Semi-Auto Ascendancy: The Savage Renegauge Security

For tactical use, a semi-automatic shotgun is a superior platform to a pump action, and the new Savage Renegauge is excellent evidence for that statement.

by
posted on November 23, 2022
Savage Renegauge Security

“Don’t get stuck on stupid” is a great saying. That’s why I wrote it about some of the tactical world in my book, “Prepper Guns”; a significant few  are stuck on stupid. 

We long ago moved on to semi-automatic handguns and rifles for self-defense, yet much of the tactical world clings to pump-action shotguns like a little kid with the last cookie. 

Nothing in the arguments against a semi-automatic shotgun stands up to daylight. Not today. Most of the arguments are decades old. There are semi-autos today that are just as reliable as any pump, and always faster. I have seen, conservatively, a quarter-million shotgun rounds fired from modern semi-auto shotguns and I can count the failures in modern shotguns—that were not ammo or shooter induced—on my fingers. Of course, that must be clarified by stating the obvious: It must be a well-designed, well-made and well-maintained shotgun. Some older-design, bird-hunting semi-autos like to jam when they get hot and dirty. Oddly enough, the one most often mentioned was popular decades ago, when many of the pump guys were forming their opinions. The fact is, that gun isn’t even made anymore. The market forced semi-auto guns to get a lot better, and they did, but the pump worshippers never changed their opinions. They didn’t follow the technology; they stayed stuck on stupid. 

Faster?
Yup. No matter how good the shooter is with a pump. Many big 3-gun matches also have a side match for shotguns. There is usually a low target count, so nobody has to reload. The buzzer goes off and you shoot the targets. No reloading, running, jumping or standing on one leg, and no tricky targets. Just stand there and shoot the shotgun. Pump guns never win. No matter what the guy at the gun shop says, semi-autos are simply faster.

Semi-autos will not shoot all ammo.
That was an issue with that bird gun I mentioned and a few others, but not with most guns today. Today’s best semi-automatic shotguns can digest a wide range of ammo from low-recoil to full-power without a problem. Shotguns with the inertia system pioneered by Benelli, or the multi-port gas systems like Remington used in its guns, will handle all ammo. Most of the newer gas guns will likewise eat any ammo they are fed. 

Semi-autos jam. 
They pretty much don’t anymore. At least, no more than other firearms. Pumps do, though. I shoot a pump shotgun a lot. (I never said I don’t like them.) When it counts, I will now and then inadvertently short stroke and jam it up. 

It’s not just me. I have seen even the very best pump-shotgun shooters in the world short stroke their guns when trying to go fast. The simple fact is that operating a pump shotgun is a human function. When subjected to stress, humans do not beat well-designed machines, because machines are not subject to emotional stress. 

Semi-auto guns are heavier. 
They are, a bit, but that reduces felt recoil and adds to the speed of the next shot. You don’t carry a tactical shotgun all day, so a couple of ounces really don’t matter much. 

Semi-autos can’t easily switch ammo types
I’m not sure where this fallacy came from. All you need to do is watch a 3-gun match that requires switching ammo; birdshot to slugs or buckshot and back. A good shooter with a little training can do it quite fast, with either type of shotgun. 

Semi-autos are expensive. 
A good semi-auto will usually cost more than a pump, so that is true. There are more parts, so the cost of manufacture is greater. My thought is simple: If you figure your life and your family’s life have little value, buy a cheap gun. 

The point is, if you are looking for a new tactical shotgun, you should probably consider a semi-auto. If you are looking for a semi-auto, you should take a hard look at the gun that will arguably lead the future of the category: the new Savage Renegauge Security shotgun. 

Savage Renegauge Security features
The graceful magazine clamp incorporates M-Lok slots for accessorizing the scattergun • A solid rather than forked lifter reduces the chances of catching your thumb • Protected by large ears, the front sight’s fiber- optic readily draws your eye • Combined with a raised comb, the Stock Rod Buffer System makes the Renegauge very comfortable • Fully adjustable, the ghost-ring rear sight gets you on target fast • A selection of included choke tubes allows you to tailor your pattern to your ammunition and objective • Grooved and textured, the wrist offers satisfactory purchase • Want to add a base and an optic? The receiver is pre-drilled to accept a section of Picatinny rail.


I have been shooting the shotgun for several months, and it has impressed me. Believe me, after 40 years of testing guns for a living, I am pretty jaded and don’t write those words easily.

Savage got it right with the Renegauge Security. It’s well designed, easy to operate and soft on recoil. It’s reliable, extremely fast (capable of .11-second split times) and a pleasure to shoot. For me, it points like it grew from my body. 

It features an 18.5-inch, fluted barrel and uses an extension to create a full-length magazine that holds six rounds, for a total capacity of seven rounds. The barrel is threaded for Benelli/Beretta-style chokes and the gun ships with flush-mount chokes in full, modified and improved cylinder (IC). 

Its barrel is coated with Melonite, which makes cleaning easy. I have cleaned this gun a few times and have not noticed a lot of plastic or carbon buildup, despite hundreds of rounds being fired.  

The shotgun comes with an adjustable ghost-ring rear sight that is protected by a wing on each side. So, if you accidentally drop the shotgun, those will protect the sight. The front sight is a green fiber-optic pipe, also protected by a wing on each side. Those front wings each have a cutout to help illuminate the fiber optic.

This leads me to my only complaint about the gun: I have had two of them here to test, and neither gun will zero with slugs at 50 yards. Depending on the slugs I use, the impact with the rear sight bottomed out is 8 to 14 inches high. I contacted Savage and have been assured that its engineers are working on a fix. Another option is that the receiver is drilled and tapped for the easy installation of a scope or red-dot optic. 

There are two schools of thought on shooting tactical shotguns. Most shooters who started with tactical-style scatterguns use the sights for every shot. So, this could be problematic. Many of us who started out shooting shotguns at clay targets or live birds still shoot all but slugs by watching the target and shooting instinctively. (For the record, I think this approach is faster and more tactically sound, as you can watch the target.) 

This shotgun works fine using the instinctive shooting method. I have put several hundred rounds through the Renegauge Security shooting at fixed and moving targets. I have also run it multiple times through 3-gun shotgun stages. All of this shooting was instinctive, and I found it hard to miss.

Savage Renegauge Security features
The D.R.I.V. system uses enough gas to operate the action, but bleeds off the excess • Controls, including the oversize bolt handle and the trigger, actuate easily and predictably • A very pleasant inclusion is a fitted, hard-sided, carrying case in which to transport the Renegauge.


The gun fits me well right from the factory. In the event it does not fit the shooter, it comes with a couple of interchangeable combs and buttpads, enough that I think it will fit any shooter from a munchkin to a veritable Sasquatch. 

The most unique thing about the Renegauge is the gas system used. It’s called D.R.I.V (Dual Regulating Inline Valve). As the round fires, expanding gases are vented from inside the barrel through 24 ports of multiple sizes to two spring-loaded valves, which regulate the pressure. 

Gas-operated shotguns are not a new concept, first introduced in shotguns in 1956 in the Remington Model 58. With this often-problematic design, most shotguns were generally relegated to a specific ammo range. Magnum guns wouldn’t cycle target loads and target guns got beat to junk by heavy magnum ammo.

The Renegauge solves that issue with the D.R.I.V. gas system. The two valves stay closed until the pressure hits a predetermined point needed to reliably operate the shotgun. Once that point is passed, the valves open and bleed off the rest of the pressure. So, a magnum shell will see only a portion of the gas power generated used, while a target load may not even actuate the valves. This results in consistent and smooth cycling of the action. It doesn’t beat up the gun or the shooter, yet it takes on all comers with ammo.

I shot 3-inch magnum buckshot and birdshot rounds on the upper end and some low-recoil birdshot that rarely work in low-end semi-automatics. No problems resulted in the Renegauge. In testing the gun, I shot several hundred rounds with a mix of buckshot,
slugs and birdshot, full-power and low-recoil in all three. I even shot some 3-inch waterfowl loads. Perhaps half the ammo has been 1 1/8-ounce 1,200 fps target loads, both handloads and factory loads. I even turned it over to some shooters to play with after a 3-gun match. They used a wide variety of their own ammo, and there was not a hitch. 

The reciprocating components are chrome-plated. This makes them slick and wear-resistant. The bolt is made in two pieces and then welded together. In theory, this is a potential weak point. However, it’s mostly just a theory. I have read elsewhere where this is a massive problem with the Rene- gauge, probably setting off an end-of-the-world extinction event. I have a pretty extensive background in manufacturing, mechanics, machining and welding. In my never-humble opinion, the weld on my gun looks damn-near perfect and it’s of zero concern to me regarding the reliability of this new shotgun. 

The gun has a proprietary buffer called the “Stock Rod Buffer System,” that is patented by Savage. It uses ultra-modern synthetic materials for a powerful, non-metallic cushion to help absorb the impact of the bolt as it hits its rearward-travel limit. 

The loading port is slightly beveled to aid in fast reloads and the lifter is solid, with no fork. (If you ever got your thumb caught in a lifter fork while loading, you know why that’s important.) The follower is bright red so you can see the gun is empty at a glance. 

The receiver is 6061 aluminum alloy and is anodized matte black. It’s stylishly sculpted to be thinner in the rear to meet the comfortable, well-designed buttstock.

The gray, injection-molded, polymer stock has stipple-style friction panels molded in on the fore-end and pistol grip, which provide a very stable gripping surface. There is a sling-swivel stud on the rear, but not the front. However, the clamp for the magazine has M-Lok cuts, so a front attachment can be added easily. 

Fit and finish are very good. The Renegauge Security has a bit of a futuristic look with the fluted barrel, red highlights and contrasting black comb on the gray stock.

Despite the sights on the test sample not zeroing to point-of-aim, the shotgun was actually quite accurate with slugs. I was getting 2-inch groups at 50 yards with Federal TruBall slugs and an IC choke, and some experimentation with ammunition and chokes may improve on that. 

This is a great gun for tactical-style shooting and casual competition, but its primary use is home defense, and I can say without hesitation that it will be put to that use here at Camp Towsley. It’s faster and more reliable than the pump that’s guarded this place for years, so why not?

Savage Renegauge Security specs

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