Gear Review: Apex Tactical 5.56 Compensator


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


  1. avatar rgsmithiv says:

    Whats the point if I can’t get ammo to use with this? Sounds legit though.

    1. avatar My Name Is Bob says:

      Yea, we need ammo!

  2. avatar pc_load_letter says:

    Looks good! I have not found a brake yet that tames muzzle flip better than my Griffin Arm. M4SD….

    But at $80, I can see giving this a try.

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      I have yet to find any compensator better than the Effin-A. It’s quiet, and tunable. Picked one up from gearhog for $70. Retail is $100.

  3. avatar RKBA says:

    Muzzle Flip with 5.56?

    1. avatar Bill says:

      Yes, it’s pretty noticeable (but not UNCOMFORTABLE, everybody gets those confused) when firing fast. Normal range where you can only very slowly fire, not a problem. Take it to a fun range and do fast strings, yes, then you will notice “tremendous” (relative term) rise out of the 5.56

      1. avatar Henry Bowman says:

        I’ve never found recoil/muzzle rise to be a problem with 5.56, even with rapid fire. But, hey, that’s just me. Although, my Popeye forearms probably give me an advantage. 😛

  4. avatar Lance says:

    Ouch looks like a another noise amplifier like the Bushmaster mini Y comp BOO. Get flash hiders!!

  5. avatar AlphaGeek says:

    So, if you live in a “threaded muzzle = AWB” state, the only way you can use this is by welding and/or pinning it permanently to the barrel, right?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Yeah, that’s right. And if the federal AWB goes through, the whole nation will be one big slave state.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Another Apex fanboy here. I’d like to get one of these, but given that I live in a slave state (MA), it means that I would have to solder and pin the compensator. We can’t have threaded barrels running around, can we? Oh, noes.

  7. avatar Steve in MA says:

    Is an NFA Compensator a suppressor?

    1. avatar Bill says:

      Yes, in relation to what I think you are asking. The best compensator/muzzle devices are actually suppressors. They do the best job of recoil management because they are, naturally, designed to slow the rate at which gasses exit.

  8. avatar Waldorf says:

    wow. who installed that muzzle device? peel washer & crush washer? such a noob move.

    1. avatar Moonshine says:

      Read the text. Shims were not included with this pre-release product.

      1. avatar Waldorf says:

        lack of shims is no excuse for poor installation.

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