Having a quality compensator on your rifle makes a huge difference in muzzle rise. So it makes total sense that you could reduce muzzle rise by putting a compensator on your handgun.
Compensators on handguns aren't new. And while they operate a little differently, ported barrels on handguns are intended to have the same effect as a compensator in that they reduce muzzle rise. I see many everyday carry (EDC) guns with ported barrels. I have also seen more and more people using a compensator on their EDC gun.
Let's Test Some Gear
I figured that it made sense to see if I could quantify the effectiveness of my compensated Glock 19. And then take it one step further and see if putting one on an EDC gun makes sense.
One reason I had not tackled this project is that outfitting my Glock 19 to run a compensator costs a bit of money. And the equipment that I needed to really make the data useful cost some money. So without the incredible generosity of a few companies providing some gear, I would still be saving up money to do this.
The companies I dealt with don't just make great gear, but their teams are outstanding. Definitely consider checking out their product lines if you're on the hunt for quality gear.
I went to my friends at Tyrant Designs because I have tested out much of their gear and have been impressed with their innovation and hi-quality products. They sent me a Glock T-Comp for use in the evaluation.
If you're going to add a piece of gear to your gun, there isn't anything wrong with it looking good. And the T-Comp looks pretty cool. There are a few color choices, but I went with a black body and a nickel stem piece. The two-piece design allows the comp to be installed differently than other compensators being sold.
Typically, a compensator body will be threaded onto the barrel, and then held in place by a set screw. With the T-Comp, the body slides over the barrel, and the stem is threaded onto the barrel. Tightening the comp is easy because the stem uses a 16mm wrench compared to what is often a small hex screw and Allen wrench.
Another great thing about the T-comp's design is that its ports do not have to be aligned for it to function properly. The port's on the stem piece are Omni-directional. This means once the desired tightness is reached, you're good to go. And yes you can get a T-Comp for your gen 2,3 or 4 9mm Glock.
Oh yeah, and they have T-Comp's for your Glock 43, 43x and 48, as well as for Sig P365 and the 9mm P320! Their website says your T-Comp equipped Glock will fit most Glock 34 holsters. Whether or not you plan on carrying your Glock for EDC or not, being able to holster the gun with the comp makes a big difference when you're on the range.
They also utilize a 2-piece compensator design to make a universal comp for pretty much any 9mm semi-auto; they have you covered.
The T-Comp costs $89 which is in line with similar quality compensators.
Threaded Match Grade Barrel
Yes, you will need a threaded barrel to attach any compensator, including the T-Comp. Culper Precision is a total custom firearm parts and manufacturing shop. They do great custom slide work, Cerekote, and a whole host of other custom gun magic.
They sent me one of their match-grade Glock barrels in gunmetal gray. The barrels run $175 and there are a lot of finishes and colors you can select from.
The capabilities of this new X10 model allowed me to provide more than just my opinion on the effectiveness of a compensator. Because the X10 model has the ability to track a bunch of metrics related to muzzle rise, I can answer the question of how much the compensator effects muzzle rise with hard data.
The X10 model is MantisX's elite model and runs $250 dollars.
Gun and Ammo used
I wanted to eliminate as many variables as possible so for the evaluation, I used my Gen 4 Glock 19 MOS. With the exception of the trigger shoe, all internal components including the recoil spring are stock.
The Tyrant Designs T-Comp was attached per directions to the Culper Precision match grade barrel as noted. For some parts of the test, the MantisX10 was attached to the accessory rail.
In an effort to capture data on reliability, I used various ammunition types, around 800 rounds in all. The fps noted are from the manufacturer, not measured by me during the review.
115 gr Wolf, steel case, 9mm FMJ (1150 fps)
115 gr Sellier & Bellot, brass case, 9mm FMJ (1280 fps)
115 gr Winchester, brass case, 9mm FMJ (1190 fps)
124 gr Geco, brass case, 9mm FMJ (1181 fps)
147 gr Winchester, brass case, 9mm JHP (990 fps)
124 gr Federal Premium Hydra-shock, nickel case, 9mm JHP (1120 fps)
I filled magazines with the same type of ammunition so I could isolate any potential reliability issues due to a specific type. I used a total of 800 rounds, and introduced magazines randomly and alternated brands throughout.
I wanted to stay away from any issues where specific ammunition could have reliability problems only because it was run last and after the gun had become super dirty. The performance of the T-Comp was impressive. I had 4 malfunctions, all failures to extract. Two of the FTE's were with Wolf ammunition, and two were the Gecko ammunition.
The gun actually functioned better than I expected without any modifications in recoil spring weight. However, 800 rounds of various ammunition is still somewhat of a small sample size. I have no reliability concerns for competitive or general range use.
The muzzle rise was measured in degrees, and as you would expect, the muzzle rise was less for the three types of ammunition I tested. The results are an average of 20 rounds of each of the three brands of ammunition I chose to get data on.
By reducing the muzzle rise, you would expect that the gun's sights would return to the target quicker. This total cycle time is measured in seconds and listed as recovery time. The numbers showed that the recovery time was shorter when the compensator was installed.
The combustion gases are expelled straight out from the barrel when no compensator is installed. This means in an extreme close quarters shooting, the gasses are not coming up into your face. Because the compensator purposely ports these gasses upward to counter muzzle rise, it creates an uncomfortable sensation when firing in a retention position.
It is not a pleasant feeling and one I would not want to repeatedly experience. Of course, if it were between losing my life or a blast of combustion gasses the choice is simple. As you can see the gasses did not come out the sides at all, instead all were directed upward and forward.
I am extremely happy with the way the compensator functioned. It was more reliable than I expected, and I suspect with a tunable recoil spring the reliability would also improve. The two-part design is so much better and much easier to install and remove that t-nut compared to a tiny set screw.
Its appearance is just like all of Tyrant's other gear, sleek and refined. However, I'm still looking for a way to clean that nickel t-nut though. If you know a secret on how to clean it please let me know.
Personally I am not sold on the compensator as an EDC accessory. Yes, you can conceal it, and yes it does exactly what you want it to. The problem is that in an ECQ fight (extreme close quarters), the combustion gasses are forced upwards into your face and though it isn't debilitating, it increases the potential for injury.
As far as for competitive use, or pure enjoyment, it is terrific. It is about as ‘plug and play' as you can get when it comes to a compensator for your handgun.