A flash hider, also known as a flash suppressor, is a type of muzzle device common to a wide variety of rifles, including the AR-15. A flash hider’s primary purpose is to reduce the muzzle flash’s intensity to protect your night vision under low-light conditions or after dark. Contrary to popular belief, a flash hider does not eliminate the muzzle flash to conceal your position.
Best AR-15 Flash Hiders
- SureFire WARCOMP
- Black Rain Ordnance Milled “Pineapple” Flash Hider
- Bravo Company MFG BCM GUNFIGHTER Compensator Mod 1
- Seekins Precision Rook Flash Hider
- Primary Weapon Systems CQB Compensator
- EFAB Hybrid Muzzle Device
Closely resembling the classic three-prong M16 flash suppressor from the Vietnam War, the WARCOMP is SureFire’s proprietary hybrid design. Rather than merely a flash hider, the WARCOMP features a series of vertical holes to vent gas upward. In addition to significantly reducing the visual firing signature — by as much as 98%, according to the company — this flash hider doubles as an effective compensator, reducing muzzle climb during rapid fire. This is especially useful for competitive shooting, which can demand a combination of accuracy and speed to achieve victory.
The WARCOMP also serves as a mounting adapter for SureFire’s SOCOM sound suppressors and features several bearing surfaces to prevent the three prongs from ringing like a tuning fork inside the suppressor tube.
SureFire machines its WARCOMP from stainless-steel bar stock, ensuring greater strength and corrosion resistance. The company also adds a diamond-like coating to complement this material, allowing for easier cleaning after harsh use.
Available in three calibers — .223 (5.56mm), .260 (6mm and 6.5mm), and .308 (7.62mm) — and four thread pitches, you can purchase a WARCOMP to suit a variety of AR-15- and AR-10-pattern rifles and carbines.
SureFire inspects each WARCOMP by hand to ensure concentricity, alignment, and other dimensions are within acceptable tolerances.
Black Rain Ordnance Milled “Pineapple” Flash Hider
When you think of flash hiders, this kind of device doesn’t typically spring to mind. Most flash hiders have a smooth, round external surface. Not this one.
The Milled “Pineapple” Flash Hider derives its name from the aggressively machined appearance. This flash hider features six longitudinal rows of four angled lugs or spikes. For the purpose of dispersing and cooling gases, this highly varied surface area works remarkably well. However, the serrated surface serves another purpose that the defense- or tactically minded shooter will appreciate.
If you need to break glass, breach a door, or use your rifle’s muzzle as a thrusting weapon, the Milled “Pineapple” provides a suitable striking tool. If you ever find yourself in a situation where an assailant attempts to grab your rifle’s muzzle, this also serves as a deterrent.
You can choose your Milled “Pineapple” in either bare or blackened form. Black Rain Ordnance machined its flash hider from 416R stainless steel, so whether or not you decide to have it finished, it will be resistant to corrosion and harsh use.
Bravo Company MFG BCM GUNFIGHTER Compensator Mod 1
For serious applications, such as self-defense, law enforcement, and military service, the BCM GUNFIGHTER Compensator Mod 1 is Bravo Company’s answer to the search for a high-quality AR-15 muzzle device.
Bravo Company, founded in 2003 by a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, meets the needs of private security contractors, military personnel, and private citizens who demand the best weapons and equipment.
The Compensator Mod 1 is a combination flash hider and compensator, featuring tuned slots and an interior cone. In addition to reducing the visual firing signature, it also reduces muzzle climb and recoil when firing. However, BCM also sought to minimize the muzzle blast’s lateral pressure, mitigating the report’s intensity. This means that CQB teams working close to each other suffer fewer adverse effects.
BCM machines the Compensator Mod 1 from stainless steel, which provides corrosion resistance and a hard-wearing surface. There’s also a factory-drilled hole in the compensator base so that a qualified armorer can install it permanently on short-barreled rifles.
Seekins Precision Rook Flash Hider
Seekins Precision has taken a unique approach to the three-prong design, twisting the three tines to form the Rook. Rather than simply dispersing the expanding gases laterally, the sharply cut tines rotation causes a swirling action, causing them to cool rapidly.
Seekins machines its Rook Flash Hider from steel and applies a Melonite — ferritic nitrocarburizing — finish to create a hard-wearing and corrosion-resistant surface. This also simplifies cleaning, as carbon fouling is unable to adhere as effectively.
Don’t worry about timing with this design. The Rook’s asymmetrical design eliminates the need for precise timing, so your installation is easy. No crush washers, peel washers, or other special tools are needed. The machined flats can be used with a variety of off-the-shelf tools.
The Rook’s tines also won’t ring when firing from the vibration.
Primary Weapon Systems CQB Compensator
Primary Weapons Systems designed the CQB, or close-quarters battle compensator, to provide flash suppression and recoil reduction in indoor environments’ confined spaces.
While this muzzle device was designed with law enforcement and military personnel in mind, its advantages benefit the private citizen defending themselves inside their home.
When you fire a short-barreled .223-caliber/5.56mm rifle or rifle-caliber pistol indoors, the concussive force of the muzzle blast is deafening. The CQB Compensator projects the muzzle blast forward, which minimizes lateral pressure. This can reduce your risk of permanent hearing loss should you have to meet a deadly threat inside your home or other indoor location.
PWS machines this combination flash suppressor and recoil compensator from 4140 alloy steel, treating it with a lithium-embedded salt-bath nitrocarburizing process to increase surface hardness and corrosion resistance.
EFAB Hybrid Muzzle Device
A combination muzzle brake and flash suppressor, the EFAB Hybrid Muzzle Device reduces the visual firing signature while also increasing your control of the weapon. The Hybrid Muzzle Device features a series of expansion nozzles that disperse and cool gases. These also serve as exhaust ports, reducing muzzle climb and recoil. If you’re used to shooting short-barreled rifles or rifle-caliber pistols, managing recoil and muzzle climb can be especially advantageous.
Unlike many muzzle brakes and compensators used on AR-15-pattern rifles, EFAB’s offering has a closed-bottom design. This is optimal when shooting close to the ground, such as in the prone position, as the exhaust is less likely to interfere with dirt, dust, mud, or water.
The Hybrid Muzzle Device also has a pilot hole for permanent pinning to increase the barrel length of short-barreled weapons to the legal minimum.
EFAB machines its flash hider and compensator hybrid from stainless steel and finishes it with an Ionbond coating, creating a highly durable, long-lasting product.
When you fire a rifle, whether an AR-15 or an M1 Garand, the firing pin strikes the primer, detonating and igniting the propellant charge in the cartridge case. This burning propellant produces high-pressure, high-temperature expanding gases, which propel the bullet through the barrel. When these gases meet the air, they cause several phenomena, one of which is known as the muzzle blast.
In rifles with full-length barrels, where the propellant powder is allowed to burn completely, the flash is not as intense. However, in short-barreled rifles (carbines), the still-burning powder can cause an exceptionally bright flash. If your vision has adapted to relative or total darkness, this can be highly disorienting.
Flash hiders are often confused with other muzzle devices. The three most common muzzle devices are:
- Flash hiders/suppressors: Flash hiders take many forms, from the classic three-prong type to the modern bird cage. The flash hider disperses expanding gases from the burning propellant through a series of holes or slots, cooling them in the process. This reduces the luminosity of the muzzle flash.
- Sound suppressors: Also called silencers, sound suppressors are rectangular or tubular devices containing a series of baffles or spacers with a hole through the center for the bullet to pass through. The purpose of a sound suppressor is to reduce the gunshot’s audible report by capturing the high-pressure expanding gases, controlling their velocity and pressure.
- Muzzle brakes/compensators: A muzzle brake is usually a rectangular or circular device with a series of horizontal ports or radial holes that exhaust expanding gases into the atmosphere. The primary difference between a muzzle brake and a flash suppressor is that the former reduces rearward recoil. When the gases strike the exhaust ports’ baffles or surfaces, they exert forward pressure on them, which opposes the recoil’s direction.
Muzzle brakes and compensators are sometimes used interchangeably, but a compensator generally reduces upward movement, such as muzzle climb, handguns, and automatic weapons (i.e., machine pistols, assault rifles).
A flash hider helps to preserve your natural night vision in low light, such as at dawn or dusk or after dark. The muzzle blast of a rifle, especially a short-barreled carbine, can be highly disorienting or temporarily blinding at night.
The flash hider reduces the flash’s brightness and volume by dispersing and cooling the hot, high-pressure expanding powder gases as they leave the muzzle. While a flash hider is distinct from other muzzle devices, such as compensators, they sometimes overlap. Some of the best devices on the market combine the functionality of both.