Have you ever purchased and installed a compensator on an AR-15 only to find that there was no noticeable reduction of muzzle rise? There is no danger of that happening with the Carlson Comp from Carlson Comps.
The Carlson Comp is very simple and very effective. It chooses to forgo more exotic features like flash suppressor tines, crenelated strike surfaces, and rebar cutting notches in favor of pure performance. This is a compensator and only a compensator. The Carlson Comp reduces muzzle rise and it does it well.
Why a Compensator?
Before I get into the review, I should discuss why you might choose to purchase and install a compensator. Compensators are devices that attach to the muzzle end of a firearm’s barrel. They redirect the gasses that escape the barrel with the bullet in a way that counteracts the muzzle’s upward movement. By reducing the amount that the muzzle moves, you reduce the time needed for the shooter to reacquire the sights. It all adds up to more bullets down range faster.
That all sounds great, but shooters should be aware that this enhanced performance comes with a cost and is not a substitute for technique. The cost is in the form of redirected sound and concussive blast. The compensator vents gasses up and to the side in order to counteract muzzle climb. Sound and concussive blast are redirected right along with the gasses. The shooter will likely notice that the firearms sounds louder. Those who are next to the shooter will definitely notice increased sound and will likely feel the concussive blast coming from the firearm. It should also be noted that even the best suppressor will not compensate for poor technique. Compensators will make a fast shooter faster but will likely not make much difference at all to the untrained.
When choosing to use a compensator, the shooter must be aware of the benefits and the drawbacks. This is true of all compensators, not just the Carlson Comp. Not all gear will work for you in all situations. Your specific mission should dictate the gear that you choose.
Installing the Carlson Comp is simple. It comes with a peel washer. I just held the peel washer with pliers while I applied heat to the washer with a lighter. The heat allows you to peel away very thin layers of the washer. You keep removing layers until the Carlson Comp lines up correctly, with the two ports on the top when it is fully tight.
Fit, Finish, and Details
The Carlson Comp is very cleanly machined and it threads into the muzzle very smoothly. It is finished with a matte black finish that matches the barrel well. It weighs 3.05 ounces, 2″ long, and 7/8″ in diameter. The Carlson Comp features two massive ports and a closed bottom.
Muzzle Rise, What Muzzle Rise?
I installed the Carlson Comp on a Colt 6520 with an Aimpoint and hit the range with some .223 ammo provided by LuckyGunner.com for this test. I started on the 25 yard line and faced down a 2/3 size IPSC silhouette steel target. I fired several single shot strings bringing the rifle from low ready to get a feel for how loud the Carlson Comp would be. It was a bit louder but not very bad at all when you are behind the rifle. Those who were nearby noted increased sound and could feel the concussive blast as they would with any other compensator.
Then I moved onto controlled pairs (2 shots, 2 sight pictures). At 25 yards and with the Carlson Comp, this was basically an exercise in how fast I could control the trigger. The Aimpoint’s dot just simply did not move off the target.
Double taps (2 shots, 1 sight picture) were a breeze. The Carlson Comp ensured that the muzzle stayed down which kept the dot on target. The Carlson Comp really changes how the rifle behaves at these speeds. Rather than the muzzle wanting to rise and feeling the rifle climb over the target, the rifle just seems to push back into your shoulder with hardly any detectable rise.
Next, I moved back to 50 yards and ran through the same routine. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to be able to get hits as fast as you can pull the trigger because your technique is working so well with your gear. The Carlson Comp allowed for very fast controlled pairs and double taps. The controlled pairs were most telling about the performance of the Carlson Comp. At 50 yards, even with good technique, the muzzle will often lift enough that my aiming point moves up into the shoulder area of the target. With the Carlson Comp, it seems that Aimpoint’s dot never strayed from the high center of mass.
To wrap up my time with the Carlson Comp, I wanted to test how it affected accuracy. I fired 3 separate 5 shot groups with the Carlson Comp and then 3 more with the flash suppressor that I usually keep on this rifle. There was no difference. The rifle put all shots into it’s usual 3-4″. There was no difference that I could detect. I shot for accuracy from the prone position, using a backpack as a rest. It was interesting to watch the muzzle actually dip after each shot!
I put just over 200 rounds through the Carlson Comp. I found it to be extremely effective at controlling muzzle rise. It was so effective that the muzzle actually dips when shooting off a rest! Compensators are not for all situations, but if they fit your mission, the Carlson Comp would be a great choice.
Disclosure: Carlson Comps provided the Carlson Comp to me, free of charge, for this review.
Awesome review. I honestly did not know much about compensators before this so it was a good primer. I currently don’t own an AR so I am a long way off from buying a compensator, but this stuff is just plain cool.
Thanks Dan. A lot of people buy them thinking that more more control can never be a bad thing, but there are definitely some situations where they can be detrimental. They can be very loud indoors (especially a hallway or small room) or in a vehicle. Comps might also be a problem when you are working in and around other shooters on a team (military and police).
Since you’re on a roll with comps, do a series with:
– JP Enterprises Benney Cooley
– Battlecomp 1.0
– PWC FSC 556
– Rainier Arms XTC
just to name a few…
If I had access to all of those, that would make for a great post. I think Rob_s at TacticalYellowVisor is working on just such a post. He has even built some type of a rig that will let him take repeatable measurements.
Matt… how does this compare to the BattleComp?
The Carlson Comp has more concussive blast than the BattleComp but it controls the muzzle better.
The wide open and elongated ports remind me of the AK-74 style brake/comp.
Agreed. I actually have an AK74 brake that I just pulled off an SGL21 sitting right next to the Carlson Comp on my desk. They are very similar in principle and both work very well.