Reviews Best Linear Compensators: Blast It Forward  Megan Kriss May 31, 2023 6 Comments, Join the Conversation NO MORE ANGRY LOOKS AT THE RANGE! Muzzle devices can make a huge difference in the way your weapon performs. This is especially true with shorter barrels since they tend to be louder and harder to handle than their longer-barreled counterparts. When it comes to which muzzle device to use, there are a bunch of different types out there, and you’re truly spoiled for choice when trying to decide which one you want to slap on the end of your barrel. Of course, while having options is good, it can also be overwhelming. So today, we’re going to cut through some of that and focus on a specific type of muzzle device: linear compensators. In this guide, we’ll go over what, exactly, a linear compensator is and why you might want to use one. Then we’ll go over a handful of our favorite linear compensators to help you find the perfect one for your AR. Let’s dive right in. WHAT IS A LINEAR COMPENSATOR FOR ANYWAY? To talk about what linear compensators are for, we first need to talk about what linear compensators do. Linear compensators redirect muzzle blast (and, with it, sound) in order to make shooting more pleasant. Some people report less recoil and muzzle flip with some linear compensators, but these benefits are extremely minor, if at all. How they accomplish this is quite similar to muzzle brakes. Unlike traditional muzzle brakes, which direct muzzle blast down and/or to the side, a linear compensator redirects the blast forward. This makes linear compensators a lot more range-friendly than traditional muzzle brakes since you don’t have to worry about your muzzle blast and noise being directed towards your neighbors in the next lanes over. The other handy thing about linear compensators is that they’re generally not impacted by flash hider bans, so they’re great for featureless builds. It’s also important to know that linear compensators are most effective on guns with short barrels. Sure, you could throw one on a long-barreled precision rifle, but it’ll make a much bigger difference on an AR pistol or SBR, where muzzle blast is especially harsh. They do add length, though, more than most muzzle devices, with the exception of silencers. So, if you’re trying to keep that barrel short, you’ll need to decide if the extra inches are worth it. On the other hand, if you’re trying to bump a barrel’s length up to meet legal limits, adding a linear compensator might be just what the doctor ordered. Just make sure it’s permanently attached. (As always, I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. When it comes to the legality of guns and gun-related items, talk to an actual lawyer and listen to them over me). Alright, now that you know why you might want to bother with a linear compensator in the first place, let’s go over my top picks for the best linear compensators: BEST LINEAR COMPENSATORS Ultradyne Athena Linear Compensator My first pick and overall favorite is the Ultradyne Athena Linear Compensator. At 1.69 inches long, this compensator is shorter than a lot of other linear options, so it’s great if you don’t want to add too much length. It also has a 0.975-inch diameter and only adds 3.8 ounces to your rifle or pistol. And if you’re concerned about aesthetics, I think it looks great. It’s nice and sleek with a black satin finish that’s hard to top for those who like their firearms to look as good as they perform. The Athena is available in a few different versions for different calibers, including .223/5.56, .308/7.62, and .350 Legend. You can also get it in a combo with an Ultradyne C4 Dynamount Folding Front Sight (and the option to add a rear sight to match), though only for .223 or .308. If you go with the combo option, the front sight fights snuggly right behind the compensator on your barrel, so it doesn’t take up any of your valuable rail space and gives you a longer sight radius. At the same time, the sight is also plenty tall enough to co-witness with a red dot or magnified optic. When you don’t want to use the front sight, it folds down and out of the way. SLR Rifleworks Synergy Linear Hybrid Comp Without question one of the best linear comps on the market, this isn't your normal linear comp. The “hybrid” part comes in two flavors: the material used to make it and the way it works. With a steel core and a titanium sleeve, this comp is built to last but also built to not be a huge dead weight at the end of your barrel. 2 inches long and 1.25 inches around, this is one of the smaller comps. So how can it get such good performance? Inside the titanium sleeve is what is basically a normal steel muzzle brake that directs gas at 90 degrees for some recoil medication. The titanium sleeve than guides those gases forward and sends them down range, like a good linear comp should. Combine the two and you have a short, thick, but super-effective unit. MSRP kind of hurts at $163, but the best isn't cheap. HERA Arms Linear Compensator On the other end of the size spectrum is the HERA Arms Linear Compensator. With a 3.5-inch length and a 1.26-inch diameter, the HERA Arms Linear Compensator is about twice the size of the Ultradyne Athena. That goes for weight, too, with this compensator weighing in at 7.3 ounces. This larger size makes room for 12 expansion chambers for even more effective redirection of sound and blast. It also allows for some flash suppression too. Not nearly as much as a dedicated flash suppressor, but certainly more than the average compensator. I’m not the biggest fan of the way this particular compensator looks, but that’s a matter of preference. I prefer something a bit sleeker, but I know a lot of other shooters dig the more vintage vibes that the HERA Arms Linear Compensator rocks. And honestly, I’m happy to take a bit of ugliness if it does the job as effectively as this compensator does. TacFire 5.56 Linear Compensator One of the great things about compensators is that they’re relatively inexpensive, but sometimes your budget is especially tight. Fortunately, the TacFire Linear Compensator provides a good quality compensator for less than about $30. It adds a decent bit more length than the Ultradyne Athena, thanks to the 2.26-inch length, but it’s narrower and a bit lighter, with a 0.87-inch diameter. The weight is a surprisingly low 3.5 ounce thanks to the fluted design. It’s made of steel, so it’s a solid piece of equipment, but with six vent ports, you can’t expect the same level of performance that you get from higher price options. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find better performance from another compensator at this same price point. Plus, it comes in a few different versions. There are versions for 5.56 and .308, each in both black nitride and stainless steel finish options. There’s also a 9mm version with a stainless steel finish that you can throw on your PCC. Kaw Valley Precision Linear Compensator The Kaw Valley Precision Linear Compensator is probably one of the most popular compensators out there, and for good reason. For one, it’s just an all-around great piece of equipment with a nice, moderate price point to match. On top of that, it also comes in a ton of different calibers, from the standard 5.56 and .308 to the more unusual .450 Bushmaster and .458 SOCOM. And, of course, there are various PCC versions as well, so there’s something for almost everyone, regardless of what caliber you settled on for your AR. Each caliber also is available in black and FDE, each in a QPQ coating that’s incredibly durable and corrosion-resistant. It’s incredibly easy to install and uninstall as well, thanks to the flats along the sides, which make the compensator easy to grip. At 2.9 ounces, it’s also very light and compact, with a 2.125-inch length and 0.95-inch diameter. SureFire Warden Muzzle Device While SureFire calls it a “blast regulator,” the difference between that and a linear compensator is barely more than semantics. The good news is that it works exactly like a linear comp, and the better news is that it can attach over a SureFire muzzle device like their Warcomp, Procomp, or SOCOM compensators or flash hiders using the Fast-Attach clamp. Or you can get a direct thread version if you want to use it as a standalone part. The bad news is that if you use a Warden along with a comp or flash hider under it, you reduce the effectiveness of the underlying comp/flash hider. But you get the benefits of a linear comp by sending that blast and concussion forward instead of to the sides. One last piece of bad news is that the Warden is $250 ($170 for the direct thread), and that’s some big ouch. 1.5 inches wide, 3.5 inches long, and a 7.8-ounce weight makes this one of the slimmer and sleeker options. LOOSE ROUNDS Linear compensators are a handy, easy-to-install, and affordable way to make your short-barrelled weapon easier to manage and easier on your ears, and they let you do all that without redirecting the blast and noise to the people shooting next to you and making yourself the least popular guy at the range. And for those reasons, they’re growing more and more popular, which in turn means more and more options are coming out all the time. For now, though, these are the best out there. 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