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Types of speargun
Band spearguns: (most common)
These spearguns are powered by thick rubber bands. The bands are secured at the tip and pulled back on to a notch to load. The rubber is what give the gun its power. Not many people know there are 2 very different types of rubber. One performs better than the other and we’ll elaborate below.
These guns are made out of the following material and have different price brackets.
Cheap and cheerful. Nothing wrong with a plastic barrel speargun but it does represent the budget end of the market. These guns will be the cheapest you can find. Being a budget speargun you can also expect cheaper trigger mechanisms, cheaper rubber (less power) and basic parts. It will get you going but you will probably be looking to upgrade before too long. Another down side can be that the lightness of the barrel can result in more kick than normal when fired and will by nature be less accurate This is worth bearing in mind as it effects accuracy.
We would recommend this as an ideal entry point. This is by far the most popular option and normally represents a safer bet if this is your first gun.
Aluminium spearguns can range from (nearly) budget, to top of the range. Look out for the thickness of the barrel wall as a good indication of quality, some guns can be wafer thin. Generally speaking people consider these mid-range but in reality it’s the ‘go to’ choice of the majority, be it here or abroad.
These are probably the heaviest guns in the water however that has the significant advantage of having the least kick back when fired making them very accurate.
For some people weight can be an issue with the longer versions like a 160cm that is used for tuna etc. The shorter version used in the UK rarely present this problem.
Carbon fibre barrel:
These are considered the pinnacle of the speargun world much like other sports equipment. The overall advantage is that they are strong yet very light. Not all carbon is equal. The strength comes from the tightness of the weave, this is worth checking if you are researching a gun.
Some carbons really can damage easily, especially if put on a boat floor and stood on etc. Carbon is expensive to manufacture properly so maybe question anything that seems ‘too good to be true’.
You can often get better quality camouflage finishes as the ink works better on this material. Aluminium guns often have camouflage tape which can come off over time.
The downside to carbon is that the lightness can sometime result in more kick. I’ve used some incredibly expensive carbon guns that have nearly broke my wrist when their aluminium counter parts have been silky smooth.
Carbon is often favoured for bigger guns to make them more manageable in the water if weight is an issue for the individual.
Are you a woody? This seems to be the big divide in spearfishing! The wood guys never use traditional barrel guns and vice versa, a bit like Marmite. They handle a bit differently in the water and overall they are awesome. Strong, quite heavy yet light in the water due to their buoyancy, but rather expensive because of the materials used, often teak. They really are things of beauty so you can understand how they get their own cult following. Normally fantastic guns and well worth considering if budget allows. You don’t get too many budget offerings here so quite often most wood choices are pretty safe. If you do see a cheap woody, maybe research why it’s cheap as they must have made savings somewhere.
Rails are a grove which runs along the length of the barrel that the spear shaft rests in. Their purpose is to increase accuracy over longer ranges. The accuracy problems can occur when the end of the shaft that goes past the tip of the gun barrel slightly sags because of the unsupported weight. You can’t really see this with the naked eye, but the overhanging weight creates a slight ‘arch’ in the spear, which in turn effects the accuracy. A rail prevents this from happening. The problem grows as the gun length grows.
Look out for plastic rails that seem to clip in to the barrel, these can ‘shift’ and work loose over time.
Bands – which rubber is best, is there a difference?
One of the biggest knowledge gaps seems to centre on bands. This is an extremely important question as bands after all are the power behind the gun – it’s what it’s all about right. There are 2 types of rubber made from 2 completely different manufacturing processes.
Continuous/extruded manufacturing method
The budget bands are made from a continuous method like squirting toothpaste out of a tube. There is nothing wrong with it at all but it’s not the best either. They need to mix in curing agents to help it dry rapidly. Traditional speaking these bands will be less powerful, lose their power quicker over time and be more prone to splinting than the dipped version. You can identify extruded rubber by their block colour through out the band ie their core may be black or red.
Dipping manufacturing method
The other way is to repeated dip and dry the rubber until you get the desired thickness, just like how a candle is made. You get the width by adding many layers on top of each other. The result is a much more powerful elastic that is more durable. Obvious this takes much more time to create which is why it’s not used by all brands. Brands looking to push a cheaper pricing point need to make savings in areas like these.
Many people don’t know what type of bands they have but there is an easy test. If you look at the core, the dipped elastic will have rings exactly like when you see the core of a tree after it has been fell, the other rubber will not.
Premium rubber will also have a gum coloured core as its made from pure latex and has next to no curing agents mixed in with it. The purer the latex used, the high performing the band will be. Colour is added to the outside of dipped rubber to protect it against UV.
There is nothing wrong with the continuous rubber but it’s just not as good, so you need to decide how important power is to you when making your decision.
Bands – 1 ,2, 3 or 4?
1 band covers 99% of all situations in the UK and many consider 2 bands to be overkill. We personally have a 2 band gun and use 1 band for when in and around the rocks, then pop the second band on when the vis really opens up. A single band gun is probably the most suitable for the UK however if you want the option of some extra power and range then consider a twin bander.
Also if you think you may take your speargun abroad for some bigger game then a twin band gun is ideal, You get far more penetration power that will punch through anything. We use them for second shots on anything from tuna to sailfish.
3 or 4 bands is for hunting bigger fish abroad and is a topic for another post.
Roller guns are relatively new on the market and has been the first real advancement for some time. A roller head speargun is extremely powerful with the benefit of being much shorter. Traditionally these are used on big pelagic fish where a 110cm roller speargun has the same power and range as a 160cm twin band. The downside is they take a bit longer to load and can be a bit of effort. They are generally considered overkill for the UK but some people swear by them.
Pneumatics are a bit of personal choice and we respect anyone who uses them. The upside is you charge them with air at home so you can easily fire them while you’re diving. The downsides are they can be seen as noisy there is more that can go wrong with them compared to the very simplistic band design.
The benefits are that you don’t have to exert energy to load them and they can be very powerful. They are most popular with night spearo’s who need a lot of punch in a short gun, these seem to fit well.
Aside from that they not often used. Initially they seem like a great idea but in reality they never really took off as a mainstream alternative to the band powered guns.
Rob Allen is a top quality brand and the number one choice of the elite spearo around the globe. It’s not as cheap as what you will find on the shelfs in your local dive shop but there is no compromise on quality. No other brand holds so many world records and that speaks volumes.
Everything from the rubber to the steel is premium, no compromises are ever made. There is next to no kick on any of the models, even the big ones feel silky smooth compared to most other branded counterparts. Basically we stock it because we use on our own trips and adventures.
Riffe are considered the pinnacle of the wooden spearguns. Again no compromise is used on choice of rubber, steel in the shaft, or wood used for the gun. These are outstanding hunting tools that are as beautiful as they are deadly.
No rail but extremely powerful! Aluminium barrel which is rare on an entry level gun. Exactly the same handle and trigger mechanism as you get on the top of the range models. Shaft is made from the denser springer steel, not the stainless. Single 16mm band, very accurate for a non-rail gun and very powerful.
Our biggest seller! A slightly thicker walled aluminium barrel counter balances the kick of the slightly thicker spear to produce a silky smooth, deep penetrating shot. It has welded rail down the entire shaft that delivers world famous accuracy at the outer ranges. Dipped rubber for max power and matching springer steel shaft makes this an incredible package. Single 16mm band, very powerful and immensely accurate.
Our second biggest seller! Exactly the same as above except comes with 2 bands and a slightly thicker spear for heavier hitting power. Use one band when around the rocks, pop the second one on when the vis opens up. Great to take abroad if you travel. Twin 16mm bands deliver devastating power released from a wielded rail for pinpoint accuracy.
Teak with magnets inserted into the body or swift loading assistance and minimal kick. Grooved rail so you know it’s accurate at long range. Twin 16mm dipped rubber bands for max power delivered through a silky smooth shot. Beautiful yet deadly.
Exactly the same as the above but breaks down into two for easy transportation abroad. No give or movement when setup, world famous travel gun, literally the best breakdown gun on the market. Combine with the reel if the budget allows for the perfect combo.
What is the best speargun for the UK?
The best all round speargun is something like the Rob Allen Sparid. 80cm long, single 16mm band and a 6.6mm spear that won’t bend easy when you miss and hit a rock. Rob Allens are also virtually indestructible and will last at least 10 years of hard use.
The longer answer is there is no single speargun that covers all the different situations you may find yourself in when spearfishing in the UK.
Areas like Cornwall can get some incredible visibility up to 20m+. In these conditions an 80cm gun is going to feel very short, especially as species like bass will often stay a bit further away than if they were in poor conditions.
Conversely, countries like Wales often suffer poorer visibility of just a couple of metres. In these conditions you may well want something a bit shorter like a 60cm gun.
It also depends on what type of hunting you are doing.
The most common is to ambushing fish by hiding in the kelp and waiting for their curiosity to get the better of them. This leans towards longer guns to help you maximise your reach.
Seeking out fish hiding in small caves and holes greatly benefits shorter guns as it’s usually an awkward process. Shorter guns are more manageable in tight confined environments.
Stalking above the kelp can go either way depending on how good the visibility is.
This is often why a season spearfisherman will have several different sized guns in their quiver.
What is the best speargun for a beginner?
The best beginner speargun is going to be something like the Rob Allen Scorpia and the Rob Allen Sparid depending on your budget. Either 70cm or 80cm long depending on where you and how you intend to hunt.
If you want to test the waters without too much of a financial commitment, then the Rob Allen Scorpia is for you. It’s powerful, accurate and is classed as a 10 year gun so you know you are buying something of top quality.
If you can justify the extra expense, the Rob Allen Sparid is an exception speargun with an exceptional reputation. The main difference compared to the Scorpia is it comes with an integrated rail along the top of the barrel which pins the spear in place when loaded.
The rail increases the spearguns accuracy at the outer ranges of the gun’s capacity.
While both guns can be upgraded to a double band setup, the Sparid copes with the increased power better because of its rail.
The Rob Allen Sparid is the ‘go to’ speargun for many spearfishermen in the UK, new or experienced.
Both guns are set up with a single band, and a single wrap of shooting line which makes them easy to manage, ideal for beginners starting out.
A 70cm gun is a nice manageable length but an 80cm gun is a bit better at those slightly longer shots. However there is no bad choice between the 2 lengths and many people even opt for a 90cm straight away.
What is the best speargun setup for the UK?
While this can come down to ‘where and how’ you hunt, the consensus is this:
- 75-90cm long speargun
- Single 16mm band
- Single wrap of shooting line
If you are just starting out, then choosing a speargun within these parameters will serve you well.
The shorter 75cm speargun will be easier to load and more manageable in the water, especially when you start hunting in holes and caves. However, you will find the longer open water shots a bit more challenging than if you had something like a 90cm gun.
As people progress through their spearfishing career, they tend to build up a fleet of different length spearguns to cover different situations:
Shorter guns for poor visibility conditions and hole hunting.
Longer guns for those clear visibility days.
When the visibility really opens to 15m+, even a twin banded 110cm gun with a double wrap of shooting line can feel too short.
More experienced hunters may well keep the setup simple, while others may opt to add a second band and a second wrap of shooting line for longer range shooting. However the more of these options you add, the longer it can take to rerig your gun after firing it.
Some experienced spearfisherman will add a reel, while others will avoid them. Some will opt to use a roller gun but neither of these are recommended for people new to the sport.
What are the top best 5 speargun spearfishing brands or manufacturers of 2021?
- Rob Allen
These are the spearfishing brands most regarded as the best in class with Rob Allen holding the number 1 position. Each of these brands is also a dedicated spearfishing brand. There are also several scuba brands who have now entered the spearfishing market. Out of these, Cressi produce the best equipment.
What are top best 5 spearguns?
- Rob Allen Sparid 80cm
- Rob Allen Tuna 90cm
- Salvimar Hero 80cm
- Salvimar Metal 80cm
- Pathos Laser open pro 82cm
These are top 5 spearguns commonly regarded as the best in class. These spearguns are produced by dedicated spearfishing manufacturers who only focus on making spearfishing equipment.
Several scuba diving brands also now make spearguns and Cressi make 2 very popular guns call the Apache and Cherokee. These also come in a 75cm length which covers a range of hunting styles.
What is the best speargun material wood, carbon, or aluminium and what is the difference between them?
Globally wood is the most popular material for spearguns. While it feels heavy outside of the water, once submerged it’s very buoyant so holds the weight of the spear well. The increased mass of wood adds stability to stock when it’s fired. Because of this, many of the world’s biggest spearguns are made from wood – these take 4 bands and a thick spear.
Within Europe, aluminium and carbon spearguns are by far the most popular material. These ‘pipe’ spearguns are often 3 to 4 times cheaper than their wood equivalents which make them far more accessible.
As they tend to be lighter guns with less mass, they often require thinner spears and cannot be tuned as highly in order to ensure they are still accurate.
The exception here is the brand Rob Allen who purposely make heavier guns to improve their accuracy while maintaining more power. Another good example is the Salvimar Hero which has increased mass making it very accurate.
Carbon is light and strong, making it a great choice for people with wrist issues.
How do I identify a powerful speargun?
All the power comes from the type of rubber being used. There are two types of rubber which are very different. If the core gum coloured and has rings like a tree then it’s the most powerful you can get.
However if the core doesn’t have rings and is coloured anything other than gum, then it’s the less powerful rubber – i.e. if it’s black on the outside and inside, genuine rubber cannot be dyed a colour.
Which speargun is best for travelling?
You can take spearguns abroad to most destinations no problem although obviously double check first. Many people take the bands off during transportation to make them look less threatening. Due to the length this does count as an extra bag as you can’t fit it in a suitcase. That is unless you have a Riffe Euro Modular. They completely split in 2, including the spear and can fit in any suitcase. These have become famous because they work so well, no play in the parts when connected, just solid equipment. They really do pay for themselves over time in saved luggage costs.
What is a speargun reel used for?
Speargun reels are mainly used instead of a float system but they are only recommended for experienced spearfisherman as they add an extra level of danger. Once a fish is shot, the diver returns to the surface and pulls the fish up via the reel line. This is considered a good option if hunting in strong currents. We don’t recommend using them because of the increased risks involved.
People often mistakenly think reels give their spearguns extra range but this is not the case. The speargun still needs to be single or double wrapped with a reel.
What is an open speargun muzzle?
An open speargun muzzle allows the spear to loaded directly into the trigger mechanism and is then held in place by wrapping the shooting line around it on the muzzle. The benefit to an open muzzle is you have a better field of view on your target as there is nothing obscuring your shot like on a closed a muzzle. The benefit of a closed muzzle is that it’s slightly quicker to rig than an open one after being fired.
What is a closed speargun muzzle?
The muzzle relates to how to the spear is loaded. With a closed muzzle, the spear is threaded through a circular hole at the tip of the gun, slid along the barrel and into the trigger mech. It’s quicker than an open muzzle but some feel the raised circle can obscure your view slightly so opt for an open muzzle. The benefit of a closed muzzle is it can be fired without sorting the shooting line out if the fish are still around. A closed muzzle must be fully rigged before firing.
What is the difference between an open and closed speargun muzzle?
To rig a closed muzzle speargun after firing you must thread the spear through a circular loop at the end of the gun and push it back along the barrel into the trigger mech.
What is a roller speargun or roller gun?
Roller spearguns are a relatively new type of speargun that use nearly twice as much rubber as the conventional guns, therefore offering a lot more power. The bands are also prementioned under the belly of the gun even before its loading. When loading it, the rubber runs along a wheel on each side of the muzzle. It’s these wheels that give the gun a smoother shot and the feeling of less recoil.
You will often get more power out of a roller gun but they are a bit harder to load. So, while you may get more power and range, the trade of is the extra effort in reloading each time.
Are roller guns any good?
Yes roller gun spearguns are great. They are powerful, accurate and very smooth to shoot. Some may argue that they are too powerful for the UK as we tend to have low visibility and small fish. They can also be nose-heavy and more effort to load – however they deliver a very smooth shot which many people love.
Are roller guns / roller spearguns suitable for the UK?
Some say roller guns are overkill for the UK – while others won’t shoot with anything else. More power and range with less perceived recoil make roller guns an attractive choice for many world class spearfisherman. This is offset by the fact they are a bit harder to load and in tight spaces, potentially overpowered.
Spearguns are a very personal choice with the added benefit of being very easy to customise. The only way to know what you like is to get diving and try as out as many guns as you can.
If you are new to the sport then a roller gun is probably not the best the first gun for you. Try something like the Rob Allen Sparid. It’s an epic gun with a single band, a single wrap of shooting line – yet its ultra-powerful, accurate and will last you a lifetime. This is a great starting point that many never move away from.
Are one or two bands best for my speargun in the UK?
Most of the UK spearfishermen will use one single 16mm rubber band with a single wrap of shooting line on their speargun. This is a good setup for your first speargun. Many spearos however develop into using twin bands with two wraps of shooting line and think this is best. While some schools of thought will say this is overkill for the UK, many hunters won’t use anything else.
Often, they will only load one band in poor visibility or when hunting caves, but then load the second band when the visibility opens or when ambush hunting by hiding in the kelp. This gives them the best of both worlds: extra power, and range when and if needed.
The downside is the extra time and faff it takes to rig a double wrapped, twin banded gun.
Some people who want more power than a single 16mm band can offer – yet not as much as the twin 16mm bands – will go for twin 14mm bands. Twin 14mm bands are easier to load than the 16s so are a great choice if you do not have the strength yet or are just looking for an easier gun all-round.
What length speargun is best for the UK?
The best length speargun for the UK is normally somewhere between 70cm and 90cm. The shorter guns are best in poor visibility conditions or when hunting in holes. The longer guns are ideal for when the visibility opens and shooting at longer ranges. It’s not uncommon to use a 110cm gun in very clear conditions.
Most experienced spearfishermen will have a range of different length spearguns to suit the conditions and the type of hunting they are doing.
Many will take a 90cm gun out as their primary, and then clip a short 60cm gun to their float just for when they find some holes and caves to explore.
The most common UK speargun length is 80cm as it’s a good all-round size.
If you are hunting bigger pelagic fish like wahoo and tuna something around the 160cm mark is often the choice.
Are roller guns better than traditional spearguns?
Roller guns use much more rubber than the tradition spearguns so you have much power. A 90cm roller gun has the same amount of power as 120cm tradition twin 16mm band gun. They deliver a much smoother shot when fired so they feel like they have less recoil. The downside are they can be nose-heavy because of the roller head and many would argue they are too powerful for the UK. They are great for trips abroad as you get big gun action in a shorter unit which is cheaper to travel with and more manageable in the water.
What is a rail gun or a rail speargun?
A rail gun or rail speargun is used for increased accuracy. This is where you have a guiding rail running along the length of the gun barrel that the spear sits in. When loaded, the spear is pinned snuggly into this rail and produces a much more accurate shot, especially for long range hunting. Rob Allen created the first rail gun series, and it has been adopted everywhere ever since.