Competition Shooting: Compensated Vs Stock Firearms
Some people might not care too much if their gardening tips or dinner recipes are being generated by Chat GTP, but when you’re researching firearm modifications, you need far more than a laundry list of data collected by AI. You need the voice of experience. You need wisdom. And most importantly, you need to be aware of all your options before you start venturing into the unknown.
It goes without saying that you’ll need to be discerning with your sources, and keep in mind that making changes doesn’t mean making miracles happen. Any change you make to your firearm means taking on a new learning curve for shooting.
Cooking with Gas
If having a more stable muzzle sounds like a good way to improve your accuracy, a compensated firearm might be for you. A compensator, as you probably already know, is a port or series of ports at the end of the barrel that redirects propellant gases. This might mean adding an attachment or porting an existing barrel. This redirects the gas inside that would otherwise cause the barrel to recoil when the weapon is discharged.
Some might confuse a compensator with a flash hider- and while some devices might cover both, they’re typically for different purposes. In fact, it’s worth mentioning that a compensated weapon often has more flash than a stock firearm. And, they’re likely to be a good deal louder to the shooter or those around them.
Like any change you make to a firearm, there’s going to be a trade-off. Every firearm has its own quirks and temperament, and as much as you might come to think of them as a negative, you’ve likely grown used to them. Changing the action of your firearm might make it more comfortable, or it might not.
Another consideration is that a compensated weapon may be heavier than stock, which is something else you’d have to get used to. While that alone may not seem like the biggest change, remember that it’s also likely to produce more of a bright flash in your sight line than it did before it was modified. Will the cumulative effect of all these changes throw off your groove? Will it be too loud or too bright for you or those around you?
Until your muscle memory kicks in, ask yourself this question: will it be too irritating to deal with in a tense situation like a competition? It all depends on you. So how do you determine what compensator, if any, is really for you?
I recommend checking out this article for a deeper dive into traditional vs. bushing compensators. While it may be a one-stop font of all knowledge, it should hopefully help you formulate some new questions before you consider my next recommendation:
Whenever Possible, Try to Get Firsthand Experience
Chances are that the article above is just one of a dozen you’ve scrolled through on the subject. And while doing your research is a great first step, it might not take you as far as you’d like to go. You need to see- in person- what comp weapons can do.
Go to competitions. Talk to people who have compensated weapons like yours. What problems did they run into? What do they recommend trying first? Sure, some may be hesitant to give up trade secrets to anyone that they may see as up-and-coming competition, but chances are that some will be flattered that you’ve asked for their insights. So, turn on the charm. What have they tried? What do they like about what they’re using now? What would they try if they were in your place?
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like to ask anyone for help. Everyone likes to be perceived as confident, independent, and completely able to take on the most challenging endeavors with ease. Unfortunately, that’s just not true all the time. Gunsmiths are artisans and technicians, but they aren’t always engineers. That may raise some ire, but mechanics don’t always build cars, right? And plumbers don’t always grow plumbs. See where I’m going?
Serious research and development went into making your weapon of choice, and you’re effectively throwing caution to the wind by using a compensator. That isn’t to say that it’s ill-advised, but it is a process to be entered into with eyes open. For example, if you change a bushing on your slide to add a barrel for a compensator, and there’s a 1/1000th of an inch difference, what might that mean for the tolerances of your weapon and its accuracy?
There may be twists and turns in the road ahead, so it may be prudent to commit to a journey rather than a destination, and a very slow journey at that.
Written by: Lanna Perkins, Education Writer