It seems like there is a new muzzle device for the AR-15 coming to market nearly every week. That seems crazy since you would think that there is only so much you can do with the available gasses that escape the muzzle of an AR. However, manufacturers continue to come up with new ways to vector the gasses and balance the performance of these devices.
The Holy Grail in this pursuit is a device that keeps the muzzle perfectly neutral without kicking you in the teeth with concussive blast. All of this leads us to one of the newest devices on the market – the Z-Comp from Proto Tactical. So, is the Z-Comp (nothing to do with Zombies, thank goodness) that long awaited perfect muzzle device? Read on.
The Z-Comp is a hardeded 4140 steel muzzle brake with a black oxide finish from Proto Tactical. It derives its name from the roughly “Z” shaped ports that are visible from the side of the device. It has 3 ports (on each side) and 3 internal chambers. The 2 most forward ports have several small forward facing ports in the leading wall of the chamber. The front of the device is angled sharply forward.
The Z-Comp installs like any other muzzle device. It comes with a crush washer for installation. Proto Tactical recommends torqueing the device to around 30 pounds. Proto Tactical thoughtfully machined a line in the top of the device that makes it easier to time the device visually.
Observations from Use
This isn’t the Holy Grail, but it is a really, really good muzzle device. When you look at it, you think it is going to be an ear drum wrecker, but I am glad to report that it is not. In fact, it is one of the mildest brakes that I have tried in terms of sound and concussion to those around the shooter. Every person that has seen it in action has been surprised by how relatively quiet it is.
It is certainly noisier than a flash suppressor, but it isn’t anywhere near as bad as most of the brakes on the market. It produces more of a push than a sharp crack or concussive feeling. The noise is deeper than it is sharp. Hopefully that makes sense. The point is that it is fairly easy on those around the shooter and there is no noticeable increase in sound at the shooter’s position when outdoors. If I have the choice, I wouldn’t want to use the Z-Comp or any other brake indoors.
The Z-Comp offers a tremendous amount of muzzle control. The muzzle stays very level and a skilled shooter should find that they are able to run the trigger very quickly without waiting for their aim to settle. This effectiveness of this device approaches and exceeds that of some dedicated competition style brakes that I have tried without all the noise.
Recoil reduction is also impressive. The AR-15 doesn’t have a lot of recoil to begin with but Z-Comp does a great job of taming what little there is. Even with a loose hold on the carbnine, the Z-Comp just seems to anchor it in space. It does a great job of mitigating movement in all directions.
The closed bottom of the Z-Comp keeps ground signature to a minimum. You can certainly see things swirling around the brake but not to the extent of other brakes that I have tried. This will usually go hand in hand with the concussiveness of the brake – less concussive brakes seem to kick up less dust and debris.
The Z-Comp isn’t a flame thrower but it is certainly not a flash suppressor either. Low light performance will have a lot to do with the ammo that you choose. I didn’t test it in the dark, but dusk performance was not as flashy as most brakes.
I put the device in the hands of a few other shooters and tried to keep a careful eye out for clues as to how well it was working for them. At one point, we were shooting 2/3rds size steel silhouette targets from about 35 to 40 yards. Even the rustiest shooters were able to get hits quickly. There would often be 2 or more pieces of brass still in the air as the shooter was getting their next hit and the performance just seemed to get better as the shooter learned how the brake was going to behave. Eventually, you get used to the fact that you don’t have to wait for the sights to settle and then you can really pick up the pace.
Much of what makes a muzzle device good or bad to me comes down to how the makers balance the elements of performance that we look for in a muzzle device – muzzle control, recoil reduction, flash, and noise. This makes the process somewhat subjective because different people tend to place different values on the various elements based on their intended use or preferences. I can say that this is one of the best balanced devices that I have used. It offers an incredible amount of control without the overpowering noise that comes with devices that typically offer this much control.
The perfect muzzle brake hasn’t been made yet, but for me, the Z-Comp is as close as anything that I have tried. I hope that I am accurately portraying how impressed I am.
Check out the Z-Comp on ProtoTactical.com.