Thursday, August 23, 2012

Flash Hiders, Compensators, & Muzzle Brakes

Its a very small part on the rifle, but a proper muzzle device can enhance your weapon in practical and aestheic ways.  There are three main types of muzzle devices for the AR-15: Flash Suppressors, Compensators, & Muzzle Brakes.  While there are some differences of opinion on what qualifies a muzzle device to "fit" in the mentioned categories, and manufacturers sometimes blur the defining line even more, we will use this opportunity to define each category as best we can and show what DTI offers for those interested in selecting the best device for their weapon.  As with any part you choose for your rifle, your application (how you will use the weapon most of the time) should be the determining factor.

Vltor A1 Flash Hider

Flash hiders or flash suppressors do reduce the muzzle flash in comparison to a plain muzzle or most muzzle brakes.  Depending on the style, they may or may not offer benefits in reducing "muzzle climb" (when rounds are fired, the muzzle of the barrel tends to rise off target).  Models with vents on the top of the device would be best at providing this benefit. A1 flash hiders have vents all the way around the device, while A2 flash hiders have vents only on the top of the device. DTI offers these standard flash hiders as well as popular models from manufacturers likeVltor and Yankee Hill Machine.

YHM Phantom 5C2 Compensator

Compensators almost always have features like a heavier weight or vents positioned to fight muzzle rise.  Due to their design, they may not reduce the flash signature as well as flash hiders, but they still reduce it better than a plain muzzle or a muzzle brake.  Their main benefit is to reduce muzzle rise and keep the weapon on target for fast follow up shots.  Some people consider the standard A2 flash hider to actually fall more into the compensator category of muzzle devices, and there is some merit to this when one considers the design.  Like many current muzzle devices, the YHM Phantom 5C2 compensator pictured here has a crenulated end for use as an impact weapon.

Troy Medieval Muzzle Brake
Muzzle brakes are designed to reduce recoil.  This is typically accomplished by venting the gas that follows the bullet out of the muzzle in a sideways or rearward direction.  The vents or ports are designed to direct the gas in this manner and as a result, flash signature and noise are significantly increased with most muzzle brakes.  This directing of the gas or blast can also provide the benefit of fighting muzzle rize and keeping the weapon on target. 

Some states are still "under" the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, and a muzzle brake is the only allowed device.  It is usually required that these be pinned and welded (permanently attached) as well.  Local gun retailers or your state's Department of Justice website should have information as to what is required in your locality.  Many muzzle devices like most in the YHM line are also long enough to make a 14.5" barrel a legal 16" if pinned and welded so a prospective owner can have a shorter barrel without violating NFA laws and registering the weapon as a SBR (short barreled rifle).

Thanks for reading our blog. If you have any questions about muzzle devices, the parts and weapons we sell, or anything about the AR-15 rifle please feel free to contact us.


  1. I don't know how I ever got the bug to want to shoot a turkey, or whether it was ever of any importance. I mean, l like eating turkey well enough, you know, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and once in a while in between. But I never had an inkling of a thought that I could ever get such a bird even if I had wanted to. It's the why that still has me wondering.