THE 6.8X43MM RUGER MINI-14
Bill Ruger is reported to have once said that if the .223 Remington caliber Mini-14 had been developed a year earlier, the Department of Defense would have adopted it instead of the M16.
In 1957, General Willard G. Wyman, commander of the Continental Army Command (CONARC), was looking for a replacement for the 7.62x51mm M14 rifle. His preference was for a rifle similar to the M1 Carbine in size and weight, but firing a small caliber, high velocity (SCHV) cartridge. After an early .222 Remington caliber prototype rifle made by Eugene Stoner failed testing, General Wyman reluctantly agreed to ArmaLite’s downsizing the 7.62x51mm AR-10 rifle to create the AR-15, firing the 5.56x45mm cartridge (first known as the .222 Special). Because of the possible confusion between this cartridge and the 5.56x43mm (or standard .222 Remington cartridge), the name of the .222 Special was changed to the .223 Remington cartridge. When the Ruger Mini-14 finally appeared, it amounted to a three-fourths size M14 firing the same 5.56x45mm round.
In truth, the Mini-14 is even simpler in operation than the M14, as it uses a fixed gas piston (or spigot) with what amounts to a cylinder housed in the end of the operating rod. Whether you want to call the rifle’s operation a long stroke gas cylinder or gas piston, it is definitely of long stroke. The two rifles otherwise operate almost identically, use almost the same controls, and even field strip in a similar manner.
Although the Mini-14 was not adopted by the Department of Defense, the rifle was used by a number of foreign militaries, as well as hundreds of American law enforcement agencies, and for all the obvious reasons. It was light, handy and extremely user friendly; and it fired the 5.56x45mm cartridge that had by then been established as a NATO cartridge.
However, where law enforcement was concerned, there were no constraints limiting the available ammunition to full metal jacketed (FMJ) bullets, the major weakness of the 5.56x45mm. Not only are such bullets relatively ineffective against assailants, but they also tend to over-penetrate, posing a threat to others. Law enforcement may select from the many expanding bullets on the commercial market, just as they do with issue sidearms.
The Mini-14 follow-up in 7.62x39mm offered a heavier bullet option; but now there is a Mini-14 that may combine the best of both worlds. It is Ruger’s new Mini-14 in 6.8x43mm SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge).
A Special Forces Cartridge
Conceived by Master Sergeant (Retired) Steven J. Holland, 5th Special Forces Group, along with Cris Murray, of the Army Marksmanship Unit, the 6.8mm Remington SPC was developed for Special Forces by Remington Ammunition, and so carries the Remington name. Using a .270 caliber projectile, the 6.8mm Remington SPC provides optimum performance from the .223 Remington caliber envelope and that includes the Ruger Mini-14 platform. This newest Mini-14 comes with all the improvements (including improved accuracy) of the latest Mini-14 introduced at the beginning of 2007.
After obtaining a sample of Ruger’s new 6.8mm Remington SPC Mini-14 for evaluation, I found it to be an excellent lightweight semi-automatic rifle in this caliber. Not only is the new rifle accurate, but its military style sights are also appreciated, as is its Hogue Rubber OverMolded Stock. I was so impressed with the new 6.8mm SPC Mini-14 that I decided to take it “tactical.”
The SCAR-CQB Stock
While other excellent synthetic tactical style stocks are available, such as those from Choate Machine & Tool, I was anxious to try the brand new SCAR-CQB Stock from Clyde Armory of Bogart, Georgia. Made of 6061/T6 aircraft alloy, this stock is essentially SAGE International’s M14 EBR stock downsized especially for the Mini-14, and made by SAGE exclusively for Clyde Armory. Having tested the SCAR-CQB Stock on two other Mini-14s I can attest that it is CNC machined to fit all late and current Ruger Mini-14 rifles to perfection. The .223 caliber SCAR-CQB Stock fits .223 caliber Mini-14s and the Mini-30 SCAR-CQB Stock fits both the Mini-14, in 7.62x39mm (M43) and the new 6.8mm SPC Mini-
14. This is because the magazines for the latter rifles are wider than the .223 magazine.
Mounting of this stock is fairly simple. After making sure the Mini-14 is unloaded and the magazine removed, leave it cocked and unlock the trigger group by pulling the rear of the trigger guard down and forward to unlock it from the receiver. Now remove the trigger group and then the barreled action from its factory stock and pull the issue handguard off the barrel. Next, the alloy handguard of the SCAR-CQB Stock is removed by unscrewing the bolts that secure it to the metal stock. The stainless steel liner may or may not have to be removed from the SCARCQB Stock by first unscrewing the retaining screw (mine did). The Mini-14 action is then assembled into the SCAR-CQB Stock in the normal manner by closing the trigger guard to lock it in place. This will probably be a tighter fit than when assembled into the factory Ruger stock.
Once the Mini-14 is secured into the SCAR-CQB Stock, the barrel does not contact the stock in any way. The handguard is then reinstalled by replacing the hex bolts that hold it onto the alloy stock. Once the bolts are properly tightened, the handguard becomes an integral part of the stock, but it also does not touch the barrel, leaving it free floating. Operating the slide and inserting and releasing an empty magazine should verify that everything is assembled properly.
The SCAR-CQB Stock comes with an ERGO Grip from Falcon Industries and a M4-style buttstock adjustable for length of pull. In addition to a bolt-on polymer handguard, the fore end and handguard provide four M1913 rails in order to mount a variety of lights, lasers, bipods and other accessories; multiple sling-mounts are also standard equipment. Using an ACE Sling Mount from DoubleStar instead of the sling mount furnished with the stock, I equipped the stock with a Vickers Sling from Blue Force Gear.
Since the Mini-14 accepts Ruger rings, a conventional scope can be mounted here; but the best mount I’ve used to date comes from Talbot Scope Mounts. Fitting the Mini-14’s receiver to perfection, the Talbot allows initial windage adjustments. This is the best time to apply threadlock to the four bolts with the scope mounted and the reticle centered. Once the scope is aligned for windage with the bolts tightened, you’re good to go with normal adjustments during final sight-in.
The big thing with the Talbot Mount, however, is its instant on/instant off feature, with constant return to zero. The mount will accept Talbot’s M1913 rail or a variety of 1-inch, 30mm or larger ring mounts, all of steel and all with the instant on/off and return to zero features. Thus, one can quickly replace a CQB red dot sight with a high power sniper scope or night vision scope, with each one pre-sighted in.
The secret of the Talbot is a high precision spring-loaded wedge design that can only go one place when mounted, and that’s back to zero. The mount can also be instantly locked in place. The Talbot is truly a mission-specific unit and is available for many rifles.
If one wants to be able to use the iron sights, an optical sight mount needs to be quickly removable. Using two A.R.M.S. ThrowLevers, the MOA Solution M1913 rail from Mounting Solutions Plus is a good way to go, as it rigidly mounts to the top rail of the SCAR-CQB’s handguard. The MOA Solution is not only rigid but also extends back to provide close eye relief to accommodate virtually any optic. A variety of optics were tested on the SCAR-CQB Stock, including the Aimpoint Comp M4, Eotech 553, Ferfrans’ new compact FAS (Fast Acquisition Sight) and others. If only reflex sights are used, they can be simply mounted forward on the handguard’s top rail. LaserMax’s UniMax also works well on either the top or side rail of the CQB Stock.
To provide both a vertical foregrip and a bipod, I mounted a GripPod to the bottom rail of the SCAR-CQB Stock. Available from Mounting Solutions Plus, U.S. Tactical Supply, Brownells and Brigade Quartermaster, the ultra light GripPod instantly becomes a robust bipod. Some 1,700,000 GripPods are now standard issue with the U.S. Army, the USMC, the U.S. Navy, Delta Force, the DEA, FBI, the British Army, Holland and many others. However, new is the GripPod’s patented single and dual M1913-type rail that mounts rigidly to it.
On this new GripPod rail I mounted a SureFire G2 light using a 1-inch ring mount from VLTOR and SureFire’s X300 Tactical Weapon Light, along with lights from Insight Technology. At the 5 o’clock position, this system eliminates the need for any remote pressure switches with hook-and-loop fastener and wires to snag and come loose. Instead, it positions the light to allow the support thumb to activate an end-cap pressure switch. Laser Devices makes a small laser sight that seems ideal for use with the GripPod’s rail.
Here’s an important consideration you don’t hear much about, and that’s the activation of lights and lasers by your support hand. First, put the magazine down and try the old trick of patting the top of your head with one hand and rubbing your stomach with the other…No, really, try it! If you’re like 99.9 percent of people, you can’t do it. Whatever the master hand does, the other hand will follow. Which is the master hand? The one that starts first! That is, if your left hand starts the exercise by patting your head, your right hand will follow by “wanting” to pat your stomach, instead of rubbing it. Sure, you can get both hands to obey by concentrating, and maybe you can get both to do opposite things right off the bat with practice, but could you get them to obey when not concentrating or under stress? So, what the hell am I getting at?
Simple: if I activate a weapon mounted light or laser with my left index finger, or all of the fingers on left hand, my right index finger (or all the fingers on my right hand) wants to make the same movement, especially under stress. If my right index finger is contacting the trigger, well, you do the math. If I activate my light or laser with my left thumb and my right thumb wants to move in concert with it, my right thumb may change the position of my safety, but my trigger finger will remain out of the equation. This is why I so strongly advocate thumb activation of accessories. The GripPod’s new 5 and 7 o’clock rails go a long way in preventing a tragedy.
Speaking of tragic, don’t waste your money on cheap imitations, or even expensive ones. Two copies of the GripPod break easily and another made in a foreign country is reported to contain a dangerous chemical.
Adding about a pound to the weight of the standard Mini-14, the SCAR-CQB Stock offers a nearly endless number of options. With high-capacity 30-round magazines available from several sources, the Mini-14 becomes a serious competitor as a user-friendly tactical rifle in .223 Remington caliber. As such it may find great appeal among law enforcement officers as a patrol carbine for all seasons. The many foreign military entities that issue the Mini-14 may also find this stock a valuable upgrade to their existing rifles.
Having fired quite a variety of 6.8mm SPC ammunition (including experimental rounds) in four other rifles and having killed the first mule deer in the world with this cartridge, I’m no stranger to it. With a felt recoil slightly sharper than that of the 7.62x39mm (M43) cartridge, the 6.8mm SPC’s 115-grain bullet heads to the target at about 2,600 fps depending on barrel length. It’s not only a hard-hitting bullet, but its trajectory is almost identical to that of the 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Winchester) out to 500 yards. Being almost twice as heavy as most .223 bullets and a lot bigger, the 6.8mm SPC bullet also has terminal ballistics comparable to those of the .308, but with far less recoil. By the way, it’s only coincidental that the 6.8mm SPC cartridge looks exactly like a scaled down .308 Winchester round.
We found only a slight improvement in accuracy with the SCAR-CQB Stock over the same MOA Mini-14 in its standard Hogue Rubber OverMolded Stock made for Ruger. All in all, the Mini-14 put five rounds of any 6.8mm ammunition tested into well under three inches at 100 yards, with most groups averaging two inches or less. A Leopold 3–10X MR/T Scope was used for all accuracy testing. No malfunctions were experienced. The ergonomics and wide range of custom options make the SCARCQB Stock worth a serious look.
Currently, the Ruger 6.8mm SPC Mini-14 is offered with only a 5-round box magazine. However, Ruger IS now offering 20-round magazines for the .223 caliber Mini-14, and is considering doing so with their other Mini-14s. We hope to have found out more about this at the 2009 SHOT Show, including after market magazines for the new 6.8mm SPC Mini-14. Even if only 5-round 6.8mm magazines are available, the new Mini-14 will make a great deer or medium size game semiautomatic rifle.
If you’re looking for a user friendly, accurate and reliable carbine, don’t overlook the new Ruger MOA Mini-14. For information, contact Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc., 1 Lacy Place, Dept. SOF, Southport, CT 06890, (203) 259-7843 (ruger-firearms.com). If you want to equip your Mini-14 with a totally M1913 rail-friendly, option-filled stock, contact the Clyde Armory, 165 Ben Burton Rd., Ste. D, Dept. SOF, Bogart, GA 30622, (706) 549-1842 (clydearmory.com).
WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: Any content in this publication, including technical data, reports of any activities, information, events and circumstances under controlled situations and under supervised control have not been tested nor approved nor were under the control of Soldier of Fortune Magazine. Reports are transmitted from independent sources to which SOF has neither supervision nor control. The data is transmitted for reporting events by the author. Soldier of Fortune Magazine, its agents, officers, consultants nor any other individual or entity reject any and all responsibility for any reporting in this publication. Any reports in this publication do not provide detail for comprehensive safety techniques, training techniques, training precautions that are absolutely essential for any covered or similar activity. The reader MUST not attempt any reported activity, technique or use of equipment based upon any reports in this publication. Comprehensive training, guidance and supervision is always necessary when engaging in any activity of which any report in this publication mentions or gives any reference to. The views of the authors do not represent the views of the Soldier of Fortune Magazine
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