There are a ton of choices when it comes to rifle ammunition. Understanding your goals, distance, and whether you’re using the rifle unsuppressed all affect your choices. In today’s article we’re outlining the differences on muzzle devices. We’ll compare compensator vs muzzle break vs flash hider – we’ll also give you our recommended products for each.

Tell me the difference between different muzzle devices?

When a rifle’s trigger is pulled, the powder in the round is ignited by the primer. The gas that propels the bullet has a few places to go. First is down the barrel behind the bullet. This is a no brainer.

The second is in the gas tube – which helps cycle the bolt, putting a new round into battery.

The third is expulsion from the muzzle of the rifle (this all happens in pistols too, except semi-automatic pistols do not have a gas tub – they’re blowback driven). The gasses and pressure expelling from the muzzle causes a couple things:

  1. The crack you hear when shooting the rifle

  2. Your natural point of aim is changed because the pressure changes your muzzle’s position.

What are different types of muzzle devices?

All of these muzzle devices have a purpose. If you have a specific need, a good muzzle will improve your rifle’s performance.

Muzzle Brakes

Muzzle brakes primarily help to reduce the recoil on the rifle. Causing less recoil, you’ll stay on target easier. They’re also louder than suppressors, compensators, and flash hiders.

Compensators

Compensators are meant to reduce muzzle rise in a rifle. Think about this as up and down changes in natural point of aim.

Muzzle Brake vs Compensator

Some manufacturers claim their muzzle brakes will aid in both recoil reduction and muzzle rise. This isn’t true for all muzzle brakes – so it’s important to note the different muzzle devices features but also know that a muzzle brake can achieve both.

Flash Hiders

The flash hider reduces muzzle flash and also gives a quieter noise as compared to muzzle brakes, compensators, and rifles without muzzle devices. These however, are nowhere near as quiet as suppressors.

All about Muzzle Brakes

Do Muzzle Brakes Make Guns Louder?

Muzzle brake systems aren’t for everyone.

You may also notice that some ranges do not allow muzzle brakes. The noise signature is too dangers for enclosed ranges – even with hearing protection.

Obviously, the muzzle brake have some disadvantages.

They can cover about 2 inches of length, they may slow at round speeds and are loud. They’re still shorter than a suppressor – but it’s an extra couple inches to your rifle. (Hidden bonus: If you can get it pinned a welded to your barrel, making the barrel 16″ or more long, and have a rifle with an overall length of 26″ or more – then you’ve turned your rifle into a “rifle” and not an “SBR”. Keep up to date with the ATF’s rules and regulations – they may have changed since writing this).

The ear deafening cracks of lightning. To be honest, the shots aren’t THAT loud. It’s quieter than not having a muzzle device. But louder than the options we’ve outlined here. Because the muzzle brake is intended to release gases to the front side of the muzzle. Shooters near you get the worst of it. The sound is deafening to your range neighbors because the gas pressure has shifted towards the sides rather than the sounds itself.

Do Muzzle Brakes Improve Accuracy?

Definitely!

There’s a reason precision shooters normally shoot with a muzzle brake. Some may use a suppressor but a muzzle brake are the gold standard with precision rifles.

Muzzle brakes are also popular with long distances snipers in the military.

Does the military use muzzle brakes?

The standard issue M16 and M4 for regular infantry units featured a flash hider. Current military service rifles (like the HK416) are equipped with silencers.

Snipers however require the extra recoil reduction for large caliber rifles to make the shot perfect. Especially when shot in succession on a moving target or multiple targets.

Do I need a muzzle brake?

It depends. If you’re looking for an extra edge in competition or just normal shooting – this might be right for you. The recoil reduction will help you practice fundamentals before worrying if your sight picture was on the same spot at each shot.

A muzzle brake is not meant to make up for lack of fundamental rifle marksmanship though. Practice the fundamentals and you’ll be shooting more accurately in no time at all.

Does a Muzzle Brake Hide Flash?

The blast from a muzzle brake is far more noticeable than a flash hider or suppressor. See the photo below. You’ll easily see this from far away – especially at night or in empty land. The muzzle brake will hide the flash better than a barrel without a muzzle device.

How Do Flash Hiders Work

If you look at your standard military flash hider, it’ll have notches around the top 180 degrees of the muzzle device. This aids in reducing muzzle rise and also reducing the flash signature.

Whereas a muzzle brake has multiple large ports or holes on the sides (and sometimes on top) which allows the gasses and flash to escape, the flash hider has much smaller holes to help with flash suppression, muzzle climb, and recoil reduction.

Do I need a flash hider?

You don’t need anything.

We recommend though – for the sake of a softer crack from the barrel – that you at the very least use a flash hider. This flash represents a high temperature gas which will rapidly expand when a cold air source is encountered.

What are you going to hurt buy purchasing and installing one? Our Aero Precision A2 flash hider is only $7.99.

The hot air escapes from a barrel’s end creating bubbles. The flash in our picture shows that gas bubble is incandescent if it passes through the visible spectrum. Warm gas creates a bright glow. In an effort to negate flashing lights, flashhiders produce turbulent conditions.

What flash hider is used by the military?

Depending on the manfacturer and service weapon, the military has multiple sources of supply for flash hiders. I’d suggest the USMC flash hiders on M4’s were manufactured by Colt or branded by Colt and manufactured elsewhere.

The USMC’s current service rifle by HK features HK’s flash hider. I would expect this from every other service weapon in the military – whoever manufactured the rifle probably subcontracted it out and has their own brand of replacement parts.

However, in a pinch, an armorer might need to use another manufacturer’s muzzle device.

Aero Precision AR15 A2 Birdcage Flash Hider

The Aero Precsion A2 bird cage flash hider is designed to help protect your eyes and protect your limbs when firing a firearm during the night. The A2 flash hidder fits 5.52/.223 barrels. It is made in the US and offers the perfect finishing touch to your rifle.

AR15 A2 Birdcage Flash Hider

Is an A2 flash hider good?

The military uses these as standard issue to go win wars with. Do you think it’s any good?

Even if you’re not using this in a tactical situation – what could it hurt protecting your eyes and ears from the concussion of the discharge? Or from your targets seeing a lighter flash signature?

What is a compensator?

While a muzzle break is designed to reduce recoil and a flash hider reduces reduction, flash signature, and noise – the compensator is designed to reduce muzzle climb when firing downrange. This improves the shooters ability to get a new sight alignment and sight picture sooner than other muzzle devices.

VG6 GAMMA 556

You will find muzzle brakes that feature the same features as a compensator, all in one package. However, not every muzzle brake features compensator characteristics. With all of the benefits of a muzzle brake, we think it’s best to find a muzzle brake with compensator features.

Combination Type Muzzle Devices

As mentioned earlier we talked about the number of muzzle devices that are combined types and some might also be offered as hybrid brake/compensatory or flash devices. It is often reasonable for a shooter to want to have compensation as well as reduce the retraction of a muzzle brake.

VG6 EPSILON 556

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