Working on the Ruger Mini-14 gas block should not be part of routine maintenance, however, when that time comes you need a plan, and perhaps a special tool, to make the job go smoothly.
by John Baxter
While cleaning my Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle I noticed a little surface rust forming on the inside corner of the lower gas block. I had never removed the gas block before as this is not a recommended step in the normal cleaning process. Care must be taken when removing the four socket head cap screws as Ruger stakes the screw to the upper gas block at the factory. Simply removing the screws can damage the threads in the gas block as the staked portion of the screw rotates through. By alternately loosening the screw a quarter turn and tightening it again, the staked portion of the screw will eventually wear down, allowing removal.
The first screw I tried in this process turned very easily with a ball nosed 9/64” hex wrench. I shifted to the opposite side of the gas block and found one screw turned under a more reasonable breaking torque. The remaining two screws would not budge. I tried snugging up the first two screws in hopes that this would relieve some of the pressure but the two screws remained locked in place. I did not want to tap the screw heads with a hammer for fear of damaging the scope and I did not see a good way to heat the screws without risking the gas block finish. Instead, I applied more torque with the hex wrench, and predictably, the screw head stripped out.
Some people will advocate drifting a Torx driver into a stripped cap screw head. This strikes me as a good way to deform or destroy the Torx driver and would require removing the scope from the rifle.
Read more in our June 2014 issue. Back issues are available.