True Shot Technologies Barrel Stabilizer for the Ruger Mini-14/Mini-30 Rifles

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

November 27th, 2010

 

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Most Mini-14 rifles have relatively thin barrels, which tend to change point-of-impact when hot.

 

 

The True Shot barrel stabilizer supports the Mini barrel, somewhat like a truss supports a bridge.

 

 

The complete True Shot kit also contains a new front sight and flash suppressor.

 

 

Also included in the True Shot kit is a sight adjustment tool.

 

 

All screws should be set with LocTite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ruger Mini-14 rifle has been around for thirty-five years now, and has proven to be a very popular, reliable, and handy weapon. Styled somewhat like the US Military M-14 rifle, but with a simplified operating system and scaled down to shoot the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge, the Mini-14 is a fine weapon. Now also chambered for the 7.62x39 (Mini-30) and 6.8mm SPC cartridges, the Mini is still very popular with shooters, hunters, farmers, and ranchers. It is a weapon that can be bounced around behind the seat of a pickup truck daily, or put away and ignored for months, and it will still be as reliable as ever when needed.

I have always found the Mini-14 to be a rifle that was plenty accurate for my needs. While I would bet on an AR of equal quality to beat the Mini for accuracy from the bench, the Mini has never let me down, until this past Summer while on a prairie dog shoot in South Dakota.

Cousin Melvin and I had loaded up for a long-planned trip to go dog shooting in South Dakota, and as expected, he brought along his Mini-14 to do the work. I had two ARs with me, but Melvin has never really warmed up to the AR-15, and prefers his Mini, which is reminiscent of his old M-14 service rifle that he was issued many years ago. Melvinís Mini has always worked perfectly, and maintained plenty of accuracy. However, shooting prairie dogs is different than popping a groundhog or deer. With those two animals, getting even as many as a half-dozen shots in one day is unlikely, but when shooting prairie dogs, several hundred shots before noon is not unusual.

On the hunt, while we were driving around on a six-thousand acre ranch, shooting a dog or two and then driving around some more, the Mini did just fine, and Cousin Mel was popping as many dogs as I was. However, when we crested a ridge and sighted a huge dog town, things changed. With my ARs, I was shooting as fast as I could get a dog in the scope, and connecting pretty regularly out to four hundred yards and beyond. However, as Melvinís Mini heated up, his accuracy degraded quickly. The Miniís thin barrel was getting too hot to touch, and shots even at one hundred yards became unpredictable. He laid wet towels on the Miniís barrel, but it helped very little. Allowing the rifle to cool completely, accuracy would return, but after a few shots, hitting was as much luck as skill at that point. Melvin knows how to pull a trigger, and I knew that it was the rifle, and not his marksmanship that accounted for the misses on the dogs.

There have been several accuracy aids on the market for the Mini for a few years, but until now, I had never seen the need for one. Anyway, shown here is the accuracy kit from True Shot Technologies. The full kit consists of a barrel stabilizer, a new front sight, sight adjustment tool, and a flash suppressor, along with the hardware needed to assemble. Both the sight and suppressor look to be of high quality, but my interest lied mainly in getting that barrel on the Mini-14 to stay put when shooting it to the point that it is too hot to touch, so for our purposes here, we are only testing the barrel stabilizer, so as to not skew the test results by changing any other variable.

Before attaching the True Shot barrel stabilizer, I fired the Mini both cold and hot to establish a baseline for the accuracy of the weapon, so as to compare directly the affect of the barrel stabilizer upon the sustained accuracy of the Mini under the same controlled conditions, using the same scope, rifle rest, and ammunition.

First, without the barrel stabilizer, I fired several cold-barrel groups from the Mini, allowing the barrel to cool between groups, to establish the accuracy of the rifle. After that was done, I quickly fired two twenty-round magazines of 5.56mm ammunition through the Mini as fast as I could load the mag and pull the trigger. At that point, the barrel was definitely too hot to touch. Firing groups using the same ammunition, it was readily apparent that accuracy had degraded slightly as relative to group size, but the impact on the target was much lower at 100 yards. Even as close as fifty yards, the group on target was over one inch lower. This explains the difficulty which Cousin Melvin was having connecting on those prairie dogs at extended ranges; the point of impact changed dramatically as the barrel heated.

The True Shot barrel stabilizer consists basically of an aluminum rod and two clamps, along with the screws needed to secure the device to the barrel and gas block of the Mini-14. The rod has a matte black Lumicald coating, which matches the finish of the Ruger rifle pretty well. I attached the rod and clamps as per the instruction, using Loctite thread locker on every screw. Again, I did not attach the flash suppressor nor change the front sight on the Mini. The reasons for that are that the rifle does not belong to me, and mainly because I wanted to change no other variable on the Mini, with the exception of adding the stabilizer. The True Shot stabilizer supports the barrel very well, much like a truss supports a beam on a bridge. The clamps and rod also serve to pull some of the heat away from the barrel, which was proven just by feeling the temperature of the rod after firing the rifle.

After the barrel stabilizer was installed, I followed the same procedure of firing groups with a cold barrel to establish another baseline on the targets. Then, again firing quickly forty rounds of 5.56mm ammo through the rifle, I settled the rifle into the rest and again fired groups on target. Although the groups did open up slightly with the hot barrel, as they did without the stabilizer, the impact on the targets did not change. The rifle held the same zero setting as with a cold barrel, at all distances tested. The barrel stabilizer works, and works well, to keep the Mini-14 on target as the barrel heats from sustained fire. The True Shot barrel stabilizer is a definite aid to the accuracy of the Mini-14 for shooting long strings on target, or in the field.

Check out the True Shot barrel stabilizer, along with the flash suppressor and front sight online at www.trueshottechnologies.com

The products can be ordered as the whole kit, or the components can be ordered separately, if desired. The True Shot barrel stabilizer works as advertised, and is a reasonably-priced, well-designed device to improve the sustained accuracy of the Ruger Mini-14 rifle. It also looks pretty good, giving the Mini-14 a look that is closer to the M-14 service rifle.

Jeff Quinn

 

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Even as close as fifty yards, groups fired from a hot barrel in stock configuration (bottom) were more than one inch lower than groups fired from a cold barrel (top).

 

 

Even though groups sizes opened up slightly from a hot barrel (bottom), the point of impact did not change from that of a cold barrel (top) using the True Shot barrel stabilizer.

 

 

Stryker ammunition from The American Marksman proved to be very accurate in the Mini-14.

 

 

The particular rifle used in this test is a 190-series Mini-14, but kits are available for 180-series and 580-series rifles as well.

 

 

Leupold 4.5 to 14 power VXL scope was used for all shooting tests.