The thing you stick at the end of your barrel can be very important in dictating how the weapon handles.
When it comes to short barrels there tends to be lots of fire and fury, better described as noise and flash.
So what is one to do to tame this?
Easy, check out Linear Comps. We’ll cover what they are and a couple of our favorites for both the AR and AK platforms.
What’s a Linear Comp?
A linear compensator is a muzzle device that is designed to direct gas and concussion forward of the shooter. This also directs the noise from the gun forward of the shooter.
Most short barreled guns are louder than guns with longer barrels.
Linear Comps do not reduce the noise of a gun. They simply redirect the noise away from the shooter.
If you are on the wrong side of that blast you’ll now have to deal with bullets and loud noise coming at you.
However, I doubt the noise coming at you matters as much as the other thing.
Why Choose a Linear Comp?
Linear Comps aren’t for everyone or every gun.
They tend to have the best effect on short barreled guns. There isn’t much of a point to toss one of these on a 20 inch barreled AR, you could, but it’s a lot more effective on a 10.3-inch barrel.
Linear Comps make shooting short barreled rifles or rifle style pistols much more comfortable overall. I keep one of my little 7.5-inch pistol and it’s almost pleasant to shoot.
A big trend in the industry is these rails that run the length of the barrel, all the way to the end.
On these guns, a normal device can split the rails and damage them. Because Linear Comps push the concussion and blast forward they won’t damage the rails.
I mean, of course, the end of the linear comp needs to be a little forward of the rail.
Also, if your state bans flash hiders as some spooky thing these linear comps are not considered flash hiders. That makes them quite legal in featureless builds.
The downside is they add length and they tend to be longer than most AR muzzle devices.
Speaking of ARs these devices are designed for a lot of different guns.
You can find them for a variety of calibers, including .308, 5.56, 9mm, 7.62 x 39, and so on and so forth.
Best Linear Compensators
1. Kaw Valley Precision
The Kaw Valley Precision compensator was the first linear compensator I’ve ever used and it’s still in use on my 9mm carbines.
I use it mostly on my Kel Tec Sub 2k and when combined with the right ammo this makes the gun very comfortable to shoot.
Toss in some subsonic 147-grain ammo and the lack of a supersonic crack and the concussion being pushed forward makes this as close to hearing safe as you can get without a can.
Of course, this is only applicable to the shooter.
It’s slick in design and is compact and very small overall. It’s got a slick melonite QPQ coating and I will testify that this is a strong and corrosion-resistant coating.
How do I know? Because I’m dumb.
Seriously, I was testing 9mm muzzle devices a year back and accidentally left this one and one other outside. For about 5 days before I went back out to shoot more.
There is sat, without a trace of rust.
Keep in mind I live on the coast in Florida, lots of humidity and salt in the air. Not a spot of rust. It’s now been about 2 years of use and is still in amazing condition.
The KAW Valley Linear comp is easy on and easy off, and comes in a wide variety of calibers. The KVP Linear comp even has flats to make tightening it down extremely easy.
Grab a wrench, some blue tape, and tighten this bad boy down. The flats also make it easy to remove the KVP Linear Comp.
The KVP comp is 2 ⅛ inches long has an outer diameter of .95 inches, and weighs 2.9 ounces. It’s also superbly affordable and effective. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit as an introduction to Linear comps I really appreciated it.
2. Ultradyne Athena C4 Dynamount with Folding Front Sight
This Linear comp is unique on the list because it is a combo package for AR-15s. The Ultradyne Athena is the linear comp and the C4 is a set of sights.
With this system, they are combined and this places a folding front sight right behind the Linear Comp.
I know, this could be really bad if it’s not done well, but Ultradyne did it well.
They did it very well.
The sight is way taller than most AR sights because it’s mounted on the barrel.
This extra height ensures the front and rear sight are on the same plane.
It also folds down and out of the way when not needed. The C4 sights are really interesting. They can be adjusted without tools, or you can use a standard AR front sight tool.
The C4 front sight aperture is round and has a hole in the middle that you look through while looking through the rear sight.
It’s odd but it works. You should focus on the front sight and this system does work better when your target is a bright color like the Shoot and See targets.
The biggest benefit is the longest sight radius possible, which makes it easier to shoot accurately.
The UIltradyne linear comp is one of the shorter comps for 5.56 guns, but it does do its job rather well. Since it sends the noise and concussion forward there is no risk of the sight being damaged by concussion.
The Athena is well made and the total system weighs only 3.8 ounces all together.
This system would be perfect for a short pistol. The extra sight radius would be a blessing and the linear comp would keep things nice and comfortable.
3. Troy Claymore
In terms of military talk a Claymore refers to an anti-personnel mine, and of course the old greatsword.
I’m gonna go ahead and say Troy designed this Claymore to have more in common with the mine than the sword. I know this because of the big Front Towards Enemy written on the rear of the Claymore, and the big arrow pointing forward.
Who says we can’t stylize out gear first a little bit. The Claymore is the second linear compensator I went with.
I wanted to find something for my ultra-short 7.5-inch 5.56 AR. That thing was a fire-breather, a brutal, loud, and concussive gun that would rock the shooter.
It was fun, but not comfortable so the Troy Claymore was chosen. I chose it because it’s affordable, it does look cool, and the reviews I read seemed legit. It’s longer than most at 2.25-inches long and this helps when shooting in the prone.
It tosses dust and debris forward and this simplifies prone shooting with a short barrel. The Claymore is ribbed to help with cooling and the teeth like grip is supposedly for breaching, but let’s be real, it just looks cool.
It made my little AR pistol a lot more comfortable to shoot and it sends the blast and muzzle flash forward which is incredibly nice and makes shooting this gun very comfortable.
If looks matter the Claymore certainly looks nice, and it works, and its affordable.
4. HERA USA Linear Compensator
If you want to go big the HERA USA Linear Comp is the way to go. This is a big linear compensator and it’s specifically designed for Short barreled and pistol ARs.
The longer design adds length to a gun that’s supposed to be short but does allow you to use a long rail system on a short gun.
The HERA Linear Comp is 3.5 inches long and the diameter is 1.26 inches and this allows for lots of extra rail clearance.
Performance-wise this offers you 12 separate expansion chambers that do an excellent job of throwing noise and blast forward.
The extra length and diameter are likely the most effective at moving sound forward of the shooter. It is quite effective at doing its job. HERA Arms is known for innovative designs, some look cool, and some look cool and work.
This is one that does, in fact, look cool and does in fact work. To me, it looks like an old pineapple grenade and I’m cool with strapping that to the end of my rifle.
Most linear comps do an okay job of flash suppression, at least when it comes to suppressing the flash for the guy shooting, but it’s rarely beyond the standard flash suppressor.
The HERA arms linear comp does a much better job of preventing flash from creating discomfort for the shooter.
The extra length and room really allow the flash to disperse and to prevent creating blind spots for the shooter. The biggest downside is the 6.9-ounce weight. To put this into perspective a standard A2 flash hider weighs 1.9 ounces.
It’s big, it’s brutal, but it does work very well.
5. Archon MFG AK Linear Compensator
It’s hard to find linear comps for the AK, which is odd because we all love short-barreled AKs right?
The hardest part is finding the left-hand thread with the 14×1 mm pitch. Archon MFG, however, makes an awesome model at a great price.
Their motto is Firearms Accessories for the Working Class and their linear comp comes in at only 50 bucks. They make them for 5.56 and 308 as well. The Archon AK Linear Comp is made from 330 stainless steel and has a tough and glossy black nitride finish.
It’s 2 inches long and has a .920 diameter. It’s quite compact and weighs only 3.35 ounces. Overall, it’s a solid linear comp and the Archon comps have a sterling reputation for diverting blast forward of the shooter.
A standard AK with a 16-inch barrel isn’t bad at all, but when we start shrinking the barrel into Draco size we run into a lot more blast and a much bigger concussion. This is where this comp shines, on AK pistols.
It’ll function a lot like the old Krinkov bulbous muzzle devices, but is more efficient due to the multiple blast chambers.
Think of it as a modern version of that muzzle device. It serves the same purpose as the old Krinkov brake, it’s just better at it.
6. TacFire Linear Compensator
Balling on a budget?
Check out TacFire that gets you in the linear compensator game for about $20.
It’s 2.26 inches long with an outer diameter of .87 inches…plus it weighs in at 3.7 oz.
Need an AK variant? They have those too.
7. Synergy Linear Hybrid Compensator
Let’s get some jokes out of the way.
First, if you like them short and fat the Synergy Linear Comp is for you.
Second, is this what happens when we let see massive influence from those corporate leadership gurus?
Jokes aside, the Synergy Hybrid Comp is a short and fat linear comp, and is made by SLR Rifleworks.
It’s called the Hybrid for a few reasons outside of great MPG. First, its a steel core inside a titanium sleeve.
It’s a hybrid of two materials but at the same time its a hybrid of two devices. The SLR rifle works design directs the blast gas at 90 degrees from the barrel just like a standard compensator. This reduces recoil as the blast is then directed forward.
At the same time, it increases the effectiveness of the device as a linear comp. The design allows the Synergy Hybrid Comp to be shorter than most, but just as effective as longer linear comps.
It’s only 2 inches long and weighs 4.5 ounces. The outer diameter is a chunky 1.25 inches so it will fit inside most standard rail systems.
The rear end has nice wrench flats and the overall finish is unique due to the titanium sleeve.
What’s your take on this stubby little guy?
Linear Comps are awesome devices. They mitigate blast and flash, and they aren’t considered flash suppressors under AWB laws.
For short barreled rifles and rifle cartridge pistols a linear comp is a great option, but even for normal length rifles, they can still provide a lot of benefits especially when you’re dealing with larger calibers.
If we had to choose one…we’d go with the short SLR Synergy Linear Comp.
A popular go-to would be the Kaw Valley Precision.
And the most affordable would be the TacFire. Plus it comes in AK flavor too.
As a category linear comps are growing fast, so what are some of your favorites?
For some other awesome muzzle device options, take a look at the Best AR-15 Muzzle Brakes & Compensators and the AR-10 Version as well.