InterestingEngineering.com Looks at the Science Behind Muzzle Brakes

U.S. Marines and Australian soldiers conduct artillery training. - Wiki Commons

The website InterestingEngineering.com recently published an article titled “Why Do We Even Bother with Muzzle Brakes?” While readers of The Firearm Blog hardly need a reminder of what a muzzle brake is or what it does, I was excited to see a more academic approach to the thing.

The article features three videos which are interesting in their own right.

The first video by popular YouTube and Reddit contributor Lindybeige spends most of its time discussing large-bore tank and artillery needs for barrel muzzle brakes (inside joke, if you watch the video). Lindybeige meanders a bit, but he’s likeable and enthusiastic so he gets away with it.

The second video, from Langley Firearms Academy showcases the differences between the SLR Rifle Works BCF (BCF stands for Brake, Compensator, Flash – meaning the muzzle device attempts to perform all three functions [recoil, muzzle rise, flash] at once) vs. the common “A2” style flash suppressor/compensator. Unfortunately, not enough variables were isolated for an honest comparison. 

The third video I felt was an excellent and concise graphical representation by YouTube user eleven dimensions, and is included below. (Most people commented negatively on the narrator’s tone of voice, but I liked it).

Unfortunately I found the article’s content between the videos to be little more than a high-level review of exactly the opinions stated in these videos. The article also lacked analysis linking these opinions. For example, the lateral concussion caused by a muzzle brake on a cannon is the exactly same detriment for a muzzle brake on a CQB (Close Quarters Battle) rifle used in a hallway. Readers of this blog are well familiar with the concept, but I was hoping for a more detailed perspective from an engineering site. 

  • How do concussive properties change based on baffle angle?
  • What properties determine if a muzzle brake reduces recoil by 15%, while others 50%?
  • How can a muzzle brake improve accuraccy, as alleged in one of the sources?
  • Why are the baffles on muzzle brakes typically straight, but baffles inside a suppressor are often curved?

Granted, these questions may be outside the scope of the article, but I look forward to the article that does provide answers.

Interestingly, the article earned more than 1,300 shares on social media in just 48 hours, indicating to me that their engineer and academic demographic is generally interested in firearms-related science.

There was one thing that piqued my interest while reviewing these sources, however. In eleven dimensions’ video, there was a brief discussion of a linear muzzle brake. Flash cones (very simple muzzle devices that redirect gases and powders forward) have become popular lately, but they operate in an entirely different way – or do they? More research on this topic is warranted, and I look forward to publishing the results of that inquiry. If anyone with an engineering or physics background would like to discuss this or other concepts in greater detail, please feel free to contact me at the email below.

Just because it makes me laugh every time I see it.





Corey R. Wardrop

Corey R. Wardrop is the Museum Curator for the Institute of Military Technology in Titusville, Florida where he manages one of the finest, if not the finest, firearms collections in the country. Corey is a former OIF infantry Marine and has worked professionally in the firearms industry for over 20 years. In 2014 he obtained an unrelated Bachelor of Science degree from one of the nation’s leading diploma mills. Through his work at IMT he is currently studying CAD design with an emphasis in reverse engineering rare firearms.
Corey asks forgiveness for his novice-level photographs and insists they are improving dramatically thanks to certified rockstar http://nathan-wyatt.com/. Corey can be reached at coreyrwardrop@gmail.com and always appreciates suggestions for future articles.
For the record, Corey felt incredibly strange writing this bio in the third person.


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  • Ron

    The muzzle brake on American howitzers reduces recoil impulse absorbed by the recoil mechanism and spades by approx 30 percent

    • Gus Butts

      And with a gigantic muzzle brake, you don’t need as big of a recoil mechanism in the first place, saving weight, wear and maintenance… A muzzle brake on a gun has countless advantages.

      • iksnilol

        I’d just like bore evacuators on semi auto rifles.

        • PK

          I seem to recall exactly that being patented (well, they tried, anyway!) recently.

          • iksnilol

            Neat’o daddy’o 😀

            I’m just thinking it’d be hella useful for suppressed rifles (no more gas blowback to the face.

          • PK

            Here we go… Gemtech did it with the Integra, an integrally silenced 5.56x45mm or .300BLK AR-15. Apparently the evacuator works as hoped, and there’s no excess gas coming out of the action all over… meaning it’s cleaner inside the action, quieter, and should be a lot nicer to shoot.

          • iksnilol

            Explains why it’s a complete upper.

            Glad to see it works. It looks cool.

    • PK

      …that’s it? I thought it was substantially closer to the theoretical maximum of ~80% reduction in total recoil impulse.

  • Paul Rain

    I like this new review of clickbait article format.

  • Major Tom

    First pic: How many Marines does it take to inspect the bore of one howitzer? An entire squad and it takes all day to do it.

    • Ron

      Since the M777 is towed by its muzzle brake; instead of manning trails when you lay it for direction you get several crew members on the front of end of the gun. They tip it slightly forward at the balance point of the wheels and traverse it left or right to align it on the azimuth of fire.

  • Tom

    Bill Stein has a more interesting voice than this guy

    • B-Sabre

      Bueller….Bueller….

    • DangerousClown

      I didn’t know Ben had a brother.

      • Nunya Bidniz

        He doesn’t; this guy is Ben’s AI-borg-clone…

  • B-Sabre

    I’m more interested in a discussion about the much-mentioned muzzle break….

  • yvette99

    >I was hoping for a more detailed perspective from an engineering site

    A simple search on DTIC for “muzzle brake” brought up 353 results.

  • Brett baker

    I SAID, AUDIOLOGISTS LOVE’EM!

    • Stuki Moi

      Once you’re into Howitzer territory, it’s income support for audiologists regardless…..

      And lot’s less so than that other way of reducing recoil: recoil free rifles. Now those, are obnoxious….

  • For a web site that is called “interesting engineering”, it has has stunningly little actual useful information. It should be called “common knowledge for morons”. I guess for a web site that has the words “Elon Musk” as its every fifth word you can’t expect much. Just another click bait, uninformative web site, congrats TFB for falling into their trap and dragging the rest of us with you. We have had more scientific discussion in the comment section of TFB that any article located on that site.

  • Pseudo

    Hardly an academic treatment of the subject…

  • Trey

    Mostly pop / enviro sci page.

    as far as lindy beige after his mg42 spandau rant and subsequent attack on “fanboys” his views became some what meaningless to me.

    • Nunya Bidniz

      Yeah, he’s fun to watch, but anything outside his milieu of medieval weaponry you have to take w/ a tablespoon of salt… The conclusions he drew at the end of the crossover episode he did w/ BotR [Bloke on the Range, another Brit who moved to Switzerland so he can still own firearms] were downright laughable!

      • Trey

        LB has a lot of issues even in his “area of expertise” i.e. Calvary was a stupid idea and Fire arrows. He strikes me a role player that thinks that reality should conform to a rule set, not the other way around

  • Alex A.

    What the heck is that thing?!

    • Friend

      A howitzer suppressor, or a testament to German manliness, depending on who you ask.

    • Some Guy

      Due to Germany being relativly densly populated there are always people living close to army testing grounds and to avoid law suits over noise levels they just build a supressor for a 155mm gun.

  • Mike

    When do the suppressor arrive for the howitzers?

  • cwolf

    Homebrew testing

    thetruthaboutgunsDOTcom/2014/11/jeremy-s/556-muzzle-device-shootout/

    precisionrifleblogDOTcom/2015/08/21/muzzle-brake-summary-of-field-test-results/