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Griffin Armament Linear Compensator and updated Flash Comp
Griffin Armament is a manufacturer of a growing number of weapon accessories, with their initial focus being on suppressors and muzzle devices. Please refer to my original write ups from 2011/2012 for information on the previous version of the M4SD Flash Comp and their other devices.
Updated M4SD Flash Comp - The M4SD is my favourite all-round compensator. The updated M4SD Flash Comp differs from the original by the addition of some machined cutouts in the three prongs, which improve the aesthetics with a very minor reduction in weight (.1 oz). While retaining the low concussion muzzle control, the Flash Comp provides a mounting system for the M4SD-II sound suppressor as well as a 2.25” length for end users requiring the appropriate length for 14.5” to 16” permanently attached, Non-SBR, M4 carbine builds. The Flash Comp is CNC machined and OD ground from high strength, precipitation hardened, 17-4 stainless steel. Another change is that Griffin is starting to have their muzzle devices Melonite QPQ treated, vs the oxide finish. They haven't switched over 100% yet (at the time of this writing) but it looks like their going that route.
Another change to the updated M4SD Flash Comp is that a pin hole is now pre-drilled at the bottom to facilitate pin/welding for a permanently attached muzzle device. A nice added cosmetic feature is the Griffin Armament logo laser-etched on the bottom of the comp.
The updated M4SD Flash Comp has the same dimensions as the previous version: .863" diameter raised interface rings and a .830" diameter body. It weighs 2.9 ounces. The 50 holes are .078" in diameter and have .025" chamfers. The Flash Comp is closed on the bottom. The openings between the front prongs are located at 12 o'clock, 4:30 and 7:30 (120° apart).
The M4SD Flash Comp was designed to be optimized for use with the M4SD II sound suppressor, and is constructed with thick walls to prevent expansion of the comp inside the suppressor under use, where it's exposed to a very harsh thermal environment. Strength is the reason why the ports are configured in rings, rather than staggering or offsetting them. The Flash Comp, and most of the other Griffin muzzle devices are designed to be compatible with their M4SD Suppressor, which utilizes their 'snap on' attachment. My previous Griffin muzzle devices came with a silver tabbed overtravel washer and peelable washer. The new devices come with a black tabbed washer and shim kit, for timing the comp.
Installation - The new Griffin muzzle devices are now shipped with a shim kit, which includes stainless steel shims of two different thicknesses; .002" and .010" thick. Combining shims allows the user to achieve the correct clocking of the muzzle device. If a suppressor or other Griffin QD muzzle device is to be used with the Flash Comp, the overtravel washer should be used. The overtravel washer is first installed on a clean muzzle, then the Flash Comp is threaded on hand tight. Noting the orientation of the Flash Comp, shims are added behind the overtravel washer to place the top of the Flash Comp at about 2-3 o'clock hand tight. A torque wrench is then used to tighten it, keeping the overtravel stop at 6 o'clock. The torque spec is about 30 ft-lbs.
M4SD Linear Comp - The M4SD Linear Comp is a suppressor-compatible, low concussion muzzle device developed to produce an extremely low concussion compensator while still allowing the use of a suppressor. It was developed in response to end users who desired reduced concussion over all other muzzle device performance attributes. The Linear Comp features three ports on top to assist in keeping muzzle neutrality as well as a de Laval nozzle in front to project linear flow of pressure down range; away from the shooter and others nearby. It is a single chamber device with ten forward-facing ports.
Some of the key features of the Linear Comp are:
The M4SD Linear Comp is Griffin's only muzzle device that lacks any side ports, thus reducing side blast to other people to the side of the shooter. Linear comps of various designs have been on the market for years, but no others are suppressor compatible at the time of this writing. The Linear Comp is customers that want a compact muzzle device that reduces side concussion and directs the blast forward when the suppressor is removed. It is not designed to function as a flash suppressor, so if low flash is desired, then 14.5" barrel or longer are recommended.
The Linear Comp installs in exactly the same way the Flash Comp is installed, with the included over-travel washer and shim kit. I decided to install the Linear Comp on a AR pistol upper with 11.5" barrel. Short barrels with comps can be painfully loud, so I figured that the Linear Comp would be perfect for helping direct the concussion and noise forward. I was less concerned with muzzle flash or recoil reduction. Installation of the Linear Comp was identical to the Flash Comp, utilizing the included tabbed overtravel washer and shim kit.
Notes/Observations - At the range, I tried out both pistol uppers with the Flash Comp and Linear Comp installed. In my experience, any kind of comp is unpleasant to shoot and be around on a short barrel under 14.5". The increased noise and concussion to the shooter and surrounding shooters can be pretty brutal. On the 10.5" barrel, the Flash Comp's concussion and noise is definitely increased over the 16" barrels I usually have it mounted to. Recoil and muzzle flip are pretty much neutralized, as I found in my previous writeups on the Flash Comp. Compared to other muzzle devices like the Troy Claymore, Surefire muzzle brakes and some others, the Flash Comp isn't as concussive, nor does it produce the huge fireball like dual chamber comps. Still, I doubled-up on my hearing protection with both ear plugs under my electorinic hearing protectors. The Flash Comp on a short barrel provides the same great muzzle/recoil control as on longer barrels, with the noise and concussion to the shooter being more tolerable than many other comps. However, I'm not sure I'd recommend any comp on a short barrel if you're going to be shooting in confined spaces (like a shoot house) or close to other people, except for the Linear Comp below.
The Linear Comp, on the other hand, was extremely pleasant to shoot. The concussion and noise is directed downrange, away from the shooter. I was also surprised that felt recoil didn't seem much different from the Flash Comp. Muzzle jump was slightly more than that of the Flash Comp, with only three ports up on top, but nothing to complain about. Side concussion is practically non-existent, and it's even more comfortable to stand next to/close to than longer barreled uppers with A2 flash hiders and other comps. I put together a short video clip illustrating the Flash Comp and Linear Comp, being fired next to a cardboard target. You can see the difference in movment of the target with the Flash Comp vs. the Linear Comp.
The Linear Comp also doesn't kick up dirt/sand all over the place when shooting side or rollover prone. Shooting in bright sunlight, I couldn't see much of a flash, other than the occasional fireball. Shooting on a darker, overcast day, I was able to capture one photo out of about 20 showing the flash on a 10.5" pistol upper. This is with Wolf Polyformance ammo.
The other advantage to using the Linear Comp is that it doesn't have side ports to blacken a weapon light lens with carbon. I had a Surefire X300 Ultra mounted on the side of the rail, and it'd usually be blackened when shot beside any other muzzle device, but it was still completely clean after about 200 rounds. I'm very impressed with the Linear Comp on a short barrel; it would be my first pick of a muzzle device for 11.5"/10.5" barrels, as it's more compact that other devices that are designed to direct blast forward of the shooter, plus it's suppressor-compatible, for those who have one.
Griffin Armament Blast Shield
11/25/14 -The Blast Shield from Griffin Armament is a quick attach/detach muzzle device that offers significant concussion reduction for the shooter and other people to the side or behind the shooter by directing the majority of the muzzle blast and noise forwards. It utilizes Griffin's suppressor QD mechanism, and is compatible with their line of QD 5.56mm mounts and comps, as well as NATO-spec A2 compensators.
Griffin Armament is a manufacturer of a growing number of weapon accessories, with their initial focus being on suppressors and muzzle devices. Please refer to my original write ups from 2011/2012 for information on their other muzzle devices.
Description - The Blast Shield is a removable 'shroud' that attaches over Griffin's tactical compensators, siginificantly reducing concussion and noise heard/felt by the shooter and any other people to the shooter's side and rear. When shooting out in the open, without other shooters around, muzzle blast/concussion and noise are of concern only to the shooter. Not everyone can own suppressors, but some may shoot in confined quarters (like a shoot house or indoor range) or alongside other folk in a class or range. Most compensators designed to reduce felt recoil or muzzle movement do so by directing the expanding gases to the sides or top (some even slightly rearward). In doing so, noise and concussion is typically increased to the shooter and those off to the side, resulting in a trade-off between the desire for increased muzzle control and causing discomfort to fellow shooters. There is also the effect on the shooter's hearing. Depending on the barrel length and comp, I usually double up my hearing protection; wearing ear plugs underneath electronic ear muffs.
The Blast Shield offers a convenient remedy for the times when reduced side concussion and noise is desired, but the shooter doesn't want the inconvenience of swapping out his compensator, or doesn't have access to a suppressor. The Blast Shield attaches to the existing muzzle device and encloses it on all sides completely, allowing gases to escape only to the front. It works in a similar fashion to linear comps or blast directors like the Noveske Flaming Pig, or Krinkov-type devices, which are designed to direct noise and concussion forward of the shooter. Most don't provide any muzzle compensation. The Blast Shield allows the shooter to retain the muzzle-controlling device, and quickly convert it to a low concussion device depending on the situation or need. It's especially effective on short barrels, where blast and noise are increased over longer barrel lengths.
Some of the key features of the Blast Shield are:
The Blast Shield cross section is not a triangle with rounded corners; it's a circle with three flats. A laser-engraved logo indicates the top of the device, and the flats have flutes for weight reduction. On the inside are machined 'gas flow pockets' that direct the gas flow forward, and raised contact points which keep it supported and centered on the comp.
Installation - The Blast Shield comes with a tabbed overtravel washer and shim kit, which includes stainless steel shims of two different thicknesses; .002" and .010" thick, for retrofitting A2 compensators (Griffin muzzle devices already come with the kit). Combining shims allows the user to achieve the correct clocking of the comp. The overtravel washer isn't 100% necessary, but acts as a stop to easily align the locking latch bars with the grovves on the compensator. The overtravel washer is first installed on a clean muzzle, then the comp is threaded on hand tight. Noting the orientation of the comp, shims are added behind the overtravel washer to place the top of the Comp at about 2-3 o'clock hand tight. A torque wrench is then used to tighten it, keeping the overtravel stop at 6 o'clock. The torque spec is about 30 ft-lbs.
The QD mechanism is fast, positive and free from wear-prone geometry commony found on ratcheting devices. The mechanism utilizes a locking latch with two bars that engage the groove around the A2 or other compensators' body. The latch also contacts one of the two wrench flats at the rear of the comp, limiting rotation. A spring plate keeps the latch in the locked/closed position. The spring plate is attached to the Blast Shield body with two screws. To open the latch, the spring plate is lifted with a finger so that the 'nub' on the latch clears it and the latch is pulled out. I typically pull up on the spring plate with my index finger while my thumb and middle finger pull on the latch's 'ears'. The Blast Shield can then be slid over the comp until it comes to a stop on the overtravel washer. The latch is then pushed in where the spring plate slips over the top of the nub, and keeps it from opening. It becomes an easy, one-handed operation with a little bit of practice.
Shown below is the Blast Shield mounted to Griffin's Flash Comp and Linear Comp. On the upper with the Flash Comp, the proximity of the comp to the light lens results in the lens being blackened after a few mags. I typically cover the lens with a plastic cap when shooting during the day just to save on cleaning. The Blast Shield eliminates that issue, as all the gas is directed out the front.
Notes/Observations - At the range, I tried out the Blast Shield on two AR pistol uppers with the Flash Comp and Linear Comp installed (note the OAL of the pistols are over 26", so the vertical foregrip is legal to install). As I mentioned in my above writeup on the Flash Comp and Linear Comp, most comps are typically unpleasant to shoot and be around on a short barrel under 14.5". Installing the Blast Shield over any comp changes that. The majority of the concussion and noise is directed forwards of the shooter, making them much more tolerable in close proximity. While the Flash Comp is more of the more comfortable comps to shoot, it's concussion and report to the shooter increases on a short barrel. With the Blast Shield on, that noise and concussion is greatly reduced to the shooter and to those beside him. I was also surprised that installing the Blast Shield over the Flash Comp didn't increase felt recoil or negate the Flash Comp's muzzle control abilities as much as I thought it would. I fully expected it to have noticeably more recoil since all the gases are going out the front, but strangely enough, it wasn't that noticeable. I did see slightly more muzzle movement after each shot, but again, not as much as I thought there would be.
The Linear Comp is already designed to direct concussion and noise downrange, away from the shooter. Installing the Blast Shield over it didn't have as much of an effect as on the Flash Comp, as far as noise and concussion to the shooter. The Linear Comp doesn't need the Blast Shield, but most other comps or flash hiders can definitely benefit from it, if the shooter wants to reduce side blast .
Installing the Blast Shield is easy - just open up the latch, slip it over, then close the latch. There is a bit of rotational movement (maybe +/- 5° or so) due to a small gap between the latch 'nub' and the spring plate. Closing that gap some would reduce the rotation on the muzzle device. It doesn't rattle unless I hit it, and I couldn't hear any rattle when shooting. Naturally, the Blast Shield gets hot when shooting, as it's taking the brunt of any gases exiting the muzzle device, whether it's a flash hider or comp. A cool Blast Shield is no problem to install on a hot barrel, but a hot Blast Shield requires gloves to remove. It doesn't take more than a couple of seconds to remove, but I definitely needed gloves to do it.
At the range, I shot some short video clips of the Blast Shield mounted over a Flash Comp. You can see the difference in side blast between them. Shooting rollover prone with the Flash Comp (or any side port comp) results in a shower of dirt/sand that covers the weapon and shooter, and the start of a hole dug into the ground. With the Blast Shield installed, most, if not all the kicked up dirt remains forward of the shooter and weapon.
The Blast Shield obviously takes the brunt of the blast, so the inside gets coated with carbon. There's no need to clean it, but I sprayed some solvent inside and wiped it down when cleaning my weapons. The comp it's mounted to will also have more carbon on it than without the Shield mounted; but that's also simple to clean.
The Blast Shield works with any length barrel; at the range I tried it on another AR pistol and a 16" carbine, and the difference in noise/concussion to the side and to people behind the shooter was noticeable. For a SBR or pistol upper, if I were to pick one muzzle device; it'd be the Linear Comp. But, if you have any of Griffin's other muzzle devices/comps or NATO-spec flash hiders, the Blast Shield will enable you to switch between fully comp'd when there's no one around, or direct the blast forward when you're shooting alongside others. When shooting at an indoor range or in confined spaces, whether it's a short barrel or carbine length, the Blast Shield can reduce the toll on your eardrums. It'd also be useful at public ranges when you're sighting in your rifle off a bench, right next to other shooters. If you're shooting prone, the Blast Shield will reduce the amount of dust/sand kicked up close to the shooter. It's a practical device that works well, is simple to use and has a lot of different applications. Not only will your ears thank you; so will your fellow shooters standing beside you.
AXTS Talon Ambidextrous Safety Lever
1/27/15 - The innovative Talon Ambi Safety Lever from AXTS Weapons features the ability to swap between a standard 90-degree throw to a 45-degree short throw without removing the safety axis from the lower, and has a screw-less lever attachment design.
Background - As a left-handed shooter in a right-handed world, I've always been a proponent of ambidextrous components on an AR-15. I don't subscribe to keeping my rifle 'standard' so that I don't forget how to use one 'just in case' I pick one up. I think that AR-15's need to move into this century and ambidextrous controls should be the standard, rather than otherwise. Thankfully (for me), I'm not alone in my opinion. The past couple of years have seen the addition of many ambidextrous controls to the market, giving the consumer many choices to choose from.
When AXTS Weapons introduced their AX556 lower receiver, it was the first fully ambidextrous lower (the KAC SR-15E3 didn't have right-side bolt lock back). Since then, AXTS has come out with their Raptor Ambi charging handle, and now they've introduced the Talon Ambi Safety to finally complete the AXTS ambi controls on the AR.
Description - The Talon Ambi Safety is available in a black 4-lever set, or 2-lever sets in Cerakoted Flat Dark Earth (shown here), Burnt Bronze, and Tungsten (gray). The levers are made from 7075 alimunum. The steel center axis has two sets of detents; standard 90-degree throw, and 45-degree short throw. The hardened steel center axis cylinder just has to be rotated to the detent you want during installation. By having the detents on the same side, you don't have to remove the center axis and flip it from left to right; you just need to loosen the grip screw and relieve the spring tension on the selector detent. The FDE Talon 2-lever set comes with one long and one short lever.
How the Talon lever attaches to the center axis is unique. Most (if not all) ambi safeties use a screw to attach the lever to the axis. Instead of a threaded hole on the center axis, it's a smooth hole which houses a spring-loaded retention stud. The center axis and back side of the lever has a dovetail that the lever slides onto when the stud is depressed. The tip of the stud is then retained by a small hole in the lever, preventing it from sliding off the center axis. An installation tool is provided to depress the stud, although any similar item can be used to (even a paper clip). The good thing about this arrangement is that levers are quick to swap out, and you'll never worry about a screw coming loose. The set comes with three spring loaded retention studs (1 spare), as well as a hardened stainless detent and spring, plus the installation tool.
The Talon Black 4-lever set comes with four hard anodized levers. The photos below show the difference between the long, short, medum and medium tapered levers. The levers differ in length and also thickness (height). They're grooved on the sides for a secure purchase.
Observation and notes - I've been using the Battle Arms Development Ambi Safety Selector (BAD-ASS) since the prototype stage (about 5 years now), and all my AR lowers utilize short throw, ambi selectors. I'll never go back to a 'standard' setup on a personal weapon; it doesn't make sense for me to do so. I'm glad to see more manufacturers introducing ambidextrous controls for the AR-15. I've been using the Talon on my AXTS lower since last September, before it was introduced this year. The aesthetic design of the Talon levers compliment the AX556 lower nicely, and it really is simple to install. The screw-less lever swap out is my favourite feature, as it's so easy to swap out levers to see which one I like best.
Just like on my BAD-ASS setups, the Talon lever that works best for me is the short one, on both sides. The FDE set only came with one, so I installed the standard lever on the right side. Which one shooters prefer will depend on hand size and how they manipulate the safety. The Talon safety has jsut the right tension to engage/disengage - it flicks from safe to fire very positively and smoothly, without feeling like it's too hard or easy. The shape of the levers are comfortable for manipulation, and I didn't have any problems working it with or without gloves. Good to go, in my book. Now, along with their fully-ambidextrous AX556 lower receiver and Raptor ambi charging handle, AXTS has the complete ambi setup.
Griffin Armament Enhanced Mil Spec BCG
2/7/15 - Griffin Armament is now offering an Enhanced Mil Spec Bolt Carrier Group. It's 'enhanced' with respect to qualities and characteristics, and 'mil-spec' dimensionally. Griffin Armament is a manufacturer of a growing number of weapon accessories, with their initial focus being on suppressors and muzzle devices.
Description - Griffin Armament is now offering what they've dubbed the 'Enhanced Mil Spec Bolt Carrier Group' as an alternative to the plethora of bolt carrier groups currently available on the market. It's a Griffin-branded product, but made for them by the current FN prime contractor for bolt carrier groups. Any time the term 'mil-spec' is used in a product's description, there's sure to be some discussion about it. In this case, 'Enhanced Mil Spec' means that Griffin believes that they've improved on the mil-spec, with respect to qualities and characteristics, with a mil-spec dimensioned bolt carrier group. 'Mil-spec' means just that; a technical requirement that a product has to meet. This usually encompasses physical characteristics like dimensions and tolerances, materials etc. Any deviation from the spec means that the product is non mil-spec.
The AR-15 has made it big in the civilian world; it's the most popular semi-automatic rifle in the U.S, made by a large number of companies in all kinds of variants - most deviating from the original mil-spec in some way or another. Is this of a concern to the average consumer? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the components. As long as the minimum standard of the mil-spec is met, the consumer should be able to assume that they have a component that meets a known quality standard. The mil-spec can be exceeded, or improved on, but the component is no longer referred to as 'mil-spec'. Obviously the same thing applies with sub-par, cheaply made components. It's up to the consumer to make an informed decision on whether the spec matters. It depends on the component, and what's expected of it. The bolt is subject to a lot of pressure, so what it's made of, and how it's manufactured and tested is important.
The mil-spec specifies that the bolt be made of Carpenter 158 steel and the carrier be made of 8620. C158 costs a premium because Carpenter 158 is trademarked/patented, and a brand-name alloy made in one facility by Carpenter. One can make them out of better materials, or crap, and both will now create a non-mil spec assembly. Or, you can make it out of the specified materials but change dimensions, which also results in a non mil-spec component. The bolt material (Carpenter 158 vs 'X') is typically one of the popular topics of discussion when it comes to 'mil-spec' and bolt carrier groups. Personally, as long as the substitute alloy is equivalent to or better than C158, it doesn't make a difference to me. 9310 is one of the more common alloys substituted for C158 for the purposes of manufacturing AR-15 bolts as it's available in smaller minimum quanitities, and the industry equivalent of C158. It doesn't cost as much as C158 so Griffin can pass along the savings to the consumer while offering a product that performs the same. For those who really must have a C158 bolt, they'll be offering it for a slight upcharge over 9310 when they start offering their complete upper receiver assemblies.
The Griffin BCG combines an 8620 carrier, 9310 Bolt, 4340 cam pin and extractor. All component have the proper heat treats, the correct shot peen, and the often neglected post heat treated grind. In a market filled with cast component BCG's, all components are billet machined and all surfaces receive a finish pass in machining for improved surface smoothness. There are varying degrees of quality in Melonite QPQ finishes. These BCG's went to 4 finishing houses for selection of the finish provider, cost not being a consideration. The result is a deep black finish with remarkable lubricity. These are assembled to the current military technical data package with Permatex'd and properly staked carrier keys. They also feature the current 15,000 round extractor spring design and a Crane O ring for reliable extraction in extreme conditions.
Manufacturer Features and Specs:
The Griffin BCG is probably the nicest I've seen in terms of finish and machining quality. Typically, the bolt carrier has visible tool marks on the sides, on the non-bearing surfaces, or the inside can be a little rough. While these really have no impact on performance since they don't contact the inside of the receiver, they reflect on the overall quality of the part. The Griffin carrier surface finish is outstanding - it is smooth everywhere. Even the correctly-staked carrier key is machined and smoothly finished. The photos speak for themselves. The bolt, carrier, key, and cam pin are Melonite QPQ (Quench polish quench) finished. Note that there is no hard chrome inside the carrier or gas key - it's Melonited instead. Melonite is a type of nitrocarburizing case hardening, used when increased wear resistance, corrosion resistance, or lubricity are needed. The extractor is phosphated, as lubricity isn't desired on an extractor (as you want it to grab the rim).
Notes/Observations - I can't really 'test' a bolt carrier assembly as there are some many contributors to reliability. All that we really want from a carrier group is that it functions flawlessly in a weapon, and doesn't break or cause issues due to improper assembly. Looking at Griffin's BCG, it looks like they've checked off all the boxes to ensure that they're offering a quality product. I've never had a broken bolt since I started shooting AR-15s back in 1985. I've had three or four broken extractors, and had some early Bushmaster/Quality parts gas keys come loose that weren't properly staked. Other than that, it's usually been some other component that contributed to malfunctions. The first time I installed the Griffin BCG into an upper and shot it, I was surprised to experience a couple of failures to feed on two separate upper receivers. I was sighting in two uppers which had previously proved reliable, and the only thing I had changed was to install the new BCG. However, the other two variables was that I was using hunting ammo I had never used before, and a TangoDown 20-round magazine (which I very seldom use). I suspected the TD 20-round magazine which I then remembered had been a bit finicky before, but I hadn't brought any more mags with me to confirm that. I didn't get a chance to try the BCG out again until a month later, when I put about 450 rounds through two uppers using a variety of 30-round magazines. Not a single malfunction, so that re-instilled my confidence in the BCG and chalked up the first experience to the ammo and TD magazine, which was an earlier model. I don't recall a bolt carrier group ever contributing to failures to feed - it's usually the magazine or something else when that happens, so I don't expect the Griffin BCG to be any different in that respect.
No matter what finish my bolt carrier group is, I keep it lubricated the same as a phosphated one. I don't believe in running them 'dry' without lube in my weapons. I found the Melonite finish easier to wipe carbon off than a regular phosphated BCG. Carbon deposits on the bolt tail still took the same amount of cleaning to remove. It's something that I'm no longer anal about and don't bother cleaning it all off completely. Finish wear after about 500 rounds looks normal in the standard areas (cam pin, carrier bearing surfaces), where I'd expect to see them. I'll keep using the Griffin BCG and update this writeup when I can, but I don't expect to see it fail to perform anytime soon. Mil-spec or not, it's a top-quality BCG at a competitive price.
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