The Ruger Mini-14 is one of the company’s most popular weapons. Essentially a scaled down M-14 battle rifle chambered in .223 Remington, the Mini-14 is the quintessential general-purpose semi-automatic rifle, used by ranchers, police forces, and shooters who need a durable, rough-use long gun capable of quick follow-up shots.
Developed by Bill Ruger and firearm designer James L. Sullivan in the late 1960s, the Mini-14 is a short-stroke, gas piston rifle with a rotating bolt. In that respect, it is similar to the M-1 Garand, M-14, and even the AK-47. The Mini-14 weighs 6.39 pounds unloaded, has a practical rate of fire of 40 rounds per minute and can accept 20 and 30 round magazines.
The Mini-14’s does not have a pistol grip, meaning it was not affected by the 1994 to 2004 federal assault weapons ban. In 1987, Ruger released a version chambered in 7.62x39, giving users a gun capable of using Chinese and Soviet exported ammunition and a weapon that met the minimum caliber standard for deer and similar-sized game. Recently the company released a Mini-14 in .300 Blackout, a new round that offers superior ballistic performance at short range.
Ruger American Pistol:
Although one of the largest gun manufacturers in America, a U.S. military contract has eluded Ruger. The company designed and released the Ruger American Pistol to compete in the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System, a contract that would replace the U.S. Army—and later the entire U.S. military’s—arsenals of M9 Beretta handguns with a new, modern pistol.
Ruger’s pistol didn’t win the Army contract, but it was released to the civilian market in 2015. Released as the American Pistol, the gun is a striker-fired double action pistol with a trigger weight of 5.5 pounds. A locked breech and short recoil pistol, at its heart, is a stainless steel removable chassis. Matched Ruger’s polymer grip and steel frame, the pistol has an overall length of 7.5 inches and a weight of 30 ounces. New compact versions shed some length and weight to make a weapon more suitable for concealed carry. The pistol is available in 9-millimeter and .45 ACP.
One of the major benefits to the American public to come from the Modular Handgun System was the requirement for enhanced ergonomics. The pistol comes with three different backstraps to fit a wide variety of hand sizes, and the pistol is fully ambidextrous. Going forward, these features will likely become standard on handguns sold in the United States.
Kyle Mizokami is a writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and The Daily Beast. In 2009 he co-founded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This article first appeared in 2019 and is reprinted here due to reader interest.