Alright, let’s get back to the PRS data. This post reviews the rifles suppressors and muzzle brakes the best precision rifle shooters were using in 2014. The data is based on a survey of the top 50 shooters in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS). The PRS tracks how top competitors place in major rifle matches across the country. These are the major leagues of sniper-style competitions, with targets typically in the 300-1000 yard range. This is the 3rd year we’ve collected this data. For more info on the Precision Rifle Series and who these guys are scroll to the bottom of this article.
First, I asked the competitors if they ran suppressed or with a muzzle brake more often … or neither.
If you remember, there were 5 shooters last year running neither, but this year there wasn’t a single shooter within the top 50 running a bare barrel. 69% of competitors typically ran a muzzle brake during a match, and 31% said it’s more common for them to run a suppressor in competitions.
If you only look at what the top 20 shooters were using, it was a little more even, with 11 running muzzle brakes and 8 running suppressors. But among the top 10 it closely matched the split among the entire top 50, with 7 running muzzle brakes and 2 running suppressors. The math students in the house may notice that 7 + 2 isn’t 10. The shooter who finished 10th overall was the one competitor who didn’t complete the survey.
Some competitors may decide to run one or the other, depending on the specifics of the match. Both muzzle brakes and suppressors reduce recoil, which can help you spot your shots, even at close distances. Muzzle brakes are more maneuverable, because they’re about a pound lighter and are shorter. Over 50% of the shooters were running 26” barrels, so adding several inches of suppressor to the end of that can make it feel like you’re trying to carry around a flagpole. But if you’re laying prone most of the day, then a suppressor can be preferable … especially if you’re firing near other competitors. You at least hope the guy next to you isn’t running a brake!
Best Precision Rifle Suppressors
And here is the list of the most popular precision rifle suppressors among the top 50 shooters. In 2014, 26 shooters out of the top 50 said they use a suppressor regularly.
On top again this year, Thunder Beast Arms Corp. (TBAC) suppressors were the most popular choice among the top shooters in the country. Of the top 50 shooters running suppressed, 1 in 3 chose a Thunder Beast suppressor. That is quite a statement. The TBAC 30P-1 is their flagship product for precision rifles, and can be spotted at most precision rifle competitions. I explained a few of the advantages of Thunder Beast suppressors in a recent post on my Custom 6XC Precision Rifle Build.
The next most popular brand was Silencer Tech, with 28% of the suppressed shooters running one of their cans. Silencer Tech said the one most of these guys were running was their 6 inch direct-thread suppressor, which weighs just 14 ounces. That is the model that is pictured below.
Right on their heels is SilencerCo, with 24% of shooters using one of their suppressors. SilencerCo has experienced incredible growth since their start in 2008. The SAKER 762 represents their premiere model for precision rifles.
Best Muzzle Brakes
Here are the most popular muzzle brakes among the top precision riflemen in the country. 40 of the riflemen who finished in the top 50 said they regularly use a muzzle brake, and this data reflects what brake those 40 shooters said they used. It also shows how popular each brand was in the previous two seasons of the Precision Rifle Series.
This year, the shooters were more evenly split among a few companies, with American Precision Arms (APA) taking the top spot. 8 shooters were using a muzzle brake made by APA. 2 guys were using APA brakes in the top 20, and those were actually both in the top 5 (#3 and #5). Muzzle brake design is still an emerging science, and there are a ton of different designs on the market. APA has released a lot of new designs in the past couple years, and they’ve become very popular. Here is a look at the 2nd generation of one of APA’s bestselling brakes:
The 2nd most popular muzzle brake brand was Badger Ordnance, with 7 shooters represented among the top 50. If you narrow it to just the top 20 shooters, there were 2 using a Badger muzzle brake, and those two actually finished #2 and #4. Badger has two styles of muzzle brakes that have been popular for a number of years: the FTE and the Thruster.
There were 6 shooters using Center Shot Rifles (CSR) muzzle brakes, which landed it in #3. 4 of those shooters placed in the top 20, which makes CSR the most popular choice among competitors who finished in the top 20. CSR’s current model is the Blast Tamer, which comes in a few different models (round, slabbed, 3 port, 4 port, different thread patterns, clamp on versions, etc).
A perennial favorite, JEC Customs, landed at #4 among the top 50 shooters in 2014, with 4 shooters using a JEC. In 2012 and 2013, JEC muzzle brakes were clearly the most popular brake among the top precision shooters. Just last year, 43% of the shooters running this brake, which was almost double the next competitor. While it didn’t have the same commanding lead as it did in the past, this was still one of the most popular muzzle brakes among these top tier riflemen.
Rounding out the top 5, was Impact Precision with 4 shooters using their brakes as well. 3 of those shooters were in the top 20, which makes Impact Precision the 2nd most popular brake among the top 20 shooters. Impact Precision is a new company, but the owners include familiar names like Wade Stuteville (winner of the 2012 Precision Rifle Series, 20th overall in 2014) and Tate Streater (finished 15th overall in the 2014 Precision Rifle Series). So these brakes are obviously designed for precision rifles with these styles of competitions in mind. They offer the brake in a few sizes: 6mm, 6.5mm, 30 caliber, and 338 caliber. They don’t have a website yet, but you can get more info or place an order by calling (580)371-2510 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. They should have a website up by the end of January, and I’ll post a link when I hear about it.
Behind those top 5 brands, there were a lot of other muzzle brakes represented by either 1 or 2 of the shooters in the top 50.
Meet The Pros
You know NASCAR? Yes, I’m talking about the racing-cars-in-a-circle NASCAR. Before NASCAR, there were just a bunch of unaffiliated, regional car races. NASCAR brought structure by unifying those races, and created the idea of a season … and an overall champion. NASCAR identified the top races across the country (that were similar in nature), then combined results and ranked competitors. The Precision Rifle Series (PRS) is like NASCAR, but for rifle matches.
The PRS is a championship style point series race based on the best precision rifle matches nationwide. PRS matches are recognized as the major league of sniper-style rifle matches. At the end of each year, the scores from around 15 different national matches are evaluated and the top shooters are invited to compete head to head in the PRS Season Championship Match. We surveyed the shooters who qualified for the finale, asking all kinds of questions about the equipment they ran that season. This is a great set of data, because 50+ shooters is a significant sample size, and this particular group are also considered experts among experts. It includes guys like George Gardner (President/Senior Rifle Builder of GA Precision), Francis Kuehl, Wade Stuteville, the GAP Team, the Surgeon Rifles Team, shooters from the US Army Marksmenship Unit, and many other world-class shooters. Thanks to Rich Emmons for allowing me to share this info. To find out more about the PRS, check out What Is The Precision Rifle Series?
Other “What The Pros Use” Articles
This post was one of a series of posts that look at the equipment the top PRS shooters use. Check out these other posts:
- Calibers & Cartridges
- Tactical Scopes
- Scope Mount
- Rifle Actions
- Rifle Barrels
- Custom Rifle Stocks
- Reloading Components (Bullets, Powders & Brass)
- Muzzle Brake & Suppressor
- Shooting Bags
- Rifle Sling