You usually don’t think of Hawaii as a hotbed of firearms innovation.
I had a chance to test out an excellent AK muzzle brake that was both engineered and machined right here in Honolulu. The SuperComp XL AK brake, manufactured by GogunUSA is the brainchild of Dr. Chet Nierenberg, a local sports medicine doc—a polymath with a serious interest in physics and firearms.
Chet has designed a series of brake/compensators for ARs and AKs that have been very well received around the nation.
And what exactly is a muzzle brake?
A 7.62 rifle is going to have recoil. Not only are you going to feel it, the force will also (at least temporarily) take you off target. To lessen this effect, you can deploy a “brake” which is a muzzle device that uses the escaping gasses to pull the rifle away from you.
Brakes can usually be identified by their walls or baffles running nearly perpendicular to the barrel. These walls trap the gasses, and the result lessens the force of the rifle coming back into your shoulder.
One effect that you should be aware of: The gases escaping to the sides, and sometimes slightly toward the rear of the rifle, carry heat, force and noise with them. This makes brakes less than ideal for shooting in close quarters with teammates, family or even solid objects that you don’t want blasted with hot air.
This also explains why it can seem that one rifle is louder than another, despite being the same caliber or model.
A compensator uses the same principles to push the muzzle downward, compensating for the tendency to rise and thus get the operator quickly back on target.
Compensators are easily identified by having vents on the top and fewer vents or no vents on the bottom.
The SuperComp XL is designed to reduce recoil by 90 percent and get you rapidly back on zero. Chet says it does this by “breaking” the problem into multiple axis. In this case 6 (hex) plus 2 (impulse and flip). Add internal mixing chambers to dissipate energy inside the brake and the result is a much more pleasant experience.
Chet told me “one of the reasons it works so well is the unique, patented design. It uses a hex SSP (6-way star stabilizing pattern). This, combined with expansion chambers, redirect gases radially so accuracy is not affected.*
Thus it combines elements of a brake and a compensator and allows the user to rapidly return to “zero”.
We tested the brake out extensively and agree with Chet. It’s a very sweet shooting brake that did little to disturb our sight picture. It’s loud and as alluded to above, it’s probably a good idea to stay behind someone using the brake rather than on the side lest you get blasted by gases.
Chet says his AK model has a slightly larger exit bore than the company’s 7.62 x 51 brakes which allows for AK threading that he termed “is often inconsistent”. He added that “many inexpensive AK variants do not have perfectly concentric threads”. In the AK world the design and manufacture of rifles varies greatly.
I would even go further and say that even some of the more expensive models, such as my Saiga, had to be re-threaded to make accept a standard muzzle brake.
One of the major differences between the SuperComp XL and its competition is the installation process. A standard brake uses a tiny spring-loaded detent on the muzzle end of the rifle which you’ll need to depress with a punch or something similar to remove the brake. The SuperComp XL is secured with a crush ring.
You’ll need a solid barrel vice and big torque wrench or a crescent wrench and use up to 80 ft lbs of torque to get it crushed. Alternatively you can use a slimmer crush washer and grind off some of the material with a flat file. It screws on easily
It’s not an inordinately difficult process, but it does take a vice some elbow grease and it’s a more of a production than simple popping in a detent and unscrewing the brake from the barrel.
Once it’s on, it ain’t going anywhere.
I think GoGunUSA has come up with a great product that functions as well as any brake/compensator I’ve tested. This was not only my opinion but the consensus of everyone on our staff who tested it.
The only downside is that at 4.8 oz, it’s over an ounce heavier than other brakes we’ve looked at such as the Antidote from Venom Tactical or the RRD-4 from JMAC. This is by no means a deal breaker but be advised. The brake is more or less of “standard” size which will add another 2.4” to your barrel when mounted.
Price is $89.50, which is competitive for devices in this class. See the company link at Gogunusa for more info.