If you hunt using a rifle, you’ll probably be aware that how you configure your platform can be a hugely complex operation.
Hunting rifles can be and often are robust tools, but they need to be well maintained and cared for in order to be safe to use,
as well as accurate enough to reliably hit your target when it does finally appear.
When it comes to hunting with a rifle, many people get hung up on the big components such as ammunition, scopes,
or the platform you’re using everything on, however, there are a lot of smaller but still significant components to make decisions about.
One of these components is the muzzle brake.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss muzzle brakes and how they work, as well as what the benefits of using them are and their disadvantages,
to give you a better understanding of whether you should fit one to your rifle or avoid it altogether.
This is an important thing to discuss as beginners may find themselves faced with a lot of conflicting information and opinions which can make it hard to set up a platform or find the right equipment.
This can slow new hunters down and make progress more difficult, as well as potentially make your hunting less comfortable.
Additionally, muzzle brakes and equipment like this often come with a cost attached, so it’s important to weigh up whether these costs are worthwhile before committing to them.
But let’s first discuss what a muzzle brake actually is.
What Is A Muzzle Brake?
A muzzle brake is a specially designed and manufactured device that is connected to the end of a rifle or gun barrel and is intended to help counter the recoil produced by the gases which are forced out of the barrel along with a bullet or other projectile.
It is well known among even the least knowledgeable people that guns produce recoil and that this recoil can often be quite significant,
particularly when using larger caliber weapons like hunting rifles.
Muzzle brakes are devices that capture and redirect the gases that produce weapon recoil as they exit the barrel and use this redirection to help reduce recoil, often significantly.
While some rifles and other weapons have muzzle brakes built into their design, many rifles and weapons don’t use these devices,
which means you will need to get them attached or attach them yourself, depending on the platform you’re using and the muzzle brake you intend to use.
What Does A Muzzle Brake Do?
The main goal of a muzzle brake is to reduce the recoil of a weapon system.
Interestingly, the concept was originally invented for artillery and also used on tank-mounted cannons in order to help reduce recoil and the space needed to absorb or allow for the extreme recoil generated by these very high calibre weapons.
The concept was effective, and as such, it has been scaled down for use with personal weapons of varying types,
and many military-grade rifles of various styles and platforms either use muzzle brakes integrally or have threads required to fit custom muzzle brakes.
The reduction in recoil is a major plus, particularly for hunting and target shooting, however muzzle brakes do have downsides which are important to be aware of for safety reasons as well as performance reasons.
First, it’s important to note that muzzle brakes will often result in the weapon using it to become much louder than before.
This is because the energy and gas that the weapon produces are spread around more as they leave the weapon,
which does help reduce recoil but also directs more of that energy and sound back towards the shooter.
Muzzle brakes can also add a lot of muzzle flash which is worth considering.
How Do Muzzle Brakes Work?
There are many different types of muzzle brakes and these designs will attempt to harness various methods for optimally providing the best experience for the shooter.
At their core, however, muzzle brakes work by redirecting the gas that leaves the weapon as the bullet is fired and using this to counteract the force of the recoil and to help keep the rifle as steady as possible.
While it isn’t possible to totally eliminate recoil or weapon climb, a muzzle brake can significantly reduce this which can make a rifle much more comfortable to shoot, as well as potentially more accurate.
Things To Consider
Before you purchase a muzzle brake there are a few things to consider.
The first thing to note is that muzzle brakes aren’t always that cheap.
There can be considerable costs for getting a muzzle brake, even if your weapon is threaded and perfectly capable of mounting one of these devices.
You can expect a typical quality muzzle brake to cost at least around $200 to $250, however,
it can cost even more to get a muzzle brake if you don’t have a threaded barrel and need to get a gunsmith to professionally fit your brake to your weapon.
This can add a significant amount of cost to the operation, making a muzzle brake a serious investment.
Muzzle brakes do produce a lot more noise than standard muzzles, however, and as a result,t it may be necessary to use ear protection which can add another extra cost, especially if you don’t typically use ear protection with your rifle.
When To Use A Muzzle Brake?
Muzzle brakes may not suit all types of hunters and are best used by hunters who like to hunt alone and at a fairly long range.
This is because muzzle brakes help you to keep your sight picture after you’ve fired to track whether you’ve gotten a hit or not.
If you’re hunting in pairs or at a closer range where it is a little easier to tell if you’ve hit your target, you may not see a huge difference or benefit when using a muzzle brake,
however, if you don’t mind the extra noise they create the reduced recoil can make shooting a little more comfortable.
Are Muzzle Brakes The Same As Compensators?
No muzzle brakes aren’t the same as compensators and work slightly differently, although they are both devices that are attached to the muzzle of firearms, and as such, they are commonly mixed up due to this.
Can I Use A Suppressor With A Muzzle Brake?
It really depends on the type of muzzle brake or suppressor you want to use, as some muzzle brakes are designed to be compatible with certain suppressors and vice versa. However, these are often quite expensive.
Standard muzzle brakes often won’t work with suppressors, and most suppressors won’t work with just a muzzle brake,
so if you’re interested in this you will need to find a specifically compatible set of attachments that can be used in this way.
Muzzle brakes are some of the most widely used attachments for hunting rifles, however, they are by no means a must-have.
The benefits they can provide are significant in terms of recoil reduction, but they do have downsides in terms of weight, and can also require you to re-zero your sights in some cases.
They also make your rifle a lot louder and can massively increase muzzle flash, which can make shooting less comfortable for some people and can also reduce your concealment if this is important to you.
You will need to weigh up these factors and decide on what’s best for you and your platform, but don’t be afraid to start with something a little cheaper and see how you like using a muzzle brake before moving up to something a little more Gucci.