So you’re building an AR-15, kudos to you! And you’re asking “do I use a flash hider or a muzzle brake for my AR-15?” First of all, don’t forget you can choose from compensators as well. But allow us to explore some of the key differences between these three devices and help you decide what makes sense for you. Also, flash “hider” is commonly referred to as “suppressor” as well.

Almost all AR-15 rifles use a threaded barrel, which makes attaching a muzzle brake, flash hider, or compensator a relatively quick and painless task. Most stores will actually do it for you too if you ask nicely. These muzzle devices all serve some purpose. That purpose may include redirecting excess gas for the sake of reducing perceived recoil felt, reducing muzzle flash, or reducing muzzle movement. Some look cooler than others.

But is looking good enough? Let’s take a look at how they work. 

How Do Flash Hiders Work?

When you squeeze the trigger on your AR-15, the firing pin hits the primer on the back of a casing which ignites the gunpowder that creates a massive force of energy used to send the projectile through and out of the barrel. When the bullet leaves the barrel a lot of gas comes out simultaneously along with unburnt powder which, depending on time of day, can create fireballs and be quite blinding. 

To avoid fireballs from blinding you, flash suppressors aim to reduce that effect from happening as often by venting the gas in multiple directions through their small ports.

Like all things in life, there are pros and cons that flash hiders offer when attached to your AR-15.

Advantages of Flash Hiders

  • If you ever need to conceal your position, specifically at night, a flash hider will greatly help with that. They’re not always perfect but it’s increasingly effective the further your target is away from your position. 
  • When firing your rifle at night, a flash hider suppresses fireballs that would otherwise blind you at night or even in the early evenings. 
  • They’re much cheaper than muzzle brakes or compensators.

Disadvantages of Flash Hiders

  • Flash suppressors do not increase accuracy.
  • Flash suppressors do not decrease perceived recoil or muzzle movement.

Why Choose a Flash Hider?

Muzzle brakes and compensators are all the rage when choosing a muzzle device, so why choose a flash hider? Well if you expect to be shooting at night, or if you’re going hunting, flash hiders are a great choice to not blind yourself and other hunters. As a small and lightweight device, they’re usually a budget friendly accessory that you simply can’t do without. 

If you’re looking for a more performance oriented choice, then we would suggest looking at compensators and muzzle brakes instead but note that they have their own set of pros and cons. 

Best Flash Hiders for AR-15s

No flash hider can completely mask a firearm’s flash of light. That’s why it’s other name “suppressor” is quite accurate. Even the best you’ll find simply reduces how often a flash appears and mostly helps to keep your eyesight intact. That being said, here are a few of the best flash hiders for AR-15s that we like:

  • Black Rain Ordnance Flash Suppressor — Besides looking pretty cool overall, the Black Rain Ordnance Flash Suppressor features an aggressive design that can also act as a glass-breaker. As a flash hider, owners report it works incredibly well. 
  • Smith Vortex Arc Helix Flash Hider — When it comes to AR-15 flash hiders, we consider the Smith Vortex Arc Helix one of the default options for its low cost and basic design. It doesn’t have any flashy features and does what it’s supposed to.
  • Surefire Warcomp — Arguably the best hybrid option on the market that combines flash suppressor functions with recoil reducing capability.
  • BCM Gunfighter Comp Mod 1 — For the middle of the road approach, consider this hybrid design from BCM that acts as both a flash hider and a compensator which can help mitigate some recoil too. 
  • JP Enterprises 3 Prong Flash Hider — This JP Enterprises flash hider erases flash signature the most compared to all order flash suppressors. Has the iconic three-prong exterior design.

Whether you want to invest in a flash hider or a different muzzle device for your rifle, consider starting an AR-15 build of your own using an 80% lower to take full ownership of your rifle. We have billet lower receivers available to kickstart your next firearm project, which you can tailor to your exact preferences and specifications. For a more in-depth and comprehensive comparison of different muzzle devices’ performance check out this study here.