Spear Shaft Comparisons – Spring Steel Compared to 17-4 Stainless Steel Shafts
There are many ways to look at types of spear shafts. You can compare different flopper styles, shaft length, manufacturer, and any number of other points of comparison. In this post we will be looking into the difference in the type of metal used, and the benefits and problems with each. It should be noted that there are exceptions to every statement in this blog post. There are always options for custom work to be done. Most of this custom work comes at great expense. The expense is often a result in having to change a mechanical process in what is already a niche market.
17-4 Stainless Steel Spear Shafts
There are a wide range of options available in the 17-4 Stainless Steel shafts. These variations can be a good and a bad thing. There are just about every type of spear shafts available. Probably the most common style are the American notch shafts. These are a square notch shaft that fit into American style trigger mechanisms. You can also get these shafts as euro notched shafts. Euro shafts have a rounded groove that goes into European style spearguns. The third most common is the A.B. Biller Style spear shafts. The Biller shafts only fit into A.B. Biller style spearguns. While that sounds limiting, there are a lot of those speargun floating around in the world.
Thickness and Thread
17-4 Shafts have a wider range of thread options and shaft thicknesses. Spear shaft threads can only be as thick as the shaft thickness. Standard thickness options for 17-4 shafts include 9/32” (7.1mm) and 5/16” (8mm). They can also be ordered in 11/32” and 3/8” for large spearguns. These thicker shafts are typically used for larger species, like large Tunas and Billfish. 9/32” spear shafts typically come with 6mm threads. 5/16” spear shafts typically are made with 5/16” threads, but the shafts can also be “necked down” to 6mm threads. This means these shafts can accommodate different slip tip options.
One of the big differences between 17-4 Stainless Steel Spear Shafts and Spring Steel shafts is that 17-4 is a much more flexible spear shaft. That means when a fish is struggling with a spear shaft it has been shot with the shaft has more flex before it is bent permanently. The steel can take a shock or two from hitting a rock. The problem is that once the shaft is permanently bent it is pretty much done. There are plenty of people that claim they can blend the shaft back, but the metal will always be weak in that place. The next big fish you shoot will bend that shaft right back again.
Spring Steel Shafts
After the 17-4 spear shafts the next most common type of spear shaft is the Spring Steel Spear Shaft. Euro spearguns are really the only spearguns that accept these shafts. That means they have a rounded notch at the back of the spear shaft that only works with certain speargun trigger mechanisms.
Common spring steel shafts only come in two thicknesses. Those thicknesses are 7mm and 7.5mm. With that there is a reduced option in thread options. Pretty much every threaded euro shaft is just a 6mm thread. All slip tips that go with these shafts have a slip tip base that fits on 6mm threads. The only other difference is the size of the slide ring that goes on the shaft. You need to buy the correct size slide ring. If the slide ring is too big fish scales and flesh can cause the slide ring to not be able to slide on the spear shaft and cause the slip tip to not deploy effectively. If the slide ring is too large it can pull right over the slip tip base.
One reason many divers love spring steel shafts is that they are rigid. These shafts do not want to bend. They are extraordinarily stiff for the thickness of the shaft. That means that a fish will have a harder time bending these shafts if it goes into structure. The issue with these shafts is that when they fail they do not bend, they break. These shafts are more brittle than 17-4 spear shafts. It is unlikely that the shaft will snap, but it is possible and has happened to divers in the past. The worst part about gear failures is that it rarely happens on small fish. It happens when you shoot a fish of a lifetime and you are just hoping everything comes together.
What is The Right Spear Shaft For You?
The right spear shaft for you is the one that fits in your speargun first and foremost. If you find yourself with different options available to you you can weigh out what is most important to you. Price and availability are both big factors in making those decisions. These best thing to do is test out the different options and make a decision based on your diving and the types of fish you are targeting.