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Ruger Red Label courtesy


The venerable Ruger Red Lable returns. Ruger hasn’t made the Red Label for about three years, but now it’s back, rested and ready. Externally, it’s hard to see what’s changed, but in their press release (after the jump) Ruger claims a “refined” mechanism a more centered center of gravity and reduced recoil. It also comes with a set of five Briley chokes, so there’s that, too . . .

Southport, CT – Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE: RGR) announces the launch of the newly redesigned Red Label over-and-under shotgun.

Known for years as a top choice of American hunters and clay shooters for its world-renowned rugged construction and handsome American styling – the Red Label returns.

The shotgun now features refined inner workings, a new center of gravity and reduced recoil. These new improvements deliver improved comfort and an enhanced shooting performance.

Shooters that have frequented the woods, fields and clay courses know the Ruger Red Label shotgun has been a reliable performer that swings easily. The new 12 gauge Red Label has a redistributed center of gravity for even greater instinctual swing and pointing. Two-inch extended forcing cones, maximum back-bored barrels and a soft Pachmayr buttpad enhance the shooting experience with reduced recoil. The Red Label’s familiar, low profile receiver reduces muzzle climb because the centerline of the bore is closer to the gun’s center mass. The new Red Label makes for an extremely comfortable shooting shotgun in the field or on the range.

“After 32 years of production, we put the Red Label on hiatus in 2011,” commented Ruger President and CEO, Mike Fifer. “We knew we could employ newer technology, improve the design and deliver a better performing Red Label. We have done that and restored the Red Label as the best American-made, over-and-under shotgun on the market.”

The Red Label features an American Walnut stock with a 1.5” drop at comb and a 2.5” drop at heel. Red Label shotguns are available with 26”, 28”or 30” barrels and each model features a 14.5” length of pull. The new models retain the Red Label’s classic lines and good looks, which are further enhanced by the new stainless steel top lever. The suggested retail price for all three models is $1,399.

Each shotgun includes a custom molded, semi-soft case, five Briley chokes (two skeet chokes and one full, one modified and one improved cylinder choke), a premium-quality Briley choke tube wrench and a safety lock.

For more information on the 100% American-made Ruger Red Label shotguns, or to learn about the extensive line of award-winning Ruger firearms, visit or To find accessories for Ruger® Red Label shotguns, visit 


  • Automatic, two-position tang safety/barrel selector provides instant visibility and a ccessibility.
  • Finely polished, stainless steel receiver is corrosion-resistant and has no exposed pins or screws.
  • Reliable, single mechanical trigger that allows for firing the second barrel without recocking and features rebounding hammers for easy opening.
  • Sleek, compact locking system is considered to be among the strongest ever built for over-and-under shotguns.
  • Precision matched, blued alloy steel, cold hammer-forged barrels made of high-strength chrome-molybdenum steel feature 2″ forcing cones and maximum back boring for superior recoil reduction and more uniform patterns.
  • 1/4″ dovetailed, free-floating, ventilated rib with brass bead front sight is stress relieved, contour-grounded, precisely fitted and silver-brazed (not soft-soldered) to the finished monoblock.
  • Beautifully crafted, cut-checkered American Walnut stock features a traditional pistol grip, tapered, slim forend and a stainless steel latch release.
  • A soft Pachmayr® buttpad is mounted on the 14.5″ length of pull stock, which features a 1.5″ drop at the comb and a 2.5″ drop at the heel.
  • Five steel-shot compatible, screw-in Briley® chokes and wrench included, featuring two skeet chokes and one full, one modified and one improved cylinder choke, plus a premium-quality Briley® choke tube wrench.
  • Also includes: custom molded, semi-soft case; safety lock
  • Suggested Retail: $1399.00

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  1. “firing the second barrel without recocking” – Dan, your words or Ruger’s? If its Ruger’s, who the hell came up with that line? If its yours, please lay off the Southern sauce 🙂

    I might pick one of these up eventually however, I need a reasonably priced shotgun.

  2. Its referring to the mechanical trigger as opposed to an inertia trigger that requires force to reset it, as most O/U’s have inertia triggers

  3. If an adjustable comb is also an option from Ruger directly, this makes for an attractive purchase option for shooting clays, especially for those of us who would like to buy as much as possible from the U.S. (but who keep falling in love, despite ourselves, with the Swiss, Germans, Italians, Czechs, and Croatians – dagnabbit!).

  4. Can somebody explain to me why shotguns such as these seem so overpriced to me? In terms of the amount of machining, materials and labor required it seems they should be cheaper than say a semi-auto rifle, or even a semi auto shotgun for that matter. Is demand for an over-under shotgun so much lower than an AR, that it drives the price higher? What gives (I don’t know very much about shotgun construction, which is why I’m asking)?

      • To elaborate a little on Dan’s 2 word answer, it takes some time, skill and labor to get 2 barrels to shoot to the same point of aim. I would imagine that the fit and finish on this is better than the typical dept. store pump gun as well.

      • To expand on that a bit: getting two barrels to hit the same POI (at X yards) requires a lot more skill and time than making a single barreled firearm.

        Maybe DG will show up and give us all a nice write up about it. I always learn a bunch from his posts.

        • Thank you both for the answer. This would certainly seem to justify a high price if these were being hand made, but its seems to me that CNC machining could reproduce a precision 2-barrel configuration quite easily. Do you think this cost might be a hold-over from before CNC – like the higher price point being necessary for consumer trust, ie, the you get what you pay for sentiment?

          The reason I ask is that this seems similar to musical instruments. While hand made instruments are generally still more highly regarded, a mass-produced, CNCed instrument of today is often far better in quality that a typical hand-made instrument of some 40 years ago.

    • There is quite a bit of machining and engineering involved. Dyspeptic could answer this better than I, but these are not quite so much “cookie cutter” in design as a pump actions, which are very economical to build. Briley choke tubes, bluing, high quality wood and fitting, are also pricey. $1399 is actually quite reasonable for an O/U shotgun.

      Damnit Ruger, between this and the SR762 my credit cards are in grave danger. Marriage, too…

  5. I heard I need to spend even more than this if I want to shoot sporting clays. Apparently an 870 or 500 just isn’t enough.

    • Hardly. A good O/U like this will be plenty. Unless you plan to shoot at the high competitive ranks where you actually are seated based on results, this is plenty for club competition. We have some very top guys shooting at a local club and they do not have super duper high cost shotguns. Your biggest issue will be getting first site on the clay and then following them at different angles and speed. Sporting clays can be humbling and frustrating. It is like golf for guns. And in that same vein, I know some very good par golfers who do not have the latest or most expensive clubs. I have a very old Beretta O/U handed down to me from my grandfather and on a 100 clay shoots I can hit 80 or 85 on a good day and the rest are me not the gun. If you reload, and you can create loads for you and your gun, that will go a long way versus a super expensive shotgun. Since I just shoot for fun I simply use factory loads.

    • For sporting clays, a pump or semi-auto will work fine, with lots of sporting clays competitors going with modern semi-autos.

      For skeet, some people like a set of shorter barrels. For trap, 30″ barrels use to be the norm, now we see more people going to 32 and even 34″ barrels.

      One of the nice things about a break-action shotgun is that you can have a different set of barrels for whatever you’re shooting at that time. You can have a unsingle barrel for trap singles, short (26″) barrels with skeet/skeet chokes for skeet, you can have a pair of 28″ barrel mod/full for sporting clays and trap doubles, and so on. You keep the same trigger, the same comb adjustment, cheek weld, recoil reducer, etc.

      For a beginner, there’s no “need” for a high-dollar break-action shotgun.

      When you become good at games like trap, you’re shooting so much that it is nice to have a gun that really allows you to shoot hundreds of rounds a day without getting tired and beat up by recoil. The fatigue after a couple hundred rounds through a gun that doesn’t fit perfectly, that gets too hot to handle, etc – gets old. Here’s another issue I forgot to mention about doubles, the difference between a field and a competition gun:

      A field gun is intended to be shot a few dozen times per day, at most.

      A competition gun is intended to be shot hundreds and hundreds of times a day, often 25 or 50 rounds in quick succession. If you think there are no useful difference between a field gun and a competition gun, here’s a test for you:

      Shoot 100 rounds through your shotgun quickly. How easily can you hold the forearm? If your hand is starting to get warm, or there’s hardware coming through the forearm that will transmit heat into your hand, you’ll realize it very quickly right about now.

      When you’re able to hang onto a gun at this point comfortably, you’ve got a competition gun.

  6. Made in America? By Americans I presume? Sounds good to me. I’m putting this to #1 on the list should I need an over/under shotgun.

    • Made in America only to the extent that Connecticut is still American. With Connecticut gun laws, maybe Ruger should mark them “Made in the occupied territories of Southern New England”

      • Ruger has been making things in Prescott Arizona since the mid80s and NH even longer. PineTree is also in NH. They just opened a plant in NC. Get up to speed.

        • Blue, Pascal and Kestrel,
          My mistake…I knew the SR and P series I own were made in Az.
          I did not know about the NH plant. Only offense meant was to Connecticut-not Ruger.

  7. I’ll write some explanation about doubles, o/u’s and such this evening. The WX here is too beautiful today to spend time at my desk right now, and there’s too much to write from a phone.

  8. Maybe they will actually pay attention to the wood to metal fit this time. The gun was nice the first time around (I own a Orivs Model) but they never heard of wood/metal fit.

  9. OK, O/U and double guns. Why do they do what they do, why do they carry the prices they do, why do clay competitors use them and other various issues.

    First, with regards to the above specifications:

    – mechanical trigger: This means that the trigger shifts from the first to the second barrel without a recoil impulse. Merely pulling the trigger on the first barrel sets the trigger to trip the second hammer.

    – rebounding hammers: A feature that brings the hammers back off the strikers (or firing pins, however they’re named) after the hammers have gone forward to hit the strikers.

    – cold hammer forged barrels: The barrels are hammered down onto a mandrel, rather than boring out the barrels to the profile desired. This is used on lots of lower-cost, mass-production barrels now.

    – two inch forcing cones: OK, on shotguns you’ll have a chamber just as you’d have on a rifle. However, on a shotgun, there has been a change in how loads are constructed over the years.

    In the old days (before, oh, the 60’s), shotgun loads had a felt wad over the powder charge and below the shot. When the shell was ignited, the wad would take the pressure of the powder and push the shot out the front of the shell. When the shot would clear the shell and start down the barrel, the wad would be following. In order to keep the pressure behind the wad, the wad had to create a relatively tight seal behind the shot – and this was the job of the forcing cone. The forcing cone would suddenly reduce the diameter of the bore, causing the wad to “grab up” onto the sides of the barrel and seal more tightly, allowing the gas pressure to stay behind the wad and accelerate the shot down the barrel. Old-time forcing cones had a fairly abrupt angle to them, and took only, oh, 3/8ths to 1/2 inch of length in the barrel.

    These abrupt forcing cones aren’t really necessary any longer, now that most shotgun loads are using the one-piece buffer/wad/shot cup. So to allow the shotgun to use the modern technology better, achieve more velocity and reduce felt recoil, the forcing cones are made longer, with a shallower angle.

    It is a pretty common gunsmithing job on older shotguns to bore out the old abrupt cones and lengthen them. The barrels should be checked for adequate wall thickness in the forcing cone area being available before this job is attempted.

    – back-bored barrels: OK, the “standard” bore for a 12 gauge is 0.729″, plus or minus. On older shotguns, you could see bores in the middle of the barrel as tight as 0.724.

    With a modern integrated shot-cup/buffer/wad setup, the base of this integrated plastic piece has “fins” that can expand to a diameter wider than 0.729″. To reduce the friction of the buffer/cup/wad, newer shotguns are bored to over-size (oh, 0.734 to 0.735″) and this increases the velocity and reduces barrel heating due to friction.

    That’s “back boring.”

    The other stuff is pretty straightforward.

    Next post will be what makes doubles or O/U’s cost more – altho this Red Label is a very, very modestly priced O/U shotgun.

  10. OK, now on to why O/U’s and doubles cost more than many other shotguns:

    First, you have two barrels. Two chokes, two chambers. Right there, you’ve got a big bump in the COGS.

    Next, the two barrels have to be set together. This required a bunch of work, regardless of how you do it. I won’t bore people with how double barreled guns were made in Ye Olden Days, I’ll stick to what is happening now.

    There are two ways to make a double-barreled gun, whether shotgun or rifles:

    1. You go “old school” where the barrels were forged with a “lump” at the chamber end. The really old-school barrels for shotguns were “chopper lump” barrels, so named because the barrel would sort of resemble an axe. You’d forge the lumps together, then start filing off everything that didn’t look like a finished lump.

    There are other techniques, but all of the first group of barrels “go all the way to the rear.” The barrels go from the muzzle to the breech, and some forging or fitment is integral or fitted between the barrels to form the lump.

    2. You create a “monoblock” of one piece of steel that has the chambers, the lumps, etc. machined into this one piece of steel. The barrels will screw, solder or braze into the monoblock. This can be faster in today’s CNC machining environment. The barrels become very generic forward of the chamber/lump area, and interchangeable from side to side, unlike the days of the forging lumps onto the rear of the barrels.

    The older Red Label was, to my recollection, a mono-block gun. Given the manufacturing advantages and Ruger’s price point, I’d wager that the new one is as well.

    3. Now, on to other issues that increase the price:

    There’s effectively two guns inside a double or O/U. There’s two sets of lockwork as well as two barrels and two chokes. These two locks have to be adjusted and timed correctly to make sure that they cock correctly at the same time when the barrels are opened.

    Then there are two more sets of lockwork on a double or O/U that have ejectors. You guys wanted to know why there’s so much more expensve, I’m telling you.

    When you have a double barreled shotgun that ejects (or “kicks”) the spent shell(s) out, you have a sear/hammer/cocking/trip mechanism that gets tripped when the barrel is fired, so when you open the gun the appropriate (and only the appropriate) shell(s) are kicked out. Most of that mechanism is located in the forearm hanger, which is hidden inside the forearm wood. The trip rods run from the lockwork back in hammer/sear area, through the receiver and up to the front of the receiver, where the hinge is. On some double-barreled guns, the trip rods also serve as the cocking levers for the hammers in the action. On some double guns, there are two sets of transmission between the forearm and the lockwork.

    4. Still with me so far? Now we get to the issue of wood/metal fit on the action, the trigger guard area, the forearm hanger, etc. The fitting of a boxlock (which is the style of double or O/U the Red Label is) is easier than sidelock guns, but if the gun is going to handle recoil without splitting or chipping out the stock, the wood has to be fit up correctly. Small changes in how the wood fits to the rear of the action can result in noticeable changes to the drop, cast, toe-out of the buttstock.

    5. Now we get to the barrels. The ribs have to be fit up to the barrels. In Ye Olden Days, the barrels were held in a fixture and the ribs were soft-soldered by hand to the barrels. The space between the ribs/barrels wasn’t water-tight, so the barrels could not be blued in hot salt baths. The blueing salts would get into the inter-rib/inter-barrel space and not be able to be flushed out, which would cause severe corrosion later. So double/OU guns used to be rust blued or fume blued. This takes yet more time, adds yet more expense.

    In newer guns, the whole assembly (barrels, ribs, front wedge for between the barrels) is set to braze the ribs between the barrels. The barrel/rib assemblies are now as water-tight as a duck’s butt, and they can be hot salt blued easily. They accomplish this by setting the ribs/barrels/wedges/etc together in a fixture, put brazing “dust” into the joints to be brazed, then put the entire thing into an atmosphere oven to bring it up to brazing temperature. Done deal.

    For what Ruger delivered, the Red Label used to be a lot of bang for the buck. I can’t speak to this instance of the gun, as I’ve not seen one yet.

  11. For the last of my three piece tome, “why OU shotguns for clay games?”

    First reason: You get faster lock times between shots.

    Second, you have two chokes. In games where you have two clays presented, one is going to be closer, one will be further away. Now you can adapt your shooting to have a more open choke and a tighter choke.

    Third, break-action shotguns give shooters more confidence that the gun isn’t loaded when moving around the range.

    Fourth, on trap and skeet ranges, shooters would like the shooters to their left to not have semi-auto guns that dump shells onto their lane. Highly competitive shotgun shooters shoot more than most people do, and they like to reload. For that reason, they often like the ability to grab their empties out of a break-action gun and dump them into a shell bag on their belt.

    There are other reasons why many clay competitors prefer O/U’s, but they’re not absolutely necessary. There are guys who have shot trap very, very successfully with an 870. There are plenty of guys shooting sporting clays with semi-autos. For trap, however, the break-action gun now rules, and specialized trap guns are the rule of the day in the higher levels of the game. The higher level trap competitors shoot 10’s of thousands of rounds per year.

  12. DG,

    Thanks for the technical info. I’m sure that I’m not the only who was looking forward to your response. I first looked into back-bored barrels as I was researching pattern density out of 3 1/2″ 12 gauge loads from a Mossberg 835. As to the new Ruger, I just looked into some of the new-school Ruger Red Labels on gunbroker. The fit and finish between the reciever and the wood doesn’t look especially tight, which is probably necessary for Ruger to arrive at the price point. There were a few samples less than $1,000. It looks to be an excellent entry level O/U for clays and casual upland hunting. I wish I had more disposable income for trap and sporting clays. I’m looking forward to TTAG’s review.

  13. Whats visually different about the new red label is the butt stock geometry and the abscence of the rib between the bbls.

  14. I had one of the previous Red Label in 26″ and loved it. Its gone due to unfortunate circumstances, so I am seriously looking at the new reincarnation.

    The 26″ works well for shooting out of a canoe and also like the shorter barrel for turkey hunting. Would adding a middle bead help in aiming (like at turkey)? I notice that Citoris have a middle barrel bead, even on the 26″.

    Thanks for all the explanations on db construction, by the way. Learned a lot.

    • I”am thinking of getting the 30″ Red Label, but I”am 5′ 5′ with short arms and 74 years old. How big and old are you. I have used the 28′ for 27 years with good results on wild plains pheasants. What do you hunt Scott?

  15. I am analytic by nature and loved the information about double barrels. My wife works for the Jamestown& Yorktown museums and knows so much more about old weapons than I ever knew growing up in the mountains of Virginia.Ten yrs ago, I bought my oldest daughter a Ruger 28ga O/U which she has shot very well in fields for quail & pheasant.I’d rather have a 20ga REd label myself for quail as for the few times I hit them, the 12 eats up the birds.I was fascinated with all the information.Iunderstand that one sets the lower barrel to fire 1st so that when one misses or has 2 birds to shoot, the top barrel with a fuller choke will give a truer aim for a longer shot. if both barrels reach a fixed point of aim, does it matter which is shot first?By the way, I’m buying myself the red label 12ga. for Christmas and giving my 870 to one son in law and buying a Mossberg500 for the other.They’re good men whom I care about, but not to the point where I am buying them Red Labels yet!One last question:what 12ga shell configuration would you suggest for a closer 20yd shot with 1st barrel and what for a tighter pattern on an assumed longer second shot? Thanks in advance.

  16. I know this article is a little old, but thanks DG for your informative post. I found it very interesting.

  17. I second the small frame 16 gauge. It would be wonderful to see an American made small frame 16 o/u at an affordable price.


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