By Jeff Gurwitch
October 27, 2015
Last updated on 10/28/15.
Title Photo: Left: Kynshot buffers 7.62 top, 5.56 bottom. Right: Two Enidine 5.56 buffers.
As most shooting enthusiasts know, the internet is a great source for information for just about everything firearms and shooting-related. Looking for the best holster for 3-Gun, or how to change a part out on your favorite pistol? Chances are, you will find numerous videos, blog post and articles covering whatever topic you’re looking for.
The only time I find the internet to be a poor choice for information is if you’re looking into something you know nothing about for the first time, when you’re at the beginning of your research journey. A perfect example of this: Pretend you know nothing about M1911 pistols. With a quick search, you can find some videos by “experts” who say using a M1911 will get you killed. The problem with this is that it’s opinion based, not data based. Fact is, with regard to the M1911 pistol, there’s plenty of data from people who’ve used it beyond the flat range, i.e., in real life, that confirms it’s a great pistol for defensive use.
However, because of the nature of the internet, a couple of opinion-based postings from users who don’t like the pistol or had a bad experience with it can get recycled or reposted around the internet on different forums numerous times. So, there’s this internet lore being built up that the M1911A1 is a poor choice for a defensive pistol. This brings me to the subject of this piece, and to one accessory that I think has suffered from a bad rap of internet lore–and that’s hydraulic buffers for the AR-15 carbine/SBR (Short Barreled Rifle).
Hydraulic Recoil Buffers: My Premier Choice
I’ve been using hydraulic recoil buffers on my AR’s since 2007. What do they do? They were developed to slow down the full-auto rate of fire (ROF) on the M16/M4/M4A1 rifle/carbines, which they do a pretty well. The reason I use them on my civilian rifles is that I feel they cut down some of the felt recoil during semi-auto fire. Now, I have not measured this effect (true recoil reduction) with any sort of precision device, but I can definitely tell the difference between the felt recoil of an AR with a hydraulic buffer, and say, one with a H2.
Hydraulic buffers. Top: KynSHOT. Bottom: Enidine. Both do a very good job at slowing down full-auto cyclic rate of fire (ROF) on a M4. How they work; When the bolt carrier retracts from firing, it hits the strike plate of the buffer, the strike plate collapses into the buffer, slightly cushioning the blow of the bolt carrier before the buffer itself starts to travel back in the buffer tube. This slight cushioning slows down the rate the bolt carrier slams back, then forward in the rifle, equaling a slight reduction in the full-auto rate of fire.
Why use one?
“5.56mm NATO/.223 Rem. doesn’t have much kick to begin with, so why bother with the small amount of recoil?” That’s what a lot of shooters will say regarding the lack of signigicant recoil from an AR. Well, if the AR’s recoil didn’t affect shooters ability to settle the gun between shots, then compensators (which are super-popular especially with 3 gun competition) wouldn’t be needed at all, either.
Fact is, while there’s not that much recoil with the AR, there’s still some, and if there’s an accessory that helps settle the rifle faster and translates to faster follow-on shots on target, why not use it? Whether its competition or self-defense/tactical shooting, what shooter wouldn’t want to be able to shoot faster, and still be just as accurate?
That is why I use both compensators AND hydraulic buffers on all my competition rifles. If it can help me shoot better, why not use it.
Hydraulic buffers will fail. I saw it on the internet!
I first started using hydraulic buffers in my rifles around 2007. It was during this same time, when I was researching hydraulic buffers for the first time to see if they were something useful, that I came across a picture of an Enidine hydraulic buffer that was damaged. The common opinion of most shooters on the internet at the time, and you will still find this in a lot of places, is that because of this one picture (and yes, there were and are some valid reports from other shooters that had issues), that hydraulic buffers are junk.
Now, here is where the internet lore comes into play. Fast forward now to 2015. If you search broken hydraulic buffers, the same picture from 2007 comes up. And, every time I see the topic of hydraulic buffers come up in popular shooting forums, the same picture is usually referenced supporting the opinion that they’re junk. Aside from that one picture, and the picture I am adding to this piece (scroll down), I cannot find anymore pictures of broken hydraulic buffers, nor a lot of recent first-hand testimony from shooters that they’ve had issues.
Photo of broken Enidine Recoil Buffer that’s been floating around the internet since 2007, at least. Almost every time the subject of Hydraulic buffers comes up in gun forums, this same picture always seems to surface as proof of their unreliability. Photo courtesy of M4Carbine.net.
Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I know from experience testing products here on DR (DefenseReview) that mechanical stuff can fail. I’m sure that when Enidine buffers first came onto the market, some shooters had issues with them. But, just like the AR-15/M16 Rifle and more recent/”modern” HK416 rifle, they’ve (hydraulic buffers) evolved since their first creation. Remember when piston AR’s first hit the scene in a big way, everyone was talking about vertical shot stringing caused by the piston going back and forth, making the barrel go up and down.
I’ve never seen vertical stringing from shooting a piston gun full-auto, (being active duty military, I got to try out HK416 when it first got issued). Perhaps the very first prototype HK416’s may have had vertical stringing issues, but I’ve certainly never seen it. And furthermore, as an Adams Arms (AA) Shooting Team member, I’ve never seen it with my Adams Arms piston rifles. My point is, the HK416 has proven to be a great rifle, and has become the top choice for some premier tactical units, but it too (and piston rifles in general) has suffered from some internet lore.
Back to hydraulic buffers. I own two Enidine hydraulic buffers, and up until about four months ago, they both worked great. Both have at least 30,000rds on them a piece. Compared to other parts on my AR’s, both have out-lasted some barrels on my guns. Now, I say up to about four months ago because, as fate would have it, as I decided to write this article, one finally went out on me during a rifle match. It sprung an oil leak. It didn’t jam up my rifle, though. I noticed it after the match, when I saw all the excessive oil coming out of my buffer tube into my lower receiver.
30,000 rounds through it over eight (8) years. Not bad. As I’ve said, I’ve worn through AR barrels in way less time, and seen plenty an AR bolt break a lug around 10,000 rounds in. So, as far as durability goes, I think that’s (30,000 rounds) pretty good. Speaking of pictures, now that I’ve included the picture of my broken Enidine in this article, it’s now one of only two pictures of broken hydraulic buffers.
As luck would have it, as I was writing this piece, one of my Enidine buffers finally broke. At 8 years old and over 30,000rds, I find this durability benchmark very acceptable. And, now that I’ve posted this picture here, it’ll now be one of only two photos on the internet that I can find of a broken hydraulic buffer!
Unfortunately, if you’re wanting to purchase an Enidine Recoil Buffer, you cannot. They’re now an ITAR-controlled item, and are sold only sold to military personnel. Luckily for me and anyone else interested in trying out a hydraulic buffer, two different companies have stepped in to fill the void. The first is a hydraulic buffer called KynSHOT Recoil Damper produced by KYNTEC Corp, and a second one made by Crosshair.
Currently, I have both some Crosshair and KynSHOT 5.56 buffers. Out of the two, so far, it’s Kynshot for the win. I’ve been testing them both over the past year. Within the first two months, and less than 2,000 rounds in, the Crosshair buffer failed on me. The buffer strike pad detached from the rest of the body. That was almost a year ago. Since then, Crosshair has made some changes, and I received the newer version about three months ago. Due to my current deployment, I haven’t been able to test it. However, as soon as I am able you’ll see it here on DR!
Second generation Crosshair Hydraulic Buffer. About a year ago, I tested their first model, and it failed after 2,000rds. This newer model has been strengthened. At this time I have not had adequate time to test it. Looking at its improvements, I look forward to shooting it a lot, and hopefully will be able to give it my “good to go” approval sometime in the future here on DR.
As far as the Kynshot buffers go, I’ve been using a 5.56 carbine-length buffer tube model for over a year now, and have been putting their 7.62 (7.62mm NATO/.308 Win.) carbine buffer tube to the test since last April.
KynSHOT Recoil Damper Hydraulic Buffers
So far, I’m totally pleased with the performance and durability of both the 5.56 and 7.62 KynSHOT Recoil Dampers. As of this writing, I have somewhere over 3,000 rounds through the 5.56 buffer. While not a super-high round count, that doesn’t include rounds put through it by shooters I’ve loaned it to over a two-month period. So, my guess is that it has just over 5,000 rounds through it in a little over a year I’ve been running it. Performance-wise, I can’t tell it from the Enidine (which I consider the standard). The Kynshot slows down the full-auto ROF, making it more controllable to hold on target, and reduces felt recoil during semi-auto fire–again aiding in settling the gun faster, which equals being able to shoot follow-up shots faster.
I currently have around 1,500 rounds of M118 match-grade 7.62 ammo through the 7.62 KynSHOT Recoil Damper on my Adams Arms SF 308 7.62 AR semi-auto-only battle rifle. Like the 5.56 buffer, I can definitely tell the difference between the felt recoil of the stock buffer and Kynshot hydraulic buffer. Currently, my Adams Arms 7.62 is set up for tactical shooting (no compensator a flash hider, and most recently a Surefire 7.62 War Comp.). So, being able to take some of the edge off the recoil with the hydraulic buffer is really appreciated.
7.62 and 5.56 Kynshot Hydraulic buffers. I’ve used the 5.56 version for over a year now. If you are looking to try a Hydraulic buffer in your AR, this one has proven to be the one I trust and recommend. While not a super-high round count so far at 1,500rds, the 7.62 version is holding up. If it’s anything like its little brother the 5.56 version, I think it will prove very reliable.
The Wrap Up
Is using a hydraulic recoil buffer for everyone? I would say no. Is it adding extra moving parts to your AR that can fail? I’d have to say “yes”. Anything with moving parts in your rifle is going to wear out over time and under hard use. Just like bolts, gas tubes, ejectors, extractors and other parts in your rifle, hydraulic buffers have a finite lifespan, so they, too, will eventually wear out, over time. After taking eight years to finally wear one out, I personally feel that the benefits of using one far outweigh the fear of some premature failure. The AR is a great rifle, but if I you can get it to perform even better in either a tactical or competition environment by adding a reliable and durable aftermarket component, I say go for it.
We’re not still using the same sighting system (carry handle iron sights) for the AR from the last big change with the M4A1 in the late 1990’s, are we? Red dot sight combat optics and tactical scopes are the standard now, even though they can break, become obstructed, or shut off (requiring you to change batteries). So, why can’t buffer technology move forward as a performance enhancer, as well? H2/H3 heavy buffers work great, but like the aforementioned carry handle iron sights, they represent 1990’s technology. Want to increase the performance of your AR? There are many ways; different compensators, scopes, grips, stocks and new ways to buffer the rifle. Hydraulic buffers aren’t the only way to go beyond a traditional buffer, but they’re one with which I’ve had success, and I’d recommend them to anyone looking to improve their ability to put rounds on target.
About the Author (Jeff Gurwitch):
– Currently serving with U.S. Army Special Forces
– Competitive shooter: USPSA, IDPA, and 3-Gun.
Company Contact Info:
Kyntec (KynSHOT Recoil Dampers)
2100 Old Union Road
Buffalo, NY 14227
Email: [email protected]
23435 Industrial Park Dr.
Farmington Hills, MI 48335
General Questions: [email protected]
Sales/Distribution Questions: [email protected]
Technical Questions: [email protected]
ITT Enidine Inc.
7 Centre Drive
Orchard Park, NY 14127
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All photo and video content contained in this article, except for the M4Carbine.net photo discussed in this article, was shot by Jeff Gurwitch and DefenseReview.com, and is copyrighted. Jeff Gurwitch DefenseReview.com owns the copyright on all photo and video content.
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