We’ve talked in the past about using a pole spear for spearfishing. Today, we’re going to cover an alternative method for you to spearfish, using a speargun. A speargun is a great way for first-timers to get into spearfishing. We’re going to cover what you should look for in a speargun. We’ll also look at the seven best spearguns for different skill levels and then go over some final tips for using and maintaining your speargun.
What to look for in a speargun?
If you’ve never been spearfishing, you should know there are a few factors to take into consideration before buying a speargun. What works for an experienced hunter probably isn’t going to be the best option for you. Conversely, a beginner level speargun isn’t going to be a great option for an experienced hunter looking to shoot large deep-sea fish. Some of the things to look out for include:
We touched on this already but spearguns are not one size fits all hunting tools. If you are completely new to spearfishing then it is best that you stick to shallow waters and smaller fish. One of the main reasons for this is that you can focus on the basics such as aiming and firing while in a more confined environment. The other reason though is that you don’t want to risk losing your speargun in deeper waters. Larger fish are going to put up a fight. If you lack the proper experience, you may not be prepared for this.
As a new spearfisher, you will want a smaller and lighter speargun. This is going to be easier to practice with till you become familiar with aiming and firing the gun. You can then begin to move up to heavier and longer spearguns.
Type of Speargun
There are two types of spearguns which you can choose from, band spearguns and pneumatic spearguns. Both have pros and cons which we’ll cover here:
This is the oldest type of speargun. As the name implies, it uses rubber bands as the primary firing mechanism. Most speargun fishers use band spearguns as they are quieter and easier to load. This makes them better for stealth. It also makes it a better option for new spearfishers. The downside is that they require more maintenance. The bands will need to be replaced periodically to keep your speargun firing at full strength.
The primary firing mechanism for a pneumatic speargun is through compressed air. This is going to be much louder than a band speargun and therefore takes away stealth. You need to make sure you hit your target the first time as you are likely to scare away everything else in the area. The upside to pneumatic spearguns is that they require less maintenance and are more compact. The downside is that they are more difficult to load and less stealthy.
As we touched on with skill level, the length of your speargun will impact where and what you can hunt. Longer spearguns are going to give you more power which is better for hunting larger fish.
If you are a beginner, you want something smaller. A smaller speargun is going to be easier to aim and fire when you are learning. This lets you focus on getting the technique down instead of worrying about weight.
Where you are hunting will also affect the speargun length you choose. If you know you will be in an area with caverns or around wrecks, for example, you want something smaller. A longer speargun may make it difficult to aim in confined areas or around obstructions.
Spear Shaft Type
As with pole spears, a speargun has different tip types, also known as shaft types. There are three main shaft types when it comes to spearguns:
- Single Flopper (Tahitian Spear)
- Double Flopper
Breakaway shafts are most commonly used for hunting larger fish. They are the heaviest of all shaft types and are better for advanced spearfishers.
Single Flopper (Tahitian Spear):
The Tahitian is the fastest of all of the spears. It is a single barbed spear tip and is best suited for smaller reef fish. You will be using this more as a beginner
The double flopper has two barbs and is another shaft better suited for larger fish. It isn’t usually as heavy as the breakaway tip so doesn’t have as much stopping power. For this reason, the breakaway tip is the preferred choice for hunting larger fish.
Spearguns aren’t cheap. As a beginner, you want to aim for the cheaper end of the spectrum. When you are first learning you risk losing the speargun. It is best to stick to something cheaper and lighter until you get proper technique down. When you feel comfortable in your hunting abilities, you can move on to a more expensive speargun.
What are the best spearguns for divers?
- Package Includes: Cressi Spearfishing Apache 24" Speargun
- Cressi Gara 3000 LD Long Blade Fins
- Soft Elastomer Foot Pocket that Anatomically Wraps Around the Foot
- Cressi Extreme Low Volume Frameless Mask, Easy to Adjust Buckles for Custom Fit
- Cressi Dry Snorkel, Easy purge system with extra large self draining chamber
If you are new to spearfishing, we recommend this kit as a great starting point. It has everything you need to get started with the exception of a wetsuit (which you only need in cold waters). The kit comes with the Cressi Apache Speargun, freediving fins, their low volume freediving mask and a snorkel.
- Because this is a complete kit, you can make one purchase and get everything you need. This can save you a lot of time you would otherwise spend trying to get the proper equipment.
- The Apache Speargun is an excellent choice for beginners. It is a 60cm (24in) speargun which puts it in the lower to middle range in terms of length. The speargun is made from Aluminum and is lightweight compared to more advanced spearguns. It is perfect for hunting small fish near the shore and getting a feel for spearfishing.
- This is a band type speargun. Band types are good options for beginners as they are easier to load and fire. Since they are quieter, you are also less likely to scare off other fish in the area when you fire. This is good as a beginner as you can move on to the next target if you miss your initial shot.
- If you already have fins and a mask and snorkel, this may not be the best option. Since it comes with all of the equipment you need the total package is a bit pricey. Overall, it is cheaper buying this package than all of these pieces of equipment individually. But, if you are just looking for the speargun, you can buy the Cressi Apache Speargun standalone.
- Bandito Standard Series of Spearguns which is a Perfect Speargun for Beginners to Expert...
- Standard Series all Include 6mm Threaded, Single Flopper Barb, Screw on Tips, Stainless Steel...
- Overall Length of 36”, a Handle that Features a Comfort Grip and Oversized Gun Butt, Trigger...
- Uses two 14” bands with stainless steel wishbones and a 26” x 5/16” shaft.
- Made in The Florida Keys, USA
Bandito has existed in different ways for almost 40 years. The company was sold in 2008 and has been around in its current form since then. They are known for quality spearfishing equipment including both pole spears and spearguns. The Bandito Bonito is one of their entry-level spearguns. It is a great option for new spearfishers looking for a quality speargun that won’t break the bank.
- The Bandito Bonito has a total length of 91.44cm (36in). This is a bit longer than the Cressi Comanche we discussed above. But, it is still within the optimal range for a new spearfisher. Any longer than this and you may start having trouble aiming properly as a beginner.
- The materials used are of high quality and built for durability and longevity. The gun is made mostly from anodized stainless steel which is more resistant to corrosion. Despite being made from steel, it is lightweight and easy to aim.
- One of the main things we like about Bandito spearguns is that they produce replacement parts for all of their spearguns. So, if something breaks, you don’t have to buy an entirely new speargun. This is a great option if you know you will be spearfishing often and want to keep your speargun well maintained.
- The only downside we feel is that it is a medium-priced speargun made for beginners. While it is true that this gun can be used for beginner and advanced spearfishers, the cost may make this a bit out of range for beginners.
Mares, like Cressi, is one of the top dive equipment manufacturers in the world. Also, like Cressi, they first began as a manufacturer of spearfishing masks and guns in 1949. Since then, they have become a titan in the industry with diving equipment for everything from freediving to technical diving.
The Bandit Sling Band is one of their introductory to intermediate level spear guns. It’s a good choice for first time spearfishers looking for something they can grow into and keep using when moving out to deeper waters.
- We like the Bandit Sling Band because it is a fantastic speargun for first time spearfishers that won’t break the bank. Depending on which size you opt for, you can get the Bandit for under a hundred dollars. This is an excellent price for an introductory speargun at this level of quality.
- There are a wide variety of sizes to choose from. You can buy the Bandit starting at 35cm (13.77in) all the way to 120cm (47.24in). What we like about this is that you can find a speargun in the middle of those sizes good for learning with. But, once you are comfortable, you can use it in deeper waters with larger fish.
- The Bandit is fast and precise. This is a major plus as it means you won’t have too much trouble with smaller fish. At the same time, it also has a good punch which will help you to spear larger fish.
- The only downside we found with the Bandit Sling Band was the safety feature. It isn’t the best and can slide into an incorrect position easily. At times, when you are trying to take a shot, you may have trouble with the safety engaging at the wrong time. It isn’t a dealbreaker. You can always hold the safety in the off position before you take a shot. Instead, it is a minor annoyance that can be improved upon in future models.
- Powerful and efficient the ARKA is equipped indispensable features with traditional looks an feel
- Low profile muzzle with screw on bands, shaft quides and automatic line release
- Prosoft handle with stainless steel encapsulated trigger system provides long term reliability and...
- 25mm aluminium barrel, 6mm stainless steel Tahitian shaft, Screw-fixed 16mm power bands, 2mm braided...
- Articulated wishbone
Beuchat has an over 80-year history of producing quality diving and underwater sports equipment. With that kind of experience, you can guarantee that you are getting well designed and well-made equipment produced by industry experts. The Ark Competition Speargun is one of their entry to mid-level spearguns meant for hunting reef fish and other shallow-water fish. This is another good starting speargun that will last you for many years with proper care and maintenance.
- We like that the Arka comes with an aluminum barrel. This makes it lighter than some of the other spearguns on this list which are made from stainless steel. Lighter spearguns can be better for starter guns as they are easier to maneuver and aim with. This gives you something simple to use while you get your technique down before moving on to something with greater stopping power.
- The Arka comes with a stainless steel Tahitian shaft. As we mentioned above, this is the best shaft type for hunting smaller fish and better suited for beginners. Beuchat is known for top quality spearguns and spear shafts which means you should get plenty of use out of this one.
- One final thing we like about the Arka is that it comes with a stainless steel trigger system. One of the first things which wear out on many spearguns are the bands, followed by the trigger system. Many spearguns have plastic trigger systems that wear out and break quite quickly. So, we prefer stainless steel trigger systems that are more durable and reliable.
- This is a medium-priced speargun. It is a bit expensive for a beginner speargun but you are paying for the quality and durability that a Beuchat Speargun can provide. There are certainly cheaper entry-level spearguns. But, if you want one that is going to last you for many years, this is a great option.
- Viper Spearguns
- Mares Spearguns
- Mares Viper Spearguns
- Mares Viper Pro Spearguns
We are now getting into the higher level spearguns for more advanced users. If you are looking for your first speargun and have never been spearfishing before, we recommend one of the above options. The Mares Viper is made for deeper and larger fish. It is constructed to be convenient with great features such as a guidewire reel. It comes with longer barrel options better for further distance shots and a stronger punch. This is a great mid-level speargun. It does a good job of bridging the gap between introductory shallow water guns, and more expensive high-level spearguns.
- The price is just right for the level of quality you are getting. Many high-level spearguns can cost significantly more than this. The Mares Viper is a good option for someone transitioning from shallow water spearfishing to deeper waters and larger fish. It won’t break the bank and gives you the chance to experience big game spearfishing before you buy a more expensive high-level speargun.
- You are going to get a lot of power from this gun. It is a double-banded speargun meaning you have the option of loading one or both bands. This is going to give you the extra punch you need to spear larger fish such as tuna and larger jackfish. Be careful though as it also means it’s going to have a bit more punch on the back end. You will need a sturdy arm for an accurate shot.
- The Viper comes in a variety of sizes ranging between 75cm (29.52in) and 120cm (47.24in). You can get the exact length you need based on your own preference and how large the fish you are hunting will be.
- The biggest con that we have is the reel for the guidewire. It is a great addition but from our experience, and that of many other users, it isn’t the best-constructed reel. The main issue we found is that some of the screws and bolts are a bit loose. Make sure to go over it before you take it out fishing and tighten everything to make sure it holds up.
- MOST ACCURATE SPEARGUN IN AMERICA as independently tested by both Hawaii Skin Diver Magazine and...
- EVOLUTION^2 REVERSE Trigger Mechanism increases band stretch and keeps the index finger on-target...
- Hawaiian Style Open Muzzle design for clean line of sight and simplicity. Aircraft Grade Anodized...
- 17-4 Heat Treat Stainless Steel Shark-fin Shaft, Dual Power Helix Bands.
- Designed by Professional and Commercial Spearfishers for optimal performance and efficiency. Custom...
One step above the Mares Viper, we have the Hammerhead Evolution^2. This is another well-constructed speargun made for big game hunting. Again, this isn’t a good option if you are a beginner hunting smaller fish. This gun is much more powerful than the smaller guns on our list and will be more difficult to load if you are inexperienced. Hammerhead doesn’t have the same prestige as companies like Mares and Cressi. But, they have the distinction of being tested and manufactured around Hawaii. This is one of the prime locations in the world for big game spearfishing. If you want something solid to hunt larger fish, this is a good long term option
- The Evolution^2 has the endorsement of Hawaii Skin Diver Magazine and Spearing Magazine. Both of these magazines reviewed the Evolution^2 and gave it a shining stamp of approval for quality, durability, and precision.
- We like that this is an aluminum barreled speargun. Not only is it lighter than stainless steel but just as durable. What we like about aluminum is that it is easier to carry around and maneuver with. It won’t tire your arms out as quickly as a wood or steel barrel speargun and is good for spearfishers of all sizes.
- Another thing that really stands out to us is that this is an ambidextrous speargun. A complaint that many left-handed people have is that spearguns are made for right-handed spearfishers. This is due to the placement of the safety on the speargun. The Evolution^2 speargun was specifically designed for left and right-handed users.
- The biggest drawback to the Evolution^2 is how powerful it is. We’ve talked to a few spearfishers who noted that it can be difficult to set the bands. It requires a lot of arm strength and needs to be slowly done. Even though the barrel is light and easy for small and large spearfishers to carry around, the band resistance may prevent you from using this.
- Includes: AB Biller Wood Mahogany Special Speargun
- Double Barb Rockpoint tip: hardened stainless steel
- 5/16 inch stainless steel shaft, Two 9/16" rubber slings
Our final speargun on the list is one for the pros. AB Biller is known as one of the top manufacturers in the world for professional spearguns. They differ from many other companies in that they don’t use traditional aluminum or stainless steel. Instead, they produce their spearguns from teak, mahogany, and padauk wood. This not only gives their spearguns a unique look but also has a few advantages for experienced spearfishers. Be forewarned, these spearguns aren’t cheap. AB Biller has some of the most expensive spearguns on the market. But, this price comes with a guarantee of quality and durability in all situations.
- We really like that they make their spearguns from wood instead of traditional metals. The reason for this is that the wood better absorbs the recoil and noise from the firing of the spear. This helps to create a quieter, more precise shot important to high-level spearfishers.
- Another major plus of AB Biller wood spearguns is that they are neutrally buoyant. This is very important for getting a more accurate shot as you don’t have to compensate for the buoyancy when aiming. Many spearguns made from lighter materials have positive buoyancy. Their tendency is to float up so that you have to calculate for this when firing.
- The Mahogany 48 has a range of between 3m and 6m (10ft and 20ft). This is great for spearfishers hunting in deeper and clearer waters who may be taking shots from further away. As we mentioned, AB Biller spearguns are known for being precise, even at a distance.
- The price is going to be the biggest drawback of this speargun. As we mentioned, AB Biller makes high-end spearguns for experienced spearfishers. The materials they use are the best available and their guns are all precision-tuned for the highest level of accuracy. This level of quality and craftsmanship comes at a price. If you are on a tight budget, this may not be the best speargun for you.
What are some final tips for using a speargun and spearfishing?
The most important thing you can do if you are new to spearfishing is to take things slowly. Don’t try to jump right into the deep blue and go for the big ones if you don’t have the experience. As we mentioned above, the best thing to do as a new spearfisher is to start in shallow waters near the beach. You want to go for reef fish and other smaller fish till you get the experience.
The reasons for this are twofold. First, you need to get the technique and aiming down. Second, you don’t want to spear a large fish only to have it pull the gun from your hands. When fishing in deeper waters, you risk losing your speargun if you drop it. The last thing you want is to buy a nice and new speargun only to drop it in a place it can’t be retrieved. So, stick to the shallows until you have the right level of experience.
Also, make sure that you are paying attention to the rules of each area you hunt. Different countries have different rules for spearfishing. In some countries, it is flat out illegal to spearfish. In others, guns are illegal but pole spears are fine. There are also different rules as to how you can spearfish. Some places are okay with scuba divers spearfishing and others will only let you hunt when freediving.
Don’t just get in the water and shoot at anything you see either. There are different laws as to what you can and can’t hunt in different areas. This is to help protect the ecosystem and to keep endangered species from being hunted. Always make sure you know what you are hunting before getting into the water.
Hunting with a speargun can be a great experience for water sports enthusiasts. Unlike scuba diving, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment and you don’t have to take classes. Instead, you can get right in the water and start practicing.
Do you enjoy spearfishing? Maybe you use one of the spearguns on this list already? Let us know in the comments section. We enjoy hearing from fellow divers. You never know when your advice might help someone else.
This page was last updated on 2022-08-29. Affiliate links and Product Images are from Amazon PAAPI