Surfboard Guide - The Gun
Guns are large, performance-based surfboards that have been shaped specifically to catch and ride the world’s biggest waves. Incredibly long, guns can be up to 12’ in length and although quite a few surfers might have a smaller “mini gun” in their rack, only the biggest hell men on the planet will have a genuine, full length version in their quiver.
* 7-12 feet in length
* Flat, thick & straight outline
* Pointed nose
* Pin tail
* Foiled for late drops and control
* Extremely strong
Are all guns the same?
Also known as rhino chasers, guns can be loosely categorized into 3 types, all of which are designed to catch giant waves, without the need or help of a jet ski.
Only "hell men" need apply!
At 9 to 12 feet, these boards are long, straight and flat and have the sole task of making the biggest drops out there. These boards will paddle fast, hold a line incredibly well and offer the best chance of making the steepest drops any wave can unleash. Although hard to turn, they will handle a late drop like no other board as well as giving maximum control at high speeds. These go well in waves that offer not much more than a huge drop.
At around 8 to 9 feet, this version is slightly shorter in length & has improved maneuverability. They tend to perform in ways a bigger gun will not respond, due to their decreased length, increased outline curve and additional rocker. These boards go well in big conditions that allow for some turns after the drop.
At 7 to 8 feet in length, an even shorter design appears much more like a standard short board. Expect a bit of rocker combined with a concave or “v” bottom shape. Referred to as a mini gun or semi gun, it’s not uncommon for an advanced surfer to have one of these just for the bigger days at their local break or for a surf trip. These boards go well in hollower surf.
The rhino chaser
Each and every gun will have a pointy nose and a pin tail. They’ll generally be flat, thick and offer little rocker (except semi guns). They’ll also always have more fiberglass than usual to withstand the force of larger, destructive surf conditions.
* Ideal for catching huge waves.
* If you ride one, you're usually regarded as a legend.
* Hard to duck dive.
* Hard to travel with.
* Only suitable for surfing massive waves.
The semi gun, ideal for hollow conditions
Why can't I just surf my shortboard in massive waves!?
Simply put, because giant waves break faster than smaller waves. The injection of speed needed on the take off will always mean that a shorter board will not paddle fast enough to catch the wave & allow for a manageable take off. This is why they remain long, thick & narrow, to paddle faster, handle the speed on take off & to give control and stability especially on entry to the wave. They're narrow because wider boards would simply skip out, they won’t hold a line in the same fashion. Guns have incredibly long rails and combined with a narrow nose and narrow tail, help the board to lock into the wave on the take off & give the rider control. Surfing these big waves is a completely different style of riding to all other types of surfing and is 95% “about the drop” and negotiating a long, drawn out bottom turn. It's about having plenty of speed on the take off, setting your rail and keeping your line without any quick movements or direction changes. Certainly, a far cry from riding a traditional shortboard which focuses on top to bottom surfing. "Tow-in" boards remain much closer to the design of a shortboard with the exception of foot straps. But these boards don't require the extra length needed to physically catch the wave, and therefore would not be functional unless they had jet ski assistance.
When will I be ready try out a gun?
If you’re not quite sure, then you’re probably not ready for one either. Becoming a big wave surfer takes years of preparation and training. Putting your life at risk for “the thrill of the ride” isn’t something to be taken lightly. Anyone looking to ride bigger waves should be at least an advanced-intermediate level. Focus on surfing point breaks (rather than beach breaks) and team up with like-minded surfers to share your experiences with. Always remember that safety is of the utmost importance when riding big waves.