Can Muzzle brakes offer a viable alternative to Moderators? Oliver Siddall investigates.
(Above: Oli in action with the DFM Muzzle Brake)
Despite what many people think, the UK remains fairly open minded when it comes to firearms licencing laws for sporting shooters. Unlike many Countries around the world we are not burdened by restrictions on military calibre rifles, neither are we restricted on the use of moderators. In contrast it may come as a surprise to some readers that moderators are still off limits in a number of Countries.
I have recently applied for my European Firearms Pass, which is required if a firearms certificate holder wishes to take their firearms into the other Member States of the European Community, and my moderators are still included on it. Unfortunately I have been unable to find a definitive list detailing the restrictions, but BASC advise is that shooters check with the relevant consulates before travelling.
In the UK moderators are common place, as such we have become used to the associated benefits including a reduction in noise and recoil. Indeed those shooters who are looking to cull several deer from a heard will undoubtedly sing the benefits of moderated rifles in disguising the position of the stalker from the deer, often allowing them to take more than one carefully planned shot in quick succession.
Given the benefits outlined above it was with some trepidation that I recently loaded a 250gr 9.3x62 bullet into an unmoderated Blaser R93. As those of you with knowledge of this calibre will know, it is not one for the faint hearted. I did however have a small trick up my sleeve to try and lessen the impact on my shoulder. My reason for loading such a round was to test a DFM muzzle brake and I had been assured that the results would be interesting, to say the least.
Basically, muzzle brakes work by redirecting the propellant gas perpendicular to the centreline of the bore as it exits the muzzle, rather than allowing it to push forward in line with the bullet, which not only disrupts the bullet’s flight, but also shoves the rifle rearward due to the 'jetting effect' of the propellant gas. In most applications they can provide a 50% reduction of recoil energy; this can significantly ease the discomfort of shooting hard-recoiling calibres. Adding weight to a rifle can significantly reduce felt recoil, but is far from ideal for stalking and hunting rifles that will be carried over long distances in the field. DFM muzzle brakes add as little as 65g to the rifle, where a typical moderator might add 300-700g. In larger game hunting applications, more shooters will be using long action and magnum cartridges with stout recoil. Reducing that recoil by over a half therefore reduces shooter fatigue and helps maintain point of aim after a shot is taken.
It is worth noting at this point that muzzle brakes do not moderate sound and it is essential therefore to wear ear defenders at all times. Muzzle brakes are also controlled on many ranges and permission must be sought before using them. It is often a requirement to have a clear firing point on both sides of any shooter using a muzzle brake for reasons already described.
I must admit that I was a little sceptical as I closed the bolt and took aim, but the results were as impressive as I had been led to believe. The recoil was significantly reduced and the rifle handled superbly throughout the test.
Now for the technical bit.....
The DFM muzzle brake is Available in the following thread sizes:
Ø7/8" Tresamax™ and Quatromax™: - ½-20, ½-28, M14x1.0mm, 9/16-24, M15x1.0mm, 5/8-24, M18x1.0mm
Ø1 ¼" Megamax™ :- all above threads, plus ¾-28, and 7/8-28.
Ø7/8" Varimax™-QC: - ½-20, ½-28, M14x1.0mm, 9/16-24, M15x1.0mm, 5/8-24, M18x1.0mm
(Also, special model to suit Sako TRG and Tikka factory-threaded rifles M18x1.0mm - please specify calibre when ordering and your muzzle brake will be custom-machined for correct bullet clearance. Megamax™ or Quatromax™ only)
The bore of all (unfitted) DFM brakes as supplied to customers is Ø0.250" (Ø6.35mm), which is fine for .224cal clearance. This bore hole must be opened up to 0.025" to 0.030" over bullet diameter by the installing gunsmith, and in such a way that it is perfectly in-line and concentric with the rifle barrel-bore.
Tresamax™, Megamax™ and Varimax-QC™ muzzlebrakes must be 'indexed' to a correct rotational alignment point. To assist the gunsmith, a shallow index mark is machined at the 180 degree (Bottom-Dead-Centre) position. This mark can later be polished off, or in most cases where the rear-most 10mm is tapered down to meet the barrel, this mark will be consequentially removed anyway.
Personally I am a fan of shorter and lighter rifles and for me muzzle brakes provide a perfect solution to assist me in the field. I would never consider retiring my moderator as it most certainly still has its place but when shooting in countries with restrictions on moderator usage, muzzle brakes therefore represent one of the only effective recoil reduction methods for shooters wanting to keep the weight of their kit to a minimum. Compared with others of equivalent length and size, these are arguably the most efficient compact muzzlebrakes ever to hit the market - bar none.
If you’d like to Oliver in action with one of these muzzle brakes then look out for our next film (August 2015) during which Oliver will be stalking with Peter Jones on the boarders of Ashdown Forest for early season Fallow Buck.
(NB Please note, if we are supplying the muzzlebrake only, then it is the responsibility of the purchaser to ensure that it is fitted correctly to their rifle by a qualified or competent gunsmith).
Oliver Siddall has recently joined the County Deer Stalking team.
Oliver is a Registered Firearms Dealer and qualified Range Conducting Officer. He is also a keen Deer Stalker and holds both a DSC1 and BDS Deer Management Qualification.