9 October, 2013 9 October, 2013

Gotcha Old School Handgun


SPECS: 14” Lightweight polyurethane and fibreglass, Velcro hand strap + leash
PRICE: R650 – includes free delivery anywhere in SA
CONTACT: www.surfhq.co.za / (031) 386 7568

While none of the reviewers who put this puppy through its paces claim to be bodysurfing pros, they all claimed to have had a fat jol using the handgun.

If you’re a newbie to the discipline, choosing your first handgun can be like buying your first stick – plenty of shapes around, but what will go best for you? What we learnt after a bit of sniffing around and demo driving was that the narrower, smaller guns with channels are generally for pros and punchier waves, while the slightly bigger and more forgiving handguns appear to be the way forward for newbies. Much like a surfboard, really – the wider, thicker shapes offer more stability, catch waves more easily and are easier to ‘ride’, giving non-pros the opportunity to figure out the nuances of riding on your own steam while still having bucketloads of fun.

A heaving shorebreak is as good a place as any to take your handgun for a spin.

This model appears to be a good all-round shape for the beginner to intermediate and works well in both soft or hollow waves. The wide planning surface allows you to catch relatively pap waves or lets you get in a bit earlier if you’re bobbing in a hollow shorey.

While many handguns are made from wood, the Gotcha handgun is made up of foam and glass like any regular surfboard and has the adjustable hand strap with a wrist strap so you don’t lose the thing. The foam and fibreglass layup gives it some extra flotation which again, helps if you’re a newbie. It takes a bit of getting used to swimming with a handgun strapped to your hand, but it’s not too hard once you figure it out. You definitely need a good set of fins to get the most out of your session though.

THE VERDICT: With summer sinking its teeth in, this is the perfect little backup plan to have stashed in the boot of your car for those days when the waves aren’t complying. For the more serious bodysurfer, a customised wooden model is probably going to be the better option. But for your average Joe, the Gotcha handgun is a rad way to test the waters. Besides a sure-fire way to get your stoke back on, bodysurfing also keeps you pretty fit. And if it’s a choice between gym or the shorebreak to fight off the summer spread, well that’s a no-brainer for us.



The Zag Review is an independent editorial feature on surfing hard goods, ranging the full spectrum from boards and wetsuits to tide watches and travel bags. None of the reviews are paid for by advertisers or part of an advertising deal, and we retain the right to give honest, critical feedback that is in the interest of our readers. The product is reviewed by Zag staff and everyday surfers who rip, not pros who are paid to endorse the goods. We test the gear for a minimum period of two weeks (and a month for boards) to give you comprehensive feedback for the surfing layman. We know that surfboards are not a “one size fits all solution” and different surfers prefer different aspects on a board according to how they surf, even if they are the same weight and height. In the case of surfboard reviews, we’ve made sure to seek feedback from at least three different surfers to get well-rounded input.

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  1. Lance
    10 January, 2018 at 9:01 am · Reply

    Been bodysurfing for 35 years now -couldn’t afford a stick as a kid and the discipline just stuck
    Got a few different models over the years and like to try “new” shapes easy to acquire with Internet shopping as it is ,still using my 1st Johnson Hand Gun made from polyurethane foam -injection mounded from the 70’s can’t be broken
    Living in Cape Town now and bodysurfing has become a little cool and hipsterish ,so for me at 53 years old father of 3 groms 13,12,8 year olds I’m not so skaamworthy or such an embarrassment yahoo .
    We have 2 annual bodysurf contests held at Llundudno .1 sponsored by Robbie of Vudu surf shop together with surfers contest having to surf on one of his collection of retro boards (he has over 200 in his personnel collection including Surfari ,Faith ,Larmont etc the other sponsored by Kobus of WAWA. Surfboards he shapes wooden boards and hand planes and is based in Muizenberg
    Can I order one of your hand boards? And do you have any following of our discipline in Durbs?
    Lance Cape Towns own bodysurfing dentist

  2. Johno
    5 March, 2019 at 1:11 pm · Reply

    Hey Lance… I thought I had the last remaining ‘Johnson’ on the planet still in action.
    Got mine in the late 70’s and used to surf (big) Vic Bay point with it as a kid.
    And then carried on in between learning to surf as a grom.
    Never grew tired of it and kept it intact and in good nick to this day.

    I now use it annually on summer holidays down in Devon, UK.
    Like an old friend!!

    Keep on (body) surfing!

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