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Discussion Starter #1
hello, i am new here and i have a question about the earlier min 14s. my one son has a 181 series made around 1980 with a wooden handguard. it is awesome and functions flawlessly. my other son is looking at an earlier mini 14 made around 1976 and the receiver looks different with more external parts on the left side. are the 181 series more reliable and less complicated than the 180 series? thanks!
 

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Exalted One
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First, Welcome to the forum from Central Virginia!

The 180-series was the first production and it was a bit more complicated in certain areas. In terms of reliability, it is probably on-par with the 181-series.

But the 180-series is no longer supported by Ruger and it is far more difficult to get parts for it if it requires one. If there is a choice, stick with 181 and higher.

Check the prices for the new 583-series and compare against the asking price for the 181 and 180. If you can, you would be better served with a new 583-series. They are far more accurate out of the box. There were some problems with some of the 582-series.

I have a 181-series and have had it since 1980. It was built in 1978 and has been 100% reliable. I love it. But to get it to be close to as accurate as the 580+ series (which have a thicker barrel), I needed to invest about $100 for an AccuStrut barrel stabilizer.

Also note, if you're entertaining putting on a scope, your options are very limited. The newer ones have a provision for a scope or a rail.

If you like wooden stocks, they're available for every model mini-14 except the 180 series.

I would personally recommend against the 180-series mini if, for no other reason, it is no longer supported and parts are difficult to come by.
 

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Exalted One
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Would also recommend sticking with factory 20-round mags if you can.

You'll see a lot of posts about replacing the gas bushing with a smaller one. You may or may not need to do that. Mine ejects between 1 and 4 feet - right on the edge of reliability some would say, and it is the original one. The newer Minis usually need them.

1911 buffers are a good idea in any event. Plenty of posts on those here. Inexpensive, simple to install, and really cut down on metal-to-metal beating of the op rod as it cycles.

And remember: "pictures, or it didn't happen".:)

Here's mine, with a new factory wooden stock. It is a GB (government bayonet) model, with an Accustrut I fashioned from an old piece of grounding rod I carved out to clear the bayonet lug (didn't want to grind out the original strut). A typical AccuStrut (or Mo-Rod, or Trueshot) stabilizer does the same thing.

If you go that route with a strut, go with a two-clamp 6" long version for best results. Without one, once the 181's "pencil" barrel heats up, it will start slings rounds hither and yon. The struts pretty much fix that.

Enjoy, and keep us posted!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
thanks again RJF. I'm a civil war buff and i see you are from Spotsylvania. right there in the thick of it back then.
 

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Exalted One
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thanks again RJF. I'm a civil war buff and i see you are from Spotsylvania. right there in the thick of it back then.
About 1/2 mile as the crow flies from where Grant whittled during the opening stages of the Wilderness campaign, and about four miles west from Chancellorsville. Jackson's flanking maneuver was about a 1/4 south of this place. Wilderness Run, which is my property line, was where the confederate hospital was about 1/2 mile upstream, where Jackson's arm was amputated in 1863. No signs of fortifications on my property; my next door neighbor is a retired National Parks guy very familiar with the area. As he says, "missed it by that much" .:)

My driveway is shown on a few civil war maps as a trail. Kinda neat! Most of the artifacts I've found are turn-of-the-century farming implements, and I have "deposited" a fair number of my own over the eleven years I've lived here.

As for your son's 181 Mini, don't expect it to be a sniper rifle. It was never designed to be one. But with an Accustrut (or other barrel stabilizer), it should be somewhere withing the 2-3 MOA range. Just trying to manage expectations. Without the Accustrut, who knows?...About the only more-fun carbine than the Mini (IMHO) is the M1 Carbine.

Depending on how much your son wants to accessorize, there is an upper hand guard replacement made by UltiMak. It bolts to the barrel and provides a picatinny rail - great for a red-dot or a long-eye-relief scope. Sandog, on this forum, is the expert on these IMO. I'll probably get one this year for mine. It is the best optics option for the early Minis.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
hi RJF, i went to the place where jackson's arm was buried about 25 years ago. only the die hard civil war buffs knew where to go. i couldn't believe how built up it was (new housing developments) way back then around the battlefields. my sons like the 181 series because i'm old fashioned and i've left my mark on them. i like the wood handguard and high polish. no doubt the new ones are more accurate.
 

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The 180-series was the first production and it was a bit more complicated in certain areas. In terms of reliability, it is probably on-par with the 181-series.

I have a 181-series and have had it since 1980. It was built in 1978 and has been 100% reliable. I needed to invest about $100 for an AccuStrut barrel stabilizer.

I would personally recommend against the 180-series mini if, for no other reason, it is no longer supported and parts are difficult to come by.
I also have the 181 series. Bought brand new in 1977 when they first switched from the 180 series. Been 100% reliable from day one. I also recommend sticking to the factory 20 mags.
 

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I have a 180 series and it has been reliable. I did some bedding to it, put on a Mo-Rod stabilizer, a scout rail and compensator. They all helped tighten that 100 yard group.
 
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