The American notch (or square notch) and European notch are two of the most common shafts available in the market. If you’re planning to buy a speargun, you need to get the proper spear length. To do this, you must first know which type of shaft your gun accepts, whether it is American or European shaft. As both notches are built for a specific trigger mechanism, it’s important to know the difference between the two.
An American notch has the square cut into the rear of the spear. American notch shafts are generally either five sixteenths or eight millimetre plus in diameter. If the shaft goes thinner than this diameter, they form a bit of weakness at certain angles, and if they're ever dropped or mishandled out of the water, it may snap off there and be damaged.
American spears have a higher load rating. They usually hold between 70 and 80 kilos more load compared to their European spear counterparts. This type of shaft is ideal for blue water canyons for pelagic species like dogtooth, marlin, wahoo, and more. This is because you're using multiple bands on it so you're going to be holding much more load compared to a Euro spear.
European notches, on the other hand, have a semicircle cut into the rear of it, they'll also have a longer flattened top to it. The reason for the Euro notch’s curved cut is that they were originally designed to be a much more universal spear, so it didn't matter what type of mechanism it was, it would fit through. It also allows for rigging to be done through the back typically, because it has more room in the entrance compared to American notch. European notches typically come in different styles of material—stainless steel, high carbon steel, or a spring steel spear, which can be used on any Euro gun.
The most important thing to check out before you choose what spear you're using is what tang you have in your spear, that will steer you in the right direction of what spear you're going for.
If you have an American Notch, generally you’ll be using stainless steel, and if you have a Euro gun, then typically you're going to be able to have the choice between high carbon steel or stainless steels.
In summary, the easiest way to determine what spear you need when replacing your spear is to look at the rear of the spear, have a look at the tang that's cut into the rear. If it's a semicircle, you have a European Notch, if it's a square notch, you have an American Notch spear. Remember, don’t use an American notch on a European trigger mechanism, or the other way around.
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