For me when it comes to speargun selection there are only really two choices to be made; alloy or carbon; and what length and rubber set-up. That it’s going to be a Rob Allen is a given. Why?
Well the short answer is because they’re the best. The long answer is going to take a while so best put the jug on first.
Over the last decade I’ve bought and sold thousands of spearguns. In that time I’ve considered and tested virtually every speargun available on the NZ market and lots that aren’t. You would think that after using all these different guns it would make it hard to pick a favourite and that there would be some good points with some and some bad points with others but the opposite is true. It seems the more guns I try out the more I prefer the Rob Allens and the greater appreciation I get for the hundreds of details that make these guns so good.
And that I think is the secret to Rob Allen’s success, the meticulous attention to every tiny detail followed by painstaking, real world testing of every product that comes out of the Dive Factory.
Every part of the Rob Allen speargun has been designed and manufactured specifically to work together under rigorous control and parameters. Each part has been designed to work with the others so you get a strong, accurate package at the end. Before anything goes into production prototypes have been made and tested by real divers in real diving conditions, sometimes for years. Let’s start at the top and work our way down the gun and find out what makes the Rob Allen different.
Rob Allen spears are far and away the strongest available. This means they last longer and shoot straighter – even tiny bends can make big differences in gun accuracy. One of the myths I keep hearing is that all the South African speargun brands buy their spears from the same factory. It isn’t true – Rob Allen spears are made in the Dive Factory and aren’t available to other gun brands.
With spears the best materials are the key. Rob Allen uses ultra tough oil quenched carbon alloy spring steel that has been tempered to an incredible 2100mpa.
The steel starts off in huge, one tonne rolls that are mechanically decoiled, straightened, cut to length and hand checked and “tweaked” if necessary. From there they have the notches cut and flopper and shooting line holes drilled.
The hole placement is crucial. The first flopper hole is drilled 90mm back from the spear tip. This means that when you’re fighting big fish the sharp tip is well clear of the fish’s flesh and isn’t cutting. Many spears are made with cave hunting in mind and the flopper is placed too close to the spear point. This gives the maximum chance of the flopper engaging before the spear hits a rock behind the fish but also means the spear tip and flopper “saw” against each other when fighting a big fish like a kingy.
The second hole is where the shooting line attaches and should be right at the back of the spear. This means that if the spear goes right through the fish it will pull back through so it ends up hard against the flopper rather than fighting on the shooting line. That way they’re less likely to cut themselves off or damage the shooting line and there is less chance of the spear tangling the bottom. If your shooting line is attached further up the spear or through shark tabs it will forever be teeing off on the other side of the fish creating problems. Not least of those is that in sharky areas you’re likely to have your spear bitten off if a shark goes for your fish while its on the shooting line.
The quality of the machining of the notches and holes are critical as any slight imperfections will catch and cut your shooting line or rubber wishbones. I’ve been surprised by how shoddy the finish can be on some lesser spears with sharp edges and burrs that should never have left the factory (not to mention the ones that weren’t even straight!).
From there the spears are plated for corrosion resistance giving them their dark green colour. Yes this does get worn off and you will get some rust on the spear but by the time it’s a problem you would have bent and replaced several stainless steel spears.
The final step is having the flopper fitted which is done by hand. The Rob Allen floppers are fitted to the bottom of the spear rather than the top. This gives the maximum chance for the flopper to engage. It also means that if the flopper does flop open while you duck dive it isn’t going to impair your line of sight while aiming. The floppers are 8cm long giving great holding power and are specially shaped to least affect the flight of the spear when fired. They are also tuned to flop freely the first 45 degrees but then jam open to prevent flopping closed again and potentially freeing your fish. Many Euro spears flop freely because they’re designed for cave fishing where having a flopper that won’t close can make extracting a spear from the back of a cave a real hassle. The flopper shouldn’t open right out to 90 degrees so that it’ll “hook” the fish rather than just be a stopper.
The shape of the flopper has been fine tuned through thorough pool testing to help the spear fly accurately through the water.
Once all is complete the spear is finally inspected for faults before leaving the factory. We guarantee the strength of the spears and the flopper attachments against breakage for life – ie if your spear is ever snapped or you break the flopper off we will replace it. We’ll expect a great story about the one that got away to go with it though!
Muzzle and Rubbers
The original Rob Allen muzzle has become an icon in the speargun world and would be the most copied design in the history of the speargun. This year though it has been replaced with their new Vecta Low-Profile muzzle which is as revolutionary as the original was.
Materials and strength are very important as it is the muzzle anchoring the powerful rubbers to the gun. There can also be considerable force put on it by big fish as well.
Rob Allen uses glass reinforced nylon and we guarantee it for life – if you can break it, we will replace it.
The muzzle attaches to the barrel via a strong internal spigot and then there are long shrouds that grip the barrel from the outside as well. This protects the vulnerable edges of the barrel which can be chipped or cracked, particularly in a carbon version.
The muzzle utilizes wrap around style rubbers which are far more efficient than standard, screw-in rubbers. This is because every millimetre of length is rubber rather than plastic so when slack your rubbers won’t come down as far on the barrel increasing the efficiency and accuracy of your gun. They are also easier and cheaper to replace when worn out.
The rubber on a Rob Allen is the highest quality mandrel dipped latex. They use basic, dyneema wishbones which are durable, simple and finger friendly.
The rubbers simply clip into place and are guided to lie parallel with the spear and barrel meaning everything is pointing straight. If a second rubber is clipped in it is pulling on a slightly different angle reducing the strain on the barrel and further preventing barrel flex.
The rubbers are strongly gripped by the muzzle preventing them from flipping over and potentially fouling the shooting or reel line.
The best thing about the new muzzle is the incredibly clear sight picture usually reserved for complicated and slow to reload, open muzzle designs. The low profile muzzle is virtually non-existent in your line of sight and you can see all the way down to the tip of the spear.
Of course being low profile it makes the gun faster to track through the water as well.
With barrels strength is everything. They are the backbone of the gun and any flex at all is going to throw the shot off. Rob Allen alloy barrels are made out of aerospace grade aluminium and have a 1.45mm wall thickness. This already incredibly strong barrel is then further strengthened with an extruded rail that runs along the top. This rail acts like a u-beam preventing any flex when the powerful rubbers are loaded up and also guides the spear out and makes it faster and easier to reload.
Most of the imitators merely use a stick or slide on plastic rail on a regular tube which obviously adds no strength at all.
The carbon fibre barrels are the best in the world. They’re pull wound rather than regular mandrel wound using 3-4 tonnes of pressure. The 100% carbon plus the superior manufacture process make the stiffest carbon barrels available.
The barrels are bunged at each end for water-tightness and each one is chamber tested to an equivalent depth of 40m for an hour.
Handle and Mechanism
The Rob Allen Vecta handle and mech is a masterpiece in strength, functionality and ergonomics. The handle is made of glass reinforced nylon and like the muzzle we guarantee its strength for life. It mates with the barrel via an internal spigot and external shrouds. Like the muzzle the integrity of this join is under enormous strain so the bullet proof construction is an absolutely necessity. The angle of the handle is just right for fast intuitive aim.
The rubberized grip has no sharp bumps or weird shapes meaning it is comfortable to hold while the gun is pointed while shooting and equally when it is held upside down while swimming (one of my real pet hates are handles that have been moulded as though someone has squeezed a piece of plastercine with ridges between each finger. This is a dead giveaway that they were designed by a marketing team rather than divers as they’re horrible to hold except while pointed). I have yet to see a hand that didn’t fit the Vecta.
The back of the handle has no silly little loading pad meaning that the loading force is spread over more of your chest by the full length of the handle and is very comfortable and secure.
The shark clip is attached securely to the handle and will stand up to the force of the largest gamefish.
The AK47 is the world’s most popular assault rifle because of its unparalleled ruggedness and reliability. The same can be said of the Vecta speargun mechanism. The housing is made of glass reinforced nylon for strength and contains an absolute minimum of moving parts to ensure reliability. The sear is laser cut out of a solid lump of stainless steel and the line release is mechanically activated by the trigger with a brutally simple design with patents pending. The inside of the mech and handle is largely empty so it won’t hold sand or debris and is easily flushed out with a hose after use.
The safety mechanism is up on top of the cartridge where it won’t be accidentally knocked on and is easily disabled if like me you never use them.
Again we are so confident of the manufacture of these mechs that we guarantee their flawless operation for life.
Each of these parts have been designed and manufactured to go together and the end result is a supremely accurate, powerful and durable gun that is as effective on large gamefish as it is on small reef fish.
The Rob Allen design team consists primarily of Rob himself and his partner Jeremy Williams. Both are obviously expert divers but while the focus of Rob’s diving is large gamefish Jeremy’s is comp diving for the challenging ‘rats and mice’ of the reef. The end results are incredibly practical designs that are as effective in any environment or situation. It’s little wonder then that more world record fish have been landed with Rob Allen guns than any other.
So if like me your spearguns are tools that need to perform effectively and reliably all the time rather than toys to be admired in the garage then the choice is simple for you too, alloy or carbon and what length Rob Allen do you need?