It used to be that if you had an AK with 24mm muzzle threads, you had very few choices in muzzle brakes. The most common choice is the ubiquitous AK-74 brake. The AK-74 brake is effective but there is some room for improvement which is why I am so glad that the Manticore Arms NightBrake is on the market. I have previously reviewed the excellent Manticore Arms NightShroud and I had high expectations for the NightBrake.
The Manticore Arms NightBrake is a muzzle brake that is designed to be used with AKs with 24mm muzzle threads that are chambered in 7.62×39 or 5.45×39. Muzzle devices in this thread pattern are in demand based on the popularity of the Arsenal SGL-21 and SGL-31 rifles which both have 24mm threads. Since the SGL series rifles and most other rifles with 24mm threads come from the factory with an AK-74 style muzzle brake and given the widespread use of the AK-74 style brake, it is only natural to compare and contrast it with the NightBrake.
The NightBrake is very, very nicely made in the USA (922R compliance) from 8260 steel that is hardened and finished with a black oxide finish that leaves it slightly shiny. It is a very attractive muzzle device in terms of fit and finish. It features 18 ports arranged radially in such a way that there are no ports that vent directly down or directly up. This helps keep flash out of the shooter’s sight picture (more on flash later). It is considerably shorter and lighter than an AK-74 brake.
The Manticore Arms NightBrake performs very well. It reduces recoil and muzzle rise at least as well as the AK-74 brake which means it keeps the muzzle quite level. You would have a hard time telling the difference between the two if you weren’t paying attention. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing since the AK-74 brake is very effective. I have tested the NightBrake with just over 600 rounds through a converted Saiga chambered in 7.62×39 and noticed that it significantly reduces muzzle rise and felt recoil versus a bare muzzle.
I should point out that this is a muzzle brake not a flash suppressor. It does not suppress flash. The visible flash output seems to be roughly equal to that of the AK-74 brake but it is shaped differently. While the AK-74 brake tends to vent flame out the sides through the two large ports, the NightBrake seemed to mostly contain the flash within itself with very little if any coming out of the smaller ports and some being directed out forward of the muzzle. It flashes, but the shape and location seem much less noticeable to the shooter.
The AK-74 brake is well known for stomping your chest and rattling your teeth if you happen to be standing to the side of one as it spits lead and belches fire. The NightBrake, while still not pleasant to be next to, seems to be more mild mannered. It is hard to quantify this without the right equipment but the NightBrake seemed to be less concussive to those who were near the muzzle.
All in all, I am really impressed with the NightBrake. It offers a recoil and muzzle reduction level that at least equals the venerable AK-74 brake but it does it in a smaller, lighter, and less obnoxiously loud and flashy package. It gives all of the performance while reducing the negatives of the AK-74 brake.