To Open or not to Open - the Muzzle…?
That is the question!
I love controversial subjects due to the inherent passionate volatility
among divers who believe one way or the other so strongly that you
can see the veins in their neck ready to pop when you disagree with
them, yet a simple comment like, both open muzzles and closed muzzles
are good because it all depends on each persons needs; the steam
billows as the molten metal is cooled in a vat of water between the
ears of the arguing individuals.
If someone tells you that one product/brand is better than another
product/brand, ask them WHY? If you read it in a magazine or see
it on TV does that mean it’s true??? NO! So again, ask WHY?!?
THIS article itself could be totally false, so as you read this article
be asking yourself WHY to each point that is made.
So the Europeans have “tested and proven” the theory
that “a spear shaft shoots more accurately when the Rubber
Bands fire in alignment with the spear shaft,” in conjunction,
utilizing the law of “least resistance.” Therein, all
Euro guns are designed with complex geometric angles concerning just
about everything from ergonomic handles and grips to muzzle hydro
dynamics and appropriate ratios for everything in between. All of
this quality and expensive R&D makes for the best spear guns
on the planet. OH REALLY?!?! WHY?
It’s amazing what the human eye can see… that is, if
the eye chooses to see what is truly there. I encourage everyone
to look at the top of any used stock Euro gun and see if you can
find a series of little scratches on the top of the barrel. Of course
the older the gun is the more scratches you will see. Naturally,
you will be asking what are these scratches from? These scratches
appear for several reasons.
Most stock Euro gun shafts contact the spear gun barrel
with a very limited amount of spear shaft surface-area. The spear
shaft, when loaded into the trigger mechanism, contacts the trigger
mechanism, the muzzle and sometimes a “shaft guide” which
often times is a movable “slide” that is about one (1)
inch in length. Example: A 100cm shaft with a total number of contacts/supports/shaft
guides equaling approx. 10cm’s of support. A graduate of scholastic
endeavors might easily explain that one law of physics says, “efficiency
follows the path of least resistance.” Translation… if
the spear shaft isn’t supported the entire length of the shaft
than it will lesson the surface area upon which resistance will occur
when the spear shaft is fired and therefore the result will be greater
speed and range.
The problem with this specific “law of physics” and Spearfishing
is that there is likely more than one law and numerous factors
at play at any given time like ergonomics, comfort, ease of use,
limitations, market validity, visual appeal etc. so we may need to
take a broader look at the overall picture if one’s intention
is to design the “best” product. For a speargun, the
projectile needs to have an appropriate amount of “mass” for “best” efficiency
and to maximize inertia for the intended user and desired use. Inertia should
be considered as simply, an
object in motion and its ability to stay in motion. Most
Euro gun designs, in their stock form, are set up to fire a single,
in-line, high modulus rubber band whose
metal wishbone sits into a grooved slot milled into a relatively
thin and light weight 6.5mm/1/4 inch spear shaft and a single wrap
of shooting line.
Euro-Gun Philosophy #1: Two threaded rubber bands screw into the
muzzle so as to fire at a most efficient in-line direction. The metal
articulated wishbone sits into the spear shaft creating an almost
perfectly central pull therefore distributing the band inertia evenly
through the spear shaft.
The Reality of the Philosophy:
Due to the design of the muzzle, the line-of-sight is interrupted
immediately before the shot. It is important that the line-of-sight
be uninterrupted to achieve the most accurate shot possible
to limit simply injuring fish, damaging equipment and damaging
- Reloading can be tricky due to the requirement to “thread
the needle” and feed the spear shaft through the small hole
in the extreme front of the muzzle, especially in a critical situation
and/or using a gun greater than 100cm.
- Due to the closed-muzzle
design, a metal articulated wishbone is used to connect the band
to the shaft when the band is cocked
in the loaded and ready position. It is well known that the wishbone
can slip out of the grooved shaft occasionally and hit the diver’s
hand, which can inflict fairly serious injury to the finger(s).
Euro spear shaft does not utilize a slide ring to center and
hold the spear shaft in place nor does it utilize the shooting
to hold the shaft in place so “shaft clatter” can be
heard when the gun is turned quickly to track a fast moving fish.
idea of the level retraction of the in-line band reduces adverse
directional pull known as “recoil.” But simply due
to current designs, where the handle resides on the bottom side
speargun (or even a firearm), recoil is naturally going to be offset
in the opposite direction. Example: If somehow someone designed
a speargun with the handle on TOP of a speargun (or firearm) the
recoil would force the muzzle downward rather than upward as is
now. BUT, recoil is ALSO measured by ratios like:
the weight of the gun - to - the strength of the band(s) - to - the
weight of the shaft - to - the length of the band stretch etc.
So, the concept of the in-line band pull should be more accurately
labeled as reducing “upward recoil,” which is only PART
of the true description and causes of recoil.
The Euro muzzle design’s THEORY enables a speargun to
utilize the physics law of “least resistance.” But
in reality, a simple, readily available, full-length track
can be easily installed
for minimal amount cost and effort. And the benefits of a full-length
track for firing and reloading the speargun quickly and easily
FAR outweigh the “benefits” of the “law of
Another concept of the “closed muzzle” design
is so the band(s) will not over-correct itself, once fired,
over the muzzle, therefore eliminating the possibility of the
shooting line becoming entangled in the rubber band. This is
about the only
theory I agree with thus far that actually makes a difference.
If and when a speargun is set up in such a way that the bands
flip over the muzzle and end up on the bottom side of the speargun
before all the shooting line has the time to fully extend, the
slacked line can bind with the slung rubber bands. The screwed-in
rubber bands are unable to end up on the bottom of the gun, due
to the design of the muzzle, eliminating this problem.
Fast reloading when utilizing the single rubber band and
one wrap of shooting line. Since the Euro bands are forced
into position by
design, a diver can always rely on the bands ending up in exactly
the same position without having to visually check to see that
the band is in place. Plus, with the combination of one band
one wrap of line, the time to reload is roughly cut in half when
having to load two bands and two wraps of line.
- It is a good thing when maintenance on any product we use is
simplified. Easy access rubber band. One does not have to remove
the spear shaft
to add or remove the stock rubber band. By not having to remove
the spear shaft to add and remove the rubber band cuts down on
of having to repair the head liner in your car, replace the picture
on the wall that you knocked down or stabbing your dive partner
in the eye.
- Well, if the Euro-Gun philosophy were true than where do the
scratches on the top of the barrel come from? Answer (finally),
the simple weight of the shaft is enough to weight down the band’s
extended fulcrum point and cause the rear of the shaft to drag
along the barrel as is exits the gun.
- An observer will also note
the small “dings” or “nicks” on
the shaft guide. The reason for this is when the band is fired, the
plastic threaded sleeve on the rubber band, which secures the wishbone
to the band, will hit the shaft guide. Additional proof of this is
the shaft guide will continuously and “mysteriously” end
up toward the front of the speargun, that is, after it has been
fired a few times and the band-sleeve hits the shaft guide on the
- Considering how meticulous the Euro’s “study” each
aspect of the spearguns they design, have you ever noticed the
threaded rubber bands sold by many manufacturers or are supplied
guns are different lengths, sometimes different thickness and even
different strengths? WHY? I have NO IDEA!
- One major Euro gun manufacturer
even claims a “200% stretch
rubber is better than the regular 300% stretch based on the fact
the 200% stretch bands are harder to stretch. That is about as logical
as if they told you to cut your spear gun in half so it will have
more range! How stupid do these sales people or manufacturers think
- Loading one band is faster than loading two. Well, yes
that is true. But often times pulling a 20mm (3/4”) high-modulus rubber
band, that many Euro guns come with, can be very difficult to say
the least. Consider the source, the guns are made in Europe, where
typically speaking, the water is reasonably cold and therefore a
wetsuit is necessary. But here in Hawaii, where the water is warm
and many people don’t use a wet suit and don’t need one,
so chest loading these guns can be a pain… Literally! Also,
a 20mm band has approximately 140 lbs. of pull strength so by distributing
the strength over two 9/16 dia. with approx. 90 lbs. of pull strength
the two rubber bands can give a diver a choice of the amount of power
to pull back for each specific fish requirement. Plus, the two 9/16
dia. Bands add up to 180 lbs. of pull strength so a little added
power is rarely a bad thing when hunting a larger or skittish fish
So, the BIG question…what do you gain by opening the muzzle???
- A clear line of sight down the spear shaft. This “plus” alone
is priceless. Due to the unobstructed view down the spear shaft
a diver can see anything that might compromise the shot and fix
before the shot is taken. Also, the ability to sight-in perfectly
and pick the exact spot where the shot should be placed is important.
The ability to view the spear shaft to look for bends and imperfections
in the shaft is much easier with the open muzzle. There are more
leniencies in the type or style of shooting line and/or crimp
used to secure the shaft to the gun due to the fact the line
could hit a closed muzzle when fired.
- As stated before, the metal
articulated wishbones most Euro guns come with are infamous for
slipping out of the shaft’s grooves,
which often result in hitting the user’s fingers. Riffe makes
an after market Euro shaft measuring 17/64” diameter and made
with 17-4 Hardened, Stainless, Spring Steel that utilizes a combination
of a stubby raised tabs above a slightly grooved area for metal or “line” type
- Get an after market spear shaft that won’t break right where
the grooved notches are. Many divers complain that their spear shafts
break right at the groove, which is in the rear of the shaft, after
shooting into a rock where the pressure is focused on the front of
the spear shaft. I can only give an educated guess as to why these “grooved” type
spear shafts break at the groove in the rear of the shaft instead
of the front hole where the barb’s rivet lives. My guess is
the reverb travels through the shaft and affects the “weakest
point.” Or the spear shaft becomes stuck/lodged in the rock
and is pulled/tugged on by the diver from above to try and dislodge
the shaft without making the effort to swim all the way to the bottom
and dislodge the shaft by hand. This action will put all the energy
into the rear of the shaft causing the “weakest point” to
give. This pulling/tugging by the diver is unrelated to the shot
- You can use Riffe rubber bands with a “soft” or “line” wishbone.
The soft wishbones are much more quiet due to the fact that metal-on-metal
sound travels further and faster than line-on-metal sound, or lack
there of. Plus, and a HUGE plus, is that the soft wishbones can’t
and won’t cut your finger off like the metal ones almost do.
Metal fatigues as it is bent back and forth but gives very little
warning before it breaks. The soft wishbones will begin to fray and
show signs of weakening well before they actually break; and even
if they break, they still won’t hurt you like the metal ones
- You can make your own bands to save a ton of money over the
expensive Euro bands. Riffe or line types of bands are found
spearfishing products are found so if you are ever in a pinch and
didn’t plan a trip carefully or whatever, you can more than
likely find something to get by. On the other hand, the Euro bands
are, for whatever reason(s), hard to find the right threading, diameter
and/or length of rubber. The best part about the soft wishbone bands
is that you can make your own, with a little practice, which can
save you some money and/or get you out of a tight spot. Conversely,
if a Euro band breaks, you need a special machine to put it back
together, or just buy a new band… if you can find a pair.
a pinch, you can use just about any available rubber bands rather
than the specific Euro manufacturer’s band. With the
after-market Euro shafts that have raised tabs, a line or metal wishbone
will work, so if you can only find the metal wishbone style bands
available than you can still go diving without any worries and simply
change back to the soft wishbone bands when available.
The summary of all this gibberish is that each Euro manufacturer
has what they consider an “entry, average and advanced level” of
diving equipment; in particular, the speargun. The largest market
is naturally going to gravitate toward the “average level” of
gun because it is most often the best “value.” However,
most manufacturers provide only the bare necessities to keep their
production costs down and therefore to keep the cost down to the
Due to production costs it is inconceivable to make an average speargun,
at a retail cost of approx. $150.00 - $200.00 US Dollars, “perfect” by
any standards. Therefore, the absolute “laws of physics” CAN’T
apply because of these inherent imperfections. A “perfect” gun
would have to made by a “perfect person” using a “perfect
machine” and “perfect materials.” So, it is not
to say these styles of guns are not good otherwise why do so many
people embrace them as the “Holy Grail” of spearguns?
My point is, with some tweaking to these relatively inexpensive guns
they can shoot quieter, further, safer and be much easier to use
Learn everything you can about your sport. The more knowledge you
have the better diver you will become. Keep an open mind and keep
it real at the same time. Understand that everybody’s “needs” are
not necessarily the same; nevertheless, close similarities should
occur when diving in similar conditions.