I’ll come right out and admit that I am a big fan of aftermarket muzzle devices. The PWS FSC556 is great for reducing muzzle rise (while not creating huge fireballs like other muzzle brakes/compensators), and the AAC Blackout and Smith Vortex do a fantastic job of reducing/eliminating muzzle flash visible to the naked eye. However, this doesn’t mean that the ubiquitous A2 flash hider is completely useless.
It does actually reduce muzzle rise slightly, compared to, say, the AAC Blackout, as I noticed recently while switching between the two for an accuracy comparison. It does a pretty good job of reducing flash, as seen in this video. It is fairly small and light, and also has a closed end, which increases durability and reduces opportunities for the muzzle to snag on debris or brush. A number of sound suppressors can mount to the A2 (or slightly modified A2 type flash hiders), if you’re interested in mounting a sound suppressor on your rifle. Best of all, for those on a budget, it’s very cheap, and the majority of upper receivers currently sold in the US will already be equipped with one.
Don’t assume that every rifle you purchase or build needs some sort of aftermarket muzzle device. They may be beneficial in some situations, but if the gas port is the proper size and in the right location – and the mass of the reciprocating parts are the proper weight – for the ammunition you’re using, the recoil/muzzle jump characteristics of an A2-equipped rifle/carbine might surprise you. Furthermore, if you shoot quality ammunition, you might also be surprised at the lack of muzzle flash, even at night, when using an A2.
So do yourself a favor, and the next time you’re thinking about spending $50-100 or more on a muzzle device (especially if you haven’t fired the weapon yet), spend a little time at the range with your A2, and see if a replacement is really necessary.