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Muzzle Brakes

A muzzle brake is a sleeve fitted to the end of an artillery barrel to reduce the recoil when the gun fires.

light gun with muzzle brake
105-mm 'Light' gun with muzzle brake.

It does this by directing much of the gas out the side of the brake rather than through the end, and thus counteracts some of the rearward thrust on the breech which has already started recoil.

The greater the angle through which the gases are deflected, the more efficient is the brake. An unfortunate consequence of the use of muzzle brakes is the increase in the amount of sideways blast that the crew is subjected to.

The muzzle brake is constructed of several steel baffle plates shaped to allow the projectile to escape yet capture a large proportion of the following gases. As the gases pass through the baffles, they thrust forward on the brake before escaping through the ports. The greater the baffle surface, the more gas energy that can be used to counteract recoil.

Gas action
Gas action on a muzzle brake.

Several types of muzzle brake have been designed in order to achieve this, as shown in the following diagram. The machined solid forging process produces a durable brake of low efficiency. Swaged brakes are constructed from tubular steel hammered to shape with only single or double baffles. Built-up systems are made from several plates bolted together and spaced to form the gas ports. Welded and built-up brakes are highly efficient. All brakes are subject to erosion by gas action.

Types of muzzle brake
Types of muzzle brake.
L to R: swaged single baffle, swaged double baffle, solid forging, built-up or welded.

User handbook, BL 5.5-inch
Artillery Training Volume III Pamphlet 1A
Course notes (various), School of Artillery, Waiouru.

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