FH-lead

In Muzzle Brake Shootouts Part 1 and Part 2, we were primarily testing recoil reduction performance. With something like 64 brakes and comps recoil tested, it was time to move onto muzzle flash. For this shootout we were able to gather 33 different muzzle devices — mostly dedicated flash hiders but also some hybrid units — and pit them against each other for flash suppression prowess. Not only did we capture photographs of each FH in action, but with the use of a trick light meter we were able to record actual brightness measurements and scored some real, objective data. . .

EDIT: In addition to the 5.56 muzzle brake tests linked above, there is now a second 5.56 flash hiding test HERE and a .308 muzzle brake test HERE.

First, this test was made possible thanks to Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop in Spokane, WA. They were nice enough to not only loan me their entire south shooting bay with all of the lights turned off, but also loaned me a couple of the muzzle devices seen here. Sharp Shooting has dozens of flash hiders, brakes, triggers, grips, optics, and just about every other rifle part you can think of in stock along with many hundreds of firearms, NFA items, holsters, ammo, and other gear. In fact, they’re one of the largest Primary Weapons Systems dealers in the U.S. and should have every single PWS product in stock and they ship ’em free of charge.

If you appreciate all this data as much as I do, they’re happy to ship guns (to your dealer) and gear and can be reached at (509) 535-4444 or through their website or Facebook.

Flash Testing

Protocol for the test was as follows:

  • Camera was set up a couple feet to the right of the muzzle and elevated to see the top and the right side of each FH.
  • Aperture and shutter speed were locked for the entirety of the test. The shutter was open for 3.2 seconds for each FH.
  • The light meter was placed about two feet from the muzzle off at a ~45° angle to the front and slightly elevated, which should have ensured its ability to “see” brightness from the side, top, and out the muzzle of each device.
  • The light meter I purchased is capable of recording flashes as brief as 10 milliseconds. It was set on “peak hold” to hopefully record the brightest single moment for each FH.
  • Three shots of American Eagle 5.56 were fired while the camera’s shutter was open. This means every photo seen below is actually three gunshots all captured on one camera shot. Same goes for the light meter, which recorded the peak brightness moment of all three of those shots.
  • This was all fired through my go-to upper, which is an Adams Arms complete piston upper with 16″ barrel.

Thanks to the artificially-[not]lighted environment inside of Sharp Shooting’s range, the light meter read a consistent 0.25 Lux during the entirety of the testing. For reference, 0.25 Lux is apparently about how bright a 3/4-full moon makes the ground. The light meter was not “zeroed” out, so all of the Lux readings to follow “include” the ambient light level. For example, our winner turned in a result of just 0.31 Lux. With an ambient reading of 0.25, it sure didn’t add much.

With all of that said, our flash suppression winner is…drum roll please…

 

JP Enterprises’ Flash Hider!

JP-Enterprises-FH-Large

Click any of the charts, graphs, and photographs that follow to enlarge them. Click here to download the Excel doc with all of the data — Lux reading, weight, length, diameter, and price — for each FH.

FH-brightness-graph

^^^ note that bare muzzle, DoubleStar Dragon, Spike’s Tactical Dynacomp Extreme, and Troy Claymore are missing from the graph above. As you’ll see in the chart below, they were so bright that including them would have completely destroyed the scale of the graph.

FH-chart-lux

FH-chart-all-data

Flash Hiders

Listed alphabetically. All stated weights and dimensions are as measured by me. I noted obvious errors and/or complete omissions on many manufacturers’ sites so chose not to use any of their info across the board.

If you notice the action photos getting blurrier as the test goes on, well, it isn’t in your head. Looks like the blast from the gunshots progressively bumped the focus on my lens, and naturally I didn’t notice until looking at the pictures on my computer later. If there’s a FH test #2 in the cards, I suppose I’ll have to tape the focus ring down.

Bare Muzzle

FH-bare-muzzle
10,760 Lux

A2 Birdcage:

FH-A2
0.48 Lux

Fairly standard going rate for a brand new A2 Birdcage style flash hider is about $9. Of course, there’s a good chance that one came on your rifle from the factory. If hiding flash is your priority, the ol’ birdcage is always going to be the budget champion. Solid performance and you probably already, accidently own one(s).

2A Armament T3 Compensator:

FH-2A-Armament
1.12 Lux

2A12A2 2A3

Previously seen in the AR-15 Muzzle Brake Shootout #2 recoil test.

Flawless machining and an extremely consistent and nice black phosphate finish. The complex appearance of the baffle and port structure is really cool. It’s a dual baffle comp that vents more gas upwards than downwards to compensate for recoil-induced muzzle rise. 2A claims it keeps flash to a minimum compared to most brakes and comps, and now we know. It’s small, light, and works as a QD mount for some suppressors. Also available in titanium.

Material: 4140 bar stock steel
Finish: black phosphate
Length: 2.12″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.86″
Weight: 2.56 oz
MSRP: $75

Advanced Armament Corp (AAC) BLACKOUT 90T Flash Hider:

FH-AAC
0.35 Lux

DSC02671 DSC02672

I got my hands on a 90-tooth QD suppressor mount version of the BLACKOUT for this test, but if you aren’t looking to mount an AAC suppressor then the non-mount version here should offer identical flash hiding performance in a smaller, lighter, less-expensive package.

Machining and finish are top notch. Flash hiding performance is almost absolute. For the record, one of the prongs of the FH is blocking the camera’s view of what may be going on inside of the BLACKOUT. The light meter was positioned lower and forwards and would have “seen” brightness inside the BLACKOUT that the photo doesn’t show.

Material: “high strength corrosion-resistant aerospace alloy”
Finish: Nitride
Length: 2.61″ (2.125″ for non-mount version)
Diameter (at largest point): 1.145″ (~0.85 for non-mount)
Weight: 4.63 oz (~2.9 oz for non-mount)
MSRP: $119.99 ($58.99 for non-mount)

Battle Comp Enterprises Battlecomp 2.0:

FH-Battlecomp
1.41 Lux

DSC01542

Previously seen in the first AR-15 Muzzle Brake Shootout.

The Battlecomp is definitely a known quantity, so it had to be included here (even if Vuurwapen Blog hates its guts). It’s popular in part because it’s small, light, and an effective compensator. Now we know how it is as a flash suppressor. Machining is good. Black oxide finish is standard.

Material: 17-4PH heat treated stainless steel
Finish: Bead oxide
Length: 1.755″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 1.81 oz
MSRP: $165

Bravo Company USA BCMGUNFIGHTER Compensator MOD 1 – 5.56:

FH-BCM-Mod1
0.60 Lux

DSC01562

Previously seen in the first AR-15 Muzzle Brake Shootout.

Designed to reduce muzzle rise, flash, noise, concussion, and recoil. I must say that I think the design with the internal cone is pretty cool. Machining has only minor imperfections, and only if you’re looking for them, and the finish is very nice.

Material: Stainless steel
Finish: unknown (not mentioned on BCM’s website)
Length: 2.169″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.862″
Weight: 2.75 oz
MSRP: $94.95

Black Rain Ordnance 223 Flash Suppressor:

FH-BRO
0.59 Lux

DSC02679 DSC02680

It’s rare that a design with such strong aesthetic considerations also comes with solid performance, but BRO’s flash suppressor does not disappoint. Machining is crisp, sharp, and clean with no visible tool marks. Finish is even and appears to be matte parkerized.

Material: stainless steel
Finish: black
Length: 2.23″
Diameter (at largest point): 1.00″
Weight: 3.24 oz
MSRP: $139

Black River Tactical Covert Comp 5.56:

FH-Black-River
2.21 Lux

DSC01540 DSC01541

Previously seen in the first AR-15 Muzzle Brake Shootout.

Linear comps are designed to redirect all of the blast, pressure, and as much of the noise as possible forwards, away from the shooter and anyone next to him or her. Most of them attempt to reduce flash signature as well, and the Covert Comp certainly does that when compared to a bare muzzle.

Machining is top notch and the gloss Melonite finish is really nice. Covert Comps are available in fluted or smooth exterior designs and in multiple thread pitches to suit many calibers.

Material: Tungsten Enhanced Chrome-Moly Steel, through hardened
Finish: Melonite
Length: 1.95″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 2.51 oz
MSRP: $59.95

Daniel Defense Superior Suppression Device, Extended:

FH-Daniel-Defense
0.54 Lux

DSC02696 DSC02697

Machining is above average, finish is durable but not quite as perfectly even in tone and gloss level as some. A clean, yet interesting look with solid flash hiding performance.

Material: 17-4 stainless steel
Finish: salt bath nitride
Length: 2.255″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.865″
Weight: 2.89 oz
MSRP: $59

DoubleStar Dragon Flash Hider:

FH-DoubleStar-Dragon
17,900 Lux

DSC02708 DSC02710

Pretty sharp machining and an even, dark gray finish. DSC’s Dragon has teeth, eyes, and nostrils and looks like a dragon’s head from the sides or from above. Kind of cool how some of it overlaps the barrel. It isn’t quite as much of a dragon’s head as this one from the first muzzle brake test, but it dang sure spits fire like the mythical beast.

That’s lots of fun for shooting on the range, but “flash hider” certainly shouldn’t be in the product name. The extraordinarily bright fireball from this bad boy caught me by surprise and I was pretty well blinded for a minute or two afterwards haha

Material: steel
Finish: not specified (guessing phosphate or parkerized)
Length: 2.14″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.99″
Weight: 2.17 oz
MSRP: $53.99

Griffin Armament M4SD Flash Comp:

FH-Griffin-M4SD
1.36 Lux

DSC03207 DSC03208

Machining is clean with only the lightest tool marks in the muzzle flutes, and the black oxide finish is above average for consistency. The M4SD offers a look — and performance — that isn’t too flashy. It’ll return for muzzle brake test #3.

Material: 17-4PH stainless steel
Finish: black oxide
Length: 2.26″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.864″
Weight: 2.89 oz
MSRP: $99.95

JP Enterprises Flash Hider:

FH-JP
0.31 Lux

DSC02711 DSC02712FH-JP2JP-Enterprises-FH-Large

At first glance JP’s Flash Hider is a fairly standard, 3-prong job, although maybe a tad longer than the norm. Look closer and you’ll notice the serrations on the inside of each prong. Apparently they’re effective, as this was the least-flashy unit in the test, turning in a Lux result barely above ambient — and I tested it twice to be sure. The base actually overlaps the barrel by about 1/2″ for easier pinning and welding, so the length stat below slightly exaggerates the effective “installed length.”

I see no imperfections in the machining, and the finish is entirely even. It ships in a standard JP clamshell package complete with ear plugs, crush washer, pin for permanent attachment, and install instructions. The JPFH-556 is also under $60, which is below average for MSRPs in this test.

Material: steel
Finish: magnesium phosphate
Length: 3.125″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.875″
Weight: 3.75 oz
MSRP: $59.95

King Armory KA-1222A:

FH-King-Armory
5.26 Lux

DSC01568King_1222

King’s 1222A is a combination muzzle brake and flash hider that reduced recoil force by just over 46% while maintaining a clean, sleek design and light weight. Its diameter is perfect for a mil-spec barrel and can look like an integral part rather than a bolt-on. Looks like it doesn’t really disrupt the gasses jetting out of the muzzle aperture enough to stop that jet of fire, though. Of course, it’s still a massive reduction compared to a bare muzzle.

Machining and finish are great, as I happen to like the really fine and consistent tool marks that give it that “turned” look and the nitride finishes tend to be my favorite.

Material: 4140CM (also available in 416P70 stainless steel)
Finish: Nitride
Length: 2.25″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.74″
Weight: 2.11 oz
MSRP: $64.99 ($74.99 in stainless)

Knight’s Armament QDC MAMS Brake:

FH-KAC-MAMS
1.87 Lux

DSC03214 DSC03213

The MAMS Brake acts as a quick disconnect coupling (QDC) for a few of KAC’s suppressor models. At just shy of $300, it’s the most expensive, currently-produced muzzle device in this roundup. Machining and finish are good, and all of the tiny vent holes are particularly clean. Welding the muzzle cap onto the body allows for interior features that may have otherwise been impossible to machine through a 5.56-appropriate muzzle aperture. KAC claims up to a 67% reduction in felt recoil, so the MAMS will definitely return for muzzle brake test #3.

Nowhere near as bright as a bare muzzle, but the MAMS is still good for a bit of fire.

Material: steel
Finish: black
Length: 2.20″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.864″ (not including the protruding QD pin)
Weight: 2.35 oz
MSRP: $299.95

Knight’s Armament Triple Tap Flash Suppressor/Compensator:

FH-KAC-Triple-Tap
0.74 Lux

DSC03212 DSC03211

It’s no longer in production, but if it were this ~$450+ MSRP compensator would take the prize for top asking price. The “3T” was expensive in part due to being wire EDM-machined from Inconel, a name-brand “superalloy” that maintains excellent strength and corrosion resistance at extremely high temperatures. Machining is extremely good but not entirely flawless. I believe the example I borrowed is bare Inconel with no coating or other finish.

For a hybrid device, flash hiding is pretty solid. The Triple Tap will also visit us again for the next muzzle brake test.

Material: Inconel
Finish: bare
Length: 1.88″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.865″
Weight: 2.66 oz
MSRP: $450 or a bit higher (hard to lock down since it’s out of production)

Lantac Dragon:

FH-Lantac-Dragon
2.06 Lux

Lantac_Dragon1 Lantac_Dragon2

Lantac’s Dragon muzzle brake (DGN556B) was the single most-requested brake for Muzzle Brake Shootout #2. It’s insanely popular and, if for no other reason, that’s why it appears in this flash hider test as well.

Machining is great. The unique, bead blasted-like texture of the nitride finish is pretty cool. I like the feel of it, and it looks good although it does show some superficial scuffing and such. For a full-on brake, it really doesn’t have much flash or fire at all.

Material: hardened milspec steel
Finish: nitride
Length: 2.57″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.863″
Weight: 3.15 oz
MSRP: $140

Liberty Suppressors Mystic X:

FH-Mystic-No-O2
0.50 Lux

FH-Mystic-O2
2.12 Lux

Mystic-mounts

While not a flash suppressor and not even a 5.56-specific silencer (the Mystic is primarily designed for 9mm pistol rounds), I thought I’d include Liberty’s Mystic X in the test here anyway. The photo on bottom is from the first series of three rounds, where the oxygen inside of the can allowed for the combustion of unburned powder and resulted in that tongue of flame out the front. Actually, only the first round showed flash and the next two did not, so I went ahead and did another set of three shots. That series is what you see in the top photo. With no O2, there’s no flash. This is also explains “first round pop,” where the first round tends to be louder than subsequent rounds thanks to the presence of oxygen inside of the firearm muffler.

For a glimpse inside the Mystic X, what makes it different from the previous-gen Mystic, and how this 9mm pistol can can handle full-on 5.56, see this article.

Material: Titanium tube, stainless steel core
Finish: Type C High Temp Cerakote
Length: 8.0″ (without a mount)
Diameter (at largest point): 1.375″
Weight: 10.5 oz (without a mount)
MSRP: $799

Manticore Arms Eclipse Flash Hider:

FH-Manticore
0.43 Lux

DSC02698 DSC02699

Manticore’s website says, “ZERO flash. Nada. None …we and others have not found a single brand or bullet weight of ammuntion [sic] that produces any sort of flash with the Eclipse Premium Flash Hider.” Well, I managed to catch some on film (errr, digital “film”) and the light meter picked up a few Lux as well, but it darn sure wasn’t much!

The Eclipse is a solid unit with a decent black oxide finish. Machining is fine, with some little nicks or burrs along the edges of the prongs and some internal machine lines that nobody would ever care about.

Material: 8620 steel
Finish: black oxide
Length: 2.425″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.86″
Weight: 3.49 oz
MSRP: $49.95

Precision Armament AFAB-556:

FH-PA-AFAB
0.56 Lux

PA_AFAB1 PA_AFAB2 PA_AFAB3

Previously seen in Muzzle Brake Shootout #2, the new AFAB — that’s Advanced Flash Arresting Brake — takes the old design to a slightly more extreme level, with deeper grooves and a baffle pattern inside the bore. It kind of reminds me of a Graboid (not an insult).

For a hybrid compensator design that mitigates recoil as well as muzzle movement in other directions, all with a bare minimum of blast and concussion, the AFAB manages to turn in solid results as a flash hider as well. In fact, of all of the hybrid devices in this test — meaning the ones with any design consideration for reducing recoil — the AFAB was ever so slightly outperformed on flash reduction by only one unit, Precision Armament’s EFAB seen below.

Machining is as good as it gets, and the Ionbond finish is very nice.

Material: HTSR 416 stainless steel
Finish: Ionbond CrCN
Length: 2.23″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 3 oz
MSRP: $109.95

Precision Armament EFAB:

FH-PA-EFAB
0.55 Lux

PA_EFAB1 PA_EFAB2 EFAB_cutaway

Also returning after Shootout #2, PA’s EFAB, or Enhanced Flash Arresting Brake, is supposed to be the absolute pinnacle of flash hiding compensator design. Each port has a round hole in the middle that diverges outwards into the “Y” shapes visible on the outside. Looking down the bore, the appearance is that of 9 circular blast baffles. It’s certainly a joy to shoot a rifle with an EFAB (or AFAB) on it, and now that this test is complete it appears PA’s flash hiding performance claims are warranted.

Again, machining and finish are absolutely flawless. Although the EFAB is supposed to outperform the AFAB in every way, I still kind of lean towards the AFAB for my personal rifle because I like the looks a bit more and it’s $50 less expensive (the EFAB ties up a CNC machine for quite a bit more time).

Material: HTSR 416 stainless steel
Finish: Ionbond CrCN
Length: 2.43″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.9″
Weight: 3.51 oz
MSRP: $159.95

Primary Weapon Systems (PWS) FSC556:

FH-PWS-FSC556
1.47 Lux

DSC01551

With a well-deserved reputation for being an excellent all-around muzzle device, the FSC556 visits us again after its inclusion in the first Muzzle Device Shootout.

PWS’ FSC (or Flash Suppressing Compensation) series are combination devices intended to reduce recoil while also reducing flash signature. The FSC556 is factory equipment on the FN SCAR16s and some other very nice rifles, including many from PWS of course. It also acts as a QD mount for the Gemtech HALO suppressor.

Machining is great, finish is good, and this is one clear case of excellent design where a “combo” device resulted in little compromise. Recoil reduction was very good, flash suppression was decent.

Material: steel
Finish: black
Length: 2.335″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.865″
Weight: 2.35 oz
MSRP: $99.95

RISE Armament RA-713 Razor Brake:

FH-RISE-Razor
0.66 Lux

DSC02670 DSC02669

I admit, this one really took me by surprise. I figured this was a muzzle device designed to look cool but not really provide any other value, and I was expecting a healthy, bare muzzle-like fireball. Wrong. The Razor Brake is actually a pretty decent little flash suppressor. And hey, it does look cool and it’s super lightweight as well — the 2nd-lightest FH in this test, behind one made of titanium.

Machining and finish are top notch. I would have appreciated wrench flats instead of having to stick a flat-head screwdriver through one of those little slots (which actually is the recommended installation procedure), but unless you’re installing and removing dozens of muzzle devices for some internet test it’s probably not an issue.

Material: steel
Finish: black
Length: 2.063″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.752″
Weight: 1.31 oz
MSRP: $65

Seekins Precision Flash Hider:

FH-Seekins
0.40 Lux

DSC02678DSC02676

Once again we’re hit with proof that good looks and good performance aren’t mutually exclusive. Although the creative department may have been on vacation when Seekins came up with “Flash Hider” for its name (about as creative as “fireplace”), it sure does look cool. Machining and melonited finish are spot-on without an imperfection visible anywhere.

Considering the sharp aesthetic, solid performance, small size, light weight, and relatively low price point, I’d guess this is an extremely popular product.

Material: steel
Finish: melonited
Length: 2.20″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.86″
Weight: 2.39 oz
MSRP: $55

Smith Vortex Flash Eliminator / CMMG Vortex Striker Flash Hider:

FH-Vortex
0.37 Lux

DSC02700 DSC02701DSC02694DSC02695

The Smith Vortex has long been the gold standard for flash hiders, and clearly that’s for good reason. I’ve combined the standard model from Smith Enterprise as well as the modified version from CMMG here because they perform identically. CMMG’s Striker variant adds tungsten carbide striker tips for your everyday glass breaking needs. Smith also offers a handful of versions for different mounting requirements as well as some models with external ribs for your aesthetic pleasure, but functionally this sample is representative.

Machining and finish are perfectly clean and even on both. The Smith appears to be parkerized and the CMMG looks more like it’s melonited, but neither company specifies on its website.

Material: heat treated steel
Finish: black
Length: 2.323″ (without carbide tips)
Diameter (at largest point): 0.86″
Weight: 3.12 oz (without carbide tips)
MSRP: $65 for Smith version, $129.95 for CMMG version

Spike’s Tactical Dynacomp Extreme:

FH-Spikes-Dynacomp-Extreme
8,120 Lux

Spikes1 Spikes2

I like a deep black, semi-gloss melonite or nitride finish, and the Spike’s Dynacomp delivers here (they also make it in other finishes, like Nickel Boron). Machining is also near flawless and I’d say I’m generally a fan of this tons-of-tiny-ports aesthetic. Good muzzle control (it was in shootout #2), but obviously it isn’t doing much for flash or fire reduction. Although a bit more expensive, the Precision Armament AFAB does seem to provide at least as much muzzle control, more recoil reduction, and next to no flash. Still a solid choice, though, for the shooter looking for low concussion and low blast, plus muzzle control and some recoil reduction.

Material: 303 stainless steel
Finish: melonite
Length: 2.25″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.87″
Weight: 3.05 oz
MSRP: $89.95

Strike Industries J-Comp (Japan Type 89 Comp):

FH-Strike-JComp
1.44 Lux

SI_JComp1 SI_JComp2

The J-Comp is actually pretty damn awesome, so it’s back yet again after appearing in both muzzle brake recoil tests. It’s an extremely effective brake, despite exhibiting low concussion, blast, and flash, and it has a simple and classic sort of a design. Machining and finish (note that mine’s a bit beat up on the wrench flats from being installed and removed a half dozen times) are average, but the price is dirt cheap. It basically crushes the other ~60 muzzle brakes and comps in recoil reduction per dollar, and it produces far less flash than most any other brake with effective blast baffles like it has.

Material: steel
Finish: parkerized
Length: 2.44″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.86″
Weight: 2.98 oz
MSRP: $29.95

Strike Industries Venom Flash Hider:

FH-Strike-Venom
0.41 Lux

DSC02684 DSC02685

Strike Industries’ Venom is another cool looking flash hider that performs. Machining is quite nice, and the parkerizing looks good. As with most of SI’s products, the asking price is also really affordable. It’s just long enough to bring a 14.5″ barrel up to 16″, and is pre-drilled for pinning and welding.

Material: steel
Finish: parkerized
Length: 2.36″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.972″
Weight: 3.01 oz
MSRP: $44.95

Tactical Advantage Armory FH-23 Titanium Flash Hider:

FH-TAA-Ti
0.85 Lux

TAADSC03210 DSC03209

So the other titanium muzzle device I tested 9 months ago also threw off a bunch of sparks at first. It seems to be temporary and wears off after a bit of shooting, but I didn’t have enough ammo with me — this test took all 120 rounds I brought plus a handful more (the same brand) donated by Sharp Shooting so I could wrap up — to try and “break in” the FH-23. The photo above, however, is of rounds 7, 8, and 9. The first three were pretty epic:

FH-TAA-Ti1

I believe this is Ti dust left over from the sand blasting process after it’s machined. Can’t say I’m entirely sure, but the other comp I tested stopped doing it and I’m confident this one is just a few more rounds away from knocking it off as well. I’ll be keeping this FH for a future test and shooting with it some more in the meantime. It’s also available Cerakoted in various colors, and that would prevent the light show right off the bat.

Anyway, it’s a sharp-looking muzzle device that’s machined with excellent precision, and it’s incredibly lightweight. Hopefully I’ll get my hands on some more Ti items in the future.

Material: Grade 5 Titanium
Finish: satin (also available in various Cerakote finishes)
Length: 2.06″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.94″
Weight: 1.15 oz
MSRP: $115.99

Troy Industries 3-Prong Flash Hider:

FH-Troy-3Prong
0.38 Lux

DSC02690 DSC02691

Simple, small, and stout. Dang effective, too. Machining is pretty good, and the parkerized or phosphated finish is even. It isn’t on Troy’s website for some reason, but it’s in their product catalog and it’s available — usually for like $51 — at various retailers online.

Material: hardened 4140 steel
Finish: black
Length: 2.168″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.852″
Weight: 3.01 oz
MSRP: $59

Troy Industries Claymore Muzzle Brake 556:

FH-Troy-Claymore
158 Lux

Troy_Claymore1 Troy_Claymore2

Troy’s Claymore is a linear compensator and it does an excellent job of sending blast, concussion, and sound forwards. Although the photograph looks relatively similar to me as the one from the other linear compensator in this test, the Black River Tactical Covert Comp, the light meter sure gave a different reading. My subjective experience from the previous muzzle brake tests as well as this FH test is that the Claymore is noticeably brighter, and I simply can’t explain why that isn’t obvious in the photos.

Machining and finish are basically what I’d call “fast and dirty,” but the truth is I think this is probably the most appropriate choice for most muzzle devices anyway. The asking price should be adjusted to reflect this and, indeed, Troy’s options are on the affordable end of the spectrum with many linear comps coming in over 2x the price.

Material: hardened 4140 steel
Finish: manganese phosphate
Length: 2.24″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.97″
Weight: 3.25 oz
MSRP: $64

Troy Industries Medieval Flash Suppressor 556:

FH-Troy-Medieval
0.57 Lux

DSC02674 DSC02673

The slots in Troy’s Medieval Flash Suppressor are few and far between, with no slot on the bottom to prevent kicking up dust and to help mitigate muzzle rise. Those three slots seem to do the trick at disrupting gas flow, though, and suppressing flash as designed. As what would otherwise be prongs are connected at the muzzle, there’s no chance of that “tuning fork” ringing effect that some 3- and 4-prong flash hiders are good for.

Machining and matte finish are about average. Price is below average.

Material: ordnance steel
Finish: black
Length: 2.20″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.86″
Weight: 3.16 oz
MSRP: $45

Witt Machine Directional Muzzle Brake w/ Spiral Cut Shroud:

FH-Witt-Directional-Shield
1.21 Lux

witt-directionalwitt directionalwitt3

This is a recoil-eliminating muzzle brake first and foremost, so it will definitely be coming back for the next round of brake testing. I’m impressed with how well the spiral shroud suppresses flash. The Directional Brake also ships with a solid shroud to effectively turn it into a linear compensator. Or, run it without a shroud for maximum recoil reduction. As you can see in the photos above, the shrouds simply screw right on.

Machining on my examples is very sharp and clean, and the Cerakote finishes are even. Pretty cool that, when you order your Directional Brake, the product page allows you to choose from any of the offered finishes for the brake, spiral shroud, and solid shroud separately.

Material: 416 stainless steel
Finish: brushed stainless is standard, and a few Cerakote colors are optional
Length: 2.135″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.957″ with shroud on
Weight: 2.79 oz with spiral shroud
MSRP: $125

Yankee Hill Machine Phantom 5C2 Comp/Flash Hider:

FH-YHM-Phantom
0.41 Lux

DSC03216 DSC03215

The YHM Phantom is right up there with the Smith Vortex as one of the gold standard, known quantities in the flash hiding world. Once again, the reputation is well-deserved and the Phantom is a solid performer. Machining and finish are both essentially flawless. This is a very nice looking, lightweight, and relatively compact unit that performs well at a dirt cheap price.

Material: steel
Finish: black
Length: 2.225″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.863″
Weight: 2.03 oz
MSRP: $34

Final Thoughts

Thanks to doing this inside of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range, I’ll be able to do more flash testing in the future and should arrive to find exactly 0.25 Lux of ambient lighting every time. As a lot of folks are already asking about the “best” all-around muzzle device — recoil reduction and flash reduction in addition to low blast and concussion — I’m planning on revisiting to flash test some of the non-dedicated “flash hiders” that are still here (Houlding Precision Curse, Thunder Technologies Brake, the Precision Armament M4-72 since it won both recoil reduction tests, etc).

“Best,” of course, is highly subjective and depends entirely on what aspects each person values more. Is it recoil reduction, flash reduction, aesthetics, quality, price, weight, size, blast/concussion? Suppressor mount capability? Certainly there are a few muzzle devices that stand out in my mind already, such as the AFAB and EFAB from Precision Armament, the Strike Industries J-Comp, PWS’ FSC556, 2A Armament’s T3 Comp, the BCM Comp MOD 1, and maybe the to-be-flash-tested-soon Thunder Technologies Standard Brake and Houlding Precision Curse will keep the Lux low as well.

Until next time. . .

61 Responses to AR-15 Flash Hider Shootout

  1. Sharp Shooters is a nice place. As I am in Spokane, they are my toy store of choice. I bought my SAM7R from them as well as my Ruger SR22.

    It’s interesting to see how some of the choices are clearly junk and the ones that don’t look like much are highly effective.

    Great work!

    • I got my introduction to the joys of shooting at Sharp Shooters. They coordinated with a local university chapter of Young Republicans for 2nd Amendment Day, providing unlimited access to their rental guns for the low range fee of $10. It was an amazing way to promote firearms awareness and give interested young people the opportunity to try a bunch of different models/calibers for an extremely low price. I wish I still lived there and could go back…

  2. I’m really surprised and happy that JP’s taken top of the class, honestly. I was on the fence about AAC since Remington started enveloping them, so an alternative, independent manufacturer actually committed to quality is going to be foremost on my Buy List.

    Can we get another mini-article extrapolated from this info and the previous article about dual-purpose FH/comps in terms of their flash suppression and their recoil suppression?

    I want to see who objectively stands on top in that rather niche product market without having to wade through both articles to see which models are dual-purpose devices.

    • In a couple/few weeks I intend to flash test all the “combo” devices or brakes-that-don’t-flash-so-much to get numbers for as many of those as possible. I don’t have all of them from the first test anymore, as we (TTAG) gave away nearly all of them as prizes, but I have a decent collection still. Then I’ll compile that data along w/ the recoil data so everyone can see it in one place. But the last paragraph of this write-up lists some of the ones that stand out to me.

      • Very good job. Thanks for doing this. I really appreciate how narrative was minimized so we got the most content for the time invested.
        Q: Since the top three are 3-prongs, would you consider testing an original M-16 3-prong flash suppressor? Just for grins?

  3. As always, great work! Let me second Bobing’s request…would love to see some data comparisons when your shootouts are done to help determine what’s the “best” combination brake/flash hider in terms of actual recoil and flash reduction.

  4. Oh man, I can’t wait to get home and read the whole thing! Been waiting for FH’s, wooo! Thanks brother

  5. There are better things to spend my money on than flash hiders that are marginally better than the standard A2, and certainly better things to spend my money on that tacticool flash hiders that don’t deliver. Thanks for the informative report.

    • I agree. I think the clear winner here is the A2 flash hider. I run them on all of my rifles except one. It has a YHM and the only reason is because they were sold out of A2 flash hider locally. If i find an A2 it’s coming off as it reduces the length of my rifle just a bit more.

  6. Besides the obvious 3-prong vs. 4-prong design, the JP Enterprise flash hider looks incredibly similar to the B.E. Meyers 249F, which has beat out the typical slew of flash hiders on the market as well. In other independent testing, the AAC Blackout also came in second against the 249F. Given the similar designs, I’m not surprised the JP edged out the competition here, but I have to wonder how the JP would fair side-by-side against the B.E. Meyers. I’m curious why the 249F wasn’t included in this test. Cool article nonetheless.

    • Yes, isn’t it funny how the most successful devices almost seem to *copy* B.E. Meyers?

      Take the best design details from the Smith Enterprise and JP hiders and you’ve basically got the B.E. Meyers 249F which predates most of these and has been sold to the USG for years.

      Want QD suppressor capability? Take the B.E. Meyers 249F, make a few minor modifications and slap the name Surefire on it and there you go!

      I imagine there is a reason that Surefire removed the internal grooves after the first batch of 3-prong 5.56 hiders… only two things I can think of would be a patent violation, or Surefire just didn’t deem the extra machining worth the effort.

      • It is entirely possible there was something going on for the sound suppression aspect of it…or its possible that they found out there was no reason for it.

    • I wasn’t able to get one this time around, but the BE is on the list for next time. Additionally, keep in mind that JP often purchases/licenses the rights to exceptional products from other brands and will then resell them under the JP name or actually manufacture them themselves and pay royalties. This is absolutely the case with their SuperComps, which are mostly manufactured by JP now but licensed from GoGun USA. JP’s JPoint micro red dot is an excellent product and is made by Shield out of the UK. I do NOT know the story behind the JP Flash Hider and whether it’s completely their own design as many of their products are or if it’s a licensed version of the BE Meyers, etc etc, but I do know it’s damn effective and it’s extremely affordable compared to much of the competition.

    • The B.E. Meyers 249F is more expensive for the same performance. You are just paying for the name. Do yourself a favor and stick to the cheap stuff.

    • You probably don’t need the muzzle brake since you are running a short barrel. Just gets in the way, unless you don’t operate and just have for show?

  7. Wow, so really all the best performers are some variation of the 3-prong device. Some of the best non-prong ones are essentially pronged devices that don’t mill off the front rim. Good to know.

  8. I picked the AAC flash hider for my gun because it was on sale on CDNN. I’m happy that I have discovered I bought the 2nd best flash hider on the market (and it’s nearly identical to the 1st place winner).

  9. Define “junk.”

    Seems what is popular and touted on the forums as the end all be all isn’t coming up in the ratings – they tend to be also rans, ie mediocre.

    Vuurwapen has good reason for his opinion – for the cost and results, the Battlecomp comes out ahead in just one category – sales. It just doesn’t rate that well overall.

    Contrast that with the BRT Covert – which isn’t all that for flash hiding, either. But as a linear with no exterior cuts and designed for controlling the report, you have to trade off something. Also goes to the use of a milspec ammo – which aren’t known for high cost powder, and made that rep when fielded in 1968. Take it up one step to the Mk262 or civilian equivalents and the flash is substantially reduced, because flash suppressants are blended in the powder. You do get what you pay for, $1 a round ammo with ballistically superior bullets and upper tier powders aren’t flameball throwers. That’s the province of cheap ball powder, and one reason the military uses a flash hider.

    All the more important with 10.5″ barrels – but getting the blast forward has a higher priority. Application has a lot to do with your choice, a side belching comp with zero recoil may not be your best option.

  10. I am working on a Aero Precision M4E1 build in .277 Wolverine than when all is done it will probably be a safe queen. As such, I am looking for a muzzle break that looks most like a chess piece be it a Queen or Rook. Lots of choices here….

    • I was going to do that but it would look a little weird since some Lux readings are under 1.0 and some are over so the scale would be really awkward. It might make sense to do that for all of the FHs that actually reduce flash as compared to the A2 but not for the rest? I dunno. At any rate, you can download the Excel and sort it however you please or create new equations from the data 😉

  11. It seems pretty obvious that the prong design is the way to go for flash hiding purposes, but there is one big problem that keeps me from ever wanting to buy one: the “tuning fork” response that makes them ring on every shot. Granted, the ring is usually perfectly clear and clean and could almost be considered a beautiful sound, but I can’t stand it on a firearm.

    So here is my question: why hasn’t anyone done a design just like the Smith or the JP, but with a small hoop left at the end to control the ringing sound? Considering the amount of machining going into these things already, it seems like it wouldn’t be too big of a deal to add it.

    • The Seekins flash hider is asymmetrically machined so that it doesn’t ping. I have one, there is no ping at all. And its performance is very very close to the winner, it is the best scoring flash hider with no ping.

      • My Seekins FH pings. Not as much as most. But it does. You can just flick it with your finger and hear it ping. I really don’t find it bothersome on any of them and it’s not like it’s loud when you have ear pro on and it’s nothing compared to the volume of a gunshot, of course. And it lasts for just a second. But, yes, leaving a small ring around the end would resolve it like it does on the Medieval.

  12. How the hell can you include comps and brakes in a “flash hider” test? Comps and brakes are not flash suppressors. :{

    • Yes they absolutely are flash suppressors. Compared to nothing on the muzzle every single one of them reduced flash very significantly. The DoubleStar Dragon Flash Hider is called “flash hider” by the company so it was included. At any rate, many folks are interested in flash and other parameters such as recoil reduction and muzzle control. More data is better. If you only care about ones that are dedicated flash hiders then by all means look only at that data for those ones. Also having data on the hybrid devices and brakes does in no way detracts from the information on the dedicated FHs. As nearly all hybrid/combo devices in this test were also tested by me for recoil reduction, now people have data on how well they do at reducing recoil AND how well they do at reducing flash. That’s great info for what I think is the majority of folks who want something that provides a solid balance of all of the benefits of various types of muzzle devices.

      • No, Comps and Flash hiders are very different devices with clearly different missions. To include them together and call it a flash hider test is misleading. Had you simple called this an “AR15 muzzle device shootout”, it would have been legit.

        • Obviously I simply disagree with you. The comps in this test were specifically designed to reduce flash and for some it was a huge priority. Precision Armament, for example, spent dozens of hours computer modeling with a CFD program and then in R&D of many prototypes figuring out how to most effectively reduce flash. They aren’t only flash hiders like the pronged devices are, but they are absolutely, positively flash hiders. This is borne out in the numbers. The question of “is it a flash suppressor?” is answered by the fact that there is less flash than a bare muzzle. The question of “is it ONLY a flash suppressor?” was never asked. For frick’s sake, how boring would this test be if it was 33, pronged flash hiders? The difference between pretty much all of them is entirely negligible.

          Anyway, sorry for so horrifically misleading you. It has clearly caused massive confusion and I can see that you two are struggling to proceed with your lives not knowing whether to choose a flash hider or a comp now. I will drop a refund check for you in the mail today. Cheers.

          😉

      • Sorry bro but Stick is right, a comp that also hides flash is primarily designed as a comp first, meaning it’s primary mission is to negate muzzle rise, with some flash suppression capabilities added. A flash suppressor’s primary mission is to conceal the flash, nothing more nothing less. No muzzle compensation involved.

        As a side note, you pretty much skipped the B.E. Meyers, which is and has been the one others are judged by. I would also like to see a comparison between the four prong surefire FH556rc, and the three prong version. I’ve heard that surefire pays royalties to B.E. Meyers to use their design.

    • Any company who comments on their flash hiding ability could/should be subject to the test.
      There were a couple dedicated comps, I’d say for anything. Some of the dedicated comps was a good idea just to see how dramatic the difference is

  13. Hi,

    It would be very interesting to test the top scorers on a pistol length barrel 10.5 or the notorious 7.5.

    Regards

  14. Knew the Smith was good as it works dandily on a Norinco 84S w/ commercial-mil loads & assumed it’d perform equally well on the AR-15/M-16 platform, would’ve liked to see how the Noveske KX3 & Vltor VC-1 did.

  15. considering weight, performance, and price I’ve never appreciated the A2 birdcage more than I do now… thanks for the most thorough flash hider review I’ve ever seen! also thanks to Sharp Shooting for being so based.

  16. Good comparison, thanks for your work!
    I was sad not to see the Ares Armor Effin-A comp on here (not truly a flash suppressor, but similar in design to the Griffin m4sd.

  17. I’d like to see a review of the Gemtech suppressor mount comps/flashhiders. They just updated them not too long ago and I’d like to see how they stack up without the suppressor.

  18. Perhaps I am mistaken but isn’t the whole concept of a flash hider more about “hiding” the flash from the enemy’s position rather than from the side? Isn’t the idea based on dispersing the flash out to the sides to reduce the “ball of flame” seen from the intended receiver’s perspective?
    I am curious to know how all of these devises would do viewing them from 100 yards down range.

    • The camera was to the side, but the light meter was like 45 degrees off the front of the muzzle so it could “see” flash inside of the muzzle device that would be visible from downrange but not from the sides. I didn’t want to do this outdoors in order to keep the ambient light level totally consistent, so photos from 100 yards won’t be happening. At any rate, there’s actually a decent amount of those sorts of photos floating around the interwebs and basically all of them include an A2 birdcage, so having this data for direct comparison to the A2 should be meaningful (does device X have more or less flash than A2?).

  19. Super, super work. Groundbreaking, many thanks. It’s great that you included many different kinds of devices, even those not dedicated to flash hiding, and evaluated this aspect of performance. My only nit-pick is, you tested the Lantac Dragon and PWS FSC, but not the VG6 Precision Gamma or Epsilon. Would love to have gotten a read-out from those. And while I’m here, the recoil-reduction tests were awesome. Impeccable.

    • Thanks, Chris! I’m going to do another flash hiding test in August, I do believe, and it will include mostly hybrid devices and some brakes/comps. I’ll toss the VG6 GAMMA in there, but I no longer have the EPSILON. However, in previous testing it was pretty clear that like 85% off the flash and fire on those brakes came out the sides of the ports and very little went out the muzzle anyway. IMHO, the flash hiding prongs on the front of the E wouldn’t do a whole lot vs. the G since it’s still going to throw a fireball out either side.

      …and another recoil test should happen at the very end of August. Then hopefully a .308 recoil test in the Fall.

  20. These shoot outs were a lot of help to me. I was trying to build a gun that could work for home defense as well as range and 3 gun and using these for comparisons really helped.

    Is there any way that you could do something similar for buffers and finally put an end to the carbine vs rifle vs H vs ST. Maybe you could even show the difference with low mass BCG, semi BCG and auto BCG. I would love to see the actual difference between these systems in relative recoil and I feel like something like this sled idea would work well to show that

  21. Since this is basically an AR15 muzzle device test, please include the A1 and the old M16 3 prong hiders in the next test. I’m interested in the difference between the A1 and A2, as well as the old 3 prong compared to the modern prong types.

  22. Is there a typo on the BCM gunfighter comp? It says the 0.6 luxe in the photo but the image has a flash comparable to the FSC556 and J-comp. Also the video in muzzle brake PT 1 shows a daylight visible flash larger than the J-comp for the same test.

    • Image and sensor reading don’t always line up, primarily because the camera and light sensor are in different places. The light sensor was “downrange” a bit, whereas the camera was directly off to the side and higher. The sensor is likely capturing more of what would be visible to an “enemy combatant” downrange. Also, it’s measuring brightness not visible flash size so it’s certainly possibly that a tiny kernel of light inside of the muzzle device could actually meter brighter than a fireball made of dim light in a different wavelength and such… and likely if you’re a bad guy downrange a decent distance you would see that bright kernel but wouldn’t see a dimmer fire/flash, even if it looks more dramatic in photos like these ones.

  23. BTW Jeremy, thanks for all this work you have done in the muzzle brake and flash hider tests and articles. I appreciate your efforts to quantify performance and your well written articles that allow us to make educated decisions on our muzzle devices.

  24. Great write-up. I always love muzzle device tests. I’m a little sad that the Noveske KX-3/5, PWS CQB & Trident, Silencerco Trifecta, SureFire Socom & Eliminator weren’t included.

    Maybe for Part 2?

    I do appreciate the write-up, thank you!

  25. I’d love to see similar tests of muzzle devices generally and flash suppressors specifically on the AK platform in 7.62x39mm. As we probably have all already noticed, a 16″ AK, particularly with the Russian commercial export ammunition, is a real flamethrower. Anything that can reduce that is welcome.

    • AK Operators Union has some pretty good tests. Best flash hider was the manticore eclipse. That ’74 style break is quite a doozy

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