Contrary to popular belief muzzle brakes and flash hiders are not interchangeable with each other. Although they may look similar, both are different devices designed to tackle different issues. Depending on whether you use a muzzle brake or flash hider, you will experience a distinct impact on your overall shooting performance.
If you are a beginner starting in the world of gun shooting, it is understandable to be confused between common gun accessories. To help clear your confusion, we have developed a guide outlining the differences between a flash hider vs a muzzle brake, so you can decide which one is best for you.
What is a muzzle brake?
As any gun enthusiast will tell you, recoil is a very real and often aspect of firing shots. The powerful forward force of the release of a bullet sends another equal force backward toward the shooter. This intense force is known as recoil and has a significant effect on shooting speed, overall performance, and gunman safety.
Muzzle brakes are created for this very problem. You may be wondering: What does a muzzle break do exactly? A muzzle brake is an attachment that is threaded onto the end of the barrel of a gun, designed to minimize the amount of recoil felt by a shooter when firing. How a muzzle brake works are it redirects the burning gasses released at the firing of a shot in the direction away from the shooter.
The mechanism of a muzzle brake is reflected in its design, which features a series of cuts that allow gases to escape. These cuts are called ports, and a muzzle brake can have side ports, upwards ports, or angled ports, with each expelling gasses in a different direction. If your primary goal is to reduce recoil, then go for a muzzle brake that has side ports as those are the most effective for that purpose.
Pros and cons of a muzzle brake
The most obvious advantage of using a muzzle brake is a significant recoil reduction. They are designed primarily for this purpose, and do a good job at it. Less recoil makes it easier for the gunman to fire consecutive shots, as there is no constant need to adjust themselves from the impact each time.
Less recoil and fast shooting can lead to a very easy and fun experience for the shooter, as they can be more carefree with their hits. In addition to recoil, a muzzle brake indirectly also combats muzzle rise and muzzle movement to some degree.
However, muzzle brakes also have some limitations. One major downside to muzzle brakes is the loud sound they produce. When a muzzle brake is attached to a gun, it spreads the gas horizontally in a sonic blast which decreases the recoil force but increases the volume of the shots. This can make shooting an incredibly noisy experience for both you and any bystander.
What is a flash hider?
When a shot is fired from a gun, a bright white light is flashed due to the burning gunpowder in the firearm cartridge. This visible flash of light can be particularly disruptive to the shooter while hunting and throw them off of their aim, resulting in a loss of performance. The flash can also alert any potential game nearby, especially if the shooting is being done at night in the outdoors. Flash hiders are designed to combat this issue.
Also known as a flash suppressor or flash guard, a flash hider is an attachable muzzle device that helps reduce the visible flash produced on the firing of a round. A flash hider works by releasing cool, ambient air through various slots and cuts. This cool gas mixes with the hot gas released at the firing of every shot, making them disperse faster in different directions. As a result, there is a smaller flash and less light is seen.
The most commonly seen type is the birdcage flash hider, found on most standard automatic rifles. They are also the least expensive and most widely available type of flash hider, used in the military weapons M16 and M4. Other types are pronged and can flash hiders.
Pros and cons of a flash hider
In the muzzle brake vs flash hider debate, there are many pros and cons to consider. There are many advantages to a flash hider, the most prominent one being its ability to reduce the blinding flash of light seen after a shot. Bright light in a shooter's eyes after every round can be incredibly distracting, and once reduced can greatly increase their performance. Outdoors shooting in low lights is also much smoother, as nearby animals won’t be alerted due to visible light.
In addition, flash hiders have a slight effect on reducing muzzle rise, which can be useful for shooters who want to shoot consecutive shots. They are also not very expensive and can be easily found on the market with a variety of different options available. On most standard-model automatic rifles, flash hiders are already pre-fitted, which is another bonus.
As for cons, there are also a few. The function of a flash hider is to disrupt hot gasses and reduce flash. However, it does not work in every scenario. If the muzzle flash is viewed through the infrared spectrum, then the flash hider will not work to conceal the light as it only hides visibility on the visible spectrum of light. They also only work in situations where there is low light or no light. In regular daylight, a flash hider will not function. It is also not as effective on shorter barrels and does not provide much recoil or muzzle rise reduction.
Muzzle brake vs. flash hider: Which is best?
There is no right answer as to which gun accessory will better enhance your shooting experience, Both muzzle brakes and flash hiders are created for different purposes, and each has its strengths and downfalls. There are some functions for which a muzzle brake is the better option and others where a flash hider would be more suitable.
Muzzle brakes are designed to help reduce recoil felt, so if your gun doesn’t experience any major kickback, a muzzle brake may not be necessary. However, it is possible that your firearm doesn’t produce recoil but still has a bright flash when shooting. For such guns, a flash hider is an ideal option. The AR-15 chambered in .223 Remington is an example of such a gun.
On the other hand, sometimes guns have low muzzle flash but experience a lot of recoil force and need a muzzle brake for better shooting. An example of such a gun is a bolt-action Winchester Model 70 in .375 H&H Magnum. So, no matter where you fall on the muzzle brake vs flash hider debate, we got you covered.
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Does a muzzle brake reduce flash?
A muzzle brake is designed to combat felt recoil to improve accuracy and speed of any subsequent shots. It is not made to reduce flash and does not typically do anything to reduce it. To minimize flash, a flash hider would be the better choice.
Does a flash hider reduce recoil?
A flash hider is designed to reduce the amount of visible flash produced when a shot is fired. Recoil reduction is an entirely different function that a flash hider is not constructed for. However, in recent times manufacturers have begun releasing products that are designed to tackle both recoil reduction and flash hiding at the same time.