I don’t see enough people write about this topic, so I want to be one of the first people to introduce this concept- shooting with muzzle brakes and comps is NOT conducive to a shit hits the fan, survival environment. As a matter of fact those kinds of devices are one of the last things you want when the shit goes down. I have a few tacticool buddies that I shoot with, and every time we go to my family range and let off some rounds with each other I’m put off by the massive blast produced by their beefy brakes. Sure, their rifles may have less recoil than mine, but in a move and shoot firefight I’ll take the lack of flash over lack of recoil any day.
Here’s a scenario. The shit hits the fan for whatever reason. Suddenly the power grid is down, people start grouping up with their other armed friends. After a few months people start looking at the people they don’t know as potential targets and you must face the fact that you may be forced into that predatory position due to your lack of preparation. Or conversely, if you’re well prepared and have your ducks in a row as far as food storage and water, the local Mosin Mauraders out there are going to start wondering why you and your own seem to be faring so well, thus making you a potential target. Now, no one is going to make it long lone wolfing it. Most people know this, and have some sort of network they plan on hooking up with should the shit go south. If you and your team and their families establish some sort of self sufficient base camp and don’t take the proper precautions to conceal its existence, someone is going to come gunning towards you. This is slightly off topic- but that’s why posting a legitimate reciprocating guard duty is essential should it come to this. Back to the topic, muzzle brakes and compensators.
Firstly we’ll cover compensators. They operate under the simple principle of porting gas upwards when you fire your rifle so that they mitigate the muzzle flip. While rearward recoil is normally fairly unchanged, the primary focus of compensators is for rifle and carbine level ammunition that doesn’t have that much rearward pressure anyways. They’re great for target shooting or 3 gun matches where you want to get faster follow ups and dial in that spread. However, their biggest disadvantage is that most comps do very little to address muzzle flash. This is problematic in a shit hits the fan situation, because unless you’re superhuman someone is going to quickly dial in on that flash and lay you out with a heavy volume of fire. Not cool. I don’t want to be laying beside a comrade of mine and he gives away our position with a big ole fireball. I’d rather have 4 rifles on line that shoot a little less accurately at a single target than one rifle on line that shoots nominally more accurately. This is coming from a military perspective from a guy who’s had competent bad guys try to kill him and instead killed the bad guy, and much of that can be attributed to the fact that we were able to coordinate well as a team and not screw our buddy. If you’re on a night operation and you have to engage the enemy, you’re going to screw your buddies if you give away their position, point blank.
Here we have an example of a muzzle brake. Notice the blast being directed right out the sides and towards any would-be fellow shooters.
Next we’ve got muzzle brakes. While these are very important to the functionality of a large bore weapon their force multiplication is much more nominal on a smaller bore like 5.56 or 7.62X39. M107’s have them because they’re shooting a 700 plus grain projectile at over 3000 FPS. They operate on the principle of forcing gasses forward and to the sides of the muzzle in order to eliminate recoil. That’s not comfortable to be next to, but it’s way less comfortable to be down range from. The capabilities of a 5.56 are limited by the small cartridge. Sure, some folks can take their shots out to a thousand meters with their super pimped out setups but that’s the exception and not the rule. By and large you’re going to have engagements inside of a 500 meter zone and that’s really pushing it. More realistically if you live in more wooded areas it’s going to be within 50. As I said before on the importance of having a team of rifles rather than being a lone wolf with one rifle plays into this. When I get knocked in the face by the report of a comrades weapon, blasted by over pressure, and sprayed in the face by hot gasses it throws off my shot. As someone who’s shot a lot in my lifetime that problem is hard to fix no matter how much I train on it. Multiply these issues by leaps and bounds when inside a building and you’ve got some issues. Throw in the fact that during many engagements you won’t have time to properly address your hearing protection and now you’ve got long term negative implications. Tinnitus, hearing loss, random dizzy spells, all of these are a guarantee if you get the kind of hearing loss you’d experience shooting indoors with someone who’s got a muzzle brake. Trust me, I know, because I have these issues from shooting in CQB without a break.
This guy had to apply a cover to his brake to make it acceptable for CQB use. That practically declares its use as a brake null and void for one, and two it needs to be taken on and off when transitioning from close quarters to intermediate and long range. That’s just another moving piece, which prevents another breaking point.
For real, think about this for a second. If you can’t handle the recoil of a piddly 5.56, are you a serious shooter or are you just in it for the fashion? If your entire plan rests on the merit of being a lone gunner in a SHTF environment, that’s all you. It’s not going to work out in your favor but it’s still your choice. So do whatever you want. However, if you’re of the sound thinking that having some guys to your left and right will help keep you alive then do away with the fancy schmancy brakes and compensators and do your team a favor by rocking a normal flash hider. There are even combination comp/flash hiders that help lower the muzzle flip while still directing the gasses and sound away from you and your team who should be aligned in a somewhat linear pattern to you while shooting. Go online and do your research and find out what works for you. If your recoil control is so bad you can’t operate without a brake or compensator, go invest in some training and get those fundamentals down. For combat application your goal should be to be able to hit a silhouette sized target out to five hundred meters. You can easily achieve that by dialing in those fundamentals and using a normal flash hider. If you’re planning on being a lone sniper in the woods and being a one man army, do you boo boo. Do you.
“Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” – Tommy