For underwater hunting, the speargun is the tool of choice. As the name suggests, these contraptions are used to launch spears and harpoons through the water at various targets, often with minimal recoil and maximum accuracy.
There are several styles and makes of speargun, so when looking for the best spearguns to take on your next excursion, you should properly arm yourself with the knowledge to make an informed selection first.
This guide will walk you through the basics of speargun function and the kinds available, along with a few examples that are typical of what you’ll find on the speargun market.
There are several styles of spearguns, but the Pneumatic and Band options are the most popular. The band-powered guns are further divided into several categories, which will cover in brief detail.
These spearguns are air-powered and designed to greatly reduce the amount of recoil experienced by the user. Compressed air fills the chamber via a pumping mechanism. Since the individual hunter must do this themselves, the power is limited to the strength of the hunter in question.
With good technique, however, this weapon can be considered exceptionally powerful as a hunting tool. Despite this considerable advantage, though, there are a few drawbacks you should note.
Firstly, the pneumatic speargun, while reliable and compact, can be somewhat challenging to aim as the shaft exits from the center of the gun’s cylinder. Furthermore, pneumatic guns are noisier than their counterparts, which could scare away fish while on a hunting outing. Lastly, these guns require a greater deal of maintenance than other speargun varieties.
These are silent weapons that are easy to aim, accurate, and well-regarded among spearfishers. Whereas pneumatic spearguns require more air in their chambers to achieve more power, a similar effect can be achieved with band-powered guns by simply adding more bands. The band guns come in several varieties.
These generally incorporate one thick band, a small shaft, and rear-positioned handle. These are considered low-maintenance (they usually just require a little oil and new bands) and are fast to reload because of the single band firing mechanism.
These are typically reserved for larger fish, as they are more powerful with thicker shafts, feature more bands, and a mid-position handle. These American-style band guns can come in several material variations, though usually incorporate dense wood, a stainless-steel band mechanism, and a plastic or rubber butt. They are less maneuverable than Euro-style guns, and sometimes slightly noisier.
These are a derivation of the Euro-style guns but have thicker shaft lengths to target bigger fish at longer ranges while maintaining the swiftness of the predecessors. They are accurate, including a rail that runs along the length of the barrel (hence the name). The rail, unfortunately, can make the gun somewhat noisier, but the tradeoff is usually worth it for many hunters.
There are a few factors to keep in mind when speargun shopping. These pertain to the speargun’s general operation when hunting and your ability to maintain the gun into the future.
Common wisdom tells us that bigger is better, but this is not necessarily the case. Though longer guns will allow for more power, you must also take underwater visibility and conditions into account.
The cleaner the water, the longer the gun should be. In tighter quarters with little space to maneuver, a shorter gun will give you the ability to move about more freely.
You must also take the size of the prey into account. For larger fish, you’ll need a larger gun, and vice-versa. Remember to balance these variables while looking for the best spearguns.
Fish tend to scatter if you spook them, so going with a quieter speargun will give you the ability to hunt more successfully.
For band guns, the rubber bands used to propel the spear should be strong and durable to support sustained, consistent use.
Once you fire off a spear, you’ll need to retrieve it. The shooting line connects the gun to the spear and should be thin enough to limit drag, but strong enough to avoid snapping. High-quality polyethylene is usually a great option.
Heavier guns have less recoil and are a bit easier to handle under the water, but they are more likely to sink if you drop it. Positively buoyant guns will rise to the top if you let them go, but they will recoil more and might be less accurate.
So, which spearguns fit the bill? There are several options from that provide a good deal of versatility to prospective hunters looking for a quality tool. Here are a few top choices.
This is a durable wooden speargun with a polyurethane coating that is optimal for experienced fishers. It’s accurate, quiet, and neutrally buoyant which makes it easy to handle beneath the water’s surface. This is a double sling model, which increases its power and comes in several size variations:
In general, this is considered a good gun for larger fish and greater ranges but suffers from being on the slow side.
This is a pneumatic-style speargun with a heavy-duty shaft and ergonomic grip for quick aiming and firing. This model is great for those that prefer a flexible, comfortable speargun. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and comes with a line for retrieving the spear post use. There are three length varieties:
Even at max length, however, some hunters consider this model to be on the short side, as it trades range for maneuverability and advanced ergonomics.
The Hammerhead Proteus is the speargun of choice for beginners and those looking to target larger fish. This model is band-powered, can accommodate multiple shaft styles, and a variety of spearheads. It comes in two lengths: 21.0″ and 29.5″. Spearfishers looking for a model that is easy to load, easy to aim, and dead-on accurate would be well served by the Hammerhead Proteus.
JBL bills the Magnum as the “speargun design that started it all.” This speargun is available in both wood and aluminum body styles, with the aluminum body considered to be the sturdier construction and the easier-to-maintain model.
The Magnum has an 18-foot range, a nylon/reinforced glass muzzle and grip, and is positively buoyant. This makes the gun feel lighter under the water and allows it to float to the surface if released.
The Sten is a pneumatic-style speargun that comes in a full-sized and miniature option. The ergonomic grip makes it comfortable to hold and aim, and the high capacity air tank gives the Sten superior firing speed, power, and penetration.
The reliability and accuracy of this gun are high, making it a choice model for large prey, while its versatility makes it well-suited for both close-to-shore and open water applications.
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