Flash Hiders, Compensators, Muzzle Breaks – Choosing the AR-15 Best Muzzle Device

Navigating the sea of choices when it comes to muzzle devices for AR-15 can seem daunting.  Let’s find out which device is best for you… a flash hider, compensator, muzzle break, or perhaps something that does all three.

To determine your needs, let’s start with the basics.  What is a muzzle device, anyway?


A muzzle device is a functional add-on attached to the end of your AR-15 barrel. Because most AR rifles have threaded ends, most muzzle devices can be easily screwed on and tightened.  That said, many muzzle devices should be timed and torqued to a specific number.  Some builders also like to use a high-temperature adhesive like RockSett to semi-permanently attach the muzzle device to the barrel.

VG6 Precision Epsilon 556 - MSRP - $84.99
VG6 Precision Epsilon 556 – MSRP – $84.99

You can change the look and function of your weapon easily and quickly by adding an AR15 muzzle device. Since there are so many to choose from, each with their own pros and cons,let’s explore which muzzle device is perfect for your AR15 build.

Three Main Types of Muzzle Devices

There are three main types of muzzle devices: flash suppressors/flash hiders, compensators, and muzzle brakes.  We’ll talk about the use and function of each briefly in this article, as well as how they compare to each other.

Flash Suppressors/ Flash Hiders

BCM A2X FLASH HIDER - 1/2X28 - MSRP - $38.95
BCM A2X FLASH HIDER – 1/2X28 – MSRP – $38.95

The purpose of this type of muzzle device is to redirect muzzle flash to make it less visible. It achieves this by cooling and then dispersing gas, or redirecting the gases that exit the muzzle upon firing.

This is especially useful during combat, since it helps conceal a shooter’s position from the enemy in low-light or night situations. Perhaps more importantly, muzzle flash can be blinding while shooting at night, causing a shooter to have to refocus his gaze in order to shoot again. By that time, the enemy may have seen the flash and already opened fire.

Compensators

Strike Industries JCOMP Gen2 (1/2x28, .223/5.56) - MSRP - $39.95
Strike Industries JCOMP Gen2 (1/2×28, .223/5.56) – MSRP – $39.95

A compensator, or “comp” redirects gases upward and reduces unwanted barrel rise while firing (known as muzzle “climb” or “flip”). It does this by venting gases vertically. This can be very helpful when firing off shots in succession. You’ll have improved control during rapid fire and tighter grouping. The only con to this muzzle device is that it does not offer flash suppression and can be noisy.

Muzzle Brakes

APOC Armory A2 Muzzle Brake (Black Nitride) - MSRP - $19.95
APOC Armory A2 Muzzle Brake (Black Nitride) – MSRP – $19.95

Also called a recoil compensator, muzzle brakes counteract some of the rearward force of the gun that occurs when firing. They do so by venting expanding gases to the rear. An obvious advantage to muzzle brakes is their ability to reduce recoil and allow you to fire shots in succession with greater control. They also minimize the gun’s movement against your shoulder.

Unfortunately, unlike flash suppressors, muzzle brakes do not reduce flash, so they can impair your night vision. Another con has to do with how the gas is vented—it can travel to either side of the barrel, sending a pressure wave horizontally along the firing line. This can bother people around you!


Combination Devices

VG6 Precision Epsilon 556 - MSRP - $84.99
The VG6 Precision Epsilon 556 is a combination muzzle brake / compensator / flash hider – MSRP – $84.99

Combination devices do exist that combine features from the AR15 muzzle devices we mentioned above.  As a result, you’ll get both decent muzzle control and recoil mitigation.

Other Muzzle Devices

Thread Protectors

Dirty Bird 5/8x24 x 3/4 OD x 5/8 Long Fluted Thread Protector for 7.62x39, 300BLK, 6.8 SPC, 6.5 Grendel - Black - MSRP - $7.95
Dirty Bird 5/8×24 x 3/4 OD x 5/8 Long Fluted Thread Protector for 7.62×39, 300BLK, 6.8 SPC, 6.5 Grendel – Black – MSRP – $7.95

A thread protector is a muzzle device that prevents thread damage caused by grit and impact. It gives your muzzle a finished look when you haven’t installed a compensator or flash hider. They are inexpensive and easy to install— just spin them on and hand tighten.

Sound suppressors (Silencers)

Rugged Razor Suppressor
Rugged Razor Suppressor

Sound suppressors reduce the noise, flash and gas emissions of your firearm. They slow and cool down combustion gases and generally come in two designs: the “baffle” design and the “wipe” design. The main difference between them is that wipe suppressors have layers of flexible material called “wipes”. These make contact with rounds as they pass through the sound suppressor, “wiping” excess combustion gas away. Wipe design sound suppressors can often reduce flash and noise better than their baffle design counterparts, but they reduce accuracy and generally only last for 10-150 rounds.

Suppressor Mounts

3 Port Brake for a Rugged Suppressor
3 Port Brake for a Rugged Suppressor

To attach a suppressor, you can use a suppressor that direct threads onto the barrel, but many manufacturers offer suppressors that affix to mounts, allowing for a secure fit and quick attachment and detachment.  In my case, my Rugged Razor Suppressor securely mounts to a threaded Rugged branded 3 Port mount…and when my suppressor is not attached, my particular mount still acts as an effective brake.

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