I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked about the relative concussion levels of the 160-some-odd muzzle devices I’ve tested for recoil and flash. Unfortunately, I’ve had no way to respond other than with my subjective opinion on how they felt. That’s about to change, thanks to a device made to protect our men and women in uniform. It’s called The Blast Gauge System, it’s made by BlackBox Biometrics (B3), and here’s the TL:DR version of what it does…
The Blast Gauge sensors record overpressure — spikes in air pressure generated by a concussive force like a bomb or IED, artillery or missile fire, flashbangs, breaching rounds, and more — as well as acceleration. These units can measure changes in psi in 0.05 psi increments up to 110 psi of overpressure, which is 10% higher than the threshold at which deaths begin to occur. The Blast Gauge system graphs and logs overpressure events, and all of the data can be downloaded to a computer or mobile device.
As traumatic brain injury can happen at fairly low pressure levels and repeated exposure can have a cumulative effect, these sensors are designed to track military or police personnel exposure and provide warnings and information to medical staff. As seen in the photo above, the system is designed to be a 3-sensor set worn on the head, shoulder, and chest. The sensors can alert medical or other teams wirelessly, or can simply be checked visually via color-coded warning lights for notification that medical evaluation may be necessary.
There’s a whole heck of a lot more information on the Blast Gauge website, including a significant amount of scientific research into overpressure and its effects on the body and brain and various uses for the Blast Gauge System (e.g. use multiple gauges to map how a flashbang propagates pressure inside of a home to determine how to use them more effectively and safely).
I’ve purchased two of the wireless gauges and will be using them to capture objective, accurate data on the concussion generated by various AR-15 muzzle devices. The plan is to place one off to the side to mimic what a team member near the shooter (or a neighbor on the range) would experience, and one where the head of the shooter would be. This will result in graphs of the concussive force for each muzzle device, plus a peak overpressure measurement in PSI. Cool, right?