Sick of those fun follow-up shots being whipped into infinity? The right muzzle brake can transform the AR’s mellow recoil impulse into holes in a bullseye! We recently hand-tested 10 of the hottest AR brakes to find the top options that take smooth shooting to the next level and narrowed it down to the top 5 recoil slayers based on recoil reduction, price, and more.

Given the scope of this challenge, we need to ask ourselves “What is a muzzle brake?” and depending on the answer we will have some criteria to base the tests on. Let’s dive right into it!

*P.S. You might want to bookmark this page because the more muzzle brakes we get our hands on…the more this list will grow. That way you will always have a resource for the latest and greatest. 

What is a Muzzle Brake?

Okay, no one likes recoil in general but what exactly is a muzzle brake and what’s the point of tossing it on the ol AR-15? Typically .223/5.56 doesn’t produce a ton of recoil, but it generates just enough to have flip, rise, dips, dodges, and dives. The answer is accurate and fast follow-up shots aided by a muzzle brake.

ar 15 muzzle brake

Muzzle brakes are crafty little recoil reducers. Their secret? Strategically angled gas vents. When fired, gas is redirected out of these vents (typically out the sides). The vented gas takes the path of least resistance creating reactive gas bleeds and even propels rearward recoil forward. Not every manufacturer’s gas vents at the same angles.

This physics magic can cut felt recoil by as much as 50% and as a result, it will keep you making holes on target faster. Pretty cool right? With less abuse from recoil, you can get sights back on target faster.

ar 15 muzzle brake
More physics magic in our Muzzle Device Guide.

So why these specific muzzle brakes? Honestly, we looked at both the most popular ones on the internet as well as what we could get a hold of on the fly. We wanted to know if certain ones really were the “best”. Before we could determine what was the “best” we had to come up with some strict criteria!

Main Testing Criteria

Forget lab coats and laser beams – we evaluated these muzzle brakes the old-fashioned way – with gunpowder and lead! Meaning we kept things simple:

  • Three Rifles – All mechanically the same (we made sure). One was naked as a control with no muzzle device. Another was being fired with X muzzle brake while the other was being fitted with a new one and they would swap places. 
ar 15 muzzle brake
Bare muzzle test. Check out the cone of fire!
  • Three Testers – All three of us would fire 2 – 5 shots and write down our thoughts and “grade” accordingly.
  • Bystander Positioning – One person shooting, one standing off to the side of the shooter, and the last person to the side and behind the shooter. This way it was a good grasp on any concussion dispersion or lack thereof.

We burned enough ammo to supply a small militia, testing each muzzle brake for recoil-taming power, blast direction, quality, weight, and price. For this first round of non-scientific journal-type testing, no detail was spared. Did they pass the test? Let’s find out!

Top 5 Best AR-15 Muzzle Brakes

Some excelled in their respective senses whether it be specifically price, recoil reduction, and so on. Our top five have been singled out in their own facets. Let’s kick things off with the most popular AR-15 muzzle brake out there.

1. Most Popular AR-15 Muzzle Brake

VG6 Epsilon 556

VG6 Epsilon 556 AR 15 Muzzle Device

VG6 Epsilon 556 AR 15 Muzzle Device


I mean this one is pretty cut and dry. Just about every other webpage or video talking about good muzzle brakes brings up the VG6 Epsilon 556. Apart from its notoriety and word of mouth, something that gives it an edge is it is a hybrid of a muzzle brake, compensator, and flash hider. It does all those jobs well enough to earn some loyalty.

ar 15 muzzle brake
VG6 makes a ton of muzzle devices which definitely has to do with their popularity.

Things we liked:

  • Recoil – Noticeably soft recoil. Like a flick more than a punch.
  • Looks – It’s sleek and sexy! Even the packaging.
  • “Standard” Wrench Flats – Any old AR15 armorer’s wrench will do the job.
  • Crush Washer – Included.

Things we didn’t like:

  • Concussion – It did not cut down on it much.
  • Concussion towards the shooter – You’d get a little smack in the face whenever you fired.
ar 15 muzzle brake
VG6 Epsilon 556 fireball

Retailing around $72, the VG6 Epsilon 556 is reasonably priced to test out. It’s a good option for most builds, though maybe not if concussion really bothers you, however, most muzzle brakes are MUCH worse.

2. Best Budget AR-15 Muzzle Brake

AT3 AR-15 3-Port Muzzle Brake

AT3™ AR-15 3-Port Muzzle Brake with Crush Washer - 1/2x28 Thread for .223/5.56

AT3™ AR-15 3-Port Muzzle Brake with Crush Washer – 1/2×28 Thread for .223/5.56


Just $30??? The best budget does not always mean the cheapest. In hands-on testing, this guy was pleasantly in our top three picks as far as the criteria were concerned. It performed better than muzzle brakes that were four or even five times its retail price!

ar 15 muzzle brake
The AT3 3-Port Brake is affordable, effective, and simple.

Things we liked:

  • Recoil – A pleasant pat on the shoulder. Engaging with follow-up shots was pretty effortless.
  • Price – It’s extremely affordable. Just 30 bucks!
  • Looks – It’s basic but approachable and appealing.
  • Concussion Redirection – Less towards the shooter.
  • “Standard” Wrench Flats – Your average AR15 armorer’s wrench will do.
  • Crush Washer – Included.

Things we didn’t like:

  • Concussion Towards Others – If you go to the range with buddies they may get annoyed.
ar 15 muzzle brake
AT3 Tactical 3-Port muzzle Brake fireball

This guy retails at around $30. For the money, the AT3 3-Port is hard to beat after our tests. Sure, it’s budget-minded, so go with something more stylish for a Gucci build. But for a workhorse build, this muzzle brake delivers at a stellar value.

3. AT3’s Favorite AR-15 Muzzle Brake

Dead Air Armament Key Mount AR 15 Muzzle Brake

Dead Air Armament Key Mount AR 15 Muzzle Brake - .223/5.56 NATO - 1/2×28

Dead Air Armament Key Mount AR 15 Muzzle Brake – .223/5.56 NATO – 1/2×28


This one surprised us all. Through our testing, it stood out so aggressively showing excellent recoil mitigation combined with next to no concussion directed at the shooter. 

ar 15 muzzle brake
Dead Air also makes a KeyMo flash hider if that’s more your speed!

Things we liked:

  • Recoil – Close to zero but not quite.
  • Suppressor Ready – It accepts KeyMo-style mounting systems from Dead Air and others.
  • Concussion Redirection – Zero felt at the shooter.
  • Looks – It’s got some style that’s for sure!
  • Timing Shims – Included.

Things we didn’t like:

  • Price – She’s a little spendy at ~ $80.
  • Wrench Flats – Very thin flats!
  • Weight – It’s on the heavier side.
ar 15 muzzle brake
Dead Air KeyMo Muzzle Brake fireball

Surprisingly still under $100, the Dead Air Muzzle Brake goes for $80 and it impressed us so much that every tester agreed it stood out from the batch. The difference was stark, even converting your humble author into a buyer. If you plan on running some KeyMo suppressors down the line or already have some on hand this is your muzzle brake!

 4. Best AR-15 Muzzle Brake for Recoil Reduction

Ultradyne USA Apollo Max Muzzle Brake

Ultradyne USA Apollo Max Muzzle Brakes for AR-15 and AR-10

Ultradyne USA Apollo Max Muzzle Brakes for AR-15 and AR-10


Do you want zero recoil? You got it with the Ultradyne USA Apollo Max Muzzle Brake. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost in that when you fire you (and others around you) will be enveloped in an orb of concussion…If people wore socks on their heads this would knock them off.

ar 15 muzzle brake
The Apollo Max comes in .223/5.56, .308/7.62, and 6.5 caliber options. Imagine .308 without the recoil!

Things we liked:

  • Recoil – Zero felt recoil!
  • Looks – Pretty rad appearance.
  • Locking Nut – Included with instructions.

Things we didn’t like:

  • Price – A bit costly at ~ $140.
  • Concussion – Most uncomfortable for the shooter.
  • Timing – Done with multiple wrenches.
  • ⅞ Flats – Not unstandardized but most AR15 armorer’s wrenches won’t have it.
  • Length – It’s on the long side. Around 3.5″ from locking nut to muzzle. The amount it sticks off the gun is dependent on the timing.
  • Weight – It’s the heaviest muzzle brake we tested!
  • Barrel Length Rating – Only rated for 16” barrels or longer…probably has to do with muzzle blast/still burning powder.
ar 15 muzzle brake
Ultradyne USA Apollo Max fireball…or dragon’s breath

Retailing for about $140 the Ultradyne USA Apollo Max Muzzle Brake takes its recoil taming job extremely seriously. For a more recoil-sensitive user it is a dream just know it is a double-edged sword given the recoil is traded out for a bunch of concussion.

5. Best AR-15 Muzzle Brake for Concussion Reduction

Fortis RED 556 AR 15 Muzzle Brake

Fortis RED 556 AR 15 Muzzle Brake

Fortis RED 556 AR 15 Muzzle Brake


Muzzle brakes tend to turn the environment around them into face-slapping hurricanes. Most of us want to enjoy the benefits of recoil reduction without the downside of air peeling our eyelids back. This category is a toss-up between the Dead Air Muzzle Brake and the Fortis RED. They were both neck and neck and posed a good amount of concussion reduction. BUT the Fortis RED had a good amount of reduction towards bystanders as well.

ar 15 muzzle brake
The stock option is the classy black nitride, but Fortis also offers a stainless steel option for you chrome carbine boys!

Things we liked:

  • Recoil – About the same as the Dead Air.
  • Looks – Clean and stylish!
  • Size – Compact and slim.
  • Weight – Very Lightweight.
  • “Standard” Wrench Flats – An AR15 armorer’s wrench will work.
  • Crush Washer – Included.

Things we didn’t like:

  • Any critiques here would be nitpicky. We genuinely couldn’t find much bad to say about it. 
ar 15 muzzle brake
Fortis RED Muzzle Brake fireball

The Fortis RED retails for around $70, making it a fair deal like the VG6. Don’t get us wrong though – this muzzle brake still delivers great performance at a reasonable price. If you want similar traits to the Dead Air brake without the extra cost of suppressor-readiness, the Fortis RED is a great option.

Honorable Mentions

Want to know who missed out on a category of their own? We said we tested 10 muzzle brakes so here are the rest. Just because they aren’t in the top 5 we wouldn’t call them losers. Every one of them brought at least a little something to the table that made them honorable mentions. 

Timber Creek Outdoors Heart Breaker

Timber Creek Outdoors Heart Breaker .223/5.56 Muzzle Brake for AR-15

Timber Creek Outdoors Heart Breaker .223/5.56 Muzzle Brake for AR-15


The Timber Creek Heart Breaker scored pretty average in our testing. It’s not a bad muzzle brake, landing in the middle of the road for the 10 we tested. The flats work with a standard armorer’s wrench. Concussion was moderate. 

ar 15 muzzle brake
Timber Creek Heart Breaker fireball

While not necessarily a drawback we noticed the Heart Breaker’s threads were tight so some elbow grease may be required to mount up.

On the plus side, the whimsical heart-shaped cutouts on this muzzle brake offer a more lighthearted look compared to the tactical norm. So whether you want to show off your fun side or are building a rifle for that special someone, this affordable $55 muzzle brake could be the perfect fit.

Surefire SOCOM AR-15 Muzzle Brake

Surefire SOCOM AR-15 Muzzle Brake for 5.56 - 1/2x28 Thread

Surefire SOCOM AR-15 Muzzle Brake for 5.56 – 1/2×28 Thread


Did this muzzle brake from the company known for military contracts blow us away? Not really. We’d choose some others, like the Dead Air, over this one. But the Surefire SOCOM AR-15 Muzzle Brake is still decent, with similar attributes.

ar 15 muzzle brake
Surefire SOCOM Muzzle Brake fireball

A very noticeable con is the price ($152 – ouch!). The wrench flats are similar to the Dead Air. Surefire’s proprietary QD system may be a con to some unless you are Surefire guys and gals. We would lean into the KeyMo stuff since more stuff is compatible

ATI AR-15 Shark Muzzle Brake

ATI AR-15 Shark Muzzle Brake w/Crush Washer - .223/5.56 NATO 1/2×28

ATI AR-15 Shark Muzzle Brake w/Crush Washer – .223/5.56 NATO 1/2×28


The ATI AR-15 Shark Muzzle Brake lives up to its aggressive name with an intimidating, spiked design. This gnarly muzzle brake reduced recoil well in testing, though some blast gets redirected at the shooter.

ar 15 muzzle brake
If the blast doesn’t do the job, the 6 sharp prongs on the ATI Shark will!

While not for everyone, the Shark’s standout looks and matte finish make it great for tactical builds needing minimal glare. At around $35, it adds attitude without breaking the bank. The edgy style and price make it ideal for those wanting fierce aesthetics. Just be mindful that its matte coating could rust without proper maintenance.

CMMG AR-15 Zeroed Muzzle Brake

CMMG AR-15 Zeroed Muzzle Brake w/ Crush Washer - .223/5.56 NATO - 1/2x28

CMMG AR-15 Zeroed Muzzle Brake w/ Crush Washer – .223/5.56 NATO – 1/2×28


We had high hopes for this muzzle brake given its price and short slim shape, but had a hard time justifying it. It works fine for recoil reduction but fell short on concussion mitigation like many others. The vents seem angled right at the user. 

ar 15 muzzle brake
The Zeroed also comes in .30 caliber for you AR10 folks!

If distinct looks and moderate recoil mitigation are your goals, this muzzle brake could be worth the $100 price tag. The Zeroed’s standout aesthetics alone may justify the cost for AR builders prioritizing appearance over performance.

Spike’s Dynacomp “Shorty” Extreme Muzzle Brake

Spike's Dynacomp "Shorty" Extreme Muzzle Brake Black -  AR-15 .223/5.56 - SBV1021

Spike’s Dynacomp “Shorty” Extreme Muzzle Brake Black – AR-15 .223/5.56 – SBV1021


The Spike’s Dynacomp “Shorty” muzzle brake stands out from the pack with its tiny perforated holes in place of the usual large vents. More of a compensator in looks and “performance” (we will do comps next!). In our testing, it didn’t reduce much and it was almost indiscernible to the bare muzzle.

ar 15 muzzle brake
If this guy is too short Spike’s makes an extended version!

At around $90, it’s pricey for the lack of performance in our opinion (but for AR builders prioritizing short length and radical looks over function, this lightweight muzzle brake may be the ticket).

Weight Layout

As we mentioned earlier, weight matters to many AR enthusiasts for fast maneuvering. So we weighed each muzzle brake along with mounting hardware like crush washers. Don’t want extra ounces slowing you down! Here’s how the muzzle brakes stacked up:

ar 15 muzzle brake

Now you have the full picture to pick a recoil-reducing muzzle brake without adding unwieldy heft. A delicate balance!

Tamed and Ready!

The VG6 tamed popularity, the Dead Air tamed recoil and concussion, and the Fortis RED tamed value and looks in our Wild West muzzle brake tests. We hope our showdown helps you pick the perfect recoil wrangler to take your AR to the next level. Yeehaw! Gotta tame ’em all in our muzzle device rodeo. Upgrade your AR’s muzzle for a smooth shooting partner ready for action!

Before you folks head out do you feel we missed one? Let us know in the comments or check out some of our other muzzle device content to see if we had a chance to put it to the test at the range!


Muzzle brake or muzzle break?

It is a “muzzle brake”. This is a silly one but an often understandable mistake. It does not “break recoil like busting it, it “brakes” recoil like a car’s brakes.

What’s the difference between a muzzle brake and a compensator?

A muzzle brake is designed to reduce recoil by venting gas out the sides whereas a compensator is designed to reduce muzzle climb during rapid fire. They do the same job but in different directions.

Will a muzzle brake be louder than a bare muzzle?

Yes, but it depends. Whatever direction gasses are being diverted will also carry the most noise and concussion.

Should I get a threaded or clamp-on muzzle brake?

Threaded muzzle brakes will always have the edge since they will stay on and stay true. Yes, clamp-on muzzle brakes may be easier to work with in some aspects but they have a lot of potential for error. Most of us AR-15 guys don’t want to leave room for error in a proven platform.

Will any handguard work with an AR muzzle brake?

No. The handguard consideration only comes into play when we focus on its length. If a muzzle brake was recessed into a handguard it would have the potential to blow said handguard open like a banana peel.

Do I need to tune my AR-15 gas system with a muzzle brake?

Potentially though unlikely. Most AR-15 muzzle brakes do not vent off enough gas fast enough for it to affect the gas system and subsequently the function of your firearm.

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.

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4 thoughts on “Top 5 Best AR Muzzle Brakes for Maximum Recoil Reduction – Tested!

  1. I may be wrong but it looks like the VG6 Epsilon in the photo for this article is on upside down.

    1. Hello Jeff!

      You are not wrong! This was an oopsie on our part and will be remedied and retested on a future range trip.

  2. Like to see you compare the Rise Armament device slso.

    1. Hello Dan!

      Thanks for the recommendation. We actually covered the Rise Armament 701 over at our compensator article. We did this since Rise Armament markets this device as a compensator even though we can all agree in terms of looks and performance it appears to be a muzzle brake.

      It may be a bit of a SPOILER if you haven’t read through that article but the Rise Armament 701 performed very well for compensation attributes. As far as our opinions on its attributes in the muzzle brake criteria? It was in the middle of the road leaning toward above average. Not a bad muzzle brake at all if that is what we are calling it.

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