Muzzle Brake vs. Flash Hider: Do You Know the Difference?
August 28, 2019
There are three common devices that are often found on the muzzles of firearms – sound suppressors (or silencers), flash hiders (or flash suppressors) and muzzle brakes. Sometimes the terminology can be confusing, and it is often made more confusing by anti-gun propaganda. We already went over the difference between a sound suppressor vs a flash suppressor, with a brief look at muzzle brakes and flash hiders and how they work. Now we’ll go in-depth into the function of muzzle brakes and flash hiders.
Again, if you already know this, great! Please share this article with people who might not. And if you don’t, follow along as we break it down.
How Does a Flash Hider Work?
Some of the earliest flash hiders were little more than metal cones that clamped over the muzzle of a rifle. These can be most famously seen on the British Enfield “Jungle Carbine” of WWII. The shorter barrel necessitated some sort of device to reduce the visual flash of a fired round in low light conditions, and the obvious solution was to simply shroud it with a metal cone.
Flash hiders work by either concealing the muzzle flash (burning gases at the muzzle of the gun) or redirecting it through slots or holes in a muzzle device. Either way, the end goal is the same – to minimize the amount of flash seen by the shooter when using the gun.
This has all sorts of practical utility, ranging from self-defense to low light hunting, and of course military application.
The days of simple clamp-on cones are long past, but the idea lives on with some can-shaped flash hiders that both conceal the muzzle flash and help cool the gas a bit to aid in reducing the visual signature of the fired round.
Many flash hiders these days also double as muzzle brakes since there can be considerable overlap in design features, but we’ll get into that in a moment.
Basically, a flash hider exists to reduce the visible muzzle flash from the shooter’s point of view, protecting their night vision and aiding in faster follow-up shots in low light conditions. Obviously, this is very important to hunters and in-home defense or law enforcement situations.
Are Flash Hiders Legal?
One common trope from anti-gun politicians and activists is that a flash hider is some sort of scary “military-grade” accessory that, through some sort of ill-defined mechanism, makes a firearm more dangerous.
Of course, this thought process is never properly explained, but facts never get in the way of a good old-fashioned moral panic guided by social control freaks. Sadly, this means the perfectly useful and innocent flash hider is seen as a tool of evil, used to conceal a gun in operation (hint, it doesn’t work that way – they only reduce the flash the user of the gun sees).
States that violate your Second Amendment rights like California and New Jersey strictly regulate or ban flash hiders, even though such infringements do nothing to prevent crime or violence.
How Does a Muzzle Brake Work?
Muzzle brakes, aka compensators, work somewhat like flash hiders in that they redirect muzzle gas. But instead of shaping and concealing the gas to reduce visible muzzle flash to the shooter, muzzle brakes work to redirect and use that gas to reduce the climb and recoil of a firearm after shooting it.
Now obviously you can build a flash hider around a muzzle brake and vice versa, which is why many do both, but for legal and practical reasons, there are plenty of standalone muzzle brakes.
Do Muzzle Brakes Affect Accuracy?
Do muzzle brakes affect accuracy? Perhaps a better question is do they negatively affect accuracy, and the answer to that is no. In fact, a good muzzle brake can improve your accuracy.
By reducing felt recoil, muzzle brakes prevent the shooter from getting tired over multiple shots and can help reduce flinching or tensing up before the shot too, both of which negatively affect accuracy.
Whether we’re talking ports cut into the muzzle of your rifle or a special brake screwed onto the end of your rifle, a muzzle brake will improve your accuracy and make it easier to shoot.
Muzzle Brake Pros and Cons
In and of themselves, muzzle brakes offer no real accuracy changing performance. They exist to make shooting the gun easier for the shooter, which means the shooter will shoot more accurately. However, muzzle brakes come with one major drawback – they are loud! Does a muzzle brake reduce noise? Oh no, quite the opposite in fact.
By redirecting and reshaping the flow of gas from the barrel, muzzle brakes can amplify the sound of the shot and make things extremely uncomfortable for folks around you at the range or when hunting. From concentrated muzzle blast, to sound redirected around you, muzzle brakes are not always a nice thing to be around.
Flash Hiders vs. Muzzle Brakes: Tying it All Together
This is, of course, a broad survey on the topic of muzzle brakes and flash hiders. Both have been around for the better part of a century and are well-established technology. Some muzzle brake/flash hider combos are even designed to work with certain brands of silencers (give us a call and ask about those kinds of silencers) and are quite popular on modern sporting and tactical carbines.
Choose a flash hider if:
- You want to reduce the muzzle flash you see when shooting your gun.
- You are expecting to shoot in low light conditions.
Choose a muzzle brake if:
- You are legally restricted from owning a flash hider but want to maintain an aesthetic or retain some functionality of a combo flash hider/muzzle brake.
- You want to reduce felt recoil and muzzle climb.
- You are shooting a high-powered handgun or rifle with strong recoil.
Of course, if you want to reduce visible flash, recoil, and sound, there is only one device that does all three things, and that is a sound suppressor. Silencer Central makes buying a suppressor easy and painless with our eZ-Pay layaway plan, free NFA gun trust, and expert staff ready to help you choose the perfect suppressor for your needs. Email or give us a call today and find out how our multi-caliber Banish Suppressor line of all titanium suppressors may be just what you need!