07/27/2011 02:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Norway Shooter's Mini-14: The "Poor Man's Assault Rifle"

The attack in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik, apparently involving a Ruger Mini-14 assault rifle, is only the most horrific of the mass shootings involving the company's products.

Founded in 1949, the "corporate motto" of Sturm, Ruger & Co. is "Arms Makers for Responsible Citizens." But Sturm, Ruger firearms are also often found in the hands of mass shooters: last year's attack at a Connecticut beer distributor, leaving eight victims dead and two wounded; the 1999 shooting at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Texas, leaving seven victims dead and seven wounded; Oregon's Thurston High School in 1998, leaving four dead and 22 wounded; the 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting, leaving six dead and 19 wounded; the 1991 Luby's massacre, leaving 23 victims dead and 20 wounded; and, a 1987 shootout at a Florida shopping center, leaving six dead, including two police officers.

In his book Assault Pistols, Rifles and Submachine Guns, noted gun expert Duncan
Long details the Mini-14's military heritage from the U.S. military's M14 battle rifle:

"The Mini-14 is not just a scaled-down M14; it's also an improved version....Ruger's Mini-14, which was aimed at (and for a time, sold only to) the law-enforcement and military markets, was introduced in 1972. Because demand was great in the civilian market, the 'sporterized' semiauto version with a 5-round magazine was introduced in 1976. Though no large military sales ever were secured, the rifle was very competitively priced. The public and police markets have made it a commercial success...."

Long notes, "The Mini-14's inexpensive price has made it the 'poor man's' assault rifle in many ways." Its price, he states, is "often only half that commanded by many military-style rifles on the market." Long concludes, "The Mini-14 is a handy, affordable rifle that is capable of being modified for combat or used as a sporter."

In his manifesto, 2083--A European Declaration of Independence, Breivik discusses his choice of the Ruger Mini-14, stating, "Have no doubt, every single political contribution counts whether it is through the barrel of a Ruger Mini-14 or through an essay! The former will amplify the latter and vice versa." A review of the document reveals the following.

  • Breivik clearly understood that the firepower of militarized weapons is "just as efficient" as explosives: "For those Justiciar Knights who feels it would be simply too risky or unrealistic to successfully manufacture explosives of the appropriate or required quanta there are other just as efficient methods of shock attacks that are available to us. Shock attacks or more precisely armed assaults, involving assault rifles or pistols, on concentrations of category A and B traitors...."
  • Breivik selected the Ruger Mini-14 rifle because it was the most "army like" available to him. He called his rifle "Gungnir"--the spear of the Norse god Odin, stating: "I have now sent an application for a Ruger Mini 14 semi-automatic rifle (5.56). It is the most 'army like' rifle allowed in Norway, although it is considered a 'poor man's' AR-15."
  • Breivik repeatedly noted that fully automatic (machine gun) fire capability is not necessary for armed terror attacks: "You don't really need to practice on full auto mode. The most important thing is that you familiarise yourself with recoil in combination with high speed aiming. This can be done with semi automatic rifles....I legally own...a semi-automatic Ruger Mini 14 and have managed to familiarize myself with high speed target acquisition in relation to the recoil by firing one round at a time. Automatic mode is not practical for 5.56 and 7.65 assault rifles as it is more or less impossible to accurately hit a target while 'spraying' in one direction....As I have now acquired a legal semi automatic Ruger Mini 14 I can legally practice at the gun range. Full auto training is not really required."
  • Breivik understood and advised others to make full use of high-capacity ammunition magazines: "How much ammo does a soldier bring to a battle? He should bring a total of two ammo pouches with room for 6 banana clips and one in his rifle so a total of 7 banana clips."
  • Breivik also understood that an assault rifle like the Ruger could defeat police body armor: "As for assault rifle ammunition, standard ammo will easily penetrate the most commonly worn protective vests...."

Breivik's choice of language regarding why he chose the Ruger Mini-14 closely tracks an article in the August 2010 edition of Gun World magazine that described "Ruger's Mini-14 Tactical Rifle" as "'Combat Customized' From the Factory" in its headline. The enthusiastic article noted:

"Ruger's Mini-14 Tactical Rifle is a version of the well-established Mini-14 incorporating many of the assault rifle features that end users have being [sic] applying themselves for decades, this time straight from the factory."

"Being seen over the years as a sort of 'poor man's assault rifle' the Mini-14 has spawned a huge array of after-market parts that may be applied to make it more 'assault rifle-y.' Recently Sturm, Ruger & Co. finally decided to get into the act themselves by producing their Mini-14 Tactical Rifles." [See photo below taken from Ruger's website]


And while Breivik was jealous of the ease with which his "European American brothers" could possess military style weapons compared to Europe--noting, "I envy our European American brothers as the gun laws in Europe sucks ass in comparison"--he was able to access enough of America's uniquely militarized firearms market to fulfill his grotesque and lethal vision.