The Ruger All-Weather Mini-Thirty-P Rifle

By Carl Swanson

Ruger Mini 30
Illustration courtesy of Sturm Ruger.

I purchased a Ruger Stainless Synthetic Mini-Thirty almost 4 years ago. This 7.62x39 caliber "all-weather" autoloading carbine comes with a matte stainless steel barreled action and black synthetic stock. I purchased this rifle for plinking and informal target shooting. At the same time I purchased a quantity of Wolf non-corrosive, 123 grain hollow point ammunition. This Russian ammunition is loaded in steel cases and is not reloadable, but it is cheap. I also purchased some after market stainless 10 round magazines from U.S.A. Magazines, Inc.

Upon opening the shipping box, I found the rifle to be in flawless condition. Ruger had done a good job in the shipping preparation. There were no flaws in the rifle's fit or finish.

The plastic stock has a well-formed pistol grip and comes with a rubber butt pad. The action vaguely resembles that of the M-1 Garand or M-14 service rifles. The Ruger 2006 catalog gives the following basic specifications for the Stainless/Synthetic Mini-Thirty: caliber 7.62x39 Soviet; blade front and fold down rear peep sight; barrel length 18 1/2"; overall length 37.25 inches; weight 7 pounds; MSRP $809.

I initially sighted the rifle for 100 yards, using the stock Ruger aperture (peep) sight provided on the rifle. I was surprised to find it could easily deliver 2-3 MOA at this range when fired from a hasty bench rest. A note of interest here: somewhere during the second magazine of ammo, the handguard flaked off a little of its material where it contacts the gas block structure. When I got home I dissembled the rifle. There were the usual rub marks where metal meets metal, but no indication of a problem. I sanded the small flake areas of the handguard and have had no additional flaking since.

I optimistically sighted the rifle at 200 yards during the next range visit. From a hasty bench set up I got 3-4 MOA (6"-8" groups) at 200 yards. I proceeded to shoot it offhand at this range with the Wolf ammo. I have shot the rifle at 200 yards offhand with this Wolf ammo for almost 4 years. I have fired just under 3,000 rounds. It delivers the 5-6 MOA I can shoot offhand at this distance, winter or summer, wet or dry. The sights have needed no adjustment after the initial sighting-in.

I probably have fired 75-100 rounds in "fast fire," that is, from the hip at targets about 40 yards away with the 10 round clip emptied as fast as possible. The gun never falters. BTW, this was done in a pit with a high embankment, where such shooting is safe and allowed.

The Mini-30 peep sight presents a very good sight picture, equal to that given by my Garand. The little sight has maintained its ability to flip up and down with no weakening of its leaf spring. I store the rifle with the peep folded.

For me, the Mini-30 shoulders easily and points well. It is a little wobbly from the offhand position, especially if I've been active (such as x-country skiing) and take a quick offhand shot. But this is characteristic of any short, light barreled firearm.

I have had several hangfires from the Wolf ammo, and actually had one dud. Several rounds required manual ejection and subsequent trigger time to get a bang. I've perhaps had a total of about 20 or so "funny rounds." I consider that, overall, this ammo has been pretty good given its low cost. As I clean the rifle once a year, whether it needs it or not, I feel that I can attest that the ammo is definitely not corrosive, but it is very dirty.

In summary, I have no negatives to report about this firearm. The positives have been reliability and accuracy. The rifle started as a plinker yet provided enough accuracy that shooting it offhand at 200 yards is meaningful. Its accuracy is as good as that of my M-1 Garand.

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Copyright 2003, 2012 by Carl Swanson and/or All rights reserved.