What’s on the end of your patrol rifle?

The aftermarket for muzzle brakes, flash suppressors, and compensators offers options which outperform the manufacturer — what is right for you?

Most AR-15 / M4 patrol rifles arrive at the department armorer from the manufacturer with a standard A2 “birdcage-style” flash hider. Some armorers make an immediate upgrade. Others do not. 

In the event that no upgrade is made, every serious patrol officer or special operator will look at that A2 and say to themselves, “we can do better.” The factory-issued equipment is passable, but we all know that the aftermarket can outperform what comes in the manufacturer’s box. 

The question becomes, what muzzle device do you want to put on the end of your AR? 

After market accessories like muzzle brakes allow operators to dress their rifle up to suit their personal needs.
After market accessories like muzzle brakes allow operators to dress their rifle up to suit their personal needs. (Photo/Doug Wyllie)

The decision is partly about what you’re trying to do — what problem are you trying to solve? And that gets to the versatility of the AR platform itself. 

Why the AR works so well

The M4/M16/AR-15 is probably the most popular weapons system in the United States. The rifle is easily serviceable. It is light and incredibly reliable. 

Another one of the reasons this platform is so popular is that there is little recoil or muzzle rise. But with a good muzzle brake, recoil can be reduced even more. With a good compensator, muzzle rise all but vanishes, even on the rapid fire setting. And while physics dictates that muzzle flash cannot be completely eliminated, it can be significantly reduced with a quality flash suppressor. 

Here are a half dozen of options to consider among the muzzle brakes, flash suppressors, and compensators on the market.

Please note: There are countless other options which surely merit consideration but due to restrictions of time and space, will not make it into this roundup. Consequently, please add your favorite flash hiders, muzzle brakes, and comps in the comments section below. 

Flash suppressors

Noveske KX3 Flash Suppressor — The Noveske KX3 Flash Suppressor will work on any barrel length, according to the company website. This suppressor features a Nitride finish, and in addition to significantly reducing the muzzle flash, many operators say that it also redirects some of the sound of the shot downrange and away from the shooter. MSRP is $125.00.    

Strike Industries Venom Flash Hider — The company says that the Venom FH “nearly eliminates 100 percent of your muzzle flash” in order to preserve your night vision. The Venom — which is considered by many operators to be one of the best flash hiders on the market — has a four-prong design and is manufactured for .223/5.56 cartridges. It is wildly popular as one of the top-sellers on sites like Brownells. MSRP is $44.95.

Muzzle brakes

SilencerCo Saker Trifecta Muzzle Brake — This three-port muzzle brake is conveniently compatible with the Saker MAAD Trifecta mounting system, offering easy attachment and detachment for the operator. This brake offers exceptional recoil reduction and is manufactured for 1/2x28 threads for 5.56, and 1/2x28 or 5/8x24 for the 7.62 version. MSRP is $85.00. 

SureFire SFMB-556-1/2-28 Muzzle Brake and Suppressor Adapter — This very popular item features “precision stainless steel construction and an Ionbond DLC coating, deliver superior recoil and muzzle-rise reduction, permitting faster follow-up shots” according to the company. Its patented “Impulse Diffusion” design minimizes side blast and rear-directed concussion effects. It is designed for M4, M16, and variants like the AR-15. MSRP is $149.00


Houlding Precision Firearms HPF-15 Curse Muzzle Brake — This option is part muzzle brake and part compensator. The Curse is a dual-chamber, Melonite-coated brake that utilizes lots of relatively small slots to change the direction of the existing gases. This has the effect of reducing both muzzle rise and felt recoil. MSRP is $125.

BattleComp 2.1 — The manufacturer of the BattleComp 2.1 notes that this device is made from heat-treated stainless steel bar stock with a black Melonite finish. The BattleComp 2.1 fits all barrels with 1/2 x 28 RH standard threads. It is designed for 5.56 NATO and .223 ammunition. Like the aforementioned HPF-15, the BattleComp is part brake and part comp, so it’s an excellent choice for operators looking to address muzzle rise as well as felt recoil. MSRP is $165.00.

Finishing thoughts

The modern patrol rifle is sometimes called the “Big Boy’s Barbie Doll” — or words to that effect. Operators dress up their rifle to suit their personal needs and tastes. There are myriad options for optics, sights, lights, grips, and all manner of other accessories available.

There really is no wrong answer when it comes to those accessories as long as you select products from reputable companies with good track records, and as long as those products make good tactical sense. This is certainly true for muzzle brakes, flash suppressors, and compensators.

With any of these mods, evaluate your individual mission requirements and tactical needs. Do your homework on available options to meet those needs. Ask the advice of operators you trust. Do whatever testing you can. Then make the call that’s right for you. 

Stay safe out there my friends. 

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