The .223 (5.56 mm) Mini-14 resembles the U.S. M14 rifle in appearance and incorporates the Garand rotating bolt principle.
The Ruger-designed gun was first produced in 1974 in Southport, Conn., where about 1000 were made before production was transfered to the larger Sturn, Ruger plant in Newport, N.H. All Southport guns and early runs of those made at Newport bear serial numbers with the 180-prefix. The Southport model can be identified by the sporting type, gold bead front sight.
In mid-1978, a refined Mini-14 replaced the "180-" prefix models. Current production Mini-14 carbines bear the serial number prefix "181-". The drawings and information which follow apply only to the "181-" Mini-14 series.
Although several specialized variations of the Mini-14 designed for use by law enforcement and government agencies will be encountered from time to time, these are virtually identical to the standard production guns with respect to disassembly procedures. Government service Mini-14 carbines are usually equipped with a flash hider and with a special front sight with protective steel "ears" on either side of the sight blade. Some service models use a heat resistant ventilated upper handguard which replaces the standard wooden handguard...