“Love hurts,” I bawled in my signature off-key tones as I wound down from a long day at Gunsite. “Love scars, love wounds and mars,” I continued, pulling off my hoodie to reveal a lurid blue-black bruise blooming from bicep to elbow. I leaned in to the hotel bathroom mirror, turning my face to inspect the matching contusion on my cheek. I reached for my handy color-correcting makeup kit; this was going to be at least two layers of orange concealer.
This isn’t a tragic story, and you shouldn’t feel sorry for me. Letting shotguns beat me up is part of my job. That’s because shooting shotguns is part of my job. The vast majority of shotguns come to us for testing from the factory, sized for a man several inches taller and broader than myself. Put simply, shotguns that don’t fit—particularly when they’re too big—won’t give you a good gun-to-body weld. And if you don’t have a good gun-to-body weld, you’d better have a really good color-correcting makeup kit to cover those bruises.
Unless, of course, the shotgun that just came to you from the factory is a Savage Renegauge. This new shotgun from Savage is changing everything about the way a factory gun can fit. Here are six ways the Renegauge taught me to love shotgun shooting, to stop singing off-key where other people can hear me, and to quit driving makeup stock prices up.
Fit, Fit, Fit
Have I mentioned fit? As we’ve noted in NRA Women, half of your performance with a shotgun comes from proper fit. Although many shotguns are sold with minor modifications like stock spacers, the Renegauge is a true renegade. It comes from the factory with a truly superior out-of-the-box fitting system that allows you to tailor the shotgun to your particular anatomy. According to Savage, the Renegauge can be set up in no fewer than 20 unique ways, using the Renegauge's interchangeable recoil pads, cheek risers and shims. You're not just adjusting drop at comb and length of pull; you're adjusting drop at toe, drop at Montecarlo, pitch and more. Essentially, any place this shotgun touches your body is a place you can customize.
Don’t get us wrong; this will be useful for all shooters…but it's of particular interest to women. We tend to have proportionally longer necks and higher cheekbones than men do, and that makes it harder to get a consistent cheekweld and mount without some serious ‘smithing. Unless, of course, the gun you’re unboxing is a Renegauge.
As of right now, the Renegauge is only offered in 12 gauge. The standard advice for new and recoil-sensitive shooters is to start with a 20 gauge, but that really doesn’t apply here. My honest estimation of this 12-gauge shotgun's felt recoil with light target loads is that it's about what I would expect from a semi-automatic rifle chambered in .223. Flaming-hot waterfowl and turkey loads offered about what I'd expect from a bolt-action .243. Yes, that's a very bold claim, but I stand behind it.
Have you ever had the loading gate of a shotgun snap down on your thumbnail hard enough to turn it black the next day? I have, and I used to call those the “good days” because I got to keep my thumbnail. (I have left more than one highly trackable blood trail on the clays field.) If you’re loading the shells one at a time—as you would while shooting clays—you'll be as pleased as I was to discover that the Renegauge's feed ramp uses a beveled loading port to make it impossible to trap your thumb. (Believe me, I tried.)
Semi-automatic shotguns are notoriously picky about ammunition, particularly when light target loads are in the picture. Some low-recoil loads simply don’t have enough “oomph” to reliably cycle the action, but the Renegauge has an innovative gas system called the D.R.I.V.
The way it works is that the pressure needed to work the action enters in, but any excess pressure dumps through the front of the gas system. The result is an action that regulates energy with every shot. The D.R.I.V. gas system valves only pull enough energy to cycle the action, regardless of the load. The company advertises that anything from a low-recoiling 2¾” shell to a 3” magnum will cycle reliably through this shotgun. My field-testing proved that the Renegauge will eat anything you feed it.
Up until now, I’ve loved shotguns the same way I love tigers…from a distance. Having a truly painless experience with a scattergun is such a unique pleasure for me that I was prepared to cough up whatever Savage was asking. So it was quite a pleasant surprise to learn that the MSRPs range from $1,449 to $1,549, which is well within what I’d expect to pay for a semi-automatic without all of these features. If that price sounds as good to you as it does to me, visit SavageArms.com.