Muzzle brakes can reduce recoil considerably, depending on the caliber of the rifle, bullet weight, type or design of the brake, and quality of the installation. Usually the best results are achieved on the "bigger guns." Some brakes also cut down on muzzle flip and barrel torque. Keep in mind they are loud, especially to people off to the sides. Proper hearing protection is a must!
Muzzle breaks reduce recoil by diverting propellant gasses against surfaces in the muzzlebreak itsself which creats the effect of dragging the rifle forward, ie in the opposite direction of the recoil. This negates to a certain extent the effects of felt recoil. Yep they vary in effectiveness depending on the design, same goes for the percieved "loudness". best of both worlds is a moderator, you get the recoil reducing effects of a muzzle break adn the thing is quiet. pete
I have found that a good brake can make an uncomfortable rifle a pleasure to shoot, especially from the bench. In the field dont forget at least one ear plug for your forward ear or it will remind you! Before I get a brake I try to decide how the rifle is going to be used (target / hunting etc) Is the rifle fitted good pad proper length,and can I handle it without a brake. Only you will know if you need one. If you can try one first that would be ideal.
go with the break!i have been putting breaks on all my guns. go with a true break and not just porting. not only do i shoot the guns better i have noticed i can follow my shots better.i put a break on a 25-06"i know it does not kick"and i am still very happy with it. the only bad thing i can say about them is they might toss off your balance and they do add lenth and weight
MMM, let's answer your question directly. The common brake like KDF, etc reduce recoil up to 45%. Most are in the 1/3 range.
The baffle brakes, ie fishgill style, can go up to around 65%. The larger the brake diameter, and, to a point, the number of gills/ports, the more effective the brake.
I put a large port on my 300RUM. Just a 3/4" hole in the barrel. This reduced the amount my rifle moves back by 2/3. Went from moving 3" to 1". It's a real pussycat to shoot now.
The larger 50BMG style that vent backwards and have large "sails" are supposed to go up to 75%.
So much depends on the barrel length, cartridge and muzzle gas pressure. The higher the pressure and larger the gas volume, the more effective any brake design will be.
The "quieter" the brake, the less effective it is because more gas is allowed to vent forward. The BMG styles like you see on the AR50 and Barretts are very effective, BUT the noise and concussion is high.
I use muzzle brakes on all my cannons and wouldn't shoot without one. I also use the best ear plug under my 31 dB ear muffs.
I put an Ops Inc Muzzle brake on my 300 WM and the recoil is slightly less than that of my .308. The .308 is the VSS and the 300 WM is the Sendero so it's nearly the same gun and nearly the same weight.
Last night I was breaking in the barrel and forgot to put my hearing protection back on for a shot, (I still had those cheap orange plugs in my ears which hardly stop any of the noise) and I was surprised that it wasn't as loud as I thought given that I was in a covered shooting area.
Believe it or not, some of those silly orange plugs reduce noise levels 'higher' then an ear muff. I use the ones rated at 33dB. Best muff is rated at 31dB. A pretty sig. difference.
So why use ear muffs? Because sound is transmitted through your skull as well as down you ear canal. The ear muff insulates the noise through the area around your ear. Using both does not mean a 64dB level reduction. But it is significant.
Also, the noise level that was stopped by the ear plugs was in the upper range of intensity. That is why it didn't sound that loud.
However, still a good idea to use both if you can.
Jerry gives good advise re:ear plugs. Hearing is also done with the skull and bones in the head, as well as the ear. A good way to prevent hearing damage is to install foam rubber to the comb of the rifle stock to reduce vibrations transferred thru the head. A material similar to a mouse pad can be applied to the comb of the stock. This in combination with the ear plugs will greatly help in hearing loss reduction.
Any cushioning material between your cheek and the stock that cushions the "cheek weld" is a big help.