Friday, November 8, 2013

The Mini-G: An All-Purpose Carbine

Take a moment to catalog in your mind the potential disasters, emergencies, and scenarios for which you want to prepare. Now consider how you might like to be armed for each different situation. Chances are, if you're familiar with guns your preparations call for a small arsenal of long arms for training, varmint hunting, big game hunting, hunting water fowl, home defense, sniping, pitched battle, and even more. Unfortunately, that arsenal (and the backup rifles in case the primaries malfunction) adds up to a lot of weight. Given that many scenarios encourage us to carry less weight, another road is to focus on a single all-purpose carbine. (Oh, alright; if you want, you can just add an all-purpose carbine to your growing arsenal.)

[Related article: Arm Yourself!]

Shuff's Mini-G
Action: Semi-automatic gas operated
Caliber: .308 / 7.62 NATO (also available in .30-06 and .35 Whelan)
Magazine: Fixed 8-round magazine, fed by en bloc clips
Barrel length: 16.1 in.
Overall length: 35.6 in.
Weight in pictured configuration: 8 lbs. 4.8 oz. (empty), 8 lbs. 12.2 oz (with full clip)
Muzzle velocity: A 150 grain bullet has a muzzle velocity of approx. 2,666 fps with approx. 2,368 foot-pounds of energy

For my all-purpose carbine, I've chosen to go with a Mini-G. My Mini-G started its life as an M1 Garand, the main battle rifle of World War II and the Korean War. I purchased an inexpensive field-grade Garand from the Civilian Marksmanship Program. I fitted it with a Ramline synthetic stock procured from eBay.

Next, I shipped my Garand to Shuff's Parkerizing. To make a Mini-G Tim either shortens the existing barrel, or as in my case replaces it with a new one. He re-parkerizes the steel, bends the operating rod, replaces the op rod spring, installs an adjustable gas plug, and test fires the result. I also had Tim add an Ultimak Scout rail to my carbine, for use with a long eye-relief scout scope or a red dot scope, and do a trigger job.

The result is a carbine with all the accuracy, reliability, and stopping power of an M1 Garand combined with the lighter weight handiness of a carbine-length firearm. I consider it a form of pseudo-scout rifle.

Here are some before-and-after pictures of my Mini-G:







I favor a heavier cartridge such as the .30-06 or .308 over more popular modern cartridges such as the 5.56 NATO or 7.62x39 for my all-purpose carbine, mainly because of the higher energy which translates into more power for punching through cover or brush and a longer effective range--the range at which a bullet will take down a target not hit in a vital organ. This improves my chances against game such as wild pigs or bear, and against human attackers. I chose .308 for my rifle as 7.61 NATO is still military issue and relatively easy to procure.

The way I understand it, most modern fighting forces have moved to lighter caliber weapons because they are easier to control when in full-automatic mode, and because lighter ammunition is easier to carry in large quantities. Since I am a civilian and not a soldier, and my plans don't call for me to assault prepared positions or engage large units of enemy troops, my plans are more along the lines of hiding or running away rather than engaging in extended firefights. I don't get to own a firearm capable of full-automatic firing. I'm better off with a heavier-hitting weapon than a high-capacity one.

The Mini-G, being an all-purpose carbine, falls into the "jack of all trades, master of none" category:

Compared with a... Mini-G cons Mini-G pros
Scoped bolt-action hunting rifle

All else being equal, not as accurate, shorter effective range, lower energy Handier, quicker target acquisition, fire more rapidly, higher capacity magazine

Intermediate caliber rifle and close-quarters battle rifle such as AR-15, M4, or AK Lower capacity magazine, no removable magazine, heavier ammunition, heavier recoil Higher knock-down energy turns cover into concealment, longer effective range, less "scary looking," en bloc clips cheaper than detachable magazines, more suitable for big game
Main battle rifle such as SCAR 17s, FAL, or AR-10 Lower capacity magazine, no removable magazine Less "scary-looking," en bloc clips cheaper than detachable magazines

Here in the state of California, some of the weaknesses of the Mini-G are mitigated. Magazine capacity is limited to 10 rounds, and the Mini-G's 8 rounds stack up better against 10 rounds than the 20 or 30 rounds of normal capacity magazines. In California, sporting rifles with modern features such as pistol grips or flash hiders must have fixed magazines; a magazine lock means it is actually faster to reload a Mini-G than a California AR-15.

As with most opinions when it comes to firearms, my opinion published here is far from being the only perspective on this issue. Whether you believe I made a sound choice or you disagree strongly, feel free to post your comments below.

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1 comment:

  1. This is a great looking rifle! I'll add it to my arsenal wish list but i promise to put it towards the top... I've got an AR lower that needs to be built first though! Hoping that those M1s are still available in a couple years.