Archangel-Mini-21-clone-is-a-slightly-scaled-down-version-of-the-.30-caliber-big-brother
Archangel Mini-21 clone is a slightly scaled-down version of the .30-caliber big brother. Commensurately lighter and cheaper both to build and shoot, Mini-21 looks awesome and is more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

THE M14 rifle served as our front-line service rifle for no more than a decade some 55 years ago. From a design perspective, the M14 was little more than a product-improved M1 Garand chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO ammunition and feeding from a removable 20-round box magazine.

Heavy, reliable, and hard-hitting, the M14 was the ultimate iteration of the American .30-caliber battle rifle. Despite its replacement in the mid-1960s by the small-caliber M16, M14 variants continue in combat service as Designated Marksman Rifles to this very day. One of the most effective iterations of the M14 was a dedicated sniper platform type classified the M21.

The M21 in military service started life as an accurized M14 action mated to a Leatherwood Automatic Ranging Telescope (ART). The appeal of the M21 as a precision rifle lay in its semiautomatic magazine-fed action. The sniper armed with an M21 could carry more on-board ammunition and take faster follow-up shots than a comparable operator with a bolt gun. I have owned the civilian equivalent of the M21 produced by Springfield Armory for years and it is indeed a splendid piece of iron.

Tree-covered-65-foot-bluff-wrapped-like-an-amphitheater-around-a-farm-pond-creates-the-rare-shooting-area-where-it’s-safe-to-shoot-into-the-water
Tree-covered 65-foot bluff wrapped like an amphitheater around a farm pond creates the rare shooting area where it’s safe to shoot into the water. Plethora of old tree stumps makes splendid natural targets at various ranges.

My rifle has been nestled within an Archangel stock system ever since they hit the market. The Archangel stock is adjustable for both comb and length of pull, sports a gear compartment in the pistol grip and sling sockets aplenty, and is functionally indestructible. Its synthetic carbon-fiber construction means it will not warp or twist when wet. I have shot mine for years and love it.

Protect your Investment

My old expensive custom-made glass-bedded walnut stock looks great, but now occupies a place of honor in the attic alongside the Christmas decorations.

Archangel has come out with a slightly smaller version of their classic sniper stock scaled to fit the Ruger Mini-14, itself a .223-caliber baby brother to the classic .30-caliber M14. With a few carefully chosen accessories, this rig is cute as a button and an absolute blast to shoot.

Author’s-Mini-21-had-fairly-humble-beginnings
Author’s Mini-21 had fairly humble beginnings. This inexpensive beater gun show special Ruger Mini-14 needed an Archangel stock, Choate flash suppressor, and Accu-Strut gas cylinder to pass for a scaled-down M21 sniper rifle.

GENEALOGY

The Ruger Mini-14 is a long-term player in the American gun scene. Marketed initially in 1973 and still in production today, the classic Mini-14 was for years the only low-cost alternative to the AR series of small-caliber rifles. Walmart sold Mini-14s for decades across the country at a little more than $400 apiece.

Archangel-stocks-are-adjustable-for-both-length-of-pull-and-height-of-comb
Archangel stocks are adjustable for both length of pull and height of comb. Two designs are identical except that Mini-14 version is scaled slightly smaller overall.
Adjustment-wheels-are-large-and-easily-thumb-adjustable.
Adjustment wheels are large and easily thumb-adjustable. This feature lets operator customize stock for any stature or anatomy.
Like its bigger brother, Archangel Mini-14 stock sports a spare gear compartment in the pistol grip.
Archangel-stocks-are-festooned-with-sling-sockets-and-swivels
Archangel stocks are festooned with sling sockets and swivels. If you cannot find an acceptable combination, you are just too picky.
Both-Archangel-stocks-include-generous-forearm-rail-to--ccommodate-a-bipod,-handgrip,-or-tactical-light
Both Archangel stocks include generous forearm rail to ccommodate a bipod, handgrip, or tactical light.

Second only to the AR-15, the Ruger Mini-14 has been accessorized to within an inch of its life. Aftermarket scope mounts, magazines, stock sets, ditzels, and widgets of every imaginable variety are available to any American gun owner blessed with an internet connection and a credit card.

Protect your Investment

The humble Mini-14 action can be configured as a bullpup suitable for the set of a science-fiction movie or a dual crank-operated tripod-mounted affair to do Arnold Schwarzenegger proud. But Archangel recently kicked the bar up a few notches.

I admit that this build centered as much on aesthetics as functionality. I wanted a ringer for the M21 big brother and invested a little effort to get there. But make no mistake, the resulting Mini-21 is robust as a tank and tough enough to hang your life on.

The base rifle is the standard Mini-14 from Ruger. I picked the gun up used at a gun show at a very reasonable price. The Mini-14 is a proven, reliable platform, but in a shooting world awash with tricked-out M4 clones, the archaic lines of the classic Mini no longer turn heads as perhaps was once the case. As a result, they are readily available on the used gun market and cheap to boot.

Accu-Strut-M14-barrel-clamp-is-a-ringer-for-gas-cylinder-on-full-scale-M14
Accu-Strut M14 barrel clamp is a ringer for gas cylinder on full-scale M14. While device is intended to improve rigidity of thin Mini-14 barrel, in this case it just looks cool.

FLASH SUPPRESSOR AND GAS CYLINDER

The M14-style flash suppressor comes from Choate, an Arkansas-based company that cut its teeth on stocks and gun accessories. They have a reputation for quality such that the Germans at HK selected their side-folding stock for the MP5K Personal Defense Weapon (PDW). While the landscape is littered with aftermarket muzzle accessories for the Ruger Mini-14, the Choate flash suppressor most closely mimics the long M14 original, and Choate has a storied reputation for quality.

Choate-Mini-14-flash-suppressor-can-pass-for-the-full-bore-real-deal-in-dim-light.-It-lacks-a-bayonet-lug,-but-so-do-current-production-M1A-rifles
Choate Mini-14 flash suppressor can pass for the full-bore real deal in dim light. It lacks a bayonet lug, but so do current production M1A rifles. Anyone planning to do any serious bayonet training with this rifle is out of luck. You both know who you are.

Installation requires a drill, preferably a drill press, but I knocked mine out in a jiffy with hand tools. The instructions are more than adequate and the installation wasn’t difficult.

For starters, the original Ruger front sight has to go, but anybody who knows which end of a punch to smack can pull this off with aplomb. Just tap out the retaining pin and gently tap the front sight off with a hammer. Use a piece of brass or aluminum if you want to avoid marring the old part. I didn’t need it, so I just used a small hammer, but still didn’t leave a mark.

The newest versions of the Mini-14 from Ruger sport a redesigned frontsight assembly that does not readily interface with the Choate flash suppressor. As my gun show trade Mini-14 was fairly old, that was not a problem, but you might want to check the Choate website for guidance if you’re thinking of using a modern Mini.

Protect your Investment

The faux gas cylinder is from Accu- Strut. The appliqué SOCOM Accu-Strut affixes below the barrel and mimics the gas piston of the larger M14. While the Accu-Strut is designed to improve barrel rigidity and subsequent accuracy, I chose one simply because it made my Mini-14 look more like an M14.

While-not-identical,-family-resemblance-is-unequivocal
While not identical, family resemblance is unequivocal. Ruger offering includes some investment castings and stamped parts to ease manufacture and lower costs, but its M14 parentage is self-evident.

One of the shortcomings of the stock Mini-14 is its lightweight barrel. The longer two-clamp version of the Accu-Strut is an inspired solution to enhancing barrel rigidity and a proven performer. The accuracy enhancement of the short version is admittedly minimal, but it sure looks cool. Installation of this little jewel required nothing more than the included Allen wrenches and a little Loctite®, conveniently included with the parts.

A proper scope and mount complete the charade.

KILLER RANGE CANDY

The resulting miniaturized M21 is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Ammo costs about half what the full-sized 7.62x51mm rounds fired by the originals cost. Recoil with the superbly designed Archangel stock is functionally non-existent. The manual of arms is identical to that of the larger rifle, and accuracy on the range was typical for a standard Mini-14. To put it in highly technical terms, the rifle shot minuteof- Coke-can out to 100 meters with minimal effort on my part.

I did get a bit crazy with the details just to make it look awesome, but one cannot readily put a price on true haute fashion. The 7.62mm big brother looks just killer cool and shoots straight farther out than I do, but it is pretty heavy and quite long. The new .223 version has the same sort of cool in an easy-totote package.

The completed rifle is just about indestructible and maneuvers much more readily than its larger brother. Trigger time with the small-caliber, low-recoiling round is simply nirvana.

Protect your Investment

Available-at-much-lower-cost,-.223-rounds-fired-by-smaller-Mini-21-clone-also-weigh-a-fraction-of-what-full-sized-.30-caliber-rounds-do
Available at much lower cost, .223 rounds fired by smaller Mini-21 clone also weigh a fraction of what full-sized .30-caliber rounds do. This makes for easier portage and more practice for the same money.

If you have a Mini-14 in your collection and want to breathe new life into it, the Archangel stock will bring out the absolute best in the platform. If you’ve had your eye on a full-sized M1A but the impressive sticker price left you tepid, this will get you into a sweet-shooting facsimile of the original at a fraction of the cost. Unlike some other aftermarket manufacturers, Archangel makes serious gear for serious shooters and I have yet to see a piece of their kit that was not well reasoned and as tough as an armored fighting vehicle.

The new Mini-14 tactical stock system from Archangel is both functional and cool in equal measures. Tack on an M14 flash suppressor from the good folks at Choate and a faux gas cylinder from Accu-Strut and you have a ringer for the full-bore sniper rig that dominated battlefields from Vietnam to the Hindu Kush.

If you start with a used rifle, the required investment is quite reasonable, and the resulting build is just cool as a cucumber. I was smitten at first sight.

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