Redirecting the gas.
Not all AR-15 barrels are threaded at the muzzle. Carbine-length and rifle-length "standard" configurations usually are anymore, and that's because standard form Mil-Spec guns have a flash suppressor in place. If you have threads to work with (they're 1/2-28 tpi) then accessory muzzle devices can be used.
This is a truly effective flash suppressor, not a brake. It's a Vortex from Smith Ent. It is amazingly effective in reducing the "signature" on firing and I think the best thing for a carbine or fighting rifle. I don't know how many of you have ever fired a gun in the dark, but it makes the next shot really hard to see for, and it makes anything else really hard to see, too.
Flash suppressors are intended to do exactly what the name says: quell the fireworks to reduce the display upon firing. The A2 has a solid bottom portion and vents only through its top to direct some of the burned propellant gases away from the underside of the muzzle. This reduces the disturbance of dust when firing from prone. The A2 wasn't really intended to influence muzzle movement.
Being an NRA Service Rifle competitor, I've fired rifles with and without the A2 in place and can tell you there's no perceptible influence from the device with respect to in-recoil manners. I can also tell you we're firing very heavy rifles. The only times I've noticed a difference that would lead me to suggest having the A2 installed is when shooting off dirt-bed firing lines. No suppressor results in more dust. Most firing lines are concrete or grass.
Muzzlebrakes are a common addition to practical competition rifles and varmint rifles. I don't question anyone who thinks they need a muzzlebrake on an AR-15 since, yes, there is a difference in the muzzle movement on one with and
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