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Over/Under Shotguns: The Return Of The Ruger Red Label

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November 05, 2013

Over/Under Shotguns: The Return Of The Ruger Red Label

By Phil Bourjaily

The Ruger Red Label is back. Introduced in 1977, the Red Label Over/Under officially disappeared from the Ruger catalog in 2011, although it had been missing unofficially for a couple of years. The Red Label is the most complicated and labor-intensive gun Ruger makes, and I figured it was gone for good since the shotgun market is soft while the handgun/home defense/tactical market is booming. I was wrong. It was on hiatus, undergoing a redesign.

The 12 gauge models are available now, with 20s to follow in 2014. Except for some cosmetic differences, the Red Label looks very much as it always has. The side ribs between the barrels, which used to be owner-removable, are now gone. The big news is, the barrels are lighter by a few ounces for better handling, and the price has dropped $400. Ruger engineers went through the gun simplifying and in some cases eliminating parts to make the gun less expensive to produce. I have had a chance to shoot targets and hunt pheasants with the Red Label and will report on it in the magazine early next year.

The short version is this: The Red Label—except for the wand-like 28 gauge—was always a heavy gun. It was a mix of nice walnut and graceful lines and iffy fit and finish. It was beloved by many hunters who liked the idea of carrying an American-made O/U in the field.  All of that is still true. Although it's livelier now, it's still a Red Label, and it's still made in New Hampshire.

The newest, most exciting change though, is that the Red Label will list for $1399.

Comments (22)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Mark-1 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I could never love Red Label O/U. Terrible balance IMO. Looked like old fence posts were used for stocking. Not surprised Ruger did a make-over.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from TED FORD wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

Hopefully they will bring back the 28ga.Magic wand like,would be a better description of the handling of that wonderful little shotgun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JeremyinFlorida wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I am thrilled to death that this shotgun has been re-released. I like using doubles and I try to buy American made whenever I can.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from .30-06Hunter wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I can't wait to see one in a store I have always wanted an over under shotgun but have never seen one I was crazy about I'm a huge Ruger fan so this may be what I've been waiting for. Does anyone have any thoughts on what barrel length would be ideal for a gun that would be used for squirrel, occasional dove, rabbit and skeet?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD Bob wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

The real world price is $1299.99. Some have fabulous wood, others have wood to forget, ask to see several before you choose one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

-06
go ahead and get the 30" bbls, since you don't have a receiver like a pump or auto, its still short enough to be handy in the field with enough barrel length for swinging through clays or birds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

-06
go ahead and get the 30" bbls, since you don't have a receiver like a pump or auto, its still short enough to be handy in the field with enough barrel length for swinging through clays or birds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

hate it when i get a double post

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

Guns International has one for $1,079 and one for $1,199. Guns America $1,079. They are a lot cheaper I can't wait to see how much livelier it is with the weight reduction. Beats a Stoeger. Has anyone had a Mossberg? Good $1,000 over unders are hard to come by.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I have heard mixed comments about the Red Label being good and bad. Shot a couple rounds of skeet with a feller one time that used one and he had to stop as the firing pin broke. Said that was the second time that had happened and he'd only had it a couple of years. Have a friend in Florida who has one and loves his. Might want to take SB Bob's advise if you buy one and look at several for wood, feel and the action.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I have heard mixed comments about the Red Label being good and bad. Shot a couple rounds of skeet with a feller one time that used one and he had to stop as the firing pin broke. Said that was the second time that had happened and he'd only had it a couple of years. Have a friend in Florida who has one and loves his. Might want to take SB Bob's advise if you buy one and look at several for wood, feel and the action.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

After their side by side fan fare turned fiasco, I soured on Ruger.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

bring back the Winchester Model 21

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

Many years ago I was very lucky to buy a well-used Browning Superposed in.12 Ga. at a very low price, along with a second set of 20 Ga. barrels. I have hunted and shot skeet with quite a few other brands of o/u shotguns, but nothing will ever beat that old Browning. What a great shotgun! Very few birds or clay's ever escaped me with it. I have shot countless thousands of rounds through that gun and cannot wear it out. I now would never dream of using anything else.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

Excepting the 28 gauge gun, the Rugers to me were like the slightly portly and nice neighbor girl you mom coerced you to take to prom. She was OK but then you got your hands on one of the B guns and Wow! That is what a fine gun feels like.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

It's only in 12 ga now. I'd love to have this for my 1st O/U if they had a 20 ga.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from edalweber wrote 23 weeks 22 hours ago

What we really need is a decent sis by side double.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 23 weeks 14 hours ago

Time to check out the NEW RUGER RED LABEL..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 22 weeks 6 days ago

My immediate thoughts are that all Ruger rifles have extreme differences in their quality of wood and fit and finish. I have a No.1 that is not quite fence post material but it is not what I expected when I had to order one sight unseen to get the 7mm Mauser caliber. That is a serious quality control problem.

William Batterman Ruger designed some incredible firearms. I own the 10/22, MKII target pistol and No.1 and they all perform flawlessly. Some of them are works of art and some of them look like they were thrown together on a Friday afternoon after the workers had a three hour lunch at the local bar...

If you pay thirteen hundred dollars for a Ruger over under you had better hold it in your hands before you lay your money down. SD Bob has already said this, but I want to reinforce his comment. It is a very valid point.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ted Sager wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

The red Label is a very nice looking gun. I heard many years ago that the metal used where the gun breaks was too soft and it soon wore out. I hope they have fixed that. But it's always been one of the nicer looking O/U.

I've owned two Ruger pistols, P89 in 9Mil, and a Ruger Blackhawk in 357. Don't really like either one. P89 firing pin barely dents shell primers, and the Blackhawk, I had to file the face of the frame so the chamber would move when loaded. Sold the 357 but still have the 9.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mhclayton wrote 16 weeks 2 days ago

I have owned two red labels; the first was a 12 that I never could shoot well. Gave it to my dad, a seasoned waterfowler-- he couldn't miss with it. My second RL which I still own is a 20 I bought impulsively because it had the most beautiful piece of walnut I have ever seen on a factory gun- nicer than my $4000 double. In contrast to Mark-- I have found some amazing pieces of wood on the basic Red Label-- not all guns, but some are remarkable and can put some expensive guns to shame. I shoot my 20 very well and is my go-to quail gun. Heavy, but that helps my herky-jerky swing. The fact that they are made by fellow Americans is a big bonus to me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rogbret wrote 10 weeks 5 days ago

The Red Label is a good shooter, but at around $1300 it can't compare with the Mossberg Silver Reserve II for $536 lowest price on web...Check that one out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from .30-06Hunter wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I can't wait to see one in a store I have always wanted an over under shotgun but have never seen one I was crazy about I'm a huge Ruger fan so this may be what I've been waiting for. Does anyone have any thoughts on what barrel length would be ideal for a gun that would be used for squirrel, occasional dove, rabbit and skeet?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

Many years ago I was very lucky to buy a well-used Browning Superposed in.12 Ga. at a very low price, along with a second set of 20 Ga. barrels. I have hunted and shot skeet with quite a few other brands of o/u shotguns, but nothing will ever beat that old Browning. What a great shotgun! Very few birds or clay's ever escaped me with it. I have shot countless thousands of rounds through that gun and cannot wear it out. I now would never dream of using anything else.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

Excepting the 28 gauge gun, the Rugers to me were like the slightly portly and nice neighbor girl you mom coerced you to take to prom. She was OK but then you got your hands on one of the B guns and Wow! That is what a fine gun feels like.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from TED FORD wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

Hopefully they will bring back the 28ga.Magic wand like,would be a better description of the handling of that wonderful little shotgun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JeremyinFlorida wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I am thrilled to death that this shotgun has been re-released. I like using doubles and I try to buy American made whenever I can.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SD Bob wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

The real world price is $1299.99. Some have fabulous wood, others have wood to forget, ask to see several before you choose one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

-06
go ahead and get the 30" bbls, since you don't have a receiver like a pump or auto, its still short enough to be handy in the field with enough barrel length for swinging through clays or birds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

-06
go ahead and get the 30" bbls, since you don't have a receiver like a pump or auto, its still short enough to be handy in the field with enough barrel length for swinging through clays or birds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

hate it when i get a double post

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

Guns International has one for $1,079 and one for $1,199. Guns America $1,079. They are a lot cheaper I can't wait to see how much livelier it is with the weight reduction. Beats a Stoeger. Has anyone had a Mossberg? Good $1,000 over unders are hard to come by.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I have heard mixed comments about the Red Label being good and bad. Shot a couple rounds of skeet with a feller one time that used one and he had to stop as the firing pin broke. Said that was the second time that had happened and he'd only had it a couple of years. Have a friend in Florida who has one and loves his. Might want to take SB Bob's advise if you buy one and look at several for wood, feel and the action.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I have heard mixed comments about the Red Label being good and bad. Shot a couple rounds of skeet with a feller one time that used one and he had to stop as the firing pin broke. Said that was the second time that had happened and he'd only had it a couple of years. Have a friend in Florida who has one and loves his. Might want to take SB Bob's advise if you buy one and look at several for wood, feel and the action.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

After their side by side fan fare turned fiasco, I soured on Ruger.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

bring back the Winchester Model 21

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from CL3 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

It's only in 12 ga now. I'd love to have this for my 1st O/U if they had a 20 ga.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from edalweber wrote 23 weeks 22 hours ago

What we really need is a decent sis by side double.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 23 weeks 14 hours ago

Time to check out the NEW RUGER RED LABEL..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 22 weeks 6 days ago

My immediate thoughts are that all Ruger rifles have extreme differences in their quality of wood and fit and finish. I have a No.1 that is not quite fence post material but it is not what I expected when I had to order one sight unseen to get the 7mm Mauser caliber. That is a serious quality control problem.

William Batterman Ruger designed some incredible firearms. I own the 10/22, MKII target pistol and No.1 and they all perform flawlessly. Some of them are works of art and some of them look like they were thrown together on a Friday afternoon after the workers had a three hour lunch at the local bar...

If you pay thirteen hundred dollars for a Ruger over under you had better hold it in your hands before you lay your money down. SD Bob has already said this, but I want to reinforce his comment. It is a very valid point.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ted Sager wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

The red Label is a very nice looking gun. I heard many years ago that the metal used where the gun breaks was too soft and it soon wore out. I hope they have fixed that. But it's always been one of the nicer looking O/U.

I've owned two Ruger pistols, P89 in 9Mil, and a Ruger Blackhawk in 357. Don't really like either one. P89 firing pin barely dents shell primers, and the Blackhawk, I had to file the face of the frame so the chamber would move when loaded. Sold the 357 but still have the 9.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mhclayton wrote 16 weeks 2 days ago

I have owned two red labels; the first was a 12 that I never could shoot well. Gave it to my dad, a seasoned waterfowler-- he couldn't miss with it. My second RL which I still own is a 20 I bought impulsively because it had the most beautiful piece of walnut I have ever seen on a factory gun- nicer than my $4000 double. In contrast to Mark-- I have found some amazing pieces of wood on the basic Red Label-- not all guns, but some are remarkable and can put some expensive guns to shame. I shoot my 20 very well and is my go-to quail gun. Heavy, but that helps my herky-jerky swing. The fact that they are made by fellow Americans is a big bonus to me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rogbret wrote 10 weeks 5 days ago

The Red Label is a good shooter, but at around $1300 it can't compare with the Mossberg Silver Reserve II for $536 lowest price on web...Check that one out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

I could never love Red Label O/U. Terrible balance IMO. Looked like old fence posts were used for stocking. Not surprised Ruger did a make-over.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment