A couple years ago, at SHOT Show, there was a booth showing off custom hearing protection and in that booth, to demonstrate the need for such, was an audiologist (hearing specialist). I had my hearing tested and discovered that I have indeed lost some of my hearing. The frequency range I’ve lost my hearing in is common to those who have been around gunfire over an extended period of time, even if they always wore ear protection. “But,” you ask, “If you always wore hearing protection, how did you lose part of your hearing?” An excellent question. Here’s the answer as it was explained to me.
Hearing damage from exposure to loud noise is not only caused by sonic impact directly onto the ear drum but also is caused by sonic impact on the bone structure of the head. Since all of the bones in the head are connected in some way, even if you have in ear plugs and are wearing quality muffs, there is still a sonic impact to your cranium that is passed to every other bone in your head, including the small ones in your auditory system. The end result, over time, is unavoidable hearing loss. The only solutions to such hearing loss are:
- Either don’t ever shoot – and we all know that if you’re in the military or law enforcement that’s an impossibility; you have to train – or
- Redirect the muzzle blast of the weapon so that it is more forward, away from the shooter so that the sonic impact itself is lessened as the shooter experiences it.
Enter the IROC Tactical Muzzle Device. All over the shooting industry today you can find muzzle devices of every type. Each and every one of them claims to do something specific, although some of them are honest enough in their marketing to admit that they just look cooler than the standard M4/M16 “birdcage” flash “hider.” Let’s be honest: it does nothing to hide flash; it just focuses the blast into specific lanes of travel, if you will, in a 360° pattern around the end of the barrel after the bullet passes. Lots of the flash hiders, flash suppressors, etc. claim to reduce felt recoil (and some do); reduce muzzle flash; reduce flash signature, etc.
Once again I say, enter the IROC Tactical Muzzle Device (MD). When I was first introduced to the IROC Tactical MD I was more impressed with its adjustable pressure capability. The one thing I can clearly recall was the discussion about how the MD is adjustable to optimize the pressure dependent on barrel length. To me, that in and of itself was impressive. I remember the challenges some of our military forces faced when they were using short barreled M4s in Afghanistan with ammo that was designed and optimized for use in a 20” barrel. The difference in performance for a given round based on barrel length can present a challenge for the operator in the field. More often than not, the person behind the trigger doesn’t get to pick their ammo; the ammo gets issued to them when they need it. Very rarely is the ammo optimal for the weapon and the IROC Tactical MD allows you, to some extent, tune the MD to the barrel length, increasing the efficiency of the gas pressure use.
As if that isn’t impressive enough, I later came to learn that the MD also has a significant benefit in redirecting the concussive force of the sonic waves caused by gas over-pressure as the bullet leaves the barrel. In other words, the MD redirects the escaping gasses enough to decrease the impact we experience in our cranial vault (head).
Remember earlier when I talked about hearing loss and the inevitability of it in spite of wearing hearing protection? Remember that second option I listed as a partial solution to protecting the hearing? Redirecting the escaping gasses more forward away from the shooter? There ya’ go. That’s exactly what the IROC Tactical MD does: it focuses the gasses forward (see included image).
Now, one would think that if a muzzle device is projecting all those gasses forward then the felt recoil must be increased, right? I can’t say I understand the engineering of it all, but I can tell you from firsthand experience, the felt recoil is actually reduced. On my most recent range visit I had one AR style rifle with the IROC Tactical Muzzle Device mounted (the rifle was a Del-Ton AR-15 with a 16” barrel) and I had a different AR-15 rifle with a more standard “bird cage” style flash hider.
Shooting them side by side, admittedly without benefit of any laboratory equipment to measure pressure, etc., the Del-Ton’s felt recoil was noticeably reduced as compared to that of the other rifle. Further, virtually everyone on the range with me reported less “noise pressure” (best term we could come up with) from the shots fired with the Del-Ton – with the IROC Tactical MD mounted.
Two other shooters tried out the Del-Ton with IROC Tactical MD mounted versus the other AR rifle, and both of them reported feeling less recoil with the Del-Ton. Both also reported less audibly perceived “impact” from the shots fired.
I had performed previous accuracy tests with that particular Del-Ton and had documented ½ MOA accuracy at 100 yards. I wondered if the change from a “typical” flash hider to the IROC Tactical MD might result in a difference of accuracy; specifically, I wondered if the accuracy would be reduced due to the change in pressure behind the round. Testing showed no measurable reduction in accuracy. Several of my groups were as small as ¼ MOA but the average group still measured out to ½ MOA.
As a final noticed benefit, the IROC Tactical MD reduces your flash signature. What’s that, you ask? I remember one Fourth of July when another officer and I walked out of our Town Hall which was at one end of a big park. At the other end of the park, perhaps 200 yards away from where we were, was a roadway infamous for being a drug dealing hub. As we walked out that evening, someone fired some shots down on that roadway. The other officer and I both looked and saw elongated muzzle flashes from whomever was shooting. The mayor was busy trying to seek cover under the grass (I swear, he was burrowing). When the mayor asked us why we weren’t ducking we observed that the muzzle flashes were long and thin indicating that the weapons weren’t being fired our way. We told him that if the flashes were rounder and shorter, that would indicate that they were being fired more in our direction.
With the IROC Tactical MD, your muzzle flash may indeed by longer and skinnier, as viewed from the side or top, but the “out the end” flash would be smaller. Overall, as shown in the accompanying photo, the muzzle flash signature isn’t as significant as with a normal flash hider.
Now, one word of caution: If you’re not an armorer for the AR rifle platform, don’t try to mount the IROC Tactical MD yourself. In fact, you shouldn’t try to remove the mounted flash hider on your rifle. Here’s why: To safely remove the mounted flash hider, and to properly mount the IROC Tactical MD, you need to have the rifle barrel properly secured in a barrel vice or similar device. If you start torqueing pressure on the flash hider as you attempt to remove it without somehow properly securing the barrel, you stand the chance of twisting the barrel and ruining it beyond repair. I was lucky enough to have my IROC Tactical MD installed by the AR armorer from my local sheriff’s office.
Overall I think this is a pretty good piece of equipment. While many may not think the recoil and flash reduction benefits are enough to warrant purchasing one, I encourage you to consider the long term benefit to your hearing that this device will have. No other muzzle device on the market today, short of an actual sound suppressor, has been measured to reduce the blast impact on your head / bone structure as the IROC Tactical MD. Check it out. I think you’ll be pleased.