Gun Surfboard Guide

You should know right off the bat that gun surfboards are made for big wave surfing.

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If you’re a beginner, you probably shouldn’t even be considering a gun surfboard until you’ve gained experience in catching massive overhead waves.

If you are an expert and have the guts of some of the top dogs in the game, we’re here to tell you a little bit more about why you should get a gun surfboard and what brands are making the best.

Before you bite the bullet and buy a gun for yourself, check out our favorites!

Before you go shooting into the waves, let’s make sure you understand the power of a gun.

Usually, a gun surfboard will be anywhere from 6ft to 10ft long, be thicker than a regular shortboard, and be narrow or sharp at both ends to increase rail-to-rail contact.

The most notable feature on a gun surfboard is that rounded pin tail. These allow you to dig deep into large waves so you can initiate high-speed turns.

So yea, those are the basics of gun surfboards.

We’ll get deeper into the weeds as we go through some of the top gun surfboards out there.


Our Top 5 Picks

Our #1 Pick - Haydenshapes Golden Gun

Haydenshapes Golden Gun

While the Hypto Krypto is easily one of the most popular boards in the Haydenshapes lineup, it’s about time that we start to bring our focus to the incredibly well crafted Golden Gun. So why is this board great for big wave surfers? For starters, the forward foil design helps to promote drive that can be easily controlled in bigger conditions.

A regular foil would be overpowered if driven to deep with the foot, while the fuller foil can dig the forward rail into the wave for a consequence-less and powerful line. There are many Hawaiian big wave legends surfing 6-12ft waves that swear by this board. Haydenshapes even suggests that that range is where the board shines.

The refined tail with added curve was a smart move from Cox, as it allows the surfer to better control speed and power during crazy turns. Even more important is the medium entry rocker. Surfers can now paddle faster and keep up with big waves that are moving faster than on the average day. If you’re all about taking the drop and getting in those epic lines, definitely check out the Golden Gun.


#2 - The Double Up by Lost

The Double Up by Lost

The Double Up is a shallow concave board for no-joke big wave surfing. Lost pegs it as a “domesticated big wave weapon”. From the mind of Lewis Samuels, legendary Ocean Beach big wave surfer, the outline was made with a relaxed entry rocker and generous tail rocker for steep and hollow waves.

This board features a less exaggerated concave that lessens as you reach the tail. That design adds the essence of slice through bumps that are prevalent in taller waves. The forward outline makes for a more powerful drive and stability when you dig in.

The tapered rail and tail rocker diminishes unneeded lift in steep waves that are already moving fast. This board is so exciting because it is not a typical board that you’ll catch in lineups. If you have the cash and the guts to charge serious surf, you may want to call up Lost for a custom order.


​​​#3 - The MG by Channel Islands

The MG by Channel Islands

There is no question that Al Merrick is one of the most legendary surfboard designers out there. He has completely revolutionized high performance surfing.

The 7’3” to 8’4” Channel Islands MG is a longer board that was definitely developed for bigger waves. The flatter deck allows for easier paddling in harsher conditions. We really dig the flat rocker in the center that flows out to a flat panel vee as you reach the back of the board.

The MG thickness is carried out to the rails before being tucked to help in digging in to steep waves. If you are really looking to go big, and we mean triple overhead waves, the MG is the gun for you.


#4 - The Chase by Xanadu

The Chase by Xanadu

From the mad men over at Xanadu, The Chase incorporates a wider forward on their boards that range anywhere from 8ft to 11ft. The main purpose of the this design is to allow for easier paddling.

The added rocker and template curves are made to keep control in bigger waves. These boards were made to accommodate surfers at Mavericks, Waimea, and Todos Santos, so you know they are serious.

You can custom order with a more rounded or shallow tail depending on your style, which gives the board a bit more versatility in choice. We would definitely recommend a shallow tail for a more classic gun feel.


#5 - The Archangel by Proctor Surf

The Archangel by Proctor Surf

Not too long ago, a beast rose from the depths of the ocean. It’s origin you ask? The answer is the almighty shapers over at Proctor surfboards. The goal for them was to create a surfboard that could withstand the incredible power of the ocean so that surfers could bask in their moments of glory.

With some of our favorite gun elements combined, a traditional vee to flat to panel vee bottom combined with a relaxed entry rocker, this board resulted in one that takes on power with glide and predictability. With a fuller nose outline, it has proven to be a great board for early glide in as well. 

The 6oz glass and thick stringer respond to pretty much any beating the ocean can give it. There is no doubt that this is an advanced board for advanced surfers.


PROS

  • Pin tails help to power down the line in steeper, bigger waves
  • Hands down the best boards for big wave surfing
  • They handle chop very well
  • Strong finishes so they don’t snap as easily on wipeouts

​CONS

  • Pin tails are not the best in terms of making sharp turns
  • Not really good for riding anything but bigger waves
  • Hard to duck dive on
  • Difficult to travel with because of size



Frequently Asked Questions

Why are pintails good for riding bigger waves?

Pintails are super narrow which helps in providing control, as well as hold on the face of a wave. They are easily recognizable as they have a smaller surface area than most tails and a curve at the end. Because of the small surface area, they don’t lift as much as typical boards, allowing a surfer to point their board and cut deep into a wave. This cutting is great because a board won’t wobble around when cutting down a massive 25ft monster out at Mavericks. You’ll pretty much only find pintails on guns, as they possess a unique quality for expert wave catching.


So gun surfboards are pretty long. Does that mean they’re the same as longboards? 

For starters, the length is only a miniscule piece of what makes a gun a gun. The incredible length is only necessary when waves are really big and really fast and you need to paddle quick enough to keep up. Longboards are pretty much always 8ft and up. They’re wider and thicker all around, and usually come with a single or 5 fin setup. The shapes and outlines can vary greatly on a longboard where a gun stays pretty much the same because of the necessary factors.


How can I prepare myself to start surfing big waves?

You can never be too prepared for anything in life. Coming into contact with a big wave for your first time can be terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. There are a couple steps you can take to get there. First, though it might seem glaringly obvious, start surfing as much as possible. Not only will you get better at surfing but your levels of endurance and comfort will increase with every run. Secondly, once you feel ready, make sure you have the right equipment. Whether or not that is a gun surfboard, you’ll need a board that you can paddle faster and position yourself with better on a large wave. Having a board with more foam, or a board with more volume in general, should do the trick. Thirdly, try to surf point breaks if you can. They can have the same characteristics as beach breaks in a swell, though are a little more predictable. The extra safety net of knowing you can paddle out easily is helpful in practicing for the unknown.


I’m scared of losing my breath if I wipeout on a big wave. What can I do?

Though there aren’t any conclusive studies to completely support it, many of the world’s top swimmers and swimming coaches swear by hypoxic breathing. Religiously practicing this can calm someone’s urge to breathe when they are feeling out of breath. Many surfers get pummeled by constant waves and end up underwater for a long time without much room to take a breath. The last thing you want to do in a situation like that is take a breath full of water. We’re not going to explain the routine here, but definitely do some searching on the web for hypoxic breathing techniques. It will change your life.