When it comes to building or customizing an AR-15, enthusiasts know that every component plays a critical role in performance, reliability, and comfort. Among these components, buffer tubes (also known as receiver extensions) are often overlooked but play a crucial role in the overall function and customization of the firearm. To the uninitiated, buffer tubes may seem like simple metal cylinders, but there's a wide array of options available that can significantly affect your shooting experience.

1. Mil-Spec Buffer Tube

What is a Mil-Spec Buffer Tube?

The Mil-Spec (or Military Specification) buffer tube is the standard for most AR-15 builds, reflecting the dimensions and materials used in military-grade rifles. The precise specifications ensure compatibility with a wide variety of Mil-Spec aftermarket stocks and accessories.

Features and Benefits:

- Material Quality: Typically made from 7075-T6 aluminum, known for its superior strength and lightweight characteristics.

- Dimensions: The Mil-Spec buffer tube has a 1.14-inch outer diameter, which is crucial when selecting compatible stocks.

- Versatility: Given its standardization, Mil-Spec buffer tubes offer broad compatibility with an array of aftermarket parts, making customization easier.

- Durability: Mil-Spec tubes often boast anodized finishes, enhancing corrosion resistance and overall durability.


Mil-Spec buffer tubes are ideal for those looking to build an AR-15 with a wide range of compatible options. Their resilience makes them suitable for tactical, professional, and sports shooting applications.

2. Commercial Buffer Tube

What is a Commercial Buffer Tube?

Commercial buffer tubes are designed with slightly different specifications compared to Mil-Spec tubes. These buffer tubes are generally more affordable and are often found on budget builds or complete rifles aimed at the general consumer market.

Features and Benefits:

- Material Quality: Often manufactured from 6061-T6 aluminum, which is still durable but not as robust as 7075-T6.

- Dimensions: The Commercial buffer tube generally has a 1.17-inch outer diameter, making it incompatible with Mil-Spec stocks.

- Cost-Effectiveness: Commercial buffer tubes often come at a lower price point, making them appealing for budget builds.

- Slightly Wider Profile: Some choose commercial buffer tubes for their slightly thicker walls and added robustness in consumer-grade products.


Commercial buffer tubes are frequently employed in budget builds and for casual shooters who may not require the extra durability provided by Mil-Spec materials. While not suitable for heavy-duty use, they serve well in recreational and entry-level applications.

3. A5 Buffer Tube

What is an A5 Buffer Tube?

The A5 buffer tube is a specialized receiver extension often used for specific high-performance builds. Developed by VLTOR, the A5 system offers a unique combination of Mil-Spec-styled design with an extended length.

Features and Benefits:

- Extended Length: The A5 buffer tube is longer than standard Mil-Spec and commercial tubes, facilitating the use of specialized A5 buffer and spring systems.

- Improved Balance: Many shooters find that the A5 system offers a more balanced recoil impulse and smoother operation.

- Increased Durability: Often crafted from high-grade materials and featuring enhanced finishes, A5 tubes are built to last.

- Enhanced Performance: The design allows for a wider tuning range for the buffer system, enabling fine-tuning and improved performance.


The A5 buffer tube is often preferred in high-performance builds where smooth shooting and reduced recoil are priorities. This makes it excellent for competitive shooting, tactical applications, and any build where peak performance is essential.

4. Pistol Buffer Tube

What is a Pistol Buffer Tube?

Pistol buffer tubes are specifically designed for AR-style pistols, which are shorter, wider, and lack compatibility with traditional stocks. These tubes accommodate the compact design and unique recoil characteristics of AR pistols.

Features and Benefits:

- Compact Design: Pistol buffer tubes are generally shorter, making them ideal for creating compact and maneuverable AR-15 pistols.

- Material Options: Available in similar materials to Mil-Spec and Commercial tubes, providing strength and durability.

- Compatibility with Arm Braces: Many pistol buffer tubes are designed to work seamlessly with popular pistol stabilizing braces, offering enhanced control without being classified as a stock.

- Versatile Operation: Provides the necessary buffer functionality in a shorter profile, maintaining reliable performance in AR pistols.


Pistol buffer tubes are essential for AR pistol builds, providing the necessary buffer system while maintaining compliance with firearm laws. They are ideal for personal defense, close-quarters shooting, and tactical applications where compact size is a priority.

5. Fixed Stock Buffer Tube

What is a Fixed Stock Buffer Tube?

Fixed stock buffer tubes are designed for use with non-collapsible, fixed stocks, reminiscent of the classic M16 and other traditional rifles. These buffer tubes are a staple in builds where simplicity, reliability, and tradition take precedence.

Features and Benefits:

- Simplified Design: A straightforward, robust design eliminates moving parts, contributing to reliability and stability.

- Material and Construction: Typically crafted from high-quality aluminum, offering excellent strength and longevity.

- Enhanced Stability: Fixed stocks and their corresponding buffer tubes provide a solid, stable platform for precision shooting.

- Compatibility: Designed to work with standard A2 fixed stocks and similar designs, ensuring a secure fit and consistent performance.


Fixed stock buffer tubes are ideal for precision shooters, traditionalists, and builds aimed at maximum stability and reliability. They are frequently used in long-range competition shooting, marksmanship training, and rifles where a consistent cheek weld and solid contact are crucial.

Shop Tactical Link Today

In the world of AR-15 customization, the choice of a buffer tube is far more critical than many realize. Each type of buffer tube brings unique specifications and benefits to the table, influencing the firearm's handling, recoil management, and overall performance. Whether you're assembling a high-performance competition rifle, a tactical build, or a budget-friendly option, understanding the key differences between Mil-Spec, Commercial, A5, Pistol, and Fixed Stock buffer tubes will guide you in making the best decision for your specific needs.

At Tactical Link, we are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality AR tactical parts and accessories. From buffer tubes to mags, slings, sling mounts, weapon connectors, and more, we source products from the best manufacturers to ensure unparalleled durability and performance. Our fast order processing and meticulous packing times deliver the best customer satisfaction to our clients in the industry.

In today's market, where everyone seems to be racing to the bottom by offering the cheapest quality rifle parts, we strive to provide only the best parts at the most competitive prices. Explore our extensive range of AR-style rifle parts and accessories, designed to meet the needs of even the most discerning shooter.