Adaptive Manufacturing: American Production
Kineti-Tech was not always in the firearms game. In fact, their manufacturing facility used to produce materials for the tattoo/body piercing industry, and were a leading producer of body jewelry in the United States. As cheap foreign competition within the U.S. market increased, the business was faced with a very common challenge to domestic manufacturers: adapt or die. Most people at the company were avid shooters at this turning point, and the firearms market was (and continues to be) very strong. Mike, who is my point of contact for this piece, has always had a foot in both worlds. He’s an AR15 & Glock lover, self described “huge” supporter of the NRA, and has been in manufacturing/sales for the last 15 years. After making the choice to move towards a new (but familiar) market, Kineti-Tech has grown into a manufacturer, LGS, and shooting range that deals with citizens and SWAT/LEO types alike. The design philosophy behind the Comp/Can combination that we got to play with addresses a common issue in both markets.
“That thing is LOUD! Did you see that fireball?!”
I made sure to warn shooters on each lane beside me before I ran a few drills with my Kineti-Tech Zero Recoil Comp, and the title of this subsection was the verbatim reaction of a woman behind me. After 20 rounds or so, I slapped the can on, waiting for the place to clear out before really doing some vigorous testing. In part of our correspondence, Mike notes that “It was common for a guy to set up in one lane with his 5.56 SBR right next to a father teaching his son to plink with his Ruger 10/22 and just SHOCK the kid as the round exited his muzzle brake…” That’s the thing- muzzle brakes and compensators are very loud and very bright. It’s not necessarily that one 5.56 rifle is louder than another in terms of the decibels created by the powder igniting, it’s that compensators and muzzle brakes purposefully direct the blast to the sides (at other shooters on the line) and sometimes even back at the shooter. This redirection can nearly eliminate felt recoil by using the blast to counteract muzzle rise. Compensators and brakes are commonly found on competition guns to help shooters engage multiple targets quickly, but are often avoided by the military and law enforcement agencies in favor of the “birdcage” style flash hider.
Flash hiders are designed to help disperse unburnt powder that creates the fireball at the end of a barrel. For example, the 5.56 NATO round was designed to burn all of its powder while traveling the length of a 20″ barrel. If the barrel is shorter than 20″, unburnt powder will create a flash that lights up a shooter’s position as well as obscures his or her vision. The “birdcage” also functions as a compensator by redirecting some of that powder and gas upward through a topside three-slotted vent from which it is named. If you’ve ever been on the line next to a standard AR15 with a 16″ barrel and a brake, you probably jumped a bit the first time it went off. If you’ve ever been on the line next to an SBR with a brake, you definitely jumped the first time it went off (remember that bit about the 20″ barrel, a 10.5″ barrel has a full 9.5″ of unburnt powder to spit out). Now imagine that you’re clearing a house during a hostage crisis. If you have to fire your weapon, you (probably) don’t want to deafen and blind everyone in the room. It is partially for these reasons that SWAT teams and Special Forces units sometimes use suppressed weapons. Since suppressors efficiently deal with that powder and gas, they greatly reduce noise and visual signatures.
Compensator/Brake Combination with Redirector Sleeve
A compensator directs gasses up in order to combat muzzle flip (muzzle rise), while a brake blocks gases moving forward and redirects them backward and to the sides, lessening felt recoil impulse. A combination of the two is often the most comfortable and easiest to manage for the shooter, and can feel like recoil is eliminated almost completely. Although the muzzle blast is perceived to be more forceful since it’s not being directed away from the shooter any longer, I have never found it to be uncomfortable on a 16″ AR15. Some muzzle devices come with a redirector sleeve or “can,” which screws over the muzzle device and simply pushes muzzle blast directly away from the shooter, increasing felt recoil but eliminating annoying noise and light for other shooters on the line, or in close proximity. KAK industries is a noted manufacturer of a standalone “flash can,” which serves the same purpose. Shooting an SBR (short-barreled rifle) or AR pistol can be unpleasant given all that unburnt powder flying out of the muzzle, and a “flash can” or “redirector” can make the shooting experience more pleasurable. Remember that a standalone flash can is not intended to affect recoil or muzzle rise, and actually makes it feel worse than a standard “birdcage,” which is technically a compensator.
Kineti-Tech “Zero Recoil” Combo
Essentially, the Kineti-Tech offering is a very effective recoil reducer with a can to eliminate the sometimes unwanted concussive thunderclap that accompanies such devices. Compared to the Lantac Dragon or the M72 Severe Duty, it’s about $20 more affordable. My conclusion is that it’s a solid value, since it feels as effective (if not more effective) than these competitors, while undercutting cost and allowing for the elimination of unwanted effects at will. Installation was a breeze, and I’m unhappy to be sending it to one of our Instagram followers this weekend. My only complaint is minor- I didn’t exactly bang the thing around a lot, but the can already finish missing in spots. This is easily solved with a quick cerakote job, but I was disappointed to see it ding up so easily.
I ran this on a standard AR build: Aero lower, CMC 3.5 flat trigger, Magpul UBR, Odinworks 15.5″ Rail, & Trijicon RMR. I’m a big fan of Mini RDS style sights, and the weight of the UBR combined with the Zero Recoil made the muzzle so absurdly stable, making for pretty awesome groups running drills between 25, 50, and 100 yards. There’s something about the aesthetics of the can on this rifle that really do it for me as well. I plan on purchasing one for myself after sending the tester off.
Overall, this product works as advertised, and performs as well as more expensive competitors. You may want to ask yourself whether or not you actually want a comp/brake combo on your rifle at all, though. The recoil impulse of 5.56 or .223 is not very aggressive, and unless you’re a competitive shooter, you may find that the benefits don’t exactly outweigh the flash, blast, and annoying effects that come with this kind of muzzle device. Personally, I think it’s a hoot- but a rifle outfitted with a comp/brake would not be my first choice for home defense or SHTF type scenarios. I recommend sticking with a standard birdcage or suppressing, if possible.
What’s Next from Kineti-Tech
According to Mike, “We hope to stay competitive in the firearms industry as it is a pretty cut throat business to be in actually. In my time I have seen companies go out of business just as fast as they came in.” When I asked him how the company was doing, he was very positive:
“Business is great actually! We really do not advertise- we like to interact with our customer base via social media and this has really helped us steam along. We also have great customer service. We answer the phone and reply to emails. Even as a end consumer in the firearms industry, depending on the company you are dealing with it may be hard to get a hold of someone if you have questions or issues. This is a huge deal to us.”
On new products coming down the line:
“New products! Yes! We will be rolling our +1 and +2 magazine extensions for the Glock 43. The extensions for the double stack 19 and 17s will be along very soon. We have a few ideas stirring around. We pay VERY close attention to what our customers want and what we feel would be a great product to bring to market.”