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Firearm Enthusiast
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the past two weeks, I've aquired two new firearms: a Ruger Mini-14 and a Norinco SKS. Now I have a couple of questions about them.

1. My Mini 14 is a circa 1978 (181 series) rifle. The Ruger website implies that in 1978 they revamped the Mini-14. Prior versions of the Mini 14 were known as 180 series rifles. My question is: What is the difference between the 180 series and the 181 (and subsequent) series? I've always heard that the 180 series is superior to newer versions of the gun. Is there any truth to that?

2. My Norinco has a ten round fixed magazine. I would like to install a 20 or 30 round magazine in its place. The only magazines I have been able to locate so far are the polymer kind. My question here is: Are they any good or should I look for the more expensive steel magazines?

Thanks for any information you guys can give me.
 

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The original Norinco 30rd magazines were the only ones that were steel and actually worked. They however were not detachable and required the stock and action to be rocked apart to provide enough room to remove them. They were made for this weapon and as a factory item worked well, but they were not detachable without inletting the stock to make room. You will probably never find one of these for sale as the folks that have them know the value, and very few were sold originally since the AK was a very cheap option at that time for around $160+ mags. The SKS was $95+15 for the Norinco 30 steel mag. Folks without much dough bought them and they were sneered at by the masses. Times change.

i have not heard of any of the common steel ones now that work right.

The tapco 20 rounders seem to work fine and are detachable, but I do not own any and some of the folks here do so I will let them comment.
 

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Hope this helps. I have 2 Mini 14's. This is from a manual I have on the Mini 14 and Mini 30 variants:

The Ruger Mini-14 was designed by Bill Ruger. Early versions from 1972 ~ 1975 were produced in Southport, Connecticut and have serial numbers with the three digit prefix of “180”.

The Ruger Mini-14 180 series have a few minor internal and external design changes that make it incompatible with most of the commercial and aftermarket accessories that are specifically made for the later 181 and 182 series rifles.

These early 180 series rifles are sought after by collectors.

Most “shooters” prefer the later models.

The Ruger Mini-14 series 181 was introduced in 1977 and offered an updated rear site, a larger gas piston, magazine release, and a modified bolt mechanism. In 1980 Ruger added a series 182 which introduced a new satin finish to the Mini-14. Early stainless steel receivers were recalled due to cracking because of excessive hardening of the metal during production. Recalled stainless guns had a serial number below 182-51929. Ruger Rifles that have been repaired have two proof marks. (“R” in circle.)
 

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Firearm Enthusiast
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hope this helps. I have 2 Mini 14's. This is from a manual I have on the Mini 14 and Mini 30 variants:

The Ruger Mini-14 was designed by Bill Ruger. Early versions from 1972 ~ 1975 were produced in Southport, Connecticut and have serial numbers with the three digit prefix of “180”.

The Ruger Mini-14 180 series have a few minor internal and external design changes that make it incompatible with most of the commercial and aftermarket accessories that are specifically made for the later 181 and 182 series rifles.

These early 180 series rifles are sought after by collectors.

Most “shooters” prefer the later models.

The Ruger Mini-14 series 181 was introduced in 1977 and offered an updated rear site, a larger gas piston, magazine release, and a modified bolt mechanism. In 1980 Ruger added a series 182 which introduced a new satin finish to the Mini-14. Early stainless steel receivers were recalled due to cracking because of excessive hardening of the metal during production. Recalled stainless guns had a serial number below 182-51929. Ruger Rifles that have been repaired have two proof marks. (“R” in circle.)
Awesome. Thank you for the information. The reason I asked if there was a difference between the different series is because I have a technical manual on the Mini-14 and I wanted to know if all the technical specifications were the same on all the guns.
 
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