What is a Speargun Used for (and Which Type Should You Buy)?

A speargun is one of the fishing devices spearos often use in spearfishing, sport fishing, and underwater target shooting. Pneumatic and elastic (also called band) are the basic types of speargun. You should be able to know your dive spot, the visibility of the water, and the type of fish present in the area to be able to decide which one to use best.
What is a Speargun Used for

Table of Contents

One of a spearos’ greatest strength is the way he handles his speargun. It is the tool that could either make or break his trip underwater.

Who Invented the Speargun?

The invention of the speargun is attributed to a French diver of Russian origin named Alec Kramarenko. His first design of a speargun is one in which a spear was propelled by a compressed spring along a metal tube and was equipped with a gun handle.

Kramarenko is also noted to have invented the first underwater mask. This was called the monogoogle because it was made with one glass surrounding your face.

Frenchmen Maxime Forlot and Georges Beuchat were also recognized for their inventions of different types of spearguns. Forlot came up with the design of a speargun with spring propulsion while Beuchat invented the first band-propulsion speargun.

When Was the Speargun Invented?

Kramarenko invented the first speargun in 1937. Shortly after, he patented the design of the first underwater gun.

The license was transferred to different countries which allowed other people to design and manufacture more powerful guns.

How Does a Spearfishing Gun Work?

A speargun pretty much works like a basic handgun. After choosing your target, you aim its muzzle and pull the trigger. Once the trigger is pulled, the spear (which is attached to a line running from the body of the speargun to the other end of the spear) is propelled forward, piercing the fish.

A regular speargun is composed of a handle or grip, a barrel, and a spear.

Is a Speargun a Weapon?

Because of the nature of a speargun and its use, it is definitely considered to be a weapon. Although more modern than other fishing weapons, a speargun can also sever on inflict death on the target.

It is often the weapon of choice of spearos because of its ease of use.

Is a Speargun Considered a Firearm?

The answer depends on which part of the world you are to use it in. In the state of New South Wales in Australia, rules on the use of spearguns are included in their Firearms Regulation.

In some countries, however, spearguns are not considered to be firearms as they do not fall under any criteria that make a weapon a kind of firearm.

If you are planning to go on a spearfishing trip and you are not familiar with their speargun regulations, please make sure to talk to local officials first to avoid any conflict.

Can You Shoot a Speargun Out of Water?

It is not wise to shoot a speargun above water. It is wholly designed to be shoot in water which means it would offer no resistance if you are to fire the speargun out of the water.

Doing this is very dangerous and might lead to the spear coming back straight into your face. This would lead to severe injuries or, worse, death.

Are Spearguns Dangerous?

Spearguns can be very dangerous if not handled properly. One of the most common problems you can run into when using a speargun is entanglement in shooting lines. Some conditions can also detonate the trigger accidentally.

Several spearfishing accidents also included spearguns accidentally piercing another diver instead of the target fish. Once you pull the trigger, the spear would automatically be released, and it will attach to whatever is in front of it. There is no reset button when this happens as there is no way to pull the spear back.

Can a Speargun Kill a Human?

Just like any weapon, a speargun can also inflict death. Many of these cases often occur accidentally underwater.

To prevent any injury caused by a speargun, always make sure that the spear tip is pointed away from yourself or another person when you are loading it. Never aim it on another person.

Do You Need a License to Use a Speargun?

Since different countries and states have their own regulations about spearfishing, they also have different regulations about speargun licenses.

For instance, in many states in the United States of America, you should be able to obtain a speargun license aside from the regular fishing license.

If you are going to a new place and are still unsure about getting a license for your speargun, it is highly recommended to get in touch with the local authorities to know more about their local regulations.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Use a Speargun?

The age at which you can legally own or use a speargun also varies from place to place.

In the United States, you have to be at least sixteen (16) years of age to be able to use a speargun. If you happen to be younger, obtaining one is not allowed by law.

On the other hand, in the state of New South Wales in Australia, you have to be fourteen (14) years old or older to be able to acquire, supply, possess or use a speargun. However, if you happen to be under the supervision of an adult who is eighteen (18) years old or older, acquiring, supplying, possessing, and using a speargun is allowed for a person who is above twelve (12) years old and is under fourteen (14) years old.

Again, please speak to the local authorities first if you happen to be spearfishing with a minor to avoid any conflict.

Can You Bring a Speargun on a Plane?

Generally, you are allowed to fly with your speargun. However, they are prohibited to be placed in your carry-on luggage.

If you have to travel via air, please make sure to pack all sharp objects including your speargun in a checked-in luggage. Remember to wrap them securely to avoid injuries during transit.

Can You Take a Speargun to Mexico?

Bringing your speargun to Mexico is a big no-no. Spearfishing is strictly regulated in Mexico which means the use of this weapon while spearfishing is also highly regulated.

If you are ever planning to come to Mexico for spearfishing, remember that the use of powerheads and air-powered spearguns are highly prohibited along with spearfishing with scuba diving gear.

Any spearfishing violation committed in Mexico can lead to steep fines, and in some cases, can even land you in the slammer.

How Far Does a Speargun Shoot?

The distance in which your speargun shoots depends on how long the shooting line is when attached to the spear. The shooting distance also varies depending on the type of speargun you use.

Some spearguns can shoot to a distance that is three to five times the length of the entire speargun. Meanwhile, others have a range of about five times the length of the gun.

How Do You Use a Spearfishing Gun?

Before shooting a speargun, it’s best to know the basics—loading, rigging, aiming, and firing. This would ensure your safety and success underwater.

  • Loading a speargun: This can be hard on your first try but gets easier as you practice, and you should NEVER load out of water. Once you are in a comfortable position underwater, grip the handle on your left hand before using your chest to push and simultaneously pull the rubber with both arms toward the notch.
  • Rigging a speargun: A monofilament, also often referred to as the mono, is a line that attaches the spear to the speargun. Replacing the mono is also called rigging. To do this, you have to:
    • Discard the old mono by cutting it and prepare the new mono.
    • Next, attach the rig to the spear by sliding the crimp over one end of the mono and passing that mono through the attachment hole in the back end of the spear.
    • You should then pass the mono from the right to the left side of the spear and use a cigarette lighter to melt the end of the mono to prevent it from sliding back.
    • Slide in the spear into the speargun and make sure that the mono is placed correctly on the right side of the speargun muzzle.
    • Loop the mono over to the line release clip which is can be found on the front of the trigger.
    • Loop the mono to attach to the other clip located at the muzzle.
  • Aiming a speargun: There are various techniques that you can use when aiming. Some are comfortable with pointing and shooting while others aim along the sides of the gun. The trick is to know what works best for you. Once you are comfortable with this position, always remember to aim for the head of your target.
  • Firing a speargun: Once you find your perfect aim, firing will just be a walk in the park. Once you choose your target, release the safety lock of your speargun, and aim it at the head. Pull the trigger and release the spear.

Where Do You Shoot a Fish With a Speargun?

Spearos agree that the best spot to shoot the fish is straight through the brain. This shooting technique is called the Iki Jime and is considered to be the most humane way of killing the fish as it causes instant death.

Others go for the spine where they aim for the neck. In this technique, the spear would pierce the backbone of the fish severing its spinal cord.

What Should You Look for in a Speargun?

Here are some things to consider if you plan to buy a speargun:

  • Length: This will depend on several factors including your spearfishing spot, the visibility of the water, and the type and size of fish that you are hunting.
  • Shaft tip or spear: This should be chosen with more consideration as this is arguably the most important aspect of your speargun. There are two types of spear tips such as the flopper tip and the slip tip. The difference is that the flopper tip uses a hanged barb that attaches to the fish. On the other hand, the slip tip detaches from the after piercing the fish but remains attached with the help of a wire leader.
  • Bands or rubbers: Make sure to consider the stretch and diameter of the bands before you purchase them. Shorter bands require more strength in attaching them but they are more powerful when you shoot them underwater.

What is the Best Size Speargun?

There is no consensus among spearos on which size is the best for spearguns. Ultimately, this depends on your diving spot and your target.

Speargun lengths range from 50 to at least 165 centimeters.

What Size Speargun Should I Buy?

The size of the speargun that you should buy highly depends on your chosen spot, the visibility of the water, and the target.

If you are going to spearfish in cramped spaces like caves with poor visibility, it’s best to buy shorter spearguns that measure 50 to 75 centimeters or approximately 19.7 to 29.5 inches.

If you plan to go on the open water and hunt bigger fishes, you should purchase longer guns ranging from 150 to 165 centimeters as this will give you more range when shooting at your target.

Before going on a spearfishing trip, do some research on your diving spot. It’s especially helpful to know the visibility of the water and the type of fish in the area beforehand.

How Does a Band Speargun Work?

In a nutshell, a band-powered speargun works the same way a crossbow and a slingshot would. Loading and shooting are essentially easier done with this type of speargun.

When loading, you just have to stretch a strong rubber band so that it stretches from the end of the barrel to the back of your spear.

Shooting is as easy as pointing and pulling the trigger. The spear will be propelled forward by the strength of the snap of the rubber band.

What is a Pneumatic Speargun?

Pneumatic speargun is the second type of speargun, the first one being the band-powered ones.

Pneumatic spearguns are powered by air-pressure which enables the propulsion of the spear. This type is best used in cramped spaces such as caves and coral overhangs. They are also relatively compact which is why they are often seen being used by spearos using scuba diving gears.

Aside from that, pneumatic spearguns are also more powerful than band spearguns when used in shallow water with a depth of fewer than five meters.

Pneumatic spearguns used to be all the rage in the 60s and 70s but most spearos choose to use band speargun nowadays.

How Does a Pneumatic Speargun Work?

Unlike band spearguns, pneumatic spearguns use air pressure that’s why they are also called air-powered spearguns.

Pneumatic spearguns look similar to their band-powered counterpart, except for their barrel which is relatively bigger. Usually 40 millimeters or more in diameter, the barrel has an air chamber that holds the pump equipped with the pressurized charge. Once the trigger is pulled, the compressed air propels the spear forward.

The pressurized charge lasts about 20 to 30 shots before you need to go above the water to have it re-pressurized.

What is a Railgun Speargun?

Rail speargun or railgun is a speargun style in which a rail or a track supports the shaft along the gun’s entire length. Spearos often favor the use of railguns because of their reliable and simple design. Railguns are also said to be more accurate because of the support the rail offers to the shaft when it is being loaded and fired.

However, due to the added rail on top of the barrel, railguns are often bulky and can be slightly heavier than regular spearguns.

Are Roller Spearguns Better?

Roller spearguns and railguns have their own pros and cons. Both of them need getting used to so spearos find it hard to choose what’s better.

Roller spearguns have the following features which make them a good speargun.

  • Roller spearguns have more punching power: This speargun boasts of a longer band pull which gives it extra power. It is also equipped with pre-tensioned rubbers underneath giving it more power and strength which results in more accurate and stronger penetration.
  • Roller spearguns have less recoil: Compared to other spearguns, roller spearguns have essentially no recoil which makes them very silent and easier to handle underwater. This also increases the gun’s accuracy when firing.
  • Roller spearguns are easy to load: Because of the rollers, pulling the string to load the speargun is a lot easier because it serves as a pulley.

How Does a Roller Speargun Work?

Compared to traditional band speargun whose rubber passes through the side of the muzzle, roller speargun has two spinning rollers located on either side of the rubber. The rollers are mounted to the leverage point and rubbers run parallel on either side and up and over the rollers. The rubbers then join at the bridle.

You can load the speargun by pulling the rubber and bridle and attaching it to a loading notch like a regular speargun.

What is the Best Speargun for Beginners?

If you are a newbie and you want to get into spearfishing, it is advisable to purchase the best speargun available to you. Now “best” can ultimately be a personal preference and you should consider your fishing goals.

Most professional spearos would advise noobs to go with the band-powered spearguns. That’s because it is way easier to use than air-powered ones.

Once you’ve tried all types and styles of spearguns you can now choose for yourself the gun that is best suited for you and your techniques.

What is the Best Speargun to Buy?

If you are on the lookout for a new speargun, here are three top-rated spearguns that you can check out.

  • AB Biller Wood Mahogany Special Speargun: Band-powered with two to three bands, this AB Biller speargun is available in different sizes ranging from 24 to 60 inches. Because of the variety of its size, you are free to choose the one best suited to your fishing goal. Its spear style is double barb rockpoint
  • JBL 6W44 Woody Sawed Off Magnum Speargun: This 44-inch speargun has three bands and is best used for catching medium to large fish. The sawed off design allows for greater power. Its spear style is rotating rockpoint.
  • Mares Sten Pneumatic Mini Speargun: This air-powered speargun comes in five sizes ranging from 16.5 to 39.4 inches. Because of its length, it is best used for catching reef fish and smaller game. Its spear style is Double barbed.