Today we’ve got a shotgun-nut’s delight: a smallbore battle between a classic pump and an O/U that may, someday, be regarded as a classic in its own right.

The Winchester Model 42, a scaled-down version of the Model 12 pump, was introduced in 1933, along with the then-new 3-inch .410 shotshell. Although very similar to the Model 12, it’s a different gun. The right side of the receiver comes off so you can get at the insides, for instance. The Ruger Red Label was, in its 12- and 20-gauge incarnations, overweight and clunky. (I can say this; I’ve owned both). The 28-gauge version, built on a 28-gauge frame, was totally different and wonderful, and was the pick of the Red Label litter by far. It was a trim, light, responsive joy to shoot. The 28 was introduced in 1994, and I had one of the first ones, which I foolishly sold after a few years of hardly being able to miss with it. Now they are discontinued, and I doubt we’ll ever see them back in production.

Model 42
Springerman3’s Model 42 This is a 410 Winchester Model 42 made in 1942 that my uncle gave me as a gift for my 60th birthday. He acquired it from a family friend that was too old to hunt anymore. When my uncle was growing up, he and his father hunted with the gun’s owner, and he felt greatly honored that the gun was passed along to him. My uncle no longer hunts, but he knows that I do, and he felt it was appropriate to pass it along to me. He didn’t give me the cleaning kit, though. That I had to buy from him when he had a yard sale. I first took it out last fall for a dove hunt to a field near my house. The doves were flying well, and I had three or four opportunities that I missed. The Model 42 is much lighter than the guns I normally shoot, so it was hard to keep the move and mount smooth enough to stay with the birds. What was more depressing was that after shooting and missing, the doves barely flared, as if they were not afraid of me and the little gun. Finally, a pair came in to the decoy, I swung on the back one, fired, and got it. Swung to the front one as it cupped its wings and shot that one as well. A double! I shot a couple more singles and called it a day. The Model 42 will probably see duty on a nice winter day after a fresh snow for rabbits, a day I look forward to greatly. My youngest son, Drew, wants to know why he doesn’t have any uncles that will give him a gun. I assured him that when the time comes, his Dad will be happy to pass them down to him, and he is welcome to borrow them until that time comes. Reader Submitted
Ruger Red Label
Alex’s Red Label I can still remember the dust the clay turned into all of 20 feet from the barrel; it was the first time Dad let me shoot a shotgun and that was the beginning of a lifelong obsession. Dad bought this Red Label in 28 gauge around 1997 specifically for me to learn and start hunting with. Back then, we lived in Nebraska and chased pheasants more than anything. Although it was a few years later, after we moved to Iowa, I would find out just how effective a diminutive 28-gauge could be on wild birds. Inside 30 yards, I personally can’t tell difference between the levels of dead when comparing a 12 with a 28, when using quality ammunition. Dad sold the gun to me when he needed to buy a bathtub for his new house. He told me I had better not sell it—ever. He doesn’t have to worry about that; I go then it goes. Reader Submitted

There are your choices. Vote, comment below, and keep the gun pictures coming to

Which gun do you prefer?
Springerman3’s Model 42
Alex’s Red Label