Problem with original Ruger Red Label 20 ga.

Help Support Ruger Forum:

Travelin Man

Bearcat
Joined
Jan 1, 2010
Messages
11
Location
Chain O' Lakes Region - Northern Illinois
Hello everyone!
I have 3 Ruger Red Label shotguns in 20 ga. that I inherited from my father 5 years ago.

They have NEVER been fired, my father bought the 3 as a set each with fixed chokes, one in full/modified, one in modified/improved, and one in skeet & skeet.

I finally took them out of the safe to look them over for corrosion and to give them a general wipe down and oiling (all of mine and my fathers safes are equipped with golden rods and are in climate controlled areas) and one of the shoguns is locked up, meaning I cannot move the lever to unlock the action to open it. Is this a common problem for these early edition (1980 or 1981 I believe) Red Labels? Remember, these shotguns have never been fired or dry fired, I remember when I was a teen that he would only take them out to give them a wipe down once a year or so. Could this be just BECAUSE the actions have never been moved in so long? I did notice on the other two Red Labels that the mechanisms were very tight and stiff but when I opened them there wasn't the slightest hint of corrosion or even hardened up oils (we have always used Hoppe's #9 for lubricating and protection).

The ONLY thing, I just remembered, is that the lever for unlocking the action is off center, like my father tried to open it and that is when it seized up but he never mentioned it to me.

Any ideas short of sending it to Ruger for service would be greatly appreciated.
 

hittman

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jan 16, 2008
Messages
18,316
Location
Illinois
A light spray of something like CLP or Kroil in the proper areas, let it sit overnight.

Very desirable guns to have …. I'm jealous! :)
 

hittman

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jan 16, 2008
Messages
18,316
Location
Illinois
Yeah, Ruger has a list on their web site of guns no longer serviced. I think the shotguns are included.
 

gewehrfreund

Buckeye
Joined
Apr 7, 2006
Messages
1,163
Location
central New York
Hoppes #9 is a bore solvent, not a lubricant/protectant. So, either there is some rust locking thing up, or some dried grease, etc. that can act like Loktite, in my experience.
I'd remove the fore-end and spray something in the action then put it near some moderate heat source with the muzzle own. After a few hours, I'd try it again, maybe even carefully tapping the lever with non-marring hammer, etc. while pressing down on the barrels.

And, having those 3 great shotguns and only looking at them once a year (let alone never shooting them), almost seems unheard of!
 

KS25-06

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 19, 2007
Messages
151
Location
Moscow, Ks. Stevens Co.
If the problem is you cannot move the lever, I would try soaking some Kroil around the opening lever. You may need to remove the butt stock and see if you can get some Kroil in the working parts of the opening mechanism.
 

Travelin Man

Bearcat
Joined
Jan 1, 2010
Messages
11
Location
Chain O' Lakes Region - Northern Illinois
Hoppes #9 is a bore solvent, not a lubricant/protectant. So, either there is some rust locking thing up, or some dried grease, etc. that can act like Loktite, in my experience.
I'd remove the fore-end and spray something in the action then put it near some moderate heat source with the muzzle own. After a few hours, I'd try it again, maybe even carefully tapping the lever with non-marring hammer, etc. while pressing down on the barrels.

And, having those 3 great shotguns and only looking at them once a year (let alone never shooting them), almost seems unheard of!
They were my father's and I have no use for them as a couple of years before he passed he gave me his prized Ruger Red Label in 12ga with screw in choke tube. He gave it to me while I was in the 4th week of a 10 week trap league and the very first night I shot with it, having NEVER fired a single round through it before, I posted a perfect 50 total for the two rounds. My teammates were astounded because I normally averaged 22-24 per round using my Remington 1187 semi-auto. I have found that I LOVE that Red Label for shooting doubles far better than my Remington, perhaps because of the full and modified choke tubes I have installed in the separate barrels for the different shooting distances when shooting doubles (modifies for first shot, full for second shot, shooting bottom barrel first).

The reason my father never shot them is because he wanted them as a collectors gun and second because a couple of years after buying them he then got the Red Label in 12 gauge when it first came out.
 

Travelin Man

Bearcat
Joined
Jan 1, 2010
Messages
11
Location
Chain O' Lakes Region - Northern Illinois
I just took the shotgun out of the safe now that I am here in my office and the problem is NOT that it won't open or fire, it is that the latch doesn't seem to want to fully return to the inline position with the receiver when closed AND that you cannot select which barrel fires first but the safety does work as I just performed a function test with dry fire caps.
 

Attachments

  • Red Label 10258.jpg
    Red Label 10258.jpg
    1,001.8 KB · Views: 109

G2

Hunter
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
2,568
Location
UT/AZ
The off center latch position is normal, as the gun wears in it moves closer to center. Shoot it a bunch and it will go past center, then it will get sloppy.

FWIW; most all double barrel shotguns have this situation. I'm surprised that the other 2 don't.
As for the safety sounds like something is dry, gunky and/or sticky.
Or IIRC there was/is a way to disconnect the selector…

Yours looks exactly like mine, (Position) I only have ~ 5k rounds thru it.

State & City where the gun resides, might provide some gunsmith suggestions.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 20, 2008
Messages
2,272
Location
Orange County, CA
I inherited several guns from my uncle a few years ago and found that some of them were locked up as you mention, one was a Savage 99 takedown rifle that would not take down; another was a Remington 870 that whose barrel was stuck and would not come off even when the magazine cap was removed. And there was a Savage/Valmet 333 O/U 20 magnum that wouldn't open--the opening lever wouldn't move.

I tried a spray-on solvent the was called something like "Gunk Kutter." Didn't have any effect, but a guy my brother shoots with who was once USCG armorer told me to warm the guns up fairly hot with a blow drier from your wife or a heat gun turned low and then try the solvent. His point was that the warmed metal would expand and open up some space between the parts and then then, as it cooled, draw the solvent into the open spaces and melt the dried-up lube. It worked, although on some of the guns it took several tries. Go slow (and don't let your guns sit so long)!

Good luck; those Red Labels deserve to be shot!
 

Travelin Man

Bearcat
Joined
Jan 1, 2010
Messages
11
Location
Chain O' Lakes Region - Northern Illinois
The off center latch position is normal, as the gun wears in it moves closer to center. Shoot it a bunch and it will go past center, then it will get sloppy.

FWIW; most all double barrel shotguns have this situation. I'm surprised that the other 2 don't.
As for the safety sounds like something is dry, gunky and/or sticky.
Or IIRC there was/is a way to disconnect the selector…

Yours looks exactly like mine, (Position) I only have ~ 5k rounds thru it.

State & City where the gun resides, might provide some gunsmith suggestions.
This gun is NEW other than my father opening and closing the action a couple of times a year to oil and wipe it down. He NEVER fired these three 20 gauge Red Label shotguns, ever.

I am on the IL/WI stateline area, about 30 miles west of Lake Michigan.
 
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Messages
3,192
Location
Alexandria, LA USA
Good luck with them. The Kroil solution is a good one. Just take your time. Let it soak in, don't force it. I would only take it to a gunsmith as a last choice, and only if they are properly vetted.
Very nice trio of shotguns, I like to have just one!
 

David Lee Valdina

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
116
Location
Snow Bird, Florida & Massachusetts
It sounds to me like it is gunked up and the gunk hardened. If the other suggestions fail, I would remove the stock and put the receiver in a tub of kerosene and let it sit for a long time, shake it around a bit from time to time and see if that does the trick.
 
Top