When you walk into a dive store, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of products to choose from. You may have a general idea of what you need or want, but, ultimately, your purchase may be influenced by the expertise of the floor salesman. In spearfishing, advancements are moving fast and spearguns are improving every day. Options like band length, spear shaft diameter, type of track, and trigger mechanisms, are all designed for a specific reason. When it comes to choosing the right speargun for you, there is a lot to consider.
So…what gun should you buy? The answer is, what type of fish do you want to shoot? Just as you would choose a specific rod or reel for a particular species, the same idea pertains to spearguns. In general, a larger fish will require a larger gun. However, even though a larger gun is packing more power with a longer shot distance, they track slower in the water and will take more energy to load.
If you’re new to spearfishing, a 48” gun will be easy to manage in the water, while still allowing you shots on larger reef fish.“If you are shooting 2-3 lb. snapper you don’t need a 60” spear gun. Likewise, if you are in the Gulfstream shooting wahoo and tuna, a 40” speargun will be of little use to you,” says Ed Martin, owner of Killshot Spearguns.
Your next consideration, after choosing a gun size, will be the style of shaft you’ll be shooting. Newton taught us that motion is caused by forces. The force itself is what starts and stops motion. For spearguns, the motion is created by the bands and stopped by the fish. A heavier shaft will require more force to get it moving, but will also require a larger object to stop it. The weight of your shaft should be appropriate for the bands that are powering it and the size of fish you are shooting. On a 48” gun a 5/16”-sized shaft is generally used and appropriate. Along with the shaft, is the spear tip. A simple barbed tip is the most common and easiest when shooting on scuba. The other option you may explore is a breakaway tip. When shot through a fish, the breakaway tip is designed to detach from the spear shaft and turn sideways. The tip is still connected to the shaft by a metal cable or line and is very difficult for the fish to shake off. I prefer breakaway tips when using a pole spear and shooting larger pelagic species.
Lastly, you’ll want to choose the band lengths and line system for your gun. To maximize the motion of your spear shaft, you’ll want to apply as much driving force as possible without overstretching the bands.
On a Killshot 48” gun a band stretch of 28.43-31” would be most effective. Your line system will keep your shaft and fish attached to your gun. Many shooters also free shaft and do not use a line system at all. For scuba, I prefer having a fixed line length, called a lanyard, that is made up of 300-400 lb. line. Reels are another option that contain a few hundred feet of line--this will allow the fish to take line just as they would when fishing. I prefer a reel when freediving, being it allows you to distance yourself from the fish and reach the surface faster. However, when used on scuba, they can become an entanglement hazard to the inexperienced shooter.“Most stock guns are set up by the manufacturer with bands that stretch 300% their original size and become overstretched at 350-380%. I usually use 320-350% as my band stretch percentages,” says Ed Martin.
Choosing a speargun can be a difficult and expensive purchase. Above all else, my best advice is to try multiple guns out before you buy and see what you like best. We carry three leading brands in multiple sizes for our guests to try. When you decide on your gun, remember to buy local and support the shop that supports you. We are experts and will not only help you choose the best product, we will also be there to support your product over time. My go-to speargun is the Killshot 55”, with three 32.5” bands (two loaded, one spare), 5/16” diameter shaft with standard single barbed tip, and a 400 lb. lanyard system.
Happy hunting and dive safe!
SO... WHAT GUN SHOULD YOU BUY?
THE ANSWER IS, WHAT TYPE FISH DO YOU WANT TO SHOOT?
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