A Beginner’s Guide to Muzzle Brakes

A Beginner's Guide to Muzzle Brakes

Josh Wayner for TTAG

A question I am often asked is if a person should get a muzzle brake for their rifle. There is some ground to cover in answering that question, so let’s start with some definitions.

The Different Muzzle Devices

In today’s shooting world there are many guns that come with threaded muzzles that can accept a variety of different attachments. The most common three today are muzzle brakes, flash hiders, and suppressors.

Occasionally you will see some alternate nomenclature such as ‘rise eliminator’, ‘silencer’, and ‘flash suppressor’ being used. These are odd terms that I avoid using because they are just slang or fancy Tactical Polo Bro lingo.

‘Silencer’ is a technically incorrect term for a suppressor as it merely prevents serious hearing damage to the shooter. No gun is “Hollywood silent.” In fact, most guns equipped with suppressors are still loud as hell. They just take the edge off for the most part.

A flash hider — also called a flash suppressor — essentially just redirects the fireball at the gun’s muzzle in more productive directions. A common flash hider is the military A2, which has a solid bottom to keep dirt and dust from being kicked up when firing.

Some flash hiders are multi-pronged and others have small slits or ports. These devices don’t reduce recoil and only come into play when firing in low light conditions or when you’re just trying to make your gun look cool, which is arguably 99% of what flash hiders do.

It should be noted that, even if you’re using ammo that’s already using low-flash powder, there will still be some flash just as there is still some noise with a suppressor.

A Beginner's Guide to Muzzle Brakes

The SilencerCo ASR brake is a chambered brake. It has three baffles that deflect gasses to reduce recoil. The Next Level .450 Bushmaster brake is a radial brake that effectively reduces the beastly recoil of the big-bore cartridge. (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

A muzzle brake is different from a flash hider in that it has ports that redirect the muzzle blast to reduce recoil, as it should be noted that the vast majority of a gun’s recoil comes from the muzzle blast itself. The dramatic expansion of gasses can be tamed.

A suppressor reduces recoil just by merit of trapping that gas and preventing it from expanding. A muzzle brake forces the gas out of one or more angular ports, with the angle of those ports allowing the gun to essentially be pulled forward, thus negating the recoil impulse.

A Beginner's Guide to Muzzle Brakes

SJC Titan compensator (Jeremy S. for TTAG)

Different muzzle brakes do different things and can be used for different purposes. There are two main kinds that I will address: radial and chambered.

A chambered brake has a series of open ports that the bullet passes through. Each port bleeds off more gas to allow the recoil to dissipate. A chambered brake typically has ports only along the three and six o’clock sides, but some have ports at twelve o’clock as well which can force the muzzle down to prevent jump, especially when shooting off a bipod. This is commonly called a compensator.

A Beginner's Guide to Muzzle Brakes

Examples of flash hiders. While they do not reduce recoil, they do mitigate some flash at the muzzle. (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

Compensators are essentially a type of muzzle brake that is designed to prevent muzzle jump and not just the rearward recoil impulse. There is some confusion over just what the true differences are between a compensator and a muzzle brake, but for the purposes of this article we will lump them together since there is no real clear-cut separation.

A Beginner's Guide to Muzzle Brakes

Armageddon Tactical CompTek Type I Compensator/Brake (Jeremy S. for TTAG)

This tends to vary by manufacturer. Consider compensators to be a subtype of muzzle brakes and you’ll get along fine.

Radial brakes have ports drilled around the entire body. These ports are quite small, but they work in tandem to keep the muzzle in the same place. A down side to radial brakes is that, while very effective, they tend to kick up lots of debris if in the field. Using a radial brake while prone can result in lots of crap being kicked up all over you and your gear.

Who Needs A Muzzle Brake?

I hear it at the range all the time…a person who can’t master their rifle needs to put a brake on it. This is especially common for hunting rifles. Instead of going with a smaller caliber or a gun that fits them better, a typical “fix” is to install a brake. A muzzle brake typically cuts recoil by 50% or more, meaning that an otherwise powerful gun can be fired comfortably.

Muzzle brakes aren’t just for high-recoil rifles. Competition shooters almost always put a brake on their rifles as a way to make even low-recoil guns easier to fire. Competitions that require fast shooting see many brakes as they make rifles like the AR-15 feel like they have no recoil at all. Long range shooters prefer them because they allow the shooter to see hits through their own scope and then make adjustments on the fly.

Hunters is a group that benefit from muzzle brakes for many of the same reasons as competitors. Many hunting rifles are higher-recoil and are fired from awkward, stressful positions in the field. A brake can make it so that the hunter can get back on the gun faster after the first shot. Hunters who take longer shots are again benefited by being able to spot their hits.

The Downsides

There are a few downsides associated with muzzle brakes that need to be considered. The first of these is noise, which is probably the most problematic part and a major reason why some people straight-up hate them. While a good muzzle brake will reduce felt recoil substantially, it will also substantially increase the amount of perceived noise and pressure a shooter feels.

A Beginner's Guide to Muzzle Brakes

Courtesy SilencerCo

The SilencerCo muzzle brake seen here makes a standard 16″ AR rifle almost unbearable to fire, even with hearing protection in place. The noise and blast feel much greater than with a flash hider and the concussion at the muzzle can be felt in the sinuses. While it virtually eliminates recoil, the gun isn’t fun to fire in any great volume with the brake in place.

Many hunters prefer to go to the field without hearing protection thinking that it will be just one shot and they won’t need it. I made that mistake last year with a .450 Bushmaster carbine.

I ended up taking a few shots due to an almost instantaneous malfunction and I profoundly regretted my lack of hearing protection. I had a terrible ringing in my ears for weeks. I didn’t think it would be that big an issue due to the fact that I’ve hunted for years with a muzzleloader that has a very long Kentucky-style barrel.

The muzzle loader is a relatively quiet gun and I’d compare it to a loud firecracker in most cases, but certainly not ear-shattering. The .450 Bushmaster’s chambered brake caused me some serious hearing damage that day and it was a completely preventable situation.

I wear light hearing protection in the stand now as a result. I can still hear game coming, but won’t hurt myself by taking the shot in tight wooded confines. I have since installed a radial Next Level Armament .450 Brake.

The blast and concussion are two separate issues. Some shooters I know take a Tylenol after a match because of the headache they come out with. Many won’t talk about it for fear of seeming unmanly, but your body is telling you something. I had had shooters complain of their eyes hurting, their sinuses aching, and low-grade migraines after firing SBR-length guns and carbines with muzzle brakes attached.

To Brake or Not To Brake?

Most people don’t really need muzzle brakes on their guns. Large caliber rifles such as the .450 Bushmaster, .338 Lapua, .300 Win Mag, and others like them certainly benefit from reduced recoil. I believe that most people that own and use rifles that generate tremendous recoil will want a brake as the benefits outweigh the possible downsides.

A Beginner's Guide to Muzzle Brakes

The standard A2-style flash hider on the far left is often just a fancy thread protector. The Next Level .450 brake is very compact but effective. The two SilencerCo ASR devices on the right can accept suppressors that thread on over top of them. (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

But what about people who shoot huge guns like .375 H&H, .458 Win Mag, and .416 Rigby? It’s rare to see safari-type guns with brakes simply for the reason that those guns aren’t shot that often and carried a great deal by people who have a desire to maintain a classic aesthetic.

I have seen big game hunters with braked rifles, but they are few compared to those who go with a bare muzzle. The .338 Lapua guys who shoot steel at a mile have a different set of needs than a guy with a .416 taking on a cape buffalo.

Pistols with muzzle brakes are a bit of a weird topic. Most modern pistols don’t need a brake. I would say that it makes virtually no sense to add a brake to a common 9mm pistol unless you were going for looks.

Length is immediately added to the barrel and noise at the muzzle is increased dramatically. A handgun hunter may benefit from a brake on a big bore revolver, but even then it’s not necessary in most cases due to the added blast. Firing a braked .460 S&W feels like setting off a grenade in your hand.

Competition shooters are a group that typically benefits from a good brake. This is a case where a speed-shooting competitor needs to keep their gun level to the target, usually while firing reduced or special target loads. It is common to see 1911-style guns with a brake on the muzzle in these competitions.

At the end of the day it will be a personal choice to brake or not. A brake on a home defense rifle is a hard pass for me as the blast and concussion would result in disorientation. Will a flash hider be better if firing a 5.56mm rifle indoors with no hearing protection? Hard to say, but why go there?

Would I want a brake on a carry gun? Again, probably not. The Tactical Polo Bros in the audience will defend their Roland Special to the end, but in real life nobody carries guns like that and if you do, you should rethink your carry preferences or perhaps take an actual self-defense course.

Muzzle devices brakes compensators flash hider

Jeremy S. for TTAG

The choice is yours. Muzzle brakes are common and widely available, but don’t be surprised if they aren’t your cup of tea. You really can’t go wrong with a flash hider in 90% of circumstances, but for that remaining 10%, reduced recoil can help at the expense of added noise and discomfort.

comments

  1. avatar PeterK says:

    “when you’re just trying to make your gun look cool, which is arguably 99% of what flash hiders do”

    Yes. They are gun jewelry. Which doesn’t make them any less useful or awesome. But this is their primary purpose for so many of us.

    1. avatar PeterK says:

      I put the ol’ a2 on literally only because it was cheaper than a good thread protector. And because it looks a little cooler.

      1. avatar BigMikeU says:

        Well i was bummed that the guy didnt talk more about Comps?I have an A2 hiders on my .224Val AR variant and then comps on my two 5.56 ARs but i am now thinking about starting a new build of a .308/7.62 AR 10? But right now i have an Anderson stripped multi caliber lower but i dont think i can use it for an AR10 but only the AR15 variants like .223wylde and .224Val and .223 and .223/5.56 and so on.Im going to contact Anderson to find out for sure?The .224Val was my 1st build ever and I think its the sweetest rifle i own! lol I love the idea of comps to help stay on target and if it helps keep your position hidden even better!!!?

        1. avatar Stretch Armstrong says:

          I love my muzzle brake and use it hunting all the time. With no hearing pro. Of course the brake is found at the far end of my SilencerCo Omega suppressor. Best of all worlds.

  2. avatar Gary says:

    Or, run a brake in conjunction with an Indian Creek Design BFD (a non-proprietary/universal fit blast forwarder that works with any brake worth paying for) and you can have the best of both worlds, a brake for control and the BFD to send the blast/concussion away from the shooter. You can use it to disorient the home invader with your MSR you use for home defense too.

    1. avatar Dan W says:

      Brakes lose most of their effectiveness with the shroud. Only thing that matters is what direction the gasses end up going.

      1. avatar AI338 says:

        +1. That’s why a can has less recoil reduction than a muzzle brake on its own.

      2. avatar Gary says:

        You’d be surprised. Most armchair physicists believe the same myth but they don’t account for the entire discharge cycle, they stop thinking past the instance of the projectile leaving the barrel. in practice there is quite a different result. Massive amounts of testing/data shows the efficacy reductions in total brake performance of under 10% for all brakes tested (17 styles) with the mean loss being 4.6%. The key is in the relative size of forwarder chamber versus brake diameter, brake design (gas dwell time [milliseconds] in forwarder after cork “pop” matters tremendously) and a few other parameters make a difference.

        1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          That’s interesting and I had wondered about this exact thing myself. Do you happen to have a citation for the numbers?

        2. avatar Gary says:

          We don’t publish our internal designs and test protocols, but if you’d like to reach out to the company mentioned we can set you up with a device to test for yourself- We’re good about that sort of thing. 🙂

        3. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          Ah so the numbers are from the sales brochure, got it.

        4. avatar Gary Adams says:

          Not so much, most of the “sales” long term use results are from tactical trainers in the Indy area who have well over 160,000 rounds through their BFD’s now, we don’t have that kind of ammo budget. We did qualitative testing, they are doing quantitative.

  3. avatar Aven says:

    I put a compensator on my Hi-Point 995TS 9MM carbine to make it prettier. Didn’t work.

    1. avatar GomeznSA says:

      Umm wouldn’t that be lipstick on a pig category? Asking for a friend……………..

    2. avatar Chris Brown says:

      So, the gun is still ugly?

  4. avatar Robster says:

    Yeah, personally there is nothing fun about trying to get a little practice in on an indoor range and in the next lane over a guy is shooting a braked AR. Its impossible to practice shooting slow being moved around by the gas concussion of a braked AR so close. Occasionally I will bring a girlfriend who leaves there saying I’ll ‘never do that again.’

    It’s a bummer actually!!

    1. avatar Biatec says:

      Even at the outdoor range here it’s kind of annoying. They will be mag dumping or just shooting under 100 yards. I’m skeptical of how useful it is for intermediate cartridges. I can’t even imagine an indoor range.

      1. avatar SoCalJack says:

        At indoor ranges, I have to don double hearing protection whenever someone brings in a braked AR pistol that is at least 3 lanes away from me.

        1. avatar Biatec says:

          That sounds awful.

        2. avatar ‘liljoe says:

          No, he muffled it.

          I’ve got a 308 bolt action rifle with a muzzle brake and one that doesn’t have any threading at the end… when shooting 200+ yards (I don’t really hunt, just use them for target practice) with the same scope, the one with the brake is much more accurate. You can call me a wuss, but I’ll take any help I can get when shooting. 308 really does kick.

        3. avatar Jeff In CO says:

          You wimps! I just don’t get it. You must be like the people that always complain to me everytime I want to get a little practice with my EDC Barrett M82A1 20” with a brake and do a quick emergency mag dump. I mean seriously 😒, it’s my right to be able to practice to proficiently defend my family! 😉

          On a more serious note, I ALWAYS wear double hearing protection (unless teaching, acting as an RSO, or taking a course outdoors – I use my Ear Pro’s for that), even on outdoor ranges. We only get one shot (no pun intended) at our hearing, and it never reverts to a better state. It is in a constant state of degeneration. (And yes, I also get really annoyed with all the mag dump AR pistol-braked people that end up in the bay next to me at my nearby indoor range.)

        4. avatar B.D. says:

          “emergency mag dump” and “practice” in the same sentence when referring to indoor ranges standing in one position.

          Can’t make this shit up. This guys actually believes there is a such thing as an emergency mag dump and practices that shit indoors.

        5. avatar Jeff in CO says:

          “This guys actually believes there is a such thing as an emergency mag dump and practices that shit indoors.”

          B.D., this was known as “sarcasm.” I thought it was so obvious that it didn’t seem necessary to put the /sarc at the end (especially with the emoji’s, the fact that I was talking about doing a mag dump with an “Every Day Carry” .50-cal, plus my comments at the end regarding how annoying it is when people do this).

          Sorry for the confusion . . .

  5. avatar Madcapp says:

    There was an article here, maybe 18 months ago about how a new muzzle brake/flash hider shootout was coming up. Never happened. What happened?

    1. avatar Jeff In CO says:

      RF sold the site…

  6. avatar WI Patriot says:

    When I bought my Ruger GSR(.308, 18.7″ SS), it had an A2 flash hider on it, not only was it cheap looking, it was worthless, so I replaced it with a muzzle brake, best decision I made(other than buying the rifle)…
    I dropped some coin on a SuperComp XL Ti muzzle brake, threaded it on, indexed it and went to shootin’, made all the difference in the world, rifle shoots like a .223…From the time I press the trigger I never loose sight picture and can watch the bullet strike…

    There is/was one caveat, it’s LOUD…

    https://gogunusa.com/collections/supercomp-no-talon-xl-rifle-brake/products/supercomp-xl-308-muzzle-brake-titanium-bead-blasted-stealth-gray

  7. avatar Dude says:

    Maybe I missed this in the article, but why doesn’t the A2 flash hider work like a comp since it has openings in the top but not the bottom?

    1. avatar Egghead says:

      Not sure maybe the internal geometry yada yada , but i have one of the BCM gunfighter comps looks kinda like an over grown bird cage. This is supposed to be one of those all-around brake/comp/flash hiders works pretty well OH and it looks good too.

      1. avatar Jeff In CO says:

        How much louder is the gun vs the birdcage?

        1. avatar egghead says:

          i cant really say if its any louder or not but it does have some sideways blast but not full on brake.

      2. avatar doesky2 says:

        LOL…90$ BCM comp.
        I think I’ll stick with a $10 A2

    2. avatar tfunk says:

      It does marginally have an effect on muzzle rise, but no effect on rearward recoil.

  8. avatar Anymouse says:

    “Silencer” is verboten as inaccurate, but “flash hider” is ok, despite being inaccurate and on the antis’ list of bad things for an “assault weapon.” They don’t hide the flash — they reshaping a ball of incandescently hot gas so that it isn’t in the shooter’s view. You fail to distinguish between a muzzle break (redirects gasses to counteract recoil) or compensator (redirects gasses to counteract muzzle rise), but are fine with separating redirecting gases from the shooters line of vision. Since muzzle rise is a product of recoil causing rotation when the bore axis is above the contact point with the shooter, either a compensator or brake will diminish it, they are different because of the direction of force they impart from the gasses. In fact, muzzle devices can simultaneously perform any subset of these functions. A muzzle device that directs the gasses upward, slightly toward the shooter, and outward of the center line (V-shaped from POV in front of or behind shooter) removes the gases from shooters view (hider) while producing forward (brake) and downward (compensator) forces.
    A silencer/suppressor/muffler/attenuator/can operates on different principles and will cool the incandescent gasses and lower their pressure and velocity so they don’t recoil as much and don’t visibly glow when released into the atmosphere.

    1. avatar Red in CO says:

      A buddy of mine used to have a Draco AK pistol with some kind of specialized flash hider. When firing the gun you couldn’t see anything but if you were watching someone shoot it from behind them you’d see a jet of flame, probably a foot long, coming from both sides so it was basically a large V of fire. Pretty cool

    2. avatar LazrBeam says:

      When I went into the Army 50 yrs ago yesterday we trained with M14’s and, of course, in Vietnam we had M16’s. That thingie out on the end of the barrel was referred to as a flash suppressor. It was never referred to as a flash “hider”.

  9. avatar Draven says:

    “Silencer is an incorrect term…”

    No, it actually is not at all, considering that silencer was the brand name term applied to them by the guy that invented them, the name he sold them under.

    Basically, you’re saying also that ‘Jell-O’ is an incorrect term for gelatin deserts, ‘Kleenex’ is an incorrect term for facial tissues, “Windex” is an incorrect term for window cleaner, ‘taser’ is an incorrect term for a electronic stun gun, etc.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      It’s also the legally correct term. Put “SUPPRESSOR” in box 4b in ATF Form 4 and see if it ever gets approved.. If you hate the word “silencer”, “muffler” is listed as an alternative in the NFA and ATF forms.

      1. avatar Michael says:

        Oh,and do not forget You do get your 200 dollar back if they say No! Myths.I ;-)love them.

        I like them Muzzle brake sound better,s it helps me control Recoil as I shoot from Standing or kneeling or off a Fence rail ora bipod or a Gun Rest.and The Prone
        position as it does stop most of the kick back from the ground dirt from the blast
        coming out the ports.

    2. avatar PeterK says:

      Huh. I didn’t know that. Good info.

  10. avatar Cpt Olen Ridling says:

    Depending on the State you live in (Socialist Democracies like: NY, CA, IL, & Et Al) you must call them spark suppressors & plainly state they are for the sole purpose of NOT setting the woods on fire. OR ELSE – goon squads from governments like Cuomo’s will arrest you for having them on your semi-automatics. NOTHING will hide the flash from a Mosen-Nagant & CCCP surplus ammo.

    1. avatar LazrBeam says:

      I refer to my Mosin-Nagants as “Fire breathing dragons”.

      1. avatar Cpt Olen Ridling says:

        I love night fire w/ MN’s

        1. avatar Adambomb286 says:

          Yep! I want to design a “Flash Enhancer” for my M44 so I can use it to signal aircraft.

  11. avatar TomC says:

    “…it should be noted that the vast majority of a gun’s recoil comes from the muzzle blast itself”

    Obviously Josh failed high school physics.

    Poor Isaac Newton’s graveyard friends are undoubtedly calling him Whirligig Isaac from all the spinning he is doing in his grave after seeing this published.

    NO the majority of a gun’s recoil does NOT come from the muzzle blast (if it did, blanks would have as much or more recoil than live rounds). Muzzle blast accounts for a minuscule portion of a firearm’s recoil. The vast majority comes from the energy used to accelerate the bullet forward which (as Newton explained) also produces an equal but opposite effect accelerating the firearm backwards.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      “Miniscule” goes too far. Total recoil = bullet weight × bullet velocity + powder weight × powder velocity. (Ignoring weight v. mass technical difference). 55gr 5.56 could be 55gr × 3300 fps + 25.5gr × 7000 fps is just about half the recoil from gas. It’s much less for .45 ACP: 230gr × 850 fps + 6 gr × 7000 fps = 17% recoil from gasses. A light bullet with a large powder charge could get a majority from the gasses.

  12. avatar Jack says:

    Foamies and muffs when I shoot with a brake. Outdoor only.

    1. avatar AI338 says:

      You should double up regardless of what you’re shooting.

  13. avatar Joe says:

    Putting a brake on a.22 (wait…what?)
    When shooting for time it helps the timing device pick up the shots more consistently.

    1. avatar Craig in IA says:

      You obviously haven’t shot many high end .22 target pistols.

      1. avatar Joe says:

        Guns, ammo, timers, people… all variable. The brake helps.

        1. avatar CDC says:

          You are right on with the variables, right handed and left eye dominate. The Remington 514 is what I cut my teeth on. Its still in the family and is as accurate as the day it was born sometime around 1970.

  14. avatar Craig in IA says:

    I’ve toyed around with putting a brake of some sort on my Ultralight Arms .300 Win Mag. Weighs nothing, and sighting it in from a bench 20 years ago was the worst range time I’ve ever put in. About like letting Mike Tyson cold-cock you every time you pressed the trigger. The hunt I was contemplating using it for fell through and it’s been lying in one of my safes now. I have a couple .375 H&Hs and a 77 in .458 Win Mag, none of them come close to the sharp smack in the face of that .300 Mag. Knocks my glasses off regardless of where I put my cheek. Maybe one of these days I’ll break it out again.

  15. avatar CDC says:

    Great info, in wide open spaces muzzie brakes are the bomb, if you really want to p people off take your muzzle brake equipped AR to an indoor range without the BMD. Jeremy S. has a detailed six part series on muzzle brakes and flash hiders.

  16. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    I have several AR platforms, brakes on all of them. Pondering doing so for my bench .308, but at 13&3/4 pounds it doesn’t really move anyway off bipod.

    On one I use a Jerry Miculek model.
    https://miculek.com/product/mic-comp-223-miculek-compensator-ar-15-223/
    Pretty sure Midway might carry them as well.

    Is it the best out there? Up for debate of course

    1. avatar CDC says:

      I saw one of JMs videos where he indexed his brake at the 1clock position. JM felt that it gave him a faster follow up shot…. of course.

  17. avatar Robert says:

    Didn’t like the noise increase so i made my own. My .338 win mag is a comfortable 30-06 with no increase in noise

  18. avatar Bob says:

    “‘Silencer’ is a technically incorrect term ”

    I know it’s out of favored usage but when the inventor Hiram Maxim himself called them silencers I don’t get being a stickler about it…

  19. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    My perspective on muzzle brakes:

    Unless you can prove that you need one, don’t use one. The increase in sound pressure level at the shooter’s position behind the rear sight is substantial.

    Want less recoil? Increase the weight of the gun. Change the weight distribution of the gun. Get a silencer. Use a mercury recoil reducer.

    Brakes are a hazard to your hearing – even if you’re wearing hearing protection. If you’re using a brake and not using hearing protection, you really need to do so. Really.

  20. avatar Tim says:

    A good brake on my .338 win mag, 18″ barrel will blur my vision when I touch it off. The one good thing is the fact that it has almost no recoil, I have shot .243 that had similar felt recoil. A SBR AR is obnoxious on an indoor range with a brake, my .338 is about the same sound level…and I wear double hearing protection when I am volunteering as an RSO.

  21. avatar Billy M Rhodes says:

    I volunteer as an RSO at an outdoor 100 yard range for three hours per week., so I see a lot of different firearms. Muzzle brakes do increase noise. Usually I see the effect when a guy brings his wife, girlfriend, etc. and she is watching him shoot. She will notice the noise. I tell her to stand directly behind the shooter, it is usually quieter.

  22. avatar Jr says:

    “A flash hider — also called a flash suppressor — essentially just redirects the fireball at the gun’s muzzle in more productive directions.”

    I believe this is incorrect. The flash hider actually does reduce the fireball created by allowing the gasses to pre-cool before being blown out the muzzle (or something like that )

  23. avatar marinedoc says:

    I had free access to a local Police Indoor Range and quit going because of the incredible percussion I felt with just me firing a 9mm pistol. Ditto for my memberships at Indoor Ranges allowing rifles. It’s cool if you have a rifle and want to challenge your hearing but again, combination of percussion and noise drove me away. Never quite understood why someone wanted to shoot their rifle indoors at a max of 25 yards anyway, beyond checking sights with 3-4 shots. I suppose needing a rifle fix and no access to outdoor ranges.

    1. avatar edward kenway's ghost says:

      I used to haunt the outdoor public range behind Clark’s Gun Shop in Warrenton, VA, years ago. I stopped going there after getting tired of the knuckleheads – and unsupervised kids with stupid adults.
      Don’t get me wrong … I loved the store and the folks who ran it, they knew me by name. Bought guns, ammo, brass, dies, powder … you name it.
      I’d purposely go shoot on a weekday as I did a 4-day work week and Sat-Sun was usually a mess. I liked having open space next to me so no one would complain about my S&W 629. Just so happens I was running my SIG that day and The One Knucklehead on the range decides to get right next to me with hot .357 reloads. Not only was the noise terrible, the damned unburned gunpowder was flying through the screen between benches onto me.
      I moved because Dumb Corksnacker didn’t have the manners to do so even after I complained to him…. no use bugging the employee RO because he would’ve told me everyone gets an opportunity to shoot – even the dumb ones.

  24. avatar Will Drider says:

    While in the neighborhood, you could have covered “Flash Cans”. They’re good for the Shooter with short barreled AR/AK pistols and appreciated by others on and near the firing line.

  25. avatar edward kenway's ghost says:

    Yep, there’s a BIG difference between a slow, subsonic black powder “ssss-ka-FOOOMP” and the high impulse, fast-burning smokeless round going supersonic. I recall qualifying with an M16A2 during a summer in Korea and they put us at the top of a mountain range, shooting the rifle with NATO 5.56mm. Each shooter on the firing line had ear pro and was firing through a concrete tube to keep the muzzle blast directed away from your neighbors to the left and right.
    Didn’t do much for the individual, though, because some of the shockwave reverberated back onto the shooter. Felt like my face was getting slapped after a magazine or two, and I got smart real quick, brushing the concrete tube out after the first faceful of dirt and pebbles.

  26. avatar Wally1 says:

    Years ago I purchased a used Ruger stainless .338 win mag with the composite paddle stock. The previous owner had an obviously professional gunsmith shorten the barrel to 20″ and the barrel was ported. Beautiful work. It is very loud, however to my amazement, recoil is on par with about a 243 or 7mm08. One of my favorite hunting rifles.

  27. The article should have also mentioned linear compensators, which are the best of both worlds.
    Linear compensators (linear comps) redirect the sound and blast forward, away from the shooter, and away from other people on the firing range.
    They’re legal to use because they don’t lower the volume of the shot — they only redirect it forward, making it seem quieter to everyone on the gun range (the opposite of a brake, which redirects it backwards and to the sides, making shots seem louder).

    Linear comps also help prevent muzzle rise, so they not only make guns sound quieter (without requiring any tax stamp), they also make followup shots quicker! And just like other muzzle devices, they dress up your gun and make it look cool. They’re also great for shooting subsonic rounds without a suppressor, because the forward redirection of gasses from a linear comp helps cycle the bolt carrier group (or slide on a pistol) when firing with subsonic ammo.

    The down side to linear comps, unfortunately, is that while they help prevent muzzle rise, they actually INCREASE the rearward recoil by directing all the gasses forward, leading to a slight INCREASE in felt recoil. That’s why they’re best on guns that already have light recoil, such as 5.56, .223, .22LR, or 300 BLK. They’re FANTASTIC on AR pistols and SBRs, but don’t use a linear comp on high-recoil magnum rifles that need a real brake.

    I tested linear comps for their “quietness”, and I found that while they’re quieter than a bare muzzle, they are not much quieter than an A1 or A2 flash hider. I guess the flash hider also helps redirect the sound forwards. I tried testing them with a decibel meter, but I learned that standard decibel meters aren’t good at measuring the sound of a gunshot, because a gunshot is so quick (a fraction of a second). You need a super-expensive decibel meter designed specifically for gunshots, in order to accurately test the sound level of different muzzle devices.

    My testing with a cheap decibel meter in an indoor range SEEMED to show that a flash hider was quieter than a linear comp, but then I realized that it was because my cheap, slow-reacting decibel meter (not designed for the quick sound of gunshots) was recording the echo of the sound bouncing off the far wall of the indoor range and returning to the gun port, while the flash suppressor didn’t echo as much because it didn’t direct all the sound forward (some of the sound went sideways with the flash hider, and the sides of the gun ports were carpeted for noise dampening, which screwed up my testing also).

    I’d love to see someone with a better decibel meter (designed to measure gunshots) write an article about linear compensators to determine after testing how much quieter they make a gunshot sound to the shooter.

    1. avatar Gary says:

      The proper equipment to measure gunfire accurately is extremely expensive to rent, let alone purchase. We’re talking in the neighborhood of $10-15K a day. No cell phone app even remotely measures an accurate gunshot, they have been found to be 30-50 dB off (yes, that is a HUGE swing) and the proper weighted dB scale for firearm discharge is grossly weighted towards further inaccuracy with a cell phone.

      TTAG had testing set up with the proper instrumentation but their sale changed those plans.

      As a heads up, ANY muzzle device that affects the sound signature, lessening it by even just 1 dB, is considered a “suppressor” by that most infamous of .gov alphabet agencies. If a device is doing anything other than simply changing the perceived sound from the shooters perspective, if it can be measured from 1 yard to the side of the muzzle to reduce sound, then its tax time.

      I won’t go into Linear Comps being, well, oh nevermind. If you like them that’s all that matters.

  28. avatar Jeff says:

    The #1 thing you need to know about muzzle brakes is how to spell brake.

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