The Renegauge: Savage’s New Self-Regulating Semi-Auto Shotgun

The gun’s proprietary gas system can cycle anything from the lightest target loads to the hottest magnums with no adjustment necessary with low and consistent recoil.

Renegauge Waterfowl model
The Renegauge Waterfowl model in the field.Savage Arms

A semi-automatic shotgun that is reliable and can self-adjust to cycle any of the myriad loads available in a given chambering is the holy grail of shotgun design from an engineering perspective.

Semi-autos have a lot of advantages over other scattergun designs—they have the capacity of a pump or lever gun, provide quick follow-up shots, are fast to reload (lighting fast if you train enough), and generally have a much softer kick than other shotgun designs, thanks to the internal mechanism using the expelled gases (or actual recoil to cycle the gun as in an inertia gun) to cycle the action instead of sending it into the shooter's shoulder.

Historically, semi-autos are finicky. While 99.9 percent of break-action shotguns will fire any ammunition of the proper gauge and length and pump guns will cycle 95 percent, many semi-autos can be limited to a specific load or small group of loads that it will cycle reliably, or it will have to be adjusted and tested when switching from one load to another if the gas system allows for that.

Colin Kearns hunting waterfowl with the Renegauge shotgun
Field & Stream Editor-in-Chief Colin Kearns on a duck hunt with the Renegauge Waterfowl shotgun.Savage Arms

However, in recent years, new approaches to the semi-auto shotguns design have produced firearms that will eat anything without any kind of adjustment, from the lightest target loads to the heaviest magnum shells—and there’s an innovative new player in that space.

At the opening of 2020 and a new decade, Savage Arms has introduced it's first ever semi-auto shotgun, the Renegauge, a firearm that has been in the works for the nearly the past eight years. After a lot of rethinking, polishing, and testing...and more testing, it's finally ready.

“We began working on the action in 2012,” said Senior Brand Manager Jessica Treglia. “We kept getting close, but ‘close’ wasn’t good enough. Renegauge had to be perfect. Now it’s ready.”

The Renegauge was built with the goal of producing a reliable semi-auto shotgun that works with the vast variety of available ammunition and is still affordable for the average hunter, competition shooter, according to engineer John Linscott, who took over the project to completion and who was also behind Savage's A17 rifle.

The D.R.I.V. System

Last year I had the privilege of visiting the Savage Arms factory in Westfield, Massachusetts and I got a first hand look at the earliest samples of the Renegauge and a walkthrough of its innovative self-regulating gas system from Linscott himself just before it was being prepped for a few gun writers to test it out in the field.

action bars of the Renegauge waterfowl shotgun
The action bar (top) of the Renegauge and below it, a fore and aft view of the dual valves in the D.R.I.V. system. They automatically vent more gas from a powerful load and less from softer loads, so the action cycles with the vast majority of ammo on the market.Savage Arms

They’re calling the guts of this new shotgun a Dual Regulating Inline Valve (D.R.I.V.) gas system, the results of years of work and a completely new approach to how a gas gun should work. The forend of the shotgun has a small bulge on either side of the barrel, and that's where the drive system is housed. In some ways, it works like any other gas gun, syphoning off gas from a fired shell back into the action to drive a piston that in turn drives the bolt carrier backward, ejecting the spent shell, and a return spring drives the carrier forward, chambering a new shell.

On the Renegauge you'll find two valves, as the D.R.I.V. name suggests, which vent excess gas that's not needed to run the action, sort of like a pressure overflow valve. Linscott says, as they worked through various designs, they found that two valves vented gas faster than a single valve, enhancing reliability.

In a typical gas gun, if there is too much gas being syphoned back into the action, from say a magnum shell, the action operates with too much force. This can damage the action over time and increases felt recoil for the shooter quite a bit, not to mention ejecting your shells into the stratosphere. The action working too fast can also cause feeding issues. On the other side of things, if you're shooting low-brass target loads, the gun might not syphon off enough gas to work the action at all, meaning your semi-auto becomes a manual repeater, or it jams.

infographic of renegauge waterfowl shotgun.
How the D.R.I.V. system works.Savage Arms

With the Renegauge design, the same amount of gas is taken into the action with every shot, no matter the shell you're using. The valves let the appropriate amount of gas escape, so that the amount used to cycle the action is uniform and consistent.

With light loads, the system uses all the gas available to run the bolt and the valves stay closed. With heavier loads, the valves open the appropriate amount and release any excess gas with no adjustments needed from the user.

This is important because an adjustable gas system, which many designs have used to overcome these issues, requires the shooter to figure out the right adjustment for a particular load—a trial and error process that is not exactly precise. You don't have to do any of that with the Renegauge. Just load and shoot.

“Renegauge runs magnum loads, low recoil shells, and everything between with the same reliability,” Treglia said. “You spend the afternoon on the range, and the next morning hunting and know that Renegauge will perform perfectly without any adjustments.”

the Renegauge Field model
The Renegauge Field model.Savage Arms

Stock

If you're familiar with Savage's rifles, you'll notice the synthetic stock is a version of the company's popular AccuFit stock, allowing the user to customize the comb height and length of pull, but more on that later.

The gun will be initially offered in three versions, a black and grey Field model, a blades camo Waterfowl model, and a Turkey model. The Waterfowl and Field models come with three choke tubes and use the Beretta/Benelli choke system if you want to use aftermarket tubes. All models should be on gun store shelves and firearm retailer websites by early March.

the renegauge shotgun trigger
All models feature a beveled magazine port and angled trigger housing for faster and easier reloads.Savage Arms

Speed

Everything about the Renegauge is meant to be slick and quick. The action bar assembly and the pusher sleeve are laser welded to the carrier for increased strength and easy of maintenance and these parts are also chrome plated, which decreases friction, increases durability, and makes them less susceptible to fouling—and easier to clean.

And because those two valves work simultaneously to let off the excess gas as fast as possible with great consistency, Savage says they've been able to fine-tine the action to make it snappy so that shooters can't outrun the trigger waiting for a sluggish return.

The Renegauge Waterfowl mode
The Renegauge Waterfowl model is available with a 26- or 28-inch barrel.Savage Arms

Fit

One of the primary concerns at Savage is making firearms that fit a wide array of shooters as well as possible. They've done this with their AccuFit system found on many of their rifle models, and the stock on the Renegauge is no different.

The Renegauge Turkey model
The Renegauge Turkey model with a 24-inch barrel in Renegauge Bottomlands or Renegauge Turkey Obsession camo.Savage Arms

All models include a synthetic stock with three different recoil pads for length of pull adjustment as well as three different cheek pads for comb height adjustment—which will be particularly useful on the turkey model for hunters who use higher mounted red dots. The gun also comes with a set of shims which can be used to more finely adjust the stock if necessary.

Controls

hunter holding a renegauge shotgun.
All Renegauge models feature an oversized charging handle, bolt release, and cartridge release lever.Savage Arms

The gun is also built with small features that make it more suitable for competition shooting, including a beveled magazine port and an angled trigger housing for faster reloads. These features also benefit hunters int he field. If you've ever gotten your glove caught in the port while trying to push in fresh shells, you'll understand.

All models also include an oversized charging handle, bolt release, and cartridges release.

All in all, it appears Savage has made an easy to use, easy shooting, reliable shotgun for its first gas shotgun that won't put any hunter or competition shooter into debt.

Savage Renegauge Specs

All models have 12 gauge, 3-inch chambers.

Field Model

Renegauge Field Model
Renegauge Field ModelSavage Arms

Barrel Length: 26" or 28"

Overall Length: 47.5" or 49.5"

Capacity: 4+1

Weight: 7.8 lbs. or 7.9 lbs.

Action: Semi Auto

Barrel Color: Black

Barrel Finish: Melonite

Barrel Material: Carbon Steel

Length of Pull: 14.25-15.07"

Receiver Color: Black

Receiver Finish: Matte

Receiver Material: Carbon Steel

Stock Color: Black

Stock Finish: Matte

Stock Material: Synthetic

Stock Type: Monte Carlo Style

MSRP: $1,449

FEATURES:

  • D.R.I.V. gas system

  • Adjustable stock for length of pull, comb height, and drop & cast

  • One-piece, chrome plated action bar assembly

  • Chrome plated reciprocating components

  • Stock rod buffer to reduce felt recoil

  • Fluted barrel with melonite finish

  • Carbon steel ventilated rib with red fiberoptic sight

  • Competition-ready easy loading magazine port

  • Oversized controls

  • Includes 3 interchangeable flush mount choke tubes (Beretta/Benelli) – IC, M, F

  • Includes hard-sided carrying case

Waterfowl Model

Renegauge Waterfowl model
Renegauge Waterfowl modelSavage Arms

Barrel Length: 26" or 28"

Overall Length: 47.5" or 49.5"

Capacity: 4+1

Weight: 7.85 lbs. or 7.9 lbs.

Action: Semi Auto

Barrel Finish: Melonite

Barrel Material: Carbon Steel

Hand: Right

Length of Pull: 14.25-15.07"

Receiver Material: Carbon Steel

Stock Color: Camouflage

Stock Finish: Matte

Stock Material: Synthetic

Stock Type: Monte Carlo Style

MSRP: $1,549

FEATURES:

  • ¥D.R.I.V. gas system

  • Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades Camo

  • Adjustable stock for length of pull, comb height, and drop & cast

  • One-piece, chrome plated action bar assembly

  • Chrome plated reciprocating components

  • Stock rod buffer to reduce felt recoil

  • Fluted barrel with melonite finish

  • Carbon steel ventilated rib with red fiberoptic sight

  • Competition-ready easy loading magazine port

  • Oversized controls

  • Includes 3 interchangeable flush mount choke tubes (Beretta/Benelli) – IC, M, F

  • Includes hard-sided carrying case

Turkey Model

Renegauge Turkey model.
Renegauge Turkey model.Savage Arms

Barrel Length: 24"

Overall Length: 45.5"

Capacity: 4+1

Weight: 7.75 lbs

Action: Semi Auto

Barrel Finish: Melonite

Barrel Material: Carbon Steel

Hand: Right

Length of Pull: 14.25-15.07"

Receiver Finish: Matte

Receiver Material: Carbon Steel

Stock Color: Camouflage

Stock Finish: Matte

Stock Material: Synthetic

Stock Type: Monte Carlo Style

MSRP: $1,549

FEATURES:

  • D.R.I.V. gas system

  • Mossy Oak Obsession or Bottomland camo

  • Adjustable stock for length of pull, comb height, and drop & cast

  • One-piece, chrome plated action bar assembly

  • Chrome plated reciprocating components

  • Stock rod buffer to reduce felt recoil

  • Fluted barrel with melonite finish

  • Carbon steel ventilated rib with red fiberoptic sight

  • Competition-ready easy loading magazine port

  • Oversized controls

  • Includes 4 interchangeable choke tubes (Beretta/Benelli) – EF, IC, M, F

  • Includes hard-sided carrying case