Best Mini 14 Scopes: Top 4 Picks

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By Dennis Howard •  20 min read

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.

Best Mini 14 Scope

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.

Mini 14 ranch rifle lightweight semi automatic rifle

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.

Mini 14 ranch rifle and scope mount for more accurate shots

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.

Magnification Range

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.

scope with aircraft grade aluminum, quality optical glass, and fast focus eyepiece

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.

Affordability

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:

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.

VOrtex Optics Red Dot scope for mini-14 rifles

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.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II is one of the best scopes for mini rifles

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.

Features

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:

Magnification

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.

Vortex Optics bullet drop compensating reticle
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.

Eye Relief

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.

Easily adjustable zero resetting turrets for both long range and short range shooting
Construction

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

Specifications

The Crossfire II quick focus eyepiece and other adjustments

The Pros and Cons of the Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scope

Pros
Cons

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.

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Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9x40 SFP Riflescope V-Plex MOA , black
  • The 3-9x40 Crossfire II riflescope is one of many configurations in the Crossfire II line. The...
  • With long eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box, you'll be able to quickly get a sight picture...

Last update on 2022-11-27 at 18:12 / 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.

For hunting that may require long range targets the Leupold VX scope provides impressive accuracy

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.

Features

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:

Reticle

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.

Leupold Duplex reticle for long range hunting
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.

The Leupold VX-3HD offers a crystal clear sight picture in a shock proof housing
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.

Dependability

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.

Warranty

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.

Specifications

A great choice of a scope for mini 14 rifles featuring quick target acquisition for longer range shots

The Pros and Cons of the Leupold VX-3HD CDS-ZL Scope for a Ruger Ranch Rifle

Pros
Cons

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 1.5-5x20 (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 2022-11-27 at 18:12 / 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.

A Ruger Mini-14 with a scout style rifle scope requiring a long eye relief

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.

Features

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:

Magnification

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.

Burris Ballistic Plex bullet drop compensating reticle for .223 Remington rifles
Eye Relief

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.

Specifications

Burris has the solution to a mini-14 scope that can be mounted scout style with one of the longest eye relief measurements in the industry

The Pros and Cons of the Burris 2-7×32 Rifle Scope

Pros
Cons
A great scope with bullet drop compensating reticle is easily mounted scout style on a mini-14

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.

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Burris Ballistic Plex Hunting Riflescope, 2.75X-20mm, Black
  • Features Ballistic Plex , the most simple, elegant, and effective trajectory-compensating reticle...
  • Provides a generous 9.2 to 12 in. of eye relief

Last update on 2022-11-27 at 09:42 / 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.

the best scope for home defense on a mini-14 has to be the vortex optics strikefire II red dot

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.

Features

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:

Illuminated Options

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.

red dot vortex scope
Lens Protection

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.

Strikefire II rear view showing controls and flip caps
Magnifier Compatible

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.

Specifications

Vortex Optics Strikefire II red and green dot scope

The Pros and Cons of the Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Scope

Pros
Cons

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.

Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight - 4 MOA Red/Green Dot,Black
  • The Strikefire II Red/Green Dot is a rugged, reliable red dot sight that is at home in a variety of...
  • Fully multi-coated lenses provide a clean and bright, unobscured point of view. Unlimited eye relief...

Last update on 2022-11-27 at 08:02 / 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.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.