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What are the Differences Between Muzzle Devices?

There are many different muzzle devices you can attach to your AR-15 or any other rifle for that matter, however, many people don’t seem to know the exact difference between the different kinds of muzzle devices.

Muzzle breaks, Flash hiders, and Compensators are perhaps the most common muzzle devices, excluding suppressors. These devices serve vastly different purposes and can vary greatly in price as well. So, what is the difference between them? Let’s find out.

Muzzle Breaks:

Muzzle brakes are commonly confused with compensators, and though both muzzle devices have somewhat similar function, their primary purpose is very different. Muzzle brakes are designed to limit recoil, and they redirect the gasses from the propellant explosion to do so. This also makes muzzle brakes very loud and concussive, and they are typically used with large calibers.

AR style rifles chambered in calibers like 300 blackout and 50 Beowulf almost always have muzzle breaks to help mitigate the experienced recoil.

These days, you can also find some adjustable muzzle brakes in the market, which let you adjust the direction in which the gases are released. This allows shooters to adjust their muzzle brakes according to their preferences and requirements.

Flash Hiders:

When most rifles are fired they create a flash, which can be visible from quite a distance. In tactical situations this can be a disadvantage, and expose the position of soldiers. Therefore, most military rifles are equipped with flash hiders, which eliminate this flash.

To understand how flash hiders work, we first need to understand what causes the flash. Many people have the misconception that the muzzle flash is created because of unburnt powder from the bullet, however, in reality, the flash is caused because of the hot gasses that are created in the chamber as a result of the explosion.

When these extremely hot glasses exit the barrel, they meet the cooler ambient air, and create a bubble of high pressure gas, which becomes incandescent. To put it all in simple terms, hot gasses can make light when they expand.

Now, to eliminate this flash, allow the hot gasses to meet with the cooler ambient gases in a disruptive manner, so that they can’t create that high pressure gas bubble which creates light. A flash hider dissipates the hot cases from the muzzle in different directions.

Most standard AR-15s or M4s have an A2 flash hider, which is also called a Birdcage flash hider. They are very affordable and effective as well.


Compensators work quite similarly to Muzzle breaks, adn where they can also decrease felt recoil, their primary purpose is to compensate for muzzle rise. They usually direct hot cases upwards, and aas an opposite reaction, the muzzle of the rifle is forced downwards, which counteracts the Muzzle rise, and helps the shooter keep the rifle on target.

They are really good with small caliber rifles, like the AR-15, and help in instant target acquisition and allow the shooter to land  quick follow up shots.

Compensators, Flash Hiders, Muzzle Devices

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