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Advice for a newbie

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New Member
Apr 10, 2003
Hello All:

I am very excited, I'm going on my first real spearfishing trip in a couple of weeks! :D This is something I've been wanting to do for several years. I'm thinking of purchasing a Riffe Metaltech 0S (midhandle, 32" stock, 3 bands, 11' range). Although this trip will be over the limestone ledges of North and South Carolina, most of my diving is on the more northern wrecks of North Carolina so I figured the smaller size of the Metaltech would be good. I also liked the feel of the mid handle over the standard guns because it seems more stable. Additionally, I liked the price compared to the other Riffe's available. I have two questions I would like to get feedback on please:

1. Is the smaller midhandle a good pick for the type of hunting I will be doing? I only dive SCUBA at this time.

2. Any hints from folks with some experience? There are supposed to be good sized grouper and hogfish in this area. :p

Any and all comments and suggestions welcome, I can use as much help as I can get!

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The Riffe Metal Tech 0 is a sweet gun. I have a 1 and a 5. Iya, are resident riffe expert, took a 0 and did a bunch of high power tests with it. He ended up with the aluminum muzzle, 3/8 shaft, and 6 bands. But from what I remember about it, he doesn’t use the gun all that much.

You see, a really short gun like that is usually used for low visibility conditions, like 3 – 10 feet. The shortness is good for going into and around wrecks, caves, etc., and also for swinging the gun fast. In low vis, you don’t see the fish until its within range, and usually its not right in front of you so have to quickly swing the gun and fire before it swims out of sight.

You can power up any MT, like Iya did with his 0 and his 3 (which I think he uses most), but with the 0 there are limitations. A stock MT 0 won’t have enough power at 9’ to push the spearhead out the other side of a large fish. With my MT 1 I have shot a few barracudas in the 30’s and a 20lbs horse eye jack, which was the texas state record. On that fish the point made it through the other side of the fish, but the barb did not and luckily opened up inside of its throat. I was very lucky to land it and I wasn’t as lucky on several other occasions, where I was very angry I didn’t have a more powerful gun.

The 0 is a very specialized gun. I would think you would be happier with the 2 or maybe a 1, which will still have great maneuverability, but additional power to land a bigger fish. If your diving wrecks, you may find some big groupers, amberjacks, snappers, etc..

It sounds like your looking at the standard, and not the Hawaiian. The standard two bard head gives better holding power, but the Hawaiian has less drag in the water, and is quicker to take fish off with. It’s preference. I have used both.

Some other things you will want to consider is, line type and bands. It will come standard with black mono, which for what you are doing is probably all right. Stainless line is a lot more abrasive resistant, but does slow the shaft down a little more.

I would recommend getting another 9/16 band when you buy the gun. That way you can power up the gun if you’re going for larger fish. Four 9/16 bands will fit on the stock plastic muzzle. To do this, load the gun so the first 3 bands are stretched, then they will be room to put the 4th on. Something like armorall will help the band slide into the slot easier. You can also choose not to load a band or bands when loading. I use 2 bands for the kids, 3 for the wife, and 4 for me. You get used to looking through the unloaded flopping bands.

There are a lot of choices with a riffe MT, but this is where I would start.
Have fun,
Gun length effects power by allowing more length of band stretching. Bands have an optimal stretch, say per inch. I don’t know what it is, but for example lets says it ½” of stretch for every 1” of length. The riffe MT0 comes with 15” bands. The MT2 comes with 20” bands. So in this example, the MT0 bands would stretch 7.5”. The MT2 bands would stretch 10”. Therefore the MT2 would have 2.5” more length (time) of power on the shaft, a 33% increase.

This is also why a mid handle is more powerful than a rear handle that is the same length from muzzle to handle. The extra 4” to 8” of shaft attachment behind the handle allows more band length and more stretch.

A longer gun also increases accuracy in the same way a land gun does, by increasing the amount of time the shaft is guided by barrel.

One real interesting thing that Iya discovered in testing his ultra powerful MT0 was that for the extra power to be beneficial, he had to have a heaver shaft, or the shaft would lose velocity. He found that with the 9/32 and 5/16 shafts, six bands didn’t produce any more punch than four. But with a 3/8 shaft he was able to get use out of all 6 bands and could penetrate his target the best.

I think this is mainly because with a short shaft, there isn’t much mass. As you get longer there is adequate shaft mass for multi-band power. Iya experiments were an eye opener, because thicker shafts were generally regarded as needed for larger guns, because of the increase leverage a long shaft has. Iya showed that a thick shaft could also be beneficial on a short gun.
Sorry for the length of the answer.
The 0 is a very specialized gun.


Thanks for the tips, my immediate reaction is to pick the least expensive of the best I can find. The Riffe seems to be considered by many the best, and the 0 was the least expensive, but if it ain't the right tool, its a poor choice! Thanks also for the tip about the extra band, I'll get one ordered. Its got the big double barb head, so I will probably just use it because its standard on that gun.

My eye is on a good size Pompano this summer. We frequently see 30-40 pounders around the wrecks, and two years ago a fellow on one of my trips got one somewhere in the range of 50lbs. It was one heck of a fish. We also get good sized snapper, grouper and hogfish on the wrecks, so I want to have an appropriate gun. It would torque me to no end to injure something and then lose it.

The shop I work with has a MT 2S on the rack. I've already called to let them know I am going to swap out the 0 for it.

Thanks again.

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You should be happy with the MT2. I would definitely use the 4th band for the size of fish you are talking about. Post some picture of your fish.
Have fun,

PS My band stretch example was a little off. Most bands are stretch to about 2 ½ times their resting length.
Originally posted by donmoore
This is also why a mid handle is more powerful than a rear handle that is the same length from muzzle to handle.


If you take two 60" guns, for example... one has a rear handle and the other has a midhandle, both with the same shaft length, both with the same setback of the trigger... figure a length of 57", they'll both have the same band stretch. It's just that the mid handle will swing easier while the rear handle will let you extend your tip further.

I agree that you could do a lot worse than a MT2, Joe. Smooth choice and good luck! Feel free to post some photos of your first efforts!!
Last edited:
Feel free to post some photos of your first efforts!!

Thanks! If I get anything of substance, I plan on showing anyone who'll look!
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same length from muzzle to handle

I think he wasn’t saying the shaft and setback was the same. He was just saying that a mid handle, which would be over all be a longer gun, that had the handle in the same place as a rear handle, and thus be similar in maneuverability, would be more powerful because the trigger is set back further. Thereby having more band stretch.

At least that’s the way I interrupted it.
Trip report

I wish I had some pictures of my first spear fishing trip, but there wasn't anything to take a picture of. :( I shot a good sized grouper, but I don't know if the spear tip failed to open or if it was a marginal shot. Either way the fish swam away without the spear. :waterwork I thought I saw the spear all the way through the fish, but it could have been a optical delusion (I sometimes see things more from wishful thinking than fact). It also could have been through some soft tissue and the fish tore it out when it pulled the line taught. Oh well, I did get a couple of good sized lobsters, so the weekend wasn't a total bust.

A question about aiming these guns: How do you guys take aim at a fish? I'm using the Riffe Metal Tech IIS with three bands pulled (per Don's suggestion I've ordered a fourth band but it hasn't come in yet). Since this is a mid handle gun, I held the butt of the gun tightly against my bicep and tried to point my body with my arm for the shot. It seesm to me that this would kind of be like trying to shoot a rifle from your hip: it works ok with a machine gun, but would be lousy for single shot rifle. It occured to me after the dive that perhaps I should aim the gun more like a rifle, by holding the handle with a stiff right arm and using my left hand across my body to hold the butt (kind of like a cross arm compass manuever). Any thoughts?
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definately dont hold the butt of the gun against the bicept. Extend the gun and lock your right elbow(for a right hand shooter) and place your left hand on the butt of the gun. If you have the right arm locked correctly you wont need to put force on the butt with the left hand, rather you can use that hand to swing the muzzle left to right.
Yea, your last thought and Rigs advice is correct. All spearguns should be fired straight-armed with the trigger arm. Cross the second arm over your body just like what you were thinking and hold the butt with it. Your body doesn’t need to be straight with the gun if you have your arm straight, but it does feel kind of cool to be all laid out with the gun in front.

That’s the way it suppose to be done, now its up to you to decide how much you’re willing to deviate when a fish comes right in front of the gun and you don’t have it in position. Best thing to do is dive with it in a way you can extend your arm quickly, but there are always exceptions. With a II you can probably get away with one arm shoots when it’s extended although getting the other hand on the butt will definitely feel more solid and probably be more accurate.

If you don’t get your trigger arm extended the risk is losing teeth, breaking your mask (which might be quite a problem scuba diving), knocking your regulator out, or at the least, getting a bruise on the face.

Mike- that's the last time I wanna hear the words, butt, force and hand used in the same sentence from you. Especially 55 miles out. :mute
Thanks for all the input!

Thanks to everyone for the input and advice, I definitely believe this is going to add something rewarding to my diving. I may even have to give that freediving stuff a try since I now know that some pretty cool people are into it :cool: (but for now I'm stuck on SCUBA). If I get the chance to go hunting again this year I will provide pictures, but I have probably spent my allocation of fun money for this season.

Thanks again, and be safe.
You should try freediving for several reasons.
1. It’s more of challenge to spear, which makes the satisfaction greater when you succeed.
2. You feel more at one with the ocean and the fish.
3. Its awesome physical exercise.
4. It’s a whole lot cheaper. (noticed you mentioned money)
5. It’s a lot less hassle. No big bulky equipment and you don’t have to keep up with as many things.
6. Only really cool people freedive.

Start reading the freediving forums and take your mask, snorkel, and fins to your local public pool and see how you like. Winter is the best time to develop some skills, which will make your chances of success next summer all that much better.
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Good luck

Good luck with your dive. Spearfishing is one of the most challenging and rewarding sports out there, so welcome to the club.

The major benefit of freediving versus scuba is that you will see a lot more shootable fish as a freediver. As a bubble blower you will likely frighten most fish away before you can see them.

Now in terms of your gun question: personally I think you are purchasing too much gun given your diving experience. I would consider going with a smaller rail gun, there are a few manufacturers out there like Rob Allen, and Rabi Tech that manufacture these. And they would be more suitable.

Make no mistake, the Riffe that you are looking at, is a great gun. And if you are thinking of shooting big fish, it would be the tool to use, but on your first set of dives, I think this is an unlikely scenario. Simply put, you need to match the tool at hand to the job in question, and each tool has its own pros and con's. The Riffee has great range and power, put this comes at the cost of ease of use and manoeverablility.

The reason that I say that you should go with a smaller gun, is that you need to maximise your enjoyment of the dive. Having a multi rubber gun is going to be difficult and frustrating to cock. (are their appropriate rest notches?) More importantly, the gun is going to be harder to manoever, and will dramatically restrict the depth that you can reach. So while you may in theory have great stopping power with the Riffe, you are not going to be able to unleash it, because you don't get yourself into position to shoot something.

Now in terms of the other posts here: Regarding accuracy. The phenomenon being referred to when overpowered guns lose accuracy is called "spear-whip" and basically the spear is not heavy enough for the rubbers being employed. The reason for this is that at the moment of release, the spear will bend slightly and start vibrating as it screams down the barrel towards the target, developing a slight U-bend. (You should visualize this as the back of the spear trying to catch up with the front of the spear). This phenomenon is called “spear-whip” and the net result is that the spear will not fly true, and the gun will usually shoot low. This is one of the major reasons why over-powered guns are inaccurate, but there are others, like barrel flex etc. The second major reason overpowered guns are inaccurate is recoil. Particalarly with guns that have a trigger mid shaft, the trigger/handle seems to act as a fulcrum point and as the trigger is pulled the gun recoil causes the back of the gun to rise (in most cases) with the result that the gun shoots low again.

In terms of the "power" of a gun per se. This is another interesing question, that I could tell you about, but I will forebear for now.

Anyway, that's my $0.02 worth. have a good trip.
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Thanks for the tips all!


I do want to try freediving, but am a bit limited in time and other resources. I'm also trying to get in my Staged Deco/Advanced Nitrox and Intro to Trimix courses and will be seeing alot of time spent with these. I have learned that sometimes its better for me to take one thing at a time and get good at it first instead of trying to do too many things at once. I got started in all of this pretty late in life, so I have to carefully choose what I invest both time and money into, with time being the most difficult to obtain item. I really respect you folks who can glide effortlessly to great depths on a single breath, and envy your silence and ease of encounters. Perhaps I will be able to approach it from a less structured angle and enjoy shallower snorkels and light descents.


I do know what you mean about loading the gun, it was a challenge until I fiured out how to get a good angle to pull the bands with all the gear on. I ended up wasting time (and air) trying to load the gun while resting the buitt on my hip. I just couldn't seem to get the band down to the second spear fin, and tore up the fingers on my gloves trying. I finally tried resting the butt against my chest and found I could load all three bands at the appropriate fins. Unfortuntately, I didn't have alot of choices on guns in my area, and hate trying to buy stuiff like that over the internet. Most of the game I will go after is pretty big and fairly deep, so I'm hoping the Riffe will end up being a good all round choice. I will try to watch for the low shooting due to spear whip (and bad aim!). It's just going to take practice and, shucks, I might have to go diving to do that!:D
I got something!

Well, it may not have required a great deal of skill, but I used my gun to shoot a mess of flounder this past weekend! :p Two of them were really nice sized (about 8-10 lbs each), the others were smallish but big enough to be legal. It kind of felt like target practice since they don't move until they're hit, but I was shooting more in the center of the fish by the end of the day instead of ruining the meaty sides (I even stoned one of them by shoot right through the spine behind the eyes). Didn't get any pictures, so I can't post anything. Maybe next time.

Thanks for the advice, everyone in this forum have been really helpful.

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