Greener Harpoon Gun – Yes, the One From Jaws

Imported into the US through the appropriately-named Navy Arms company, this is a Greener Martini action built into a “Light Harpoon Gun” by Webley & Scott in the UK. These were built as legitimate hunting arms, although they are far better known today for the appearance of one in the movie Jaws.

The intended use of the gun is to shoot large fish from an overhang on the bow of a fishing boat. It has an effective range of about 30 meters, and the line attached to the harpoon can handle a 300 pound load (with stronger lines available up to 1200 pound). A blank .38 Special cartridge is used to fire, and the harpoon has two large folding hooks to anchor it in a fish after striking.

The gun was shipped in a case complete with everything needed for use, including the gun, three harpoons, six lines, and two line frames. I was somewhat surprised to see that in Jaws, the gun is actually assembled and used properly, with the allowance that the line frame was not necessary. Well done, Quint!

19 Comments

    • If we were aboard an M29 class monitor, would the 6-incher main guns or the secondary QF 6-pounder suffice for killing the shark? Or would you prefer the Maxim guns chambered in .303 British?

      • Jeff Cooper once noted that as a teenager growing up on the California coast, he often used a Mauser Broomhandle in 7.63 x 25mm to kill gaffed sharks. He found that the 87-gr. FMJ had enough penetration to get to the brain of even very large ones, getting the job done with one or two rounds.

        cheers

        eon

        • I’ve read that long line fisherman usually carry a HD type shotgun on board for putting down sharks before pulling them up on the deck so they won’t injure the boat hands. It seems that is why there is a market for the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 with the mariner nickel plated finish.

  1. is the barrel rifled, or smoothbore?

    smoothbore would be my guess..it isn’t intended to fire bullets, so why go through the trouble to rifle it?

    • The harpoon slips over the exterior of the barrel in the manner of a spigot mortar. Since I managed to bend one of my original harpoons I made a couple of 1lb dummies from SS tubing with blunt brass heads to play with. The issue for me was getting a bunch of unburnt powder in the face. Very unpleasant!

      Mine had some pitting on the exterior, 3 harpoons,and two line reels,and no case. I’ve never fired it in anger but assume from the pits it spent time on a boat.

      • but was the barrel rifled on the inside? obviously it’s not obstructed and vented, so even if it wasn’t rifled you could still shoot regular .38 specials out of it. but the accuracy would be horrible.

        I was just thinking “plot device” for a writer friend of mine. you’re all out of harpoons. but you happen to have some .38 specials lying around…and the “monster” is coming down the hall…would it work?

        • The interior of the barrel is around 0.20″ or so as the exterior is 1/2″ diameter. I can dig mine out of the safe and measure if you’d like better dimensions. I’ve never tried to see if a regular 38 round would chamber but imagine you could have a really bad day if it could!

          I like your idea better though. Why not? The ability to fire an actual round might be a handy thing to have in a pinch.

  2. I never saw the movie, nor did I read the best-selling novel the movie was based on. Has anyone here read the book? Should Peter Benchley, the author, get the credit for this particular harpoon gun being used and being used correctly in the movie, or some hand from the movie studio?

    • I read the book years ago. After using my local library card to download a copy and searching for “harpoon”, it looks like in the book, Quint uses manual harpoons. (Example: “Just as Quint raised his arm to cast the iron, the fish lurched forward, thrust its tail, and darted for the bottom.”) All the references searching for “harpoon” turned up are to people holding or throwing them, not firing them.

      (There are big differences. In the book, Hooper genuinely is a privileged douchebag, Brody and his wife are rather alienated from each other, and Quint doesn’t have a tragic World War II history with sharks; he’s just a big jerk who doesn’t think anything of using an unborn dolphin as bait.)

    • The harpoon gun was strictly from the movie. As was Chief Brody’s repeatedly shooting “Bruce”, first with a .357 Colt Trooper and then an M1 Garand (the “smile, you sonof…BOOM” scene). In fact, through most of the book, Brody is a passive observer of most of the goings-on.

      In the end, he uses a harpoon buoy as a flotation support much as was shown with the float buoys of the shark cage in the film to get back to shore. The difference is that he’s alone. Hooper didn’t make it, either.

      Sharks are sort of like dragons in fantasy. Don’t annoy them, because to them, you are crunchy and taste good.

      cheers

      eon

    • AFAIK, Mk I’s were standard carbon steel with a nickel-chromium protective plating. Mk II’s like this one were initially the same but later made of stainless steel.

      cheers

      eon

  3. I don’t think it is surprising that the recoil is relatively tame. It is only using a 38 special charge, fired out of an ~8 pound rifle.

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