The Glock series of semi-automatic pistols is available in various cartridges, from the diminutive .22 Long Rifle and .380 ACP to the 10mm Auto powerhouse. However, even in moderately powered rounds such as 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, there are several advantages to reducing the recoil muzzle climb.
For years, firearms designers and shooters have searched for ways of attenuating the recoil of small arms. The simplest way to reduce recoil is to increase the weapon’s weight — this is simple physics. However, this has its drawbacks. With increased weight comes reduced maneuverability and increased user fatigue.
Other than increasing weight, one of the most popular options for reducing recoil is using some of the gases generated by the burning propellant to oppose the recoil impulse’s linear direction. To accomplish this, you’ll need either a muzzle brake or a compensator.
Best Glock Compensators
1. ZEV Technologies PRO Glock V2 Compensator
ZEV Technologies manufactures various Glock accessories and offers an effective and compact compensator for keeping the muzzle down and your follow-up shots fast. Featuring three exhaust ports, 1 large vertical and 2 horizontal, the V2 PRO provides a sufficient counter to muzzle climb and rearward recoil to improve your shooting efficiency, whether on the range or in the field.
While optimized for the Glock 19 specifically, the ZEV V2 PRO functions with other Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistols. When attached to the Glock 19 barrel, the compensator increases the pistol’s overall length to the Glock 34, making the V2 PRO compatible with Glock 34 holsters. The compensator’s exterior design also conforms to the Glock’s slide’s rectangular shape, so it seamlessly continues the pistol’s lines.
Featuring a special mounting system, the V2 PRO doesn’t require the use of a threadlocker to secure it to the muzzle.
2. Griffin Armament Micro Carry Compensator
For those interested in carrying a concealed Glock handgun, the Griffin Armament Micro Carry Compensator is the perfect recoil-reduction solution. Usually, compensators are not used with self-defense firearms carried on your person or in your vehicle because the increased overall length renders them difficult to carry discreetly. Besides concealability, finding compatible holsters can be tricky. However, the Micro Carry Compensator only adds a few tenths of an inch to the barrel’s length and compares favorably to a thread protector in size.
Ultra-compact and lightweight, the cylindrical Micro Carry Compensator is made from 17-4 PH stainless steel, which is then treated with a black nitride finish for the ultimate combination of corrosion resistance, surface hardness, and strength. Featuring three circumferential exhaust slots, there’s no concern about alignment when attaching it to the muzzle. Griffin Armament has added wrench flats to the otherwise round compensator design to assist with tightening it on the barrel.
3. Killer Innovations Velocity Glock Compensator
An innovative compensator is the Velocity Glock Compensator. When paired with the company’s Velocity Mod 2 Barrel, you can install this muzzle device without tools for a seamless fit.
When installed on an OEM barrel, you will need tools, but that shouldn’t detract from the muzzle device’s quality. Aside from its striking appearance, the Velocity Glock Compensator is also lightweight, made from 7075-T6 aluminum alloy. This ensures that it is also inherently corrosion-resistant, although the metal is still anodized for decorative purposes and hard-wearing surfaces.
Because the Velocity Glock Compensator is pressed against the thread shoulder, Killer Innovations has found that this maximizes the precision of the compensator’s alignment with the bore. That perfect alignment ensures that the airflow around the bullet is uniform, preserving inherent accuracy.
One of the unique features of the Velocity Compensator is the reduced port locking ring. If you’re using reduced-pressure ammunition or experimenting with different recoil springs, you may find that the compensator interferes with the reliability of your pistol’s cycle. The Velocity Compensator has a ring that allows you to reduce the gas ports’ size to remedy this. This reduces the effectiveness of the compensator and allows the weapon to perform as needed.
4. Strike Industries Mass Driver Compensator
Strike Industries has taken a novel approach to recoil reduction, as it does with all its products. Rather than attaching a compensator as a separate device to the muzzle, the Mass Driver replaces the recoil spring and guide rod and remains apart from the reciprocating barrel. That has the immediate advantage of not interfering with the cycle of a recoil-operated firearm, which may function more efficiently with some loads than others because of the weight difference.
If you live in a jurisdiction that restricts access to threaded muzzles or devices designed to attach to muzzles, the Mass Driver is the perfect solution. By not attaching directly to the barrel, legislation like this doesn’t apply, so this system is legal in all 50 states. An additional benefit of the compensator not requiring a threaded muzzle is that it’s compatible with a stock OEM barrel — it requires no modification or special parts.
Once installed, the Mass Driver reduces recoil and muzzle climb in 2 ways. As with a typical compensator, it diverts the escaping gases through a series of exhaust ports, which oppose the barrel’s upward movement as the pistol pivots in your hand. The Mass Driver, being separate from the barrel, moves forward to counterbalance the recoil. This is achieved by the same gases that are eventually exhausted.
As the gases leave the muzzle, they impact the compensator and force it forward, compressing a second spring held between the guide rod and a screw in the compensator’s front. The forward acceleration comes to an abrupt stop, opposing the pistol’s upward climb and rearward recoil.
The device ships with a guide rod, which is longer than standard, and new recoil spring to install the Mass Driver. The longer guide rod extends past the slide’s face and allows the Mass Driver to move.
Although it is machined with smooth edges to not catch on clothing or equipment, this compensator still adds length and bulk to the weapon.
Muzzle Brakes, Compensators, and Barrel Porting
The terms muzzle brake and compensator are sometimes used interchangeably, and there can be a functional overlap, but there are differences.
- Muzzle brake: The purpose of this type of muzzle device is to exert a braking effect on the weapon, reducing its rearward recoil velocity. This usually takes the form of the rectangular or cylindrical device with a series of horizontal, circumferential, and/or vertical exhaust ports. When the high-velocity propellant gases leave the muzzle, they impact the baffles or other surface areas inside the brake, applying forward pressure against it, opposite to the direction of the recoil. You often see muzzle brakes on heavy-caliber rifles, such as those chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum and .50 BMG, and some shotguns.
- Compensators: While the differences are not set in stone, and there is some overlap between the two, the primary purpose of a compensator is to reduce muzzle climb, also called rise, flip, and jump, especially during rapid semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. You usually see compensators on machine pistols (e.g., the Micro UZI), assault rifles, (e.g., the AKM), and semi-automatic pistols. The compensator may simply be a cylinder with the top half cut off in fully automatic weapons, as in the AKM slant compensator. In this design, the gases are also directed upward at an angle to counteract the tendency of a right-handed shooter to cant the rifle in that direction.
- Porting: A related feature to compensators is barrel porting. Rather than a separate device attached to a threaded muzzle, this involves drilling a series of holes directly into the barrel (sometimes with corresponding slots machined into the slide) to allow gases to escape as the bullet passes. These holes may be straight or angled, directing the gases upward or rearward.
Why is it Important to Reduce Recoil?
In weapons that fire powerful ammunition, such as hunting and anti-materiel rifles (AMR), reducing recoil is often necessary to avoid injury or discomfort. Harsh recoil can also exacerbate shooter fatigue.
However, the priority is to reduce felt recoil and muzzle rise in tactical and competitive shooting weapons. These factors can have a deleterious effect on rapid-fire accuracy — a vital asset for succeeding in competitions surviving violence. The more the muzzle climbs, the more time it takes for the shooter to recover their sight picture between shots.
What Are Some Things to Look Out For?
Both compensators and muzzle brakes add weight and length to the weapon, but the primary downside is noise. Muzzle devices intensify the muzzle blast and report of the gunshot. This is true regardless of whether you’re compensating a pistol or a rifle.
Another is that, depending on the compensator’s length and design, it may interfere with your ability to find a suitable holster. Some compensators increase the tendency of the pistol to print through clothing, complicating concealed carry.
However, these disadvantages are not insurmountable. Proper hearing protection is mandatory for range practice with firearms, regardless of whether the weapon is compensated. Even standard-pressure 9mm target ammunition can cause permanent hearing loss when fired without adequate safeguards. If used in a defense scenario, decide for yourself whether the reduced recoil is worth the increased report.
The last item to consider is a holster. Some compensators are comparable in size and shape to an extended barrel with a thread protector. In these cases, it’s merely a question of finding the right holster to fit a long-barreled or long-slide Glock handgun.
The purpose of a compensator is to reduce muzzle rise by diverting high-pressure gases from the burning gunpowder vertically and horizontally. As you fire a semi-automatic pistol, you have to recover your sight picture between shots. Firing more powerful ammunition increases the time interval between your squeezing the trigger and your return to the target.
A compensator can be a useful tool for helping you remain accurate as your firing rate increases, keeping your shots on target. However, your compensator should be considered an accessory and not an alternative to proper technique or marksmanship. There are ways of controlling the pistol that you should learn first that concern grip and stance to ensure accurate aim and firing.