Do Muzzle Brakes Effect Accuracy?


Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2004
I just bought a used ULA in 22-250 with a Varmint Brake (no holes on bottom) installed by High Performance Gun Smithing. The brake is effective, but I am not willing to sacrafice accuracy. I am starting to test loads with and without the brake, but this doubles my load development efforts and I have not yet come to any cnclusions. I am also considering installing a brake on my .243AI.
I am interested in your respective experiences regarding muzzle brakes and accuracy. Thanks, Robert
If the brake is not perfectly centered to the axis of the rifle bore when it is installed this will make an otherwise accurate rifle inaccurate! The brake I had on my WarBird eroded on the inside of the hole at the end of the muzzle brake, this turned my 1/2" rifle into a 6-8" rifle. when my groups started to open up I just about drove myself nuts trying different powders and bullets to group.
Yes, muzzle brakes could effect accuracy in a bad way like if there aren't made right or not attached in the right way. If you get a good one like the OPS Inc or S1's it will enhance it. I think all rifles should be made to the best they can be which is why most if not all of mine will have one.
The guys are right on- if a brake is not put on correctly and the bullet hits the brake it will turn the rifle into a 6" as stated.
If the brake is put on right it will not affect accuracy (group size) but it can and most likely will change point of impact.
You need to decide to use the brake or not and then develop you load with or w/o and stick to that. Switching back and forth will just burn up your barrel faster and get you nowhere.
I installed over a 100 brakes last year, about half of them on proven rifles and didn't have 1 single report of the brake changing accuracy adversely. If anything the brakes improved accuracy by reducing recoil therfore reducing flinching.

[ 05-11-2004: Message edited by: chris matthews ]
Whether or not they are too loud,(I use hearing protection at all times anyway) I think they look pretty cool. Plus they freak out everyone at the range (especially the ones sitting next to you
) and they all look your way.
Chris: How many of the brakes that you have installed were varmint type brakes with no holes on the bottom? I am just wondering if the different gas pressure created by the sudden release of gas through the brake has an impact on bullet stability or whether this is a non-issue because the bullet has existed the barrel by the time the gas has discharged?
Got to disagree with the statement that a good brake will enhance "accuracy". That is probably the biggest sucker marketing ploy around and one that has never been proven in any scientific manner. It might help a certain rifle and guarantee that is the one that they will show pictures of and will "hype" results as the norm with every gun. But it has not been shown to be true. It will often cut recoil to the point the "shooter" can shoot better groups but that is not the gun. That is shooters skill/lack of and nothing else. Chris hit it exactly.

Basic reloading facts are a load must be tuned to the barrel harmonics for any barrel with brake or without brake. A brake or a barrel extension changes the barrel harmonics moving you closer or futher away from a tuning node for that load.

To understand this concept you need look no further than the BOSS system. Browning found that removing 1/16" off non-shooting barrel suddenly made it a shooter. Why, it changed the barrel harmonics. The BOSS system basically shortens or lengthens the barrel by changing the length of the brake which alters the harmonics tuning nodes to match your load. Remember Boss comes with a non ported end with each system.

People with fixed barrels adjust the load to to match the barrel harmonics. Simple matter of matching load to harmonics. Most adjust load to barrel, Boss adjusts barrel to the load.

Anyone doubting this can run simple test with Audette or ladder method and pick the best brake in the world and tune the gun without the brake at say 300 yds. Take the same load and reshoot now with the brake and there will be a noticable negative difference in the braked group. Now retune the gun with the brake and then reshoot the gun without the brake at the same longer distance and the non braked group will be worse. You simply match the load to the barrel harmonics and if you change the harmonics by adding or taking off a brake and you need to retune. That is if your gun has a match grade barrel and chamber to be able to shoot nice tight groups.

$4000-5000 1k BR guns are being built and shot with $30 Harrels, $60 Hollands and $170 Vais brakes on them.

Many 1k BR shooters are anal rententive on reloading and extracting that last .001" to the point of weighing primers, measuring powder with$600 scales to the .01 grain and even cutting kernals of powder, using $800 Juenke machines to spin test bullets and cases. They test all the time and can tell you exactly what makes better shooting guns and what does not.

Do you really think a top 1k BR competititor would scrimp on a brake if it really gave him that extra .001 to win?

Now all that said, the brake has to be installed correctly just like your chamber must be reamed correctly. Any error there is the fault of the smith and not the brake.

IMHO guys that market $400 "anti-torque/anti-large group/you can't miss" brakes are laughing all the way to the bank while suckering the guy who just wants to shoot better.


Now if that is not stabbing the sacred cows of some, oh well!

[ 05-12-2004: Message edited by: BountyHunter ]
Well put Bounty Hunter.
Most (90%) of the brakes I install are of that type to name them- Badger Ordnance and OPS Inc. These rifles are regularly shot to 1000 yards and beyond in sniper/tactical matches, F class, etc. with no ill affects.
BH, I read that it will or could enhance accuracy because it takes the gass pressure off the base of the bullet. Therefor the bullet is undisturbed. I won't go further into it.

If the bullet is undisturbed by "gas pressure", then it is still sitting in the chamber unfired!

Once fired, gas is disturbing the hell out of it pushing it down the barrel at 3000 fps and a brake at muzzle is not going to alter its path into/or out of the X or small group.

Great hype and that is exactly what I was talking about. If you believe 1/3 the BS some people put on their websites you would think they would even help your love life and make you lose weight all at the same time. Remember, big splashy ads and videos normally are selling expensive items that may or may not do anything except line someones pocket. I know I have been suckered by some of these types before too buying gee whiz items that turn out to be more expensive, poorer quality and harder to work than items readily available from Sinclair, Hart, Kinnemans and such.

A brake has absolutely zero to do with the guns accuracy unless installed incorrectly. Shooter maybe, if its a magnum.

98% of most shooters will be more than happy with a $30 SS Harrels brake and a $60-85 installation fee.


[ 05-12-2004: Message edited by: BountyHunter ]
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