You must be reading this as you are probably one of the very few and brave to conquer big waves that most riders never dare surf into. Considering that, perhaps you know right off the bat that for big wave surfing, gun surfboards are what you should ride.
More than that, if you are an expert in search of shaping up against the top dogs in the game, then you’re in the right avenue. We’re sharing a little bit more about why you should get the best gun surfboard and what to look out for before biting the bullet.
Beginners, need not be insecure. We have tons of information you will find handy as you find your way towards being an expert in catching massive overhead waves.
Top 7 Best Gun Surfboards
It may be too easy for you to jump right in, bite the bullet, and buy the gun, but before you do that, check out the best gun surfboards on our list for you to have an idea of what can serve you right when you hit those biggies.
- Golden Gun by Haydenshapes
- The Double Up by Lost
- Stretch Gun by Stretch Surfboards
- 9’ 6” Gun by Jeff Clark Board
- The Chase by Xanadu
- Semi-Gun by Stretch Surfboards
- The Archangel by Proctor Surf
#1. Golden Gun by Haydenshapes – Best Overall
- Rocker information: Medium entry rocker with slight tail lift
- Rail information: Medium rails
- Concave information: Slight single into a double for control
- Length: 6 ft 2 inches
- Tail: Rounded pin
- Construction: PE
- Fin layout: Thruster
- Customizable according to your physique
- Fuller foils on the front foot
- Medium entry rocker
Selling in over 70 countries worldwide is Haydenshapes, a company founded in 1997 by a then 15-year old Hayden Cox. Haydenshapes holds brand bases and offices in both the USA and Australia where it was founded.
Haydenshapes aims to construct and offer premium performance designs that are fun to ride and work to progress the ability of an everyday surfer. One of the modern designs and innovations they have is the Golden Gun.
Hayden Cox says he designed this shredder for bigger waves. He made it specifically fast and responsive. The fuller foil in front is intended to let you engage in powerful lines.
A great testament of how good this gun surfboard performs is how Marti Paradisis, one of the pioneers of Shipsterns Bluff rides this to catch his biggest waves. Here’s a clip where he and Golden Gun by Haydenshapes make riding big waves look so easy.
Notice how Marti’s foot is allowed to bury the forward rail line within the powerful line without the gun surfboard being overpowered and bogged down. Its medium entry rocker lets for fast paddling and speeding forward on the board.
Thanks to the tail end of the board, it creates more curve that allows control of speed and power during the crazy turns. Golden Gun by Haydenshapes is the gun surfboard you need for that swell size that gives you an elevated heart rate as you take the drop and get the epic lines.
|A rounded pintail and double concave tail gives 10/10 combo of speed and control||More expensive than most gun surfboards|
|Forward foil gives a controlled feeling|
|Ideal for waves over 4 to 6 foot|
#2. The Double Up by Lost – Best for 6 to 8 ft Waves
- Length: 5 ft 10 inches
- Tail: Pin
- Construction: PU
- Fin Set up: Five
- Less exaggerated concave
- Thicker throughout the board
Double Up by Lost is a no-joke in big wave surfing. A shallow concave board, you will be floored at how well it works. While it can glide easily, it still is fairly maneuverable.
No wonder Lost refers to it as the “domesticated big wave weapon.” Legendary ocean riders like Lewis Samuels believe Double Up’s outline was created with a relaxed entry rocker, with a generous tail for steep and hollow waves.
Lost’s Double Up concave lessens as you reach the tail making it less exaggerated. This intends for an additional essence of a slice through bumps the are rampant in taller and bigger waves. Its forward outline results in a more powerful drive and stability when you jeer in.
Steep waves in water conditions such as Mavericks are fast-moving. It helps if to have the unnecessary lift reduced as you ride. Thanks to its tapered rail and tail rocker, it does just that.
Another thing that makes Double Up by Lost exciting is your ability to have it constructed according to how you need and use it.
|More relaxed rocker than a regular gun||Hard to find|
|Aggressive tail rocker |
#3. Stretch Gun by Stretch Surfboards – Best Contemporary Gun
- Length: 8 to 10 ft
- Tail: Pin
- Construction: EPS Marko foam cores / PU gun density blanks
- Fin Set up: Four
- Wide point dead center
- Fuller outline
- Reverse vee bottom contours
Stretch Surfboards rewrote the meaning of performance quad with Stretch Gun. With Anthony Tashnick winning the prestigious Men Who Ride Mountains contest at Mavericks in 2005, both he and the gun made surfing. Anthony paddled a 9 ft 4 inches bat tail quad that has a wider tail, multiple lines and one fin too many than the rest on the field.
Tashnick’s win riding a Stretch quad gun ignited the fire in an already snowballing movement of quad fins led by Nathan Fletcher. The win had every surfer reconsider their viewpoint on what can be considered as a power quad. The buzz over the win may have led for the Surfing Magazine to announce the Stretch Surfboards as the Shaper of the Year in 2006.
A decade later, the quad movement became stronger than ever. The big waves frontier became the avenue that pushed quads to the limits even more. It was as if, Stretch Surfboards’ Stretch Gun proved to the surfing world that quads are here to stay.
Aside from proving quad’s relevance, Stretch Gun has also been the go-to sticks for professionals like Nic Lamb for charging slabs. This gun surfboard gave him the confidence to put it all on the line around the globe on the Big Wave World Tour.
Stretch Gun by Stretch Surfboards is one of the most copied designs. And, you know what they say; copying is the best compliment. It only shows it is the best amongst other gun surfboards available.
|Reverse vee bottom reduces surface friction||Not available in local stores|
|Curvy outline for versatility, confidence, and familiarity|
|Wide point and full outline for more paddling power|
#4. 9’ 6” Gun by Jeff Clark Board – Best Double Stringer Gun
- Dimensions (Stock): 9 ft 6 inches X 29 feet X 4 feet 5 inches
- Weight: 18.40 pounds
- Triple concave bottoms
- Double stringer
- Can be customized
One of the biggest names in the bay is Jeff Clark who has been shaping since 1994. In a week, his team produces 10 of the boards he specializes with; big-wave guns, tow boards, fun gun, and quad gun. He is one of the earliest names in the big waves and four-fin guns.
Jeff Clark’s gun surfboards succeed at making each clientele happy. From the first generation to what he offers now, each design seems to last forever.
His gun boards on stock are displayed with paddings and with no fins. They are beefed up with double stringers, finished with a higher performance construction. You will notice how light it is especially if you have experienced holding other gun surfboards.
The bottom shape of a Jeff Clark board can be interesting. Its triple concave with featured chines makes the bottom look like a Boston Whaler. This design helps make the board fast. It can be so fast that most have reported having almost fallen over backward at the strike of a wave.
The board may be easy to ride the rail to tail but can be a little hard to change direction. While it can respond to foot pressure, you have to push it hard in bigger surfs and more challenging conditions.
Jeff Clark doesn’t wholesale his surfboards as they are mostly customizable. People can check out his website to find out more and order at jeffclarksurfboards.com or they can visit his surf shop in Half Moon Bay.
|The triple concave bottom makes it super-fast||Too light so might need more pronounced foot pressure|
|Durable and sturdy construction|
#5. The Chase by Xanadu – Best for Easy Paddling
- Fin setup: tri-fin, quad, thruster
- Fin systems: FCS, FCS II, Futures
- Tail: Round, Swallow
- Ideal wave size: Double overhead to XXL
- Experience Level: Expert to professionals
- PU construction
- Extra thickness for more paddling power
- Rocker and template curves for big wave rides
Who would know better about surfboards than a man who has been shaping since his teenage years? Xanadu started to shape when he was 15 and at an early age of 17 had his surfboard factory founded. He operated for 5 years and then spent the next few years traveling around the globe to showcase his boards to world surfing contests.
Xanadu has been shaping in countries like Australia, Japan, Hawaii, Indonesia, South and Central America, South Pacific, and Europe. When he moved to California in 1987, he established along with his residency what is now known as Xanadu Surf Designs.
One of Xanadu’s lines introduced to big wave surfing The Chase model. Named The Chase to depict how it is designed for chasing big waves. This family of gun surfboards is intended for gun surfboards that are at least 8 ft in size and can be shaped all the way up to 11 ft.
Xanadu incorporates with The Chase a wider forward which has the main purpose of allowing for easier paddling. The extra rocker and template curves are there to keep your control in bigger waves.
The Chase is designed to accommodate professional surfers at Mavericks, Waimea, and Todos Santos. This only means, this stick is for serious riders only.
The Chase line of gun surfboards by Xanadu is highly customizable. You may order a more rounded or shallow tail depending on your style. This gives you more versatility in choice.
|Rocker and template curves for maneuverability||May be too thick for short riders|
|Can be shaped according to your preference|
|Wider forward for easy paddling|
#6. Semi-Gun by Stretch Surfboards – Best for High-Line Exits
- Size: Length: 6 ft 6 inches to 7 ft 10 inches
- Construction: Sandwich construction
- Tail: Pin, swallow, batwing
- Fin: Tri, quad
- Highly effective bottom contours
- Sleek and curvy outline
- Convertible fin cluster
Another one on the list from Stretch Surfboards, Semi-Gun is all about controlling your big wave rides. Precisely designed according to a library of applied hydrodynamic principles and a multitude of disciplines, it boils down to achieve having control.
Stretch Surfboards wants you to have a board that will let you chase down a bomb size of a wave. As hard and as steep as you think about driving that big wave, Stretch’s Semi-gun tries to keep it simple but brutal.
Running a mild single concave of a reverse may look like it lacks complexity. Don’t get fooled. These contours let you paddle into heavier water conditions with sleek control and controllable speed.
The curvy outlines allow control in steep and dominant surf while letting the adaptable fin cluster to have optimum variability to work, whether it is quad or tri-fin. These along with the increased rocker and a race-y foil through the tail, this gun surfboard increases wave energy into confidence and forceful ride.
|Single concave is effective for power paddling into big waves||Scored low in terms of maneuverability from Surf Science|
|Extremely controllable in steep and powerful surf|
#7. The Archangel by Proctor Surf – Best for Advanced Big Wave Riders
- Dimensions: Can be customized in the production options area
- Tail: Round pin
- Construction: Proxy epoxy
- Fins: Customizable
- The more relaxed entry rocker
- Fuller nose outline
- Volume forward under the chest
Proctor Surfboards has been in the business actively spitting out superior custom surfboards since 1993. Its founder, Todd Proctor – the shaper who dreams to make the best possible board for every surfer believes that his boards can only be best if they answer what the surfers need.
The Archangel by Proctor Surf is considered a beast that rose from the depths of the ocean. It is just how Todd Proctor envisioned it to be. The goal was to craft a gun surfboard that will withstand the incredible power of the waters that surfers can bask in their moments of glory.
This gun surfboard has all of our gun elements combined. From a traditional vee to flat panel vee bottom together with a relaxed entry rocker, it gives a gun surfboard that takes on power speed and controllability. Its fuller nose has proven to be ideal for early gliding in too.
Bring on possible beatings of the unforgiving ocean, The Arcanghel will respond to it like how its namesake would in a bad situation. The 6oz glass combined with the thick stringer can beat the harshness even of the biggest waves.
No doubt, The Arcanghel by Proctor Surf is the perfect board for advanced riders. Find out more about this angel in the waves by visiting their website.
|Equipped with Futures Fins 5 fin convertible option||Poor customer service|
|Glassed with 6 oz and thick stringer |
|Glides easily but with control|
What Is A Gun Surfboard?
Made for big waves and water conditions that very few surfers would dare go to, gun surfboards are boards with lengths of 7 to 12 ft (210 to 370 cm). Their thin, almost needle-like profile with single, quad, or thruster fin set up has the appearance of a shortboard but at a longboard’s size.
Such sticks can be often spotted ridden by experts around locations like Waimea Bay, Jaws, and Mavericks.
Gun surfboard’s design intends extra thickness on the shortboard to avoid it from wobbling and to keep the momentum going. Added weight puts on the advantage here. They have a narrow nose and tail to let the rails be in full contact with the waves.
The rounded pintail is the most notable feature of a gun surfboard. It lets surfers dig deep into the largest of waves to allow for high-speed turns.
Shapers have been experimenting with fins to make sure that the surfboard this length does not get too unwieldy and clumsy. The trend for gun surfboards these days is quad setups. This was introduced to big wave surfboards back in 2005 by William Riedel, and his equipment was instantly recognized when it won an event at Mavericks.
Gun surfboards with four-fin set up were faster, dragged lesser than thruster, and provided an extra fin when the gun is put on a rail on a big bottom turn through a conceivably airborne take-off.
The unique characteristics of big waves are what gun surfboards are made specifically for. Riding such biggies will need you to get all the help you need because one simple mistake will cause some heavy consequence.
Often you will see big wave drop-ins where the stick is almost completely vertical with the surfer hanging on as he races down the face of the wave. The most important thing about the drop-in is being able to focus on getting back the control in navigating the wave and handling any chops.
Gun surfboards are best used for paddle-in big wave surfing. It is not recommended for other use. Its glory comes from paddling, moving your arms, and getting your hands wet.
Pros and Cons of Gun Surfboards
|✔||Lines in steeper and bigger waves are powered down by pintails||?||Pintails are not the very best in making sharp turns|
|✔||No doubt can work well for big wave surfing||?||Not good for anything but bigger waves|
|✔||Handles chops very well||?||Duck dive-ons can be a challenge|
|✔||Doesn’t snap as easily on wipeouts||?||The size makes it difficult to bring along|
Our Top Pick
The search for the best gun surfboard was challenging than most of the reviews we have made. While there are a handful of gun surfboards in the market, the challenge came in as not many surfers use them. The idea that they are for big and daunting waves must be the reason.
Therefore, the award goes to the most talked-about gun surfboard from the relatively small community of big wave riders. Haydenshapes shaped Golden Gun precisely to promote drive than can help the rider get control in the biggest and harshest water conditions.
Golden Gun wouldn’t be called Golden for nothing. It is well crafted, refined, and powerful. Haydenshapes Golden Gun has established its reputation in big waves surfing that even wave legends swear by this board.
The Science in Riding a Gun Surfboard
If you are one brave soul and you think you can defy just about anything, get yourself a gun surfboard. But, be sure it is not just some sizable stick enough to carry you across the waves.
Gun surfboards are narrower than most. The reason behind it is because the big waves are faster than smaller ones and that they have a lot more power so you must have less surface area on the board. Wider boards on big waves can still get you the speed but you will skip out of the way and will not be able to put that rail into the wave.
That is the main purpose of gun surfboards. They are showcased in longer and narrower boards to get you a longer rail line. This is so when you drop into the wave, it will be easy for you to create that long turn and get out.
At first sight, the narrow nose of a gun tells you that it has curves coming down into the wide point that goes down into a round pin tail.
This feature is in charge of giving you the control you need in bigger surfs. As you paddle into the big waves, you will go at an average of 20 to 30 miles an hour. You must catch up with these waves and drop down over the rise into the wave. Powerful paddling comes into play because you will want to get into the bigger waver earlier and quicker.
Getting your rail line means you have successfully dropped down into the wave. A gun surfboard’s rail line is long and is designed such that when you set your edge on it, it starts to take off instantly down the line.
The bottom contour of the gun goes from a single concave to a v-panel. This panel is not just for aesthetics. The v-panel lets the board sit down into the wave.
Gun surfboards create the feeds adrenalin to the surfer junkie in you. The features it showcase are what you need to slay that ride.
Be careful in riding gun surfboards on smaller waves, though. While they can still catch up with the mushy ones, it can be a tad bit hustle turning on them.
Factors to Consider in Getting A Gun Surfboard
Taking on waves taller than a bungalow should have you prepared with a surfboard that can keep up with it. Surfboards other than guns, when taken into big waves like Mavericks will make even the best look like a joke.
The biggest performance element in riding big waves is paddling. Good paddling gets you into the wave earlier, takes you off when and where you want to take off, and take out the back as fast as you can. Most gun surfboards are customizable and it helps to have your shaper know your height and weight so they can design a gun surfboard that you can paddle well with.
Big waves are more fun to ride when you can draw a higher and faster line. These allow for an easier performance. Quads make them possible. While most say there are stability issues with quad setup, it has time and time and again been proven wrong.
Plus, you can always alter the rocker to get the stability and drive you can find similar to thrusters.
Gun surfboards are your only defense against the monstrous heights of waves. It is what you trust your ride and your life with as you beat the beasts. Therefore, it is just fair that you know the shaper who will make your gun for you.
There are many skilled shapers out there. Some can do perfectly even when they don’t meet with the riders. But, it is always best to go with an experienced and reputable maker. Especially when the waves you will be crashing in are 18 ft and so with stakes so high.
Some websites may offer slightly used gun surfboards. While we’re not against it, we suggest going straight to the source. If it is possible, think of a pro surfer with a body type similar to yours, figure out what he rides and get in touch with the shaper to see if he has any trade-ins.
That’s a whole lot sounder than getting that junk from an online ad.
Big waves instill high doses of anxiety, fear, lack of confidence, and cold veins into the veins of even the most professional surfers. They have the reputation of being deadly and not a lot are willing to risk to get the drop of their lives.
So, you shouldn’t dive in even just like that. Even when you have the best gun surfboard there is, if you lack confidence and you have hesitations, big waves rides aren’t just for you.
But if you truly insist on getting that long-lasting memory on those hollow and heavy barrels as you escape the big waves’ guillotine, always have your guards and best gun surfboards on.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Why are gun surfboards equipped with pintails?
A: Narrowness of the board helps provide control in the face of a wave. They become easily identifiable as they have a smaller surface area than most tails and curves. The small surface area results in a reduced lift that happens on typical boards. This allows the rider to point their board and cut deep into the wave. Cutting is necessary so the board doesn’t wobble around as it cuts down a massive monster wave. Pintails are mostly found on guns as they possess unique qualities ideal for expert wave catchers.
Q: Why can’t I just use the board I have in massive waves?
A: Gigantic waves break way faster than smaller ones. The speed needed on takeoffs will not allow for a shorter board to paddle fast enough to catch the wave and allow for a manageable takeoff. Gun surfboards are designed in a way that the rider can paddle faster, handle the speed on takeoff, and more importantly, control and stability as they enter the wave. Wider boards will skip out as they can’t hold a line in the same way narrow boards can. Riding big waves is 95% about “the drop” and negotiating a long, drawn-out bottom turn. Therefore the stick you must ride should be able to have you plenty of speed for take-off and control as you set your rail and keep your line without any quick movements and changes in direction.