Muzzle Device Flash Comparison – Brakes, Comps & Flash Hiders

Work ran late recently, so I was able to photograph a fairly consistent comparison of the muzzle flash resulting from the use of Federal .223 Rem 55gr FMJBT – also known as AE223 – and a 16″ AR-15. Actually, there were two AR-15s used for this photo. The PWS TTO requires a thin wrench for removal and installation, and all I had at the range was a standard AR-15 armorer’s wrench. All of the other devices were used on a Spike’s Tactical 16″ carbine length AR-15. Other than the bare muzzle and the PWS TTO, I also used a Spike’s Tactical Dynacomp, Vltor VC-1, standard A2, YHM Phantom 5C2, Smith Vortex, and AAC Blackout.

I do own a Rainier Arms XTC, but it was on a 5.45 rifle that I wasn’t shooting that day. Some might notice the absence of a BattleComp – I don’t own one (no, this is not a plea for a BattleComp, I just don’t own one).

I would like to reiterate that, in my opinion, any device which allows more flash than the A2 is not suitable for combat use. This does not mean that it is not suitable – or even ideal – for use outside of armed confrontation.

47 thoughts on “Muzzle Device Flash Comparison – Brakes, Comps & Flash Hiders”

  1. That’s hot shit man. I hunted with a crowned muzzle and never knew the flash was so intense. I did know it was more than an A2 but geez! Now I have an AAC SPR/M4 blackout and an AAC SPR/M4 suppressor. No flash anymore. Anyways thanks for doing this.

  2. The indoor range I go to has recently mandated muzzle devices on rifles. Before the rule change, things were fine until a couple of guys started showing up with post ban type AR15s. The fireball from those things is unreal. I think the next rule change will be a ban on side firing muzzle brakes.

  3. Great comparison, I’ve been looking for something like this for a while.
    Keep up the great work.
    Is the flash of an A2 or something comparable enough to cause issues such as momentary loss of vision?. I don’t have any experience night shooting, so I’ve never really seen how it impacts night vision.

    1. No, not at all. Of the devices you see here, the only level of flash that really causes problems with night shooting is that which you see from the PWS TTO.

    1. This is true. It is not a flamethrower, and it is relatively affordable. It also does quite well at reducing recoil.

  4. Great comparison shots. I would be nice to see how one of the AAC muzzle breaks compares. I would imagine they have quite a large flash.

    I shoot with AAC cans on all my rifles, so I’m sort of stuck with AAC muzzle devices.

  5. Why didn’t they test the PWS FSC556 or FSC30 which were DESIGNED TO REDUCE FLASH unlike the TTO? That’s why they have the prongs on the front unlike the TTO! Wow I am surprised the TTO was even used besides maybe trying to make PWS look bad–it is not in the least bit of the word a flash suppressor…

    1. dje, the FSC30 was not tested because it is not a 1/2-28 muzzle device – why you would suggest its inclusion in this comparison is puzzling. The FSC556 was not tested because I have tested it in the past and found it to be comparable to the TTO in practical terms – that is, flash visible to the shooter and from the target. You can see the video comparing the FSC556 and TTO I made almost two years ago here – Beyond that, I no longer own an FSC556.

      Also, you should have understood from the title of the post that this included “brakes, comps and flash hiders.” At no point did I state that the TTO was a flash hider or suppressor.

      You are welcome to continue commenting here, but only if you do so in a rational and polite manner.

  6. You tested the TTO and PWS from your perspective in that video, but not from the side as you have in this test. The FSC556 is a 1/2-28 muzzle device and one of the most commonly used. The market is practically flooded with them.

    The comparison you make is on flash suppression and nothing else. The PWS FSC556 does have noticeably less flash than the TTO. I wish you would have tested it to prove either way.

  7. Not to sound like a dummy but when you say a standard “A-2” are you referring to the standard military bird cage currently in use with the armed forces?

  8. I have done a lot of night shooting, but I haven’t done a lot of shooting with breaks. The biggest reason we never used breaks is they are horrible for anyone near you in the house or even on the firing line and the older ones (large side baffles) had huge muzzle flash.

    But now I am no longer in the military and don’t have to worry about being in a stack anymore, I think the trade off is worth the speed and reduction in recoil that a break offers. This seems even more practical the further you get away from 5.56.

    That being said, muzzle signature at night and even blast during the day can be a real concern depending on what your application is. For me, I like the idea of a AAC or Surefire break that allows the attachment of a can for situations where that is a bigger concern.

    Just my take on the whole thing.

  9. Another person did a similar test earlier in 2011, with the results at post #71 in this thread:

    Most of their results were very similar to yours. However, in that test the FSC-556 did extremely well, having less flash from both side and front than many of the dedicated flash hiders. Any thoughts on that relative to your comments equating the FSC-556 with the TTO? I’ve also seen older test photos from one of the suppressor forums showing a huge difference between the TTO and FSC-556, with the FSC again ranking better than an A2 and the TTO being similar to a bare muzzle.

    On a different note, what is the point of the VLTOR hider if it doesn’t work any better than an A2?

    1. I have never seen muzzle flash from an FSC that I could even begin to compare to an A2.

      In my opinion, if it’s more than an A2, especially in a significant manner, then it doesn’t matter if it makes a little fireball or a huge fireball – it’s still something that is going to make my position known to everyone within my line of sight for hundreds of yards.

  10. Can anyone speculate as to why the YHM 5c2 is often called a comp/fh? From Andrew’s statement above about the A2 being the best at both reducing muzzle rise and flash, and from other reviews reporting that the YHM does very little in the way of reducing recoil/flip, it seems that “just flash hider” would be much more accurate of a description.

    1. Well, it seems that YHM themselves call it a comp/FH. I have found it to be quite decent at the latter, but not very effective at the former.

  11. I know the Dynacomp isn’t as good as the others but it seems to work fairly well considering it’s called a “comp”. And hopfully that’s what Connecticut consideres it as well. A comp or muzle break is okay in my state. Something called a flash hider or flash supressor isn’t.

    I guess a call or e-mail will clear that up for sure. I got my fingers crossed.

    Awesome photo’s btw!!!

  12. Andrew, would you do me a favor, and make a matching montage of daylight photos of the devices mounted on the muzzle? I like the night shot as it really shows the effectiveness of the devices, but I’d like to meet them so I would recognize them by sight as well as by name,

  13. Andrew

    Two questions:
    (1) Is there a correlation between the amount of flash the device produces and its braking properties? If so, would that simply that the VLTOR VC-1 provides more braking ability than, say, a Phantom hider?
    (2) In an earlier video, you talked about the battlecomp and how it provided a good compromise between flash/blast and muzzle compensation. I’m curious if you still think the BC would play a viable role in a real-use carbine and how it measures up in flash/blast in the current lineup you have here.

    1. 1- Not a direct correlation – although there is a general correlation in that the most effective flash hiders are most often the least effective at controlling muzzle rise and recoil.

      2- I later tested the BC at night and found that it did not live up to the manufacturer’s claims regarding muzzle flash. I would not consider it on a “real world use” rifle if muzzle signature would be an issue on said rifle.

      1. 1. So the VLTOR doesn’t give any advantage over the A2 then? If it has slightly more flash, I see no reason to pay more than $5 for a regular ole A2. I guess the only catch is that the A2 won’t meet legal length for a 14.5″ barrel (as in my own case).
        2. How does the BC compare against the Spike’s Dynacomp? Do you think the flash/blast is similar?

        1. I do not see a ~$45 improvement over the A2. There are extended length A2s as well as 14.7″ barrels.
          I think that the flash and blast is similar, yes.

  14. Andrew, I am trying to decide between a PWS FC556 or a ST Dynacomp on a mid-length. I live in an AWB so my choice is limited. Of these two brakes which do you think does a better job of controlling the muzzle and which one has less visible flash? Thank you

    1. The PWS does a better job of keeping the muzzle flat, the Dynacomp pushes it down somewhat. Visible flash…both are greater than an A2…sometimes the Dynacomp is less flashy, sometimes it throws fireballs. The PWS is more consistent.

  15. This is by far the best and most comprehensive article on this subject. Now I humbly request the addition of a battle comp and a similar study about the compensating power of each device as well. Once again great job and I love the Youtube channel.

  16. Is there any difference between a ‘standard’ A2 and an ‘extended’ A2, assuming everything else is held constant?

  17. I know you said you don’t have a Battlecomp, but Im assuming you’ve had some experience with one. How does it compare in muzzle flip reduction, and noise/flash to the Dynacomp?

  18. may i suggest that BE Meyers flash hider be included in the comparison? like to see how well it perform against all these

  19. Hi Andrew, great job providing the information. I have two questions I was going you could help with.
    1. What comp/brake does the best job of holding the flash I’m check while actually doing a good job as a comp/brake?

    2. Do you have any experience with the Smith good iron, and what is your opinion on it.

  20. I like the report you did on muzzle brakes. For more than seven years, I been looking for testing on flash levels of muzzle brakes. I would like to send you one to add to your testing, but you do not need to add it to your report. Just would like you to see and try it. Look at YouTube under Rusty99J to see it in action.

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