Why I Bought a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle

I wanted to own a Ruger Mini-14 chambered in .223 Remington ever since I was a kid. I saw them in movies and on tv, and they just looked plain cool. I kept putting it off until last year when I came across a vintage Ruger Side Folding Stock for sale for $200 — I immediately bought it.

What Is The Ruger Side Folding Stock?

The collapsed Ruger Side Folding Stock on the Mini-14. (Photo: Ben Philippi / Guns.com)

The Ruger Side Folding Stock was made by Ruger for the Mini-14 rifle when it first came on the scene in 1973. It’s a solid design, albeit dated, made of wood, metal and bakelite. When folded, it makes the rifle quite compact.

From what I understand, you could buy the rifle in the 70s and 80s with either a standard fixed stock or upgrade to the side folding stock for around $40. In 1989, Ruger stopped making the side-folding stocks. As a result, they became quite scarce. This has caused their value to skyrocket. It’s not uncommon to see them listed for upwards of $900.

So, you can understand why, when I saw one listed for $200, I jumped on it. Once I had it, I then needed to buy a Ruger Mini-14.

A 580 Series Mini-14 Ranch Rifle chambered in .223 Remington. (Photo: Ruger)

The New Improved 580 Series Ruger Mini-14

Before buying, I began researching Mini-14s. I discovered that they underwent a big makeover in 2005. Ruger changed the sights, added the capability to attach a scope, and most importantly, they modified the gas system to reduce barrel vibration. In 2007, they added a heavier tapered barrel.

The heavier tapered barrel on a 580 series Ruger Mini-14. (Photo: Ben Philippi / Guns.com)

These newer Mini-14s are called 580 series rifles. The easiest way to distinguish them is to look at the barrel where it meets the stock. If the barrel tapers — bigger where it meets the stock — it’s a 580 series. The older models have straight barrels.

Since my side folding stock was stainless, I decided to buy a stainless steel 580 series Ruger Mini-14 with a black synthetic stock. Within a few minutes, I had my side folding stock installed. I then had the rifle I wanted since I was a kid.

Shooting The Ruger Mini-14

Shooting the Mini-14 is fun and it has character. The old school action chugs back and forth, and you can hear and feel it as you shoot. After 1,000 rounds, I’ve had very few jams or malfunctions – usually ammo related. Although I could mount a scope, I choose to run the iron sights and can hit a torso-sized target at 100 yards fairly easily.

For me, the vintage Mini-14 is more of a conversation piece and a fun gun for my vault. When I’m at the range, people always come up to me to ask, “Isn’t that the gun from the A-Team?” Or, “Hey, it’s the Mr. T gun.” 

The new Ruger Mini-14 Tactical model is a good looking rifle. (Photo: Ruger)

I was planning to add a flash hider and pick up some 20 or 30-round stainless magazines, but Ruger just released a brand new Mini-14 Tactical model that has many of these features meaning it will likely join my arsenal soon. 

Samson Manufacturing also recently announced exact replicas of the original Ruger Side Folding Stock, but for under $300. The only difference being the grip utilizes plastic instead of bakelite.  Set to display at SHOT Show Jan. 21 through Jan. 24, stay tuned to Guns.com as we’re sure to bring you even more deets on Samson’s goodies.

The side-folding stock by Samson Mfg. is almost exactly the same as the original. (Photo: Samson Mfg.)

Ruger’s new tactical model, and Samson’s side folding stock, will undoubtedly breathe some fresh air into the classic and proven design of the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

The rear sight, scope mounts, and action on the 580 series Ruger Mini-14. (Photo: Ben Philippi / Guns.com)

The adjustable rear sight on the 580 series Ruger Mini-14. (Photo: Ben Philippi / Guns.com)

The front sight and heavier barrel on the 580 series Ruger Mini-14. (Photo: Ben Philippi / Guns.com)

The collapsed Ruger Side Folding Stock as seen from the rear on the Mini-14. (Photo: Ben Philippi / Guns.com)

The Ruger 580 series Mini-14 Ranch Rifle with the side folding stock extended. I think this is a very good looking rifle. (Photo: Ben Philippi / Guns.com)


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