Those Handy Carbines – Sheriff Jim Wilson

Another carbine that I have always liked is the Ruger Mini-14. While it has always had a good reputation for reliability, some have felt that the Ruger was not as accurate as it should have been. That always seemed odd to me because the ones that I owned and shot were certainly comparable, accuracy-wise, to the Model 94 Winchester and the .30 M1 Carbine. None of those three would win Honorable Mention at Camp Perry but they have won an awfully lot of gunfights.

Source: Shooting Illustrated | Those Handy Carbines


And here is the question: What constitutes a Fighting Weapon? I go by two principles, reliability (it won’t fail on its own) and “shootability” (The weapon you shoot the best because you feel comfortable with it.)

Comments are open. What would your principles/rules be for a Fighting Weapon?


9 Replies to “Those Handy Carbines – Sheriff Jim Wilson”

  1. I loved the mini 14 that I used to own. It did everything I ever wanted, and since I’m no match shooter, it was accurate enough for me. From the first round to the last, I never had a malfunction with it. And I abused the hell out of it.

  2. A quick look at gunbroker shows that a Stag Arms Model 2 (ie: bare-bone flat top AR15) and a Ruger Mini-14 Tactical are in the same price range.

    I’d go the AR15 route which is nowadays the de facto standard rifle. Accuracy just like the Mini’s is going to be “good enough” or actually “better than the shooter’s”. Mags are dirt cheap, much more common than Mini14 mags (unless you’re a loyal Ruger customer and already have a pile of them).

  3. Handy, reliable, accurate within 100 yards (hell, 50 is probably fine, but groups open up when you’re rushed)

    I rather like the M1 carbine for those purposes, and mine digest soft points just fine. Pistol caliber carbines (Mech-Tech, KelTec … even Hi-Point!) do well there too. The Mrs likes her mini14, and I don’t argue with a smart lady who likes HER boomstick, which incidentally works fine for me, too.

    This year I intend to put together an AR15, but when I look at the specs for what I want, it doesn’t (won’t?) do much the mini14 or M1 carbine don’t, except take STANAG mags and maybe mount a low-power optic easily.

    Reality is, for unexpected defense, you’re doing quite well to have a pistol. A small carbine is a big step up from that, but hardly portable for everywhere you go. (well, maybe the sub2k)

    I think people expect a bit much from the mini14, it’s a ranch rifle, not a precision rifle. It will do fine for surprise defense, IF it is handy when you need it. So will most long guns, assuming you set them up for reasonable range and actually get some constructive/practical range time in.

    Perhaps a mini14 (or M1 carbine or Win94) isn’t the ideal weapon for storming the beach. Or for manning the walls during a zombie outbreak. Or for picking off the invading force’s officers … but if that’s your plan, set up a dedicated rifle for it, and quit worrying about what most everyone uses for an all-purpose utility/defense gun.

  4. I’ve had mine for a lot longer than my AR15, and it’s accurate and I’ve never had a malfunction. It’s a lot easier to clean than the AR on my opinion. I bought my first one in 1983 at the suggestion of my close friend (who was LEO), and sold it a few years later for much needed cash. I always missed it, and when I saw one on sale at Walmart a couple of years later I bought that one. Good rifle! I put a scope on it and shoot at the 200 yard line with any ammo and it is accurate enough for hunting — at least mine is.

  5. People with those firearms won gunfights usually because what they were fighting against (human/firearm combo) was less accurate than they were.

    Accuracy of fire wins gunfights. You can make up for a bad weapon with skill (to a point), sure. But having some inherent accuracy in your weapon is not, by any means, minor. In fact…it’s pretty darn important.

    There’s a reason the Marines tend to win firefights so much quicker than the army…part of it has to do with considerably more aggressive tactics…but much of it also has to do with the fact that the army needs to fire, literally, hundreds of times more rounds per enemy KIA than the Corps does because it does not focus on accuracy of fire during an engagement like the Corps does. The Corps uses match grade ammo in-theater and is outfits fireteams with IARs (which are dang near match grade themselves) for a reason: accuracy of fire wins firefights.

    Granted, a combat arm doesn’t have to be match grade to be a good combat arm. But when people do the whole “good enough for combat” trope specifically to justify poor accuracy in a firearm the first thing that tells me is that their attitude is NOT good enough for combat…regardless of whether the firearm is or isn’t.

    1. Combat rifle ≠ defense rifle
      Combat rifle ≠ all-purpose rifle

      For that matter:
      Defense ≠ combat

      And you can’t make up for a lack of skill with a more precise gun.
      The needs of the self/home defender are NOT the needs of a squad of infantry tasked with taking a hill.

      1. Yeah…and the question was quite specifically about what constitutes a “fighting weapon”, and was specifically in response to a man comparing his choice to 2 rifles used by military infantry for combat…presumably even by a squad or two while taking a hill or two.

        In other words: we’re on the topic of combat rifles.

        Read the article, then comment…it works best in that order…

        And your comment about not making up for skill is rhetoric that doesn’t touch on the point. The point is that without a precise rifle whatever skill you have means little…because the equipment isn’t up to task of using it. Whether I’m a 0.25 MOA shooter or a 3 MOA shooter (the difference between many professionals and many beginners) is almost negligible if I’m shooting an 8 or 9 MOA weapon/ammo combo.

        Like I said: accuracy of fire wins firefights. It’s basically impossible to be accurate with an inaccurate rifle…and, in fact…it’s almost impossible to gain proper accuracy skills with an inaccurate one due to improper feedback on your developing skills and inability to gain confidence in the accuracy of your weapon system. All the way around an accurate rifle is extremely important. You can’t properly gain the right accuracy skills without one and you can’t use them without one…and gaining and using those specific skills are paramount.

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