Sniper Country Duty Roster collective wisdom

Flash Hiders and Muzzle Brakes:

I am going to order a new Bushmaster (probably with 20" bbl and removable handle) and was wondering a) if the flash signature/muzzle blast merits the extra investment of a flash suppressor/muzzle break (I think not, but my shooting buddy seems to think so) and b) some suggestions of good, budget priced scopes for what will be my first .223.

Sal <>
Umpqua, Oregon USA - Tuesday, November 17, 1998 at 22:18:10 (EST) 

First, I'll define the items you are asking about.
A flash suppressor does just what it is named, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Also can actually increase perceived flash when seen through NVDs.
A muzzle brake is designed to reduce recoil and/or muzzle rise, again to varying degrees. Muzzle breaks tend to increase muzzle blast, including noise and flash, often a LOT.
A flash suppressor will help to mask the signature of an AR, while the muzzle brake will usually increase it - like I said, a lot. Both can have a negative impact on accuracy and maintainability depending on the individual components; how much these should concern you depends on what you want the AR for. Finally, a not-so-small detail: a flash suppressor will be illegal on a "post-ban" AR, which it sounds like you will be ordering.
Conclusion: If you are ordering a post-ban (20" barrel you said) AR, I would get a properly crowned, unthreaded muzzle. Then, if you need to, you can reduce muzzle flash by using ammunition designed for that purpose.
Hope that helps!

Dave <>
San Jose, CA USA - Wednesday, November 18, 1998 at 13:04:54 (EST) 

Sal: DO not bother with a muzzle brake on your AR. It just is not worth it. You will get slightly better accuracy (in general) with a target crown cut into you barrel as opposed to what ever benefit the brake might give you with this caliber. A mediocre brake "may" not allow the gasses to expand evenly as the bullet exits the muzzle. This tipping will affect accuracy. Recoil is so light it is a non-issue anyway and the brake is not required. If you have to live with a post ban configuration, at least enjoy its one benefit - the loss of the flash suppressor which WILL give you slightly better accuracy.

Frankly, unless you are doing a lot of shooting in the dark on a regular basis, you do not really need the flash suppressor/muzzle break on the AR anyway. It may look cool, but it is not ideal if you are looking for total accuracy. Tell your friend if he wants you to stick a break on the AR, he can sit next to you every time you go to the range. He might change his mind after that! Just another thought: Brakes kick up more dust.

scott <xring>
USA - Wednesday, November 18, 1998 at 13:28:57 (EST) 

Muzzle break !

My Mauser 86 SR has one on it, came that way from Mauser, and its predesessor the Mauser 66 also has the same break. Works good, and the rifle will shoot 1/2 MOA all day long(I dont). But when I take it to go shoot no one wants the slot next to me at the range, I had a freind shoot my rifle and was in the spotter position next to him. Boy what a blast!
When shooting at night and comparing it to our standard G-3 ´s it has less muzzle blast, but also has a longer barrel than the G-3. Since the break is a permanent part of the barrel I have not been able to shoot without it.

It is a 2.5 cm dia. tube about 10cm long and has six vertical slots in it and at the end one cut from the top at 45°. Inside dia. is about 18 mm so there is enough room for the bullet to pass through the break before the gasses hit the recoil surfaces. Same reason why they ream out the M21 Flash suppressor.

It does not kick up more dust since the bottom of the break is closed, it only vents to the side and up at the very end.

Also it protects the crown from absolutely everything. Just cant check it and show it off to the buddies.

Torsten <lasercon@dialup,>
-3° C. Germany - Wednesday, November 18, 1998 at 14:26:32 (EST) 

Scott wrote: "Frankly, unless you are doing a lot of shooting in the dark on a regular basis, you do not really need the flash
suppressor/muzzle break on the AR anyway."

Even if you don't do "a lot of shooting in the dark", a flash suppressor is a good idea on a "social" AR, especially with a shorther barrel like the 16" one I have. A lot of conflct occurs at night, and not being seen is A Very Good Thing.

I would summarize like this for the AR:
- Match use: crowned, unthreaded barrel
- multipurpose combat use: flash suppressor
- Selected sporting use: Muzzle break *may* be in order

For a true multipurpose AR, you will have to determine what is most important to you, and decide which options best fill your needs. There are also some roles that combine these areas (say a police AR built for close-range sniping) where you could argue for either a plain barrel or one with a flash suppressor.

The question of "What's it for?" is probably the most under-asked question around when it comes to firearms. It applies not just to what the end of the barrel looks like, but also to your sights, dehorning, ammunition, and a host of other options, including which gun to pick in the first place.

Of course, much of this is a matter of opinion, namely mine. Scott, what say ye?

Dave <>
San Jose, CA USA - Wednesday, November 18, 1998 at 14:53:26 (EST) 

But on a more serious note. The accuracy of many AR's was affected adversely by overtighting of the flash hider. Colt tightened them an ungodly amount. I knew a feller the other day that was getting groups in the 1.75 to 2" (100) class and he decided to cut and recrown his barrel. Groups went to .5 just like that. What you would get today would be a AK-47 break unless you have connections. It too would be a problem if overtightened. The break will affect the accuracy in some manner but it might just as well be positive as it
might be negative. I'd leave it off fits mine but for short barrels
they look like a flame thrower at night either way.

B.Rogers <>
USA - Wednesday, November 18, 1998 at 15:12:15 (EST) 

Dave: You are right of course. USE is what dictates the need.
I have pre-ban ARs and am ex-military. I think of the AR in those terms. In other words, tactical rifles. The post ban rifle I simply do not equate in tactical terms. This is why I say forget the flash hider. If you OWN a post ban rifle you obviously are not military or police and will never use the thing for combat unless things really go south in this nation. From that perspective, I see no reason to worry about the flash suppressor or brake. Just enjoy the benefit of a target crown and do not worry about such things. Since most of the people reading this stuff are civies we need to get real about this issue. They ain't gonna be night fighting!

I hate Brakes on the post ban rifle because they are pinned on permanently. This means you can never EVER see your crown and cleaning it is next to impossible. Given this disadvantage, I would personally never EVER build a post ban Carbine. That only leaves me with a post ban target rifle, which for both hunting and competition is better served with out the brake. If you want a tactical carbine, get a pre-ban and do it right. If you want a precision target rifle, there is no point in paying a premium for the pre-ban just to get the flash supressor. A post ban will do just fine, sans brake than you!

scott <>
USA - Thursday, November 19, 1998 at 07:44:12 (EST) 

On Flash Suppressors. One of our illistrious readers just dropped me this line. I hope he doesn’t mind me passing it along. I just couldn’t word it any better so I gave up and am using his words verbatum.

“Another point of interest that I failed to post is I would never use a flash suppressor on a sniper rifle much less a muzzle break. The signature becomes to great with both. I know, the "flash suppressor" suppresses the flash at your point but makes a huge donut of light in NVDs. Without (either the flash suppressor or muzzle break), the flash can't be seen past a couple hundred meters and in NVDs it is a quick pin point of light. That's the reason the M24 doesn't have them. Some poge sold the army a flash hider for the M24 and no body uses it because it is so poorly made that it destroys the accuracy of the weapon.”

scott <>
USA - Thursday, November 19, 1998 at 09:45:23 (EST) 

Flash suppresors on sniper rifles. Unfortunatley the more correct term would be "muzzle blast enancers". When a sniper is trying to fire from a concealed position he creates a "window" for the blast path to travel through. This window is very small at the muzzle and many times the sniper will put his muzzle into the window and use the depth of concealment to his front to conceal his blast. The blast pattern is very small near the muzzle and it widens to a couple of feet in width at about 6-7 feet. (Anybody ever measure this? Wait, I know Rick has because HE is the keeper of all sniper knowledge!) When you slap on a muzzle blast enhancer, the pattern is now huge at the muzzle which tends to blow the shit out of the snipers cover and concealment.

As far as the flame goes with a 24" barrel all I see with live ammo is about a 8"-10" blue flame which is very hard to see in the with the naked eye at close range within 50 ft. I have even stuck my head over the butts during night fire and can tell you that at 300 yds you can't see shit with the naked eye. I think that the 26" barrel is a better deal as you get a little more velocity and a little less flame.

Gooch <>
USA - Thursday, November 19, 1998 at 18:29:20 (EST) 

My gunsmith is trying to talk me into porting my barrel on my model 700 VS. He claims that my accuracy will improve and muzzle flip will be reduced dramatically. He also claims a 30% reduction in felt recoil. I qestioned him on what are the negatives such as velocity loss and muzzle blast. He claims that velocity loss is only 20fps at most and that the only negative is muzzel blast will increase. With that in mind I would think a side benefit would be that more muzzle blast to the shooter but less down range report which could help to keep the shooter conscealed. I would think that you would not throw up as much dust which could be an added benefit. How much of this info is fact and how much is fiction. Care to comment?

Tom B. <>
jupiter, fl. USA - Friday, November 20, 1998 at 20:44:02 (EST) 

Tom B. Read "Mister Gooch" 's posting on muzzle flash/blast. Two ports upwards diagonally would really catch an observers attention I believe. My last personal experience in 1992 with rifle muzzle flash involved photo's of a .300 Wby Mag. (w/ the then new OEM muzzle brake) and an darkened indoor range. When all was said and done we had 10 B&W proofs and 5 or 6 color shots I saw orange spots for hours. The staff photographer just went and hid in the darkroom........

If you're using a .308 or smaller cartridge(SHUDDER!) recoil should no be a problem as long as you are solidly in position and don't have a injury or disability preventing your stock weld. I am just a little bigger that Herve Villachaze and 100-200 rounds of .308 Win is a cake walk from the prone or bench.

peteR <PNGReiff@AOL.COM>
BigCity, BY-GAWD USA - Saturday, November 21, 1998 at 10:05:28 (EST) 

Guys sorry on my last post above, I forgot to mention one thing on muzzle blast flash that maybe someone (a pro) can clarify. Gooch mentioned little to nil muzzle flash with lotsa real world verification.
Me, I saw pretty "Weatherby wallflowers" for hours.........

I believe that most military ammo has a flash/flame retardant additive to prevent muzzle flash. I do realize that a .300WBY has a little bit larger case capacity and this may be a contributing factor. Does any factory ammo seem to show less than another?

enquiring minds want to know!
Quiet City, By-GAWD USA - Sunday, November 22, 1998 at 09:25:58 (EST) 

To whoever posted the info on not torquing the Flash Hider on Service Rifle AR's, THANKs it helped mine to just glue it on, much better groups.

Calif USA - Monday, November 23, 1998 at 01:53:59 (EST) 

Tom B: I see little reason for porting on your rifle. Save your money. If the thing a .308 it doesn't recoil all that much anyway. The brake will keep your scope on target better during recoil but at the trade off of increased noise level and signature. Ports are neat ideas but seldom needed on most rifles. Magnum handguns and heavy recoiling rifles can benefit from them but they aren't all that needed in a rifle like the VS. Always remember the KISS principle.

Speaking of brakes and flash suppressors, do any of you remember the DTA MIL-brake from Fabian (circa 1986)? Of all the types on the market this one seemed like a pretty functional unit. It combined an affective brake with the M16A2 style birdcage flash supressor. Seemed to work well with little extra noise. I haven't seen one in years though.

Scott <Xring>
USA - Monday, November 23, 1998 at 15:42:15 (EST) 

Mike M. I believe I wrote you off line about the flash hider on the AR-15 Colts being on too tight. Maybe I should post this for others who haven't heard about it. Some of the Colts were torqued to over 200 inch pounds at the Flash hider Muzzle break what ever it's called anyway it crunched the accuracy along with the muzzle. The best remedy if you want to retain the device is to unscrew it or better have a gunsmith do it and screw it back on with epoxy in the thread.
It seems to help the accuracy about as much as anything you can do to one of the mouse guns.
Muzzle breaks have been covered but I have a KDF on my .308. Now I didn't put it on there it just came that way. My thinking was that I'll cut that thing off and recrown it when I got the gun. But the groups were so good I was afraid to mess with it. I had had a bout with one of those Brownings with the BOSS on it. Recoil was reduced dramatically as well as the chance you would be able to hear it thunder after shooting it for 10 shots. I put one of those BOSS units with no holes in it (available from Browning) to get rid of the ear splitting and later sold the gun but Shortly after getting the .308. I was shooting at some Antelope silouettes at 500 yards the other day and to my surprise after I touched off the first round I could see the bullet strike the target. I'm not used to that with a .308 and I don't put a bit premium on it but it's worth mentioning maybe. The points about the signature the dust kicks up from prone are well presented and bonafide but I'm still shooting the darn thing at present.

B. Rogers <>
USA - Monday, November 23, 1998 at 22:46:11 (EST) 

B. Rogers, does the CR (no holes) BOSS have the same effect on tuning and accuracy as the standard one?

Rich <>
WA USA - Tuesday, November 24, 1998 at 15:19:41 (EST) 

Rich, The BOSS works even without the holes and my own experience was that the setting was very close to the same. That could be a concidence and I would have bet otherwise. Brings up another old idea of mine (20)years old by the way that the length of a barrel changes the harmonics of a rifle much and is likely to affect the accuracy with just small changes in length. won't get into it farther but Browning finally caught on and did the BOSS. I am not sure all the barrel lengths have been optimized to take advantage of the BOSS but someone from Browning probably knows and could tell you. Tell you something else. The sound of the rifle tells you something too. Whether the sound rings or is dampened. after listening to a number of them you can hear it if you listen with the idea on your mind. Not to say that a ringing barrel won't ring the same everytime! But a ringing barrel is more likely to be tempermental. Unlikely to shoot different loads accurately. I once had a Remington Model 7 in .243 that would shoot 40 gr. or 4320 in 1/2" every time but change anything at all and it went to hell in a handbasket. Whereas my .243
varminter would shoot almost anything better than that 4320 load.
And that .243 Browning once optimized shot everything about the same.
Keep in mind this is just one man and one isolated case.
B.Rogers <>
USA - Tuesday, November 24, 1998 at 18:41:59 (EST) 

I am kicking around the idea of suppressing a 300 win mag. Any experience out there with the AWC Thundertrap?

Bruce <>
USA - Sunday, February 14, 1999 at 16:58:06 (ZULU) 

Bruce: Muzzle brakes: I have various rifles with KDF, T-Bar and accu-brakes installed. Recoil is reduced considerablly on magnum cals. Never measured velocity before and after, but there is a claimed reduction. They are loud and do stir up the terrain, especially if shooting prone, so from a tactical point its your call. As far as AWC, I don't own one, but I've heard that earlier models with the insert are not reliable but the newer one piece models work. Whether they work better than others for prone shooting, thats a question ?
Tony Y
Iselin, NJ, USA - Monday, February 15, 1999 at 04:39:09 (ZULU) 
Tony; I haven't tried all the brakes you mention just KDF and BOSS stuff. Unless the barrel is shortened to accomidate the length of the brake I saw no reduction. I even cronographed the BOSS with it on and with a BOSS that had no holes for recoil reduction and noticed no diff in speed. Ourside of the dust it kicks up and the sound increase to the shooter there is a lot of recoil advantage. <>
USA - Monday, February 15, 1999 at 14:00:47 (ZULU) 
Muzzle Brakes: You're reducing felt recoil, not giving the gun a rest in the lounge. Second, based on design, some brakes increase velocity, some don't noticeably change it, and some reduce it, either by a little or a lot. It pays to spend time researching brakes before investing in one. If you don't feel your gunsmith is up to the task, find someone who knows what he's doing and have that person do the work. Often, the same people who make muzzle brakes will also install them. Most installation charges are reasonable.

Russell E. Taylor <>
Silvis, IL, U.S.A. -- and damn proud of it! - Thursday, February 18, 1999 at 11:19:39 (ZULU) 

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