Muzzle breaks and compensators are accessories that can help aid the shooter. When you are choosing what to put on the end of your muzzle, you need an idea of what your goals are. Do you want to hide the flash, enhance the flash, compensate for muzzle rise or recoil to allow for quicker follow up shots?
Science of Muzzle Brake and Compensators
The science behind muzzle brakes and compensators is quite simple. Muzzle brakes and compensators redirect the gasses coming from the barrel in the effect to counter muzzle rise and recoil from the actual firing of the firearm or trying to achieve the least amount of barrel movement. While shooting an automatic firearm, muzzle brakes will drastically help keep the muzzle pointed down range at the target. Muzzle brakes are commonly used for firearms using large cartridges, automatic guns, tank guns, and artillery.
Newton’s 3rd Law of Physics
Shooting any firearms, especially pistols, you can see that most firearms recoil back into the shoulder and straight up. Having a compensator with the ports that redirect gases upward helps it dampen the recoil to a degree. Muzzle brakes and compensators use Newton’s 3rd law of physics. “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.” in layman terms the muzzle climb is being fought back downwards from the gases escaping upwards.
Pricing Brakes and Compensators
The price of these brakes and compensators can vary. Anywhere from $40-$100 is normal and depends on the material used to make the accessory and how crazy of a compensator they are. Competition brakes can bring up the price over $100 and would do a much better job of fighting muzzle climb and recoil from one around $40-$50. Naturally one specific brake wouldn’t be the best for every situation or firearm. You need to find one that is specifically designed for the intended situation and or firearm.
Porting vs. Brakes
Porting is another way to do what brakes and compensators do. There isn’t anything put on the muzzle of the barrel but has precision drilled holes in the forward section of the barrel that diverts a portion of the gasses in a direction that reduces muzzle climb.
Advantages vs. Disadvantages on the range
While muzzle brakes and compensators have many advantages to shooters and their firearms with reducing recoil 10%-50% (while some manufacturers report greater numbers), there is also a list of drawbacks. The shooter or other bystanders in the vicinity of the gun being fired may observe an increased level of sound pressure, muzzle blast, and possible lead exposure exiting from the muzzle break holes. Without the gasses being redirected in different directions from the brake, firearms without them have all the gasses, blast pressure, and sound pressure exiting straight forward away from the shooter. With the brake holes now pointed outward and with some brakes pointed back towards the shooter, your hearing and eye protection may not have adequate protection.
Some muzzle brakes can add 5-10dB on rifles which increases the total noise levels to 160dB (painful discomfort occurs around 120-125dB). Another disadvantage is the weight to the end of the firearm as well as the fact that it adds to the total length and diameter which will change the overall handling of the firearm. If shooting in the prone position, the escaping gasses could kick up dirt, sand, and other debris into eyes or impair the shooters visibility of the target. The large escaping gas pressure could also cause a blast induced sinus cavity concussion. So depending on what your performance needs are, there is most likely a muzzle break or compensator that is right for you just be sure the use adequate protection for these muzzle accessories.