Counter-twist muzzle flash suppressor

Open prong design with helical slots angled in the opposite direction of the barrel rifling offers a reduction in flash

Military Technology Other

A U.S. Army researcher has designed a muzzle flash suppressor for firearms that reduces light signature in a novel way. The patented technology is available to businesses for development of a new product or enhancement of existing products.

A firearm’s muzzle flash can betray a shooter’s position each time the weapon is fired. The search for a flash suppressor or an effective flash suppressor became almost as intense as the search for a higher performing gun although it has lagged since flash suppressor behavior was not fully understood and continues to be the subject of faulty explanations of their theory of operation.

One of the significant improvements in flash suppression was the development of the open-pronged (or open cage) design in which prongs extend from the muzzle to dissipate gasses quickly. This design was improved by angling the prongs in the direction of the rifling.

In this advancement, an Army researcher, focusing on short-barrelled machine guns, did the opposite. Inventor Brian Hoffman angled the suppressor prongs opposite to the direction of the barrel’s rifling, which reduces the kinetic energy of the exiting propellant gases and reduces visible flash.

Performance is further improved through the destructive interruption of the developing shock boundaries as well as the introduction of turbulence early in the flow pattern prior to exiting the muzzle. Perhaps equally important, an additional and especially advantageous feature of this flash suppressor is reduced dispersion. That is the minimization of any offset from the impact point of projectiles to the center of impact from a group of projectiles being fired.

This counter-twist muzzle flash suppressor has been developed for the M240B’s lightweight short barrel, but the design is suitable for all small and medium caliber firearms with different barrel lengths.

A UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief engages targets with an M240 machine gun during a night aerial gunnery training exercise. (U.S. Army photo)

A critical application for machine guns with enhanced flash suppression is aboard troop transport and helicopter gunships conducting blackout night missions wherein pilots and crew use night vision devices that amplify all visible light.

Of note, the directional orientation (twist) can be achieved in two ways – either by providing angled grooves in straight prongs or by fabrication of helical prongs.

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