I don’t know about you but I’d much rather go shooting than fishing, primarily because shooting involves guns and fishing normally doesn’t: at least it doesn’t unless you’re going big-game fishing with a Greener Harpoon Gun, in which case the fishing becomes a whole lot more interesting.
Those who’ve seen the movie Jaws are already familiar with the Greener Martini Light Harpoon Gun as it is the weapon used by Quint in his close encounter of the nasty kind. The Greener Martini Light Harpoon Gun also makes appearances in the movies Orca and Waterworld.
Famous British gun-maker W.W. Greener (Author of “The Gun and its Development“) made a number of harpoon gun designs beginning with muzzle-loading black powder types: but his small and portable Light Model harpoon gun was based on the familiar Martini action as used for the British military rifle of the time, the Martini-Henry. This enabled him to create a quite small and portable harpoon gun for taking large fish such as tuna. The standard line supplied with the gun was of 400lb breaking strain, but line up to 1,200lb breaking strain was available. So this light harpoon gun is intended for spearfishing large fish, not for “Moby Dick” Captain Ahab and the “great white whale” expeditions.
(Note: You will find the sale page for the above rifle if you click here).
The Martini action was simple, reliable, and relatively quick to reload. The Martini-Henry first entered British military service in 1871 and was to prove itself in Britain’s colonial wars, such as the Zulu wars, and was also adopted by the Ottoman Empire amongst others. Another advantage of the Martini action is that it is quite easy to strip down and maintain. This action was made in a number of versions developed from the rifle and one of these was the Greener GP shotgun.
(Note: You can find the above pictured gun for sale by Tony Morris Guns in the UK if you click here).
So for British gun-maker and designer WW Greener the plentiful and inexpensive Martini action was the obvious choice for his light harpoon gun, and the version used for the shotgun was deemed to be the best choice. The Greener Light harpoon gun was not intended to operate at high pressures: the cartridge used to propel the harpoon was a purpose loaded .38 Special blank.
We can see the Greener Light harpoon gun in action in the amateur video below with thanks to olsoneo87 on YouTube.
As you can see from the video the Greener Light harpoon gun provides a spearfishing with a bang experience and I’m sure I could get much more interested in fishing if allowed to take one of those along.
The Greener Light harpoon gun was stated to be effective at a range of up to thirty yards, at which distance it would group into an eight inch circle. So, like all spear-guns and arms designed to work in water, the range and accuracy are limited, but still practical.
The two Greener Martini light harpoon guns featured are coming up for sale by Rock Island Auction in their February 2018 sale.
You will find the sale page for the chromed model if you click here.
You will find the sale page for the blued Mark II model if you click here.
These harpoon guns look like they’d make fishing so much fun that they should still be in production. And of course once we’ve enjoyed our long day’s shoot, when the harpoon gun is safely put away, it would be time to break out the rum and cigars in proper nautical fashion. Speaking of rum, my favorite is Lemon Hart, what’s yours?
(Pictures courtesy Rock Island Auction except where otherwise marked).
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.