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Muzzle brakes are all the rage right now. They reduce recoil, which everybody loves.
However, there’s another option: a compensator. The benefit of a compensator is that it’s designed to reduce muzzle rise during rapid fire.
Additionally, compensators reduce your dust signature when you’re shooting from the prone or kneeling, because they direct gas out the top of the muzzle device.
Compensators are great for keeping your muzzle level during strings of rapid fire.
But, compensators don’t really reduce recoil. They only combat muzzle rise.
As a note, many muzzle brakes have vertical gas vents to provide some compensation capabilities. And, many compensators have horizontal baffles to reduce recoil a bit.
That’s why many muzzle brakes look suspiciously similar to compensators. Or maybe compensators look similar to muzzle brakes.
Either way—SPOILER ALERT—if you want a great compensator that’s not too expensive, put a Bravo Company AR-15 Gunfighter Comp Mod 0 on your rifle. It’s an improvement over the traditional A2 birdcage compensator that retains the traditional aesthetic.
If you’re looking for something a little flashier, or just want to check things out before you take the plunge, we’ll give our two cents on all the best AR-15 compensators.
The Top AR-15 Compensators in 2020
Best AR 15 Compensator Reviews: Keep Your Muzzle Down
1. Bravo Company AR-15 Gunfighter Comp Mod 0 - Best Overall AR-15 Compensator
The Bravo Company AR-15 Gunfighter Comp Mod 0 is designed to provide better compensation than an A2 birdcage compensator, without adding any length or bulk to your muzzle. And, it does that quite well.
This compensator reduces muzzle rise, and also minimizes muzzle flash. This is handy for maintaining your night-adjusted vision during low light shooting.
Additionally, the baffles are designed to reduce the side blast associated with most compensators. So, you can take your rifle to the public range without scaring everybody away.
Even with the added functionality, this compensator still has notches for a blank firing adaptor, and sports nearly the same dimensions as an A2 birdcage compensator. These dimensions enable you to attach flash hider mounted suppressors.
If you don’t mind a muzzle device that’s a tad longer, the Bravo Company AR-15 Gunfighter Comp Mod 1 delivers slightly better compensation. But, flash hider mounted suppressors won’t fit over the Mod 1.
It’s not the least expensive flash hider of the bunch. But, the performance is solid, and the aesthetic is clean. It’s an excellent option for anyone who shoots a lot of rapid fire in competitions, or who wants a good muzzle device that will accept a suppressor.
2. Colt A4 Compensator - Mil-Spec Compensator
Although there are better options, in terms of performance, A2-style compensators like the Colt A4 Compensator still have a place in the modern AR-15 market.
First, this compensator super affordable. This is probably the least expensive muzzle device you can get. This is probably the best option for those who want to keep costs down, and aren’t concerned about tiny improvements in performance.
However, this is an A4 model. So, it offers slightly better performance than the old A2 birdcage compensator.
Also, the traditional birdcage design is excellent for eliminating your dust signature when you shoot from the prone or kneeling.So, this isn’t the highest performing compensator available. However, it’s super affordable and compact.
3. Bang AR-15 Miculek Compensator - Budget Compensator
The Bang AR-15 Miculek Compensator is actually a hybrid compensator and muzzle brake. However, it’s designed for people who want compensation with a side of recoil reduction. Not the other way around.
This compensator uses horizontal baffles to redirect the gas upward and to the side. These baffles also reduce recoil the same way a muzzle brake does.
However, the primary function of this compensator is keeping your muzzle flat during rapid fire. So, if you want recoil reduction, you’d be better served by a true muzzle brake. But, if you have a high-end rifle that already shoots really soft, this will help you keep your sights on target during competition or tactical shooting.
Unfortunately, since it does function a bit like a muzzle brake, it creates muzzle blast like a muzzle brake. So, you might make people at the indoor range sad with this muzzle device.
On the other hand, this compensator still keeps your dust signature to a minimum, despite the muzzle blast.
And, it’s about 2 inches in overall length, which is a tad longer than a standard muzzle device like an A2 compensator. So, suppressors and blank firing adaptors won’t fit this compensator.
But, if you want a super affordable compensator for your unsuppressed three-gun or tactical rifle, this is an excellent option.
4. DPMS AR-15 Compensator - Value Compensator
The DPMS AR-15 Compensator is another hybrid compensator and muzzle brake. This one skews a bit more toward muzzle brake than compensator, though.
This compensator redirects gases with horizontal baffles that reduce recoil, like a muzzle brake. Some of the gases are directed upward to reduce muzzle rise, as well. But, this is definitely a compensator for the shooter who wants more recoil reduction than compensation.
The bottom is solid, to reduce your dust signature when shooting from the prone. And, the baffles are also designed to keep the muzzle blast low, for a muzzle brake.
The total length is 2 inches. So, nothing that fits over an A2 compensator or flash hider will fit over this compensator.But, the price is excellent. Given the recoil reduction and compensation, this a great option for a RECCE rifle, where you want long range performance, with some short range capabilities.
5. Primary Weapons AR-15 FSC556 Mod 2 Compensator - Compensator and Flash Hider
The Primary Weapons AR-15 FSC556 Mod 2 Compensator combines compensation and flash reduction. And, as a bonus, it offers some recoil reduction.
This compensator is an excellent option for any rifle with a magnified optic. The flash reduction keeps your line of sight clear. So, you can spot your shots through your optic during long range shooting.
The recoil reduction also makes your long range AR-15 more comfortable to shoot. However, the recoil reduction isn’t as great as a dedicated muzzle brake. But, the muzzle blast is less than a true muzzle brake.
On the other hand, this compensator provides good compensation. So, you can use it on a competition or short range tactical rifle.
This compensator is a bit more than 2 inches in overall length. So, it won’t fit anything designed to fit over an A2 compensator.
However, this compensator does work as a mount for some models of the Gemtech HALO.
But, if you’re not planning on running a suppressor, this may not be a great muzzle device if you’re trying to build the shortest rifle possible.
Even so, this is an excellent option for anyone looking to run a magnified optic, or wants a solid muzzle device for a competition or tactical rifle.
6. JP Enterprises 3-Port Compensator - Competition Compensator
Many competitive shooters run a muzzle brake. However, you can reduce your felt recoil with buffer springs and bolt carrier upgrades. So, many competitors prefer a compensator. The JP Enterprises 3-Port Compensator was designed as an option for competitive shooters.
Even though it’s a compensator, this model uses horizontal baffles to redirect gases. So, this compensator also reduces recoil. The combination of compensation and recoil reduction is an excellent combination for keeping your sights on target and making follow-up shots.
And, it’s designed to comply with the 1x3 inch rule for competition.
Since they knew that you’d be shooting this one with people around, the muzzle blast is fairly minimal.
This model also comes in both black and chrome, to fit with a variety of rifle aesthetics.
The only downside is that this compensator is a bit pricey. So, it’s definitely reserved for high-end competition guns.
Not every compensator will make your rifle more comfortable to shoot. But, a compensator will help you keep your muzzle from climbing during rapid fire. And, you can add other muzzle over the top of certain compensators.
A compensator is a great muzzle device. If you want a solid muzzle device that doesn’t limit your rifle’s flexibility, pick up the Bravo Company AR-15 Gunfighter Comp Mod 0. It’s compact, delivers excellent compensation, and isn’t too expensive.
Most compensators are pretty affordable, too. So, there’s no excuse not to slap one on your rifle, and start shooting faster and more accurately.