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Don't Bet Your Life Or Your Buddy's Life On A Riffe


Well-Known Member
Sep 14, 2006
Washington D.C.
I agree too. It is worth noticing that nobody else came out with another example against Riffe. The case was poorly made the very first time. That's not to say that it can not happen, because accidents occur all the time but sometimes the cause is human error. In this case, even if there was a malfunction, the major error was not to keep the gun pointing away from anybody. It is basic. One of my guns (a pneumatic) misfired once, but nothing happened because I make sure those spears never point towards me or anybody else.


New Member
Aug 3, 2005
That is so true, one thing is to give an honest point of view about some product as Bill Macintyre does. And the other is call a product a safety hazard. The Riffe guns are top notch, high quality products. I would recommend a DISCLAIMER on that post, since we just don`t have any evidence that the Riffe trigger fails in a normal situation. Never heard about that. So politically incorrect to let go an opinion like that.

Ron S

New Member
May 9, 2006
Truckee, CA
I once had a misfire with my little 75cm aspic. I shot and missed, and was in a hurry to load and fire again. When I loaded the shaft for the second shot, I could feel that there was sand in the mechanism and the shaft just didn't feel like it seated right. Being in a hurry, I loaded the first band anyway. As soon as I relaxed my hands, the gun fired. Since I still had the gun on my chest and my hands on the band, no harm was done. The lesson I learned is that after you load a gun a couple times, you can feel when things are right or not. I knew better than to not take the time to clear the crud out of the mechanism, but I was in a hurry. Now I know better...


Well-Known Member
Sorry to hear what happen, it must be a big gun to cause such a damage under water.
I have seen it happen twice, both times
the shaft was not properly installed in the mech, and the gun fired while the user was putting one more band on, and he was hit by the end of the gun
in the stomach, after installing the shaft again, and making sure it was properly installed the gun was used again, both guns have being used for many years after that.
But, any triger mech, with time , will be damaged by the salt water environment and the normal use over many years, so I think we could call this normal, and is up to the user to change the mech after many years, how many, is up to you I guess.
I just changed 5 triger mechs from RA, they were old, and I did not wanted to take any chances, so I bought the cartridge for me and some friends, thats it.
Just like a funny car gets their rod bearings changed after every single race and our tipical everyday car we probably wont changed it, or do it once in a life time, is just the same.
Here something for you to read.
But, if you install shorter, stronger bands that what the manufacturer recomends, no warranty should be expected from you, and you should be aware that there are high risks involved, even death.
The ones who build their own guns, should be very careful, from those guns
I have seen many shafts flying on their own.
If you ask me, we have been very lucky of the few accidents we have had.

Marcelo Tan

Apr 1, 2015
Guns misfire coz before loading the bands sometimes the trigger was pulled while in transit and when loaded it is engage with the sear halfway and releases when loading the second band.

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
San Clemente, CA
Since this old thread has been resurrected, maybe it’s time for clarification and an update. Years ago I heard of a guy being killed when his four band Riffe misfired while he was loading on the back of the boat. I’m not sure if the Riffe mechanism can be blamed- maybe he just had not properly seated the shaft in the mechanism. At least a couple of times my Wong’s have fired while I was loading but I wasn’t hurt because I was in the water. The important distinction is being in the water.

A couple of years ago a spear fisherman here in Southern California had a misfire while loading his gun in the boat while hunting giant bluefin tuna. His gun had another highly regarded brand of mechanism. The butt hit him in the abdomen and he momentarily passed out. When he woke up he told the other guys to keep on hunting but they insisted on heading for the harbor. When they got him to the emergency room the doctors said he was about 30 minutes from death due to internal bleeding. He had surgery and spent several days in the hospital.

These incidents have been eye openers for me. I’ve never been comfortable with loaded guns in the boat but it’s relatively easy to keep them pointed up in the air. It’s the butt end that can hurt you and no one expects that.

When I’ve told these stories people have asked me why a gun can hit you in the gut when it misfires under water without killing you but can do serious damage if it misfires out of the water. Perhaps a physics major can provide a better answer, but my guess is that the water slows down the shaft and bands so that the recoil isn’t so severe. But out of the water the recoil is more abrupt. And maybe the problem is exacerbated if you happen to be moving the butt a couple of inches away from your chest so that it gets a running start at you.

Whatever the explanation, it’s a real problem that we should be aware of.

So you might ask why the hell anyone would load their gun in the boat anyway? It’s being done a lot in Southern California in the last few years because of Blue fin tuna up to 300 or more pounds. Fish are seen foaming in the surface or perhaps 100 feet under the boat on the depth sounder. The diver has to be sitting on the stern with fins on and gun loaded. When the captain gives the word he has to jump in and dive immediately while another guy feeds his float line and floats into the water. If he loaded the gun after jumping into to the water he would almost always be too late. Is a tuna worth the risk? I don’t know of anyone dying yet although that guy I mentioned did come close. But it’s just one reason besides my age that I decided tuna are not for me.
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popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
Everything wears out eventually, but if you have a Riffe mechanism that you want to check just remove it from the gun and detach the biasing spring from the trigger by unhooking it and with the mechanism upside down flip the levers outwards and you can see everything that would normally be pointing at the sear box roof ceiling. This way you don't have to knock the pivot pins out, especially as they are riveted over. - The Worlds Largest Community Dedicated To Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing


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