So, a few weeks ago I posted a “glamour” pic of my CZ-858 Tactical on the CGN forums, with all the assorted bits and bobs I’d collected for it over the past year since I got it. After posting the pic (which I’ll re-post at the bottom of this post), I got a couple of questions, both in thread and in PM, about the brakes in the pic.
And of course, all I could offer at the time was “erm, no clue. I’ve only ever actually used the one that’s attached to the rifle in the pic.”
Probably not very helpful.
As a result I decided to get off my duff and actually try the different brakes out, and run an almost completely unscientific comparison of them
The basic drill was 2 mags with each brake, 1 mag of deliberate fire, and 1 mag of “rapid” fire, aiming at a chunk of firewood about 20 yards(ish) away. While I was doing that, I set up a video camera to film me from a 90 degree angle, with some wind-brakes (and hay bales) in the background, to help provide a visual reference of how much the muzzle was hopping around while I was shooting. Then, after I turned the camera off, I went through another couple hundred rounds to refine my initial impressions.
I then reviewed the video, and had a few other people review the video for some 3rd person impartial impressions of what they were seeing. And the results were informative, so I’ll post them here. Feel free to examine the video and come to your own conclusions. No need to comment on my “winter gut” – it’s particularly epic this year.
Anyway, the two videos I spliced together. First up – a quick splice of just the rapid fire sequence from each configuration. The muzzle devices used, in order of filming are:
#1: The thread protector. ie: No brake at all.
#2: Just the flash hider insert from the “special forces” brake. (the 1/2 in 4&1/2)
#3: The complete “special forces” brake.
#4: The AK-74 style brake
#5: Modern muzzle brake – round profile
#6: Modern muzzle brake – squared profile
This sequence provides the clearest visual reference of the differences between the brakes, especially when compared against shooting the rifle with no brake at all.
The takeaway was quite clear. Other than the flash hider insert from the “Special Forces” brake – which had minimal impact on muzzle flip – all of the brakes tested worked very well, and offered a substantial improvement over firing the rifle with no brake at all. Even when I was shooting “rapid fire” I was deliberately aiming, and dropping shots onto the piece of firewood “target”. This was much easier to do quickly when there was a brake installed on the rifle. If you listen closely, you can even here the distinctive “slap” on the chunk of wood as I was firing.
While you could take that and walk away with a very simple “well, they all work” result, both while I was shooting and afterwards while reviewing the footage, I was able to rank the performance of the brakes from most to least effective. I put together a longer video with some tabletop discussion of the results, and also discuss some other aspects of the brakes I noticed while out shooting. You can watch the video below, or just scroll down to read the full conclusions:
All of the muzzle devices (aside from the flash hider), were very effective. The difference between “best” and “worst” was relatively small, and from a practical shooting standpoint, most people would be happy with any of the four.
But there always has to be a winner. So ranking them in order of performance, they are as follows:
#1: Modern muzzle brake – squared profile
#2: The complete “special forces” brake.
#3: Modern muzzle brake – round profile
#4: The AK-74 style brake
#5: Just the flash hider insert from the “special forces” brake.
#6: The thread protector. ie: No brake at all.
Interesting side notes:
With their wide ports and aggressive cuts, the two modern brakes had a real habit of picking up blades of grass and chunks of hay when laid down on the ground or propped up against a hay bale. Essentially, they were very “snaggy.” Depending on where and how you shoot and handle your rifle, this may or may not be an issue. The “Special Forces” brake and the AK-74 style brake were both relatively immune to collecting up debris when set down.
Given that I do shoot in the field and in the bush, and not just at the range, this gives me a different “best of breed” between the brakes. With its smooth, snag free profile, and very high braking performance, [B]my overall favourite remains the Special Forces brake[/B]. Its performance was extremely close to the square brake, and if I’m wandering around the bush all day hunting, little things like gear snagging on twigs can get really aggravating quickly.
Another interesting side note:
The nub at the end of the Special Forces brake, and the Modern Round Brake as a whole, are both the correct diameter for an almost perfect fit in the hoop of a NATO compliant bayonet (does STANAG apply to bayonets?). As I mention in the video, if the ability to attach a bayo to my rifle ever becomes a life or death matter, it would probably be the result of some spectacularly bad life choices on my part. Which is to say it isn’t likely to ever matter.
However, because the AR-15 style bayonet lug is so common (it’s the same as on the Tavor, and many other “modern sporting rifles”), there are actually a number of accessories that have been made to use the system – ie: flashlights, laser pointers, IR illuminators, etc. etc. Again, this isn’t particularly important to me – a Red Dot is about as far as I go for attaching battery powered whicky-whacks to a rifle. But for some people that is a consideration. If that applies to you, then the Round Modern brake and the Special Forces brake are good choices.
And finally, from an aesthetic standpoint, don’t discount the AK-74 brake. It has that cool, comm-block “Red Dawn” look to it, and at the same time it’s still a very effective muzzle device. So if you like to hold your VZ-58/CZ-858 above your head and yelling “WOLVERINES!!!!” after doing a mag dump (and who doesn’t?), then you can certainly use this brake with confidence.
The rifle was purchased from the good folks at Wolverine Supplies, who fought hard to get a turned back shipment made legal again. And are currently going through the same fight with the Molon Labe edition.
Muzzle Devices acquired from Corwin Arms. Martin is a gun runner and and accessories importer extraordinaire, and a just all around great guy to deal with.
Ammo purchased from CanadaAmmo, because when you’re buying ammo in bulk, it’s heavy, so free shipping really, really matters.