The Best AR-15 Muzzle Brakes – 2020 Guide

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Once you’ve made some progress in building your perfect AR-15, there comes a point when you need to decide what kind of muzzle device you’ll be attaching to the business end of the rifle.

You may even be asking yourself whether you need a muzzle device at all and whether you want a muzzle brake, a compensator, or a silencer.

Let’s take a look at these devices, what they are good for, and which ones you should buy if you opt for them.

Comparison of the Best AR-15 Muzzle Brakes 

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Type: Muzzle Brake
  • One of the best-rated devices to eliminate muzzle rise and also reduce recoil
  • Features a large initial expansion chamber which dissipates combustion gases at a lower pressure, then expels gases to the side and rear through vents
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Type: Compensator
  • The barrel is machined from 4140 chrome-moly steel, and feature a matte-black phosphate finish
  • The barrel features M4 feedramps and includes a barrel nut and handguard cap
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Type: Muzzle Brake
  • It is easily installed on your AR rifle, and a crush washer is included
  • reduces the recoil while also lessening the blast and flash that other AR-15 muzzle devices have
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Type: Compensator
  • This compensator reduces muzzle rise and flash while also decreasing side blast and noise
  • The exterior is designed to accept a blank firing adapter or flash-hider mounted suppressors. It is made from stainless steel with a black oxide finish
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Type: Muzzle Brake
  • These are heat-treated to a surface hardness of Rc 60 to resist gas erosion and are designed to be snag-free
  • The 1002RR fits any rifle up to .308/7.62mm with 5/8"-24 tpi muzzle threads and includes a lock nut
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Type: Compensator
  • Offers excellent muzzle stabilization and recoil reduction
  • Comes with a peel washer for precise indexing of the side ports
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

What Are Muzzle Brake and Compensators For?

Muzzle brakes and compensators are both screwed onto the end of your AR-15 rifle to help deal with recoil and muzzle climb. Normally, the explosion that unleashes the bullet towards its target is accompanied by a loud bang and hot air being released from the front of the gun. The function of the muzzle brake is to redirect the propellant gases released when the bullet is fired. This can counter both the recoil and the climb.

A muzzle brake has a simple ,design. It consists of a small tube with baffles and sometimes holes at the top. It is designed to prevent the combustion gases from bursting, redirecting the force mainly to the sides of the barrel.

A compensator behaves quite similarly to a muzzle brake by redirecting pressure and high-velocity gases. But in this case, it directs them upward, mainly reducing muzzle climb. Compensators consist of a tube with holes along the top to push the gases out. The jet of gas that is expelled acts as a counterforce to the rise of the muzzle. The higher the pressure of the gas behind the bullet, the more effective the compensator.

Differences Between Muzzle Brakes and Compensators

The main difference between muzzle brakes and compensators is that muzzle brakes can mitigate both recoil and muzzle climb, although its main function is to prevent recoil. On the other hand, compensators are meant to prevent muzzle climb only.

The benefits of using muzzle brakes are that you can perform successive shots better by immediately acquiring your target without waiting to recover from recoil. The downside is that it doesn’t suppress flash. It also causes extreme amounts of noise, pressure, and gas to be blasted toward shooters or observers on your left and right.

Meanwhile, a compensator can reduce the muzzle climb on your AR-15, speeding up the recovery after each shot and helping you quickly acquire the target before the next shot. This is especially useful in a rapid-fire situation. The downside to a compressor is that it doesn’t offer flash suppression and is noisy for those close by.

What to Look For in a Muzzle Brake or Compensator

A good compensator or muzzle brake can add to your shooting experience, and many guns now come standard with one of these. As gun owners become more aware of the advantages of these muzzle devices and manufacturers churn them out by the thousands, it has become important to be able to judge the good from the bad.

Efficient Design

A high-quality muzzle brake will be efficient in design and will let less gas out of the end of the muzzle. Instead, it will redirect as much away from the rifle as possible, maximizing the recoil reduction, as more of the propellant gases are pushed backward.  Look for a muzzle brake that has a higher baffle surface area and venting cross-section to achieve good efficiency.

No Hole at the Bottom

If you plan to shoot from a prone position, such as during a hunt, make sure the brake has no holes at the bottom. The gases expelled downward will kick up dust and dirt, spoiling your aim and preventing you from seeing your target.

Muzzle Climb Reduction

For both compensators and combination muzzle brakes, you should check that the device actually works for your ammo and rifle the way it is intended to. You may need to calibrate or tune the brake to balance the muzzle climb perfectly.

Value For Money

Obviously, price can be a factor when selecting the muzzle device you’ll end up using. With good muzzle brakes costing upward of $250, you need a compelling reason to shell out that kind of money, unless money is no object.

Quick Take - The Best AR-15 Muzzle Brakes

Reviews of the Best AR-15 Muzzle Brakes

Keep in mind the above factors when choosing what kind of muzzle brake will fit your need. To help you select the right muzzle brake for your AR-15, we’ve narrowed down the field to some of the best in the market.  

Best Muzzle Brake Overall:
​Precision Armament

Pros

  • No difficulty in installing
  • Excellent recoil reduction
  • Fits most calibers perfectly
  • Reduces recoil quite a bit
  • Perfect for all kinds of applications

Cons

  • May be a bit loud for bystanders
  • Washers for installation are sold separately
  • Some say it might rust after a few months

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers were impressed with some of the instant changes they’ve seen with this muzzle brake. Not only were they able to get a lot of reduced recoil out of the whole deal, but they also managed to gain complete control over their rifles and, in turn, were able to shoot a lot more accurately.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This muzzle brake is by far one of the most solidly built on the market. So it would make a lot of sense that you don’t want to see it get scuffed up or damaged easily after many rounds of gunfire. You also have some side vents that are perfect for rerouting gas. Gas blowback to your face will be a thing of the past once you install this bad boy on your AR-15 rifle.

This is one of the best-rated devices to eliminate muzzle rise and also reduce recoil. It features a large initial expansion chamber which dissipates combustion gases at a lower pressure, then expels gases to the side and rear through vents. The bottom of the compensator is closed, greatly diminishing dust being kicked up.

This device is machined from high-strength HTSR 416 stainless steel and comes in matte black or stainless steel finishes. Accu-Washers are required for proper installation.

Measurements: 1/2-28 TPI thread. 2.25" (5.2cm) OAL. 0.875" (2.2cm) dia.

It weighs 2.6 ounces and fits .223 Cal (5.56mm) calibers.

This is easy to install, a good value for money, and looks good. However, it rusts quickly, is quite loud, and blows gases back into the face with every shot.

Who Will Use This Most

This muzzle brake would be perfect if you’re looking to reduce recoil for the purpose of increasing the overall accuracy of your rifle. It’s a must for those who use their AR-15 rifles for competition shooting, casual target shooting, or even hunting. No matter what, this muzzle brake will rise up to the occasion and make recoil reduction possible.

Bottom Line

The Precision Armament Severe Duty Compensator is a small unit that will do a lot for your AR-15. Recoil reduction, gas rerouting, and increasing your accuracy are just a few things it can do for you. If you’re looking for a muzzle brake that might be one of the best in the business, this might be your best choice.

Pros

  • No muzzle rise
  • Fits most .223 calibers
  • Reduces recoil instantly
  • Easy to install for most users
  • Super-durable, Parkerized finish makes it a lot tougher

Cons

  • It can be quite loud at times
  • The finish might be a little dull for some owners
  • Some owners may be disappointed in the size due to fitting purposes

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers were satisfied with how this compensator worked. Most users were AR-15 owners who fired off .223 caliber rounds. They were happy with how the compensator was easy to install and allowed for instantly reduced recoil reduction right out of the gate. They also reported no muzzle rise at all. Accuracy-wise, they were able to hit their targets consistently.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This compensator is simply designed to do a few things to make your AR-15 function a lot better. Of course, the major abilities are reducing recoil and eliminating muzzle jump. A great compensator is also good for reducing the amount of gas blowback and kicking up dust. With this compensator installed on your rifle, you’ll spend less time cleaning out dirt from your rifle and also less dealing with a cloud full of gas.

The DPMS AR-15/M16 5.56x45mm Barrel is different from the other items on this list, as it’s a complete barrel. The barrel is machined from 4140 chrome-moly steel, and features a matte-black phosphate finish.

Each barrel includes a front-sight base and is available in 14.5” length, with a pinned and welded Miculek muzzle brake. The barrel features M4 feedramps and includes a barrel nut and handguard cap. The entire barrel is less than 16 inches long, but including the compensator, should be legal.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be best used for those who want nothing more than to reduce recoil and muzzle jump from their rifles. As a result, it will also give them the opportunity to have better control over their rifle. If you want precise, accurate shooting for any application, you best believe that having control over your rifle without any recoil or muzzle rise will do the trick.

Bottom Line

The DPMS AR-15 Compensator .22 Caliber is perhaps your best choice if you want to get rid of the recoil hampering your shooting efforts. Once you tack this onto your AR-15 rifle, you’ll notice the instant changes at first shot. 

Pros

  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Excellent construction and really durable
  • Muzzle rise completely eliminated after install
  • Some users were able to install this in a few minutes
  • It doesn’t seem to be loud compared to most compensators

Cons

  • May not break in as quickly
  • Some fitting may be required
  • Some say they don’t notice a boost in accuracy

What Recent Buyers Report

New buyers were able to install this in a few minute's time. Once installed, they noticed the following changes; no muzzle jump, recoil reduced to nearly 70 percent, and no visible flash in low-light conditions. One user said he uses this for night hunting and was able to get through the hunt without having to deal with being temporarily blinded by the rifle flash.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This muzzle brake does what it’s designed to do. It reduces a ton of recoil and muzzle jump. So once it’s gone, you’re able to easily squeeze off a round without your shoulders dealing with the heavy-hitting abuse that recoil can cause.

The Wilson Combat Q-Comp reduces the recoil, while also lessening the blast and flash that other AR-15 muzzle devices have. It is a hybrid AR-15 brake/compensator which is tuned to minimize the side-blast and concussion.

The slotted expansion chamber design of the Q-Comp is robust and snag-free and the muzzle brake is made from Melonite QPQ-coated alloy steel for maximum durability and corrosion resistance.

It is easily installed on your AR rifle and a crush washer is included.

The 5/8-24 TPI threads, with an internal bore diameter of .375” work for most 6.8, most .300 and .308 rifles, and some 9 mm (Wilson AR-9).

The 11/16-24 TPI threads with an internal bore diameter of .485” are for Wilson Combat SOCOM rifles and some other aftermarket large-caliber ARs.

This is tough, easy to install, and is simply a good-looking combo muzzle brake.


Who Will Use This Most

This will be a great unit to add onto your rifle if you just want a simple muzzle brake to reduce a lot of recoil and muzzle jump. You’ll definitely keep this handy if you want something that’s simple and easy to install.

Bottom Line

The Wilson Combat AR-15 Muzzle Brake Q-Comp is a quality muzzle brake that can make your AR-15 rifle function like a champ. So, if you’re a hunter or target shooter that is kind of getting sick of recoil and muzzle jump, this might be one of the things worth investing in.

Pros

  • Vents do a great job rerouting gas
  • Takes only a few minutes to install
  • Super-durable construction and finish
  • Reduces a lot of recoil and muzzle jump
  • Helps extend barrels so they can meet barrel length requirements in most states

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers loved this compensator. They noticed the reduction of muzzle jump and recoil right from the start. The majority of the new users were hunters hoping to improve their kill shots with their AR-15 rifles. One user said he uses it for the purpose of deer hunting and managed to land a big buck right after installing this compensator. He added that if he still had muzzle jump, the shot would not have been effective.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This compensator is small in size and does a great job accommodating .223 caliber and 5.56 NATO-chambered AR-15 rifles. No matter which rifle you have, you know this compensator won’t steer you wrong. While it’s made from high-quality steel and coated with a finish that boosts the durability up a few levels, it proves itself to take on all kinds of gunfire (both rapid-fire and individually). In short, you have a compensator that is built to last you years or even decades. If you’re looking for the last compensator that you’ll need to buy for a while, this tough cookie might be up for the challenge.

This compensator reduces muzzle rise and flash, while also decreasing side blast and noise. The exterior is designed to accept a blank firing adapter or flash-hider mounted suppressors. It is made from stainless steel with a black oxide finish. The standard length fits .223/5.56mm rifles.

Dimensions: .830" (2.1cm) O.D. Standard – 1.7" (4.4cm) long, with ½"-28 threads. A washer is included. This compensator is easy to install and looks good.

Who Will Use This Most

If you want a compensator that will go the extra mile in making sure you have no muzzle rise or recoil, and at the same time will serve as a great barrel extension to meet those strict barrel requirements in some states, this product might be exactly what you’re looking for. Your rifle will look slightly longer, while making sure that recoil and muzzle jump is kept to a minimum.

Bottom Line

The Bravo Company MFG Compensator Mod is small, durable, and can go a long way to make your AR-15 rifle stand out in many ways. Whether you’re hunting or using it for target practice, your AR-15 rifle deserves some of the best accessories that will make it better than ever. So why not start out with a muzzle brake?

Pros

  • Excellent durability
  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Recoil is cut down considerably
  • Compliant with California’s gun laws and regulations
  • Adds on a couple more inches to your barrel to meet length requirements

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, a lot of new buyers were satisfied with the compensator. Many of them were budget shoppers looking for something that gave them more than what they were paying for. Sure enough, with the huge reduction of recoil and no muzzle jump, they got exactly that. Some have even reported a slight boost in accuracy once installed on their rifles.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This compensator is the only one on the market that meets the requirements and standards of California’s gun laws. So if you own an AR-15 in a state where you need to meet strict guidelines, this compensator will be a lifesaver (and will save you a lot of headaches and frustration from all the legal stuff you’d deal with otherwise). Aside from that, it’s measured at two inches and has a rugged design that makes recoil and muzzle jump nearly non-existent. Not to mention, it keeps the barrel clean as it won’t allow the rifle to kick up dust.

This muzzle brake is ideal for 9 mm carbines or AR-15 rifles with 9 mm barrels. It reduces muzzle flip & recoil impulse greatly. The device is machined from steel and has a matte black finish.

It has a ½-36 right-hand thread pitch and is 2 inches long. The item does not include a crush washer or shims. It is a tough and easy to install compensator that will work with many guns.

Who Will Use This Most

Obviously, this will be used by residents of California who own an AR-15. Regardless of whether you live in that state or not, this compensator will be perfect for giving your AR-15’s barrel a slight boost in length. On top of that, you get the usual benefits like reduced recoil and zero muzzle jump. If you’re expecting these qualities out of a compensator, you will not be disappointed with this one.

Bottom Line

The Foxtrot Mike Products AR-15 Muzzle Brake is durable, affordable, and will knock out recoil and muzzle jump the second you install it. For a compensator that is considered a budget accessory, you’ll swear you’re stealing it for the price it’s going for, considering that it functions way better than most muzzle brakes.

Pros

  • No muzzle jump to speak of
  • Shooting groups are pretty tight
  • Easily fits .30 caliber AR-15 rifles
  • Recoil reduction is instantly noticeable
  • Installation is super-easy for most users

Cons

  • May rust over time
  • Some fitting may be required
  • Some say it can kick up a bit of dust

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers were owners of the larger caliber AR-15s. They were looking for a muzzle brake that would reduce all kinds of recoil by nearly half or more. This muzzle brake was able to do just that, almost instantly upon install. One user said he uses this just to make his AR-15 rifle more range-friendly for target shooting.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Muzzle brakes aren’t just for .223 or 5.56 calibers. In fact, they are available across many calibers. The .30 cal is no exception to the rule. They are also known for generating a lot of recoil and muzzle jump. So, if you want a muzzle brake that can handle a heavy hitter like a .30 cal AR-15 rifle, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything else quite like this.

These muzzle brakes from Smith Enterprises are made from stainless steel with a manganese-phosphate finish. They are easy to install and reduce recoil and muzzle rise. They are closed at the bottom to reduce dust signature.

These are heat-treated to a surface hardness of Rc 60 to resist gas erosion and are designed to be snag-free.

The 1002RR fits any rifle up to .308/7.62mm with 5/8"-24 TPI muzzle threads and includes a lock nut. This item is available in matte black. It works with many guns, so it’s a good choice if you plan to switch it from gun to gun.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be mostly used by AR-15 users that are either hunters or target shooters using a larger AR-15 caliber. So if you want to get rid of the recoil and muzzle jump that usually throws off your shots, this muzzle brake will do that and more. It will also reduce a lot of gas blowback, as well.

Bottom Line

The Smith Enterprises AR .308 Muzzle Brake is the one accessory that can handle heavy-duty AR-15 gunfire. If you want something able to play with the big boys, this muzzle brake will stand up to the challenge. It’s small but tough. Imagine reducing recoil and muzzle jump at the snap of a finger. You can with this little unit installed on your rifle.

Pros

  • Super-easy installation
  • Really durable construction
  • Reduces a good deal of flash
  • It doesn’t get loud like most compensators
  • It does a great job reducing a lot of recoil and muzzle jump

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers were pretty impressed with the compensator. Not only did they install this in about five minutes, but they noticed a significant change to their shooting ability the minute they gave it a few test shots. One user said muzzle jump was non-existent and recoil was reduced to about 60 percent. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the best things about this compensator is that it doesn’t allow for a lot of flashes. So if you’re an AR-15 hunter that is usually out and about during the low-light periods of the day or if you night hunt, you’ll notice that there are no flashes to blind you or give away your position if you’re using the shadows as cover.

This compensator offers excellent muzzle stabilization and recoil reduction. It also provides enough flash suppression to keep flash out of the shooter’s line of sight. It comes with a peel washer for precise indexing of the side ports.

The CQB556 is designed mainly for entry teams and other operators working in confined spaces like buildings. The muzzle blast is directed forward to protect the shooter and nearby team members from hot gases and concussion.

CQB556 models fit AR-15/M16/M4 and clones chambered in .223/5.56mm, with ½”-28 TPI RH muzzle threads. CQB556 –2¾” (7cm) long x 13⁄8” (3.5cm) diameter. 9.1 oz. (258g) wt. ½”-28 TPI RH thread.

Who Will Use This Most

This compensator will be perfect for .223 caliber AR-15 rifles. So, if your rifle is chambered to fire these shots, you will benefit the most from this compensator. If you want to reduce recoil and muzzle jump in a cinch and even do away with muzzle flash in the process, this could be the muzzle brake you want to have.

Bottom Line

The Primary Weapons System Muzzle Brake is built to last and built to handle so many rifle shots. This is a tough piece of equipment that can do a lot to ensure that your AR-15 is in tip-top shape whether you’re hunting, casually shooting around, or competing. You can say goodbye to muzzle jump and recoil with this little guy added onto your muzzle. 

The Barrage Muzzle Brake will allow your rifle to accept a Blackhawk Barrage Suppressor but can also be used by itself. It reduces recoil and diminishes muzzle climb during rapid fire. The three ports redirect combustion gases to mitigate recoil and push the blast away from the shooter.

It will fit 5.56/.223 caliber rifles with 1/2"-28 muzzle threads and doesn’t need crush washers for installation. It’s made from stainless steel alloy with a durable matte black finish.

What Are Featureless Muzzle Brakes?

You may be worried about laws that outlaw certain kinds of muzzle devices, especially in states like NY and CA. Featureless rifles are designed to meet the legal requirements of certain states. One of those requirements is that they can’t have flash hiders or flash suppressors.

To be on the safe side, don’t purchase any muzzle device that incorporates flash suppression if you live in a state where featureless rifles are necessary to own an AR-15. Following this little rule of thumb should keep you out of trouble, but in case you are in doubt, do check your local and federal laws.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ve learned a bit about the uses and designs of muzzle brakes and compensators, as well as the pros and cons of these devices. The fact that muzzle brakes and compensators reduce recoil and muzzle climb also means they are not necessary for every user.

While many competitive shooters and other AR owners love their muzzle brakes, they can be overkill for some owners. Before purchasing an expensive muzzle device, do your research to figure out whether you’ll need one of these devices for your own shooting.

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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