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Best Muzzle Brakes & Suppressors – What The Pros Use

This article covers the muzzle brakes and suppressors the top 170+ precision rifle shooters in the country are running. It’s based on a recent survey I conducted of the top 125 shooters in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and top 50 shooters in the National Rifle League (NRL), which are points-race leagues based on the biggest long-range, field-based rifle matches across the country. This data is very unique, because it is a wide sample of the most elite marksmen and experts in the field. (View other “What The Pros Use” articles)

Muzzle Brake or Suppressor?

Every precision rifleman faces the decision: Do I go with a muzzle brake or suppressor? Both have their advantages, so I thought we’d start by looking at what these guys run:

Muzzle Brake vs Suppressor

The various colors on the chart represent the league and rank of the shooters. For example, black indicates shooters who finished in the top 10 in the PRS, dark blue is those who finished 11-25 in the PRS, and the lighter the blue, the further out they finished in PRS Open Division season standings. The green colors represents the top shooters in the NRL, where the darkest green is the top 10, medium green is 11-25, and light green are 26th to 50th. The legend on the chart itemizes the league and ranks each color represents, but basically the darker the color, the higher up the shooters placed.

In the data above, you can see 51% of these guys said they might run a muzzle brake or a suppressor depending on the situation. There are a couple matches like the SilencerCo Quiet Riot that are suppressor-only matches, so even if you use a muzzle brake most of the year, you’d obviously screw on a suppressor if you wanted to shoot that one. Also, some guys might run a suppressor if they’re using a rifle of a particular caliber or one with a shorter barrel. The decision to use a suppressor could also come down to the format of how they’ll be shooting. If I’m going to be shooting prone on a line with friends, I might screw on a suppressor to not blast the guy next to me all day. If I’m shooting more of a run-and-gun match with lots of barricades, I may go with a muzzle brake to maximize recoil reduction and the ability to stay on target to see my impacts.

I don’t want this part of the results to be misleading. It’s clear when you walking around most major precision rifle competitions that the majority of rifles have a muzzle brake on them. And that’s not because the guys running them don’t own a suppressor. There are a significant amount suppressors represented, but muzzle brakes are far more common overall. It’s likely at least proportional to the number of people who said they only run muzzle brakes compared to the number that say they only run suppressors, which was 4 to 1.

39% of the shooters said they only run muzzle brakes (i.e. never run a suppressor), including 3 of the guys who finished in the top 10 in the PRS and 6 of the guys who finished in the top 10 in the NRL.

10% said they only run suppressor (i.e. never run a muzzle brake), but that did include 2 of the guys in the top 10 in the PRS, and another 6 in the top 50 in the PRS. However, there were only 2 shooters who exclusively run suppressors among the top 50 in the NRL.

I conducted a muzzle brake field test a couple of years ago, and gathered some hard data that helped me understand why these guys prefer muzzle brakes. For those that might be new to the game, here are some pros of muzzle brakes compared to pros for suppressors.

Advantages of Muzzle Brakes

  1. Many are ported to offset muzzle rise, helping you stay on target to spot impacts (see field test data)
  2. Reduces recoil about 30% more than a suppressor, helping you stay on target to spot impacts (see field test data)
  3. Don’t cause your barrel to heat like a suppressor, so less wait time between strings of fire
  4. More maneuverable, because it’s lighter and shorter than a suppressor
  5. Much cheaper (Less than $200 compared to $1000+ for popular suppressors + the $200 tax stamp)
  6. Skip the hassle of the 4-10 month process of acquiring a silencer tax stamp and keeping that paperwork on-hand

Advantages of Suppressors

  1. Reduces noise/concussion dramatically over muzzle brake, decreasing odds of hearing damage and may not require hearing protection (see field test data)
  2. Reduces muzzle blast and ground signature, which can kick up dust and debris (see field test data)
  3. Slight increase in muzzle velocity (15-30 fps in my experience with these cartridges)
  4. Some believe the added weight at the muzzle improves precision (In “Rifle Accuracy Facts” leading researcher Harold Vaughn explains experiments and simulations he performed that show this to be true.)
  5. Shooters nearby won’t hate you

Muzzle Brakes

All right, let’s take a lot at the particular brands and models of muzzle brakes these top shooters were running:

Best Muzzle Brake

The most popular brand of muzzle brake was American Precision Arms (APA) again this year, representing 31% of the shooters using brakes. APA has been the industry leader in muzzle brakes since 2014. APA has a few different sizes and models of muzzle brakes, but the APA Gen 2 Little B* Self-Timing Muzzle Brake is the most popular among this group. It was one of the best overall performing muzzle brakes in my field test, so I understand why so many of these guys prefer it (see the results). I measured a recoil reduction of 40% with this little brake, so it’s extremely effective! This “Gen 2” muzzle brake design from APA was the first popular muzzle brake featuring an integral locking nut, which means it doesn’t have to be “timed” to a specific barrel. That makes moving it from one barrel to another very easy, with no gunsmithing or hassle required. If you aren’t sure what I mean by “timing,” don’t worry – more on that later. APA Gen 2 Little B* Street Price = $160

APA Little Bastard Muzzle Brake

Close behind APA was the very popular Area 419 Hellfire Self-Timing Muzzle Brake, with 26% of those running muzzle brakes choosing it. The Area 419 brake was the most popular brake among those in the top 10 in the PRS and NRL, just ahead of APA in each camp. This brake also features an integral locking collar, which means it doesn’t have to be “timed” to barrel either. But, the Area 419 design includes a unique universal adapter as well, which you can see installed on the barrel in the photo below. That is a really cool feature that makes installation even easier, because it keeps the brake from turning as you torque the collar to lock (watch video showing that). No more guessing where the brake ports will line up once you tighten it down! Area 419 Hellfire Street Price = $165

Area 419 Hellfire Muzzle Brake

The Impact Precision Shooting Muzzle Brake was the next most popular among this group of top shooters, with 9% choosing to run this muzzle brake. The Impact Precision design has a few unique features compared to the others at the top of this list. First, its ports are NOT angled back toward the shooter, so it will primarily redirect gas 90° from the rifle. That doesn’t make it dramatically “quieter” or pleasant to be around, but it may make it safer and more bearable for the shooter next to you on the line. Second, the Impact Precision design features a clamp screw that locks the brake into position, meaning it is “self-timing” as well. This isn’t like the integral locking nut or collar on these other brakes, but effectively provides the same function without worrying about the brake turning as you torque it down. Another thing to point out is the two more popular muzzle brakes are priced 40% higher than this design, making it a great choice for those on a tight budget. Impact Precision Brake Street Price = $116

Impact Precision Muzzle Brake

The MPA Premium Bolt Action Muzzle Brake was another popular choice with 6% of shooters running it on their rifles. This design seems virtually identical to the Alamo Four Star Cowl Induction design, which was the most effective muzzle brake I tested when it came to reducing recoil (see the data). It features 4 ports, compared to the APA and Area 419’s 3 ports and Impact Precision’s 2 port design, and those ports do sweep back at an angle. It also features a “self-timing” integral locking nut similar to the APA design, making it simple to switch between barrels. MPA Brake Street Price = $139

MPA Muzzle Brake

Those four designs were the ones used by 10 or more of these top shooters. In fact, 73% of these guys were using one of those brakes I just mentioned. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “the best.” There were a lot of other muzzle brake designs used by these elite shooters, like the PVA Mad Scientist Brake, Piercision Rifles 5 Port Muscle Brake, and Kahntrol Muzzle Brake, which were each used by 4-5 shooters. There were 17 more designs in addition to those I’ve already named. There has been a lot of innovation and new muzzle brake designs come onto the market over the past couple years, as gunsmiths have added CNC machines to their shop, so I’d encourage you to check them out.

The Rise of Self-Timing Muzzle Brakes

All of the most popular models are directional brakes with some kind of “self-timing” feature. It’s common for muzzle brake designs to simply a one-piece metal tube with ports drilled in it. If the ports are directional, that just means they’re designed to send more gas in certain directions than others, which usually means more gas to the sides and not down towards the ground. That is a great idea, but that means there is a right and wrong way the ports could be pointing. You want the ports level and pointing directly to the sides. “Timing” a muzzle brake to a barrel means a gunsmith removes a very slight amount of material from the rear of the brake until the ports are facing the correct direction when the muzzle brake is tightened on the barrel (watch video of process). The threads and distance to shoulder could vary by barrel, so you typically have to repeat this hassle when you switch barrels to ensure the ports are facing correctly.

DIY Muzzle Brake Timing Options Shim Kit, Crush Washer, Locking Nut

Many DIY shooters bypass this custom “timing” process, by using shims, crush washers, peel washers, etc. If you’ve ever used those, you know they aren’t the most precise or repeatable solution. That’s why these self-timing muzzle brakes have become so popular! They allow you to skip the hassle of timing a brake AND shims, and it still gives the rifle a “finished” look because there isn’t a visible gap between the shoulder of the barrel and the muzzle brake (like you might see if using shims or washers). Now, a timed muzzle brake that blends into the contour of the barrel creates a very clean look that can even appear to be integral to the barrel, which is pretty slick. But if you’re more concerned with function and hassle-free than you are aesthetics, these self-timing brakes are a compelling choice.

Does The Caliber Of The Hole Really Matter?

Learn how this data was collectedA couple of years ago, I created a recoil test system with high-speed sensors and tested a bunch of muzzle brakes. One of the things I was interested in learning was whether a caliber-specific muzzle brake was more effective at reducing recoil on a 6mm or 6.5mm rifle than using a generic 30 caliber muzzle brake. The results were surprising!

I tested 4 very different muzzle brake designs that I had in 6mm, 6.5mm, and 30 caliber, which included the APA Little B*, Holland 1.25” Radial QD Brake, Impact Precision Brake, and West Texas Ordnance Brake. I measured the exact recoil reduction using all 3 calibers on a 6mm precision rifle. The results showed a 6mm brake only resulted in a 1-3% difference in recoil reduction over a 30 caliber brake, in terms of both overall momentum and peak force, among all 4 muzzle brake designs! That surprised me. I expected the diameter of the bullet hole in the brake to make more of a difference. But, that’s why I actually run the tests, instead of just talking about this stuff!


Now let’s look at the suppressors that were most popular among the top shooters in the nation:

Best Silencer

Thunder Beast Arms Corporation (TBAC) leads the pack this year, representing 43% of the shooters who ran suppressors. TBAC has been one of the most popular suppressor manufacturers since I started collecting this data in 2012. TBAC was founded by competitive, precision rifle shooters, and that is still their primary focus. They’re actually the same guys behind Competition Dynamics, which puts on some of the toughest long range rifle competitions, like the Steel Safari and Sniper Adventure Challenge. They fully understand the level of precision and repeatability these guys expect from their rifles, because they compete and expect no less. Ray Sanchez from TBAC once told me that he wanted to prove how repeatable the point of impact shift was on TBAC suppressors, so during the Steel Safari competition he removed and reattached his suppressor between EVERY stage … and still got 1st place that year! It’s hard to argue with those results. TBAC offers a variety of suppressors from 5”, 7”, and 9” in 30 caliber or 6.5mm, as well as larger suppressors in 338 caliber and suppressors for 223/5.56 and 22 rimfire. They’re available in direct thread or brake-attached. I’d expect the 6.5mm Ultra-7 suppressor would be very popular among this crowd that is primarily using mid-sized 6mm cartridges. That model is 7” long and the direct thread model weighs just 11.5 ounces! That is what I’ve personally used for a couple of years, and I’d highly recommend it. The TBAC Ultra-7 Suppressor is priced at $1045 for direct thread and $1095 for the brake-attached model.

308 Suppressor

25% of the shooters using suppressors said they use a SilencerCo suppressor. SilencerCo is one of the most well-known suppressor manufacturers, and they make a huge range of suppressors for rifles, pistols, and even shotguns. The most popular among precision rifle shooters seems to be the SilencerCo Omega Suppressor. SilencerCo claims the Omega is the lightest, shortest, quietest, full-auto rated, titanium .30 caliber centerfire rifle silencer on the market. They also say it’s the best-selling rifle suppressor in history. It features a unique, removable “Anchor Brake” on the end of it, which basically acts as a muzzle brake to further reduce recoil. The Omega is 7” long and weighs 14 ounces. The Omega Suppressor typically sales for $1130, but I noticed EuroOptic.com currently has it on sale for $899!

SilencerCo Omega Suppressor

Those two suppressor manufacturers represented 68% of the 103 shooters who said they used a suppressor, and were the only brands used by more than 10 shooters. But there was a long list of quality manufacturers also mentioned on the survey, including Silencer Tech who represented 9% of the shooters, Leviathan Suppressors who represented 6% of the shooters, among others. The suppressor space is getting more competitive, with new companies and products popping up all the time, so I’d encourage you to check out the whole list before making a buying decision.

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About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. Cal has an engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and the ability to present technical information in an unbiased and straight-forward fashion. For more info, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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  1. Perfect timing Cal! Absolutely love your articles. Went out today with my first suppressor. Loved the comfort of shooting suppressed but felt like my recoil management was reduced significantly compared to my muzzle break which I believe was shown in some of your prior articles. Went from a ABA Little Bastard to a TB Ultra 7. Also didn’t care for the mirage over the barrel after a string of shot. Looks like its going to be a break for my target rifle and a can for hunting until I can figure a way to manage these issues better with the can. Thanks again and looking forward to reading the article.


    • Austin those are the exact muzzle devices I run, and I feel the same way. If you use a mirage cover, it will help … but you still have to stop to pull back the cover regularly and let it cool down. I’ve melted a cover onto my suppressor before, so that’s an important tip! 😉 My closest friend ran a suppressor for years and just a couple months ago tried a muzzle brake on one of his rifles and was shocked how much less recoil there was. He always thought I was crazy for running a brake! There are times I like the advantages of a suppressor over a muzzle brake. They are MUCH more comfortable when it comes to concussion. And they’re A LOT of fun on a 22 pistol!

      Glad it was timely! Congrats on the TBAC Ultra-7. I really believe it’s the best suppressor money can buy.


  2. The 338 Ultra is actually very popular. Lots of guys running them on 6s.

  3. Thanks for the article Cal. I have the Ultra 9 and on my 6.5 creedmoor bolt rifle, it is completely hearing safe with no ear pro. That was really neat! I also got a strong mirage after the first 10 shots. I had a cover on it. So it sounds like when shooting, to leave the cover on. When not shooting, take the cover off. Sound right? I also was reminded to keep the barrel straight up vertically when not shooting to allow it to cool off the fastest. Take care!

    • Yep. Not having to wear ear pro is nice, especially on hot days. And yes, leave the mirage cover on while you’re shooting and slide it back off the suppressor as soon as you finish to let it cool. I hadn’t heard about keeping the barrel straight up, but that makes sense. I’ve been using one of those chamber flag fan things, and I bet that’d help move air through a suppressor too. In fact, one of the reasons those fans aren’t more effective (although they help a little) is because there is very little surface area inside the bore of a barrel … but there is a lot of surface area in a suppressor, so I wouldn’t be surprised if those chamber fans aren’t measurably more effective at cooking suppressors than barrels. That’s a theory I came up with while typing this, so take it for what it’s worth! 😉

      Thanks for sharing,

  4. This is really more of a question regarding barrels and maintenance. Do you have any data on what the pros are using for cleaning bores and how often they clean? Or if no solid data do you have any opinions or general feel of what the community is using regarding cleaners and lubricants.

    • Yes, Robert. I’m glad you asked. I actually did ask questions about their cleaning regimen, which I’ll share in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!


  5. I found a company in Colorado, Witt Machine and Tool . They have several brakes, my favourite is the Muzzle Rise Eleminator, I like the design where there are exhaust ports on the sides and on top of the brake to keep muzzle rise down.
    I have them on three of my rifles and for $89.00 price cannot be beat.

    • Cool. I took a peak at them, and that’s an interesting design. I appreciate them doing something unique and not just copying the ports from a popular brake. It’d be interesting to see how it stacked up in terms of objective performance. Thanks for sharing, Steve.


  6. Wait a second. If the majority of shooters are using suppressors and the majority of shooters are using the APA Little B, how does that work? Do they remove the brake to thread on the can? Or does that brake have external threads that I’m not seeing?

    • Sorry for the confusion, Tony. The majority of the shooters are using a muzzle brake. I tried to make that clear at the top of the post:

      I don’t want this part of the results to be misleading. It’s clear when you walking around most major precision rifle competitions that the majority of rifles have a muzzle brake on them. And that’s not because the guys running them don’t own a suppressor. There are a significant amount suppressors represented, but muzzle brakes are far more common overall. It’s likely at least proportional to the number of people who said they only run muzzle brakes compared to the number that say they only run suppressors, which was 4 to 1.

      That was me trying to say muzzle brakes are about 4 times more popular than suppressors, at least for these types of precision rifle matches.


  7. I’m disappointed, after reading this article, that I own two Yankee Hill suppressors and six QD attachments.

    I’m too heavily invested to chase the very best at this point. Those considering a particular Mfg. for the first time will really appreciate this article.

    I did have brakes on my ARs and 7.62s prior to owning suppressors, and they were greatly appreciated, excepting any bystanders. Using a brake indoors, even on a 5.56/.223 will not make any friends.

    • George, you’re right. Using a muzzle brake indoors is not advised. That is one of the biggest reasons the military snipers use suppressors and not muzzle brakes. They’re often in a hide inside a building, and if you shoot a 300 or 338 magnum in a confined space with a muzzle brake, it is PUNISHING!!! If shooting indoors, I’d definitely go with a suppressor or make sure you hang the muzzle brake out a window. That last part isn’t really an option for military guys, so they go with a suppressor.

      And don’t let what these guys are using steal the joy of using what you already own. If you have good performance with the Yankee Hill suppressors, stick with them! Ultimately they may not be as lightweight or may have slight performance reduction over others, but it’s easy for us to focus too much on gear. And that will be true for my TBAC suppressor at some point too. There will always be a newer, shinier toy come out … but that shouldn’t rob our contentment with what we have. That’s one of the drawbacks of publishing something like this, while it’s interesting it can also make people less content with what they have. Two years ago SilencerCo was the most popular suppressor, but it didn’t make me feel like the TBAC Ultra-7 I had just bought wasn’t as good. I think you’re wise to say you’re too heavily invested to chase the very best. If could you really quantify the performance difference, and then figure out exactly what you could sell that stuff for and what it’d cost to get the equivalent in TBAC or SilencerCo, I’d bet you would find the cost/benefit for that swap was not anywhere near “worth it.” You do make a good point: If a guy hasn’t invested in any of this stuff yet, then going with one of these is a good idea. It’s very unlikely you’d be disappointed with your investment. That’s a big part of the reason I do this. There are so many guys jumping into this sport, and I’m just trying to help them make informed buying decisions so it doesn’t end up costing them way more than it should.

      Ultimately, the nut behind the gun is almost always the weakest link. 95% of these pros would tell you to spend more time practicing and less time worrying about gear. In fact, I’m going to publish what advice they’d give to shooters in an upcoming post, so I’d encourage you to stay tuned!


  8. So the majority of the pros are saying that Recoil reduction is the most important quality in a brake for them over Staying on target.

    Why do you think this is. are they running large caliber guns?

    Your previous set of tests showed that the APA brakes to be of the best for Recoil Reduction and of the worst for Staying on Target .

    Or are the match stages such that there is only a small requirement for rapid shots.

    • Steve, … no and no. The pros didn’t say recoil reduction was the most important quality. As you can see in my list of “Advantages of Muzzle Brakes,” I put staying on target as #1 … and #2. Recoil reduction DOES help you stay on target. If you are on an improvised rest on a barricade that is not very sturdy (which we often are), and you fire a 22 rimfire or a 338 Lapua … which do you think will allow you to spot your impact? That has something to do with recoil. If you can reduce recoil so far that the rifle doesn’t budge, then you can stay on target more easily. So it’s not an either/or thing (i.e. either they want to stay on target or want recoil reduction) – those things are related!

      They aren’t running larger calibers. They’re mostly running mid-sized 6mm cartridges, as I highlighted in this post: Rifle Caliber – What The Pros Use, and there is a need for rapid shots … but it’s a bolt action, so we’re not talking as fast of rapid shots as a semi-auto can whip out. I have been on stages that require you to take 4 shots in 10 seconds, or I’ve seen guys run a 6 shot stage in 14 seconds. So it’s not slow, but at the same time it’s different than 3-gun.

      And the APA brake was one of the best for recoil reduction, but it definitely wasn’t the worse for staying on target. It was 7th out of around 20ish brakes tested, so not even in the bottom half … and honestly there was a large group of them with very similar performance, so even saying 7th could be a bit misleading. It was within 2 MOA of being in 4th, and just 4 from being in 2nd. You should check out that data again: Muzzle Brakes – Ability To Stay On Target
      Now, having said all that. I have been trying to talk Jered Joplin, owner of APA, into making a version of the Little B* with top ports. He recently came out with a new brake he named “The Answer” that does have top ports that are tune-able (i.e. you can adjust adjust how much gas is ported up), which is a really clever design. It was first released for 223, and is only available in 1/2×28 threads at this point … but I continue to hassle Jered every chance I get to come out with a Little B* model with those same top ports, because I’m with you. I think it’d be just one more compelling thing about that muzzle brake. In fact, I’ve almost drilled top ports in mine a couple times. It’s easy to port too much gas up, and that could actually make it worse … so I’ll leave it up to Jered to decide how much is too much. In fact, if he’d just come out with a 5/28×24 thread version of The Answer, I’d try it. That seems like a compelling design. I noticed it has 4 ports instead of the 3 on the Little B*, but other than that the design appears to be very similar. I bet if he can release a version intended for these calibers and threads that had the effectiveness of the Little B* + top ports, it would take over.

      Hope that clarifies a few things. Ultimately, I wouldn’t think of recoil reduction and staying on target as completely distinct/unrelated aspects of a brake. They are very inter-related. A brake can be good at one and not the other, but typically if you are good at the first one it will help on the second one. Notice that on the “Ability To Stay On Target” test the lowest performers were the same ones that didn’t reduce recoil well either. They might not be in the same exact order, but there is a lot of correlation.


  9. whoa, what a quick reply..and a very detailed response it was. Thanks for the insights.

    order some pizza and enjoy the Super Bowl commercials..

    Based on your test results I purchased the JEC brake for my AR upper in 7.63×39.
    Your observed Staying on Target results were very evident.
    Jason of JEC remarked very soon in our conversation that I must have read your PRB article.
    Jason being a fellow Texan was a plus, and he went out of his to ship me the brake even though he was busy with farm work

    • You bet, Steve! That JEC brake is still a great option. I’ve heard a few people who struggled to actually get one of those. I think Jason was struggling with his business or maybe even something in his personal life there for a while, and wasn’t very responsive. That likely discouraged some people from going that route. I still have my JEC … you couldn’t buy it from me if you tried! But, it doesn’t have some of the new features like “self-timing” that these do. I remember when I’ve switched barrels with that brake, I’d have to make sure to send it to the gunsmith. So that is a drawback of the JEC, but that is more hassle-related than performance-related.


  10. In the assembly of the MK 12 rifle (5.56X45 Snipers) and various target rifles, we were advised by the Army
    MTU Shop NOT to assemble the OPSINC muzzle brakes using a crush washer. On the small diameter & threading of the 5.56mm muzzle, the torque of pulling the brake into alignment collapses the bore under the threads a slight amount. (enough to be detected using an air gage) We used stacks of shims & ROCKSET to fasten the brakes in proper alignment. The MTU only tightens their brakes (if used at all) from the 10:00 position to the12:00 position, thus not putting any strain on the threads and “pinching the bore”. Even if the closure is minute, any constriction WON’T help accuracy. We have no data on the larger bores & threads,
    but are careful not to “crank till your eyes cross” in assembly !!! CHEERS !!

    • Wow, John. That is very interesting. I really appreciate you taking the time to share that insight. I’d never thought of that before. I wonder if some of these integral locking nuts or the conical design on the Area 419 would have that same issue? I guess the fact that these guys are using them with good results probably means they don’t affect the precision in any gross way, but I wonder if it’d be something that could be detected with an air gauge. Maybe 5/8″ threads more common for these mid-sized calibers wouldn’t have the same affect that the 5.56 muzzle would (I think that’s usually a smaller 1/2″ thread) … but who knows. You’re making me question everything now!

      Honestly, I can tell this is one of those things that I’ll wake up 6 months from now thinking about! Dang it! In all seriousness, I appreciate you sharing that. Really does make me think, because I’d never thought about them affecting the barrel in that way.


  11. Appreciate the reply. We also recognize that the sport is 100% learning curve. Mr.Murphy is the principal of the school of hard knocks.

  12. I’m surprised that Surefire is not on the list. When I bought my GAP10 I selected the optional Surefire brake and it works very well. Cal, has that brand fallen out of favor? Only for the tactical crowd? Other thoughts?

    It was also interesting reading a recent issue of Recoil today and comparing their suppressor list to the list you compiled.

    • Joseph, I’m not sure why Surefire isn’t more popular among this group. They’re certainly popular in military camps and semi-auto world, so it’s a little strange to only see one guy running them among these top rifle shooters. I have learned that just because the military uses it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best. It just means that company got the contract, and there are lots of things that play into that decision. This bolt action game really just has one thing driving selection: precision. Maybe reliability/durability is up there, but precision is the highest priority. I’m not saying they are NOT precise, but I’d think they’d be durable. I’m not sure what else it could be.

      Some of these suppressor companies might make a GREAT product, but just don’t have good marketing, so it’s like winking at a girl in a dark room … you know what you’re doing, but nobody else does! But Surefire is not that way. They seem to have good marketing, so I assume there is a reason.

      If anyone else has insight, please enlighten us!


  13. With the APA Gen II Little B****** stating on their website, “perfect fit for barrels .750 -.900 inches in diameter at the muzzle”, what are guys running on muzzles with larger diameters like straight tapers and MTU?

    • That’s what they’re running. The diameter of the APA Little B* muzzle brake is 1.0”, so it’s not out of proportion. A 26” MTU barrel is 0.93” diameter at the muzzle and a M24 is 0.90”, so it looks great even on those heavy barrels. There were very few running a straight contour, but it does look a little retarded on those if they are 1.25” at the muzzle. I have a StraightJacket barrel that is 1.25” to the muzzle, and it looks a little strange with a brake on it! Luckily that barrel is a short 22” barrel that I typically run a suppressor on. There is a Fat B* that a few of these guys use, which is 1.115” diameter. I’ve been shooting with a top shooter running that and one of the guys was giving him a hard time, saying it looked like a “sexual device” in the end of his barrel! HA!

      Most of these guys don’t worry much about looks though. They typically use “burner” barrels that are just left stainless (ie not Cerakoted), because they go through a couple a year. In fact, I shot with Tyler Payne of the Army Marksmanship Unit last year and noticed he actually keeps track of his round count with a sharpie right on his barrel! Pretty convenient. I’m not saying all these guys are that utilitarian and unconcerned of looks (and most aren’t as good as Tyler either). Some run really sharp looking setups. But most see their match rifles as tools, and within this group of guys many of the tools have that well-used look! 😉


  14. Cal, thanks for another insightful post. It is interesting to observe this data over the past several years. While most competition shooters are not basing suppressor purchases on hard data I can attest to the validity of TB products being ranked at #1. Last year we tested four of the major 338 suppressors to make an informed, data-driven decision on a suppressor to submit to SOCOM for the ASR program, and TB easily won out on every technical measure. The test involved three production samples of each product, so sample bias was not likely a factor. All the test barrels were validated for accuracy before the muzzle brakes were installed. The addition of a muzzle brake can influence the accuracy performance of the system and in fact, one manufacturer’s brakes resulted in accuracy going well outside the acceptable tolerance for all three samples! When it came to sound performance, the TB Ultra 338 SR was in a different zipcode from the othe products. The tests were conducted in strict accordance with goverment standards using identical test equipment. One of the TB Ultra Ultra 338 SR suppressors was subjected to 15,400 rounds of durability testing on one of the rifles and it still passed sound performance standards until the last few hundres shots dispite the fact that it had gained 1.8 lbs of mass due to propellent/carbon accumulation. No cleaning or maintenance was given to the durability suppressor during the test cycle. The suppressor was removed and reinstalled every 200 rounds thoughtout the test cycle without a single issue with the QD lock system and no issues with POI shift.

    Please don’t contact me asking for the test results as they will remain strictly confidential, but I am confident in giving a not-so-shamless plug to TB. They are clearly doing many things right.

    • Wow, Scott! Thank you for sharing that! That is incredibly insightful. I really, really appreciate your willingness to share.


  15. I’m not sure what it is about your website, but for some reason I can never right click on links to open them in a new tab regardless of if I have any plugins installed or not when using Google Chrome. This seems like an issue on your end of the site since I haven’t noticed it with any other website and it still behaves the same with a fresh installation of the browser, something about it just doesn’t play nice with Chrome.

    I do enjoy the content though, keep it up!

  16. Hey Cal,

    First, thanks for these awesome articles. I check my email pretty much every day patiently waiting for the next one to show up. What you do is an amazing resource for the shooting community.

    I’ve really enjoyed the series of tests you have done on all of the muzzle brakes and by no means is this a post about why didnt you include my brake in the test, I’ve actually used the articles to help me determine what to buy for a recent build and after reviewing what you tested I actually took more away from your articles about what was most important to the shooters (ie ability to stay on target and reduced recoil) so I am actually trying out the armalite competition muzzle brake which is a side port brake but contains plugged ports that you can drill out with different sized drill bits to alleviate both muzzle rise and right or left movement. I found the feature of being able to remove and replace the threaded plugs to be handy in case you over ported the plugs. It seems by one of your above posts that someone else is also working on a similar idea.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • Hey, Bobby. I’m glad you find the content so interesting, and I appreciate the kind words. I do think that design you described is pretty ideal. The guys over at APA have something similar on their new The Answer muzzle brake. I think I called it a “tunable” design or something, but you totally get what I’m saying. I think it’s a great idea. Honestly, I think it will be very common among muzzle brakes 5 years from now. It’s a great idea, and pretty easy to implement honestly. The amount of gas you want to send up will vary based on rifle weight characteristics and the cartridge you’re using, so being able to tune it makes too much sense. I’m hoping the idea spreads.


  17. Cal,
    I’m new to the Sport and I absolutely love your insight.
    Apparently this is an old post but I’ve just discovered it and have been pouring over it and am Amazed at your level of dedication and precision.

    I’m a bit of a data nerd my self and I wanted to incorporate Cost into my decision matrix so I took your raw data and added cost as best I could. I chose your raw data because I noticed in your final summary you used a scale of a scale and that didn’t seem to capture the whole picture. I played with the data and took each brake’s raw score as a % of the test average then I applied my weights to the individual tests. My results change the picture a bit and I thought you might be interested in seeing those results, more as a discussion than a debate.

    I started with your same weights then started playing with the weights to see at what point the #2 brake bested the JP tank,,, what I learned was that the JP TANK is HEAD and SHOULDERS above the pack by a factor of 2, (even disregarding cost). This fact gets a little lost in your scale of a scale approach, where the nuances of all your hard work gets lost. for instance if someone was looking to compete with these brakes and the JP didn’t meet spec, then your summary would suggest that the next best alternative was JEC or APA little B whereas in my analysis(of your data) the APA come in rank #5 Behind the Tank, both Hollands and Impact Percisions,,(I didn’t analyse the JEC because i had incomplete data for recoil).

    My purpose in writing you is ABSOLUTELY not to shoot holes in your work, rather
    1. offer a suggestion as to how to summarize various tests into an Apple to apples comparison without missing the nuances (and the hard work you put in)
    2. pick you brain:
    it would seem that the JP was almost “tuned” for muzzle rise compared to the other brakes, if I recall correctly you performed the “stay on Target” test with 1 rifle and the recoil test across 4 of various cal. under the assumption that if the bore diameter mismatch only caused a 1-3% delta in the recoil data then the muzzle rise variance would be negligible, correct? where you able to test the TANK on any other cal within the scope of the stay on target test?

    looking at your measurement comparison data, just doesn’t seem to add up to the the significant performance advantage the TANK has. then looking at the recoil data it would seem to follow that the level of recoil attenuation and muzzle rise would be correlated, which it seems to be for every brake but the TANK!

    I rewatched your test video thinking it had to be something with the way you where shooting but i could find nothing in the video to fault.

    I would love to hear your thoughts, hypothocies or speculations as to the why the TANK can perform 3x better as the next closest brake for muzzzle rise and be MERELY just above average for recoil, DID it like one of your test guns/loads significantly better on recoil than others (suggesting tunning for the the .308)?

    (I’d be happy to share my analysis score book with you if you are interstest,, just another tool for the toolbox)

    • Mike, I appreciate your passion … but honestly, I’m not interested in digging up all the old data for that test. That was done a few years ago, and I’ve slept many nights since then. The reason I published all the data and didn’t just summarize all of it in overall scores (like what most magazines do) was for guys like you that want to do their own analysis or might not agree with my methods or scoring techniques.

      The reason the tank did well on the muzzle rise test was because it redirected the appropriate amount of gas upward for that particular rifle (based on it’s weight and the distribution of that weight, and the amount of gas that cartridge produced). The recoil reduction is primarily correlated to the amount of gas that is redirected, but the muzzle rise is primarily correlated to the amount of gas that is redirected upward … so they are different factors, so a rifle could perform well on one factor and not as well on the other, which seemed to be the case based on the results for the JP you mentioned. I only tested muzzle rise on one rifle, but I’d suspect it would vary from one rifle to another, although I’m not sure how significantly. You should try it out. The cost of buying a laser and mounting it is just a few hundred dollars, and it just takes time from there. Personally, I’m done testing muzzle brakes.