Every year it seems we start looking sooner than ever for standouts amid all the gear produced annually by the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry. The past 12 months stand as testament to that. Indeed, the list we tabulated includes products covered as far back as 11 American Hunter print issues—such are the lengths we go to be sure no stone is left unturned in our spirited search, review and debate of the best of the best firearms, ammo and gear produced for hunters.
Golden Bullseye winners are selected by a seven-member committee from NRA Publications that represents more than a century of collective experience in the shooting and hunting industry. To qualify for consideration, a product must have been: recently introduced and available to consumers prior to nomination; used/tested by an NRA staff member or trusted contributor; reliable in the field, meeting the consumer’s expectations; innovative in design and function; readily perceived as a value to the consumer; styled in a manner befitting the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry and its enthusiasts.
2021 Shotgun of the Year: Savage Renegauge The name alone is cool—say it, “Renegauge … .” But forget that: this brand-new autoloading shotgun is a sweet shooter—and it’s downright ingenious in its design.
The revolutionary gun came to life when a Savage engineer resurrected a bogged-down project and reinvented the gun’s gas-operating autoloading system. The result is called the D.R.I.V. system, which highlights the Dual Regulating Inline Valves that siphon the precise amount of gas from cartridge discharge to work the action then bleed off the remainder. With that in mind, understand Savage boasts this 12-gauge, 3-inch gun cycles no matter what. What’s more, felt recoil was far less than what we expected from a 12-gauge, especially when stoked with heavy duck-hunting loads.
Renegauge stocks are similar to those used in Savage’s clever unit made for its 110 rifles in that they are adjustable for length of pull and comb height via the included comb inserts and additional buttpads. The synthetic furniture on the hunting models comes in black, Mossy Oak or TrueTimber camo. The Renegauge Waterfowl's 28-inch barrel is fluted, and includes a ventilated rib with a single fiber-optic bead. Magazine capacity is four without the plug. Overall length is 49.5 inches. Weight is 8 pounds. The fun quotient is off the charts. This gun is ready for the blind. MSRP: $1,539-$1,649; savagearms.com.