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Gunfight Friday: SHOT Show Edition

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January 24, 2014

Gunfight Friday: SHOT Show Edition

By Phil Bourjaily

This week, for a change of a pace, we’ve got two brand-new shotguns to square off against one another: the Ruger Red Label and the Benelli Ethos. The Ethos debuted at SHOT while the Red Label was actually announced in October. I had a chance to shoot both guns on the range and in the field last year. Here are my thoughts on each:

Ruger Red Label

http://ak.c.ooyala.com/EyMzIzazr5ygZDNHyEs0NMxGGhcfkYG9/QCdjB5HwFOTaWQ8X4xMDoxOjA4MTsiGN

The original Ruger Red Label O/U was produced from 1977 to 2011. Over the course of its 34-year run the Red Label attracted both a cult following and a cult of rabid haters. Red Label fans loved the gun because it was American made, well designed, and reliable. Haters said it was overweight, ill balanced, and poorly finished compared with Brownings and Berettas. Both sides had valid points.

The new Red Label looks very much like the original, with the same matte-finished, nicely figured walnut, and stainless receiver. The side ribs between the barrels, once removable, are now gone. More important, the barrels themselves are lighter. The gun handles much better than the original Red Labels, as I found out when I shot this gun at pheasants and targets last fall.

Engineers redesigned (and in some cases eliminated) parts, making the gun both better and cheaper to produce. It’s still not very well finished, but Ruger has slashed the price from over $1,800 to $1,399, so a few flaws in wood to metal fit are much easier to swallow.

Benelli Ethos

http://ak.c.ooyala.com/05MmJ4ajpBztPOZOeTmwR5IJviZRrcYv/Ut_HKthATH4eww8X4xMDoxOjA4MTsiGN

The Benelli Ethos is a light, 6 ½-pound 12-gauge semiauto that has remarkable powers of recoil reduction and it never goes “click.” A soft comb insert and a totally new shock absorbing recoil reducer hidden in the stock make this a surprisingly soft-shooting gun—a fact I was able to verify by shooting it side by side with my other Benelli, a Montefeltro of exactly the same weight without the new system.

A new detent spring in the bolt prevents it from hanging open slightly and not firing if you bump it or ease it shut, as sometimes happens with Benellis. I tried my hardest to make this gun misfire and couldn’t do it last fall in dove fields around home.

Some nice ergonomic touches include a bigger bolt lock and bolt release buttons and a widened loading port. I would prefer a large triangular safety, like that found on other Benellis, instead of a small round button, but that is the end of the Ethos’s shortcomings.

The Ethos sells for $1,999 with a black receiver and $2,199 for a silver, engraved receiver model. The stock of both models is made of nice AA walnut.

Your votes and thoughts on both guns, as always, will prove interesting. Vote, comment, and keep the gun pictures coming to fsgunnuts@gmail.com.

Comments (8)

Top Rated
All Comments
from timvance8 wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

The finish of a gun is very important to me, especially above $1,000. Having handled a new Red Label, I saw gaps between the receiver and the stock. This to me does not signal pride in workmanship, which in turn does not foster pride in ownership. My vote goes to the Benelli.
As an aside, I generally purchase Case knives. I am proud that they are USA made, well built, and can be had at an affordable price. These 3 qualities are what most sportsman and many Americans want in a product. Unfortunately the Red Label missed on the second qualification and so it stayed with with the dealer instead of coming home with me.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Benelli. Although for $2k that auto shotgun better have decent wood and polished, fitted metal.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michigan Gunner wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

I hope Ruger got it right this time. I like most Ruger guns but not the Red Label. It's too heavy and I have seen too many breakdowns with them. That said, both of these guns are both too expensive. I'm glad I have the guns (and ammo) I need already.

Mike

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Hey Phil, to me this comes down to single, or double barrel fancy, and I like the Ruger. The Benelli is a nice lookin` gun, and I got my daddy's old winchester auto to dut clays with on occasion, but my main shooter is a O/U.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I'm going to have to take my temperature or something, because this is the second week in a row I've gone against my own grain. Last week I opted for the O/U over the SXS, which I thought I would never do. This week I'm going for the semi-auto over the O/U, although it is a very, very close call. I'm not a huge semi-auto fan (I hate cleaning them) and I love double guns, but I've already got a pretty nice 12 ga. O/U plus a bunch of SXSs and the only semi-auto in the house is my wife's Weatherby SA-O8. Both of today's choices are handsome guns but the Benelli would fill a void. I also like its lighter weight; plus, if I was going to shell out $1,400 for the Ruger, I would personally expect it to be VERY well-finished. I would have expected Ruger to feel the same way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Benelli always makes a good shotgun but the Ethos is a beautiful looking gun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ALJoe wrote 11 weeks 11 hours ago

I do not own an over/under. One will probably be my next gun purchase. But, I see no reason why I would choose the Red Label of a Browning or Beretta.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from John Lawless wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

I had a Red Label for years but sold it. I never had any complaints. I have inspected the new Red Label and I was not impressed. If I was to purchase another one I would go for a used one rather than one of the new ones.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Michigan Gunner wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

I hope Ruger got it right this time. I like most Ruger guns but not the Red Label. It's too heavy and I have seen too many breakdowns with them. That said, both of these guns are both too expensive. I'm glad I have the guns (and ammo) I need already.

Mike

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Hey Phil, to me this comes down to single, or double barrel fancy, and I like the Ruger. The Benelli is a nice lookin` gun, and I got my daddy's old winchester auto to dut clays with on occasion, but my main shooter is a O/U.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I'm going to have to take my temperature or something, because this is the second week in a row I've gone against my own grain. Last week I opted for the O/U over the SXS, which I thought I would never do. This week I'm going for the semi-auto over the O/U, although it is a very, very close call. I'm not a huge semi-auto fan (I hate cleaning them) and I love double guns, but I've already got a pretty nice 12 ga. O/U plus a bunch of SXSs and the only semi-auto in the house is my wife's Weatherby SA-O8. Both of today's choices are handsome guns but the Benelli would fill a void. I also like its lighter weight; plus, if I was going to shell out $1,400 for the Ruger, I would personally expect it to be VERY well-finished. I would have expected Ruger to feel the same way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Benelli always makes a good shotgun but the Ethos is a beautiful looking gun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ALJoe wrote 11 weeks 11 hours ago

I do not own an over/under. One will probably be my next gun purchase. But, I see no reason why I would choose the Red Label of a Browning or Beretta.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from John Lawless wrote 9 weeks 2 days ago

I had a Red Label for years but sold it. I never had any complaints. I have inspected the new Red Label and I was not impressed. If I was to purchase another one I would go for a used one rather than one of the new ones.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from timvance8 wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

The finish of a gun is very important to me, especially above $1,000. Having handled a new Red Label, I saw gaps between the receiver and the stock. This to me does not signal pride in workmanship, which in turn does not foster pride in ownership. My vote goes to the Benelli.
As an aside, I generally purchase Case knives. I am proud that they are USA made, well built, and can be had at an affordable price. These 3 qualities are what most sportsman and many Americans want in a product. Unfortunately the Red Label missed on the second qualification and so it stayed with with the dealer instead of coming home with me.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Benelli. Although for $2k that auto shotgun better have decent wood and polished, fitted metal.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment