The A-Team Mini-14? Customizing a Ruger Mini-14

I would have never envisioned cable TV becoming obsolete, but if you consume any video media, you’ll note that is the way things are heading. Younger generations aren’t tethered to a few media conglomerates, the products they watch are generated by millions of folks, many of them regular people, who broadcast through websites like YouTube. Most shows are on demand and don’t require a wait. This isn’t how I grew up. We found a program we loved, waited for commercials to use the bathroom (no pause button) and a week between shows to wait for a new episode. One of my favorite shows was the A-Team.

It was great. A bunch of green berets who were on the run for a crime they didn’t commit, protecting regular folks. The show was fantastic. The black van, Mr.T, white M65 field coat, random cutting torch montages and of course the Mini-14. These stainless guns with flash hiders, were sometimes confused with the fully automatic Ruger AC556, but according to IMBD were in fact converted Mini-14s. The original folding stock has long been discontinued by Ruger, but Samson Manufacturing has brought it back with the part number A-TM (I see what they did there).

Recently I had a customer bring in a Mini-14 with Samson folder, a flash hider and a front sight with a bayonet lug and it inspired me to do this project. Technically, I’d be making a Mini-14 GB in blue- a finish and a design that was not used by the A-Team, but my ten year old inner-self didn’t care.

In this post, I’m going to remove the factory front sight, thread the barrel, and install a new front sight and bayonet lug.

Before we get to the work, please take a look at the following disclaimer:

The contents of are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.

Any modifications made to a firearm should be made by a licensed gunsmith. Failure to do so may void warranties and result in an unsafe firearm and may cause injury or death.

Modifications to a firearm may result in personal injury or death, cause the firearm to not function properly, or malfunction, and cause the firearm to become unsafe.

I ordered the following tools and parts from Brownells to complete this project:

In order to get to work on the barrel, I need to remove the front sight. This isn’t easy. I believe they are pressed on and then pinned, after which, in the case of this gun, they are blued which adds a layer of rust in between making removal very difficult. I start by removing the roll pin from the front sight.

After the roll pin is removed, I coat the area in Kroil penetrating oil. Hopefully, if I let it soak-in long enough I’ll be able to remove the sight.

Unfortunately, the Kroil and my vise didn’t work to remove the front sight so I need to machine it off. I do this on the milling machine with a 1/2″ 4-flute end mill at about 800 RPM.

The milling machine removed enough material to allow the front sight to slide off.

With the front sight removed I can now machine threads onto the barrel. I set up my Precision Matthews PM-1440 GT lathe with a four-jaw chuck. I coated the receiver in 10 mil tape to prevent damage and put a crown saver in the tailstock of the lathe. It isn’t pretty, but it works in a pinch and I don’t have to risk cracking the action when I remove the barrel.

I thread the shoulder that held the front sight to 1/2″-28.

I slide the new front sight assembly over the barrel and install the flash hider. I set up the receiver level in the milling machine’s vise and locate the center of the barrel. I position a bayonet to make sure the location of the front sight is perfect.

I put a spring loaded tap guide in the mill. Since it is centered over the barrel and the barrel is level in the vise, this will allow me to adjust the front sight perpendicular to the bore. I coated the front sight in green Loctite which is used to retain sleeves. I’ll leave the sight like this in the vise overnight so it sets up.

When the Loctite on the front sight block is set, I need to cross drill the front sight for a roll pin. I use a angle block on the mill to keep the muzzle end of the barrel steady. After everything is aligned I drill the hole.

Finally I tap a roll pin in place. This rifle is ready for a photo shoot!

This is definitely one of the cooler projects I’ve had in a while. If the A-Team used a blue Mini-14, I’m sure this would have been it!