Why would anyone spend money to reduce the recoil of an AR-15 rifle? That’s the question some will ask given the fact that a .223/5.56 round doesn’t produce a whole lotta recoil. Fair enough. For most shooters, it won’t make enough of a difference to matter. But if you’re a competitive shooter or are just sensitive to recoil, a recoil-reducing buffer makes sense.
The Miculek Magnetic Buffer System isn’t the first recoil reducer. Buffers using springs or hydraulics have been around for years. But the Miculek is a unique design using magnetic polarity to dampen the recoil impulse.
That means there are no moving parts to make noise or fail. With no springs or hydraulic seals, the Miculek Magnetic Buffer System (MMBS from now on) is damn near foolproof.
When you’re not using it in your rifle, the MMBS can double as a handy fridge magnet. But seriously folks . . .
Here you see the MMBS next to a standard M4 buffer. There are a couple of difference besides the recoil-reducing piston action. First, the MMBS weighs a tad more…3.2 oz versus 2.9 oz according to my kitchen scale. Also, the MMBS doesn’t rattle when you shake it like the standard buffer does.
I talked to the folks at JDAS Enterprises who produce the MMBS with Jerry Miculek. They make the comps for Jerry, too, and tell me more Miculek designs are coming in the future.
JDAS said they’ve tested the buffer under more that 100,000 rounds without failure. They hooked it up to an accelerometer to objectively measure recoil and tested it for barrel deflection to see what it does for muzzle rise.
They told me that the MMBS is a significant improvement over a standard buffer and measurably better than either sprung or hydraulic designs.
Since I don’t have access to any of that equipment, the only way to tell if the MMBS does what they say it does is to shoot it.
Installing it takes all of 30 seconds. Just depress the buffer retention pin in your rifle’s lower — be sure to have your thumb over the sprung buffer or it will launch — and remove your standard buffer and spring. Slide the old buffer out of the recoil spring and slide the MMBS in. Put them into your lower and you’re ready to go.
The strength of the dampening action of the MMBS is selectable with a screw that adjusts how much force is needed to depress the magnetic piston. The farther in you adjust the screw, the more force it takes to compress the buffer. That lets you tune your rifle as needed for the force of your recoil spring, the weight of your ammo, the effects of a suppressor, whatever.
JDAS recommends tuning with a single round in a magazine. Shoot your rifle and if the action doesn’t lock back on the empty magazine, adjust the buffer with a counter-clockwise half-turn of the adjustment screw to lighten the tension. Repeat until the rifle locks back reliably. I didn’t have to do that as my rifle cycled just fine with the MMBS right out of the box.
First I shot two rifles side by side, one with a standard buffer and one with the MMBS. The rifle with the MMBS was slightly softer-shooting than the standard buffer. But while I was shooting the same ammo from each gun, the two rifles weren’t the same (different accessories, different weights, different muzzle devices). It wasn’t really a fair comparison.
Next I shot both buffers with the same rifle, alternating between the two. That’s a little tricky because you have to take the rifle down to replace the buffers between magazines. Still, there was a perceptible reduction in felt recoil when using the MMBS. It’s not a lot and it probably won’t make much of a difference to some shooters. But it’s there.
The MMBS has an MSRP of $119 and sells for $99 retail exclusively through Big Daddy Unlimited. That makes it less expensive than hydraulic buffers. Will it be worth it for you? That depends on how you shoot and how recoil sensitive you are. But if you want to do everything you can to reduce as much of the felt recoil your AR-15 rifle produces — and lots of people do — the MMBS is well worth a try.