Muzzle Brakes

Savage Model 116 Bear Hunter
Savage Model 116 Bear Hunter

Q: I recently bought a new Savage 116 Bear Hunter in .338 Win. Mag. which has a muzzle brake. I have found the brake reduces recoil noticeably on the range, but I find the “kick” muzzle blast unpleasant when shooting the gun in the field with the brake turned off. Is there any solution other than wearing ear plugs when hunting?
Harold Kirkwood

Savage Model 116 Bear Hunter Muzzle Brake
Savage Model 116 Bear Hunter Muzzle Brake
A: A muzzle brake is undoubtably the most effective way to reduce recoil punishment – nobody likes to be kicked more than he has to be. With a good brake even women and youths can shoot light, powerful magnums up to .30 calibre and beyond. Brakes can control muzzle jump completely on all faster calibres – which alone is of great value not only on the range and in varminting, but in quick recovery afield, particularly when going after dangerous game. Properly made and fitted, a brake will invariably make groups more uniform and often will tighten them. And it will increase velocity in spite of a shortened rifle bore due to intgral construction. Through controlled multiple small jet porting (like that on the Savage brake), noise and blast are held to levels that come well within the tolerance of the majority of shooters. Your problem is a common one; if you use it with the brake turned off the recoil becomes bothersome, but if you leave it open the inner shock wave from the brake flows back and assaults your eardrums and may eventually result in hearing loss. If you want to use the brake hunting, the best solution is to get a set of earplugs molded to fit your inner ear and wear them in the field. You’ll still be able to hear normal conversation, but they’ll shield your ears from the muzzle blast and reduce felt recoil.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.