AR-15 Flash Hiding Test #2

As a follow-up to the AR-15 Flash Hider Shootout, test #2 here adds a variety of new flash hiders to the mix and also includes a lot of combination devices and even some straight-up brakes and comps. So, yes, for the pedants out there this is a “flash hiding” test, not a “flash hider” test. We received a lot of comments from people more curious about how the all-around muzzle devices and brakes fare than how the dedicated FHs do, so there’s a good mix of contenders here. Once again, not only did we capture photographs of each device 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 first 5.56 flash hiding test linked above, the first 5.56 muzzle brake test is HERE, the second 5.56 muzzle brake test is HERE, and the first .308 brake test is HERE. You may also be interested in the AR-15 Drop-In Trigger Roundup HERE.

These tests are expensive, but I’d love to do more. I’ve purchased air pressure sensors designed to log blast waves so we can compare the amount of concussion each muzzle device generates, and these will be used in test four. But I have a lot of brakes to round up for that and the funding is low. I also want to do another AR-15 trigger roundup (component triggers this time) and a couple of flashlight roundups (tactical and gun-mounted). Please consider supporting this sort of testing via my Patreon page. As a Patron you can also get free stuff, join live streams, gain early access, and more.

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.

Why yes, that maple bar is indeed sausage-stuffed and bacon-topped.

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. Ask for Jeremy Ball or Nick Brown.

Flash Testing

Protocol for the test was as follows:

In the first shootout, the ambient brightness reading was 0.25 Lux. This time around, it was higher at 0.95 Lux. I believe this is because I chose to aim the light meter more towards the business end of the rifle and less at the side of it, in order to get closer to a straight-on reading and allow the light meter to “see” down into the muzzle device. After all, those who are worried about flash signature are worried about enemies downrange seeing it from a basically head-on perspective.

The side effect was that this also pointed the meter towards Sharp Shooting’s lobby windows and resulted in a higher ambient light level reading. No worries, though, as the winner in test #1 added 0.06 Lux to the ambient reading and we actually got the exact same result this time around, too.

Which means, yes, despite the addition of some extremely worthy and highly-anticipated competitors, the JP Enterprises’ Flash Hider (no longer sold. More info below under B.E. Meyers and JP detail sections) took the crown in shootout #2 here as well!

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.

^^^ note that bare muzzle and AAC Brakeout are missing from the graph above. As you’ll see in the chart below, they were so bright that including them would have destroyed the scale of the graph.

Flash Hiders

Listed [mostly] 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.

Bare Muzzle:

10,932 Lux

A2 Birdcage:

1.13 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. It provides very solid flash killing performance and you probably already, accidently own one(s).

Material: steel
Finish: parkerized or black oxide
Length: 1.622″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 1.787 oz
MSRP: $9

A1 Birdcage:

1.12 Lux

Before the A2 was the A1. It’s nearly identical but, while the A2 got rid of two slots to make for a solid bottom for dust signature reduction and possibly some muzzle rise compensation, the A1 had evenly-spaced slots all the way around. It did hide flash ever-so-slightly better.

Material: steel
Finish: parkerized or black oxide
Length: 1.77″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 1.956 oz
MSRP: $7

M16 3-Prong FH:

1.15 Lux

The M16s that first hit Vietnam were equipped with this 3-prong flash hider of Stoner’s design. Most of the stories I’ve heard claimed that, while the 3-prong reduced muzzle flash better than the A1 and A2, it was being used as a pry tool by soldiers leading to warped barrels, so they 86’d it. I don’t know about the pry tool part, but the assertion that the original M16 3-prong is a better flash hider definitely didn’t pan out in this test. However, it did exchange some of the bright points of light that occur on the ends of the birdcages’ slots for more of the dim flame that comprises the fireball. The result, though, is an overall brightness increase.

Material: steel
Finish: parkerized or black oxide
Length: 1.772″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 1.978 oz
MSRP: $7

AAC BRAKEOUT 2.0 Compensator:

23.42 Lux

First seen in muzzle device recoil test #1, the BRAKEOUT 2.0 is supposed to combine the best features of a conventional muzzle brake along with excellent flash suppression. Machining is very crisp and precise, and the finish looks great (it’s either a higher gloss nitride or AAC’s “SCARmor”).

AAC says it’s “the best of both worlds in a truly compromise-free design,” and I think it looks great but it wasn’t particularly good at reducing recoil and it’s also a pretty terrible flash hider.

Material: steel
Finish: not stated
Length: 2.677″
Diameter (at largest point): 1.139″
Weight: 4.625 oz
MSRP: $124.99

B.E. Meyers 249F:

1.03 Lux

The 249F was missing from the first test, and readers definitely let us know about it! This bad boy was highly anticipated and many people thought it was a sure winner. According to B.E. Meyers it won a US Army flash hider mini-evaluation, but in this testing it was very narrowly defeated by our reigning champion, the JP Flash Hider. At any rate, machining and finish are both flawless. This is an extremely high quality piece and one of the most effective flash hiders on the market.

Update: B.E. Meyers determined that JP Rifles had infringed upon aspects of B.E. Meyers’ patent(s) in JP’s design of the JP Flash Hider. JP, in keeping with its good reputation, considered B.E. Meyers’ claims and conceded potential or likely infringement. The JP Flash Hider is no longer available for purchase.

Material: steel
Finish: Melonite
Length: 2.756″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 3.58 oz
MSRP: $92.95

Delta P Design BREVIS II 5.56:

1.11 Lux

Last month we went hands-on with the BREVIS II line of 3D-printed suppressors and, despite their insanely compact size, they seemed to hide flash extremely well. As Sharp Shooting has its FFL07 and SOT, Delta P was able to send up a BREVIS II for inclusion in this test. I bet they’re happy they did so, as it performed admirably while also being by far the most pleasant muzzle device to shoot in the indoor range. At only ~twice the length of an A2 birdcage, its noise (134-135 dB on 16″ bbl), blast, and flash suppression performance is amazing.

Material: DMLS Inconel (also available in “Ultra,” which is Ti with an Inconel blast baffle)
Finish: High temp ceramic
Length: 3.7″
Diameter (at largest point): 2.0″
Weight: 11.5 oz (Ultra is 6.6 oz)
MSRP: $1,386 (Ultra is $1,491)

Franklin Armory Triumvir:

1.10 Lux

Considering the short length of its “venturi cuts,” the Triumvir surprised me with its solid performance. One of the three cuts is longer than the others and is to be timed upwards. This vents gas upwards first, which lessens dust signature and provides a compensating effect to combat muzzle rise. Machining is super clean, and this heat treat finish is pretty spiffy.

Material: 17-4 steel
Finish: heat treat or salt bath nitride
Length: 2.26″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.906″
Weight: 3.704 oz
MSRP: $124.99

Griffin Armament M4SD Hammer Comp:

1.59 Lux

The Hammer Comp is designed as a QD mount and sacrificial blast baffle for Griffin’s M4SD suppressor line. On its own, it’s made to reduce recoil and provide muzzle rise compensation, but flash suppression isn’t one of its listed features. However, compared to many brakes and comps it isn’t very flashy at all. Machining and finish are great, and it offers a compact, A2-like external design.

Material: 17-4PH stainless steel
Finish: black oxide
Length: 1.772″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 2.269 oz
MSRP: $94.95

Griffin Armament Taper Mount Flash Suppressor:

1.06 Lux

Crisp machining with no tool marks, and a perfectly even finish. This 3-prong device is a highly effective flash hider that works as an interface for taper mount compatible suppressors, and comes with a knurled thread and taper area protector for when it doesn’t have a suppressor attached.

Material: 17-4PH stainless steel
Finish: Melonite QPQ
Length: 2.677″
Diameter (at largest point): 1.071″ (without thread protector. With it on it’s 1.181″)
Weight: 4.198 oz (without thread protector, which adds 0.843 oz)
MSRP: $99.95

Houlding Precision Firearms HPF-15 Curse Muzzle Brake:

1.86 Lux

Designed to be a good all-around brake and comp, the Curse is a dual-chamber brake with a bunch of relatively small slots instead of full-on, open ports. This keeps blast and concussion to a minimum, while reducing recoil, keeping the muzzle stable, and reducing flash signature (vs. bare muzzle) as well. Machining shows a couple of nicks and slightly rough edges. Finish is an even, matte black.

Material: 1144 stressproof steel
Finish: melonite
Length: 2.95″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.975″
Weight: 4.75 oz
MSRP: $124.95

JP Enterprises Flash Hider:

1.01 Lux

Update: B.E. Meyers determined that JP Rifles had infringed upon aspects of B.E. Meyers’ patent(s) in JP’s design of the JP Flash Hider. JP, in keeping with its good reputation, considered B.E. Meyers’ claims and conceded potential or likely infringement. The JP Flash Hider is no longer available for purchase.

At first glance JP’s Flash Hider is a fairly standard, 3-prong job, although 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 yet another test, with the also-internally-serrated B.E. Meyers 249F coming in a close second. The base of the JP 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

Precision Armament AFAB-556:

1.21 Lux

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 decent results as a flash hider as well. It has been my go-to muzzle device since installing it in place of the old AFAB, which was my previous go-to. I like the size, looks, control, low concussion, and quality.

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 M4-72:

2.47 Lux

I got a lot of requests to include the M4-72 in this flash hiding test, as it handily won both muzzle brake (recoil reduction) tests and people have been curious how bad it is for fire and flash. In fact, there were many requests to include some brakes, comps, and other “combination” devices in this test.

Anyway, it’s actually pretty tame for a straight-up brake. Especially for one that has so far proven to reduce recoil more than possibly anything else on the market. The muzzle just doesn’t move with this thing on it. Like the other muzzle devices from Precision Armament that I’ve tested and used, the machining and finish are top notch (keep in mind it’s been removed and reinstalled a dozen times and has seen hundreds of rounds prior to these photos).

Material: HTSR 416 stainless steel
Finish: Ionbond CrCN or bead blast
Length: 2.25″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.875″
Weight: 2.55 oz
MSRP: $89.99

Primary Weapons Systems Triad 556:

1.10 Lux

One of the three cuts on the Triad is longer than the others, which provides muzzle movement compensation by venting gas and pressure out of this groove first. With the logo at 12:00, compensation is designed for a right-handed shooter in that it combats muzzle rise as well as rightwards motion. Timing that longer groove differently will adjust compensation direction. With such an open internal design and pretty short prongs, it killed flash a lot better than I thought it would.

Machining is perfect, although the slightly pebbled texture finish — which I like a lot, for the record, and looks great — would cover up any minor imperfections anyway.

Material: steel
Finish: not specified
Length: 2.205″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 2.546 oz
MSRP: $69.95

Strike Industries King Comp:

2.01 Lux

The King Comp is fairly new to the market from Strike Industries, and it’s a pretty cool looking brake. Nick got some great photos of a brake from Dead Air Armament that uses forward-angled ports at the rear to “blow out” flash and fire that would otherwise plume outwards from the brake’s chambers, and the King Comp has the same feature, although marketed in this case as a means of reducing side concussion. It just might work to blow out flame as well, though, since this thing is nowhere near as flashy as it could be. The effect of those jets is clearly visible in how the flames curve forwards in the above photo.

Machining and finish are quite good. Better than some of the less expensive SI products and probably nicer than I’d expect at this price point.

Material: heavy duty steel
Finish: parkerized
Length: 2.61″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.97″
Weight: 3.875 oz
MSRP: $44.95

SureFire 3P Eliminator 556:

1.07 Lux

Sure, I might chuckle at an “it’s a flashlight company” joke every now and again, but SureFire makes high quality products. The 3P Eliminator is no exception, with a solid build, precise machining, and a really good looking melonite finish. It also works. Well. And at a reasonable price. Performance of this version, which doesn’t act as a fast-attach SureFire suppressor mount, is supposed to be identical to the versions that do.

Material: heat-treated stainless steel bar stock
Finish: black melonite
Length: 2.689″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 3.845 oz
MSRP: $59

SureFire WARCOMP 556:

1.11 Lux

SureFire calls the WARCOMP “the world’s most shootable flash hider.” I didn’t test that here, but it’s obvious how the ball-dimpled ports vent gas upwards to combat muzzle rise, and they do so while hardly creating any upwards flash whatsoever. The WARCOMP also serves as a mount for SureFire’s SOCOM fast-attach suppressors.

Like all of the other SureFire muzzle devices I’ve had through here, the machining and finish are perfect.

Material: heat-treated stainless steel bar stock
Finish: Ionbond DLC
Length: 2.736″
Diameter (at largest point): 1.0″
Weight: 3.845 oz
MSRP: $149

Tactical Advantage Armory FH-23 Titanium Flash Hider:

1.47 Lux

Bead blasted titanium always seems to throw off a lot of sparks, but I was hoping it would stop after a break-in. This flash hider now has over 400 rounds through it and, as you can see above, it’s still good for a mini fireworks show. A bit dazzling, but not actually all that bright in terms of Lux. And certainly way less than when it was brand new:

The FH-23 is also available Cerakoted in various colors, and that would completely prevent the light show right off the bat. Minus the sparks, it looks like it would be approximately on par with an A2 birdcage.

It’s a sharp-looking muzzle device that’s machined with excellent precision, and it’s incredibly lightweight.

Material: Grade 5 Titanium
Finish: satin (also available in various Cerakote finishes)
Length: 2.06″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.94″
Weight: 1.153 oz
MSRP: $115.99

Thunder Beast Arms CB Series Flash Hider:

1.11 Lux

The “helical multi-axis” prong design looks pretty dang cool, especially from the business end, and sure seems to work even with the prongs’ short length. Thunder Beast says this is a “no ringing” design and, indeed, it’s one of the only pronged flash hiders I’ve ever shot that didn’t audibly ring like a tuning fork. At least not noticeably so. It’s available in .223 and .30 cal, and acts as a mount for Thunder Beast’s CB series sound suppressors.

Quality is top notch.

Material: steel
Finish: Ionbond DLC
Length: 2.323″
Diameter (at largest point): 1.063″
Weight: 3.702 oz
MSRP: $125

Thunder Technologies 5.56 Heartbrake:

1.60 Lux

The Heartbrake appeared in muzzle brake test #2, and I was amazed by the recoil reduction performance from this ‘sideways heart’ port shape, which also seemed to have the benefit of mixing gasses up and reducing flash. At least flash was very minimal in the daylight shooting video, so I threw it into the mix here and it didn’t disappoint. Pretty darn minimal flash for a dedicated brake.

Machining is good, parkerized finish is standard.

Material: stainless steel
Finish: black (also available in satin stainless)
Length: 2.2″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.877″
Weight: 2.64 oz
MSRP: $54.99

VooDoo Innovations Manimal A2 Extended Flash Hider:

1.12 Lux

Take an A2 birdcage and stretch it out until it’s long enough to bring a 14.5″ barrel up to 16″, and the result is VooDoo’s Manimal. Flash hiding performance is almost identical to the A2, although I suspect it compensates for muzzle rise just slightly more. Machining is better than your typical A2, and VooDoo’s LifeCoat finish is much nicer than your standard parkerizing or black oxide.

This would be a great choice for someone wanting the traditional A2 look but also needing to bring a 14.5″ barrel up to legal length by pinning and welding on a sufficiently-long muzzle device. Additionally, VDI points out that the outer diameter of the Manimal is small enough that a standard 0.750″ gas block can slide right over it. An important note, as pinning and welding one’s muzzle device on often has the unintended or unrealized consequence of preventing gas block replacement without a bunch of extra labor.

Material: steel
Finish: LifeCoat process
Length: 2.008″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.748″
Weight: 1.477 oz
MSRP: $53.72

WEAPONTECH PUNISHER-556 Compensator/Flash Hider:

1.55 Lux

The Punisher Comp is billed as a hybrid brake/comp and flash hider, and from what I can tell so far it succeeds on all counts. I’ve had this mounted on my AR-15 as well as on my Tavor, and it feels highly effective at reducing recoil and resulted in a pretty dang rock-steady muzzle. It will be in muzzle brake test #3, which should be publishing in January. On the flash suppression front, it doesn’t beat out the A2 but it will beat out most brakes and comps. Additionally, much of the brightness is relatively shielded from downrange view.

Machining is really excellent and I always like a melonite finish. By fluting the prongs and then effectively crowning the muzzle, WEAPONTECH has also created glass breaker tips that look like a natural part of the design. For more on the design features, Primary Arms (WEAPONTECH partner) put out this video.

Material: 4140 steel
Finish: melonite
Length: 2.36″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 2.983 oz
MSRP: $99 (more like $60 from Primary Arms)


1.11 Lux

The STARS is similar to the PUNISHER, but without the brake ports and with longer flash-hiding prongs. It also compensates for muzzle rise through the use of top-side cuts (gap between prongs) that are longer than the bottom-side cuts, meaning more gas and pressure vents upwards than downards. This also reduces dust signature. Like the PUNISHER, the prongs are fluted and the muzzle is crowned, resulting in a glass break. The STARS is supposed to be less concussive and more pleasant to shoot without ear protection than an A2, which is important for military and police.

Although it did outperform the M16 3-prong, A1, and A2 in this test, I feel like I probably cost it a couple/few points as it clearly shot a jet of fire out of the pre-drilled pin-and-weld hole on bottom, which makes me think I didn’t tighten it down enough. At any rate, like the PUNISHER I didn’t see any machining mistakes or unsightly tool marks at all, and the melonite finish is great.

Material: 4140 steel
Finish: melonite
Length: 2.291″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 3.192 oz
MSRP: $99 (more like $60 from Primary Arms)

White Sound Defense FOSSA-556:

1.05 Lux

I think this is one of the coolest devices in the test, and am excited to see what it does in the next muzzle brake recoil test. You see, it isn’t only a dedicated flash hider, but is supposed to function as a compensator and at least a little bit as a recoil-reducing brake as well. The widest of the three prongs gets timed at bottom, resulting in more gas and pressure venting upwards to combat muzzle rise and to reduce dust signature. To provide recoil reduction, the prongs actually taper inwards — they get thicker and restrict the bore diameter — towards the muzzle. This provides some of the effect of a blast baffle to create a brake-like forwards force, but without any increase in concussion.

Again, I have to admit that it’s possible this thing would have performed better if I did my job better. I didn’t notice it was coated with machine oil, and some of the flash could have been a one-time thing from the oil burning off. Or maybe it actually helped (unlikely). I’ll definitely test this guy again in the future. Keep in mind, if you’re comparing this photo to the JP and B.E., that the camera is looking right at a prong instead of a slot. The photo doesn’t show the goings-on inside of it like it does the other two, but the Lux meter was able to see down into there.

Slight tool marks are only visible on the insides of the prongs, but that tiny bit of texture may actually help reduce flash. The black oxide coating is nothing to write home about, and is offered for those who want mil-spec. A nicer, aluminum titanium nitride finish is also available.

Material: 17-4PH stainless steel
Finish: black oxide or AlTiN
Length: 2.205″
Diameter (at largest point): 0.866″
Weight: 3.094 oz
MSRP: $99 ($109 in AlTiN)

Final Thoughts

Truth be told, without high ISO and the light from three shots being captured in each photo, the naked eye performance of the top four or more flash hiders in this test is indistinguishable. Even right up close. Heck, even with all that it’s pretty much indistinguishable in the photos and I’d probably call a 3-way tie without the added input of the Lux meter.

Furthermore, the A2 is a good flash hider, and anything in its ballpark is as well. My arbitrary threshold here for what I’d consider combat-sufficient flash hiding would probably be up to and including the AFAB or maybe a tad flashier. It looks more like the following photo in real life, and from the shooter’s perspective or (presumably) the downrange perspective it’s pretty much flash-free.