The Best AR-15 Muzzle Devices (Breaks, Flash Hiders & Combos)

Best AR-15 Muzzle DevicesIf you want to get the best AR-15 Muzzle devices (muzzle break / flash hider/ compensator) you first need to define “best” because all muzzle devices are built for a specific purpose.

Therefore “best” is a very subjective thing and depends on your needs.

The best muzzle break isn’t the best flash hider and vice versa.

Lets start by defining terms.

  • A Muzzle Brake is a device who’s primary goal is to reduce recoil.  It may do other things, but first and foremost it reduces recoil.
  • A Flash Hider (also called a Flash Suppressor.) is a device who’s primary goal is to reduce the muzzle flash of the weapon.  The usual reason is to make your position harder to detect or to preserve your night vision.
  • A Compensator is a device who’s primary goal is to prevent the rifle from moving after a shot is fired.  The usual goal is to make follow-up shots faster and more accurate.  Many muzzle breaks and flash hiders also help with this.

Now, what’s most important to you?

There are muzzle breaks so effective they eliminate 3/4 of the recoil…  But they have a fireball near the muzzle and the concussion is deafening. There are Flash hiders so effective you won’t see any muzzle flash.  However, they don’t reduce recoil or compensate too well.

Most muzzle devices fall into the “combo” category and combine elements of each to make a more general purpose device.

I’ll cover dedicated Flash hiders and Muzzle breaks, and also combo devices.  Many of the flash and recoil reduction numbers down below come from TTAG’s Flash hider and Muzzle break shootouts here and here respectively.

NOTE: This article is part of my "Best in Class" series where I list the top choices for various parts of your AR-15.  You can find the other parts here: Best in Class Articles.

FYI: If you buy after clicking most of the product links on this page, I'll make a few pennies out of each dollar you spend.  It's not much, but it keeps the website going and I would appreciate your support. 🙂

 

The Best AR-15 Muzzle Devices – Combos

(Ordered from highest to lowest price.)

 

Battle Comp Enterprises Battle Comp 2.1 – $155

Battle Comp Enterprises BattleComp 2.1The BattleComp 2.0 is a little like the BCM Gunfighter charging handle I talked about in my Best AR-15 Charging handles article.  That’s because when you go to a forum and ask what’s the best general purpose AR-15 muzzle device, about half the responses seem to be votes for the battleComp.

Unlike the Gunfight charging handle though, it’s not as clear cut why it’s so popular. (and at least one person hates it)

I almost understand why people like it. It was one of the early attempts at a “Do-all” muzzle device and it does work very well.  It cuts recoil by 55%, keeps the muzzle very still, and dramatically reduces flash compared to a bare muzzle.

Of course, reducing flash compared to a bare muzzle means almost nothing.  A better comparison would be with a standard A2 Flash hider, and the Battle comp does suffer in that comparison. The BattleComp is almost three times brighter than the A2.

As for compensating, many have remarked that it compensates a little too well.  It tends to push the muzzle down slightly after each shot, though it’s easy to stay on target.

The BattleComp is a solid performer that works well.  It’s not the undisputed king of the hill, but a lot of shooters love them.

 

Precision Armament EFAB – $152

Precision Armament EFABIn my humble opinion, this is probably the very best AR-15 muzzle device on the market today. The  Precision Armament EFAB (Enhanced Flash Arresting Brake) is a few bucks cheaper than the BattleComp, and overall performs significantly better.

It cuts recoil almost exactly in half (51%), and it does it without creating excessive concussion and muzzle blast to the sides of the shooter.  Or in the words of the designers:

Patent Pending EFAB technology uses an innovative configuration of diverging expansion nozzles to both diffuse and cool combustion gases resulting in maximum recoil reduction with minimum concussion to the rear and sides of the shooter. Closed bottom reduces dust signature when shooting prone.

It does all this with very little flash. It’s only a little brighter than an A2 flash hider.

While the BattleComp does reduce recoil 4% more (I doubt you could feel the difference), but it has 2.5 times more muzzle flash than the EFAB.  The EFAB also has much less concussion blasted out the sides.  Less concussion is better for everyone, especially shooters next to you at the range.

It also does a VERY good job of keeping the muzzle flat.  Nothing will ever do it perfectly, but the EFAB makes accurate follow up shots much faster and easier.

It’s an almost no compromise device.  It won’t take the top spot in any one category, but it performs very well in all of them.

That makes it ideal do-all muzzle device in my opinion.

The only downside is you can’t use a crush washer because the tolerances are so tight.  They want you to use their Accu-washer alignment shims, which adds another $25.  I’ve used them and they work perfectly, but you could “probably” get away with this $5 shim Set instead if you want to save some coin.

Precision Armament AFAB – $110

Precision Armament AFABThe Precision Armament AFAB is kind of like an “EFAB light“.  It does everything the EFAB does, just not quite as well.

According to Precision Armament’s FAQ, the AFAB has slightly more flash and recoil than the EFAB, but they both keep the muzzle pretty flat.

If you want the best but the EFAB is too much for your wallet, then the AFAB is a great choice.

(again, it requires shims instead of a crush washer, so that’s another $5 or 25)

 

Honorable Mention: Griffin Armament M4SD II Flash Comp ~ $100

It’s a direct competitor to the BattleComp, but significantly cheaper.  It beats the AFAB very slightly in recoil reduction (2%) but the AFAB has less than half the flash.  They both control the muzzle movement very well, though the AFAB has less concussion.

 

Troy Claymore “Muzzle Break”- $64

Troy Claymore Muzzle BreakThe Troy Claymore  is an odd one because it doesn’t reduce muzzle flash very much and it has almost no effect on recoil.  It is a “linear compensator” with really only one purpose:  Push all the noise, concussion, and flash away from the shooter and towards the target.

This is easily the most comfortable muzzle device to shoot on the page.  It’s also IDEAL for SBRs and AR-15 pistols.

Why?

Because SBRs and AR-15 pistols are LOUD; like really LOUD and come with a ton of concussion. While the Troy Clamore doesn’t reduce the noise or concussion, it does direct it away from the shooter.

I currently have a Linear Compensator on my ~$2400 AR-15 because it makes it so much more pleasant to shoot.  Yes my muzzle jumps around more than a compensated AR-15, it has more recoil than a muzzle break, and more flash than a flash hider.

But it’s also WAY more comfortable to shoot.

The other day, a buddy and I shot our AR-15s side-by-side at the range.  There was a group of both new and experienced shooters standing about 10-12 feet behind us.  Every single one of them was amazed at how much quieter and more pleasant my AR-15 sounded next to my buddy’s.

Every other muzzle device on this page beats it from a performance standpoint.  But from a comfort standpoint it’s tough to beat. 

For a range gun, SBR or AR-15 Pistol, the Troy Claymore is an EXCELLENT choice.  Your ears will be thanking you for years to come.

 

Best AR-15 Flash Hiders

NOTE: If you want to know how they work, I suggest you read this article on Vuurwapen Blog by the designer of the AAC Blackout Flash Hider.

B. E. Meyers 249F -$95

B. E. Meyers 249F Flash HiderIf you want (almost) complete elimination of the muzzle flash, then the B. E. Meyers 249F is the muzzle device for you.

It’s the cream of the crop and the best of the best.

According to their website:

According to a formal US Army evaluation, the 249F eliminates 96% of all visible muzzle flash and was awarded the highest score during testing.

There is some muzzle flash, but it’s very, very little.  To demonstrate the point, I found a YouTube video (not mine) comparing the 249F to the next flash hider in our list, the Smith Vortex.

As you can see, the 249F does a nearly perfect job of hiding the muzzle flash even in complete darkness.  If you want to go full blackout with virtually no muzzle flash, look no further.

The 249F has been the king of the flash suppression hill for a long time.  Many have tried to dethrone it, but it’s still up there for a good reason.

 

Smith Enterprises “Vortex” Flash Eliminator – $60

Smith Enterprises Vortex Flash EliminatorThis Smith Enterprises Flash Eliminator pretty much lives up to it’s name as you can see from the video above.  While it doesn’t quite match the B. E. Meyers 249F, it does achieve excellent flash suppression at a lower price.

If you are considering a flash hider for a combat, duty, or home defense role the 249F is the obvious choice.  If you just want the best, again the 249F is the one for you.

However, if you want this for low-light varmint shooting or general fun use you can save a few bucks going with the Smith Vortex.

Personally, I think it’s worth the extra few bucks for the 249F; but that’s me.

 

YHM Phantom 5C2 Flash Hider – $28.50

YHM Phantom 5C2 Flash HiderWhile the YHM Phantom 5C2 definitely has more flash than the Smith Vortex or B.E. Meyers 249F, it doesn’t have much at all.

If you want a dedicated flash hider without spending a ton, this is probably your best option all things considered.

It hides flash much better than an A2 flash hider, but is under 30 bucks.  From the shooter’s perspective, you probably won’t see the flash at night (depending on barrel length and ammo)

If the YHM Phantom doesn’t suppress enough flash for you, I would go all the way up the 249F and skip the Smith Vortex.  The Vortex is an incredible Flash hider, but the Phantom is just unbeatable for the money.

To put it in perspective, The Smith Vortex is twice the money of the Phantom, but nowhere near twice the flash suppression.  The Smith is better, but not twice as good.

The Phantom has five flash ports, with a closed bottom to prevent kicking up dust when prone.  It also helps to reduce muzzle rise slightly.

 

A2 Flash Hider -$9

A2 Flash HiderOne of these probably came on your AR-15, and the good old A2 flash hider will always be the budget king.  Every other flash suppressor on this page beats it, but it’s worked for the military for a long time.

I would skip the A2 and get the YHM Phantom instead unless you are really strapped for cash.

I say this because The YHM Phantom really does hide the flash significantly better without costing an arm and a leg.

The A2 only has ports on the top and sides to keep the dust signature down when firing prone.  That has the side-effect of slightly reducing muzzle rise.  Not much at all, but it’s better than nothing.

This is a budget solution, but a decent one.  Again though, the YHM Phantom is a better choice for flash supression.

 

Best AR-15 Muzzle Breaks

NOTE:  Because they direct gasses back at you to reduce recoil, these things are LOUD.  Like really loud.  I’m talking wear double ear protection (plugs and muffs) if you want to keep your hearing.

Also, don’t expect to win any friends at the range if you’re using one.

 

Precision Armament M4-72 -$90

Precision Armament M4-72 Muzzle BreakThe Precision Amrament M4-72 is just about the best AR-15 muzzle device you can buy for recoil reduction.  It’ll knock out almost 3/4 (73.8%) of the recoil and keeps the muzzle movement insanely low.

It’s the kind of recoil reduction and muzzle control that muzzle device designers dream of, but

TANSTAAFL (There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch).

This muzzle brake is a fire-breathing, ear-splitting monster that will alienate anyone unlucky enough to be beside you when you shoot.  Seriously, if you check out the YouTube video below (not mine) you will see the concussion out the side blasting through cardboard.  (at the ~1:43 mark)

Now imagine if that was someone’s ears…

Also, don’t look to this for flash suppression. (check out the ~2:25 to get an even better view of some serious muzzle flash)

All of that said, it cuts the recoil insanely well and keeps the muzzle rock solid.  Follow up shots are fast and easy

If you can deal with the concussion and flash.

Needless to say, this is NOT a good choice for a duty, home defense, bug-out gun, or any other application where you’ll find yourself indoors or with someone friendly nearby.  It also would be horrible to use in low light/night conditions because of the large muzzle flash.

However, if you’re looking for a dedicated competition or 3 gun brake, this could fit the bill very well.

 

Jerry Miculek Compensator (Muzzle Break) – $40

Jerry Miculek Muzzle BreakThe Jerry Miculek muzzle break made by DPMS is the budget champion of recoil reduction.  It eliminates just over 2/3 (67.7%) of the recoil, which is pretty amazing for the money.

While the performance is amazing, it’s not surprising given that Jerry Miculek himself designed it.  For those who don’t know, he is one of the world’s greatest shooters.

From his Wikipedia page:

Miculek currently holds five officially sanctioned world records in revolver shooting and over 15 unsanctioned records with firearms ranging from rapid firing pistols to the Barrett M107 .50 BMG rifle. Some of his more recent accomplishments include 6 shots in .98 seconds with a Barrett M107 50 BMG rifle and a 1000-yard shot off hand with his signature 9mm Smith & Wesson revolver.

He is also an experienced gunsmith and tunes his own weapons.  Given all that talent, it’s probably not surprising how this little guy performs.

This is the muzzle break that Mr. Miculek uses in 3-gun competitions (which should tell you how well it works).  The ports are cut to reduce muzzle rise, which will help keep you on target.

He has a video on YouTube about how to install it.  It’s fairly normal stuff, but he likes to time them differently than most people.  It’s worth checking out just to see how he does it.

If you’re looking for recoil reduction on a budget, you can’t go wrong with this one.

 

Conclusion

Personally, I won’t go for straight muzzle brakes.  On an AR-15 (or any 223/5.56 rifle), I just don’t see the point because the recoil is so light anyway. I care more about how much my muzzle moves, the flash, and especially the concussion.

My first choice for a do-all muzzle device is a suppressor, but they’re illegal in the People’s Republic of Illinois where I live.

Since I can’t have a suppressor, I like the EFAB for a do-all muzzle device. (though the AFAB performs nearly as well).  It greatly reduces flash, concussion and muzzle movement, and it cuts recoil roughly in half too.  But right now, I have a linear compensator like the Troy Claymore because they’re so much nicer to the ears at the range.

Those are my picks for the best AR-15 muzzle devices on the market today.  Go forth armed with knowledge and happy building. 🙂

One Response

  1. Alex Ivanov March 19, 2017

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