Looks at the Science Behind Muzzle Brakes

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

    The website 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 Corey can be reached at [email protected] and always appreciates suggestions for future articles.
    For the record, Corey felt incredibly strange writing this bio in the third person.