Wood, Metal or Carbon fibre spearguns? Making the right choice

Whether you are new to hunting for your own sustainable seafood or you are an old salty sea dog, you will have probably considered ‘what is the best material for spearguns?’.

In this post i will not so much tell you what’s best but rather give you the reasons to consider the different materials.

Metal Spearguns

Metal spearguns are normally constructed by using tubular aluminium, primarily for its light weight and rigidity.

You will probably have the widest choice of guns if you choose to take this route as I think that every speargun manufacturer (other one-man wood gun makers) will have at least one metal speargun in their catalogue.

Metal guns have a reasonable weight when out of the water, not to much though, dont forget that when they are in the water they should become neutrally buoyant so unless you are planning lots of foreign travel and weight its going to be a major issue, then don’t stress about it.

Metal guns transmit sound well, they clunk and clank with any movement of the bands, wishbones, spears etc. This may become a problem if you are a little clumsy when underwater. Personally i look for guns that either have a good matt coating or a composite rail guide as these will deaden sounds somewhat when underwater.

Metal gun are the toughest, or should i say, most capable of withstanding abuse and misuse.  So if you feel you are the type of person who might not look after your kit all that well, then metal is probably the way to go.

Epsealon Stinger metal gun

Carbon Fibre spearguns

Carbon fibre spearguns, to many, are the best that money can buy. This doesn’t mean that they actually will be the best for you, especially if you have common ground in the reasoning in the above section on metal spearguns.
The main reason people go for carbon guns is probably the look and kudos. Thats right… i said it. But don’t let that dissuade you from going down the carbon route as there are actually some really good reasons to buy one too!
Firstly they are freakishly light, this means that they are easy to transport on land and will save you money on extra baggage costs when flying.
Secondly they are very stiff. Just as rigid or perhaps in some cases even more rigid than metal guns, they transmit power very effectively.
Thirdly they can be shaped in to some pretty ‘aquadynamic’ shapes, making lateral movement easier when underwater.
Finally they have a particularly effective trait that makes them very good for hunting, something that wooden guns also have, they deaden sound. The material doesn’t reverberate like metal does, ever heard of a carbon fibre bell? nope? thought not. Ths means that either whislt moving underwater or after/during a shot, they will transmit less intrusive soundwaves in to the water, and this is a good thing… a VERY good thing.
With a metal gun, if you miss you are likely to scare fish off, with a carbon gun, that likelihood is reduced considerably.
The downsides are they are very expensive compared to their metal counterparts and are somewhat more delicate (or at least you will treat them with kid gloves due to the price.)

Epsealon stinger carbon

Wooden spearguns

Wooden spearguns represent a combination of nostalgia, quality and bespoke high performance to me. In some instances they are the most expensive guns on the market, but they also occupy the budget end too if you look in the right places.
Wooden spearguns are more popular outside europe, with the greatest usage probably being on the whole in and around the United States.
At one end there are manufacturers that produce cheap models that you can literally buy in Walmart, whilst at the other end of the spectrum there are craftsmen holed up in sheds across the globe making what should really be described as works of art.
So, down to the nitty gritty.
Are they any good?
Well, yes… they are but you should be aware of their pros and cons.
On the plus side, they are very strong, and because of this they are often the go to gun for large pelagic fish species, with the ability to mount many bands.
They deaden the sound of the shot extremely well, much like carbon.
When in the water they can be very well weighted (although this depends on the type of hardwood used).
They can be shaped in to almost any useful profile.
They can look beautiful and are probably the only gun that looks good on the wall!

On the downside they can be very expensive, but moreover than that they require very specific maintenance.
Anyone who has had any experience with wood combining with water will know that the two don’t mix all that well, whether its a boat or a kitchen counter. Add to this the inclusion of moving metal parts and if things start to warp or swell you can be in some real trouble.

Nautilus spearfishing wooden gun

Thanks for reading this post. If you have any questions that you feel i haven’t answered then go ahead and comment below. Remember, freediving and spearfishing are both potentially risky activities, especially without tuition. Check out our courses for spearfishing and freediving to get the low down on how to do it safely and effectivley .
I personally use Epsealon spearfishing and freediving equipment, simply as they provide some of the very best equipment on the market.

Comments 3

  1. Ian, i think its great you do your best to encourage ethical spearfishing practices amongst newbies but the fact is too many newbie spearos and many experienced ones too, shoot first and ask questions later – hence why spearguns are banned in so many places. You Tube is awash with clips of marlin and other non-table gamefish being shot which makes spearing in that instance no better than a bloodsport.

    Spearguns are weapons fitted with a pistol grip and trigger capable of releasing a powerful and lethal projectile for the purpose of killing living creatures. (yet for some reason they are largely free from ownership or mandatory training regulations) When looked at this way Spearguns seem to me to at odds with the average freediver type who is presumably motivated in part to dive by a regard and repect for the underwater world and its edible and non edible inhabitants. They are not likely to have ever owned or considered owning a rifle, camo jacket , Range Rover, and hunting license.

    So for those who start out with more delicate ethics than the redneck spearo archetype I have (probably unfairly) described above, I should like to draw attention to an alternative fish gathering tool, the humble Polespear. In Europe these are uncommon but in the USA, Bahamas and Hawai this method of spearing has a loyal following, indeed many former speargun spearos have abandoned guns altogether in favour of the simple hand spear. The point i wanted to make here regarding ethics and the image of undewater hunting is that despite the fact the Polespear had been subject to a lot of development in recent years, particulary with the use of carbon fibre, a spear is still just a spear, a pointy stick with in this case a loop of surgical tube on the butt end which when run up the shaft in the crook of one’s thumb and forefinger provides a means of shooting it a short distance with enough power at close range to spear a fish. It is much, much slower than a speargun, has an effective range of about a metre, is long and unwieldy, aimed mostly by guesswork and is thus, immensly difficult to get good at. The odds for the fish evading the spear’s reach are heavily in its favour. I would make the case then that the ethically minded freediver wanting to catch their own fish for consumption should give serious consideration to a Polespear, before they go out and buy a gun. After all one less gun in the world, of any sort, has to be a good thing.


    1. Post

      Hi Lawrence, thanks for your comment.
      I totally agree with you in many respects. Pole spears offer a far less overtly aggressive option for gathering your own food under the waves. Ill cover polespears in more detail in a video which ill release soon. I also definitely agree with you that one less gun in the world is a good thing.
      I suppose i do have some reservations in regards to the use of polespears, you know, to play devils advocate.

      In my experience, beginners who use pole spears have a tendency of shooting undersized fish, (as these are the ones who haven’t learnt to keep their distance yet!) and also shoot fish that are perhaps less than ideal target species simply as they are again, the only ones that are within that 1m range. The chance of a poor shot, a shot to injure rather than to catch/kill also increases.
      Of course, your point that a beginner with a speargun can be a dangerous thing is spot on. They can, if they are a good shot, decimate a reef and give underwater hunting a very bad image overall. Spearguns also have a much higher chance of injuring the participants and damaging the reef.

      Personally i prefer diving with a polespear than a gun. I actually get more fish with a pole as i find im more sneaky, and im a pretty good shot with one.

      More spearos should give consideration to the use of a polespear, although id say that without appropriate education a polespear can have almost as many negatives as a gun.
      Its an interesting topic and id like to open the discussion to others, maybe we should write an article on it alone to attract more opinions?

  2. Hi Ian,

    Your point could well be valid, newbie polespearos may take as many inapproriate shots at fish as do newbie gun toters. It is quite likely that since the effort of holding polespear cocked saps your 02 like nothing else, desperation shots are the result. But I would still argue that with a polespear being so much harder to aim accurately than a gun, most of those shots go horribly wide – mine certainly do!

    Your point about being sneaky is on the money, you really do have to read the situation better due to the reduced range and the noise and movement a good long spear makes. There are countless shots i didnt take with a spear that would have been reasonable with a gun.

    in the Bahamas, guns have been banned for many years while polespears and Hawaiian slings are permitted. This legislations was directly aimed at conservation, thus at least one fisheries auhority takes the view that spears are less destructive than guns…

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