By Mike Searson
Mike review the VDC Armory PHNX-MBS Muzzle Brake System an alternate solution for threaded compensators.
A well-made suppressor or silencer does everything a good muzzle brake can (or should) do. They reduce felt recoil, increase accuracy (although brakes tend to do this more consistently than silencers) and both typically require threading of your barrel. The key difference is suppressors quiet down your rifle, where as a muzzle brake usually makes it louder.
The increased loudness may not affect the shooter, but he will usually hear about it from others in close proximity.
While I may be a silencer addict, I'm also addicted to shooting accurately. So when I heard about the VDC Armory PHNX-MBS Muzzle Brake System, I wanted to see for myself if it lived up to those claims.
Clamp-on muzzle devices usually make me cringe. When they are mass produced it's generally a “ne size fits most” proposition. Although that could be more accurately expressed the other way: “one size fits some“. In the past very few manufacturers got it right, even on what most of us would consider the basics: Ruger 10/22, Ruger mini-14, disgusting post-ban carbines, etc. They were more or less for “looks“, few worked well if at all and they were prone to shooting off the muzzle of the firearm in question.
However, there were a few gems out there, so it was not a total lost cause. Having seen some of the work from VDC Armory in the past, we thought we would give them a chance.
We did have a dilemma. Just about all of our rifles have threaded barrels, of the ones that did not, most were historical pieces with fixed front sights that we did not want to mar the looks.
Then in the back of the safe, we found a candidate.
This rifle began life as a Remington 700 manufactured in the late 1990s as a VSS in 308 Winchester. As an aspiring gunsmith we installed it in a McMillan M40A3 stock, replaced the bottom metal with one made by Badger Ordnance, installed a trigger, bedded the action, went back to Badger for a base and rings and mounted a Harris Bipod and side mounted Turner Saddlery Hathcock sling. We installed a milspec fixed 10X scope and it was our M40A3 from then on out.
We had been thinking of threading the barrel so we would shoot it more suppressed, but other projects kept kicking this idea back until the rifle lingered in our safe for so long that we thought we would try it out for this T&E session.
The VDC Armory PHNX-MBS requires some input from the shooter: Namely two measurements. You need to accurately measure the outside diameter at the muzzle and the same about 1 1/2″ rearward of that. To ensure accuracy we measured several times with digital and dial calipers and triple checked them against a steel ruler.
You are basically having a custom product built to fit a specific rifle. You also need to inform them of the caliber which you are shooting.
When it shows up, you get a two-part system consisting of a Clamp and the Muzzle Brake. Both are machined from Stainless Steel and 10x socket head cap screws are used to secure the clamp to the barrel for probably the most securely mounted clamp-on style product we have ever seen for a rifle. The system includes a crush washer so you can time the muzzle brake to the clamp.
So if you are a muzzle brake fan and you do not want to mail a barrel off to a gunsmith for threading, you have a winner with this solution.
PHNX-MBS Muzzle Brake System – The Good
The system is made from stainless steel that is similar in construction to most barrel steels and not the same as those questionable cast parts you may have seen in the past from unknown origin.
Examining the cuts in the brake itself reflects a good design that is built with purpose. It made us regret not having something more powerful to really see it’s ability at recoil reduction like a 300 Weatherby Magnum or a rifle of similar nature.
We noticed no shift in point of impact with the brake installed, but it did seem to take a lot of the recoil out of the rifle. It may not have turned it into a 22LR, but maybe a 22 Hornet or 5.56 from the perspective of the shoulder.
While wearing ear-pro, we did not notice a drastic increase in sound either.
PHNX-MBS Muzzle Brake System – The Bad
We had one devilish idea in mind for this, but it was not to be. We wanted to run a sound suppressor on the end. Unfortunately, the company warns against that and for good reason. Despite all the Loctite in the world, the precise measurement of the barrel and the 10 hex head screws locking it down; this system would fail against the forces contained in a rifle can.
Maybe not on the first or second round, but a rapid fire session would sooner or later send the whole shebang down range, if you are lucky.
At this point in time, you still need to send any barrels in question for threading out to someone with a lathe.
PHNX-MBS Muzzle Brake System -The Reality
This is largely intended for the hunting and target shooting market for those looking for a quality aftermarket solution without the cost and time of having threads cut into their barrels.
It works as intended and each piece can serve a stand-alone function. If you want to add another style of brake or flash suppressor without the hassles of threading, the mount works in this regard. If you want to try the brake on another rifle with a thread pattern of 5/8 X 24, you’re covered on that front as well.
About Mike Searson
Mike Searson's career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.
- Home page: www.mikesearson.com
- FB: www.facebook.com/mike.searson
- TWITTER: www.twitter.com/mikesearson