The Ruger Red Label Is No More

The Ruger Red Label was Ruger’s entry into the shotgun market. While they had limited runs of a side-by-side and a single barrel trap gun, the over-under Red Label was their shotgun. It was introduced originally in 1977 and was chambered in 12 and 20 gauges. A 28 gauge was introduced in 1994. The original receiver was blued steel which was replaced by a stainless receiver for 12 gauges in 1985. Over the years a number of stock styles, barrel lengths, and choke variations were introduced as well as special models.

The Red Label faded away in 2011 only to be reintroduced last year. I remember speaking with a representative from Ruger – it may have actually been Mike Fifer – about the reintroduction of the Red Label at the NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. He said it had been reengineered to give it simpler internal workings and to make the cost of production affordable for Ruger. This review in the American Rifleman speaks to those changes as well as the gun’s history.

Ruger held its quarterly earnings call with stock analysts yesterday morning. The call was to review both the 4th quarter 2014 results and the full year results. Towards the end of the call in a discussion of products, Brian Gary Rafn of Morgan Dempsey Capital Management, LLC asked if there was any news on the shotgun line.

Mike Fifer responded:

I’m not sure whether we’ve announced it or not, but we have removed the Red Label from our catalog and website. We relaunched it last year with the hopes and expectations that we could hit a certain cost target, and we were never able to successfully get the manufacturing processes under control. And so we have, in fact, discontinued the Red Label.

Checking the website, Fifer is correct. The Ruger Red Label is gone.

I will admit to being saddened by this for nostalgic reasons. We bought one in 20 gauge for my late wife Rosanne back in 1981 which we later sold to pay some bill or another. A few years after her death I again bought a used 20 gauge. I had intended to do some grouse hunting which I never seem to have gotten around to. Nonetheless, it is a nice little shotgun. Mine is a little rough from wear but it is still a good working shotgun and I intend to keep it for many more years.

13 thoughts on “The Ruger Red Label Is No More”

  1. The new Ruger Red Label is still available from several sources on and other auction sites. I bought one a couple of months ago and it is a good value for the dollar. I have not had any issues with mine. Get them while they last!

  2. It took five months to get my new Red Label in 2014 and it was worth every minute of the wait. It is a gorgeous looking firearm, made in America, fits me well , is well balanced and I seem to shoot it like it's been mine for decades. This is my first O/U and I absolutely love it.

  3. I'm on my second new Red Label model 4192. The 1st one was broken out of the box. Would not fire when barrel selector was set to top and the top ejector would let certain shells past it while loading. Ruger had it for 7 weeks and when it came back it lasted 57 rounds before it started misfiring on the bottom barrel. Also, the top ejector would still let certain shells past it while loading. I sent the gun back to Ruger again and they had it 1 week and called to let me know they were shipping another brand new 4192.

    My current 4192 has the same top ejector issue with some shells and this one closes very hard depending again on the mfg. of the shells and shell model. It lasted 325 rounds before it started misfiring this time. Again. (Sigh!) It's out for repair yet again.

    The shell problem wasn't a huge deal once I learned what it liked. I occasionally shoot sporting clays at a couple of clubs in Rhode Island and I really liked the fit and feel of the 4192. Its a good balanced gun with a nice swing. And of course, for the price and Ruger's reputation, I didn't think it was a bad choice. I shoot less than 2500 rounds of ammunition a year and never made it through one month's shooting with either of the two before they broke. I shoot nothing but factory new rounds and all are target loads 1 oz. 1200 FPS, in case anyone is wondering.

    I would not recommend this model Red Label to anyone. I am not the only one with these issues of these latest Red Label models. Word at the clubs were not favorable of it, as they all seemed to have troubles. I'm not sure what's going on at Ruger, but they have serious issues with the newer redesigned Red Label.

    Don't get any of them while they, last?

  4. I have bought and traded several Red Labels in the past 20 yrs – always hopeful that the next purchase would be positive. Essentially the Red Label is a very well designed and strong gun that for me balanced well in spite of heavy weight. The problem is in manufacturing – absolutely NO Quality Control and no regard to function along the way and at finish. I would say that out of 10 guns 2 would function well and be okay. The reissued guns were fraught with every problem I ever experienced w Red Labels. I have one used 12 gauge made prior to screw-in chokes and that one is the rare Red Label that actually works. Dan in PA

  5. do not buy any ruger products if they screw up they just let you eat the loss. used to be a really good company never had any problems till that new idiot ceo showed up. Sturm and Ruger are rolling in there graves. If there is a company that should go broke its them. I have 4 red labels and all of them quit shooting one barrel or the other guess I could be like ruger and sell them to some poor soul, But like most american gun owners we are honest I will eat the loss but will talk down ruger every chance I get.

  6. Hi, I own one of the rare 2014 Ruger Red Label O/U. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this gun. The only thing I didn't like about it was the Auto Safety that would engage after loading. This was a problem shooting sporting clays as I would occasionally forget do disengage it. Solving that problem took just one call to Ruger. I paid to ship it to them and they removed the auto safety feature and shipped it back and didn't charge me a single nickel. My family owns several USA made Ruger products and I'm convinced that a better VALUE (quality for price) option does not exist. Their customer service is outstanding. I believe that there were some problems with the first few batches of the new Red Label and if you are unfortunate enough to encounter that, Ruger WILL make it right and fix your firearm. The latter models work flawlessly. The only other option for an AMERICAN MADE O/U shotgun is Kolar…and their lowest priced model is $9,000 and goes up to $39,000. These Ruger Red Label shotguns can be found on Gunbroker for about $1,000 in great condition with a nice case and chokes and compare favorably to Beretta and Browning costing three times as much.

  7. Hi, i have an older Ruger Red Label, 12ga, English style stock, 3" chambers. The gun is immaculate, less than 5 boxes of shells. Last October I was on a duck hunt in North Dakota. While shooting the stock broke ! I thought it was no big deal, I'll just contact Ruger and have the stock replaced. GUESS AGAIN ! I contacted Ruger and the Ruger representative told me that they no longer make the Red Label, and have very few parts to support them. they definitely don't have any straight stocks, and very few pistol grip stocks, but if i send it back they will give me a good deal on one of their other products ! Needless to say, I was livid. In the end I took it to a gunsmith to make me a new stock. After close inspection he showed me that the stock, from the factory was not fitted correctly, causing the fracture. This will cost about 500 bucks. The moral of the story, I will never spend another dollar on anything Ruger ! THEY DO NOT STAND BEHIND THEIR HIGH PRICED JUNK ! Buyers Beware !

  8. Years ago in Florida a friend asked me if I wanted to go shoot sporting clays and I said yes never having done such. He lent me a Ruger Red Label in 12 gauge, I think, and the shotgun was an absolute pleasure to shoot making me look better than I was. Sad that the New model is gone.

  9. I cannot speak directly to the Red Label except that I have always always wanted one. I can however speak to Ruger as a company. I have a safe FULL of Rugers, from the AR-556 to my daily carry. I have not had one single issue from any of them, when I have had parts wear out on the 10/22 they have been prompt, courteous and professional in their repairs. I did not ask to have this warranteed and they did not offer, however if I manage to wear parts out, regardless of the nature of the item, that's really more on me than a company. With the exception of the comments in this article i've not heard anyone complain about rugers quality or their customer service.
    nice to see a company do well, and expand building AMERICAN products and hiring AMERICAN workers.

  10. I have a 1986 Red label and really like to shoot it except for the Safety which I guess I will have to do myself unless I can find someone to modify it it for me. If anyone knows a gunsmith that can do it I sure would like to know,Thanks

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