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The One That Got Away

Ruger Gold Label. A high-end Ruger Shotgun.

Every so often in the business of gun writing you send back a gun that you wish you had bought instead. When I worked at NRA, the Technical Editor used to lament that there was a time when he could buy all the Steyr AUGs he wanted for $200 each but didn’t. My gun that “got away” is Ruger’s Gold Label side-by-side shotgun.

Getting results.
Getting results.

I had the thing in my hands. I even took it hunting a lot and did a review on it for Shooting Times magazine. Then I stupidly sent it back to Ruger because even the used gun price I was offered was more than I was paid for the article, and negative cash flow doesn’t keep a roof over one’s head.

Wing shooting.
Wing shooting.

I really loved the Gold Label because it’s as nimble as a wand. “Why don’t they make it in 20-gauge?” was a whine I heard quite often. Well, Ruger didn’t make it in 20 gauge because it was already a 12-gauge that handled like a very lively 20-gauge, so you had the light weight advantage of a 20- with the payload of a 12. It was the svelte round action Ruger crafted for the Gold Label that made it waif, yet so solid.

Ruger Gold Label CRW_0081_RT16
A 12 gauge action that handles like a 20.

Unfortunately, Ruger never made many to begin with and discontinued it soon after introduction so I’m going to have to find one on the used gun market–and even those command a premium greater than if I had just bought the review gun I had in my hands. Fortunately for my former boss, Steyr still makes AUGs, but he, too, will have to pay more.


Scott Mayer



“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”



Scott Mayer
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