5 Best AR-15 Flash Hiders : No More Fireballs
When it comes to AR-15s, there are a number of great muzzle devices out there, especially if you’re into shooting sports like 3-Slickgun competitions, where big compensators and muzzle brakes are the name of the game.
It seems, though, there’s one category that’s often overlooked.
The humble flash hider is a frequently-ignored option that really shines in the right situations—particularly on a short barrel or for night-time use.
Many folks don’t realize just how blinding and disorienting a muzzle flash can be in low-light scenarios.
This is especially an issue in a number of scenarios, such as hunting close to dark (or after dark, when legal), keeping the flash from your weapon low for stealth, shooting in a competition that runs late in the day, or shooting in a competition
Even if none of the above apply, but you just want something that looks a bit better on the end of your rifle than the factory flash hider, I recommend picking up an aftermarket flash hider.
We’ll go over how exactly these flash hiders work, how to choose a new one, and some of the best ones out there.
How Do Flash Hiders Work?
When we fire a Slickgun, propellant inside the cartridge is transformed into energy and used to propel a projectile. This has a secondary effect of producing a flash of super-hot gasses and unburnt powder out of the end of the barrel.
A flash like this is especially evident in something like a short-barreled rifle, a shotgun, or an AR pistol. With these weapons, less powder is burnt before the bullet leaves the end of the barrel, and thus you have an expanding cloud of powder leaving the barrel along with the bullet.
This unburnt powder creates a brilliant flash of light that can blind the shooter and can make stealth in such a situation an even more difficult proposition. If you’re using an AR-15 defensively, such as in the event of a home invasion or another situation where you’re firing a Slickgun in a dark, enclosed space, you’re going to have problems without a flash hider.
First, you’re going to clearly give away your position even more than you would with the sound of the shot alone. A gunshot in close quarters may not be as easy to triangulate the origin of as you might think, but a giant fireball tells the bad guy just where to empty a mag.
Looking for the best AR-15 ammo? Read our top picks for range and home defense ammo for your AR-15.
Also, I’ve worked with all manner of disabled shooters, but there’s a reason you never see any blind folks at the range—shooting while blind is a recipe for disaster, and blinding yourself in the presence of an enemy is a supremely bad thing.
If you’re shooting at night without a good flash hider, that’s exactly what you’re going to do. You’ll be seeing stars for minutes afterward, and God help you if you’re doing something like action shooting sports where you’re ripping through mags at a time. You’ll find yourself wondering why you thought it was a good idea to do this in the first place.
Enter the humble flash hider—here to spare your corneas and save the day. These devices work by quickly dissipating the expanding gases, cooling them, and dispersing or containing the unburnt powder.
They do this by using prongs to cool the gases and unburnt powder and shunt them away from the end of the barrel. This allows them to cool further and keeps them from igniting in the great big fireball you’d have otherwise.
What you’re left with isn’t a totally invisible flash—and if you’re running 5.56 in a less than 12” barrel you’ll still have a sizeable fireball—but the results from a good flash hider will be remarkably better than a bare barrel or a default A2 flash hider.
Some of the best flash hiders also double as compensators or muzzle brakes, so you’ll be getting a little better performance in the recoil department as well. We cover those too in Best Muzzle Brakes & Compensators.
But for now…let’s go over what are the best flash hiders? I’m glad you asked.
Best AR-15 Flash Hiders
You won’t find any flashy sales pitches here, just the best of the best.
While none of them will completely eliminate flash signature, they will certainly give you a leg up when trying to preserve your night vision or to cut down on some of the fireball that’s created when you squeeze off a round through a short-barrelled carbine or AR pistol.
1. Smith Vortex Arc Helix Flash Hider
For a long time, the Vortex Flash Hider was the standard by which most pure flash hiders were judged. The prongs on this flash hider are precisely engineered through some truly exhaustive testing to disperse gasses and unburned powder incredibly well, while also quickly providing a lot of surface area to absorb the heat from the rapidly expanding gasses of ignition.
What you’re left with is one of the best-performing flash hiders out there, even if it doesn’t do anything for recoil.
This is actually the flash hider I default to when someone asks me for a recommendation and doesn’t want anything too… well, flashy I guess.
Aesthetically, it’s pretty simple looking, and it doesn’t do anything to disturb the lines on a clean rifle build like some of the more aggressively-styled flash hiders do. And while looks aren’t everything, there’s no reason our Slickguns have to be ugly.
Finally, if you want something a bit different, CMMG makes a version, aptly named the “Striker,” that has four carbide glass breaker tips on the end in case you often have to breach windows before firing your rifle.
If you do, please let me hear from you in the comments—I’d love to know what your life is like that you need a dedicated glass breaker on the end of your firearm.
2. Seekins Precision Rook 5.56 Flash Hider
The Seekins Precision Rook Flash Hider is another dedicated flash hider that looks and performs miles better than a default A2 FH. This thing looks positively wicked, and it more than does the job.
The prongs are designed in a similar fashion to the Vortex, where you have three open-ended and bladed prongs to rapidly cool and disperse ignition gasses, while also keeping unburnt powder flash to a minimum.
The whole thing is then covered with a rugged and wear-resistant custom melonite coating and comes in a few different thread pitches so you won’t need an adaptor if you have non-standard threads on your barrel.
Finally, the Seekins Precision Rook Flash Hider is relatively cheap, especially considering the quality machining involved. You can regularly find these on sale in the $40 range, and they make a perfect cheap alternative to a default FH.
3. Black Rain Ordnance Flash Suppressor
If you’re looking for something a little bit different from the three-pronged design, and don’t mind looking a little Max Maxian, the Black Rain Ordnance Flash Suppressor may be the option for you.
The aggressive “milled pineapple” styling makes a certain statement. I’m not sure what exactly that statement is, but it makes it. You get a combination glass breaker/striker design that is going to seriously ruin somebody’s day if you jab them with it, although it’s still considerably less lethal than say, pulling the trigger.
For all that, it’s still remarkably good as a flash hider. All those little knobs and such give you a lot of mass and surface area with which to disperse heat and unburned powder, and the porting holes on the side, while they don’t do anything for recoil, are very precisely engineered. The extra mass does help a little bit with recoil, but honestly, you’d be a bit hard-pressed to tell a difference.
Finally, the finish is excellent, if a bit uninspired, and the machining is as good as I’ve come to expect from BRO.
4. BCM Gunfighter MOD 1
Now we get to some of the flash hiders that aren’t just flash hiders. I’ve made no secret of my love for Bravo Company’s products, and the MOD 1 is no exception to my feelings for the rest of the company’s offerings.
The MOD 1 is half compensator, half flash hider, all awesome, and it combines the three-pronged approach of most flash hiders with the precision porting of a compensator to deliver a muzzle device that not only does a fantastic job of reducing flash signature, but also kills a lot of vertical recoil. Now, is it as good as some of the more aggressive comps out there? No. But it’s doing so much more.
BCM’s comps are great, but even the best compensators spit out a huge fireball. Not so with the MOD 1. This thing is a flash hider more than most flash hiders. In fact, BCM specifically states that this is not a “gamer comp.” In other words, not designed with competition in mind.
This is a working man or woman’s comp, and it is a great compromise between the stealth and preservation of night vision you get with a flash hider and the recoil control of a minimalist compensator.
One thing I will note is that the inside is a bit different from most muzzle devices, particularly flash hiders.
While most other options are designed to disperse and otherwise port away gasses and unburned powder, the BCM MOD 1 actually uses some clever engineering to oppose the gasses, powder, and little bits of bullet that you normally see shunted away.
This leads to pitting on some of the interior surfaces of the MOD 1 but don’t worry. This is intentional, and the wear surfaces of the MOD 1 are designed to last for hundreds of thousands of rounds without any loss of performance.
“…the user may notice small pits on the interior surfaces of the compensator. This is normal. These surfaces are specifically designed to operate within the environment found at the muzzle, and are intended to allow significant amounts of deterioration before any loss of performance is seen/felt.”
Of all the flash hiders on this list, this is the one I’d pick if I were in the market myself.
5. JP Enterprises 3 Prong Flash Hider
I’m going to end with the flash hider I recommend the most: the JP Enterprises 3 Prong model.
“But wait,” I hear you saying, “didn’t you just tell us you’d pick the BCM MOD 1?” Yep, sure did. But that’s for me. I’m not looking for a dedicated flash hider. If you’ve found this article, chances are that you are.
If you want something that eliminates as much of the flash signature of your rifle as possible, this is the one you want.
The three-pronged exterior is pretty standard, even if it is machined with more precision than most things that have been fired into space. It looks good… clean, classic, without being boring and mundane like an A2 (I really hate the A2 birdcage, if you haven’t figured that out yet). On the inside though, there’s some truly wicked stuff happening.
Each of the three prongs is serrated and looks almost like rows and rows of shark teeth. This design helps the prongs to dissipate gasses and powder effortlessly, and what you’re left with is a flash hider that almost completely eliminates flash signature from a normal barrel.
This flash hider is also the best for those looking to eliminate the most flash from short-barrelled pistols and carbines, as well as those who want to eliminate some of the flash from firing blanks.
All in all, I think this is probably the best pure flash hider on the market, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for one.
What’s your take on the JP?
That’s about it for flash hiders. I hope this info helped, and I hope you enjoy the recommendations. I’ve tested all of these products, and they’re all wonderful, truly. I would happily carry a Slickgun fitted with any of the flash hiders listed.
What do you think of these flash hiders? Got another one I should try next? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for some recoil taming or reduced reticle movement? Check out our Best Muzzle Brakes & Compensators.
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