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A Kind Word For the Ruger Mini-14

In a world that has somehow fallen in love with the AR platform of rifle, for everything from varmint shooting to deer hunting, many people forget that there were other platforms prior to VietNam and the M16.

According to several knowledgeable individuals, the absolute best platform for survival and combat was the M1 Garand, a .30-06 rifle that helped America settle the mess that Hitler and Hirohito started in WWII.  This rifle was great for distance as well as for CQB, (in a pinch). A friend of mine named Dale “Piper” Hickman was in the 5th wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day, and walked across Europe in the 1940’s a privileged guest of his Uncle Sam. Once, while pinned down in a French village by a German sniper, he successfully used his Army issued M1A1 Garand to  counter snipe the unlucky bastard after he observed his muzzleflash in the top of a church steeple. Piper claimed he got three rounds off as he ducked behind the corner of the building he was using for cover, and then flanked the church from an adjoining street and cleared the church with two other members of his platoon. There he found the sniper, deceased from one round that punched a hole in his throat, one in the center of his Nazi face, and one adorning his forehead like a ruby red jewel. Piper was very impressed with the rifle’s performance stating that was the only time during his entire tour that he was able to judge his own accuracy, because no one else had shot at the guy.

However, most soldiers found the M1A1 Garand to be too heavy, it’s ammo too cumbersome, and it’s length too much to try to maneuver. Therefore, the next rifle that went into service was the .308 M-14 rifle, which never saw a lot of combat use other than in the very early years of the VietNam war. There it was discovered that the ergonomics of the rifle were off for jungle combat, and the M16A1 was introduced into service.

However, many people saw the benefit of the M-14 design for sporting and utility purposes, specifically for ranchers. That is why, as the M-14 rifle lost it’s place to the M16 platform, companies like Sturm Ruger saw and opportunity in the design. Ruger therefore took the basic design and repaired the ergonomic flaws and produced the current Mini 14 rifle. This rifle had a very distinct cult following before the attention turned toward the AR platform which evolved from the M16. It was very popular in law enforcement and quasi military organizations like Border Patrol, Correctional Facilities and Fish and Wildlife. Sturm Ruger Co. offers excellent customer service for these rifles, and even offers armorer courses around the world to teach dis-assembly, modification, and upkeep.

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350 Legend: A New Ballgame for Restricted States

If you are a midwestern hunter in states like Ohio, Indiana, or Iowa, then you know the absolute frustration of trying to pursue big game in what is known as densely populated hunting grounds.

For years we have been restricted to hunting whitetail deer with either a shotgun or a smoky old muzzleloader. The reason for this has always been hunter, (and farmer), safety. In the flat lands where corn and wheat fields abound, there is a real concern with hi power rifles, which can shoot for sometimes up to a mile, missing their targets and hitting people or equipment.

Several years ago, the state of Ohio allowed for the use of handgun cartridges in the hunting of whitetail deer. Recently they have gone a step further and allowed for the use of handgun cartridges that fire from rifles. “Straight -Walled” cartridge rifles for deer hunting are now a common thing in Ohio. In response to this new market for deer hunters, Winchester Repeating Arms developed a fairly good product in the 350 Legend™ rifle cartridge.  This cartridge is basically a 5.56mm necked up to accommodate a .357 bullet. The result is a hard hitting, fairly low velocity round that won’t really go too far.

Many firearms companies are making these rifles to supply the market and they are using every platform to accommodate an individual shooter’s needs.

Henry™ rifle company for instance, is offering the 350 Legend in both a lever action rifle, which is their mainstay, and a single shot edition, which is high quality but also very affordable. Ruger™, Savage™, and Winchester™ all offer it in bolt action rifles, and many manufacturers are offering this cartridge on an AR platform. I personally bought one from the great Lakes Manufacturing Company out of Michigan and installed a Bushnell 3-9×44 Banner scope, and I am shooting 170gr. Hornady SP rounds after having sighted it in at 150 yards with a Winchester 145gr FMJ. According to the box, 0 at 150 yards will produce a 5.2″ drop at 200 yards and a decrease of 172 fps. I usually set up my AR to fire with my nose touching the charging handle as I was trained; however, you might want to back the scope up a bit because the recoil is more than you’ll likely be able to comfortably stand on the tip of your nose… at least that was my experience.

I’ll let you know how it goes in later installments.

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