Meet The Pros
The Precision Rifle Series (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 15 different matches are evaluated and the top 50 shooters nationwide are invited to compete head to head in the PRS Finale Match. The info below is based on the equipment those pros brought with them to the most recent finale. 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. 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?
Suppressor or Muzzle Brake?
Now this was at least a little surprising to me. I expected most shooters at this level to opt for a silencer, but 56% were running muzzle brakes. In fact, there were as many people running without any kind of recoil reduction (i.e. bare barrel) as there were running suppressors. Tests have shown muzzle brakes to be slightly more effective at reducing free recoil energy, and they are definitely lighter than suppressors (3 oz compared to 16 ounces) … so these factors could have overrode the ear-splitting blast that deter most shooters from muzzle brakes.
Best Precision Muzzle Brakes
The most popular muzzle brake was made the JEC Customs Muzzle Brake, with Surefire Muzzle Brake not too far behind. Muzzle brake designs vary wildly, so here is a full list of the muzzle brakes along with a photo of the most likely model competitors were using based on the calibers they were shooting. Click on the name to see more details about a particular type.
|JEC Customs Muzzle Brake|
|Surefire Muzzle Brake|
|CSR Muscle Muzzle Brake|
|APA FB Muzzle Brake|
|Badger Ordnance FTE Muzzle Brake|
|Tubb Precision Muzzle Brake|
|TBAC (Thunder Beast) 30BA Muzzle Brake|
|Score High Muzzle Brake|
|AWC THOR PSR Muzzle Brake|
|POF Muzzle Brake|
|Accuracy International (AI) Muzzle Brake
For a long time AI was using brakes made by Suppressed Armament Systems (SAS) on all of their rifles, but more recently AI began making their own brakes.
|JP Compensator Muzzle Brake|
Best Precision Suppressors
|Brand||Material||Length (in)||Weight (oz)||Price*|
|TBAC (Thunder Beast) Suppressor||Titanium||9||16||$1,095|
|AAC Suppressor||Stainless or Titanium||7½-9½||14-22||$750-1,795|
|Silencer Tech Suppressor||Chrome Moly||7||18||$650|
|AWC Suppressor||Stainless or Titanium||8-10¼||16-30||$995-1,695|
|RPG Suppressor||Stainless or Titanium||9||21||$1,350|
*Prices are shown for ballpark reference, and are subject to change without notice. Prices were as of 10/1/2013.
The guys I shoot competitions with all use Thunder Beast (TBAC) suppressors, and after a ton of research and looking at what other competitors are using … I recently ordered a Thunder Beast 30P-1 suppressor myself. Hopefully I’ll have it in hand within the next year! A couple of the guys I shoot with are maniacs about precision, and if they believed the suppressor impacted their accuracy 1/64 of an inch … they’d refuse to shoot with it. Both of them shoot with their TBAC suppressor, so that says something. I was talking to Ray Sanchez at the most recent Steel Safari competition, and he said to prove the Thunder Beast suppressor had 100% repeatable accuracy he actually ran the competition in 2011 with a TBAC 30BA and removed the suppressor between every stage. He won the competition that year. Ray said the tolerances they hold their suppressors to mean there will be no zero shift when you take it off and put it back on. Having said that, I went with the direct thread model instead of the brake-attached, and that’s what everyone I shoot with uses. I was surprised that there weren’t any SAS suppressors represented in the mix. My gunsmith, Clayton Smith of West Texas Ordnance, tells me that is the suppressor Accuracy International chose to mount on their AX rifles when they first debuted. Because of AI’s reputation for extreme precision, I’d think they’d only partner with SAS if their suppressors were some of the most accurate available. So SAS might be another brand to check out.
Other “What The Pros Use” Articles
This was one of a series of posts that analyzes the equipment the top 50 shooters in the country use. Check out these other posts:
- Best Rifle Calibers & Cartridges
- Best Long-Range Scopes
- Best Gunsmiths, Actions, Barrels & Stocks
- Best Precision Bullets & Powders
- Best Precision Suppressor & Muzzle Brake
- Best Rear Bag Shooting Rest
I think you should have titled it Most Numerous instead of Best Precision Muzzle brake. Lot of subjectivity in what makes the best brake.
Jerry, thanks for the comment and you make a good point. It’s kind of funny you mention that, because I was actually researching digital force gauges last night when you added that comment. I thought it’d be helpful to do some empirical testing to see what the measured recoil reduction is with various muzzle brakes. I could get a a sound level meter as well to see how much each increased the peak noise at the shooter position or even beside the shooter (the position a spotter or another competitor might be in). I’m not sure if I’ll be able to afford to do that in the end, because digital force gauges that can support rifle recoil (up to 1KN) are expensive and I actually don’t make any money off this blog (its all funded on my dollar).
There are really two ways to go about determining what “the best” is, and I just touched on my preferred method. My heavy science/engineering background makes me want to go with a 100% data-driven empirical approach. Buy all the stuff and test it out yourself in a measurable, objective fashion. One of my next posts will be on ranging binoculars, and I’ve spent about 40 hours in the field collecting data on 6 different models with this 100% unbiased empirical approach. I hope to post it within the next two weeks, so you should check that out. I’d love to always have that approach, but like with the force gauge … sometimes it is cost-prohibitive and may not be practical.
The 2nd approach is to simply look at what the “experts among experts” are using, and assume they made a wise choice. I recently replaced the HVAC system in my house, and I quickly learned they have gotten very complicated over the past few years (i.e. two stage compressors, variable speed fans, fresh air intake ERVs, heat recovery, humidity control, and “smart” thermostats that all have to work in unison). It was pretty overwhelming. I could have spent a ton of time researching and reading white papers, or even buying different options to test them out for myself. But what if I found the top 50 HVAC contractors in the country and asked them what they personally used in their homes? Although I might not end up with the same exact system as I would’ve if I went with the pure data-driven, empirical approach … I would end up with a great system.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not negating your point. It is completely valid, and I still hope to actually measure both recoil and noise levels for muzzle brakes and even suppressors at some point … but if you can’t do that, the next best thing would be to look at what the top 50 shooters in the country are using.
I was led here from another forum because I am searching for a brake for my .308 (ruger GSR) Below are my thoughts
As an ex-painter I can say I use the least expensive paint I could find on my house. Most contractors I know use the product that is “good enough” for their own needs. Very rarely will a contractor use the best of anything for themselves. So asking a contractor what is the best product and which they use will most likely get you two different answers. That being said, what they use is most likely good enough – very good as far as quality goes.
Consumers will almost always want the best they can afford so most contractors offer the best stuff
Back to the brakes – Knowing what the experts in this field are using is a BIG help for me. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that they are trying to reduce rise and recoil and they picked the best brake (after trying a few different ones) for their particular rifle and caliber.
A brake that is great for a .223 may not be as affective on a .308, 300 win mag, etc… I would like to know which guns your experts are using with which brakes
Interesting point. 99% of these guys are using VERY similar mid-size cartridges, like the 6.5 Creedmoor, 260 Rem, 6.5×47, 6XC, or similar cartridges. There isn’t a large range like you mentioned from 223 to 300 Win Mag. These guys have all gravitated to the cartridges that are best for engaging steel targets in ranges from 25-1200 yards.
It would be an interesting experiment. I hope to do a muzzle brake field test at some point, and have even brainstormed about what that might look like with Jason at JEC. It would be really cool to test all of these in terms of recoil reduction and noise level on guns of different size & caliber. I will do it at some point! It sounds fascinating, and like it wouldn’t be too hard to do with the right equipment.