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We'll be seeing more "harmonic modulator" systems for taming recoil.

When Browning unveiled their BOSS system a year ago this past August, the first thought that entered my mind upon seeing it for the first time was whether or not the idea was patentable, and if so, to what extent could it be protected. Indeed, I said as much in my initial write-ups of BOSS.

Not being particularly fond of muzzle brakes, the second question that came to mind was whether Browning had tried the idea without the vent chamber. In other words, just an unvented barrel extension that could be moved fore and aft on a threaded section of the muzzle. Such an arrangement would certainly change the barrel's harmonics in the same way, but without the attendant advantage of recoil reduction or the disadvantage of increased muzzle blast.

As it is now, the BOSS is nothing more than a three-piece brake that can be moved up and down the threaded muzzle section and locked in a given position. Simply moving a conventional, one-piece muzzle brake in the same manner, i.e., screwing it further up or down the muzzle, would achieve the same thing. The only difference would be the absence of a calibrated lock ring.

Since it was Browning who developed the concept, invested the time and money to bring it to market, and promoted it as successfully as they have, it's understandable they would want to protect the idea to whatever extent they can.

Testing if and to what degree they can is a similar brake/adjustable weight device of Que Industries of Everett, Wash. Que announced their product to the consumer world in the April issue of the American Rifleman, but to my knowledge have not advertised it there or anywhere else since. In addition to that one ad a press release with an accompanying photo was sent out to the media, one of which ended up on my desk.

First off, Que has chosen to call their BOSS-type system "Adjustable Muzzle Brake," which Savage Arms is sure to take exception to, even though their AMB i in reality quite different conceptually from that of Que. The Savage unit is exactly what it says it is: an adjustable muzzle brake which, by virtue of a rotating outer sleeve, can turn the braking effect on or off. Recoil attenuation, then, is the sole function of Savage's AMB, but since it can be turned on and off, it qualifies as being "adjustable."

With the BOSS and Que units, both share integrated muzzle brakes, but their primary function is that of changing barrel harmonics through trial and error adjustment for the purpose of finding a specific setting that provides the best accuracy with a given load. The fact that both also have integrated muzzle brakes -- neither of which can be turned on and off like the Savage unit -- is secondary feature.

Anyway, the fact that Savage was first to register the term "Adjustable Muzzle Brake" unbeknownst to Que, who apparently had come up with the same name at about the same time, will in all probability have the latter looking for a new name.

Incidentally, whatever that name turns out to be, this industry needs a generic term for these gizzies and I hereby suggest "Harmonic Modulator" as being as good as any. Hereafter I will use that term or "HM".

Both the BOSS and Que units work similarly in that the main body/vent chamber moves back and forth along a threaded shank that is calibrated like a micrometer, i.e., 10 complete turns, each graduated in tenths-of-a-turn or 36-degrees of rotation.

Where the differences can be found are in the vents themselves and in the way the units are attached to the muzzles. The BOSS uses 32 holes, the Que a series of 12 mill cuts. No biggie there as far as I'm concerned.

The major difference is in the way they're fitted. The Browning unit screws ont a threaded portion of the barrel and as such lends itself easily to retrofitting. Browning, however, has chosen not to go that route; rather, the only way to avail oneself of the BOSS system is to buy a new Browning A-Bolt or BAR rifle.

Que's HM, on the other hand, is being marketed as a retro-fittable accessory only, which of course widens the potential market considerably. The neat thing about the Que unit is that it does not require that you have the muzzle of your prized rifle chewed on by a pipe threader; it is slip fit onto the muzzle without modification.

What's required is that you measure the diameter of the muzzle one inch back from the crown using a micrometer. Que then furnishes the HM bored to that specified diameter. Using a controlled heat source like a propane torch, the collar is heated as per the instructions and slipped onto the muzzle. Upon cooling, the special alloy contracts around the barrel with some 6,000 pounds o pressure, enough to hold it as secure as if it were welded.

Yes sir, it's going to be interesting to see what happens with this Browning/Savage/Que thing in the coming months. It's my guess that Que will com up with a new name and that Browning will have a tough time protecting BOSS. I venture that opinion in light of the Shapel patent applied for on June 7, 1954 and granted June 18, 1957. It seems one Alfred F. Shapel of Boise, Idaho, came up with a gizzy that's virtually identical in concept to the Browning system. I applying for his patent, Mr. Shapel describes his "Rifle Control Tube" as a "...device for dampening the vibrations of a rifle barrel and for eliminating o reducing the recoil of the rifle."

In the meantime, I'm wondering if some other company isn't going to experiment further with harmonic modulation, but without the vented chamber. I cannot believe that moving an unvented steel tube -- which could be the same outside diameter as the barrel and thus more aesthetically pleasing -- in the same manner along a threaded shank, would not be as effective in changing the harmonics as the vented systems of Browning and Que.

In fact, I predict that within a year we'll see someone introduce just such a system. It is just too simple and obvious a spinoff of what's already out there not to be tried. And there is a lot to be said for non-braked guns, especially in the lighter game and varmint calibers, where recoil is simply not a problem.
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Title Annotation:rifle muzzle brakes
Author:Sundra, Jon R.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Sep 1, 1994
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