Brownells 75th Anniversary - A Shooting Heritage

Upgrading the Ruger Mini-14 “The Brownells Way”

In 1971 Bill Ruger and his engineers began tinkering with an idea that would soon become one of America’s most cherished rifles; the Mini-14. By 1974 the Ruger Mini-14, chambered in .223 Remington, was released to the general public and soon became a household word. The Mini-14 was born from the loins of two of the most popular and durable military rifles; the M-14 and the M-1 Garand. The mini-14 is a miniature version of the M-14 and is a gas operated, magazine fed semi-automatic carbine rifle. It has an investment cast heat-treated receiver and a Garand breech bolt locking system with a short-stroke fixed-piston gas system.

Close-up of Mini-14 Receiver

This self-cleaning system vents unburned powder keeping the system clean and running without a hitch. This is a tremendous advantage over the AR-15 gas impingement system, which vents spent powder residues and gases directly into the receiver. This is why gas piston systems are now the rage in AR’s and will dominate the market in the near future.

Ruger’s goal was to take the best from rugged and reliable combat rifles and turn them into a civilian sporter rifle for the American hunter and plinker. He accomplished this admirably. The Mini-14 was never meant to be in the hands of target shooters and hence the crux of the problem. Shooters began to cry foul over its lack of serious competitive accuracy. While this statement is true, they also acknowledged that if you needed a tough, reliable gun that you could stake-your-life on, the Ruger Mini-14 fit the bill.

To combat this ever growing concern, Ruger shutdown the Mini-14 production line in 2003. During this 18 month period,  Ruger completely revamped the manufacturing process as well as made critical design changes. The tolerances from both manufacturing and casting were significantly reduced and component uniformity increased, resulting in a more accurate rifle. Many areas of the operation were retooled using highly advanced CNC machinery. The rebirth of the Mini-14 has resulted in tremendous new public interest and is responsible for the birth of the Mini-14 Target rifle.

The Ruger Mini-14 Target rifle features a twenty-two inch .78 inch diameter hammer-forged stainless steel barrel. The barrel’s 1:9 twist can stabilize all but the heaviest .224 caliber bullets. It is available with a black Hogue overmolded synthetic stock or a laminated wood thumbhole stock.

Ruger Mini-14 Target Rifle with Hogue Stock

Mini-14 Upper Handguard and Gas Block

To further enhance accuracy, Ruger added a 4 ½ inch long harmonic barrel tuner.

Mini-14 Harmonic Barrel Tuner

Close up of Harmonic Barrel Tuner & Helical grooves

This 3/16 inch thick steel tuner slips over the barrel and is secured by four allen-head screws. It follows a series of helical grooves on the barrel, allowing the barrel tuner to be moved in and out. Turning the tuner clockwise moves it toward the receiver and counter clockwise moves it toward the muzzle.

The purpose of the heavy barrel and harmonic barrel tuner is to reduce the amplitude of the barrel arc. Barrel harmonics are vibrations of the barrel that occur during the firing of the gun and have a tremendous influence on accuracy. Barrel vibrations result from the firing pin striking the primer, powder ignition, rapidly expanding gases, bullet contact with the barrel’s rifling. These vibrations result in the barrel moving in an uncontrollable arc. If these barrel vibrations were consistent from shot to shot, only human error would stop your shots from becoming one-hole groups. Unfortunately, these vibrations vary in magnitude and duration from shot to shot and result in inconsistent accuracy.

One way to “dampen” these barrel harmonics is to use a heavier barrel. The extra weight of the barrel helps to “soak up” these impulses. The harmonic barrel tuner is able to offer even more help by its ability to move inward or outward on a barrel thus helping to reduce the amplitude of the arc. This in turn helps to make the bullet exit the barrel more consistently and therefore impacts favorably on its point of aim. Bench rest shooters proved many years ago, that harmonic barrel tuners do actually help and are not an “urban legend”. With a barrel tuner you can fine tune your barrel so that the utmost accuracy can be obtained with any given ammunition. Basically, a barrel tuner is accomplishing what a reloader is striving for, improved accuracy. 

Now that the accuracy problem with the Ruger Mini-14 was satisfactorily solved, I finally fulfilled a thirty-year dream, ownership of a Ruger Mini-14. I opted for the Target version with a Hogue synthetic stock. I soon found out that it was possible to make the Mini-14 into a one M.O.A rifle by carefully manipulating the harmonic barrel tuner and by determining what type of ammo it preferred. All is well, right? Not just yet! There are several issues which need to be addressed. First, I was not crazy about the stock. Its design did not lend itself to the use of lasers, lights, red dot sights, vertical grips, etc. I consider the above mentioned components as necessary to my hunting and/or home self-defense weapons. I want a stock that is equipped with picatinny rails so that I can mount any accessories that I need. A scope is not always the best sight of choice, but when I do use one I prefer to use a scope mount instead of the supplied rings. A scope mount offers more flexible mounting options when compared to Rugers factory-supplied rings. When calling varmints in close-confined areas, I am greatly in favor of the use of red dot sights. A scout scope mount is the perfect solution to mounting a red dot sight. A red dot sight also works equally well in a home defense scenario. Night-time hunting would not be the same and would not be as successful without lights and lasers that mount on your rifle. This is also true in a self-defense situation. A quick push of a button sends a blinding bolt of light that temporarily disables a would-be home invader, thus allowing you the time to aim your laser and/or red dot sight. Having the correctly equipped weapon, can mean the difference between life and death to you and your family! I will replace the recoil and hammer springs to decrease lock time and improve reliability. I will also replace the gas block with an adjustable gas block that will improve accuracy by reducing the harmonics of the guide/operating rod when it contacts the receiver during bolt cycling. Along this same line of thinking, I will add a shock-absorbing polyurethane buffer. To make magazine reloads easier, I will add an extended magazine release. 

Brownells makes it very easy for any shooter, experienced or not, to convert his Ruger Mini-14 into a tricked-out rifle that meets your exacting wants and needs. One stop shopping at its finest. “The Brownells Way” assures you that you will receive only the finest components that you can depend on day in and day out.

The first step in this customization process is to determine what I am going to use the rifle for. Foremost, I wanted this rifle for varmint hunting, particularly night-time hunting. My secondary use is for self-defense purposes at home. To build the kind of rifle that I wanted, I had  to get rid of the factory Hogue stock. Although there is nothing wrong with this stock, it just doesn’t allow me the customization that I wanted. The Tapco Fusion T6 Mini-14 stock (#100-003-195) has a picatinny rail on the upper handguard that allows me to mount red dot sights, extended eye relief scopes, lasers, lights, etc. In addition, the bottom forend also has an integral picatinny rail so that I can mount vertical grips, lasers, and lights. This sturdy lightweight stock also comes with an adjustable six-position collapsible buttstock. Length of Pull (L.O.P.) can be adjusted from 11 ¼ inch to 14 ¾ inches. It is important to note that if you have a factory composite stock, you will need to purchase the stock reinforcement part (#780-000-545 stainless steel or #780-000-800). This part is necessary when you use the Tapco stock.

At this point, I am ready to start disassembling our Mini-14. Before you begin, I recommend that you first carefully watch the American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) video (#050-120-115) or DVD (#050-000-039). There are several parts, when it comes to disassembling and reassembling the Mini-14, that can be tricky and difficult. The AGI course will not only save you time, but patience. In addition, I have found that the Radocy Takedown guide is also very useful (#100-002-261). It is imperative that you have the proper tools before you begin disassembling any firearm. Brownells has solved this problem by supplying a Ruger Mini-14 Maintenance Field Pack (#080-000-483).

Brownells Ruger Mini-14 Maintenance Field Pack
This compact tough and rugged cordura case contains all the professional armorer’s tools that you will need to service or repair your Mini-14 in the field or at home. I always carry it with me whenever I take my Mini-14 out shooting/plinking. In fact, I usually carry my Mini-14 and maintenance kit in a Boyt gun case (#100-003-146) in my pickup truck.

When it comes to disassembling the Ruger Mini-14 rifle you will find that it is unique compared to most firearms that you have taken apart. It has no action/takedown screws holding the receiver in the stock. The removal of the trigger group will allow the rest of the rifle to be separated from the stock. First, as always, check to make sure that the chamber is empty. Remove the magazine and cycle the bolt so that the internal hammer is cocked. Next, place the safety in the on-safe position (safety is pushed back toward the trigger). Turn the rifle upside down so that the trigger is now facing upward. At the rear of the trigger guard you will find a hole in which you place a 1/8 inch roll pin punch and pry the trigger guard up until it pops loose from the latch at the bottom of the trigger guard.

Trigger Guard in the Open Position

It will take some pressure to release the trigger guard. Pull the trigger guard upward until it can no longer go forward. Tilt the back of the trigger group upward and remove it from the stock. The rest of the barreled action can easily be removed from the stock. When you pull the action out of the stock, the sheet metal forend liner will also come out.

Mini-14 removed from the stock

Our first step in customizing our Mini-14 is to replace the stock hammer spring with a Wolff extra power hammer spring (#969-000-063). The Wolff hammer spring gives you more striking force, thereby striking primers harder. This is an absolute must when you are shooting steel-cased ammo such as Wolf. With the price of ammunition, I do a considerable amount of shooting with Wolf and other steel-cased rounds.

Close up of Trigger

This type of ammo usually have tougher primers which may not always fire with your factory hammer spring. First, you need to close and latch the trigger guard.

Trigger guard closed & latched

Next, insert a 3/32 inch roll pin punch or .092 inch steel push punch into the hole located at the rear of the hammer strut. Now restrain the hammer with your hand, push the safety to the fire position (move it forward) and pull the trigger to release the hammer. The punch will trap the hammer spring on the strut. Simply raise the front of the strut upward bringing the strut out of its recess at the rear of the hammer and thus out of the trigger group.

Roll pin punch in hammer strut hole

Hammer Strut & Hammer Spring

I then placed the hammer strut in the large hole in the center of the bench block (found in your Mini-14 maintenance field pack). I covered it with my hand (to keep the spring from flying off) and gradually pulled the punch out of the hole in the hammer strut. With the spring now separated from the hammer strut, I could replace the factory spring with the heavier Wolff hammer spring. Now the real problem began, how do I compress this heavy duty spring enough so that I can once again put the punch in the hole in the hammer strut??? I finally decided to try putting the spring and hammer strut in the vise and compressing it.

Vise used to compress hammer spring

With the spring in the strut, I put the spring in the vise so that the strut was on top of the vise jaw. This way the spring could be compressed without harming the strut. While I tightened the vise jaws with one hand, I used my other hand to put pressure on top of the spring as added security. I continued until the hole in the strut became visible and I placed the punch back in the hole in the hammer strut. Afterwards, I slowly opened the vise jaws and removed the spring and strut. To reinstall the hammer spring and strut, place the end with the punch in the recess in front of the secondary sear. Then place the front of the strut in the recess in the rear of the hammer and cock the hammer. Now, you can remove the punch from the strut hole and you are finished.

Notch where the other end of hammer strut goes

Close up showing notch in hammer where strut goes

Since I already have the trigger group out, I will replace the factory magazine release. Accuracy Systems (#100-001-315 stainless steel or #100-001-314 blue) magazine release is considerably longer making reloads easier and faster. I placed the trigger group over the bench block and used the largest steel push punch to drive out the magazine release/latch pivot pin.

Top to Bottom: Accuracy Systems magazine release, Factory magazine release, release spring, and pin

Removing factory magazine release

Inside of the magazine release/latch is a spring which allows the release to pivot under tension. The only way to place the new release and spring back in place is to use a slave pin. Unfortunately, Accuracy Systems did not provide one which I don’t understand. The magazine release can not be replaced without one! You need a piece of 3/32” (.093”) round stock .32” to a maximum of .365” (the width of the magazine release) in length. Brownells carries 3/32” tool steel drill rod (#080-540-093) or you may have something at your house or shop that would work. I found an old torx head wrench that was close to the same size and I cut a piece off with a dremel tool. Place the spring inside the release and drive the slave pin in place.

Setting slave pin in magazine release

Make sure that you place the spring in the correct position since each end of the spring is different. Since the spring will place the slave pin under tension (unless the slave pin is much too small) you will have to angle drive the slave pin in order to get it into the magazine release. The AGI course shows this process quite well. Next, you place the magazine release back in the same hole the stock release came from. Once again, this is not very easy to accomplish. You have to hold the release under tension in order to lineup the slave pin with the hole. Then you have to place the release/latch pin on top of the slave pin and drive it in. It took me several tries before I was able to drive the pin in thereby forcing out the slave pin.

Slave pin in place

Slave pin driven out and replaced by magazine release pin

The next step is to remove the recoil spring and rod guide so that we can then remove the slide assembly.

Compressed recoil spring

Slide assembly pushed toward muzzle exposing recoil spring
Now, grasping the bolt handle, slide it towards the muzzle exposing the recoil spring and the guide rod which is located inside the spring. This is a powerful spring and caution must be exercised when removing it from the hole which is located in the front of the receiver. Firmly grasp the recoil spring and guide rod and pull backward removing it from the hole in the receiver

Recoil spring & guide/operator rod removed

Once it is out of the hole, slowly release the tension and remove the guide and recoil spring from the slide assembly (this is the part that the houses the recoil spring). Move the slide assembly forward until its rear lug aligns with the disassembly notch on the receiver

Process of moving slide assembly forward to remove it

Slide assembly in position to be removed from receiver

Grab the bolt handle and pull the rear lug through the disassembly notch and move upward until the slide assembly is separated from the receiver. With a slight jiggle, it should come off. Don’t force it!

Showing how the slide assembly seats on the bolt

With the slide assembly out of the way, I can replace the factory gas block with the Accuracy Systems tuneable gas block.

Muzzle view of Mini-14 gas block

Gas block as viewed from the receiver
Side view of gas block

As you are aware, your Mini-14 has a bad habit of throwing your brass 20 to 30 feet away. If you reload, you will spend considerable time running around trying to locate your brass. This tuneable gas block will enable you to throw the brass directly at your feet or as far as you want. Using the 9/64” (H5226X stamped on the side of the bit) allen head bit. Loosen the four screws that hold the two halves of the factory gas block together. Be careful when you pull them apart because there is a small gas port bushing located within

Gas port bushing

After the upper and lower gas blocks are removed, place the gas port bushing in the barrel. Align the hole in the upper gas block with the gas port bushing and place it on the barrel.

Hole in barrel where gas port bushing goes

Gas port bushing

Align the lower gas block with the upper and tighten the factory allen head screws. When tightening, make sure that the gap between the upper and lower gas blocks are the same on each side. Use a feeler gauge or a dial caliper to measure each side. Make sure that all four screws are securely fastened. It is critical that the gas block is tight and secure. Simple and easy…well not exactly! The Accuracy Systems tuneable gas block was too small for my 580 series Mini-14 Target rifle. My barrel diameter (measured at the gas block) was .616”, but the new gas block was approximately .572”. The changes that Ruger made in the Mini-14 have been great, but the aftermarket manufacturers seem to be lagging behind. The Accuracy Systems gas block may very well fit the newer Ranch rifles (I don’t know), but they definitely don’t fit the Target rifles. If you have an older Mini-14…No Worries Mate!

Now that I have put the factory gas block back on, I am ready to install the new Wolff recoil spring. The extra power Wolff recoil spring will increase lock time and improve reliability. Simply slip the guide/ operating rod over the Wolff recoil spring, and place it back into the hole it came from. Once again, a simple task turns out to be anything but!!! A spring is for a lack of a better word, springy! It doesn’t want to go back in the hole it came from (hole in slide assembly). I tried to stuff it back into the slide assembly, but it was impossible to keep it in. I hate to admit it, but I spent a couple of frustrating hours trying to get the spring to go back in with no luck. I really needed another set of hands to complete this task. Finally, I placed the slide assembly in a vise in order to free up my hands for working with the recoil spring and guide. A good vise is a tool that you can’t live without. I highly recommend a quality vise such as Brownells multi-vise (#080-000-019) and non-marring vise jaws (#080-827-000). Next, I had to figure out how to stuff the spring in the hole, hold it in place, and stuff more of the spring in until only the spring with the guide rod was protruding. Then I could simply replace the guide rod tip into the hole located at the front of the receiver. Since I already had the recoil spring and guide out, I decided to add a Buffer Technologies recoil buffer (#071-110-003). The recoil buffer goes directly in front of the receiver where the recoil spring and guide rod are located.

Buffer Technologies recoil buffer

The purpose of the recoil buffer is to eliminate guide rod (commonly known as an operating rod) contact with the receiver. This buffer protects your guide/operating rod from excessive shock. The recoil buffer offers less felt recoil, increased muzzle stability, less action noise, and extends the service life of your rifle.

With the slide assembly in the vise I used two miniature needle-nose pliers to stuff the recoil spring into the slide assembly hole. One plier was used to push the spring into the deep recessed hole in the slide assembly. Only a small section of spring (½ inch or less) was pushed in at a time. The second pair of pliers was used to hold the spring in place while the first set of pliers grabbed another ½ inch of spring. Although it took me several tries, I finally managed to push almost all of the spring, except the section where the guide rod was, into the slide assembly hole. Next, I grabbed the guide rod with one hand and put it in the hole at the front of the receiver. I am sure there are other ways of accomplishing this same task, but this worked for me!

I have heard that there are some problems with this recoil buffer in some of the newer Mini-14s. In some instances, the bolt will not stay open after the last shot. Mine is one of the new 580 series (the 580 is the first 3 numbers of your Mini-14 serial number) so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I reassembled the rifle and went to the range to test it. I fired a shot, but the spent case did not eject. I tried to pull the bolt back but it wouldn’t budge. I used the old AR-15 trick of removing stuck cases; I slammed the buttstock on the ground while simultaneously pulling the bolt back. Voila, the empty case ejected. I tried this several times with the same depressing results. I tried two other magazines which also had the same failures. With the tighter tolerances on the new Mini-14s, I believe that the recoil buffer is now too thick. I have been told that if you experience this problem, you will need to sand the polyurethane buffer in order to reduce its thickness. Gradually decrease the buffer’s thickness until the bolt opens and ejects the case. In addition, the bolt has to stay open on the last shot. At this point, I haven’t had the time to experiment with reducing the recoil buffer’s thickness, so I removed the recoil buffer. Hopefully, Buffer Technologies will soon remedy this problem for owners of the new Mini-14s.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am ready for some easy customizations! Since I have already made all the alterations to the rifle, I just have to install the new Tapco Fusion T6 stock (#100-003-195), optics (both a scope and a red dot sight), a technologically advanced green laser, and a state-of-the-art weapon light. 

The Tapco Mini-14 stock is made from military-grade composite and comes with a push-button six position M4 style buttstock. It includes a straight stock extension for proper eye alignment when using a scope and an angle stock extension for open sights. The SAW-type pistol grip has an internal storage area. The upper handguard has an integral picatinny rail, allowing the use of optics, lasers, and lights. The bottom forend has sliding cover which conceals another built-in picatinny rail.

Cover piece on bottom forend hiding picatinny rail

Exposed integral picatinny rail on bottom forend

I am ready to begin assembly on the new Tapco stock. First, I need to reinstall the sheet metal forearm liner in the bottom of the Tapco stock. Make sure that you press down on the liner near the receiver so that it “snaps” in place on the stock.

Forearm liner positioned in Tapco Mini-14 stock

Press down on end of forearm liner so that it snaps in place

The stock reinforcement part (#780-000-545 stainless steel or #780-000-800) now needs to be installed. Turn the stock upside down because it is easier to install the stock reinforcement from the bottom of the stock.

Stock reinforcement in the Tapco stock (bottom view)

In order to insert the stock reinforcement I will need to squeeze it together. The lip of the stock reinforcement should rest on top of the forearm liner. Tapco supplies two screws with lock washers (one on each side of the stock) that will hold the stock reinforcement in place.

Top view of stock reinforcement. Note how it seats over top of the forearm liner

I am now ready to place the barreled action in the Tapco stock. Insert the front of the stock into the bottom of the gas block. Press the barreled action into the stock until it is firmly seated. Insert the trigger group with the trigger guard open, hammer cocked, and the safety in the “on” position into the stock. After making sure that it is properly placed, swing the trigger guard down until it locks shut (you will hear an audible click).

Shows how the stock slides into the gas block

Barreled receiver seated in the stock

Trigger group placed in the stock (trigger guard must be open)

Trigger guard pushed down and latched

Next insert the Tapco top cover (with integral picatinny rail) into the gas block and then push down until is fully seated against the stock. On the left side of the stock the third and only remaining short screw and lock washer (the other two were used in securing the stock reinforcement) will secure the top cover to the lower stock. The right hand side uses a longer screw and a bushing which fills the gap between the top cover and the stock. Tighten both screws tight, but not excessively. The next step is to fasten the buttstock to the stock body. There are two screws and nuts which bolt these two together. The last step is to attach the pistol grip via a 2- ¼” hex head screw to the stock body.

Short screw and lock washer securing top cover

Longer screw and lock washer (bushing removed for clarity) securing top cover on bolt side

Buttstock fastened to stock with 2 screws and nuts

Pistol grip positioned on stock

Lightly oil the screw before screwing it into the stock body. A 3/8” socket will be needed to accomplish this task. Screw it in until it becomes snug, do not overtighten. The newly outfitted Ruger Mini-14 is now ready to be customized with our state-of-the-art accessories.

Pistol grip secured on stock via 2¼" hex head screw

TruGlo Red/Green 5 MOA dot sight
To increase the versatility of our Mini-14, I will configure it so that it conforms to our needs. First, I mounted an economical TruGlo 1x30mm dual color single dot sight on the picatinny rail located on the upper handguard.

The TruGlo sight has a 5 MOA reticle that can be switched from red to green. The red dot increases sight visibility in bright conditions while the green enhances visibility in low-light. It has a twelve position brightness control that enables you to adjust the color as well as to choose a brightness level which is compatible with your current conditions. Due to its both-eyes-open design, the red dot sight makes it the perfect optics for fast-moving varmints or in self-defense. Due to using the sight with both-eyes-open, you can still view the target and not lose sight of your surroundings. This is especially true if are involved in an intruder self-defense situation. This sight is fitted with flip up lens covers that are see thru. If you are in an emergency situation and not thinking clearly, you will still be able to clearly see and identify your target.

Since the odds favor a night time encounter with a home intruder, a powerful blinding light is a necessity. A strong and powerful light capable of temporarily blinding a would-be intruder will give you the upper  hand and could possibly save you and your family’s lives! I have used SureFire lights for several years and depend upon them on a daily basis. I equipped the Mini-14 with a SureFire weapon mounted rail-mounted vertical grip weaponlight (#152-000-016). This is the finest weapons light available and it is easily attached to your weapon, via picatinny rail, by the A.R.M.S. lever mount. This comes equipped with a 125 and a 225 lumen lamp assembly. The light can be controlled by several methods. First, there are two pressure switches located on the inside and outside of the vertical grip.

Closeup of Surefire Vertical Grip Weaponlight

Next, there is a switch located at the end of the light. When it is turned counter-clockwise, the light will stay on. Also, the end cap located on the bottom of the vertical grip can be turned counter-clockwise if you wish to disable the light. Located on top of the light are a pair of red LED lights that can help you navigate around in the dark without compromising your position to an intruder. They can be activated by pushing a pressure switch with your thumb. The switch is located at the rear of the weapon light at the top and rear of the vertical grip. Another advantage of the SureFire weapons light is its vertical grip. The vertical grip greatly enhances your control of your weapon, especially in close-quarters combat. Every advantage that you have increases your odds of coming out alive when faced with a deadly encounter.

The weapons light, especially with the 225 lumen lamp assembly, makes the perfect night time varmint light. This powerful burst of light will temporarily blind and confuse your prey, giving you the perfect opportunity for a well-placed shot. In addition, as previously stated, the added stability afforded by a vertical grip allows you to make a steadier shot. Plus, the red LED lights enable you to maneuver in the dark without alerting wildlife.

I have used red lasers for a number of years and been pleased with their performance. A laser makes your rifle simply “a point and shoot” weapon. You don’t have to think, you don’t have to find your reticle, just point and pull the trigger. The laser is highly useful in a high stress scenario such as an intruder in your home. Your weapon light disables the bad guy while your laser draws a bead on his vitals. Until recently lasers were all red. The red laser has its limitations. They are difficult to see in bright conditions. The sun tends to fade the red laser beam, making it difficult to see more than a few yards away. In subdued light, such as dark cloudy days, the red beam is visible up to thirty or so yards. Of course, in a dark house or when varmint hunting at night, the red laser is more than adequate.

The future in laser lights is now; green lasers. Although green lasers have been around for a few years they were always much larger, more complicated, consumed more energy (batteries don’t last as long) and ten times more expensive than red lasers. As technology has advanced, green lasers have become affordable for the average consumer. Although they still cost more they are smaller, offer greater visibility to the human eye, and more versatile in their uses. Under bright conditions, human eyes are approximately four times more sensitive to green than to red. This is even more pronounced under dark conditions. A green laser beam is much easier to see in the dark or in bright sunny conditions at longer ranges than a red laser. The green laser is more temperature sensitive though. It operates best at temperatures between 40 and 100 0Fh. A red laser operates between 10 and 130 0Fh. Batteries in a green laser last about one hour while red lasers can last up to three and half hours. Green lasers can appear as much as fifty times brighter than red lasers. Green lasers can be seen up to 100 yards in broad daylight while red lasers will be visible only a few yards.

As you can see, both lasers have their advantages and disadvantages. LaserMax, Inc. comes to your rescue by providing some of the best quality red and green lasers available. I have used a LaserMax red laser (#100-003-110) for several years and I have been completely pleased with its performance. Since I primarily use my lasers outdoors, I am always looking for an affordable green laser. None was available until recently when LaserMax introduced the Uni-Max rail mount green laser sight (#100-003-568). LaserMax has increased the visibility of their green laser by pulsing the light. Research has shown that light that is pulsed is much more visible to the human eye than a steady beam. To further increase its ease of use, I added the LaserMax 6” momentary activation switch to the laser.

LaserMax, Inc. Uni-Max Rail Mount Green LaserSight

This pressure sensitive switch replaces the sliding switch located at the back of the laser.  As you can see from the photo above,  I simply have to reach my thumb up and depress the pad. Without the momentary activation switch, I have to take my hand off the vertical grip and manually slide the switch to the on position. This is not only awkward, but it distracts you and causes you to lose valuable time in a life-threatening situation. Decide what laser best fits your needs and/or budget and then choose either a red or green LaserMax laser. You can’t go wrong with either choice and it just might save your life one day!

To further increase the versatility of our Ruger Mini-14 project gun, I added the time proven and old reliable standby; a rifle scope. Shooting accurately past 100 yards is impossible without a good quality rifle scope. Although Brownells doesn’t presently carry them, Millett sent me one of their Buck Gold TRS 4-16 x 50mm side focus mildot illuminated reticle scopes.

Millet Buck Gold TRS 4-16x 50mm scope
I have really been impressed with this scope. It is bright and clear and capable of much greater repeatable accuracy than I am capable of. The illuminated reticle is great for hunting at night, early in the morning, or late in the evening. It also has a 30mm tube giving you extra windage and elevation that you will need if you do any long range shooting.

The next decision I had to make was whether to use the scope rings that came with the gun or to add a scope mount. I chose a scope mount for its versatility. A scope mount allows you much greater latitude when mounting a scope. I have an extremely long Length of Pull (L.O.P.) and never have enough adjustment with just the rings. A scope mount enables me to move the scope as far forward as I need. Brownells has a great selection of scope mounts and I chose the Warne Ruger carbine base (#947-010-000). This mount attaches directly to the Ruger ring cuts in the receiver. This weaver-style mount is simple, strong, and reliable. The scope base has a “recoil pin” located behind the front ring cut.

Warne Ruger Carbine Base mounted on scope ring cutouts

This will prevent the base from moving forward under adverse recoil. Millett also sent me their massive tactical rings (Brownells currently doesn’t carry these) which will standup to any recoil abuse that your rifle can dish out!

Pro mag 20 & 30-Round Mini-14 Magazines
Of course no tricked out conversion would be complete without high-capacity magazines. Brownells selection is second to known. C.J. Weapons Accessories has 20-round (#100-002-426) and 30-round (#100-002-427) steel magazines with a parkerized finish. John Masen offers 10-round capacity magazines with a nickel finish (#560-000-005) and a black powder coating (#560-000-006). Pro Mag manufactures 20-round (#687-000-019) and 30-round (#687-000-020) polished blue steel magazines. To round out the selection, Triple-K’s epoxy-coated steel magazine has a 10-round capacity (#486-199-014).

One of the most satisfying aspects of working with guns is the ability to customize your firearms to suit your individual needs. Not only do you feel as if you have accomplished something, but you now have a gun that truly reflects your personality. I know that I take greater pride in guns that have come to life in my hands. With Brownells massive selection of parts/components, for a wide variety of firearms, you are limited only by your imagination when it comes to customizing your firearm. “The Brownells Way” is the only way!