Upon graduating, Kent State University graduate Kaitlin Bennett, 22, posed in front of the Kent Student Center with an AR-10. This was a direct jab at the insulting gun policies on campus that allow for guests to carry but not students, faculty, or staff. Since posting the photos she’s received praise and death threats.
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The most widely owned, versatile and adaptive firearm in the world today is without question the shotgun. Capable of a multitude of tasks, equally effective across an immense range, and adaptable, shotguns are astonishing tools. Every hunter and shooter should have at least one shotgun in their collection. There are guns designed around specific tasks and guns that excel at fitting many niches, many factors should be recognized and considered when buying a shotgun.
Shotguns come in a wide variety of types, makes, and models. Some shotguns are built specifically with a special use or task in mind, yet others are built for versatility and adaptability. The options can be mind-blowing with so many choices and use cases out there, finding the right fit in a shotgun for your collection takes some consideration.
Many shooters, sportsmen, and firearm enthusiasts might consider shotguns simply for bird hunting and wing shooting. Scratching down ducks, field hunts for geese, and upland bird hunts for pheasants, quail, and chukar are terrific occasions to shoulder a shotgun, but shotguns are much more than that. Shotguns in both 12 gauge and 20 gauge, the most common gauges of shotguns, are versatile tools used for law enforcement, home defense, tactical shooting, big game hunting, and the list goes on. There are considerations to account for when it comes to action type, budget, use case, and versatility when you’re shopping for a new or used shotgun.
Shotguns are extremely versatile, with the ability to function at a variety of tasks. Identifying a shotguns use, or deciding on an all-around firearm that performs well at many tasks calls for use case examination.
Shotguns are the original multi-tool, performing a variety of tasks equally well. A pump or semi-automatic gun chambered in 12 or 20 gauge with a 26 or 28-inch barrel equipped with screw in chokes can easily be considered the world’s most versatile firearm.
A shotgun barrel with a modified choke and loaded with light birdshot, will happily harvest upland game including pheasants, quail, rabbits, grouse, and squirrels. Feed that same shotgun 3” steel shot and you’ve got yourself the ultimate tool for taking ducks and geese. Change chokes and load up with slugs for hunting big game like deer and elk in areas that only allow low-velocity firearms. You can’t forget the perfect wild turkey gun in either spring or fall seasons, in most states shotguns are the only firearm allowed for turkey hunting.
Double up with the same gun as a formidable home defense weapon. Loaded with anything from buckshot and slugs to heavy game loads or even birdshot, a shotguns versatility lends itself to being a terrific option for home defense. Last but not least, don’t forget the sporting and recreation you can have with the same gun. Sporting clays, trap shooting, and tactical shooting at the range are all a perfect fit for the same pump or semi-auto in 12 or 20 gauge, with only the change of a choke and ammunition.
A12 gauge setup with tactical furniture and the latest accessories creates a shotgun that starts focusing its use towards tactical. Shotguns are effective as weapons for law enforcement, military, home defense, and bug out scenarios. Shotguns are effective at door and lock breaching, and even engaging a target behind a cinderblock wall. There are even “less than lethal” rounds available, loaded with things like sandbags and rubber balls for assault use cases.
Manufacturers make a variety of accessories for most of the popular shotgun makes and models including accessory rails, lights, lasers, side saddles, and a large selection of grips, stocks, and forearms. Tactical shotguns can be built with a staggering measure of individual need and necessity, often starting with a platform that most would consider an all-around shotgun. Tricking out the popular Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 into a tactical style shotgun for whatever your use case is easily done by the at home handyman with common tools.
Slug Gun Hunter
Most people don’t think of deer or elk hunting when they think of shotguns, but don’t overlook the effectiveness of taking big game with a shotgun. Interestingly enough, states like Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland had or still have shotgun only mandates when it comes to deer hunting in at least part of the state. Also, there are public hunting areas the country over that require archery, muzzleloader or shotgun only when hunting big game, including deer and elk.
Putting a shotgun to work in pursuit of big game and feeding it slugs is easy to work for modern shotguns. In this scenario, the all-around pump or semi-automatic gun we discussed earlier is perfectly happy to become your big game firearm with the switch of a choke and ammunition. Many hunters, however, opt to build or buy a shotgun designed specifically for big game hunting. Most of the time this amounts to swapping barrels on an all-around shotgun to one designed with iron sights or one tapped for scope rails or bases. In fact, most optics companies produce a line of shotgun scopes with slug gun hunters in mind.
No shotgun discussion is complete without touching on the refined and sophisticated class of shotguns. Elegant, balanced, and usually a substantial investment, shotguns designed for upland shooting can be works of art. The all-around pump or autoloader we looked at earlier is more than capable of taking the game on the wing, but for some upland hunters, a fine over and under or side by side is the ticket.
Still capable of shooting the same ammunition and fitting the use case scenarios of the shotgun in general, these noble guns are crafted with discerning clients in mind. Designed for bluebird skies and gentle walks along birdy cover and wing shooting over fine gun dogs, upland shotguns demand price tags in the thousands rather than hundreds. Some guns go as far as custom fit and balance to the shooter, and are equipped with interchangeable gauge tubes allowing a shooter to hunt or compete with the same balanced and custom gun in various gauge competitions.
The most obvious difference between shotgun types is the action type. One action may or may not have an advantage over another. Depending on your use case and intended purpose of the firearm, one type action may be better than another. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference and what you are comfortable with. Shotguns are available in a variety of actions including semi-auto, pump, break-over, and bolt action. Each action has its own pros and cons, use cases, and price point. Two actions stand above the rest when it comes to popularity and versatility, so for simplicity sake let’s take a closer look at those: pump action and semi-automatic.
At home in the duck blind, the deer stand, in a law enforcement patrol car, and on standby for home defense, semi-automatic shotguns have come a long way in recent years. With manufacturers like Benelli, Franchi, Browning, Stoeger, and Winchester all in competition for consumer dollars, the semi-auto shotgun market is full of great options.
Autoloaders have become increasingly reliable in recent years, and are a favorite for many shooters. Semi-automatic actions bring speed to the reload after the first round is fired that can’t be accomplished with a pump gun, making for faster follow up shots. Both gas and inertia action semi-automatic shotguns help reduce felt recoil by utilizing the guns recoil energy to cycle the action.
Pump Action Shotgun
Pump guns are classic American firearms both in modern manufacturing and classics passed down for generations. The pump action shotgun is known for reliability, versatility, and function.
With a mechanical action powered by the shooter, pump guns do not suffer from issues when cycling a variety of shotgun loads. Feeding a pump action shotgun a light brass #8 birdshot, followed by a deer slug, and a round of high brass #2’s behind that is no problem for a pump gun. Offered in a variety of gauges and barrel lengths, most shooters first shotgun is a pump. When it comes to shotguns, the pump action shotgun is the foundation.
New Trends and Emerging Designs
Things can sometimes move slowly in the firearm and shooting world. ArmaLite designed the ever popular AR-15 in 1956, 1911 pistols were developed in the year 1911, and the 30-06 round was established in 1906. Shotguns are no different, and their evolution has been slow. However, there are some new trends developing around shotguns recently.
Magazine Fed Shotguns
Fired by the ever popular AR-15 and AK-47, the convenience and function of detachable magazines have taken the shooting world by storm. Manufacturers understand that shooters are looking for something new and different. Incorporating the idea of a detachable magazine into pump action and semi-auto shotguns, gun makers like Remington and Mossberg have developed detachable magazine fed shotguns for shooters looking for something different.
AR-15 and AK-47 Style Shotguns
Based on the popularity of the modern sporting rifle designs like that AR-15 and AK-47, shotgun manufacturers are developing shotguns in the same style. Primarily designed for home defense, tactical shooting, and just plain looking “cool”; these shotguns come equipped with rails and customizing options similar to the AR and AK rifles. Companies like Tri-Star, Rock Island, and Siaga have developed tactical shooting systems designed around AR-15 and AK-47 styles.
Shotguns come in a variety of gauges, actions, and sizes. From little youth hunter starter pump guns to field guns chambered in 3 ½” magnum 12 gauge, and even revolver handguns chambered in .410. There is no other firearm so versatile and complementary to so many styles of hunting and shooting. Shotguns have a place in homes, camps, fields, duck blinds, patrol cars, and on gun ranges across America. Shotguns are as versatile as duct tape, and as tough as nails.
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In the release Linda Powell, Director of media Relations states:
NORTH HAVEN, CT – O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., a leading American firearms manufacturer, announced today its decision to discontinue selling products to Dick’s Sporting Goods, and its subsidiary, Field & Stream, in response to their hiring of gun control lobbyists in April 2018.
Effective immediately, O.F. Mossberg & Sons will not accept any future orders from Dick’s Sporting Goods or Field & Stream, and is in the process of evaluating current contractual agreements.
“It has come to our attention that Dick’s Sporting Goods recently hired lobbyists on Capitol Hill to promote additional gun control.” said Iver Mossberg, Chief Executive Officer of O.F. Mossberg & Sons. “Make no mistake, Mossberg is a staunch supporter of the U.S. Constitution and our Second Amendment rights, and we fully disagree with Dick’s Sporting Goods’ recent anti-Second Amendment actions.”
Consumers are urged to visit one of the thousands of pro-Second Amendment firearm retailers to make their purchases of Mossberg and Maverick® firearms.
Vista Outdoors announced Tuesday that it is shifting its focus back on ammunition and shooting accessories and is exploring options for exiting its firearms brands. The Savage and Stevens firearms brands are not the only brands Vista plans to exit. It also will explore the sale of several brands including Bell helmets, Giro snow goggles, Blackburn handlebar tape, and Kimmy Styks paddle boards.
The company aims to refocus back to its core portfolio after a rapid acquisition of brands that scaled it outside of its niche. There is also some discussion that the company has received some backlash after the fatal shooting of 17 people in Parkland, Fla. Due to its firearms brands that produce assault-style weapons.
When a retailer closes its door to selling a manufacturer’s products the process is to usually return unsold merchandise. However, When Dick’s Sporting Goods decided to no longer sell assault-style rifles at its Field and Stream stores they decided they would destroy the merchandise.
“We are in the process of destroying all firearms and accessories that are no longer for sale as a result of our February 28th policy change,” a spokeswoman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This decision was made following the shooting at Parkland, Fla., high school. In addition Dick’s Sporting Goods plans to no longer sell high capacity magazines or sell firearms to anyone under 21 years old. This now has Dick’s facing two lawsuits for limiting firearm purchases by age.
The so called “assault-style weapons or rifles” is a term used to describe semi-automatic rifles with large magazines that were designed for combat and rapid fire use” – 1994 U.S. Department of Justice. These are also weapons described to feature a detachable magazine, pistol grips, and other accessories that make the rifle look like military rifles.
This widely shared and debated topic of YETI® V.S. the NRA originated from an email sent out on the weekend of April 20-22nd. The NRA emailed its members over the weekend that YETI® decided to cut business ties with the NRA Foundation. The email and social media outrage immediately lead to some customers destroying YETI® products, including the destruction of a YETI® cooler with the use of tannerite.
The events and outrage over the weekend lead to YETI® to defend its commitment to the second amendment. The post can be seen below:
YETI® explains that they were offering alternative customization program broadly available to consumers and organizations, including the NRA Foundation, and eliminating a group of outdated discounting programs.
The stance between YETI® and the NRA Foundation is still ongoing.
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The idea of a pistol caliber round in a rifle is not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination. Starting in a bygone time, when musket balls and muzzleloading firearms were the weaponry of the day, shooters recognized the simplicity of packing one caliber of ammunition, and thus carried both long gun and pistol in the same caliber. Later, the cowboys of the west developed systems not to foreign to us now, rifle and pistol chambered in the same cartridge, allowing the need for only a single type of ammunition to be carried. Sometime between then and now the golden era of rifle cartridges, ballistics, and wild cats was born. Shooters poured themselves over statistics of bullets traveling two and three thousand feet per second and effective shooting ranges stretched beyond what many thought would have ever been possible. In the midst of the cartridge revolution, of the development of new weapons systems, and of the age of modern shooting came a resurrection of pairing what is typically thought of as a pistol cartridge into a rifle platform.
Arms makers have dabbled in and out of pistol type rounds in long guns over the years, and many of those firearms have grown a cult following. Hi-Point Firearms, based in Ohio, has been producing the 995 carbines since the late ‘90s, right through the Clinton gun ban. Guns like the Hi-Point Hunter series, the Marlin Camp 9, and Marlin Camp 45 have scratched the itch of shooters who are looking for a compact rifle in a pistol cartridge. Keeping the tradition of rifles built with pistol calibers alive, these guns were the beginning of a new era.
Recently a mainstream resurgence has occurred in the firearms industry and shooters are taking notice. Manufacturers like CZ, Ruger, and Sig Sauer are turning out modern carbine rifles in pistol calibers, and the trend doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Stop by any tactical firearm manufacturer’s website and it won’t take long to find their short barreled rifle system chambered in a popular pistol round. The trend is evident, so why all the commotion?
Pistol Caliber Carbine Features
So what makes shooting a rifle chambered in a pistol caliber so appealing? Is there really more than hype and marketing to consider when it comes to pistol caliber carbines? Let’s consider some of the reasons these rifles are gaining popularity, and why you might want to consider purchasing one.
Economical to Shoot – Blasting away at the range dropping hundreds, maybe even thousands of rounds of empty brass is exciting. Shooters spending a day at the range smoking standard centerfire ammo will have a sore wallet. However, if they change up the cartridge from 556mm or 7.62X39 to steel cased ball ammo in 9mm…all of a sudden one exciting day of shooting can turn into two, with some money to spare!
Less Recoil – With all that shooting you will be doing by saving on ammo costs, you sure don’t want to abuse your shoulder. Pistol ammo shoots at lower velocities, which in turn produces far less felt recoil. The break on a rifle stock hammering your shoulder at the range is nice not only for long sessions of shooting but also for shooting drills. Learning to breathe, proper trigger control, and steadying sight picture is much easier to do when recoil is lessened. Shooters who utilize lower recoil ammo for drills and practice are less likely to develop a shooting flinch.
Magazine Size and Capacity – Lay a 30-06 round next to a 9mm or 45ACP for that matter and it is easy to see how much space is saved in chambering, bolt, action, and in the magazine by shooting the smaller pistol calibers. Many manufacturers have even made popular pistol magazines that you may already have on hand fit their rifle systems. Kel-Tec and Ruger both make 9mm rifle offerings that accept Glock 9mm pistol magazines! Load several 33 round 9mm Glock mags for the range and compare them to size and weight of loaded 30 round mags for your AR-15, or an AR-10.
More Places to Shoot – Because of the lower velocity of pistol cartridges, indoor ranges, and steel target ranges allow pistol fire while limiting typical rifle cartridges. Running a carbine rifle setup on a pistol cartridge opens up the door to a whole new selection of places to run and gun. Not that we don’t love shooting our pistols at the range, but having the option to run a shouldered long gun at the indoor range is amazing.
Suppression – Semi-automatic carbine rifles are notoriously picky when it comes to subsonic ammo, suppressors, and fire and ejection cycles. Standard rifles can be tuned to fire subsonic ammo through a suppressor no doubt, but switching back to standard ammo and dropping the suppressor after the rifle is tuned to shoot suppressed creates its own set of problems. Pistol ammunition, and actions built to run pistol ammunition are happy to eat whatever ammo you feed them, subsonic or not. Unthread the suppressor from your favorite 9mm semi-auto pistol and hook it up on your CZ Scorpion Evo 3 and you’re ready to rock and roll.
Use Case, Can a Pistol Caliber Carbine be Useful?
So it’s pretty evident that folks enjoy shooting pistol caliber rifles, and the firearm manufacturers have taken notice. Aside from being a fun day at the range, cheaper to shoot, and easier on recoil; do pistol caliber rifles have any real-world use as a tool? Is there a niche or use case for a rifle chambered in a pistol cartridge worth spending the cash? Here are some use case scenarios that will allow you to be the judge.
Home Defense – For the most part, pistol caliber carbines are small, light, and easy to handle. Pick up a CZ Scorpion Evo 3 or Kriss Vector Gen II and shoulder it. You will quickly see how ergonomical, user-friendly, and efficient these rifle are to maneuver. These rifles are ideal when it comes to close quarter action, home defense, and even urban bug out situations. No doubt many will argue that the 9mm isn’t the ideal home defense round, or that the 9mm is too weak for this type of personal defense work. Without question, taking fire from a 9mm would ruin your day, but if you just can’t stomach defending your castle with the same cartridge the US Army carries, opt for the 45ACP model. Launch a 185-grain .45 caliber bullet at over 1,000fps and knockdown is no longer an issue!
Bug Out – We touched on this factor briefly when covering home defense, but considering a pistol caliber carbine in a bug out type scenario is worth a deeper dive. There is no doubt that AK/AR rifle systems have their place in a toolkit designed for bug out scenarios, but depending on your system, a pistol caliber carbine might be a better fit. Paired with a pistol in the same caliber that accepts the same magazine, this rifle presents a system in which there is no better way to simplify. This creates easy thinking and confidence in a stressful scenario…one type of ammo to pack and one type of mag to pack it in. If weight becomes a factor and mobility goes from four wheels to two feet, packing a 4 pound Kel-Tec SUB-200, or the Aero Survival Rifle at 5 pounds, that breaks down to drop into a backpack and gladly accepts Glock mags, is tough to beat. Pistol caliber rifles are definitely worth a second look when you are considering your bug out pack out.
Camp / Ranch and Varmint Rifle – In a sort of patrol type use case around the ranch, or poking around the hunting lease, a pistol caliber carbine like the Ruger PC Carbine is an ideal fit. A handy rifle with iron sights or a low power scope designed to shoot inside of 100 yards has dozens of uses including varmint control and small game meat for the table. With more firepower than the hugely popular 22LR but not near as much bark as a standard rifle cartridge, a practical little rifle around camp is a valuable tool.
Is There Room in Your Collection for a Pistol Caliber Rifle?
Running a pistol cartridge, be it 9mm, 45ACP, or .40 S&W, in a rifle platform has many advantages. If you are destined to purchase a rifle for plinking, self-defense, or as a camp rifle, a pistol caliber rifle is a great choice. Arms manufacturers have taken notice, and the market is chock-full of options for every application and budget.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook recently stood up for his beliefs in the fundamentals of democracy when approached by gun control proponents to remove NRA TV from Apple TV. Cook relayed in an interview following the decision: “You can’t have democracy without discourse, that’s why the National Rifle Association’s channel is staying on Apple TV.”
The boycott of companies that stream NRA TV has come to surface following the Parkland shooting. When approached, Cook revealed that he, in fact, disliked the NRA’s position and tactics, but believed in the importance of offering a point of view from both sides of the issue for Apple. Cook also made it a point to clarify that the NRA channel is not directly streamed from Apple, but available on as an app download.
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The short barrel carbine rifle is aremarkably popular rifle system with endless use cases and versatility. Rifles like the AR–15, Mini–30, Mini–14, and AK–47 offer adaptability at the range and in the field. While the AR–15 is by far the most popular carbine rifle among shooters today, discerning shooters often consider other rifle platforms the industry offers. One rifle that has quite the following is the Mini–14, a design steeped in tradition and birthed by the tried and proven M1 Garand. Comparing the Mini–14 and AR–15 platforms reveals many similarities and differences, confirming strengths and weaknesses one may have over the other. This article features a head–to–head comparison between these two popular rifles.
The Case for the Mini–14
Jeff Cooper, perhaps the father of the modern rifle and pistol tactical techniques, said of the Mini-14: “It seems to me that the Mini-14 is a curiously successful marriage of the .30 US carbine and the .223 cartridge. It will do everything the carbine would do, but better; and everything the M-16 will do, but better.” (Guns for Home Defense)
Introduced by Sturm, Ruger in 1973, the Mini-14 chambered in .223 caliber was called the Mini-14 because of its design based on a scaled-down version of the M14 rifle. Mechanically similar to the battle-proven M1 Garand the Mini-14 is built with a self-cleaning, fixed-piston gas system. Featuring an adjustable ghost ring iron sight and detachable box magazines, the Mini-14 is produced in a variety of models, the most popular being the ranch rifle. Outfitted with either wood or plastic traditional style stocks in blued and stainless finish, the Mini-14 ranch rifle is a handy fast action reliable carbine.
The Mini-14 has found a loyal following with shooters who have experience shooting the M1, M14, and M1A, and appreciate the design in the .223 caliber. The Garand rifle platform was said by General Patton, “In my opinion, the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.” In the hands of a rifleman, the Mini-14 is a powerful, tough and proven rifle capable of many functions across use cases; including home defense, tactical, and sporting.
The Case for the AR–15
Developed by Armalite in 1956, the AR platform was developed in hopes of fulfilling a US military contract. Armalite was not selected for the military contract and sold the platform to Colt Manufacturing. Colt developed the platform for the civilian rifle market and the most popular carbine platform in America was born.
Easily the most adaptable, flexible, and versatile rifle platform ever devised; the AR-15 is modular in nature, allowing for customization with an endless array of aftermarket components. Built on synthetic stocks, grips, and rails the AR-15 has become known as the “black rifle” because of its similarity in appearance to the military issue M 16. Many non-shooters mistakenly classify the AR-15 as a non-civilian grade rifle simply because of its appearance.
Accurate and capable, the lightweight carbine AR-15 rifle is produced by many arms makers in many configurations for defense, sporting, and tactical use. Versatile enough for long range and excellent for in close tactical shooting, the AR-15 has proven itself as the modern sporting rifle of the day.
The fact is that many shooters have already made up their minds concerning which platform is better than the other when it comes to the AR-15 versus the Mini-14. However, this decision most likely was made without considering all the factors. Brand loyalty runs deep in the firearms world, so it’ll take a high-level view between the two platforms to leave the opinions at home.
Pros for the Mini-14
Perception – The Mini-14 is considered a “safe” rifle in most states with strict gun laws. Unfortunately, many states have laws restricting the possession of AR-15 rifles. If you live, work, or travel in one of these states, a Mini-14 ranch rifle with a wooden stock and a 5 or 10 round magazine might be the solution. The look of a wooden stock on a sporting rifle is easier to digest for many non-shooting folks, it looks like Grandpa’s bolt gun.
Unfortunately, there is a large debate surrounding the AR-15 and its possessionas a legal rifle, most being caused simply by the appearance of the gun. Be sure to know your local laws pertaining to owning a carbine before deciding on which carbine is right for you.
Stock Trigger – The Mini-14 by Sturm Ruger is manufactured with an exceptional trigger when it comes to carbines. Shooters know that a quality trigger is a vital part of accuracy. The trigger group on the Mini-14 is not easily swapped or adjusted, thankfully Ruger equips the rifle with a quality trigger.
Generally speaking, the trigger group on stock AR-15 rifles are not that impressive. With that in mind, upgrading the trigger on your AR-15 is easy to do, but at a cost.
Piston Operation – The fixed gas piston system used in the Mini 14, based on the M1 Garand, is cleaner and more efficient than the direct impingement action typically used in the AR 15 platform. This feature leads to a cleaner running rifle with less fouling and jamming in the Mini 14 than the AR 15. The Mini 14 is not equipped with a forward bolt assist, because it doesn’t need one.
AR-15 carbines have a reputation of being finicky with issues like short stroking and ejection failures. The direct impingement action in the AR-15 platform is more likely to see jamming issues than the Mini-14 action.
Low Profile – The Mini-14 rifle has a lower profile compared to the AR-15 design. The low profile composition allows for lower mounted optics, and for a traditional “hunting rifle look”.
AR-15 rifles are built with a higher profile, options like pistol grips and flat top rails create a higher profile. The raised profile of the AR-15 rifle makes mounting optics interesting, and gives the rifle more of a tactical look.
Cold Hammer Forged Barrel – Sturm Ruger outfits their Mini-14 rifles with an extremely durable forged barrel from the factory. The durability of a cold hammered barrel cannot be beaten. The end result of the cold hammered forged barrel is longer barrel life.
Most AR-15 rifle platforms come standard with pencil barrels. Lighter weight factory barrels are not as durable as the forged barrel standard on the Mini-14. AR-15 barrels are easy to swap and upgrade, but again, at an added expense.
Pros for the AR–15
Accessories and Customizing – The greatest advantage of the AR-15 over any other rifle system is its ability to be easily customized. The interchangeable nature of the AR-15 makes for a rifle platform that is totally customizable and adaptable. This coupled with the popularity of AR-15 rifles has driven an explosion in the market around AR accessories and options for customizing your AR. From AR optics to stocks, slings, barrels, foregrips, and heat shields, there are countless options for customizing your AR-15.
The Mini-14 platform does not lend itself to added accessories or customizing. The Mini-14 carbine rifle is only produced by Sturm Ruger, limiting the production of aftermarket options for the rifle.
Accuracy – Stemming from the availability of quality accessories and customizing parts, the AR-15 can be made to produce extreme accuracy. With all things being equal in consideration of ammunition and range conditions, expect greater accuracy from an AR-15 over the Mini-14.
The largest complaint and shortcoming of the Mini-14 rifle is accuracy. Designed to be used as a varmint style ranch rifle, the Mini-14 has respectable accuracy inside of 200 yards, but don’t expect it to perform like a bench rest rifle.
Magazine Availability – Because of the fantastic popularity of the AR-15 rifle, there are legions of companies building and selling magazines for the AR. If you plan to keep a healthy stock of mags for your rifle at a decent price, then the AR-15 is for you.
The Ruger Mini-14 does not have the circulation of the AR-15 platform and you’re much less likely to find as many options when it comes to price and variety for the Mini-14 magazines.
Options with Manufacturers – Colt’s patent on the AR platform expired in 1977 opening the market to all manufacturers. The number of companies selling the AR-15 rifle platform and rifles based on its design is too hard to define. From traditional arms companies like Remington to tactical rifle companies like Bushmaster, the AR-15 market is full of various gun builders all competing for your business.
The only manufacturer of the Mini 14 platform is Sturm Ruger. Consider that even though Ruger makes the Mini-14, they also produce a line of AR-15 rifles.
The debate between the Mini-14 versus AR-15 rifles is one based on both personal preference and use case. Both systems have their pros and cons, and their die-hard followers as well. Shooting either rifle at the range or on the hunt is enjoyable and fulfilling. At the end of the day, maybe it’s best if you decide which you should own by shooting and testing both.
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The 20 Versus 30 Round Magazine Debate | Carbine Rifle Magazine Capacity
The 20 round magazine versus the 30 round magazine…it’s a hotly debated topic. Magazine capacity for rifle platforms like the AR 15, Mini 14, and AK 47 are disputed in many circles. From home defense to law enforcement and other disciplines, this debate has logical pros and cons for both 20 and 30 round magazines in most of these disciplines. A quick search on any number of online forums will quickly land you in a deep rabbit hole of theories, use cases, and opinions. And for good reason! The variety of opinions and conclusions by so many shooters is often due to the versatility of carbine rifles. With so many diverse uses, there are bound to be multiple details to consider when deciding on a 20 vs. 30 round magazine for the intended purpose of the rifle.
20 VS. 30 Round Magazine Considerations
Many factors come into play when you’re considering magazine selection for your carbine rifle. There are multiple components to recognize such as weight, rifle profile, handling, and specific use cases that make a case for one magazine capacity over the other. Though it may not sound like much, the added weight of 10 rounds of ammunition is a factor to consider before you simply grab a magazine, especially for every day carry (EDC). However, weight is not the only element to consider, the protrusion, or profile of the magazine when mounted in the rifle can be pivotal in certain circumstances, especially in close quarters like a home or vehicle. The versatility and adaptive nature of carbine rifles makes them the right rifle for many situations, but only when fitted with the correct components and accessories. Some use cases and disciplines that benefit from one size magazine over the other include: tactical shooting, precision shooting, personal defense, and law enforcement.
Training for tactical scenarios means aggressive shooting and movement in a high-stress environment. It also means training for quick and effective shooting on targets. Speed is vital, but so is accuracy revealing one source of debate between a 20 vs. 30 round magazine.
Range time spent developing tactical skills. Simulating stressful shooting scenarios engaging multiple targets in a short amount of time calls for 30 round magazines in the well. Using a 30 round magazine allows you to spend more time on the trigger and less time swapping and reloading mags. Consider using 30 round magazines in a 300 round training session. This will save you 5 mag changes over running 20 round magazines.
■Sitting Position Drills
■Practical Kneeling Position Drills
■Follow UP Target Acquisition Drills
■Stance and Hold Drills
Running and gunning. Engaging targets from cover and quickly moving to the next engagement in a tactical training environment requires many shots sent down range. The considerable trigger time in this type of shooting is a perfect fit for 30 round mags and their larger capacity.
■Three Gun Shooting
■Law Enforcement and Military Training
■Obstacle Course Training and Practice
Prone position shooting. Shooting prone in a tactical situation usually means you’re training to get low and stay low. Steadying your rifle while lying flat and picking out targets in the prone position is best done as close to the ground as possible. In prone shooting, 20 round magazines really shine. The shorter magazine allows shooters to bring the rifle down, helping to steady the gun and keep the shooters head down. A 30 round magazine may force the shooter profile up, or in a higher shooting position which results in decreased accuracy.
■Prone Position Rifle Handling Training
■Prone Marksmanship Drills
■Prone Shooting Variable Range Practice
Just like their bolt gun cousins, carbine rifles are individuals. Each rifle is unique and prefers certain ammunition loads, bullet weights, and types. Whether you’re trying loads in 5.56 in your AR 15, .223 in a Mini 14, or 7.62X39 in an AK, it’s important to test different bullets and loads. This determines what ammunition is the most accurate, cost-effective, and cleanest functioning for your rifle. Remember not only to try different bullet weights and types, but ammunition made by various manufacturers. In these precision shooting or bench shooting applications, one magazine stands out as a clear choice.
Bench Shooting. Tuning your carbine rifle to get every ounce of accuracy it has to offer is best done from a bench. Carbine rifles are ergonomically a pleasure to shoot, and reaching out to distances past 500 yards from a bench is a great achievement. For bench shooting, 20 round magazines are the best fit. Keeping the rifle package more compact makes shooting from a bench easier. Bench shooting typically doesn’t involve a lot of trigger time either.
Load Testing. When you’re experimenting with different loads to determine which ammunition excels in your carbine, a 20 round magazine is the most practical. Five round groupings are a great test of accuracy, so loading just 5 in the mag makes the 20 round magazine the better fit. Also consider loading 4 variants of ammunition, 5 rounds at a time to fill your 20 round magazine. Pay attention to how each of the different types of ammunition feed and cycle from the magazine to ejection. A 20 round magazine is a superb tool for this type of test.
The concept of a home defense carbine is rooted in emergency situation planning and readiness. Like a first aid kit or a seat belt the idea of a safety precaution is that it will hopefully never be needed. The fact remains, however, that in the need of a firearm for protection of home and family you don’t want to be outgunned. Fitting a 30 round magazine to your home defense weapon keeps it practical to handle, while still providing an additional 10 rounds of firepower over the 20 round magazine. In the simple consideration of superior firepower the 30 round magazine wins hands down, however, there are other considerations for general defense use for both home and vehicle.
Home Defense. Whatever platform you choose, carbine rifles are proven defense weapons providing both security and peace of mind. There are few greater deterrents to occupied home intrusion than a defense firearm in the hands of a trained shooter willing to stand their ground. Many factors come into play when considering what magazine to load in your home defense carbine, make sure you examine the options before you decide.
Storage. How do you plan to safely store your home defense carbine? Can it easily be accessed, but not mistakenly endanger your home? Many guns safes are available with quick code or fingerprint access. Consider if there’s room in your safe for a 20 round or 30 round magazine in one rifle. Many safes can accommodate a 20 round mag, but a 30 just won’t fit. Think about these concerns.
●Quick Access Safe
Vehicle Defense. Dependent on the local laws where you plan to be in your vehicle, a carbine rifle and ammunition magazine(s) offer a high level of security when you’re on the road. While concealed carry or vehicle destined handguns are a more common choice, a rifle offers several advantages in many situations. Many states with castle doctrine laws include an occupied vehicle as your castle, in this case, you have the right to defend your life and property when you’re in your vehicle. 20 round magazines are worth considering in a vehicle defense weapon, taking into account the tight quarters inside a vehicle and the possibilities of the rifle being caught by objects such as seatbelts. Utilizing your vehicle’s storage capacity offers the option of carrying spare magazines. You can easily carry both 20 and 30 round magazines in your vehicle.
■Be Aware of Local Laws
■Consider Vehicle Storage
■Pack Multiple Magazines
Law Enforcement / Security
One area of this debate is more heavily tested than any other, 20 round vs. 30 round magazine use in law enforcement. From EDC to active shooter response, the right magazine is absolutely necessary.
Everyday Carry (EDC). Carrying the added weight of a rifle as an everyday tool can take its toll. The weight difference between the 30 round and 20 round magazine may not sound like much, but it makes a difference in EDC. Men and women who carry a carbine on a regular basis should carefully consider their needs and probable situations when deciding on what magazine capacity to run.
■Weight vs. Rounds Trade-Off
■Practical Situational Use Case
■Access to Backup Magazines
■Space Consideration and Carry Options
Vehicle Transport. The majority of law enforcement agents use patrol vehicles in the line of duty. Access to a vehicle to store and transport the weight and bulk of a weapons system is a critical advantage for law enforcement personnel. Consideration should be given to the support a vehicle offers and how it can affect the choice between running 20 and 30 round magazines. 20 Round Mag Considerations from a Patrol Vehicle. Some law enforcement agents might see the advantage in saving weight and space running 20 round magazines with the support of surplus mags and ammo in the patrol vehicle. The 20 round magazine also makes operating from a vehicle easier considering the tight quarters from behind a steering wheel and encountering obstacles like a seatbelt. 30 Round Mag Considerations from a Patrol Vehicle. 30 round magazines obviously offer 10 additional rounds of ammunition over 20 round magazines. Those 10 rounds may become critical in a law enforcement situation and engagement. The tradeoff of more ammunition before a mag change may be worth the concession of added weight and a larger rifle profile.
Magazines in carbine rifles are important tools for whatever platform you choose. Use cases for these versatile rifles help dictate what magazine makes the most sense for your particular application. Practicality and versatility in carbine rifles allow you to easily switch between magazines based on the task at hand. Having a variety of magazines in different sizes allows your rifle to be adaptable and improves your systems all-around function. 20 vs. 30 round magazine talking points aren’t black and white, there are diverse and distinct factors to take into account for each. What’s your opinion on the debate? Which magazine capacity do you prefer and why?
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