Wednesday, April 25, 2007

7.62x39mm Platforms....

I started looking at the Ruger Mini-30 rifle. I wanted a relatively light, reliable, fairly accurate, self-loading rifle chambered for an available cartridge with a bit more "oomph" than the 5.56mm NATO (aka .223 Rem). I asked on various forums for info on experience with the Mini-30. Responses in that regard were comparatively few.

Jared told me:
Mine would feed reliably with the factory 5rd magazine. I did have a few misfires with Wolff ammo though. I had a couple 10 and 30 round mags and never could get them to feed 100%. The accuracy wasn't anything to write home about, At 50 yards it would do about 3". I really think Ruger dropped the ball with the Mini 30. It has the potential to be a great rifle, but the lackluster accuracy and lack of reliable magazines over 5 rounds killed it's appeal to me.
CJM told me:
I have the "ranch rifle" mini30 special run in stainless steel and synthetic that was made a few years back. The top handguard had a corner broken off during shipping somewhere before the rifle got to me, and I've never bothered to get a new one. I've never tried to put the surplus lacquered steel cased ammo through it, just Winchester white box brass cased ammo. The lacquer on the steel cases supposedly melts in the chamber, gumming up the gun, so I just never used them. Accuracy is poor, 6-8 inches at 100 yards, but as pointed out by others that is still "minute of man" and as good as needed for it's purpose. I doubt that this is the right rifle to go out hunting coyotes, but if you have one in your yard it's good enough. There aren't any factory high-capacity magazines from Ruger, and the after-market ones have been a crap shoot. I have two nickeled and one blue magazines that work - out of the eight that I have bought. At least they are cheap. It's strictly a blasting type rifle, but it is pretty fun to shoot and has been reliable for me.
I've thought about trying to replace the skinny barrel with either a heavy match barrel or one of the carbon fiber wrapped barrels and have the rifle "accurized", but just haven't wanted to do it enough to spend the money. It's the same basic action as an M1 Garand, so there's potential for accuracy, Ruger just didn't build it in on my rifle.
Uncowboy said:
I bought the 30 for a project gun that never happened. It shoots very well. Last time I had it out it would break clay birds at 300 yds. I bought 2 old SKS with the blade bayonet and milled receivers. They were not pretty but I shot the snot out of it out to 400 yards. It was more accurate than the AK, AK sniper rifles and the stamped out sks's that it met on the range over the last 10 years. That being said The mini 30 is still in the safe and the sks's are all gone now. I guess I got a good mini 30. I don't shoot it much but I did shoot the mini 14 a lot more and I got lucky with that one also!
Wildcat said:
Bought one before the ban. Obviously, it wasn't an unkosher weapon, but I was none too impressed by the .223 in Desert Storm. It shot best with cheap Chinese ball. Not as accurate with Russkie ammo. I killed one whitetail with it and Winchester ammo. My dad and another friend also used it and took several head of deer. Keep the shots within 150 yards and it was okay...not spectacular, nor as effective as a 30-30, but okay. Accuracy wasn't great once it heated up. I ended up selling it to a small town police department desperate for something better than their shotguns. I don't miss it, but I got bitten by the leveraction bug, plus as a handloader, I hated chasing empties.
What folks did tell me was their opinions on which AK-47 derivative to buy. Interesting stuff. Some of these guys should post a full article on their blogs or elsewhere.

I knew that there were variations in quality and performance based on where, when, how these guns were made. Some of those differences, good and bad, were initiated due to the 1994 AWB. I'm going to try to organize those thoughts here.

Many contributed the following:
The Romanian SAR-1 uses used parts sets assembled on a cheap US-made 10rd receiver, which is opened for hicap use. The receiver lacks dimples in the side that stabilize the mag against lateral movement. Romanian guns being generally sloppy with many reports of crooked sights and gas blocks. CAI uses TAPCO fire control group would assume TAPCO rivets, which I don't trust either, neither from a material or design standpoint, as the riviting and heat treat is everything on an AK expected to meet the AK legend for durability. A poorly made AK would suffer the same fate as the earliest Russian stamped receiver failures which led to them using milled receivers until rivit shearing/frame cracking problems were solved by using rivits with countersunk buttonhead which dimpled the receiver walls into chamfers on the buttstock and barrel trunnions, which spreads the load and prevents receiver loosening and shifting.
And this about an alternative:
The "inexpensive" Russian Saiga, which should surely be made to spec in that regard (to the rivits). The Saigas wholesale for $215-$225, and should be available for $275-$300.
The main reason for support of the AK type platform over the Ruger is cost. For me, cost is not the determining issue, usability is. I need to be able to train my wife to use the gun. She needs to be able to use the gun. 5, 10 and 20 round mags would be sufficient for her and a honkin' big 30 rounder could be a detriment due to the total weight of the loaded gun.

- Saiga Distributor
- Arsenal
- Arsenal info
- SAR-1 topic

If you care to contribute, send me an e-mail!

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