With a wide variety of Muzzle Brakes to choose from, how does one choose from the gamut of availability? This article is not going to cover part quality or manufacturing processes. It is no secret that the vast majority of muzzle brakes on the market either are cast or MIM (mold injected metal) parts with some slick branding and huge profit margins, or they are an outsourced, machined part with not so exacting standards. There are just a few companies that are machining in house muzzle brakes to spec but this is a story for a different day. We will be discussing several the most popular design types and their features as well as how well they function.
The “Radial” Style Muzzle Brake
The radial style muzzle brake is a classic design that has been used for many years. This is the brake with a bunch of little gas holes all over the Muzzle Brake body. The intent of these holes is to act like gas release from the forward gas flow.
Does it work? : Though The Radial style muzzle brake does reduce recoil some, it is the least effective of the muzzle brake designs we will talk about.
The Flat Baffle or Straight Port Style Muzzle Brake
The flat baffle muzzle brake is a huge improvement on the old radial design. The flat baffle design is a brake that has ports cut strait through 90 degrees perpendicular to the bore. This creates a wall for the gas to slam into which counteracts the rear propulsion that the forward muzzle blast generates.
Does it work? : Absolutely. These muzzle brakes are the most common on the market today. They are fast and easy to machine and can be had for less. However, if maximum recoil reduction is a must, you may want to read on.
The Rear Angled Port Muzzle Brake
This muzzle brake is a bit trickier to machine because the brake body must be fixtured at an angle (typically between a 15-40 degree angle) when the ports are cut. This design is intended to redirect the gas rearward to use some of the gasses’ energy against the forward gas stream of the bullet direction. There is a catch however. The sharper the back angle is, the steeper the forward gas funnel will be. So a balance must be struck and the reality is, this design is not much of an improvement on a Flat Baffle design but often costs more because it’s a bit more labor intensive to cut. So, how do we get gas directed rearward without losing it down the brake bore? This leads us to the final design we will cover.
The “Bastard” Port Design
This style of port is similar to a Rear Angled Port; however, this design has an added key feature. This feature is an additional geometry near the brake bore that optimizes the “path of least resistance” effect. The feature is often referred to as a tooth. This tooth directs the gas away from the forward gas stream, stopping the gas from being able to slip back into the stream. The great efficiency of the tooth is not simply encompassed in its ability to move gas out of the way.
There is a second and possibly more relevant effect as a result of the tooth’s internal geometry. The gas collides into the corner or “nook” generated by the way it is machined. As a result of this, a Parachute Effect is created, pulling the gun forward, against the gun’s natural recoil.
Due to the design, the harder the muzzle brake is pushed, the more effective it becomes. This design can be found on American Precision Arms Fat Bastard, Little Bastard, Micro Bastard, CHODE, The Answer, XX Bastard and XXX Bastard as well as a wide variety of copycats. The APA muzzle brakes are the most popular muzzle brake in professional “long-range” competition. The APA brakes are also a popular fix for the hunter.
There are a wide variety of muzzle brake or compensator designs not covered in this article. There are new designs surfacing everyday; some are gimmicks and some work quite well. Our goal here is to cover the most proven and most common designs with hopes of providing the reader with a very basic understanding of popular muzzle brake practices.