October 3, 2011

Ruger Red Label Engraved No. KRL-1227-BRE 3-Inch 12 Gauge

Gun Tests magazine recently tested the all-American Ruger Red Label engraved model, marketed as a general-purpose model suitable for hunting and casual clays use.

In more detail, it was a 3-inch-chamber 12 gauge that would likely be the most expensive shotgun 95% of us might own. The Ruger Red Label Engraved No. KRL-1227-BRE 3-Inch 12 gauge lists at $2180. This Red Label comes with scroll-engraving and gold-inlaid pheasants adorning both sides of the stainless-steel receiver. What they quickly noticed about this model was both the engraving and the wood. Contrasted with the sleek, smooth look of the base model’s stainless receiver, the engraving dresses the gun up. Also, the well-figured wood elements in the forearm and the buttstock matched in color and tone, and the checkering was deeply and crisply cut, making the furniture functional as well as visually appealing. If this were an import, you might have to add an "E" or an "L" to describe its wood quality. You also won’t have to worry about a plated finish chipping off or flaking, nor will you ever see any receiver bluing wear. Stainless steel has its benefits.

Gun Tests October 2009


The real choice for many shooters will be between a $2K Engraved RRL and a $3K CG Tempio. The wider rib of the RRL and the extra 7 ounces of weight might swing you in the Ruger direction on the skeet or dove fields. The difference in price is hard to ignore.

Here’s what the team found:

The Ruger was a substantial gun, with the sample weighing 7.9 pounds. This mass, even with Ruger’s thinnish rubber buttpad, made the gun softer-shooting than many other over/unders. The Ruger barrel set is heavy, and that’s not all bad. It encouraged the test shooters to get the gun down in the shoulder pocket where it belongs. For a field gun, though, the magazine said it would like to see the Ruger in a lighter form. Losing a few ounces from the barrels would make them far more interested in a 30-inch-barrel version of the Red Label then they were at testing. For clays or on the dove field, as is is just fine. The RRL also shot to POA with good barrel regulation.

The Ruger had a wide ventilated rib, more of a sporting clays style than a thin field treatment. It fit all of the testers well, and was smooth to swing and easy to hit with. They found the overall build quality of this Ruger to be rock-solid. It required no strain to break open. Ruger included five choke tubes and a speed wrench.

Gun Tests October 2009


We could not help but appreciate the clean, uncluttered, smooth lines of the RRL. Ruger did a masterful job with this Engraved Red Label. We've always felt the naked RRL receiver was a bit plain; this tasteful scroll and gold inlayed effort really dresses things up.

They liked the Ruger mechanical triggers rather than recoil-switched triggers. In fact, the Ruger triggers broke right at 4.5 pounds, the lightest of the several guns tested. They had a small amount of creep, but were still excellent triggers in their view.

They didn't like the Ruger’s auto safety-reset. The auto safety can be disabled by a gunsmith (or by Ruger), and that’s something they said they would do to the gun if they bought it. Also, they wished Ruger would change the pivoting barrel selector tang safety to a more conventional slide-selection.

Gun Tests Said: The Red Label proved to be the sleeper of the test, a very good stackbarrel that offers a lot of value for the dollar.

Comments (5)

Nice post, Firemouth. Agree, though the 26" barrel version balances right for me, and weighs just under 8lbs.

Posted by: Squirmydad | October 20, 2011 12:58 PM    Report this comment

Most American shooters are accustomed to shoot balance forward shotguns, but they will eventually gravitate to neutrally balanced doubles as they progress in their shooting abilities. Weight doesn't have to do anything to it. Balance does. My Sporting Beretta DT10 weights 8 1/4 lbs. empty. But it is so beautifully balanced that no one believes it weights so much. The Ruger Red Label is probably one of the best guns ever made at a price that no other manufacturer can match for that quality. The gun is a modern evolution of the best ever made O&U, the Boss patent. But to my surprise, I believe that Ruger lost awareness of what a jewel they have in their stables. Barrels should be lighter on the 12ga.and should be built with a neutral for length balance. Please, no side ribs on any gauge, no O&U shotgun needs that nuisance. Go back to the first checkering pattern; it was more ample and eye catching. Last but not least, I believe that the people that began building the butt stocks of the Red Labels, are not still there. Look at the oldest Red Labels, and you will find that the stocks fit you better. I once read a story about John Olin and one of the Parkers. By some coincidence they met somewhere after a duck hunt, and Olin showed Parker with a recently finished Model 21. After a close look at the gun Parker told Olin it was a great gun but was in need of a well built stock. I know it is very difficult to build a universally fitting stock, it is almost impossible, but with the old stocks Ruger was very, very close. They should go back to the old ones, they felt...nice. The
Ruger Red Label 12ga. shotgun is one of the best guns ever built in America, everyone should own one.
A word of wisdom, don't try to shave weight of one of this guns, go the other way around, a mercury brake in the butt stock will do marvels for balance, just choose one with the right weight to make the balance right at the hinge pin of the receiver, and that Ruger will become a kitty on your shoulder and a tiger on your targets.

Posted by: Firemouth | October 16, 2011 8:12 AM    Report this comment

Fit, fit & fit. I craved a Red Lable for years. Went to a gun show several years ago with single minded intent to finally get one. Shopped around, found the best tag price and asked to hoist it. It felt like a 2x4! On the same bench was a Franchi Veloce. Looked like a custom Beretta. When I shouldered it, I knew it was the one. I have never had a better fitting shotgun. Doesn't matter where it is made, what it looks like or what you want... fit, fit, fit!

Posted by: Markbo | October 7, 2011 1:22 PM    Report this comment

Rob, no reviewer I've seen has had anything to say about the Ruger being "unbalanced". The extra 7 ounces may or may not be what you need (since you are essentially shooting a 20 guage load). Some folks prefer to spend their dough on something crafted by American hands and that has proven itself in the field for almost 30 years. The gun doesn't fit you, fine, but that doesn't reflect any intrinsic defect in this shotgun.

Posted by: Squirmydad | October 6, 2011 8:59 PM    Report this comment

The Gun Test comment is the same that I have been hearing about all of Ruger's products for years. I found a Beretta 686 Onyx for $900 on Gunbroker that had been shot a 100 times. With the cash left over, I purchased a set of used Mueller chokes for $200. I have only just started sporting clays with the 30 incher, but much prefer it to the heavier, unbalanced Ruger. I shoot 1 oz #8 at all stations averaging 65-80%. I could not do the same with the Ruger, Browning, Mossberg, or Fausti. I am average build with medium hands and have always had trouble with most Ruger products.

Posted by: Robert C | October 6, 2011 1:54 PM    Report this comment

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