For many shooters, the Ruger Min-14 is an enigma. The Mini 14 isn’t really a hunting rifle, and it isn’t a military rifle. It is a fun rifle to shoot, but many shooters still wonder exactly what role the Mini-14 fills.
In fact, the Mini-14 fills many shooting roles for many people. Many of these roles necessitate a scope mounted on the rifle. This leads us to find the best scope picks for these varied roles of the Ruger Mini-14 rifle.
Finding the right scope for your Mini-14 means knowing what sorts of shooting you prefer. If you want to hunt, the Mini-14 can be set up to perform admirably. If you prefer competitive shooting, the Mini-14 can excel in such things as 3-gun matches. Varmint hunting and livestock protection are staples of Mini-14 uses. Some people just like to shoot the Mini-14 as a plinking rifle. The challenge is to find the best scope for each of these pursuits.
The nature of the Ruger Mini-14 puts it in the short and medium-range shooting categories. Most Ruger Mini-14 rifles are chambered for the .223/5.56 NATO cartridge. Ruger has produced the Mini-14 in many other caliber configurations, but the .223 Remington remains the most popular.
I have one of the few Ruger Mini-14s chambered for .300 Blackout. The combination of this cartridge and the Ruger design is extremely effective. My goal is to help you decide which scope is the best option for a Mini-14 that meets your needs and expectations.
What You Need in a Mini-14 Scope
As I have said, the scope that you mount on your Mini-14 depends a lot on how you intend to use your Mini-14 rifle. Consequently, I have focused my list on these possible uses and which scopes seem to best fit the different needs of each style of shooting or hunting.
However, there are some scope features that cross most of the category lines. Among the things that I looked for in each of these scopes for the Mini-14 include the following.
The Mini-14 is, in my opinion, a mid-range rifle when chambered for the .223/5.56 NATO cartridge. This puts the maximum effective range of the Mini-14 at no more than 400 yards.
These distances are usually associated with variable magnification scopes in the 3x – 9x magnification range. In fact, I think that 9x is a bit much and magnification should be kept below 7x. However, the 3-9x variable scopes are popular and easy to find.
Construction and Materials
Ruger Mini-14 ranch rifle is, in many instances, a working rifle that is subject to heavy use that can include exposure to extreme weather, transportation in working vehicles, and rough use by the shooter using the rifle. This calls for the best materials and construction methods possible in a rifle scope.
I tend to look for rifle scopes constructed using aircraft-grade aluminum and a single integrated tube design. In addition, I want any rifle scope I use to be O-ring sealed and gas purged to ensure a waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof design.
Optical Glass and Clarity
The heart of any optical scope is the quality of the glass used in the lenses. High-quality scope lenses use the best optical glass available. The easiest way for scope manufacturers to save money is to use lower-quality optical glass. I insist that the optical glass used in any cope I recommend be of as high quality for the money as possible.
Some shooters shy away from optical glass produced in China. I admit that a lot of Chinese optical glass is inferior in quality and should be avoided. However, my experience tells me that there are Chinese sources of optical glass that are as good as the glass coming out of Japan or Europe.
In the case of choosing a scope for the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, affordability becomes a big issue. I see instances where people over-scope their rifles, and this is particularly true of Ruger Mini-14 rifles.
Several things to keep in mind when choosing a scope for a Mini-14 include:
- The Mini-14 is not for long-range shooting. The scope you choose should not exceed the capabilities of your rifle.
- A Ruger Mini-14 rifle is not a competition target shooting rifle. The short barrel of these rifles is good enough for most hunting, varmint control, and plinking uses, but the Ruger Mini-14 is not – and will never be – a tack-driving 500-yard rifle. There is no need to invest the money to put an extremely accurate tier 1 target shooting scope on a Mini-14.
- Choose a scope that features ease of use, rapid target acquisition, and easy adjustments. Avoid lots of trick features that may be useful for long-range hunting or competitive target shooting. The Ruger Mini-14 is a working rifle that needs a durable working rifle scope.
My advice for choosing the best scope for Mini-14 rifles is to match your skill, your needs, and the characteristics of the rifle to the scope you choose. Your scope and rifle need to work together efficiently and effectively for the best results.
The Best Rifle Scopes for the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle
No one scope will perform every job adequately or effectively. Understanding what you need from a scope is as important as the construction and operation of the scope. This is especially true for the Ruger Mini-14 when you consider all the different ways Mini-14s are used.
My list reflects the broad appeal and usages of the Mini-14, and I hope you find my suggestions helpful as you choose a scope for your Mini-14.
1. Best General Purpose Mini-14 Scope – Vortex Optics Crossfire II Second Focal Plane Rifle Scope
Vortex Optics offers several scopes that fit well with the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle. I think that the Vortex Optics Crossfire II is, perhaps, the best overall general-purpose scope for the Ruger Mini-14. The features of these scopes make them useable in a wide range of shooting situations and purposes.
The Vortex Optics Crossfire II checks off most of the boxes that mark the characteristics of the best scope for Mini-14 rifles. The features list included with these Vortex Optic scopes is impressive, especially when you consider the relatively low cost of the Crossfire II scopes.
A general-purpose scope should be good at almost all aspects and functions that a shooter expects in an optical scope. Some of the most important of these factors are found in the Crossfire II scope line from Vortex Optics:
The 2x to 7x magnification range is perfectly matched to the Ruger Mini-14 ranch rifle. At the lowest magnification, you can easily manage short-range shooting. The highest magnification allows you to take the Ruger Mini-14 out to its full effective range with no problems.
Dead-Hold BDS Reticle
Vortex uses its patented Dead-Hold BDS reticle. This bullet drop compensation reticle is matched to the .223/5.56 NATO cartridge, the BDC reticle gives you the edge to hit targets and shoot accurately that not all scopes can offer.
Second Focal Plane Reticle
The reticle sits on the second focal plane of the Crossfire II scope. No matter what magnification settings you choose, the reticle stays the same size. At the highest magnification, the markings on the reticle are a true and accurate method for estimating windage and elevation adjustments.
Long eye relief and a wide eye box provide quick target acquisition under almost any circumstance. This enables accurate shooting while maintaining comfort for the shooter. A fast-focus eyepiece further enhances the sight picture through this scope.
Lenses and Coatings
Vortex Optics utilizes the best optical glass available and keeps its scopes within the price range target. The glass used in these scopes is some of the highest quality scope glass that is produced in China and undergoes a scrupulous inspection and quality control by Vortex Optics.
All Vortex scopes feature fully multi-coated lenses to provide the best in light transmission, glare reduction, and scratch resistance. Vortex Optics Crossfire II scopes are able to gather ambient light exceptionally well, even at maximum magnification.
Turrets and Adjustments
Capped turrets are fitted to the Crossfire II scope. Under the caps, you will find finger-adjustable turrets that provide 1/4 MOA adjustments per click. Once your scope is zeroed, the turrets can be reset to the zero position for quick and accurate elevation and windage adjustments in the field.
Vortex uses the best quality aircraft-grade aluminum for its scope construction. The Crossfire II scope is built around a single-piece one-inch tube for a rigid and durable platform. The tube and its components are O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for waterproof and fog-proof operation
- Magnification – 2x – 7x
- Objective Lens Diameter – 32mm
- Eye relief – 3.9 inches
- Focal Plane – Second
- Field of View at 100 yards – 42 feet – 12.6 feet
- Adjustment per click – 1/4 MOA
- Parallax Setting – 100 yards
- Length – 11.5 inches
- Weight – 14.3 ounces
The Pros and Cons of the Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scope
- Very affordable.
- Includes a BDC reticle. An illuminated reticle version is available as well.
- Zero resettable turrets.
- The Vortex Optics No Question Asked warranty.
- Some distortion may occur at the highest magnification.
- Some users report the turrets clicks are not precise.
My Thoughts on the Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scope
When you pair the Vortex Optics Crossfire II riflescope with the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, you have what I consider to be an almost perfect all-around rifle and scope pairing. I consider this one of these best values and the best scopes for mini-14 rifles. This scope shines at medium-range shooting where most hunters find success.
Last update on 2022-05-17 at 14:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
2. Best Hunting Scope – Leupold VX-3HD 1.5-5×20 (1 inch) CDS-ZL
If hunting is your passion and a Mini-14 is one of the tools you use, then it may pay to put the best scope for hunting you can source on your rifle.
When it comes to premium scopes, Leupold always comes to mind. Leupold doesn’t market a scope directed specifically at the Mini-14. However, by looking at the magnification available, the size, and other features, you can find a Leupold scope that will work well with the Mini-14.
In my case, the choice from Leupold for a Mini-14 scope is the Leupold VX-3HD 1.5- 5×20 CDS-ZL riflescope. The relatively low magnification settings fit well with the Mini-14’s ballistic characteristics and the other features of this scope make it a good match for a Mini-14 ranch rifle.
You would be quite correct in your thinking to assume that the features list for the Leupold VX Scope would be anything less than superlative.
This Leupold scope includes all the features you would expect from a Tier 1 scope – and a few you might be surprised to find:
Each Leupold VX-3HD scope is fitted with a Duplex CDS-ZL reticle. Duplex reticles are among the most popular types for hunters. The heavy posts that narrow to a thin crosshair are especially useful in heavy brush or low light conditions.
Customized Dial Settings
The CDS-ZL (custom dial system – zero lock) allows you a simple method of allowing a customized setting for your equipment to adjust for holdover corrections. You can enter the exact ballistics and environmental conditions. Simply turn the dial to the correct range and aim dead-on for impressive accuracy.
Zero Lock Dial
Never worry about the accidental movement of your scope settings again. Leupold’s zero lock dials ensure a positive lock when engaged that keeps your scope settings true. The lock can be quickly and easily disengaged when critical turret adjustments need to be made.
Leupold’s Elite Optical System
You get the best and brightest with Leupold’s Elite Optical System, which ensures great light transmission, glare reduction, and optical resolution under any conditions. The Leupold Twilight Light Management System can give you many additional minutes at dusk and dawn when light conditions may be marginal.
Manufacturing and Materials
Leupold scopes are designed, machined, and assembled in the USA using the highest quality aircraft aluminum and machined to the tightest possible tolerances to ensure the best scope possible for your rifle.
100% waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof, these Leupold VX scopes are assembled with O-ring seals and are nitrogen purged. Leupold scopes are among the most dependable and lightest scopes on the market.
Backed by Leupold’s legendary customer care and lifetime warranty, you can take your Leupold scope into the harshest conditions imaginable without worry, even if the unthinkable happens.
- Focal Plane – Second focal plane reticle
- Adjustment per Click – 1/4 MOA per click
- Magnification – 1.5x to 5x
- Field of View at 100 Yards – 67.6 – 24.1 feet
- Eye Relief – 4.4 inches
- Fixed parallax adjustment – 150 yards
- Tube diameter – 1 inch
- Length overall – 9.71 inches
- Weight – 10.1 ounces
- Objective Lens Diameter – 1 inch
- Twilight Light Management System for extended time shooting
The Pros and Cons of the Leupold VX-3HD CDS-ZL Scope for a Ruger Ranch Rifle
- Nearly a Tier 1 scope in clarity and quality of the image.
- The CDS adjustment system makes range corrections incredibly easy if you take the time to learn to use it and input the right data.
- Lightweight and small compared to other scopes of this quality.
- Some of the best optical glass you can find goes into these scopes. The images are amazing compared to cheaper scopes.
- Expect to pay a premium for this kind of quality.
- Finding rings and mounts that will fit a Ruger Mini-14 may be a challenge.
My Thoughts on the Leupold VX-3HD CDS-ZL Scope
First thing is, who wouldn’t want a Leupold scope on their rifle? However, I question the need to spend this kind of money for a scope to mount on a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle.
In many instances, the way many hunters use the Mini-14 doesn’t require much more than the iron sights.
Leupold VX-3HD 1.5-5×20 (1 inch) CDS-ZL Duplex
- Model #180615 – VX-3HD 1.5-5x20mm Riflescope with a Duplex CDS-ZL reticle and a Matte finish
- Duplex reticle – Defined by heavy posts, stands out against cover in low light, most popular reticle…
Last update on 2022-05-17 at 14:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
3. Best Scout Style Scope for the Mini-14 – Burris Ballistic Plex Hunting Riflescope, 2.75X-20mm
The Ruger Mini-14, at first glance, can be mistaken for a scout rifle. Col. Jeff Cooper first outlined his vision of the scout rifle many years ago. Initially, he called for a compact, short bolt action rifle chambered for the .308 caliber. The rifle was to be fitted with a low power medium-range magnification scope, a sling, and be under 3.3 feet in length.
While not strictly a scout-style scope, many shooters outfit their Mini-14 as a scout scope, including the forward-mounted scope. This requires a scope with very generous eye relief. The Burris Ballistic Plex Hunting scope fills the bill for a scope for a Ruger Mini-14 quite well.
Burris has a reputation for crafting reliable optics that can be depended on for years of service. The Ballistic Plex Hunting scope is no different and includes all the usual features you expect on a Burris scope, as well as some that stand out making this scout-style scope unique:
The Burris 2-7x32mm scope features 2 x to 7x magnification, which fits the effective range of the Ruger Mini-14 ranch rifle nicely. The low-power 2x magnification gives a great sight picture up close. Adjust the magnification out to 7X and you can reach out to the effective range of the Mini-14 easily.
Ballistic Plex Reticle
This simple, elegant and effective reticle is designed to bring trajectory-compensating technology to every hunter. The markings on the reticle are available for many calibers, including the .223 Remington. The reticle is pre-calibrated for the ballistic characteristics of the caliber chosen. Simply use the hash mark for the estimated distance of your target.
Any scope you intend to mount forward of the receiver and ejection port on your rifle demands a generous eye relief. The Burris 2-7 hunting scope was designed for just this type of scope mount.
A long eye relief of 9.2 to 12 inches ensures that you won’t need to crowd the back of the receiver to get a clear sight picture quickly.
Designed for Both Eyes Open Shooting
Once you experience and become adjusted to shooting accurately with both eyes open, you will never want to go back to the traditional way of using a scope. Increased peripheral vision and the ability to see the whole sight picture quickly can improve your hunting and your success rate.
Low Profile Turrets
The Burris scout-style scope is equipped with low-profile finger adjustable turrets for quick and precise elevation adjustments in the field. Positive clicks make adjustments possible without rising from your shooting position.
Small and Light
Weighing in at only 13 ounces, this is one of the lightest scopes on the market. The length is only 9.7 inches, which keeps this scope within the concept of Col Jeff Cooper who envisioned a lightweight, easy to maneuver rifle.
Lenses and Lens Protection
Fully multi-coated lenses protect the optical glass from inadvertent scratches as well as provide lowered glare and ensure the best in light transmission through the scope.
The quality of the optical glass is above average and delivers clear and precise images over the entire magnification range.
- Magnification – 2x to 7x
- Reticle Design – Ballistics Plex BDC reticle
- Capped style turrets
- Objective lens diameter – 32mm
- Focal Plane – Rear Focal Plane
- Tube size – 1 inch
- Field of View at 100 yards – 23 – 8 feet
- Eye relief – 9.2 to 12 inches
- Length – 9.7 inches
- Weight – 13.0 ounces
The Pros and Cons of the Burris 2-7×32 Rifle Scope
- Good light transmission and clear images.
- Short and lightweight, which are important when mounting a scope scout style.
- Long eye relief keeps you from crowding the back of the receiver.
- Indicators on the turrets show the change in point of impact for extra accurate shots.
- The eye box may seem narrow at the highest magnification.
- No lens caps or rings are included with this scope.
My Thoughts on the Burris 2-7X32 Scout Style Rifle Scope
I love scout rifles. While a Ruger Mini-14 ranch rifle won’t meet all the Cooper requirements, setting up a Mini-14 as a scout rifle can certainly have its advantages. The Burris 2-7×32 scope with its extreme eye relief is a perfect match if a scout rifle based on a Ruger Mini-14 is your plan. The bullet drop compensation reticle along with the other Burris features makes this a no-brainer for me.
Last update on 2022-05-17 at 14:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
4. Best Mini-14 Scope for Home Defense – Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight
Many purchasers of Mini-14 rifles bought their firearms with home defense being the primary objective. Ruger designed an efficient and extremely durable rifle that fits the home defense model well.
However, iron sights on a home defense rifle just don’t make sense. In steps the Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red dot sight.
If you aren’t particularly interested in long-range shooting, the best scope for Mini 14 rifles may just be the Vortex Strikefire II Red dot sight.
Red dot sights offer advantages at close ranges such as home defense situations that traditional optical sights can’t provide. Quick target acquisition is one of the most important aspects of a home defense firearm and scope.
Of course, you get all the standard features offered by Vortex Optics on any of the scopes or sights. Of special interest are those features that benefit anyone interested in home defense or close quarters-style shooting:
You can choose between a red or green dot on the Strikefire II with a touch of a button. Ten intensity settings for each color dot give you control to set the brightness of the dot to match the current light conditions. This translates you to shooting accurately, despite the conditions.
Vortex Optics scopes use fully multi-coated lenses. The coatings protect the lenses from scratches and other damage, provide excellent glare reduction, and ensure maximum light transmittal to the shooter’s eye.
Windage and Elevation Adjustments
The Vortex Optics Strikefire II scope features full elevation and windage adjustments. The turrets of the scope are capped and easy to access. Each turret features positive click feedback as they are turned and give 1/2 minute of adjustment per click.
Construction and Materials
The Strikefire II red dot sights are constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum for strength and rigidity. A single-piece chassis resist even the heaviest recoil and delivers shockproof performance. Vortex Optics O-ring seals their scopes and uses nitrogen to purge the scope interior for weatherproof and fog-proof operation, despite the harshest water conditions.
Mounts and Mounting
Every Strikefire II Red Dot Sight includes a cantilever mount with the package. No need to buy or install separate rings or bases to get your red dot sight into action. The cantilever mount fits Picatinny weaver rails.
If you need target magnification, you can combine the Strikefire II red dot sight with any magnifier that aligns with the scope. In addition, this configuration allows you to mount back up iron sights for that added measure of security.
Batteries and Power
Each Strikfire II scope requires one CR2 battery to power the LED red dot. A battery will be included in the box when you purchase your Strikefire II scope. Installation and replacement are quick and easy.
- Lower 1.3 co-witness cantilever mount
- Magnification – 1X
- Objective lens diameter – 30mm
- Dot Size – 4 MOA
- Eye relief – unlimited eye relief
- Adjustment per click – 1.2 MOA per click
- Parallax free
- Length – 5.6 inches
- Weight 7.2 ounces
The Pros and Cons of the Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Scope
- The Red or Green dot color is user-selectable with the touch of a button.
- An auto turn-off feature cuts the power after 12 hours if the scope is inadvertently left on.
- Quick target acquisition for home defense uses.
- Covered by the excellent Vortex Optics No Questions Asked Warranty.
- It may be a little heavier than comparable red dot scopes on the market.
- Battery life is short, especially at higher intensity settings.
My Thoughts on the Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Scope
What more can I say than I have two of these mounted on rifles in my gun safe. I am a huge fan of Vortex Optics, and I love this little scope. It is easy to mount, easy to zero, and holds zero despite the abuse I toss its way. Don’t be fooled. I routinely shoot my rifles with this scope out to 100 yards and can ring a 6-inch gong consistently.
Last update on 2022-05-17 at 11:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Scopes and the Ruger Mini-14 Rifle
I heartily recommend anyone that shoots a Ruger mini-14 ranch rifle on a routine basis invest in a reasonably good, moderate-power scope. If possible, mount the scope so you can still use the iron sights on the rifle. I can almost guarantee that your accuracy and enjoyment of your Ruger Mini-14 rifle will improve.