The U.S. Army is looking for a much more capable muzzle device for the Next Generation Squad Weapon, or NGSW. The device they have in mind: “the smuzzle.”
The smuzzle is a hybrid flash-hiding muzzle brake that suppresses sound at the shooter’s ear, with a name to match. It’s designed for sustained full-auto use to reduce felt recoil, improve muzzle control, and cut noise at the shooter’s ear.
According to the team developing the smuzzle, the design is based on a scaled-down brake originally designed for 155mm howitzers.
“Jumping between calibers is nothing,” Daniel Cler, an engineer with the Army’s Armaments Center at the Combat Capabilities Development Command, told the Army Times. “We do it all the time. A lot of times we develop large caliber muzzle devices. The principles are pretty much identical.”
The Army owns the patents relating to the smuzzle, but if the device is successful in the field, they may license the design in part or in whole for commercial manufacture and sale.
The Army CCDC Armaments Center isn’t exactly fit to manufacture and produce smuzzles in numbers to supply the entire NGSW program so the plan is to test and develop smuzzle designs until they have a working blueprint to pass along to military suppliers on the commercial market.
The company or companies would then be free to sell smuzzles to American hunters and shooters looking to try the new device for themselves. And so far, this looks like something a lot of shooters will be interested in.
Currently the smuzzle is capable of maintaining a belt-fed sustained rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute. Initial performance reduces sound pressure levels to the shooter’s ear by half, according to the Army, but the performance seems to change a bit as the smuzzle gets red-hot.
Once the smuzzle gets into red-hot “forbidden Popsicle” territory, gasses escaping the device can combust in front of the muzzle, but the device continues to provide primary suppression and muzzle control. Outside of sustained machine gun use these are a lot less likely to get so hot they glow, so that’s probably not as important as the smuzzle’s cooler performance.
Another thing that makes the smuzzle’s performance stand out is its weight. According to the CCDC Armaments Center, the smuzzle only weighs 8 ounces. They are developing larger, heavier versions, but for heavier weapon systems.
A smuzzle that only weighs a half pound rated for full-power rifle rounds would be a huge hit for all kinds of shooters. And it reportedly only adds three inches to the overall barrel length compared to a conventional muzzle device.
The smuzzle doesn’t trap gas the same way a suppressor does. This means it’s not as efficient as a suppressor from an overall noise level, but it’s really only meant to help deflect noise away from the shooter. And it can run dirty, since it doesn’t build up fouling in the same way.
The smuzzle isn’t a perfect solution, explains the CCDC Armaments Center. It’s not a dedicated suppressor, it’s not a dedicated flash hider and it’s not a dedicated muzzle brake–but it does a little of all three and that’s the point. It doesn’t sacrifice any functions in order to be the best at one.
The smuzzle is still in its prototype stage, and hasn’t even finished initial testing, but some prototypes have been tested to 10,000 rounds without failures or decreases in performance. Fingers crossed, this lightweight, compact design will make it all the way.