I was asked to evaluate the new edition of the Dragon’s Head Brake designed by Black Hole and being marketed by Tactical Ammunition. As you know BHW and TA worked together n the Group Buy on the new 6X6.8 recently. It is nicely made and you can look it over thanks to the wonders of digital photography and the Internet. Notice the nice markings that are in place. The brake was designed and marketed initially by Black Hole and is now available from Tactical Ammunition.
I grabbed some ammunition of the shelf that was handy and had been around for a bit of time. No attempt was made to grab “The Load” for either rifle. I used some 55 grain 556 IMI ball that had been on the shelf for about five years and 50 grain Speer 223 hand loads. These were shot in an OLY Ultra Match HB 20" .
I also shot some 87 grain Hornady HPBTM’s over a stout charge of 748 in a 6X45 custom 17 1/2" fluted light weight.
Here is the 6X45 that I shot it on. It is my WIFES personal AR with a Shilen BR blank made up for her by our 'smith in Oklahoma. This one is a shooter and has won more than it's share of Gold over the years. I get to use it for short range carbine 3 Gun Matches and it is a fun one. It will also reach out past 300 when called upon should the need arise.
Specs for the Dragon's head were: Weight 5.2 OZ, Length 2.472. Width 0.993. This one has standard barrel threading and is 1/2-28. Flat area for tightening is 7/8". The use of a jam nut or peal washer is advised so you can time it to get the engraving oriented if you are into aesthetics. Bigger versions for the larger thread pattern and caliber sizes are available.
I shot each load without a brake for group from the bench. I then put the brake on and tried the same loads. All my shooting was done at at 100 yards. The 223 handloads were for another rifle and I just grabbed it off the shelf as I mentioned earlier. AFAIK
I had never shot it in this particular AR. It was loaded in 1994 for a bolt gun I rebarreled so I was not concerned about tiny this time.
Without a brake the rifle shot the Speers into about 1 1/2 inches. Kind of scattered about. The DH gave groups equivalent but more of a rounded look. More consistent group to group.
The IMI ball is hot stuff and this rifle has never liked it. I found groupings in the 1 1/2" range without the brake and when I had the DH in place once again the groups were more rounded and did improve about 1/4". I use this ammunition for barrel break in and for a base bras for 223/556 wildcats.
On the 6X45 the rounds shot into a tad less than a minute without a brake. About what I expected with just shooting off a bipod setting at a picnic table given the history of this rifles performance over the years. With the brake the groups were a tad bigger, maybe 1/8-1/4" and were certainly usable.
I answered my concern as to how DH would effect the accuracy and I am satisfied that it is not detrimental and may well be a help in certain loads. I have had some brakes that really messed things up in the down range grouping department and some that made a huge difference in POI. Since neither happened on these two rifles I was pleased.
Subjectively the DHB was interesting and not having access to a ballistics lab I can only give you my impressions hence “subjective” vs. “objective” though I try to be objectively subjective when I look at equipment.
The first thing I noticed was that the sound of the rifle went from a "crack to a "whomp". Lower pitched and it seemed longer in length. Just something I noticed and in reality does nothing. It was defiantly quieter than some I have shot and some I have shot along side of by a huge margin.
Recoil from the bench was more straight back. I found my cheek weld less disturbed with the brake as compared to a straight barrel. I was leaning into the legs and it seemed to stay on point better with the DH. I found this more noticeable in the 6X45 more than likely as a factor of the heavier bullet moving out.
I shot all three load combinations with and without the DH from off hand. Now I started seeing something. Recoil was definitely more into the shoulder. The recoil impulse was softened slightly and appeared to be of slightly different duration with the DH shots seeming to hit with more of a push as opposed to a shove on the shoulder in the 556. Muzzle rise was about 10% less with the 556 that is much heavier than the 6X45 rig.
On the 6X45 I found the recoil was subjectively less with the DH in place. Watching targets through the scope on the shot, 100 yards distance, I found that the rifle tracked a significantly more straight back into my shoulder and that muzzle rise was lessened by approximately 15%. I was able to maintain view of the target in the scope with the brake whereas without I had to bring the gun down and hunt for my target. Shot to shot time was decreased by about 20% at a guess. This will pay dividends in a match or if the rifle were put to use in a more serious venue.
Overall I think the DH Brake would be a good addition to a fellow that is into 3 Gun who must double tap his targets for scoring purposes as fast as he can. The straight line recoil is the big factor here. I know that shooting a Minor caliber rifle in IPSC takes the extra rounds and time is places in that game.
I think that lack of accuracy degradation is a plus and if a fellow already has a threaded muzzle this is definitely an upgrade form the bird cage that so many barrels are furnished with. Cheap is as cheap does and I would spend the coin to get rid of the original equipment once I had shot one of these.
There are more fellows that will be shooting this but wanted you to hear it as soon as I could get it out. Not the most involved evaluation that I could do but the desert heat is wearing on me this year and since I shoot alone most of the time I am limited in some aspects of the evaluation process.