Custom AR-15 Muzzle Device
Whether you’re customizing an AR-15 or building your own, it’s important to pay attention to the fine details. Many people may think those details are limited to the various parts of the upper or lower receiver, perhaps focusing on options like a lightweight bolt carrier group, an ambidextrous selector lever or other relatively simple upgrades.
However, depending on how you plan to use your AR, you probably want to give some consideration to a custom AR-15 muzzle device. The right one could make the difference in allowing you to stabilize the barrel or reducing muzzle flash, so you can regain your sight picture and fire again rapidly to maintain your tightest shot grouping.
If this is your first AR-15, you’re rapidly learning about all the minute details of customizing your rifle. It may seem like a lot of minutiae, but don’t let it overwhelm you. As you get to know your rifle, and you customize your flash suppressor, muzzle brake or your compensator along with everything else for your AR-15, you’ll grow to love it. You won’t want to wait to do another one.
The Benefits of Upgrading Your AR-15 Muzzle Device
Building or customizing your AR-15 can be incredibly rewarding. Every single part matters, including your muzzle device. There are three basic types for an AR-15. Most complete ARs — or complete upper receivers — will come with a flash suppressor (sometimes called a flash hider). If you’re building one or want to upgrade, you can also choose a muzzle brake or a compensator.
- Flash suppressors were designed for use on the M16/M4 for the military. Many people think they’re intended to help conceal a soldier’s position at night, but they really don’t hide the flash well enough for that. They do reduce the flash enough to lower the impact of that flash on the firer’s night vision, enabling a quick reengagement of a target.
- Muzzle brakes help reduce the recoil of the rifle. This helps keep the barrel stable, so you can fire again rapidly. On many rifles, the reduced recoil from a muzzle brake helps prevent wear and tear on the firer’s shoulder and torso, but this isn’t an issue when firing an AR-15 because the buffer and spring assembly absorbs so much of it.
- Compensators help prevent “muzzle lift” when the recoil of the rifle causes the barrel to rise each time a round is fired. They help keep the barrel from lifting, so the target can be reengaged quickly after each shot is fired.
There are some muzzle devices that combine elements of more than one type. Some are hybrids that are designed to fully serve the purpose of two, or even all three, types of muzzle devices. Others may only truly fit into one of the categories, but they have characteristics of another. The flash suppressor the military uses on the M16/M4, for example, also works as a compensator.
You may also need to consider the length of your barrel. If you’re upgrading to customize your AR-15, make sure you maintain the legal barrel length for your state with your new muzzle device. The weight of that muzzle device may be something you want to think about as well, especially if you’re going to be carrying it on patrol or on a hunt.
Flash suppressors for an AR-15 are designed primarily to reduce the flash from unburnt powder and gases once the round is fired through the barrel. Suppressors allow cooler surrounding air to mix with the gases at the muzzle. This blend causes the powder and gas to disperse immediately and cool almost simultaneously.
This reduces the flash, so if you’re firing at night, your night vision should only be affected momentarily. There may be some additional benefit to help reduce the visibility of a fighting position, but that’s minimal. Once you’re firing, there’s usually enough flash to show where the rounds are coming from.
Naturally, this is primarily a tactical usage for military and perhaps police rifles. However, if you’re using your AR-15 primarily for home defense, a flash suppressor may come in handy when someone is breaking into your house in the darkest hours of the night. You’ll want to limit the flash to protect your night vision. An intruder is going to see it, too. Hopefully, they’ll get out once they hear you lock and load.
- The Strike Industries 5.56/.223 Venom Flash Hider is a great product. It’s the ideal size to add length to a 14.5-inch barrel to make it a full 16 inches. It’s also designed to create instant airflow to disperse gases, preventing virtually any flash. It’s designed to be used as a wire cutter, too.
- The Spike's Tactical Barking Spider 2 Krink Brake serves as both a flash suppressor and a compensator, so along with the reduced flash, the blast and side concussion is redirected forward away from the shooter and people next to him. This device has a dimpled surface for weight reduction and helps dissipate heat quicker.
- The PWS Triad Flash Hider’s unique design redirects gases exiting the muzzle which eliminates the flash almost entirely. The design also eliminates the “ping” noise that you get with some other flash suppressors. It also reduces muzzle rise.
- The Seekins Precision 5.56 Flash Hide has a helical design that allows gases to disperse in many directions along with the twist of the bullet as it’s fired, allowing for greater flash suppression.
Although reducing the recoil into your shoulder and torso isn’t an important concern for firing an AR-15 because of the buffer and spring assembly, reducing the recoil does help keep the barrel steady. Using a muzzle brake for your AR-15 will reduce the recoil by redirecting the gas that follows the bullet out of the barrel so it both vents to the sides and pushes forward on the brake, minimizing the rearward pull or recoil and the upward climb of the muzzle.
Most muzzle brakes vent to the sides, rather than up and down, so the gases don’t interfere with the firer’s sight picture during the rapid reacquisition of targets. The gas pushing forward in the various chambers and baffles of the brake helps prevent the backward motion of the recoil and the accompanying muzzle lift.
While this may not be ideal for a night operation in combat — unless the brake also suppresses muzzle flash — this is great for firing in competitions where you may have to rapidly reengage your target with each round you send downrange.
- The VG6 Precision GAMMA 556 Muzzle Brake will maximize your target acquisition and rapid firing whether you’re firing in competition or using your rifle for military or police operations. It comes in two finishes, bead blasted stainless steel and black nitride.
- LANTAC’s 5.56 Dragon Advance Muzzle Brake drastically reduces muzzle climb and horizontal instability. It even helps stabilize a fully automatic rifle. Its unique design also rapidly disperses gases to mitigate muzzle flash, making it a great option for either tactical use or competitions.
- Custom Muzzle Brakes’ AR-15 S-Type Muzzle Brake is a lower profile device that maximizes braking to reduce recoil. It also has vertical gas ports on the top and a solid bottom to provide compensation to further reduce muzzle climb. You’ll maintain steady aim, and the solid bottom prevents dust from kicking up when you fire from a prone position.
- Custom Muzzle Brakes’ Tactical Low Concussion .223/5.56 Muzzle not only reduces recoil, but it reduces the concussion wave from the vented gases. There are no ports, other than forward, so it’s great for close quarters firing without the gases interfering with those next to you.
A compensator on your AR-15 is probably the simplest muzzle device in terms of how it works, but a good compensator may just be the customization you want. The combination of recoil and body position when you’re firing a weapon create muzzle climb. A compensator allows for gasses to vent upward at the muzzle. This helps push downward, helping to stabilize the barrel vertically, which allows you to reacquire your target quickly.
Many compensators on the market are hybrid muzzle devices, allowing for compensation, flash suppression and even braking. Customizing your AR-15 with a high-quality compensator can give you a great deal of value, along with the barrel stability to maintain your tight shot grouping.
- The Strike Industries J COMP (Japan Type 89 Style Compensator) is based on a rifle used by the Japanese military. It’s a true hybrid device, giving you the benefit of all three types of AR-15 muzzle devices. It’s ideal for competition or tactical use.
- 2A Armament’s T3 Titanium Compensator (5.56/.233) is made to be incredibly durable and lightweight. Its design allows for maximum compensation of muzzle climb to enhance your shot grouping. We also sell 2A Armament’s steel version of this device.
- The 5.56 Combat Flash Compensator from CMT Tactical offers a sleek look along with muzzle climb compensation and recoil reduction for easy target reacquisition every time. Its hybrid design allows this muzzle device to serves as both a compensator and a flash hider.
- The Odin Works ATLAS 5 Compensator is designed to offer both compensation against muzzle lift and recoil reduction while extending a 14.5-inch barrel to a full 16 inches. The adjustable titanium sleeve allows the shooter to customize the gas port angles. It’s ideal for both tactical and recreational use, and it comes in 5.56 /.223 or .308 / 300BLK.
How Do You Choose the Right Muzzle Device for Your Needs?
Your budget will probably come into play, but as for the type of muzzle device to customize your AR-15, you have to take how you plan to use your rifle into consideration. If you’re using your AR for home defense and simple target shooting, a basic flash suppressor may suit your needs perfectly. You can limit the flash if you have to use it to defend your home at night, and that will be acceptable if you’re plinking targets just for practice.
If you’re a military operator, defense contractor or police officer, mere flash suppression might not be enough. You may have to use that rifle at night in a hot environment, so you probably want to think about the stabilizing effects of a muzzle brake or compensator as well. Indeed, you may want to consider a hybrid device that will stabilize your barrel both vertically and horizontally, so you can maintain your tight shot grouping while rapid firing. Your life may count on it.
If muzzle flash isn’t going to be one of your concerns, you can weigh your options between muzzle braking and compensation. If you’re going to be using your AR to manage a varmint problem on your property, either one should be fine. You probably won’t have to worry about too much rapid firing, but using a compensator to stabilize your barrel in the event you need a second shot will work.
On the other hand, if you plan to use your AR-15 in competition, you may want to go with a muzzle brake. With that device, the gasses will disperse out laterally, so along with the stabilizing effect of recoil reduction, there will be no gasses venting upward from the muzzle to potentially interfere with your target reacquisition after you fire each round.
The bottom line — if not the dollar — is your plan to use your custom AR-15 muzzle device. Compare prices, reviews and the function you want. If you’ve only used AR with a flash suppressor or compensator, and you have a friend who uses a muzzle brake, ask about it. See if you can try it out on a range to get a feel for it.
If you have more than one AR-15, you may want to consider having different muzzle devices on each, so you can further customize them for your different uses. If you’re a competitor, you may want to save that rifle with the high-value muzzle brake for the competitions. You can use another one with a compensator or flash suppressor to take care of any rodent problems on your property or to defend your home in the case of an emergency.
Ultimately, there are no wrong choices when it comes to customizing your AR-15. You get the parts you want for the look you want, and you get the accessories for the right feel in your hands. When it comes to your muzzle device, weigh your options. You’ll figure out what the right answer is for your needs.
Wing Tactical Is Your Source for Muzzle Devices
We carry flash suppressors, muzzle brakes, compensators and hybrids of all three. We have the muzzle device you need to make your AR-15 the most efficient it can be, along with all the parts to make your rifle feel like an extension of yourself. You love your AR-15 just like we love ours. Find the muzzle device to complete your build or upgrade right here. We want you to have the best parts for your custom AR-15. Give yourself an edge with Wing Tactical.
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