What Does a Muzzle Brake Do? Pros and Cons of This Popular Muzzle Device

Muzzle brakes are a popular barrel attachment for rifles that can provide some pretty awesome benefits to your shooting needs, but before committing to the purchase of one, you need to understand what, exactly, it is made for and if it truly is the muzzle device you need. 

Take a look at a few commonly asked questions pertaining to this common option, and see if you can get the desired shooting results with its use. 

What Does A Muzzle Brake Do?

AR-15 flash hider on a tan background

A muzzle brake is a simple device that looks like a steel tube that screws onto the end of your rifle barrel, or can be clamped on depending on the manufacturer’s design. It is slightly larger than the diameter of your barrel, and offers a solution to felt recoil. In short, it helps lessen the punch recoil can create when using a larger caliber cartridge. 

The force of firing a bullet creates a lot of power, and the gasses created travel down the barrel away from the shooter. This creates a rearward force called recoil, which is absorbed into your shoulder where the buttstock sits. 

A muzzle brake redirects these gasses using various vented ports to help offset this force and provide a counteraction to help reduce the overall feel. Often, the direction of these gasses can also help reduce muzzle rise and muzzle flash. Many devices offer up to a 50% or more reduction of these forces, creating a much more enjoyable shooting experience that will keep you from anticipating the recoil which can cause flinching. 

They are more commonly used with larger caliber cartridges, such as a .300 Win Mag or other .30 caliber choices, as well as a .50 BMG to help make shooting a much more enjoyable experience. 

Do Muzzle Brakes Affect Accuracy?

Muzzle brakes absolutely affect accuracy, and for the better! They are designed to work, and this means they lessen the impact of recoil, help steady your muzzle after a shot, and allow you to stay on target without having to worry about losing a shot. Whether you have hunting rifles or rifles for competition, accuracy in shot after shot is important and definitely is something you want to depend upon. 

Plus, not having to mentally or physically prepare for the force of the shot keeps you from moving your barrel off target. This is especially nice for shooters new to a particular caliber, young shooters, as well as small-framed shooters that recoil may have more of an effect upon. After all, nobody wants to have to avoid shooting a particular firearm because it hurts!

What Else Can a Muzzle Brake Do?

Guy aiming a rifle with a Compensators

Although not created to address muzzle jump, as mentioned, it certainly does due to the overall design. The vented gasses help offset the movement of the barrel which is part of the reason why accuracy is so positively affected. Muzzle brakes will also work as a flash suppressor since they lengthen the barrel and provide a quicker mixing of hot gasses with ambient air to help reduce or negate the flash from the muzzle. 

What’s the Difference Between a Muzzle Brake and Other Muzzle Devices?

Bullet flying from a muzzle brake on an AR-15

Muzzle brakes fall into the wider category of muzzle devices. The most popular devices, other than a brake, are compensators and flash hiders. Compensators are designed specifically to address muzzle rise and help offset it using a similar concept as a muzzle brake. Vented ports divert gasses in directions that help stabilize the barrel shot after shot. They also provide some secondary recoil reduction. 

Flash hiders are just that, they help hide the flash of gasses as they release from the barrel. Most AR-style rifles come with one already on the barrel, but they do little other than help keep your location from being seen in low lighting or at night. SLight barrel rise reduction and recoil may be felt, but this is not generally the reason why you would purchase a flash hider. 

Benefits of a Muzzle Brake

Obviously, all that has been mentioned concerning a reduction of recoil provides excellent reasons why you should consider a muzzle brake if shooting a caliber bullet that offers a good kick. Even the addition of something easier to handle, such as a .22 or 5.56 can be beneficial when used for hunting coyote or hog to help stabilize shot after shot since it’s likely to call in or come across multiple targets at a time when varmint hunting. 

Lowering the recoil of a .30 cal or higher option is especially nice for women and children, and a must when competitive shooting when it doesn’t take long to start getting a sore shoulder round after round. Plus, being able to stay on target more easily can be the difference between winning and losing a match. 

Muzzle brakes also work as a flash suppressor, allowing you a product that can take care of more than one need at a time. 

Drawback of Muzzle Brakes

300 blackout ar style rifle in a camo background

As with anything, there also are disadvantages. The main cons of muzzle brakes surround the incredible noise they create. The diversion of muzzle gasses out the ports can be incredibly loud and concussive. Although as a shooter you won’t be exposed to this, anyone to the sides will – which makes them a device most people prefer you don’t have when at the shooting range for any length of time, or when hunting with others. 

They also add length, and a slight weight (although this is minimal) to the end of your barrel. You will most likely need to get used to the slight difference it makes. All this also means you have one more thing to clean since the muzzle brake vents will be taking the brunt of the force of escaping gasses. 

Keep in mind these can also get quite pricey, and if reducing the pounds of recoil you feel is not a necessity, you might be better off with a compensator. 

Conclusion

If a muzzle brake has been on your mind, then hopefully this explanation of their uses, and what small issues may arise have answered any questions you may have. Made specifically for reducing rearward recoil, you can also take advantage of the additional muzzle control it provides as well as flash suppression. 

Share your experiences with muzzle brakes below, and let us know which ones are your favorites. Also, be sure to check out our muzzle brake suggestions for various calibers! As always, please share!

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