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Thread: Looking for line launcher/harpoon launcher technology

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Default Looking for line launcher/harpoon launcher technology

    I don't want to reinvent the wheel a I know there are 12gauge nautical line launchers and harpoon launchers commercially available. I am only asking for information how one could use a 12 gauge shotgun to launch a harpoon a short distance as a DIY project. Any information would be appreciated. I am trying to help some local hunters increase the recovery rate of animals shot in the water.

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    The ship I was on used what I thought was a single shot shotgun to launch lines. It looked just like the BRIDGER LINE THROWING GUN and may have been for all I know. That one is a 45/70.

    I've seen pics of other ships using the M14 to launch lines. We had M14s but only used the single shot. Back in the day we shot a lot of lines to start the ammo passing at sea. The old ship was sunk for target practice many years ago.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Mossberg used to make a line throwing kit for the 500 and 590 shotguns.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Unless your talking whales a line launcher won't be accurate enough. A hand thrown hook like use by the native folk in the old days works best.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-XP30aG8bE

    Around two minuets in
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    How about a bow? Been out on airboats in LA poking flat fish on the bottom with them. if you are talking dead sea mamels after the rifle shot I think outfitted with heavy test line it should be just the ticket.
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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Great video Amigo. Loved watching it.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Big casting rod with a weighted treble... throw it over and drag it back across- kinda like the hunter in the film did.

    Poor man's retriever dog on ducks....
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies guys. All good suggestions. That is a good video Amigo; I have seen it before and that is still a popular method for retrieval.

    We are now also experimenting with a bow. These hunters never had any experience with bows and arrows because they did not have any material suitable for hunting bows. The first bow in the area is one I carried over a few years ago and used to shoot (and retrieve) a seal. I left that bow with them and they are now gearing up to see if they can use it this summer. The animal in question is Narwhal and it is traditionally hunted with a harpoon that is hand thrown from a kayak. The range of their hand thrown harpoons is only five to ten meters and it is difficult to get that close and have a successful hit. A bow might extend that range to 25 meters, or so, and a bow can be shot from their bigger boats.

    I had a wild idea that a combination rifle (.30-06/.12 gauge) could be used for both killing/wounding and harpoon launching for retrieval. Ergo, my quest to find technical information regarding using shotgun for harpoon launch.

    There is a short video clip on Youtube from the TV program "sons of guns" showing one of the cast members firing a harpoon from a shotgun. A telephone call to the gun shop resulted in a polite refusal to sell me their proprietary information on the conversion. Nor were they willing to sell me a harpoon shell (that I could have used for reverse engineering).

    I am thinking that the solution will be quite simple. For example, if I acquire standard shotgun shells and dump the bird shot, I could use a fishing arrow to create a harpoon of the same weight as the birdshot load. If I milled the base of the harpoon to .72 calibre it should fit the casing and should obturate the barrel when fired and should easily be launched. The normal wadding in the shell that is behind the shot should also propel the harpoon forward. A way would also have to be found to align the forward part of the harpoon with the shotgun barrel, but that is a minor detail. Two hundred pound fishing line was used by Art Laha (in his video "No Land for the Timid) to haul a grown walrus to the surface so that should also work for a Narwhal.

    Come on guys, we are collectively a smart bunch of people on this site. Work with me on this problem. There is a high probability that I will be allowed to tag along on a hunt and may even have a chance to shoot one with my bow. If that works out, they may realize that there could be opportunity to sell a limited number of hunting chances to other white people. This is all pure speculation at this point but it is looking like it may work out for me next year.

    Thanks, and I look forward to more discussion and suggestions.

    Dan

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    A friend of mine posted a photo of a harpoon gun with an explosive shell from Nome....think it was sold at NAPA? (WTH?!?) Basically it was used in whaling there. I'm not sure if it was used with a retrieval line or if it simply killed the whale. It looked like a giant single shot shotgun... I was impressed.

    The only bad thing about just emptying the shot from a shot shell is that the powder used in shotguns is pretty fast burning and you could get some weird pressure spikes in the barrel...that could be bad.

    If you need to launch a harpoon- quite a bit heavier than an arrow with a retrieval line I'd probably start looking at something that used compressed air if you have room for it on the skiff. Probably much easier to engineer and experiment with safely than gunpowder...and likely give you a better results.

    How far are you looking to shoot a harpoon? 25m...50m?

    I saw a compressed air launcher something like 20 years ago called the "Airrow Gun" with a range of 100yards...probably long gone but you might find some ideas from leftover information. Don't underestimate compressed air- some guys back east shoot pumpkins a mile with it.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    I don't think the law allows you to tag along and participate in the actual hunt. So be careful. I was lucky enough to participate in a hunt when I was a bush teacher in one village. The elders invited me. To turn them down might of been an insult so I went with them well knowing the law.

    I know where you are going with this. I think I'd buy a New England Firearms 12 gauge to start., imp cyl. If you blow it up, not so much money out of the pocket.

    Zebco used to make a closed faced reel for bow fishing. a couple of hose clamps to the barrel would secure it. I think a fiberglass fishing arrow, maybe cut shorter could work. Now to get it out the barrel and to seal it in the bore. You might have to experiment here. A FOB, ( plastic thing that slips over the arrow to replace standard fletchings) might help with stability.

    I am thinking a round piece of foam that compresses a little, one on the tail end and one up at the muzzle. Marshmallow sized. Like Nerf bullets but a higher density.

    I'd start with a light load. like a trap round with nothing in it except enough wad to keep the powder in place.

    I would also clamp this thing in a vice and use a 50 piece of cord to pull the trigger. :-)

    I saw kids up in Elim use electrical tape wrapped around shotgun wads to make a slug. They used them on moose and brown bears. :-O

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Here ya go. Looks like a 357mag H&R shooting blanks and some say 5/8's tubing for over the barrel and you are on your way.

    http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Greener_Light_Harpoon_Gun
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Back when I was active duty Navy we had two types of line throwing guns on my frigate ( USS VALDEZ FF-1096 ) . One was a H&R break action smooth bore 45-70 which threw a long stainless metal shaft attached to the line spool. The other was an M-14 with a can type deal welded onto a grenade launcher mount. That one used a blank grenade launching cartridge and a black rubber bullet looking projectile which fit into the can. The line spool was then attached to the rubber projectile.

    Neither where very accurate. Although my Master Chief once took out a tuba player who was playing in a band on the helo flight deck of another frigate. That was at about 75 yards. I lost $5 on that shot.

    A bow or cross bow would be a better way to go with a finned projectile.
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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    This is the kind of discussion I was hoping to generate. Thanks to all who have replied.

    Hunting of marine mammals is covered by international law and many methods of whaling have been outlawed, including the use of exploding harpoons, which is a darn shame since it was a good way to ensure a humane death. It was probably best that those things were outlawed since they were so abused by white men who would have happily hunted whales to extinction. It is unfortunate that native subsistence hunters got caught in that same trap - but I could go down a path that could derail this discussion at hand...

    Dave, my hunts will take place in Greenland. Before I was allowed to hunt seals with them, they checked the legalities with authorities and it appears that the same legalities will apply for me to participate in hunting Narwhal. Good suggesting for using foam, and I appreciate the advice regarding safety.

    Hodgeman, I did think about compressed air and have been looking for a compressed air rifle but am not sure about the practicality of putting a compressor on a boat.

    Amigo, I saw that harpoon gun in my initial searches. I would buy that one in a heartbeat, but it does not appear to be for sale. I am very concerned about blowback to the shooter if one puts a tube over the barrel, but that merits further consideration.

    Long range accuracy is not a concern since shots would most likely be under 30 meters. That seems to be the comfort range of most critters. That is barely within bow range considering a heavy non-spin-stabilized fishing arrow trailing a line.

    Float, I agree that a crossbow may be a good choice since that can be fired from a kayak more easily than a bow. I may ship a crossbow over to them but I am currently single-mindedly pursing the idea of getting a combination gun and using the smooth bore shotgun barrel to fire a harpoon and the rifle for the killing.

    Narwhal is highly prized and highly sought after. The meat, when it is available, is very expensive in the local villages and the successful hunters are highly respected. It has been this way for thousands of years and the Narwhal population is thriving. Increasing their success rate will only result in the killing of a few dozen animals each year.

    Let's keep this going.

    Dan

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Well… I am a bit hesitant and slightly embarrassed to mention this, but since it is for a good cause and may save you from some… “unpleasantness” I will go ahead.

    I have firsthand knowledge of the effects of dumping the shot from a .410 3” shot shell and inserting a full length wooden target arrow in it’s place. Serious arrow shaft damage was often observed, but not always. However in EVERY instance, accuracy was exceedingly poor. I personally believe that the shock effect associated with the arrow shaft being placed directly (or with a shot buffer) onto the powder charge was too much for the shaft to withstand. I have often assumed this to be the reason that most commercial harpoon launchers are constructed similar to the Greener Gun that Amigo Will posted about. In that version, you have a much larger column (or volume if you prefer) of air and gas to act as a shock dampener upon the piston (the harpoon) and propel it off of the end of the barrel without undue stress or shock. I also suspect that the larger diameter and slightly flared end of the harpoon tube provided a certain amount of aerodynamic stability aiding in accuracy. I do not think that gas blow back will be a significant issue, but could not say for certain.

    If it was me, I would look for some Chromalloy tubing with an inside diameter large enough to fit over a .410 barrel. Weld whatever point you want on the end, and flare the open end just a bit to help facilitate loading onto the barrel and add some stability, and then try it remotely (long string tied to the trigger) with the .410 sandbagged and pointed in a safe direction at a target, and loaded with field load that had the shot removed and replaced with wadded newspaper.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Oh yeah… under no circumstances would I try it with a 12 gauge. .410’s generally have proportionally thicker chamber and barrel than a shotgun of larger gauge. And assuming that the Greener Gun actually worked (and I have no reason to doubt that it did) with a 38 special blank, that should give us some indication of the powder charges required to do the job.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    I think I'd be loading with 2F Black powder rather than a fast shotgun powder and if you use an H&R, I would use one in 45/70 as it's much stronger than the shot gun action. I would think you could get acceptable accuracy to 25/30 meters.

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    Build a launcher large enough diameter barrel for a pool noodle to fit snuggly in and insert a bow fishing arrow inside it. You are basically building a potato gun use either a compressed air tank and a check valve or flammable fluid and a gas grill igniter for a trigger. If the guys on YouTube can sling a potato or Apple a couple hundred yards using pvc pipe and hairspray you should be able to send a bow fishing arrow or harpoon with enough force to hit the vitals of a nearly stationary animal. We built a few tater guns back in the day and the compressed air with a valve are far safer and more accurate. A 3'x3' target at 50 yd or so isn't bad for some punk kids some adults with better resources should be able to get it done. We used an air tank that held 5gal of compressed air just like one you'd throw in the truck for trailor tires just in case you had a low one. I'm talking less than $100 in our entire set up I think that'd be the way to go for you guys.

    Check out performance cannons YouTube channel they're doing all sorts of crazy cool stuff that will get your creative juices flowing. Keep us updated message me I'll try and draw something up to show you my idea I'm out in the sticks with limited service right now.

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    My thanks to all who have contributed. I think I am on my way to creating something that will work. Bear in mind that it has to be a DIY thing that can be duplicated and maintained in remote villages using materials, weapons, and ammunition that is readily available.

    I was following Amigo's suggestion when I came across a Greener harpoon gun that was for sale http://www.armslist.com/posts/289128...el-harpoon-gun The $3,200 price is a bit more than I am willing to pay but the photo and drawing give enough information for reverse engineering and I think I can make one.

    I want to finally state that I am not out to change a hunting style that has been practiced for thousands of years. I am only working with one hunter and a couple of his friends. This hunter was intrigued by my use of bow and arrow and he invited me to try it for seals. I gave him that bow and he now thinks he might want to try using it for Narwhal. The wild idea of re-creating the harpoon gun was mine.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    Hodgeman, I did think about compressed air and have been looking for a compressed air rifle but am not sure about the practicality of putting a compressor on a boat.
    Depending on the resources available you could use a high pressure tank...something like a SCUBA tank to hold enough air for a couple of shots. Even a (fairly) generic nitrogen tank would do with the right regulator.

    I'm pretty intrigued by the Greener harpoon gun that Amigo posted. On of those built of an H&R using blanks would be pretty cool.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    If I was serious about this, I would start with an H&R in 45/70 and load some cases with about 15/20grs of 2F black powder or pyrodex. Make some hard wood or good plastic plugs about .450dia and 3/4 inch long. Load powder and put a plug on top sealed with a bit of wax. Make harpoons from 7/16 aluminum rod long enough to sit on the cartridge plug and clear the muzzle by an inch or two. Also make sure there is a way to keep the harpoon snug against the plug. If it moves away from the powder plug before ignition things can get ugly. You are going to want to make a collar that slides on the shaft and is just behind the head of the harpoon to tie your line to. Thread the back of the harpoon to put another collar on that will keep the line collar from coming off the back when fired. Test with different loads to see what will make a good load for the distances you want. I'm thinking 15/20 grs will probably be enough. The 45/70 cases can be reloaded with a couple of punches, powder, primers, plugs and wax. I would stay away from smokeless powder unless you can find a load for something very similar in harpoon weight. I would also test a proof load of about 40/45grs of Black powder before even shooting a 20gr load anywhere near my head. I don't know quite what to use for a line spool but a bigger spool will work better than smaller and make sure the line flows off smoothly.

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