Gear Review: Apex Tactical 5.56 Compensator

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I have yet to find something from Apex Tactical that I don’t like. I’ve reviewed their trigger kits for the SD9 and the Shield and loved them. They have my M&P right now for a little bit of machining, too. So it truly delighted and surprised me when Scott Folk at Apex emailed me about a yet-to-be-released compensator for the AR 15. This is the first time I’ve gotten a crack at a pre-release product (I’ll unpuff my chest at some point). And  Apex is traditionally known as a pistol shop, so this is a new direction for them . . .

If you are scratching your head about what a compensator does, our man Nick did a wonderful writeup on the topic. He mentioned a factor that can make or break even the best comps — go too large and you’re shooting in the open division. Guys like me get slaughtered in places like that.

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The other vitally important factor for consideration is recoil and muzzle rise management. Simply put, the Apex Compensator excels in all categories.

Installation couldn’t have been easier. I removed my A2 flash hider, and installed the Apex Comp. As you can see in the picture, there is a small hole that needs to be indexed vertically (or slightly offset if you have a tendency to push one way or another). Due to the indexing issue, you’ll need a set of shims to get things aligned just right. Luckily, production versions will include a set of shims. I wasn’t so lucky, but early access still has perks.

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While Scott and crew had designed and tested this compensator around the carbine length gas system of a 16″ AR, I tested it on my 20″ rifle length gas system. My test AR is also quite the little pig, tipping the scales at nearly 10 pounds unloaded. As such, recoil is fairly nonexistent, but muzzle rise can be an issue unless I use a “driving the gun” Chris Costa grip. My gun is a touch ass-heavy and that means I get muzzle flip unless I hold on very tightly.

Not so with the Apex Compensator. I was making offhand shots at 100 yards and never lost my sight picture. It was simply incredible. Double taps and triple taps were accomplished with ease.

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Some folks have found that the installation of a compensator can change their point of impact. Nick and I didn’t find this to be the case at all. And speaking of our illustrious testing and reviews editor, who’s tested more compensators than I have, he pronounced the Apex comp “the best compensator that doesn’t need a tax stamp.”

But is it loud? You bet you sweet tookus. Well not so much for the shooter. No, you’ll be fine. But your neighbors at the range will positively hate you. So if you’re planning on taking a class or shooting next to a lot of people, please be kind and save the compensator for times when rapid follow up shots mean the difference between first and second place.


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Specifications: Apex Tactical 5.56 Compensator

  • Length: 2.6″
  • Weight: 3.5 oz
  • Thread Pitch: 1/2 x 28 (standard)
  • Caliber: .223/5.56
  • Availability: March 2013
  • Price: Square profile – $70 Round profile (tested) – $80

Form & Function * * * * *

The Apex Compensator installed easily and stayed put. The machining was free of any defects and the coating seemed to hold up well against any punishment we could dish out.  As advertised, it reduced felt recoil and muzzle rise substantially. Nick has declared it the best non NFA compensator he’s ever used.

Noise * *

Like all compensators, it’s loud. I’m only putting this category here so you don’t get yelled at by your rangemates for blasting their eardrums.

Overall Rating * * * * *

An absolutely incredible product from a top notch company. Scott and Randy have proved that Apex isn’t a one-trick pony.