Understanding AR 15 Muzzle Brake vs. Flash Hider vs. Compensator
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to customize both the look and function of your AR 15 – start by looking at a muzzle device.
A muzzle device is a piece of equipment that is attached to the muzzle of your AR-15 (end of the barrel). The AR has a threaded end on the barrel, so it’s generally pretty easy to attach muzzle devices (just screw it on and tighten).
There are three main categories of muzzle devices:
Each of these items serves a specific purpose and the right muzzle device can enhance any AR setup.
Many of today’s muzzle devices offer a combination of their functions to achieve optimum results. For example, the standard A2 “half birdcage” flash suppressor actually shares some of the qualities of a compensator.
Let’s take a look at these muzzle devices individually to better understand which muzzle device would be best suited for your AR15.
A muzzle brake redirects or deflects high pressure and high-velocity gases to the rear and reduces the effects of recoil to better gain control of your weapon.
- Reduces the effects of recoil to better gain control of your weapon.
- Allows you to perform successive shots better by acquiring or reacquiring targets easily with the weapon’s reduced movement.
- Reduces recoil impact on your shoulder and body. Not such a big deal on an AR, but never a bad thing!
- Lack of flash suppression – may impair your night vision or give away your position in combat
- Gas vent direction means that you are directing extreme amounts of noise, gas, and concussive force to the people around you. This can be an issue in combat, or at the range.
Flash Hider (Flash Suppressor)
A flash hider manipulates vented gases to reduce or eliminate muzzle flash.
- Helps to keep your position concealed during night-time combat excursions.
- Night blindness is reduced or eliminated. After all, in the seconds it takes for your eyes to regain focus due to the blinding flash of your weapon, a bullet may already be on its way with your signed ticket to the underworld.
- No recoil or accuracy increasing benefits
- Specialized muzzle device that primarily benefits the user in low-light or night time missions – dead weight in daytime missions.
A compensator redirects high pressure and high velocity gases upward. to reduce muzzle climb or “flip”
- Reduces muzzle climb or “flip”. Similar to the muzzle brake, except the muzzle brake primarily reduces recoil and the compensator primarily reduces muzzle climb.
- Perform successive shots easier – reduced muzzle flip means quicker followup shots.
- Improved control for rapid fire, grouping is tighter which means a more effective barrage of bullets going downrange.
- Same as the muzzle brake – loud, and no flash suppression
- Barrel Length and Muzzle Device Durability – Due to barrel variance, the intense super hot gas pressures are also at different levels and because of this the best muzzle device for your AR will depend on calculating for this factor.
- Size and Weight – A rifle is cumbersome enough and adding length and extra weight will affect the weapon’s balance and the way you are able to maneuver the weapon to bear on targets. It can also become an ATF compliance issue.
- Thread Pitch and Caliber – Not all muzzle devices fit the AR/M16/M4 (1/2”-28) some are made for the .308 (5/8”-24). The right caliber and thread pitch for the right barrel.
- Suppressor Compatibility – If you are planning on keeping your AR silent, the choice of muzzle devices get limited, often they will have to be fitted with an adapter to make them work.
These are some ideas to think about when choosing the best muzzle device for your AR15. It is good to mention again that some muzzle devices today perform a combination of these functions, so the right muzzle device for you might have a combination of features. One example of this is our highly-recommended FOSSA-556 flash hider/compensator – it virtually eliminates muzzle flash while reducing muzzle rise.
One Last Tip
If there’s anyone that knows the AR-15 platform, it’s the US military. As a special offer for our readers, you can get the Official US Army Manual for AR-15/M4/M16 right now – for free. Click here to snag a copy.