A New American Semi-Auto: The Savage Renegauge 12-Gauge
Savage goes headlong into the waters with, not one or two, but six models of semi-automatic shotguns. Not since the company produced a brief run of Auto-5 spin-offs has Savage built semi-auto scatterguns in-house – and that might just be one of the most interesting aspects. There are few truly American-made semi-automatic shotguns, and now the name renowned for affordable, accurate rifles moves some of that technology to the repeating scattergun world.
Is the Renegauge just another semi-auto in an already flooded market or a true renegade destined to change the course of shotgunning?
Meet the Renegauge
Gas-driven shotguns are far from new, but they are for Savage. After years of design work, the company was ready to debut the new platform for 2020. The Renegauge’s self-regulating Dual Regulating Inline Valve gas system allows the gun to cycle both light and heavy loads. From the lightest 2-3/4-inch target loads up to the magnum threes, the Renegague is limited only by the 3-inch chamber. It does so not only without adjustment but in a different way from much of the competition.
A one-piece bolt carrier assembly includes the bolt, pusher sleeve, and carrier. All reciprocating parts, including gas rings, are chrome-plated for longevity and ease of cleaning. Drawing from the incredibly successful AccuFit stock systems on its newer Model 110 rifles, Savage modifies the Renegauge design to include three each of interchangeable inserts for customizing both length of pull and comb height. A red fiber optic front sight rounds out the package.
The initial launch is all 12-gauge synthetic, with a pair of Field models in black synthetic, featuring either 26- or 28-inch barrels. The rest of the lineup is covered in some variation of Mossy Oak camouflage. There’s a duo of Turkey takers, both with 24-inch barrels, one Bottomland, and the other Obsession. Lastly, the pair of Waterfowl variants, both dressed in Shadow Grass Blades, come with either 26- or 28-inch barrels.
Regardless of appearance, each shotgun comes with three Trulock Beretta/Benelli-style choke tubes, except the Turkey model, which includes an Extended Full as well.
Taking a Test Drive with the New Gas System
While several of the Renegauge’s design components are interesting, the most significant is the gas operation itself. The way the Renegauge manages the gases created by firing shells and cycling the action is different from its competitors. Savage’s patented DRIV system self-regulates for both high and low power loads without user adjustment, which has come to be expected from semi-autos.
Where similar designs vent gases back through the action, Savage’s emits the excess forward through the front of the forend. To simplify, only the gas, which is needed to cycle the bolt carrier, is sent to the action. The remainder exits forward, away from the shooter, and theoretically lessening both fouling and recoil. To further address recoil, Savage designed a patent-pending stock rod buffer to extend the life of the action bar in addition to absorbing the back-kick.
Not a Magnum’s Magnum
The biggest knock on the Renegauge will be that it does not chamber 3 1/2-inch magnum shells. And those naysayers are correct—it does not. Astute shotgunners, waterfowlers included, will be noticing a quickly growing trend not just among gun manufacturers, but ammo builders as well. Like it or not, and much like the 10-gauge decades ago, the big boppers are fading. While they surely won’t disappear altogether, advancements in modern shotshell technology have quickly supplanted the 3 1/2-inchers.
The explosion of tungsten and other premium alloys have as much, or more, knockdown power along with superior patterns in the 3-inch shells. If you demand a 3 1/2-inch magnum shotgun, the Renegauge is not for you at this time; however, if you’re willing to try new things, you might just be wowed.
Our pre-release test gun is the Renegauge Waterfowl with a 28-inch barrel and Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades camo. The outfit arrived in a black TSA-approved hard case branded with the Renegauge logo. Initial inspection reveals a sleek shotgun with a fluted barrel. While we can’t say whether the barrel fluting reduces much weight, it is a nice touch seen often on rifles but not on shotguns, which see higher volume shooting and heating. The oversized controls are ideal for gloved hunters in inclement weather, but not so obnoxiously oversized that they get hit accidentally. The forend is both aggressively stippled and wears grooves intended to provide optimal grip. The slight gel-feel to both the comb riser and buttpad are appealing for high-volume and recoil-sensitive shooters.
Can we say the DRIV system is better or worse than the competition? Not really. What we can say definitively is that the Renegauge cycled every type of ammunition we fed it with neither adjustment nor hiccup. Shells ejected strongly each time and felt recoil was comparable or, in some cases, significantly less than our other favorite semi-autos. We fired a mix of Winchester Snow Goose, Kent Fasteel 2.0, Remington STS, Kent Premier Target, and Hevi Shot Hevi Hammer, all with stellar results. And after over 250 rounds, the action was surprisingly clean and ready for more.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the Renegauge is the borrowed AccuFit stock system, taken from the 110 series rifles. The Renegauge allows for a customized fit and comfort for the individual shooter, as both LOP and comb height are customizable. Three recoil pads and three comb height inserts are included with each shotgun. To their credit, the comb insert material has a unique soft-touch gel-feel that is surprisingly comfortable and makes the shooter wonder where this has been all these years. In addition, a shim kit comes standard for those who wish to further adjust drop and cast.
In a slick move for the growing desire to speed-load and shoot competition volumes, the Renegauge shows off a beveled loading port, angled trigger housing, receiver, and elevator for competition readiness. Though our Waterfowl model wears full camo coverage, the Renegauges are Melonite-finished for corrosion resistance and surface hardness. That all adds up to features that hunters and high-volume shooters will adore.
A Renegauge for Renegades?
Whether or not the buyer views themselves as an outdoor rebel of sorts, there’s no arguing Savage has had their finger on the pulse of American hunters for decades. With a custom fit, light recoil, and smooth operations, the new Savage Renegauge is poised to be a winner. We’ll run the Renegauge through some rugged paces during a late Fall Texas waterfowl hunt, but so far, the gun has been everything it promised—and more.
The Savage Renegauge is priced from $1,449 to $1,549.