The Ruger Mini-14 is the classic ranch rifle, and one of the most popular semi-automatic rifles in the US, after the AR-15 of course.
If you have one of these handy little rifles and want to put a scope on it, you might be struggling a little bit to find an option that works for you.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
We’ve tested and reviewed just about every scope for the Mini-14 platform to find the best options available.
To start, let’s take a look at what makes a scope good for the Mini-14, and then we’ll take a look at the ones that did the best in our testing.
What General Features Should a Mini-14 Scope Have?
The Mini-14, particularly the Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, is a handy gun used for varmint hunting and target shooting primarily, but you can also find it being used by some law enforcement personnel as well.
Many civilian folks just run the factory iron sights, but if you’re using one for hunting or longer range shooting, an ar 15 sniper scope certainly isn’t a bad idea.
Here are some things that any scope in the running for the title “Best Mini-14 Scope” should have going for it.
Aside from our desire to only have a high-quality scope on our gun, we specifically want our Mini-14 scope to be very rugged and shockproof.
While none of the calibers the Mini-14 is available in have particularly heavy recoil, the Mini is often used as a ranch rifle or truck gun, so it’s likely going to get tossed into a toolbox, backseat, or get knocked around in the gun rack on the front of an ATV.
We want our zero to be spot on every time we have something in our crosshairs, whether it’s a troublesome coyote or just an old pop can resting on a berm, and for that we need a scope that can handle a little abuse.
Or if not, make sure it has a lifetime warranty at least.
The best scopes for Mini-14s are also going to be relatively low-magnification. Given the size of the receiver and the caliber you’re going to be shooting, you probably don’t want to go any larger than a 9x magnification.
This keeps your field of view wider and makes target acquisition much faster. We want to be able to get our sight picture quickly when taking aim at that coyote, before he can get into cover somewhere, and that’s much easier at lower magnification.
Good Light Transmission
Speaking of coyotes, a lot of the animals we would typically hunt with a Mini-14 are typically most active at dawn and at dusk, so good multicoated lenses that aid shooting in low-light conditions are of paramount importance.
On that same subject, a large objective lens can really help when it comes to shooting in low light, helping you make the most out of every bit of available illumination.
What Makes a Scope a Good Choice for the Mini-14 in Particular?
When approaching the Ruger Mini-14 and thinking about what the best scope options available for this rifle are, there are several elements to be considered.
First the scope needs to fit the rifle regarding receiver size and overall length of the firearm. Secondly the scope needs to have enough magnification to accommodate a selected cartridge.
Currently, there are three Mini-14 rifles offered in various calibers. The most popular is a 5.56 Nato chambering, or there’s the Mini-30 in 7.62X39 Russian Short, and the New American AAC .300 Blackout.
The choice you make on the caliber front will in part change the direction you take when it comes to picking a rifle scope.
Because the Mini 14 retains the same receiver as the Military M-14, but at a reduced length so as to accommodate the above rounds, the scope will, or at least should, be a shorter tube length then those used on the current market trending chassis rifles today.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at some scopes that meet all of these requirements.
Objective Lens Diameter
Leupold VX Freedom
3 - 9 x
Leupold Freedom VX
1.5 - 4 x
Bushnell AR Optic
1 - 6 x
Vortex Strike Eagle
1 - 8 x
Primary Arms SLX
1. Leupold VX Freedom 3-9x
The Leupold VX Freedom scope we have chosen has a 3-9x magnification and a 40mm objective bell housing, and makes use of Leupold’s second focal plane duplex reticle.
The scope is calibrated for correct ballistic bullet drop by way of the turret adjustments, and the glass in this scope has the Leupold-developed “ Twilight Light Management System”.
This system gives the shooter more gunning time at pre down, and late into the evening as well.
The target turret adjustments are calibrated in ¼ MOA intervals, and with open turret adjusters the scope is flexible as a shorter range system, or for those hunters and shooters that want to push the effective range a bit. Parallax is set at 150 yards, which is perfect for most shots with a Mini-14.
You shouldn’t really need to fuss with a parallax setting at these ranges anyway.
In so far as the Mini-14 is a medium range weapon this scope is more than enough to fill the ballistic requirements of any shooter taking up the rifle. With a scope weight of 12.2 ounces and a length of 12”, the glass will fit reasonably well on the Ruger Mini 14’s short receiver.
Just for your information as a buyer, I have run this basic scope on a Winchester Featherweight Model 70 Pre 1964 in 30-06 for over 60 years to date. Never a re-zero in all those years.
The rifle was my guide rifle all throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s in Montana and Wyoming, The number of rounds the rifle fired using this Leupold scope can’t even come close to be accounted for. My conclusion is that this American-owned company builds darn good scope sights.
2. Leupold Freedom VX 1.5-4x20
If you’re still in a Leupold mindset but don’t like the 3-9x, then we have the Leupold Freedom VX 1.5-4x20.
Here is a compact glass sight that comes in at a weight of 9.6 ounces, retains the MOA elevation and windage adjustments that the previous model has, and has a long eye relief of 4.17 inches.
Again, because of the Mini-14’s short receiver, this smaller scope meets many needs of the Ruger carbine-style rifles being offered to shooters today. The Mini-14 is chambered in medium range cartridges only.
The action/ barrel are short, and the rifle has a fast handling balance.
In terms of hunting with this weapons platform, I have carried a Mini-14 and Mini-30 across miles of Texas back country when taking on wild pigs, because the 7.62x39 Russian, and well as the .223 Remington do the deed quite well on even large boar when encountered afield.
Using the smaller 1.5-4x20, you can take on targets out to 300 yards with ease. I was shooting the 7.62x39 in Australia for the five years that I professionally hunted the country, and I found that when you got to know the cartridge, you could push it to as much as 400 yards with relative ease.
At these ranges, the 4x magnification is a bit short in this area, but in most cases the Mini-14 combined with this glass would be very effective out to at least the previously indicated range limits.
This scope is built from anodized aircraft-grade aluminum, and has a fogproof, nitrogen-purged tube with waterproof o-rings and has the Leupold Twilight Management System with scratch resistant lenses.
3. Bushnell 2-6X24mm AR Optic
As a third choice when scoping the Mini-14, I have turned to an AR-15 / M-16 optics system, the Bushnell 2-6x24mm AR Optic.
Because the two rifles are very much alike in terms of length, weight, and function, the AR style scope is a good fit for the Mini-14 receiver with the right scope mount.
Bushnell is another scope company that I have been involved with for several decades to date as well. I shoot these scopes on my special night-gunning varmint systems, shotguns for turkey and deer, and also for pest control projects that come up every now and again.
While the brand may not be as fancy as some, it holds up well, and even on a short 12 gauge slug gun hasn’t ever failed me, and that is over a period of time longer than most folks reading this have likely been alive.
The Bushnell AR Optic BTR is a great scope that uses a variety of BDC reticles, and as such you have options for the 5.56mm ( .223 Rem ) cartridge, or the several .30 cal options that the Mini-14 /Mini-30 is chambered in currently. Factoring in bullet drop placement is easy with the BDC system, and as such it is tailor-made for some longer-range shooting.
The scope also has an illuminated reticle making it a good choice for low light or night shooting on bright moon light nights, or against snow.
The scope weight is at 1.18 pounds, it uses lithium batteries (included with scope) and is built from aircraft-rated aluminum.
4. Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8x SFP
Again a scope that is a battle-style optic that fits the Mini 14 to perfection. The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8x This scope by Vortex is offered in several variations, and the price will vary a little bit based on which version and what reticle style you go with so be sure to check prices on Amazon before you buy and make sure you’re getting the one you expect.
The 1-8x magnification is perfect for those close-in shots on fast-moving targets, as well as for the longer-range shots at the extreme end of what the 5.56 is capable of.
The scope makes excellent use of the BDC3 reticle’s subtensions, and as such allows for rapid range estimation and accurate long range shot placement since you can compensate for drop and windage on the fly as long as you know your ammo.
Personally, I shoot several of these scopes at different power levels for different purposes. As offered by Vortex, this product leaves nothing on the table when it comes to value and quality.
It has a side focus adjustment knob, capped turrets, and while it lacks the side parallax adjustments, you shouldn’t need them.
Optical glass is good quality with an anti-reflective coating, but will distort at the edges to some degree. Then again, the Mini-14 is a closer-range scope anyway, so it really isn’t a big deal at all.
5. Primary Arms SLX 4-14X44mm FFP Mil-Dot
The Primary Arms SLX 4-14X44mm FFP Mil-Dot is moving towards big rifle glass that is found on chassis rifles for example.
There are times when even light rifles like the Mini-14 are set to do work that requires a larger scope with more power, light gathering abilities, fast-focus eyepiece, and zero reset turret settings that allow for fast ranging, and ballistics adjustments in the field.
This budget price glass can be regarded as a sight system that moves to the previous requirements in some ways.
While not in the high end target, sniper, or hunting section of the sporting goods store, the glass illustrated here is a good starter system and as such will tack onto a Mini-14 in any caliber just fine.
This is the option to go with if you’re really trying to reach out to the max distance with the Mini-14.
6. Tract Toric 3-15x30
My final offering in the area of sight dressing the Mini-14 is built by the newer company TRACT. Their Toric 3-15x30 is something I have used on several long range Ruger chassis-style rifles with very positive results.
I also have the TRACT Toric installed on a custom Mauser rifle in .224 Valkyrie and I can say in complete honesty I have never missed a shot in three years of hunting with this TRACT sight system.
Optical glass is of a high grade, and has even edges with no rainbow transmission, or distortion whatsoever. I have some vision issues now that I am a real senior citizen, and as such the TRACT’s great lens aids viewing greatly. I can tell junk glass in a New York minute due to my aging eyes.
This is a larger scope though, and in some cases a bit large for the Mini-14. That said, I have put this type of glass on the Mini-14 rifle with good results. When hunting the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming for rock chuck, we often move to larger glass as we push the .223 Rem to ranges as great as 600 yards. With this glass on a Mini-14 in that situation, the job gets done.
The Mini-14 is a great rifle that deserves a great scope. Hopefully now you will have no issues making shots with your own rifle. Each of these scopes are great options, but only you can pick the best one for your needs.
Whether you’re looking to snipe rock chucks and prairie dogs at 500yds+, or just looking to blast clay pigeons on a berm, there should be something here for everyone.
Looking for ruger precision rifle upgrades? Check out our guide.