When it comes to making your long gun more accurate, few things are more effective than a muzzle brake. Also known as a recoil compensator, muzzle brakes are sometimes confused with suppressors or flash guards. They should not be, the only real similarity between these pieces is that they are attached to the end of a barrel.
Muzzle brakes redirect propellant gases to counter the effect of recoil. By taming the unwanted rise of the barrel, the muzzle brake influences the shooter/rifle dynamic in a way that is visibly apparent downrange. Simply put, a muzzle brake reduces the recoil of a rifle by approximately 50%, permitting better muzzle control and allowing for faster follow-up shots.
Muzzle brakes are sold in a variety of different venting directions. The direction the propellant gases are pushed varies with regard to where the vents are placed on the brake. A linear compensator will push the gases forward, in the same direction the bullet is going. This kind of compensator permits the gases to be expelled through tiny holes around the barrel and creates a reverse thrust effect between the bullet leaving the barrel and the shooter pushing back against the recoil.
Vertically ported muzzle brakes have holes in the top of the brake. This allows the gases to be expelled before the bullet departs the gun, and stabilizes the barrel by creating reciprocal downward force. The power of the gases escaping upward, nullifies the muzzle rise.
First designed for use on large artillery guns, muzzle brakes have been around since the World War II era. The Vietnam era saw muzzle brakes applied to tanks, such as the M47 Patton. The use of muzzle brakes on hunting rifles, though not widespread, is a modern trend for long-range guys who have to shoot at prey across deep canyons or long desert plains. The reduction of recoil allows these hunters a more accurate shot from a more stable platform. A muzzle brake also allows the hunter to immediately see where his bullet went. This means that if the shot was not well-placed, or missed entirely, then the hunter can quickly follow up. For large game, capable of surviving the initial impact of a well-placed shot, it also means that the hunter can see what direction the animal takes off in. No more missing out on what happened while trying to get back on target with your scope.
Check our video below to see the effects of a vertically ported muzzle brake being used: