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Pistol Compensator: Clash of the Carry Comp

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Attaching accessories to firearms may as well be a national pastime. It seems gun owners can’t ever settle down and leave well enough alone — which isn’t a bad thing when it pushes a concept forward. While compensated handguns aren’t new, they’ve seen a resurgence in recent years.

Compensators are designed to reduce muzzle rise between shots. While technically there are some differences between compensators and muzzle brakes, when we’re talking pistols, “compensator” is the universal term. Bear in mind, you generally need a threaded barrel, so if you don’t have one, cook that into your overall cost. 

A Pistol Compensator works by redirecting gas upward as it exits the barrel, thereby pushing the muzzle down when firing a shot. This helps regulate barrel movement and reduce muzzle rise. Comps with side ports also reduce recoil, as the gas smashes into an internal baffle before being forced out of sides of the device. The more gas a given ammunition pushes out, the greater the effect. As such, compensators are best used with full-powered rounds; using soft-shooting low-pressure training loads can cause some reliability issues (see our detailed overview on pistol comps in Issue 5 for more details). Always test both your training and defensive ammo, adjusting accordingly before putting one in your pants. 

Old-school gun gaming pistol compensators were big beasts that make carrying concealed challenging for those of us a bit shy of Shaq’s stature. As the concept became more mainstream, comps began to shrink and transform to improve concealability. Modern carry comps add minimal bulk and weight to a gun, while improving a shooter’s ability to fire fast and accurate follow-up shots. Before you can toss a carry comp on your handgun though, you need a threaded barrel for your firearm. While not for everyone in every situation, carry comps can provide a vital service to those who want to push their carry gun to its limits. 

We gathered four modern carry compensators, attached them to popular carry guns, and took them to the church of lead and steel to measure their performance and quantify their usefulness to a concealed carrier. 

Simply discussing how a pistol compensator feels doesn’t paint the entire picture and can be rather subjective. The MantisX system provides a clear view of the measurable performance of each carry compensator. Using the RecoilMeter setting on the MantisX delivers real-time recoil measurements to show shooters their flaws. For this article, the muzzle rise measurement data provided a means to examine performance. 

For testing, five rounds were fired from each gun without a compensator, then five rounds were fired from each gun with the compensator installed. The ammo selected for testing was FMJ SIG Sauer M17 9mm. The SIG M17 ammunition is a 124 grain 9mm +P cartridge with a SAAMI-reported velocity of 1,198 feet per second. These hot rounds are a good representation of the ammunition these compensators are meant to consume and tame. 

Griffon Armament Micro Carry Comp

OAL: .625 inch
Length Beyond the Muzzle: .375 inch
Weight: .47 ounce
MRSP: $190

griffon armament micro carry comp pistol compensator

The Micro Carry Comp from Griffin is the lightest of the bunch and hardly any bigger than a normal thread protector; the overall length is a mere .625 inch and only extends .375 inch beyond the muzzle. It has a total of three narrow ports to aid in quashing muzzle rise and comes in a standard 1/2×28 13.5x1LH, and 1/2×28 variants specifically designed for subcompact pistols like the Glock 43. 

The smaller size not only reduces the overall bulk but makes it easier to find compatible holsters. The ability to use many off-the-rack holsters is a major benefit. 

griffon armament micro carry comp pistol compensator
The Micro Carry Comp is scarcely larger than a thread protector.

The Micro Carry Comp proved to be quite effective for its small size. The muzzle rise was reduced from an average of 13.99 degrees to 8.3 degrees. While that’s excellent performance for its size, the larger comps were even more effective on a percentage basis. Reliability across all ammo types was 100 percent, and nothing seemed to make the gun choke. 

The open design of the pistol compensator resulted in some noticeable gas blowback when fired from close retention. 

Installation requires nothing more than a 16mm wrench and some elbow grease.

KE Arms Carry Comp

OAL: 1.136 inches
Length Beyond the Muzzle: .875 inch
Weight: .9 ounce
MRSP: $70

ke arms carry comp pistol compensator

The KE Arms Carry Comp sports two side ports with a single top port. It’s designed to function with a multitude of pistols, so long as they’re threaded 1/2×28. The Carry Comp is the largest tested, with an overall length of 1.136 inches, extending .875 inch beyond the muzzle. 

Due to the longer length, the KE Arms Carry Comp requires an open-bottomed holster. Width generally isn’t an issue because the comp is no wider than the slide of a full-size or compact Glock. 

The KE Arms comp tamed our Glock 17. It proved to be the most effective pistol compensator, reducing muzzle rise by 57 percent, from 15.39 degrees to a sinister 6.66 degrees. However, some may not want the added inch of length. 

KE Arms recommends shooters experiment with recoil springs across a variety of loads to ensure reliability. The only issues we encountered came from inconsistent Eastern European steel-cased ammo. With quality brass-cased ammo, there were no issues across 115-, 124-, +P 124-, and 147-grain ammunition. 

ke arms carry comp
The KE Arms offering would look right at home on a racegun.

The large side ports on the KE Arms Carry Comp resulted in a good amount of gas hitting the shooter when the gun was fired from close retention. While not comfortable, if you’re using your gun for real, you’re unlikely to notice. 

Installation involves set screws and thread locker. Proper timing is required, but the installation process isn’t difficult. 

  • After the success of the KE Arms KP-15, a monolithic, light weight all-polymer AR-15 lower, the released it in a 9mm carbine version: the KP-9.

Parker Mountain Machine Micro JTTC 

OAL: .437 inches
Length Beyond the Muzzle: 3.75 inch
Weight: .89 ounce
MRSP: $355

Parker Mountain Machine Micro JTTC

The SIG P365 has changed carry guns as we know it, so it’s fitting that it wears a compensator that turns heads. The Parker Mountain Machine P365 Micro JTTC is a unique compensator design, incorporating both the barrel and a single-port compensator. Using a proprietary barrel allows the PMM design to reduce the length of the overall package and keep the P365 a micro-compact pistol. The overall length is tiny at .437 inch.

You’ll need an open bottom-type holster to accommodate this pistol compensator. The biggest turn off may be the price, as this setup isn’t beer-money friendly. However, the quality is excellent, and fit and performance make the price easy to explain. 

The PMM JTTC took the P365 from 20.84 degrees of muzzle rise down to 10.87 degrees. The nearly 50-percent difference was significant and surprising for such a diminutive compensator. 

Parker Mountain Machine Micro JTTC pistol compensator
The JTTC is a barrel/comp combo, which means it’s small but on the pricier side.

Reliability among all types of ammunition was excellent. The comp produced no failures or issues with 115-, 124-, +P 124-, and 147-grain ammunition. The top-port-only design resulted in minimal gas exposure when the weapon was fired from close retention. 

Installation requires proper timing and thread locker. It’s not difficult, but perfecting it can be somewhat time-consuming.

Tyrant Designs CNC T-Comp

OAL: 1.5 inches
Length Beyond the Muzzle: .75 inch
Weight: 1.31 ounces
MRSP: $80

Tyrant Designs CNC T-Comp pistol compensator

The Tyrant Designs T-Comp for the P365 is for those who don’t mind adding extra bulk to their gun — it’s not only quite long but also heavier than the others. What makes the Tyrant stand out is that its two-piece design eliminates the need for any timing or set screws. Tyrant Designs makes T-Comps that are pistol-specific for the P365 (shown), P320, Glock 17/19, and Glock G43/43X/48, as well as a universal design with 1/2×28 threads called the UNI-Comp. The T-Comp is 1.5 inches long. 

An internal sleeve is installed and then a shroud secures over the top, much like a modular blast deflector for a rifle. 

To holster the T-Comp, you’ll need an open-bottomed holster. The longer comp can make OWB carry somewhat difficult; IWB and AIWB is the better way to go. The Comp is no wider than the slide, so there are no other fitment issues with holsters. 

Tyrant Designs CNC T-Comp

The T-Comp was able to tame the P365 XL’s muzzle rise from 22.57 degrees to 13.32 degrees. The difference was easily felt and seen, as the sights seemed to hardly move off target. 

All ammo types ran completely reliably. The P365 never choked on any ammo that it was fed, including some originating in former-Combloc nations where you wouldn’t want to drink the water.

Tyrant Designs CNC T-Comp
The T-Comp is two-piece and unique in that it doesn’t have to be timed.

When firing from close retention, the T-Comp delivers minimal gas exposure. 

Installation is super simple, and the T-Comp’s two-piece design is very clever. The inner sleeve and shield are installed with a provided 16mm wrench, and users simply have to ensure the shield is aligned; the internal piece is ported all over. 

More on Handguns, Pistols, and 9mm Carbines

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