Ruger Red Label

Description

The Ruger Red Label is an over-under shotgun chambered in 12 gauge, 20 gauge and 28 gauge. It is Ruger’s only line of shotguns.

The Red Label features a stainless steel engraved receiver, a tang safety/barrel selector, a brass bead front sight, and five screw-in chokes. The Red Label also employs an oil-finished American walnut stock with checkered grip and fore-end. In addition, the Red Label has a hammer forged barrel. Hammer forging results in increased durability.

Ruger recommends the Red Label for upland game hunting or recreational shooting.

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Specifications

12 Gauge
Capacity:2
Sights:Bead front sight
Features:Tang safety/barrel selector; screw-in chokes; hammer-forged barrel; and single mechanical trigger
Gauge:12 gauge
Stock:American walnut
Material/Finish:Alloy steel/polished blue
Type:Over-under
Chokes:Full
Improved cylinder
Modified
Website:http://www.ruger.com…
Weight:7.5 pounds
7.75 pounds
Barrel Length:26"
28"
30"
Length of Pull:14.12"
Overall Length:43.5"
45.5"
47.5"
Drop at Comb:1.5"
Drop at Heel:2.5"
Bore:3"
20 Gauge
Capacity:2
Sights:Bead front sight
Features:Pistol or straight English grips; tang safety/barrel selector; screw-in chokes; hammer-forged barrel; and single mechanical trigger
Gauge:20 gauge
Stock:American walnut
Material/Finish:Alloy steel/polished blue
Type:Over-under
Chokes:Full
Improved cylinder
Modified
Website:http://www.ruger.com…
Weight:7.25 pounds
7.5 pounds
Barrel Length:26"
28"
Length of Pull:14.12"
Overall Length:43.5"
45.5"
Drop at Comb:1.5"
Drop at Heel:2.5"
Bore:3"
28 Gauge
Capacity:2
Sights:Bead front sight
Features:Pistol or straight English grips; alloy steel barrel; tang safety/barrel selector; screw-in chokes; hammer-forged barrel; and single mechanical trigger
Gauge:28 gauge
Stock:American walnut
Material/Finish:Alloy steel/polished blue
Type:Over-under
Chokes:Full
Improved cylinder
Modified
Website:http://www.ruger.com…
Weight:6 pounds
6.25 pounds
Barrel Length:26"
28"
Length of Pull:14.12"
Overall Length:43.5"
45.5"
Drop at Comb:1.5"
Drop at Heel:2.5"
Bore:2.75"
MSRP$2015.00

Editor Review

Almost 35 years of “home grown” shooting experience

When Ruger introduced their Red Label shotgun, back in 1977, I’d just published a couple of my first outdoor hunting and shooting articles, and could barely afford the Mossberg 500 pump shotgun that I took to the field. When my rich friend showed up with his new Ruger Red Label over-under shotgun, everyone marveled at it and its workmanship.

At the Las Flores Hunting Club in Hesperia, California, which was home to such celebrity hunters/shooters as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Slim Pickens, John Wayne, and was often frequented by many of the then Los Angeles Rams football team members, I was privileged to be a minor member at the club. I often worked for these celebrities in planting pheasants/chukars out in the many cut fields that were meticulously cared for at the 800-acre club and guiding them on some great hunts.

Built for Utility, Not Looks

At the clubhouse, everyone seemed to marvel at the new Ruger shotgun introduction. Truth? To me it seemed kind of a plain-Jane shotgun that lacked any fancy engraving and stylish looks when compared to other manufacturers'.

The Red Label was clean and there were no screws, pins, bolts, or anything that showed up through the receiver of the shotgun. Technology wise, it seemed pretty advanced. Back then, the receiver was blue and it had fixed chokes.

I’d almost forgotten how everyone at the club wanted to shoot the Red Label, which was available only in 20 gauge and intended for planted birds, but I do remember there were quite a few more in the following years, as hunters liked the gun and even shot respectable scores out on the trap field.

Dressing Her Up

Then in 1985, Bill Ruger Sr. went radical when the first Red Label was offered with a stainless steel receiver, and by 1989, the entire line sported shiny receivers. Today, you can order the Red Label in 12, 20 or 28 gauge, and for a couple hundred dollars extra, you can have the receiver engraved.



Changes and Handling

Very little has changed to this shotgun over the last 35 years, however, you do now have a choice of either a straight grip, European style stock, or a Pistol Grip stock.



It comes in a choice of 26" or 28" blued barrels with a finely polished stainless steel receiver, a full-length vent rib, single bead front sight, five chokes and is chambered for 3" shells.



Tipping the scales at 7.25 pounds with either design, the gun assembles easily, and the wood-to-metal, and metal-to-metal fit is tight. There is no slop or gaps. Snap the gun together, and it's solid -- period! Add to that, the grain in both the stock and the fore-end actually match each other with little in any noticeable difference in coloration or grain. To me, that extra attention to the visual details adds to the gun’s overall esthetics and especially in a day of mass produced firearms. The Red Label puts to shame a lot of imported offerings.

Quick to the shoulder, the gun is heavy, but balances well. The stock features a comb (where your cheek sits) that is slightly lower than other guns in this class, but, unless you have a face like Charlie Brown, it fits well and is not going to roll on your cheekbone. The shotgun’s straight grip is comfortable, and it’s easy to engage/disengage the tang safety and barrel selector.



Click the switch to break open the shotgun for loading or unloading, and it practically falls open. This is in sharp contrast to a lot of over-unders where the receiver is locked so tight that it requires two hands and knee to crack it open. Some might say it is too loose, but to me it’s an ingenious design and I think others, especially women and those with a slight-build, would agree.



Performance

Out on the trap and the skeet range, and even when firing a lot of heavy field loads for testing purposes, the Red Label is extremely well mannered and comfortable with no excessive recoil. One shooter who shoots a lighter-weight plastic competitor complained that while the gun was balanced and shot well, he wasn’t sure he’d want to carry a 7.25-pound gun all day while out hiking the hills for quail or upland birds, and I couldn’t disagree more!

After shooting a round of trap with heavy hunting loads out of his plastic gun, I felt like I was being beaten to death. The Red Label by comparison handled the magnum loads just fine and if I was going for pheasants, waterfowl or even a turkey with 3”, 1.5 ounce loads. I like the extra weight and heft. Personally, I’d rather loose five pounds of body weight than shave three-fourths of a pound off the Red Label. Suck it up, cupcake!

Criticisms

While loading and unloading the Red Label is easy for all, every time new shells are thrown in, the shotgun automatically goes to safe. Personally, this is not one of my favorite features. No pump, semi-auto or even modern day rifle does this. On the plus side, you can have this feature disabled by a competent gunsmith, or even by sending it back to Ruger. Once disabled, the safety is now completely manual and can be set into SAFE or FIRE at the discretion of the shooter.

The Verdict

As the Ruger Red Label gets ready to celebrate its 35th anniversary next year, it’s pleasing to know that the design is still fully functional both on the range and in the field and is backed by the Ruger customer-service program that has been and continues to be a hallmark for shooters. Being American made, parts are easy to find, and Ruger’s customer service and repair group are there to help if in the unlikely event, you do have a problem. Try saying that about some of the imports - NOT!

Check out what others say about the Red Label:


Phil Bourjaily: Ruger Red Label - Field and Stream

Ruger Red Label Engraved O/U Shotgun - Chuckhawks