A great spearfishing trip is never complete without the right gun by your side. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, most spearos have tried or considered banded spearguns.
But what if I told you there’s a gun out there that can give you more power, longer shot range, unlimited shots, and easier loading? That’s right spearo, meet today’s best pneumatic spearguns.
Despite my initial doubts having used banded guns since my teen years, when I first got my hands on a pneumatic speargun I knew I had to make the switch.
Growing up, banded spearguns did the trick, but experimenting with pneumatic guns introduced me to a whole new level of size-to-power ratio that had me hooked, especially for spearfishing in caves and coral overhangs. short, dirty cave guns.
In this article, I’ll be helping you find the best pneumatic speargun for your needs with reviews of my favorite options on the market and a detailed buying guide. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
5 Best Pneumatic Spearguns
A staple in the world of pneumatic spearguns, the Cressi SL Star probably offers the greatest value for money among other candidates. It’s both affordable easy to use, which is why a lot of spearos swear by it.
This pneumatic speargun is an ultra-light model that fires quick shots, which makes it an excellent weapon for spearfishing small to medium fish. It’s also very popular thanks to being accurate, powerful, and all-around reliable.
The Cressi SL Star features an ergonomic high grip handle that makes it pretty comfortable to hold the gun in line with the arm. The yellow color of the handle helps you to easily spot your weapon when it gets mixed up with all your other spearfishing gear or sinks to the seafloor after a shot.
Additionally, this gun is equipped with a safety catch to prevent its mechanism from firing on accidental. Also, when you pull the trigger, the shaft line gets automatically released by the line release.
The Cressi SL Star Speargun is available in 3 lengths: 55cm (24 inches), 70cm (28 inches), and100 cm (39 inches). It comes with an 8mm threaded stainless steel tempered shaft (also sold separately).
- Supports 20 bars of pressure to deliver shots of massive power
- It’s lightweight but very durable to last you many years
- Requires almost not set up
- The part that attaches the shaft to the gun can sturdier
The SEAC Asso is another reliable gun that’s particularly perfect for hunters on a budget. It’s also a fantastic option if you’re buying a pneumatic speargun for the first time.
The outer barrel of this pneumatic speargun is crafted from an aluminum alloy cylinder. It has a diameter of 40mm and you can use it with a shaft of up to 8mm thick.
The muzzle on the SEAC Asso pneumatic speargun features comes in light alloy and features bigger holes to enhance water drainage. The handle has an ergonomic design for better functionality and it’s made out of a single material.
One thing I like about this gun is the equipped regulator that can cut the pressure down by as much as 50% so you can make quick, close shots. It even comes pressurized to about 20 or 25 bars, providing you with a decent amount of power straight out of the box.
The SEAC Asso Pneumatic Speargun is available in multiple sizes including 30cm, 40cm, 55.5cm, 69cm, and 79cm. The package includes a steel shaft, an injector, a harpoon, a harpoon loader, and a line.
- Features a regulator that helps you make quicker and closer shots
- Includes various accessories to save you money
- The muzzle has larger holers to optimize water drainage
- The handle can be a bit small if you have larger hands
The Salvimar PredaTHOR is a family of pneumatic spearguns that put a whole new meaning to power. This particular gun will literally spear the life out of your unsuspecting prey.
Manufactured in Italy, this pneumatic speargun isn’t just highly accurate and powerful, but it can also give most of the spearguns on the market a run for their money when it comes to comfort.
Not to mention, loading this gun is super simple, which is a general concern when buying a pneumatic mechanism.
The PredaTHOR features a barrel of a 13mm diameter. It’s also equipped with an 8mm single floppy barb pointed tip shaft.
The grip of this gun is constructed from fiberglass (reinforced nylon glass 30%). It’s ergonomically designed to have your wrist angled in a comfortable yet strong position, allowing you to fire shots with more power and higher accuracy. This allows you to harness the unearthly power of the gun and apply it to high-precision shots.
The Salvimar PredaTHOR gun has an automatic side line release mechanism and it’s available in 40cm and 65cm sizes.
- Packs a lot of power
- Very comfortable grip
- An easy-to-use gun for beginners
- Can be a bit heavy
Next up is another powerhouse in this pneumatic speargun showdown, the Mares Sten Pneumatic Speargun is a wonderful companion when you’re diving caves or tight spots. It’s supposed to offer hunters all the precision and power they need underwater while being reliable and comfortable to use.
Available in a size as small as 41cm, the Mares Sten speargun is the definition of compact. It features a solid handle with an ergonomic design, a patented side line release, and a patented safety catch.
Additionally, it carries a high-capacity air tank fitted with techno-polymer shock-absorber brushing and piston. As for the barrel, this one has a diameter of 13mm. The Mares Sten speargun package includes a pump, loader, pump, tip, shock line with rubber shock bungee, and shaft.
- One of the best spearguns for use in caves and tight areas in the mini class
- Comes with a leg holder to keep your gun within reach at all times
- You can overload it to 30 bars of pressure for extra power
- On the pricey side
Last but not least, we’re looking at another creation by Salvimar – the Dark Side Pneumatic Speargun. If you’re familiar with the PredaTHOR Vuoto, then you already have an idea of the features on this model since they’re practically the same.
For example, the Dark Side speargun is equipped with the company’s patented vacuum or ‘Vuoto’ technology. This technology makes loading an easier task by stopping water from getting inside the barrel.
Vuoto technology also gives the piston an extra kick upon firing a shot. Another convenient feature is the option to push the line release to the side to get out of the way.
The Salvimar Dark Side is quick, lightweight, and extremely accurate. To top it off, it’s made of 100% carbon fiber for a truly beautiful look.
- The vacuum technology makes it easy to reload
- You can tuck the line release away
- 100% carbon fiber construction adds durability and style
- Not for divers on a budget
What is a Pneumatic Speargun?
Pneumatic spearguns are powerful weapons that utilize air pressure to fire their shots. This type of spearguns was quite popular back in the 60s and 70s.
Its use died down with the release of banded-powered guns but remained popular in particular parts of the world. Nowadays, pneumatic spearguns are making a comeback, and I’m all here for it.
The power of a pneumatic gun pretty much depends on the strength of the hunter using it, which the main reason why pneumatic models aren’t as common as banded versions.
How? Well, a pneumatic gun needs to be loaded by the hunter whose strength (as well as loading device and good technique) will determine the amount of pressure that can be used in the speargun to fire shots while still being able to load it. If you use too much strength, you may not be able to reload your gun after the shot.
That being said, pneumatic spearguns have minimal recoil and allow you to make longer shots with an improved level of accuracy. These spearguns are available under 2 major categories: guns that feature “Hi-Lo” power actuators and guns that don’t.
A Hi-Lo actuator is a device that shuts off the primary reservoir of air. This allows you to make close-range shots, easily load larger guns with higher pressure, and discharge your gun before getting out of the water without much hassle.
How does a Pneumatic Speargun Work?
As I mentioned above, a pneumatic speargun uses pressurized air to fire a spear shot. Once you pull the trigger, the piston will shoot the loaded shaft out the front of the barrel.
Appearance-wise, pneumatic spearguns look pretty much the same as any other speargun, the only difference being its oversized barrel. The diameter of such barrels is usually 40mm or more.
There’s an air chamber inside the barrel of a pneumatic speargun. When you load this reservoir with a pressurized charge, the gun will last you for approximately 20 to 30 shots after which the air is spent and you’ll need to “pump” it with pressure again.
This is why almost all pneumatic spearguns will include a hand pump in the package. Alternatively, you can get your gun pressurized at a local dive shop before hitting the water.
Generally speaking, most pneumatic spearguns use shafts or spears of 8mm (5/16 inches) thickness. There are very sturdy and difficult to bend, which provides hunters with stronger impact and effective penetration on larger fish.
The length of a pneumatic speargun length is measured starting from the handle to the tip of the muzzle. Common sizes of these guns include 55cm, 70cm, 90cm, 100cm, 110cm, and even 135cm (21.7 inches to 59 inches).
Smaller pneumatic guns are easier to load and take less time, whereas larger models can be more difficult to load and may even require special loading tools. In both cases, if you decide to use a pneumatic speargun, you’ll need to carry a loader at all times.
Why Buy a Pneumatic Speargun?
If you’ve been using band-powered spearguns for a long time or you’re still trying to choose a speargun to get into the sport, you’re probably wondering why you should buy a pneumatic model instead.
To tell you the truth, I had my doubts before I tried one of these guns, so let me tell you a few advantages I noticed while using mine:
- Pneumatic spearguns perform so well when it comes to cave diving and coral overhangs. The main reason being the absence of rubbers that often get cut on sharp coral and rocks.
- Thanks to the air pressure inside the gas chamber, pneumatic spearguns allow for multiple reloads by simply pumping them to the specified pressure.
- These guns have adjustable power settings to prevent spears from getting jammed in caves.
- Pneumatic spearguns are generally more powerful than rubber spearguns in shallow water.
Pneumatic Spearguns vs Band/Rubber SpearGuns
Here’s a simple comparison between pneumatic and band spearguns to help you make up your mind:
● Great for spearfishing in caves and coral overhangs
● No rubbers that may be cut sharp coral and rocks
● Compact models are popular among scuba divers in areas where spearfishing on scuba is legal
● Allows for multiple reloads
● Ideal for spearing crayfish (in territories where this is legal)
● Feature adjustable power settings to protect spears from getting damaged or jammed in caves
● Come in a wide range of sizes
● More powerful in shallow water (less than 5m)
● More variation when it comes to adjusting the strength of the rubber and the power of the gun
● Easier to load
● Better accuracy and range, especially in models longer than 90cm
● Consistent power speargun across all depths
● The deeper you dive, the lower the power of the shot
● Unless you use specialized devices, these guns can be difficult to load
● The rubbers last for about 6 to 12 months only (due to being damaged by moisture and UV rays)
● Band spearguns aren’t as streamlined as their pneumatic counterparts
How to Choose the Best Pneumatic Speargun
When shopping for the best pneumatic speargun, keep in mind the following features to make sure you’re getting what you need:
Speargun Size or Length
Choosing a suitable size depends on 3 factors: the species you plan to hunt, the visibility in the water you’re diving in, and the territory in which you’ll be hunting.
In low visibility conditions, such as in caves, you’ll be better off using shorter guns of 50 cm to 75cm (19.7 inches to 29.5 inches). Longer guns (more than 75cm / 30 inches), on the other hand, are ideal when a longer reach is required for pelagic species and difficult to approach prey in clear water.
Shaft or Spear
In general, shafts range in thickness from 6mm to 9mm. They’re manufactured either from stainless steel, hardened stainless steel, or galvanized steel.
Stainless steel is the top choice out of the 3 materials when it comes to resisting corrosion. However, it’s also the one most prone to bending.
Galvanized steel won’t bend as easily, but it’ll rust after a lot faster due to exposure to saltwater. This leaves us with hardened stainless steel as a middle ground.
The single barb, also known as the flopper, is the most commonly used tip for a shaft, which is then referred to as Hawaiian flopper shaft (when the flopper is on the bottom) or Tahitian flopper shafts (when the flopper is on top).
Alternatively, you can go for threaded shafts. These accommodate a variety of spear tips that are commonly found on the market.
Hawaiian and Tahitian flopper shafts are very common among hunters because they’re light, precise, and easy to remove from prey. Not to mention they cost less than threaded tipped shafts and provide almost no drag.
Pneumatic Spearguns – FAQs
Are Pneumatic Spearguns Loud?
The level of noise produced by a pneumatic speargun depends on the type of barrel you’re using.
A speargun fitted with a wet barrel produces a loud sound that’s comparable to firing a shotgun. However, when fitted with a dry barrel, firing your speargun is going to be nearly silent. Since pneumatic spearguns with a dry barrel offer more power and less noise, they’re the better option to use when spearfishing to avoid spooking away a lot of fish.
Do Pneumatic Spearguns Recoil?
When you fire a pneumatic speargun, you probably won’t feel a recoil. I say ‘probably’ because some spearguns don’t recoil at all, while others have very light recoil.
Choosing the right pneumatic speargun can be a confusing task, this is why included only the best pneumatic spearguns on the market to make sure you end up with a great purchase no matter what.
That being said, I recommend the Cressi SL Star Spearfishing Speargun as today’s winner thanks to its impressive power, high durability, and excellent value for money.