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Ports vs. compensators

8145 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  38 Super Combat Commander
Would one of you kind gentlemen explain the difference to me between ports and compensators?

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In most basic terms, porting refers to "holes" that are machined into the top of the barrel to allow gases to vent upwards.

Compensators are external devices fitted to the muzzle to accomplish the same thing.
Just to elaborate, modern compensators have expansion chambers which allow the gases to expand before their pressure is redirected out the various ports.

Glock "C" models, Magnaporting, Hybrid barrels, all represent different variations on barrel porting -- holes, slots, or other openings cut directly into the barrel without the benefit of added chambers to affect gas flow.

In general, with high pressure rounds like the .38 Super and derivatives, compensators are much more effective than straight out porting because of the gas volume available. There's a lot of new IPSC guns out with both Hybrid porting and multiport comps. I'm curious to see if they are cool or not. Comps on 1911's also soften recoil because of the weight added to the barrel.
Is one more appropriate for certain applications than the other? For instance in which case would you use one versus the other? Is porting better because it doesn't lengthen the barrel for carry, and are compensators better for intermittent use because you can remove them? I've heard the rationale behind no ports for carry and muzzle flash, but I've also seen here on this forum you talking about carrying ported once in awhile.


As Hilton described very well above, a comp works well with most high velocity/high pressure rounds. The comp allows the gas to expand in the comp and is directed accordingly. A non-comp barrel that has slots in it will not realize the same effect, as there is no room for the gas to expand and is simply directed out of the barrel with significantly less effectiveness. Not to say that ported barrels don't help - they do - but a compensator fine tunes the expanding gases for maximum recoil reduction.

As for carry, I personally don't recommend ported barrels for carry, mainly due to the chance that you may have to fire your gun from a retention/protection stance with the gun tucked in close to your abdomen. I wouldn't imagine that you would like the feel of those escaping gases on your belly button. You may also need to fire your weapon from a less than ideal position or grip, and there is a chance that the gases and lead/copper bullet residue will be directed towards your face and eyes.

Comp'd guns wouldn't be much better in this regard either, plus the added length doesn't help with concealed carry.

Comps and ports are for game guns only IMHO.
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Here is an example of a compensator on a short slide..makes the gun same length as 5-inch gun..

EGW carry comp

Compensator and porting work very well...downside is guns need to be tuned a little more for reliability, they throw things out of the ports and they are expensive. They also tend to be loud and bleed velocity off. Pluses are they don't recoil as much, easier for those with arthritis or tendinitis, follow up shots are easier and quicker. I don't find muzzle flash that much of a problem as it tends to flash about 2 feet above the gun and you don't see it. Or at least with my loads I don't.

Would I build one up for carry?? YUP..Would I train differently with it? YUP. anyway I think they are cool, they are not for everyone and that is fine.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: eerw on 2001-10-27 02:02 ]</font>
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The Hybrid-Comp "porting" is very effective and noticeably reduces muzzle rise. Well designed compensators do so as well. Additionally, there is a slight reduction of felt recoil with a compensator. Part of it is due to the fact that the pistol has an extra hunk of metal on its snoot...more weight equals less recoil. However, I do think that the gases impacting the face plate and, if present, the baffles of the compensator actually pulls the pistol forward slightly, counteracting a portion of the recoil. This additional recoil reduction isn't present with ports.

As others have pointed out, a defensive pistol might need to be fired from a close-in retention position. It is easy to injure oneself when so doing with a ported or comped pistol. They are not the best choice for defensive use.

With a system like Mag-na-port you can have the slide and barrel ported and then have another barrel for it that is not ported.

My g-23 is set up this way and the only thing that I would do different is have one barrel that had conventional rifling for the times when shooting lead. Mike
My friend has a Glock with factory porting and it always seems to fog up my shooting glasses when I fire it.
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