If you are wondering what a muzzle brake is used for, you are in the right spot. This blog post discusses and defines a muzzle brake, what it does, and why it can be a good add-on to your AR-15 or other guns.
What is a Muzzle Brake?
A muzzle brake is also called a recoil compensator. These are typically small tubular devices that attach to the tip of the barrel or muzzle. They can be applied to either a rifle or pistol but are commonly fitted to assault rifles. Their job is to redirect the flow of combustion gases after a round is fired. When a round has fired, the gas produced by the burning of powder pushes the gun backward. For the bullet to move forward an equal pressure must push backward – that process is called recoiling. It’s part of Newton’s third law of gravity which states, “that for every action there must be an equal opposite reaction.”
When you fire a bullet, it creates an action – the propelling of the projectile forward. There is also a reaction – the recoil or the forcing of the gun backward. A muzzle brake helps to diminish the felt recoil or reactionary force produced by the “action” or firing of the round. Gun powder, when ignited, creates high pressure gas that pushes backward on the rifle as the bullet moves forward when you fire a round. A muzzle brake also has vents along the side and top, which allow the pressurized gas to escape upwards and to the side. The process reduces the recoil of the gun to improve shooter accuracy by stabilizing barrel movement.
Definition of a Muzzle Brake
A muzzle brake is a muzzle device that’s an add-on or upgrade to a barrel or muzzle. It is designed to allow pressurized gas to escape the barrel in a sideways or upwards motion. A muzzle brake is different from a silencer in that (1) a muzzle brake does not make your shot quiet – it is quite loud, (2) the movement of propellant gases are to the side or upwards with a muzzle brake whereas the gas tends to move forward with a silencer, and (3) muzzle brakes help to improve accuracy by diminishing muzzle movement during firing. A silencer may help or hinder accuracy.
A muzzle brake also differs from a flash suppressor, flash guard or flash hider in that the brake provides recoil reduction on a weapon while the flash suppressor reduces the visual flash from firing a weapon. Flash guards are beneficial to shooters in low light conditions as they prevent the shooter’s vision from being obscured by bright light. In military combat scenarios, they add another benefit by lowering the likelihood of compromising one’s position in the dark.
Weapons that Use a Muzzle Brake
A muzzle brake is used on rifles and generally on semi-automatic rifles such as an AR-15. The same device used on a pistol is referred to as a “compensator”. Some people think of rifles as having muzzles and handguns as having barrels, but the reality is that the terms can be interchanged. There are muzzle brakes for pistols and the theory of what a muzzle brake does could be applied to a shotgun. However, a muzzle brake for a shotgun would need to be designed to not affect the blast pattern of the shot. Also, some shotgun barrels are not thick enough to cut threads for mounting a muzzle brake.
Benefits of a Muzzle Brake
1.Reduced recoil – The biggest benefit of fitting your gun with a muzzle brake is to reduce recoil. That process occurs because a muzzle brake allows pressurized gas to escape sideways and when vented on the top, to move upwards. As the pathway of pressurized gas moves sideways and upwards, it decreases the backward push or recoil of the gun. It also can push the barrel downward to counter the upward barrel movement after the round exits the barrel.
2.Improves accuracy – When you fire a bullet, gas is released from the burning of powder and a rapid increase of pressure causes the barrel of the gun to bounce or wobble. Some types of guns have more bounce or wobble than others do. Generally, the more powerful the round the more the bounce or wobble. Because a muzzle brake helps to control and redirect the flow of gas as the bullet leaves the barrel, it helps to reduce bounce or wobble. That process keeps the barrel closer to “true” on your target and allows the shooter to quickly adjust their aim and fire again. The result is better accuracy so long as you have good shooting skills. A muzzle brake will not help you improve accuracy if you do not fire the gun properly.
3.Lessens fatigue – Without the big kick from recoil, your body can handle the shot process from your gun for longer periods. Your shoulder is not going to hurt as much from the recoil and your hands are not going to tire from struggling to grip the gun and fight the recoil. The recoil reduction also allows for use of larger guns with comfortable recoil.
Other Important Aspects of a Muzzle Brake
There are a lot of positives that a muzzle brake can add to your shooting experience. There are also some factors to using a muzzle brake that may require more care. Those include:
- Shots are louder – Noise increases with a muzzle brake. There is a sonic blast that spreads horizontally when you use a muzzle brake. The gas, as it escapes from the barrel in a side-to-side motion, also causes the sound of the shot to increase. Expect that as you shoot, the sound of firing the bullet will increase.
- Longer barrel – When replacing an existing muzzle device, such as a flash suppressor, length and weight of a rifle is minimally affected by the addition of a muzzle brake. Most muzzle brakes are around three inches long and that means when you attach them to your gun without an existing muzzle device, that the barrel length also grows by about three inches. That added length can affect how the gun handles. It will also add a few ounces of weight to the gun and barrel. We recommend practice maneuvering your rifle in simulated close quarter self-defense situations to become accustomed to the slight length increase in narrow spaces.
- Ear protection – This is a must when you use a muzzle brake. While ear protection is strongly recommended when firing any weapon, the increased bang can easily damage your ears. When using a muzzle brake always use ear protection too. Safety is job-one in any shooting situation whether that is in competition, while hunting, in combat mode, or for self-defense. Never fire any rifle without ear protection, especially with a muzzle brake attached.
- Added maintenance – A muzzle brake is a component that must be maintained. They are not difficult to maintain, but proper care means they work better every time you shoot your gun.
When is best to use a Muzzle Brake?
Because a muzzle brake does not impact the velocity of rounds, a muzzle brake can benefit the shooter during:
- Hunting – For longer shots and more accurate firearms, a muzzle brake is a good addition to a hunting rifle. The downside is that the muzzle brake will cause each shot to be louder. However, the increase in accuracy can mean one-shot situations can be more successful.
- Competition shooting – The decrease in recoil and improved accuracy of a muzzle brake is a boon to anyone who competitively shoots, especially at longer ranges and with more powerful rounds or guns.
- Combat – As with competitive shooting, a muzzle brake helps improve accuracy and reduces fatigue for soldiers during combat situations. The reduction in recoil means that soldiers can remain engaged without the need to compensate for recoil.
- Learning to Shoot High Power Guns – A muzzle brake helps reduce recoil which can help a new shooter, young shooter, or small-bodied shooter, adapt to the increase in power and recoil of a gun. The process helps to reduce the fear of shooting the gun due to anticipation of recoil and potential discomfort.
The M-905 Talon Muzzle Brake
New to the civilian market, the M-905 muzzle brake offers a patented design with a proven track record of excellent performance. When installed properly, the M-905 can decrease recoil by 94 percent. Tests included a range of calibers from small .223 caliber to larger caliber rounds like .50 caliber ammunition. The M-905 Talon is available for the M4-UTAW Pro Series and the M4-UTAW Champion series rifles. The benefits of adding an M-905 Talon include:
- Near elimination of muzzle rise. Keep your barrel on target for quick re-targeting and faster follow-up shots.
- Decrease recoil by upwards of 94%. With less recoil, accuracy improves as will the time needed between shots.
- Increased engagement between shooter and target. Thanks to a decrease in recoil and the elimination of bounce and wobble, the shooter can remain focused on their target and remain engaged in the situation.
- Works with both bolt and gas guns and helps decrease the time between firing one round and the next.
- Improved confidence. Shooters who anticipated a heavy recoil may form bad habits around firing the gun. With the softer recoil and the added barrel stability that the M-905 Talon offers, shooters can relax and enjoy firing the rifle even in long range shooting.
Quality construction and the patented design make the US Arms M-905 Talon the best muzzle brake around. It is constructed to offer lifetime use which adds value to the unit. If you are considering an AR-15 Muzzle Brake, be sure to check out the M-905 Talon as your top option for adding a muzzle brake to your AR-15. With a drop in recoil of 94 percent and the improvement in accuracy, shooting your M-905 Talon-equipped AR-15 will get a lot easier and more comfortable.