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Questioning the Combat Usefulness of a Muzzle Blast Enhancer


Domari Nolo and the SHM Loudener

Snake Hound Machine is building something called "The Loudener." It’s a muzzle blast enhancer. Why—and this is not a rhetorical question—would anyone want a muzzle blast enhancer?

The Loudener is a heavy duty muzzle brake that generates a huge muzzle blast which, according to the company, feels like a .50 cal blast. They claim the Loudener has a legitimate combat application; maybe so, but at least at first glance it seems to be just a toy for people who want their weapons to be extra loud and scary.

The Loudener will be offered for 5.56 ARs, AKs and .308 caliber weapons ($75 for the 5.56 and AK versions, $85 for .308).

When I was in high school my dad took me to a machine gun shoot near San Antonio, Texas. All kinds of full autos, from .50 calibers to suppressed .22 caliberss, were available to shoot. I got to fire an AK and an MG42. I think I fell in love with the MG42.

But one of the things I remember most was an AR-15 that made a huge muzzle blast when fired. My dad had bought me an AR-15 the previous Christmas, so I knew what normal AR muzzle blast looked like. This weapon was so loud it was almost painful, even through hearing protection.

I asked a man working the firing line, “Why is that AR so loud?” “It’s got a muzzle blast enhancer,” he answered.

I was puzzled. What’s the point of making a weapon louder and easier to spot? He explained that filmmakers use the enhancer to get footage of weapons firing with giant fireballs coming from the muzzle.

At the time, when I was 17, the only reason I could see to make a weapon louder and brighter was for stupid Hollywood movies.

Then I joined the Marines, and served six years as an armorer and range coach in a USMC Reserve Recon unit. And was a National Guard tanker and scout. And served in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I was a street cop for almost 20 years.

I learned a lot about firearms, went to a few shooting schools, fired thousands upon thousands of rounds from rifles, pistols, shotguns, machine guns and tank main guns, was in numerous armed, high-stress encounters, and was nearly shot and/or blown up a few times in combat. My perspective about weapons changed dramatically.

I still don’t see any legitimate combat-related reason to equip a weapon with a muzzle blast enhancer.

The Loudener

Snake Hound Machine is a professional outfit, making quality AKs and weapon accessories. I’ve only recently heard of them, but my impression of the company was immediately favorable.

My favorable view of Snake Hound is what’s causing my confusion about the Loudener. Snake Hound Machine has released a video on YouTube explaining and demonstrating it , and the device certainly seems to accomplish its intended goal. It makes a shortly AR’s muzzle blast look, and allegedly feel, like blast from a much larger weapon. I just don’t understand why.


According to Snake Hound’s designer Owen Martin, the Loudener has valid uses in combat. He mentions it in a brief interview for Recoil Magazine that “it exists because sometimes the demoralizing effect of live fire is important. . . Instead of a [muzzle blast] being directed in a cone, it creates noise in a full 180-degree pattern, so to anyone in that area it will sound like it is coming right at them.”

I’m not a Delta Force Recon SEAL Ranger, but on the rare occasions I shot at someone, I really wanted to kill them, not scare them. When the enemy was shooting at me, I wasn’t concerned with how loud their weapon was. Maybe if I was inside the same room with them I’d feel different, but in that case I’m pretty sure I’d be more focused on shooting them than asking them to turn down their muzzle blast.

I’ve wracked my brain trying to come up with military scenarios where I’d want my weapon to be louder and more visible, and I’ve yet to come up with any; especially since this is not a quick-detach muzzle brake. Whatever weapon it goes on would have to be dedicated to being much louder and easier to spot. I don’t think I’d be willing to give away my position every time I fired just so I could supposedly demoralize the enemy. Particularly considering the fact that I’ve seen an enemy take heavy machine gun, tank, mortar and anti-tank missile fire without becoming demoralized (not to mention air strikes).

Maybe there could be a situation where a platoon leader says: “Smith, move to the wall and fire that super loud weapon. Then while all the Taliban are shooting at you, the rest of us will escape.” And Smith would run to the wall, unsling his second long gun (since he’d have a different rifle or carbine as a primary), fire a few bursts and make every Taliban in the area think the good guys were shooting a Browning M2 at them, then run like hell. I guess it could happen.

Another possibility--and it's just a possibility--is that a unit could fire a Loudener-modified weapon into the door or window of an enemy-occupied structure to scare them out, but that still doesn't seem likely. At least not likely enough to justify dragging around an extra weapon or upper.

I could be wrong about this. It has happened before.

In the Youtube video, Owen Martin (by all accounts a great AK gunsmith) tells us that the Loudener is being tested by a Tier One unit although the name is redacted in the video. He does drop the hint that they’re going to use them on their short-barreled M240Bs. Maybe they have a plan for using the Loudener.

But here’s where I have to call shenanigans. If an SOF unit is testing your gear and it’s a secret, don’t mention it at all. If you put it out there on YouTube and “redact” it, either it’s not really secret or you’re making something up to sound cool. Most veterans immediately throw the BS flag when a civilian mentions that they were SOF, or worked for SOF, or as in this case have some secret connection to SOF that they can’t talk about.

Which doesn't mean it's not true.

Here's another look from Domari Nolo.


It wasn’t necessary for Snake Hound Machine to drop that hint and get me all riled up. They’ve created a product that would be cool to shoot, although I wouldn’t want to be next to the guy shooting it. This product looks well made and seems to do exactly what they claim it does. I just wouldn’t buy one and expect it to be the least bit useful in combat.

Would you? Can you legitimately conceive of a reason this would be used in a combat scenario? Has any of the readership here been in a combat situation where this would have been a force multiplier? I will readily admit I might be missing something, and I’m certainly not slinging mud at Snake Hound Machine (I still want one of those AKs). As I said in the beginning, this isn’t a rhetorical question.

Why would anyone want a muzzle blast enhancer?

by Chris Hernandez

About the Author: Chris Hernandez is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. There he frequently worked with French elements of ISAF while working with Afghan personnel. He is also a veteran police officer, having spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags and Dropped Rifles: the Truth About the French Army, the book Proof of Our Resolve and upcoming novel Line in the Valley. You can read more work in The Statesman and on his blog.

Chris Hernandez on his worst day in Afghanistan.


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