
Action Type Fixed Piston Gas – Semi Auto
Caliber 7.62 x 39mm
Magazine Capacity  20 Rounds – As Received
Barrel Length 16.12″
Twist Rate 1:10″
Adjustable Sights Ghost Aft – Blade Front
Scope Mounting Integral Mounts – Rings Included
Overall Length 37.5″
Length of Pull 13″
Weight 6 lbs 12 oz Empty
Trigger Pull 7 lbs 8 oz
MSRP $921
Typical Discount Retail $667

This particular Mini-30 ships with a 20 round mag, 1″ scope rings and sling swivels included. A five shot mag can be purchased through the Ruger store, along with a variety of specialty tactical and hunting stocks and other widgets. If you want to seriously personalize a Ruger Mini-14 or Thirty, of course Brownells has: adjustable triggers, adjustable gas blocks, barrels, thirty round magazines, a variety of hunting and tactical sighting systems, etc. The Mini Thirty is a very mission adaptive firearm.

Easy take down…

I like firearms that are easy to disassemble to a meaningful degree for a couple of reasons. First, I’m not that bright so the last thing I need is an endless stream of firearms that have their own.. combination locks to figure out. Second, I am old, so I can barely lift the remote to switch on a NY Giants game to watch them lose… except to the Chicago Bears, apparently.

I need a gun that is easy to take apart or it will never be cleaned and it will eventually be rendered inoperative by an overabundance of carbon deposits and a carbon footprint mandate from Al Gore (aka The Snore), or the U.N. With the exception of popping the trigger guard with anything that has a blunt tip and is ¼” diameter cylindrical, disassembly is easy and requires no tools. Ruger indicated that a bullet is not to be used to perform this task. I concur, but I bet there are a lot of guys who would look at the hole in the guard, look at the tip of a 7.62x39mm bullet and think “Hey?”. Bent and lose bullets are not advantageous to safety or accuracy.

The trigger assembly is… robust and logical in design. There is the trigger hooked to the underside of the hammer with a secondary sear on the opposite side of the hammer. The secondary sear catches the hammer as the gun’s bolt moves rearward after discharge. The primary sear on the trigger locks into the sear hook on the hammer as the trigger is released and allowed to move forward.

This Mini Thirty example came in a little heavy in pull and with some small amount of creep. Not enough to impact function, but it could be a little more crisp and a little bit lighter. Again, in keeping with the theme of personalizing a Mini Thirty, there are ways to address these issues. Brownells offers a three way adjustable trigger that is listed as requiring gunsmith installed. They also offer a Wolff extra power Slide/Hammer spring set. It is an area that can always stand improvement, but not an area to play around in without appropriate training as reworking the hammer, sear and secondary sear means managing metal removal and surface finishing. Done correctly, the result is a slick 3 – 3.5lb trigger. Done incorrectly, the gun will double, it won’t get repaired under warranty and you will need a fresh supply of trigger parts. Before I complete the live fire portion of this project, I’ll clean and lube the trigger assembly and see what a little use does to trigger pull.

Burrrrrp…

The Gas system of the Ruger is much simpler than an AR’s system. No long gas pipe or combustion gases make their way to the gun’s bolt. The short gas pipe, left inset, channels gas pressure to the front of the slide to cycle the gun. The forearm has a steel liner that protects the stock and shooter from any gas or gas born residue. For the handloader looking to optimize cycling for a wide variety of loads, Brownells# 054-000-002 can add the feature of an adjustable gas block.

“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”

There is a tendency, these days, for mass produced firearms to have less than exciting sight systems. Manufacturers install just about anything to meet the perceived obligation, avoiding the cost of good sights and assuming the customer will find something more personally suitable. Ruger took a different route. They put a good set of sights on the Mini Thirty, very much appropriate for the rifle’s typical application.

The rear ghost ring type sight is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation. Each full turn of the windage adjustment results in a 5″ shift at 100 yards. Each half turn of the elevation adjustment, the aperture, results in a 1.25″ shift at 100 yards. Adjustments are locked in place with a lock screw. Adjustment requires the use of a 5/64″ hex wrench. Adjustments are precise and settings remain in place under recoil. In use they worked well and were very fast in getting on target. Both front and rear sights are well shielded with brush guards, so I am happy to report that all of the thick scrub branches that swatted me on the face never disturbed the Ruger’s sights.

Conclusion… for now

The Ruger Mini Thirty has the utility of of an AR-15 without the associated weight or… clunkiness. The Mini Thirty is quick handling, accurate and it is chambered for a significantly more powerful cartridge.

The Thirty is durable. The selection of materials and finish make this a gun that can serve under adverse conditions while retaining its aesthetic appeal. It has a reliable operating system and it is accurate. Stay tuned for Part II; live fire and reloading the 7.62x39mm Russian.

Ruger’s Mini Thirty Tactical Rifle Part I
Ruger’s Mini Thirty Tactical Rifle Part II

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