Disappointment thy name is Red Label!

Well, after a recent shotgun side event at a Cowboy Wild bunch match I decided this shotgun thing is pretty darn fun! My Dad has a membership to a local gun club that has trap, skeet and 5 stand fields and so all I needed now, was a good over and under shotgun. Now I didn’t have the money to get what I thought I wanted but I had a couple of guns I could let go of in trade, so I headed up to my favorite LGS to see what I could find. I found a new, shiny, Ruger Red Label with 30″ barrels, so I traded two for one (with a cash kicker on my end) and I stepped away from the counter with a nice new Ruger Red Label 12 ga. O/U. This is one of the new production guns not an original model that was discontinued a few years ago due to excessive production cost.  The cheek pad in the picture below was something I added myself, it’s a sorbothane cheek-eeze product.

DSCN1761 OK, so let’s start with the good stuff. On the positive side, Ruger provides a nice semi-hard padded case with 5 chokes (IC, MOD, Full and 2 Skeet, installed in the gun) and a nice choke tube wrench. They also provide a nice lock and a strange locking mechanism, which I promptly discarded as I always do. The lock, I kept, they are great for the fence gates out back. The receiver, now a single cast part, is reasonably well done. Additionally, the gun comes set up to have the safety automatically activated when the gun is opened up, in the field this would be an asset, in competition, not so much. I don’t really care for this feature because during competition it’s really in the way and could cost you a bird, however Ruger smartly provides an alternate slot where the rear of the spring strut responsible for activating the safety can be placed. In this new slot it travels above the other slot where it activates the safety thus bypassing this feature. However, here is where the positive part of the story ends.

DSCN1752 DSCN1753 DSCN1754 Now for the negative, and get ready, as far as I’m concerned, it’s ugly. Needless to say, I was disappointed as the title of the post clearly states. Having said that, the receiver, while well cast (as mentioned above) was far from well finished. The internal portion was left rough and where holes were drilled and metal was cut the flash was left with no regard for removing it at all.  The below image shows the inside of the receiver after I have removed some flash but some still remains.

DSCN1760 The lever that opens the action was also not finished well and it was scratching the the top of the receiver tang just below the serial number. I had to polish the underside of the lever to eliminate this issue.

DSCN1757 I realize that cost is a factor and the human labor required to do such a task is expensive but then again so was the shotgun. The ticket price for this long gun was $1129.00 So while I can understand their need to keep costs low I feel taken advantage of here. My wife owns an Italian made O/U made by Fausti with a retail cost of around $450.00 and my dad owns a Turkish made Yldiz ($500 at Academy Sports) and both have better fit and finish by comparison. The ejector cam on one side was not properly sized and required me to remove metal to get it to properly slide back and forth against the inside of the frame. Ruger put really tight springs in the ejectors and this massive force simply overcame the resistance but it was apparent it was rubbing because you could see the marks on the side of the ejector cam from when the shotgun was opened.

DSCN1758 Next, the forend iron was leaving marks on the underside of the bottom barrel and I had to polish and remove some metal there to get a better fit to prevent further wear.

DSCN1763 DSCN1764

Both the ejector sear plungers were rough and did not slide in and out of their recess holes smoothly and I had to remove them and polish them to achieve smooth operation. The ejector sears also needed some deburring and polishing to achieve ideal movement. The forend iron head is not well fitted to the wood of the forend at all.

DSCN1759 Comparing it to the fit of the other aforementioned shotguns they are done better, which is troubling because apparently they were able to provide a better fit and still charge much less. Now make no mistake I like Ruger, always have probably always will but this gun has been a disappointment. Will I keep the gun? Most likely. Will it all be ok? Probably. But is it disappointing to pay that much for a O/U shotgun, or any gun, and have to bring it home, tear it down and file and polish parts to get them to function properly and prevent what would certainly be damaged parts after even minimal use? Yes, yes it is. But this is just how it is I guess. I was used to it when we paid $350 for Uberti revolvers for Cowboy action, you expected to have to do the work on it.  But almost $1200 for a shotgun from a reputable company here in the US?  Nope, I expected better, just didn’t get it. Ruger will soldier on, and post modifications so will I. I expect it will run well now and serve me well on the skeet field. After the work I did the gun is much smoother.  Maybe some more aftermarket accessories will be called for, perhaps not, but they could be necessary on any shotgun I would buy for clay shooting. We’ll see. Let’s just hope there are no more surprises, I think I paid enough to avoid any more.

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