Do You Need a Rifle Muzzle Brake | Field & Stream

The Gun Nuts

Ranting and Ravings from Phil Bourjaily and David E. Petzal

Do You Need a Brake?

When you should—and shouldn’t—put a muzzle brake on a rifle

silencerco harvester big bore muzzle brake

Silencerco Harvester Big Bore Muzzle Brake.

This whole business comes up because I’m contemplating removing the flash suppressor from my Ruger Scout Rifle (hereinafter referred to as GSR, for Gunsite Scout Rifle, which is what Ruger calls it). The primary function of a flash suppressor is to keep the shooter from being blinded by the muzzle flash of a short-barreled carbine. The secondary role is to keep the muzzle flash from being seen by people who may not have your best interests in mind.

Flash suppressors are not new. The very horrible Enfield No. 5 Mk 1 Jungle Carbine, which was issued in World War II, had a cone-shaped suppressor. M-14s have suppressors, even though they have rifle-length barrels. And, of course, every rifle we issue, from the M-16 on forward, has one. They work by rapidly cooling the gas that exits a rifle’s muzzle.

I have mixed feelings about my GSR’s suppressor. I don’t know if the rifle really needs it, and aside from managing gas balls, it gets in the way. Richard Mann, who literally wrote the book on Scout rifles, detests all muzzle brakes* and flash suppressors, and I put much weight in his opinion.

Will removing it change the rifle’s point of impact or its accuracy?

Will I be blinded by gas?**

I will have to find out.

In the meanwhile, here are some thoughts on muzzle brakes, which are becoming more and more popular.

They will deafen you.

However, some rifles absolutely require them, such as the .378, .416, and .460 Weatherby, any of the mega-.30s, like the .30/378, or the .338 Lapua, and similar nightmares.

Muzzle brakes are indispensable for shooters who are working alone, or at long range, and must keep their sight picture during recoil to see the bullet strike. Just about all sniper rifles, even the 15-pound .308s that have hardly any recoil, now come with muzzle brakes.

Not all muzzle brakes are created equal. The best one I’ve used was made by Kenny Jarrett, and reduced the recoil of a .300 Jarrett, which is like that of a .300 Weatherby, to the level of a .243. It was quite unnerving. However, Jarrett makes recoil reducers only for his rifles.

Dangerous game rifles should not have muzzle brakes. They’ll deafen your trackers, who will be alongside you, and you don’t want your trackers unable to hear something coming that is about to stomp you into hairy strawberry ice cream.

This is a complex subject, and before you alter your rifle, or spend a lot of money, investigate it thoroughly.

*Not breaks, for God’s sake. That’s what happens in skiing accidents.

**I have been blinded by gas balls due to tent farts, not muzzle flash. I recovered, however.


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