17 Oct 18
Muzzle Breaks” and “Flash Hiders:”
Nearly all ostensibly serious rifles being offered for sale today come with some sore of “muzzle device,” designed to:
(1) Redirect expanding gasses at the muzzle for the purpose of attenuating felt recoil and muzzle-rise, or
(2) Attenuate muzzle “flash,” caused by expanding gasses at the muzzle being expelled into the atmosphere while still burning, causing a bright “flash”
The former are called “Muzzle Breaks,” the latter “Flash Hiders.”
However, there is usually some overlap, in both directions!
Most flash hiders depress felt recoil, at least slightly.
Most muzzle breaks attenuate muzzle flash, but some actually exacerbate it!
Some “muzzle devices” are deliberately designed to do a little of both!
It is important to note that just about all muzzle devices described above also perform the important function of protecting the barrel (and the shooter) from damage when the muzzle becomes inadvertently plugged with debris (mud, sand, sometimes pebbles), and then the rifle is immediately fired.
With most muzzle devices in place, the debris is simply blown-off to the sides, and the rifle continues to fire normally, with no damage to the barrel, nor injury to the shooter, nor to others.
Under the same circumstances, a flat-crown muzzle will often be catastrophically damaged, and the shooter, as well as others standing nearly, simultaneously injured.
I thus consider any serious rifle with a flat-crown muzzle to represent a significant safety issue!
In most jurisdictions, muzzle breaks are unregulated. In some jurisdictions, flash hiders are prohibited, but muzzle breaks are still okay. In other, very restrictive areas, both are forbidden, and only flat-crown muzzles are allowed.
Often, just about the only way to positively tell the difference between a muzzle break and a flash hider is to refer to the label on the box in which it came. When the manufacturer calls it one or the other, I guess that’s what it is!
For those of us who use, keep, and train (for serious purposes) with rifles in 5.56×45, “recoil reduction” is a moot point! The rifle has scant recoil anyway, and “controlling it,” under even rapid fire, is a non-issue for most Operators.
I know there are some competitive events (where participants are interested in impressing their friends, rather than their enemies), where even a minuscule reduction in recoil may provide a (mostly imaginary) “advantage,” and such things may thus be considered worth worrying about.
However, in serious training, again it is all a moot point!
For our purposes, it is bright muzzle flash that is the real “deal buster!”
Bright muzzle flash reveals to the enemy the shooter’s exact position, and it is disconcerting to the shooter himself.
The lower the ambient light, the more harmful the effect!
Accordingly, serious rifles in 5.56×45 caliber need an effective flash hider that is designed to do nothing but attenuate muzzle flash. There are several available, and they are highly recommended. The “vortex” style works best, without adding much weight, nor bulk.
For serious rifles in 7.62×51 caliber, felt recoil and muzzle rise are significant issues for some Operators.
For these rifles, I still want a competent flash hider. However, as mentioned above, there are some “combination” devices that do a pretty credible job in both areas, though far from perfect in either. The KTC Stealth Break tops the List. Again, it is efficient, without a lot of weight and bulk.
For serious rifles in 7.62×39 (Soviet), again felt recoil and muzzle rise represent an issue for some. The lighter the rifle, the greater the issue!
Serious, fighting rifles need to provide the Operator with every advantage possible.
All three calibers mentioned, particularly from minimum-length barrels (which we prefer for overall “handiness” they contribute ) will generate significant and dangerous muzzle flash, which must be all but eliminated if we plan on living through our next battle!
Significant “launch signatures” represent the kiss of death!