Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?


After much research and consideration, and help from several people here, I have decided to get a Ruger Mini 30. I have found it hard to find a good overview of changes made to this model since introduced, most articles I find either don't go into the detail I seek, or they focus on the Mini 14 and sprinkle in details about the 30 along the way. I seem to recall something about Ruger re-tooling at some point and rifles made just prior to this were a bit loose, but this may have been a reference only to the 14's. I have a few guns I am looking at and I wonder if anyone knows or can point me to a good overview of model changes, what to look for, what to avoid, etc.



Re: Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?

Mason wrote: Tue Sep 22, 2020 12:40 pm I could be wrong, but did some of the early ones have .308 barrels, not .311 as required for com block spec ammo, which caused some accuracy issues.
I have read this as well, and according to articles I have read Ruger fixed this in '93. I have also read that there were changes made in 2003, that would be present in all rifles from 2005 on.

From Wikipedia:

In 2003, the design was overhauled to improve accuracy, update the styling, and reduce production costs. The standard Mini-14 was discontinued and the name became the family name for all Mini-14 type rifles. As of 2005, all Mini-14 type rifles are based on the Ranch Rifle design, with integral scope bases, a non-folding ghost ring aperture rear sight, and a winged front sight similar to that used on the Ruger Police Carbine.[9] They have serial numbers beginning with 580 and are sometimes referred to as 580-series Ranch Rifles.[10] They also have a new modified gas system designed to reduce barrel vibration[9] and can shoot two-inch groups at 100 yards, which is 2 MOA (minute of angle) accuracy.[10]

Around 2007 or 2008, Ruger added a heavier, larger-diameter barrel visibly tapered from gas block to muzzle. These changes combined with tighter tolerances result in greater potential accuracy.[8]

Re: Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?

Nobody has ever confirmed or denied whether the newer Mini-30’s can shoot steel-cased 7.62x39 without jamming. If it can’t handle surplus ammo the rifle would be very expensive to shoot indeed (unless one reloads).
"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent." -Gandhi

Re: Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?

After dumping an AR because I never bonded with it, I had quite a bit of .223/5.56 that I'd acquired over a period where it was reasonably priced. So I bought a 581 serial ranch rifle.

Wood is easier to get close to. I don't mind the 5 round magazines. About as easy to work on as a Garand...but the sights are horrible. Clearly designed to inspire acquisition of anything else. I put a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro on it. From experience, it's accuracy is better than acceptable.

The mini thirty is the same platform. I imagine the results are similar.
good tea, nice house

Re: Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?

[quote=Bisbee post_id=796408 time=1600801929 user_id=4579]
Nobody has ever confirmed or denied whether the newer Mini-30’s can shoot steel-cased 7.62x39 without jamming. If it can’t handle surplus ammo the rifle would be very expensive to shoot indeed (unless one reloads).
From reviews I have read they can just fine, so long as you use oem magazines, or alter the aftermarket ones to work properly.

Re: Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?

I recommend buying the newer design over the old pencil-barreled 1997.

And I learned the issue with com-bloc surplus ammo is not so much the steel casing as much as the harder primer they used. The fix for the mini-30 is in extending the firing pin so it hits the primer harder.
"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent." -Gandhi

Re: Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?

Excellent post from the Ruger forum:

While the thicker tapered barrels which Ruger went to partway through the 580 series are most desirable with the Mini -14, they don't matter with the Mini-30.

All Mini-30's ever made came with .625" diameter barrels, same as the new tapered barrel Mini-14's.
There were never any "pencil barrel"
Mini-30's like there were Mini-14's.

I have 3 older 189 series Mini-30's and all are more accurate than the shooter, and don't have group stringing or barrel heat issues.
So to answer your question, it doesn't matter what the serial number begins with, snatch up that Mini.

Use only Ruger factory mags in 5,10 or 20 rounders.
30 round magazines made by KCI are awesome, but you might have to do some searching to find any.

For a Mini-30's ammo needs, you'll hear a lot of conflicting advice.

Fact- Not all Mini's come with the same firing pin protrusion, so some guys will say they've fired nothing but cheap steel case Russian and never had a misfire issue.And the next guy will say he had nothing but problems and now only shoots brass.

If you want to shoot steel make sure there is not a raised "crater" on your bolt face around the firing pin hole.
This is just Ruger sloppiness and should be removed, as it cuts down on what little pin protrusion you do have.

Fact- Not all Russian ammo is hard to ignite, Tulammo seems to be the worst. Most guys , from reading internet myths and lies, are convinced that Russian Berdan primers are harder so they "need" a heavier hammer spring to set them off.
The firing pin is limited as to how far it can go inside the bolt. You can hit the back of the pin with a sledgehammer, that's only going to stress the pin more and lead to it breaking sooner.

The correct fix, in order to get a Mini-30 to be 100% reliable with any Commie ammo, is to fit a longer spare pin from

Avoid Tula ammo, and you might not even need the aftermarket pin.

With stock pins in any of my M-30's, I get 100% ignition with Barnaul Silver Bear.
With Red Army Standard, I get maybe one or two rounds out of 100 that won't go off.
With Tula it's more like 14 to 18 out of 100 that don't go off the first try.

So, you might be buying a Mini with lots of pin protrusion, and you'll have no problems with anything.

Buy a couple boxes of each brand you can find, test them and take notes.
I'd start out with Silver Bear.
I've shot 10 shot 100 yard groups that measure 1 3/8" , and 400 yard groups of 5 inches.
Red Army Standard is also good, Red Army and it's twin, Golden Tiger also have the bonus of a boattail bullet and sealed case and primer.

For brass cased ammo, PPU can be mail ordered for 50 cents a round, and RedArmy Elite is even cheaper (brass coating over steel).
Geco is brass cased, reloadable Boxer primed ammo that can be had for $7.99 a box , almost as cheap as Tula. It did well in my testing.
Fiocchi brass case, while just as cheap, and accurate, I'd avoid, as I got velocities with it a full 400 fps. slower than other loads.

Go to the Mini section of and I have hundreds od threads about the Mini-30. You might have to go back a few pages but I have several threads on testing Mini-30 ammo that might be of interest.

Welcome to the Mini-30 world !
Play around with different brands of ammo (avoid Tula like the plague), don't buy aftermarket off brand mags (except for the KCI's), and don't waste money on a heavier hammer spring.
If the ammo you have on hand gives you problems, just don't buy anymore of it! Guys will get on a forum and complain that their Mini won't shoot crappy Tula, then start grinding on the back of the bolt or install a heavier hammer spring.
It's like they are determined to shoot up the crappy ammo, even if it means grinding on their new $800 carbine
Most Russian ammo is quite good.
Don't worry about the steel hurting your chamber, you'd have to shoot tons of it to notice a difference.
Coatings of brass or zinc over the steel (Silver Bear, MFS or Red Army Elite) will help that.
Steel is harder to extract than brass, so it's a good idea to keep a spare extractor on hand, and know how to swap them out.

Re: Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?

Although in that great and pretty thorough article from the Ruger forum he doesn't address the issue mentioned above of very early rifles coming with 308 barrels instead of 311. I'm going to check into this. I'm still curious about a specific list of changes made over time to the mini 30 separate from the mini 14. I think I'll poke around on the Ruger forum and see what I can find.

Re: Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?

From this review: ... iew/375561

"The Model 5868 Mini-Thirty is built on Ruger’s classic semi-automatic action with a short-stroke gas-piston. Into the receiver is fitted a 16.12 inch long stainless steel hammer forged barrel. This features a correct 0.3105-inch bore with 1-10 inch twist rifling. Fitted to the muzzle is Ruger’s distinctive birdcage flash suppressor. The muzzle is cut with standard 5/8x24 threads allowing use of any popular muzzle device or suppressor mount."

I was lucky to pick up one lightly used a couple of years ago.
"its a goddamn impossible way of life"

Re: Ruger Mini 30 Versions and Model Changes?

Another excellent post from the Ruger forum:

The Mini-30 was introduced in 1987. For the first couple years, the bore was a true .308 bore. In early 1989, Ruger decided to make the bore the industry standard .311".
A few with .308" bores slipped out 1989-1990, I presume that Ruger wanted to use up the last of the .308" barrels.
One of my 189s was made early on in the production, and it has the larger bore. I have measured all of mine at .310.5"

The 189 series (first 3 numbers of the SN) was the longest running, being made from 1987 to 2000.
The majority of used Mini-30s that I have seen have been 189 series.
Ruger Mini Thirty Serial Number History
I have had 4 189s, sold one, gave one to my daughter, and now have, and will always have two.
Compared to current production, the 189s have zero QC issues, have better workmanship, none of the rough machine marks, burrs and prominent mold seams that most of the newer ones have.

All of the Mini-30s ever made used a .625" barrel, compared to the skinny "pencil" barrel (.560" diameter) older Mini-14s. So older Mini-30s don't have the accuracy issues and vertical climbing of the groups as the barrel heats up like the pencil barrel Mini-14.
The exception to all Mini-30s having a .625" barrel are the Mini-30 Tactical, introduced in 2010. It has a .750 diameter barrel. (all of these diameters are measured forward of the gas block).

Mini-30 firing pin length has been all over the map. That's why some guys say they have shot nothing but Russian steel case for 30 years and have never had a misfire. Others have trouble getting Commie Berdan primed ammo to ignite.
When you get a new Mini, rather than guess at your firing pin length, just get a fifing pin protrusion tool from Brownell's. It will set you back $40, but then you'll know exactly where you stand on firing pin length.
Correct firing pin protrusion is critical to the entire ignition sequence. Elliptical face on the recording plunger allows accurate measuring of both rimfire ...
If you measure your pin and it is less than .040", and you plan on shooting steel case ammo, buy an oversized firing pin from I'd fit it for .042" minimum. You can go a little longer, but start to risk piercing the primers of U.S. Boxer ammo, if you on occasion shoot that.

Don't listen to Youtubers and others that tell you to install a heavier hammer spring, or grind some off of the back of your bolt.
It is not the hardness of Berdan primed Russian ammo that is the problem, it is that they are seated deeper in the case. Unless you get lucky and buy a Mini with long pin protrusion, your Minis factory pin will have trouble reaching them.
Something else to check is to see of your Mini has a raised rim around the firing pin hole on the bolt face.
That ridge will have to be removed, as it effectively reduces your FP protrusion.

Another thing to consider is that not all Russian ammo is the same. Tula has the deepest set primers.
In firing a Mini I had with a factory FP, around 15 to 20 rounds out of 100 of Tula failed to go off the first time.
With Red Army Standard or Golden Tiger (same ammo, different packaging), 1 or 2 out of 100 wouldn't go off.
With Silver, Brown or Golden Bear, I've never had a round fail to go off.

I would avoid Tula unless it was all you can get. Tula is lower velocity, dirtier, less accurate, and harder for the Mini to set off than any ammo I've tried.
I've done a lot of testing the last 7 years out of my two carbines, and Silver Bear is almost as consistent and accurate as the handloads I use with Hornady and Nosler bullets.
Silver Bear has a zinc coating over the steel case, Golden Bear has a brass coating over the steel.
Both of these rounds are not much more expensive than bottom of the barrel Tula, about $1-$1.50 a box more.

For just a few dollars more a box ($10-$11) you can get real brass cases and Boxer primers so you can reload the brass. Fiocchi and Geco are two inexpensive brass cased brands that are accurate and clean burning, but I have found velocities of Fiocchi and Geco to be on the low side.

The second half of the Mini-30 580 series got a few improvements along with the later 580s in the Mini-14.
Better winged rear sight on the Ranch models (instead of the flimsy flip down sight) and better front sight in the form of the winged front.
Barrels on the new tapered Mini -14s were thicker (.625" vs. .560") but Mini-30s remained the same at .625".

The Tech aftermarket rear sight is better than the new Ruger winged rear sight, much easier to adjust, and adjust in small increments.

Seems like QC at Ruger has gone downhill, they let some Minis out that have issues, easier for Ruger to let the consumer do the QC, and if there is a problem, Ruger can get it back and take care of it.
Older Minis like the 189 series don't seem to have any issues or problems, at least none that I've heard of.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests