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Gas spearguns as distinct from Pneumatic spearguns

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popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
At times pneumatic spearguns have had the brakes applied when importing them, either for business purposes or personal use. Gas guns, like firearms, are tightly controlled in many countries, or even banned.

Speaking from four decades of spearfishing experience I can tell you why there is this problem with pneumatic spearguns which is founded on ignorance and possibly a dose of stupidity. In the classic pneumatic speargun era a pneumatic speargun had a rear tank, mid-handle grip and a narrow front barrel. This is the same configuration as a carbon dioxide speargun or a compressed air expellable gas speargun. The technical definition used in Russia is non-consumptive of gas for the pneumatic speargun, the expellable gas gun uses up its gas supply in maybe twenty shots if you are lucky.

The major difference is pneumatic spearguns have a hand pump, expellable gas guns don't, it is the major differentiator. Also pneumatic spearguns have a piston in the inner barrel, gas consumptive guns don't, they just have an open muzzle. The odd man out is the hydropneumatic gun, it has no piston in its inner barrel because it uses a water column to load the gun when you push the spear in the muzzle. Unless obsessively serviced hydropneumatic guns seize up once saltwater corrodes their innards if left to sit inside for months. Dismantling can then be very difficult, short of using brute force and dynamite to get a gun apart, then you can throw it in a trash can.

As expellable gas guns using air require thousands of psi you ain't charging them up with a glorified bicycle pump, which is what a pneumatic speargun pump is. Pumping a couple of thousand psi by hand is impossible without a multi-stage hand pump and will take hours, if not days.

The Sea Hornet Sea Rocket is an expellable gas gun which has around 900 psi blasting the shaft out of the gun and is loaded with near zero effort. The two big pneumatics, used at their maximum pressure, are actually like spring guns and require their operators to nearly turn themselves inside out to load them. Shot after shot require a big loading effort, but the guns don't lose any gas. A shared feature is the guns are all sinkers, the Seabear from Russia possessing a stainless steel barrel which despite its slim proportions weighs a ton, you have to swap hands when swimming with it for any length of time as the gun is unremittingly heavy.
SeaRocket 1962.jpg

Seabear MAK 103 & Nemrod Mariner III R.jpg

sea hornet mkIV Rocket carbon dioxide gun RR.jpg

Thanks to Mel Brown, AUF Historian, for the Sea Rocket material, this one being a lighter MK IV model, light being a relative term in this case.
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