What Does a Muzzle Brake Do and How Does It Work?

Muzzle brakes are a popular barrel attachment for rifles that can provide some pretty awesome benefits to your shooting needs, but before committing to the purchase of one, you need to understand what, exactly, it is made for and if it truly is the muzzle device you need. 

Take a look at a few commonly asked questions pertaining to this common option, and see if you can get the desired shooting results with its use. 

What Does A Muzzle Brake Do?

AR-15 flash hider on a tan background

A muzzle brake is a simple device that looks like a steel tube that screws onto the end of your rifle barrel, or can be clamped on depending on the manufacturer’s design. It is slightly larger than the diameter of your barrel, and offers a solution to felt recoil. In short, it helps lessen the punch recoil can create when using a larger caliber cartridge. 

The force of firing a bullet creates a lot of power, and the gasses created travel down the barrel away from the shooter. This creates a rearward force called recoil, which is absorbed into your shoulder where the buttstock sits. 

A muzzle brake redirects these gasses using various vented ports to help offset this force and provide a counteraction to help reduce the overall feel. Often, the direction of these gasses can also help reduce muzzle rise and muzzle flash. Many devices offer up to a 50% or more reduction of these forces, creating a much more enjoyable shooting experience that will keep you from anticipating the recoil which can cause flinching. 

They are more commonly used with larger caliber cartridges, such as a .300 Win Mag or other .30 caliber choices, as well as a .50 BMG to help make shooting a much more enjoyable experience. 

Do Muzzle Brakes Affect Accuracy?

Muzzle brakes absolutely affect accuracy, and for the better! They are designed to work, and this means they lessen the impact of recoil, help steady your muzzle after a shot, and allow you to stay on target without having to worry about losing a shot. Whether you have hunting rifles or rifles for competition, accuracy in shot after shot is important and definitely is something you want to depend upon. 

Plus, not having to mentally or physically prepare for the force of the shot keeps you from moving your barrel off target. This is especially nice for shooters new to a particular caliber, young shooters, as well as small-framed shooters that recoil may have more of an effect upon. After all, nobody wants to have to avoid shooting a particular firearm because it hurts!

What Else Can a Muzzle Brake Do?

Guy aiming a rifle with a Compensators

Although not created to address muzzle jump, as mentioned, it certainly does due to the overall design. The vented gasses help offset the movement of the barrel which is part of the reason why accuracy is so positively affected. Muzzle brakes will also work as a flash suppressor since they lengthen the barrel and provide a quicker mixing of hot gasses with ambient air to help reduce or negate the flash from the muzzle. 

What’s the Difference Between a Muzzle Brake and Other Muzzle Devices?

Bullet flying from a muzzle brake on an AR-15

Muzzle brakes fall into the wider category of muzzle devices. The most popular devices, other than a brake, are compensators and flash hiders. Compensators are designed specifically to address muzzle rise and help offset it using a similar concept as a muzzle brake. Vented ports divert gasses in directions that help stabilize the barrel shot after shot. They also provide some secondary recoil reduction. 

Flash hiders are just that, they help hide the flash of gasses as they release from the barrel. Most AR-style rifles come with one already on the barrel, but they do little other than help keep your location from being seen in low lighting or at night. SLight barrel rise reduction and recoil may be felt, but this is not generally the reason why you would purchase a flash hider. 

Benefits of a Muzzle Brake

Obviously, all that has been mentioned concerning a reduction of recoil provides excellent reasons why you should consider a muzzle brake if shooting a caliber bullet that offers a good kick. Even the addition of something easier to handle, such as a .22 or 5.56 can be beneficial when used for hunting coyote or hog to help stabilize shot after shot since it’s likely to call in or come across multiple targets at a time when varmint hunting. 

Lowering the recoil of a .30 cal or higher option is especially nice for women and children, and a must when competitive shooting when it doesn’t take long to start getting a sore shoulder round after round. Plus, being able to stay on target more easily can be the difference between winning and losing a match. 

Muzzle brakes also work as a flash suppressor, allowing you a product that can take care of more than one need at a time. 

Drawback of Muzzle Brakes

300 blackout ar style rifle in a camo background

As with anything, there also are disadvantages. The main cons of muzzle brakes surround the incredible noise they create. The diversion of muzzle gasses out the ports can be incredibly loud and concussive. Although as a shooter you won’t be exposed to this, anyone to the sides will – which makes them a device most people prefer you don’t have when at the shooting range for any length of time, or when hunting with others. 

They also add length, and a slight weight (although this is minimal) to the end of your barrel. You will most likely need to get used to the slight difference it makes. All this also means you have one more thing to clean since the muzzle brake vents will be taking the brunt of the force of escaping gasses. 

Keep in mind these can also get quite pricey, and if reducing the pounds of recoil you feel is not a necessity, you might be better off with a compensator. 


If a muzzle brake has been on your mind, then hopefully this explanation of their uses, and what small issues may arise have answered any questions you may have. Made specifically for reducing rearward recoil, you can also take advantage of the additional muzzle control it provides as well as flash suppression. 

Share your experiences with muzzle brakes below, and let us know which ones are your favorites. Also, be sure to check out our muzzle brake suggestions for various calibers! As always, please share!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of a muzzle brake?

Though seemingly simple contraptions, muzzle brakes play a significant role in firing a gun, particularly the larger ones most commonly associated with heavy recoil. The fundamental benefit of a muzzle brake is in its ability to combat this recoil. Astonishingly, the very design of this attachment can mitigate recoil by nearly half, creating a significant difference in the experience of firing large guns. This can prove especially poignant for shooting enthusiasts with an existing shoulder or other recoil-induced injury, where the recoil mitigation can mean the difference between continuing on their journey of marksmanship or untimely surrendering to the pain.

What is the downside of a muzzle brake?

Despite all of its benefits, a muzzle brake does come with its share of shortcomings. Most prominently, due to the complex nature of the gases and explosive discharge involved in firing a gun, muzzle brakes generate an excessive amount of noise. While this might not be an issue for those using proper hearing protection, it bears mentioning that the decibel levels can indeed reach harmful levels if not properly mitigated. This becomes particularly important in competitive rifle shooting, where muzzle brakes are commonly employed. The noise generated has the potential to chip away at the user’s hearing capacity over time, potentially leading to permanent hearing loss.

Does a muzzle brake increase accuracy?

The effect of a muzzle brake on the accuracy of a shot is rather indirect but still quite pronounced. Properly used, a muzzle brake can indeed enhance the accuracy of your subsequent shots, but this is contingent upon good shooting skills to begin with. A muzzle brake can help to maintain focus and uninterrupted sight alignment, but it will hardly rectify inaccurate shooting. Further, a muzzle brake eases the strain on the body from impactful recoil which, over the duration of repetitive shots, can lead to physical fatigue. Thus, a muzzle brake can indirectly benefit accuracy in this aspect by allowing you to shoot for longer periods with less wear on your body.

Do muzzle brakes make a big difference?

Arguably, the most significant impact of a muzzle brake is felt in how it changes the very experience of firing a gun, regardless of your experience level or the type of firearm in question. The science behind a muzzle brake’s operations is in how it redirects the propulsive energy of the explosion that drives the bullet out of the firearm. This redirection of energy works counter to the backward recoil force of the firearm, effectively neutralizing a significant portion of it. This gives the shooter significantly less recoil to contend with, and in certain cases, the reduction in felt recoil can be as substantial as 50%. Yes, this means a muzzle brake truly makes a big difference.

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