JP Rifles Tactical Compensator, JP Rail, Troy BUIS
Selecting a muzzle treatment/attachment can become very important if you are going to permanently install it, or even if you just want to zero your rifle, get comfortable with how it behaves and then not mess with it. But there are so many choices and no real, easy way to quantify what performs better at what attribute. Before selecting what to put on the end of the barre,l you need know what effect(s) it has when you shoot through it. The following are a list of things affected by various muzzle attachments:
Amount of Flash (duration, distance and direction)
Amount of noise (And direction it is most loud)
Muzzle blast direction
Overall barrel length
And, of course, weight and balance of the rifle
Even if you love suppressors and have many, chances are, you would still want some at least one upper that is not suppressed. To select the best one for you, it is going to take selecting 1 or more of the factors listed above as the most important. I have searched long, hard and expensively to try and find the best device for my needs. I side by sided a long list of brakes/compensators and flash hiders and did a ton of research online. While it was an expensive endeavor, I learned a lot:
For daytime rapid shooting, the best choice for me is the JP Rifles tactical compensator. It is not much louder for the shooter and while it sucks for people next to you, it is bearable. On a rifle length, adjusted gas system with the Low Mass bolt carrier, the recoil is almost zero. I can dump a mag, standing at 50 yards into a chest sized target all day. Or double tap IPSC steel at 100 all day. Two cons to the tactical compensator are that in dry conditions, it kicks up a dust storm if you shoot from canted positions. Also, in humid conditions it gives a pretty large signature to the sides so either way it is not the ideal choice if you don't want to give away your position. If you are looking at it, check out the JP recoil eliminator also. Even if just for fun. It is even more effective at reducing recoil but it is also noticeably heavier, ridiculous in size, unpleasant for everyone around to shoot and banned from many competitions. But it does make your rifle look like an artillery piece.
For nighttime shooting, flash suppression is essential, particularly if you are shooting with night vision. There are 2 clear winners in this regard – the Smith Vortex and the YHM Phantom flash hider. Both are great in all other areas, with the exception of recoil reduction. If you really want the muzzle control that a brake provides but need to shoot at night, I recommend the Battlecomp.
For a good mix of flash suppression, moderate noise increase to all and recoil reduction, I have to give it to the Battlecomp. PWS also makes a great all rounder, that for me has it all over the Battlecomp on cool factor, but my initial feeling the the Battlecomp looked dumb has been going away as it performs so well. The biggest con for me with the Battlecomp is it spreads the noise everywhere, including to you as a shooter. Similar to the PWS but a lot cheaper is rainier arms’ own muzzle brake, though side by side the PWS performed a touch better for me.
A possible contender that disappointed me is the Knights Triple Tap. In a side by side with the Battlecomp, it was beaten out in every category. Almost 4 times as expensive and it felt maybe 80% as good. A big part of the increase in cost probably comes from the Inconel it is made of, which is expensive and difficult to machine. While it is a smart marketing ploy to use a great nickel alloy with amazing high temp and pressure properties, it is on the wrong end of the barrel. The extreme temps and pressure start in the chamber and decrease down the barrel to the muzzle, not the other way around. To give an example, I have destroyed a SAW barrel trying to see if I could make it transparent (I was a young private once and I had heard stories) and while the barrel was totally ruined, the birdcage flash hider made from some cheap steel alloy was still just fine. Using Inconel for a muzzle treatment is a complete and utter waste... well... other than cool factor anyway. I can't lie, if I had the money to burn, I would still probably get one
Some other brakes/flash hiders that deserve a mention are the Surefire, which I would rank about equal in terms of recoil reduction to the PWS, but a little below for flash hiding. It is a good brake, but for the price I think there is better and it adds too much length. I love Troy, but the medieval muzzle brake only wins on looks. It is terrible at recoil reduction, loud for everyone and makes a fireball when you shoot it. I have yet to try the claymore. The Noveske KX3 does everything they say it does, but it is huge and heavy. Don’t do what I did and not notice the weight or compare its size in pictures to the rail. If you don’t mind the weight or length, it is not bad and directing the noise away from you, though for me it was not so much better than just using the Smith Vortex that I wanted to keep it. PWS also makes a similar comp called the "CQB comp".
While not particularly popular anyway, I had heard from a great shooter than I have a ton of respect for that the Rolling Thunder was the be all and end all in brakes. At the time I had ended my quest for the best brake, content with the JP, but I cared enough about the guy's opinion to order a rolling thunder. It may perform amazingly on 18+ in barrels. I don’t know, but it was extremely loud and made fireballs on a 14.5in, all the while giving a harder to manage recoil than I could get using the JP Compensator. So much so that a good, but slightly crazy friend put it in his 7.5in. Just because he could.
Sadly, there is no single device that dominates all categories. Perhaps the closest would be the Surefire “mini” suppressor or the Gemtech Halo G5T. Both add about 5" to the barrel length compared to the typical 1.5-2" that a flash hider or muzzle brake add and both run about 14oz. Additionally they both retail in the $1300 range and of course require the $200 tax. But if you have the money, I highly recommend either. For that matter, any suppressor is a valuable addition to one’s armory. YHM and AAC both make great suppressors for their price range if you go that route. Some final advice on suppressors is that you may want to consider getting the 7.62 version of the suppressor. In most cases, you can then get the flash hider or muzzle brake adapter that is threaded for a 5.56 barrel (but works with the 7.62) from the manufacturer and you have 1 suppressor for multiple guns/calibers. Yes, there is a slight decrease in the suppressor effectiveness by using it in a lower caliber, but it is pretty minimal.