From humble beginnings, here is a history of muzzle attachments for the AR-15 and other firearms.
by Joe Carlos
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Give a shooter a barrel with threads on the front and he will find something to screw on there. Give him a barrel with no front threads and he will find something to clamp on. The M14 had a flash suppressor screwed onto its front. With the AR-15/M16, Stoner made the choice of front-end devices for us. AR-15 rifles appearing in early years of Viet Nam were equipped with three prong flash suppressors. That was later replaced by a “birdcage” design with vents all around. Further along in history when the M16A2 was developed one of the differences between it and its predecessor was that the flash hiders on the newer version had no vents on the bottom which helped deal with the “dust signature” when firing prone in dry environments. All three of these devices work to disperse burning gases, reducing the firing signature and retaining night vision better in during dim light engagements.
Now that I am retired from the military I am glad that we civilians really don’t need flash suppressors. “Need” notwithstanding, at least 9 out of 10 of my customers want front threads and want something screwed onto them. In fairness, the suppressors do help guard against damage to the crown of the muzzle in case of guns being dropped. While the military has pretty much stuck with the A2 suppressor design, civilians have the choice of a wide array of flash hider varieties. One of the more popular versions for civilians is the Vortex. Think of the original Stoner design but with four fingers instead of three. Manufacturers of the Vortex claim that it is superior in dealing with flash. Some shooters reported tighter groups when replacing stock flash suppressors with a Vortex. Let’s look at some options.
I am pretty sure that when arms manufacturing plants are first being stood up the upper management lines up all the new hires against a wall, walk the line like a drill sergeant, and pick the burliest of them in charge of flash suppressor instillation. Decades back, shooters and gunsmiths posited that …
Read more in the July 2022 issue.
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