In Speargun reviews, Spearguns

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When you ask around about quality spearguns, Riffe is a brand you’ll hear about time and time again. They make some of the best stock spearguns you’ll find on the market, including the Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun.

For an off-the-shelf model you can’t really go wrong with Riffe, and really the only way to get a better model is to start looking into custom-built guns. But that’s a topic for another post entirely. Today, I’m going to review the Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun, as it’s one of my favorite spearguns in my collection.

Riffe Mahogany Competitor Series Speargun (#2 (45in), Brown)
5 Reviews
Riffe Mahogany Competitor Series Speargun (#2 (45in), Brown)
  • Heavy-duty plastic handle
  • Side mounted spring loaded safety
  • Auto Line Release
  • Contoured red urethane butt end assembly for comfortable loading
  • Rest tab may be added for ease of loading and lower power shooting around rocks.

Behind the brand

Since the age of ten, Jay Riffe had a passion for spearfishing, chasing fish around the reefs of Southern California with his trusty hand spear. Just a few years later he entered his first spearfishing competition, and at 22 he was crowned the Pacific Coast Champion. Then he hit the nationals before landing a spot on the World Spearfishing Team. But that’s not the coolest part.

See, Jay Riffe wasn’t happy with the spearguns on the market, so he set out to design his own. With a focus on creating silent yet powerful builds. He used the guns he built to set three world records. Three. Then realized we could all benefit from his knowledge and expertise, so he started selling them to the public. They’re just damn good spearguns.

Riffe Spearguns

The different types of spearguns Riffe makes are broken down into series, starting with their Standard guns. These are the toughest they make, but it also comes with the price tag. The Competitor series is a little more budget friendly, and the Paduak is an identical gun, but the barrel is crafted from African blood wood instead of teak laminate, so it’s a little cheaper again.

They also do a nice Euro series, along with a modular gun that breaks down for travel. Oh, and if you’re looking for big guns their Blue Water elite is fantastic, with a mid-handle so you can still maneuver the 142cm gun when you’re chasing big pelagics in the open ocean.

The Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun

The quality of workmanship you get in a Riffe speargun is unparalleled in this price range.

The Riffe Padauk Competitor speargun is essentially a carbon copy of their competitor model, but made from African blood wood instead of teak laminate. It’s a cheaper wood yes, but it’s incredibly stiff, as the natural grains of this hardwood keep the barrel straight, without the need to laminate. After testing both versions, I opted for the Paduak 3XS. And it’s been great.

It’s built to be a blue water gun for all levels of spearos, off the shelf it’s got about 15 feet of shooting range, but adding thicker bands gets this to about 20 feet with a good degree of accuracy for a 54 inch (137cm) speargun.


The cost of the Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun will differ based on the length of the gun you want to buy.

Riffe Mahogany Competitor Series Speargun (#2 (45in), Brown)
5 Reviews
Riffe Mahogany Competitor Series Speargun (#2 (45in), Brown)
  • Heavy-duty plastic handle
  • Side mounted spring loaded safety
  • Auto Line Release
  • Contoured red urethane butt end assembly for comfortable loading
  • Rest tab may be added for ease of loading and lower power shooting around rocks.

General specs of the Riffe Paduak Competitor Speargun

  • Barrel carved from a single piece of Paduak
  • Fits up to three 16mm rubber bands (it comes with 14mm bands)
  • Comes with a 5/16″ x 55″ threaded spear shaft, but will fit from 6.5mm to 9.5mm
  • Heavy duty handle with a urethane butt-end for comfortable loading
  • Riffe’s stainless steel 2-piece trigger mechanism
  • 5″ bungee shock cord uses 500lb pigtail swivel

The handle

The Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun comes with a heavy-duty ABS plastic handle that fits comfortably in your hand. What I particularly like though is the butt of the gun. The padded extension makes it easy to load, and I don’t feel like you even need a padded wetsuit to get your bands loaded. It’s easy whether you’re used to loading from your chest or your hip.

The trigger

On every speargun Riffe makes, they use the same trigger design on all of them. Because it works. No matter how many bands you’ve got on there or the amount of tension, it’ll release smoothly without any extra effort. A claim that you can’t make on many other spearguns, when they’re overloaded the trigger is so stiff you can barely pull it. Riffe definitely got their triggers right.

The spear

You can load shafts from 6.5mm to 9.5mm in the Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun, however it comes with a standard 8mm stainless steel that’s been heat-treated. They’re tough, and you’ll have a hard time getting them to bend. What’s nice though is the use of the shark fin tabs, which also makes for a stronger spear.

The barrel

It’s easy to see why Paduak is also known as African blood wood. Once it’s sealed the wood glows like the dark red coals in a fire. Of course, you could also leave the barrel unsealed (how it comes stock), as it doesn’t really affect the performance at all.

I’ve found the barrel to stay strong and true, a buddy of mine has an old Paduak that’s going on 17 years old now, and it’s still one of his favorite guns. The Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun is just built to last. They’re also able to accommodate crazy high tensions, so you can add shorter bands to further boost your range and power.

The muzzle

Nothing special here, it’s a simple open muzzle to accept shark fin shafts, at the end of the barrel and cut into the wood. It follows the same recess cut into the barrel to help guide every shot, and there’s a slot cut out to make it easy to swap out your bands.

How it actually feels to use

At 54 inches (142cm) the Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun 3XS is definitely a big gun, but they do have models starting at half this if you’re not wanting an open water gun.

Overall, it’s been one of my favorite spearguns to use. I had it out offshore of the coast of Australia on a trip over Christmas, and I pulled in two big kingfish from the same school.

Loaded up with three 16mm bands, the gun is simply powerful, and the only sound it makes is the “thwack” of the bands snapping back when you shoot. The trigger is soft and easy to pull, which I think also adds to this spearguns level of accuracy. It’s dead on, shooting true time and time again.

I found it quick and easy to reload, especially with the rest tab on the shaft which can give you a breather if you’re wearing out towards the end of a dive. The balance is almost perfect, though the tip does dip ever so slightly as you swim forwards while holding the gun. It was such a small thing though, I wouldn’t really call it a downside.

The downsides

There’s no such thing as a perfect gun, and while the Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun is one of my favorites, there’s a few downsides worth mentioning.

First is the recoil. With a big gun loaded up with a heap of tension, you’ve got to hold firm as you take each shot lest the recoil affect your accuracy. Second is the price. You’re paying for quality, and while I believe it’s worth it, dropping over $500 on a stock speargun that may then need a new set of rubbers or a larger spear (depending on what size fish you’re targeting), it all starts to become a very expensive endeavor.

The results

If you’re looking for power, Riffe is the brand for you. You can safely load it up to tension levels like you get in the top-tier custom guns, at a fraction of the price. And you won’t need to worry about the mechanics in the trigger giving out, or the barrel breaking. The Riffe Padauk Competitor Speargun is tough, while still maintaining accuracy.

For what you get, in terms of the overall craftsmanship and quality in each speargun, you won’t find better than Riffe at this price range. Take care of it with a little care the gun will essentially last forever. My friends is still going strong after 17 years. But if you’ve not got the cash, you could always check out the AB Biller Paduak speargun.

But that’s still not the best part. What truly makes these spearguns unique is just how quiet they are. The only thing you will hear when you take a shot is the bands snapping loose. That’s it. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more deadly speargun. Off the shelf it’s great, but if you invest a little more in powering it up, that’s when this gun is going to truly shine.

Happy spearin’

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