April 27, 2021
Throughout its 126-year history, Savage Arms has offered up several groundbreaking firearm models. That tradition of cutting-edge gun design continued in 2020 with the launch of the Renegauge, a gas-operated semiauto shotgun with a long list of innovative features.
Savage isn’t treading lightly into the market, either. With MSRPs ranging from $1,449 to $1,549, Savage’s new semiautomatic shotgun squares off against well-appointed guns like Benelli’s M2 Field guns ($1,449 to $1,559) and Browning’s Maxus ($1,399 to $1,899). These guns have a solid reputation among wingshooters and waterfowl hunters, but Savage believes that their new gas gun has the features and build quality required to play in this league.
Driven by D.R.I.V.
At the heart of the Renegauge is Savage’s new Dual Regulating Inline Valve system (D.R.I.V.). When the gun is fired, gasses are vented through a series of staggered ports. The staggered port design reduces wad shaving and fouling and allows gasses to travel into the piston housing. Dual valves located at the front of the piston housing vent excess gas forward so that only the required amount of gas forces are used to cycle the gun. The one-piece, chrome-plated action bar assembly uses the energy from the gas system to cycle the action, and excess gas bleeds off the system before cycling bolt speed is regulated. By doing so, the Renegauge D.R.I.V. system reduces overall wear on the system and felt recoil. The design allows Renegauge guns to reliably cycle everything from light 2¾-inch target loads to 3-inch magnum shells without making any modifications to the gun. The gas operation system is well-executed and effective.
The Renegauge’s stock offers a level of customizability found on few other shotguns. Three combs of different heights are included with each gun and they can be popped into place quickly without any special tools, while the three included recoil pads allow for length-of-pull adjustments from 14.25 to 15.07 inches. Each of these guns also comes with a shim kit that allows the owner to adjust drop and cast of the stock, so within a few minutes of unboxing the Renegauge, you can tailor the gun to fit perfectly.
Oversized controls add to the Renegauge’s appeal. The round bolt handle and large square bolt release buttons are easy to operate while wearing gloves. There’s a shell release located on the right front portion of the trigger guard. Pressing rearward on the shell release drops a shell from the magazine onto the carrier to be loaded into the chamber, a particularly desirable feature on a hunting gun because you can quickly remove the shell from the chamber when crossing fences or handling dogs without having to unload the magazine.
Built for the Hunter
The Renegauge comes with a long list of hunter-friendly features that make it even more appealing. Both the bolt and carbon steel barrel have longitudinal flutes and the ramped, laser-welded rib comes with a fiber optic front sight. A large, beveled loading port makes it easy to stuff shells into the gun while watching the sky for birds and the radiused heel on the recoil pad won’t hang up in your shooting jacket when you’re mounting the gun in a hurry. The safety is located behind the trigger guard and it’s reversible if you shoot left-handed. Each Renegauge shotgun comes with three flush fit chokes (IC, M, F) and the pattern matches that of the Benelli/Beretta Mobil Choke system.
Savage gave the Renegauge a modern look with angled machining on the aluminum receiver, a translucent rubber recoil pad and parallel texture lines on the pistol grip and forearm to increase control. But this new-age styling is an example of form following function, and the Renegauge is a comfortable, well-balanced gun that mounts quickly and swings nicely. The upright pistol grip is the antithesis of the more traditional straight grip English style stock you’ll find on a classic side-by-side, but I like the Savage grip angle because it is comfortable and provides easier access to the trigger and improved control. The trim, flat-sided forearm is narrower than some competing gas guns and is well-designed.
The Reneguage is available in 12 gauge with a 3-inch chamber and comes in black or camo (Mossy Oak Obsession, Bottomland, Shadow Grass Blades, or True Timber Prairie). The Mossy Oak camo models feature full camo dips while the new True Timber Prairie version comes with a Cerakote finish on the metal. Available barrel lengths range from 24 to 28 inches and weights range from 7.8 to 8 pounds.
In the Field
I had a chance to test the new True Timber Prairie version of the Renegauge while hunting ducks in South Texas. Between trips to the shooting range and time in the blind, I fired more than 100 rounds through the gun, and the first takeaway from that experience is that this gun produces less felt recoil than almost any competing firearm. I actually shot a round of clays with 3-inch Fiocchi steel loads, and while the pushback was more pronounced with those shells than the Fiocchi target loads, it wasn’t unbearable. If you’re looking for a versatile 12-gauge shotgun and minimal recoil is your primary requirement then the Renegauge should be on your short list.
On that particular hunt, we were shooting seven different guns in the field and on the range, and none of the guns I saw experienced any significant failures. The Renegauge didn’t seem to be finicky about being cleaned, either, and several of those guns ran dirty for the entire duration of the hunt without any problems. Cleaning the Savage is quite easy, too: simply removing the forearm and barrel and wiping down the ports and the hard chrome cylinder had the Renegauge in like-new condition. The excess gas vented from the front of the forearm leaves a bit of fouling on the underside of the barrel, but that could be cleaned away with one swipe of a rag.
Savage hasn’t shied away from well-established competition with the release of the Renegauge, and there’s no need to. This gun is a legitimate contender to become the next American-made semiauto standard-bearer, and it’s worth every penny of the asking price.