Mil Spec Buffer Tube Vs Commercial Buffer Tube
Mil Spec Buffer Tube Vs Commercial Buffer Tube

Do you want to upgrade your AR-15 stock? It is essential to understand the exclusive differences between mil spec buffer tube and commercial buffer tube. These two have some similar standards.

Remember, all tubes look similar in terms of function and design. No doubt, these have some options and variances for rifle builders. The receiver extension or buffer tube is useful for two different purposes:

  • It permits users to attach a stock to the rifle.
  • It encapsulates the buffer spring and buffer, allowing the carrier bolt to ride forth and back to expel the brass and load another round.

Remember, two differences in the tube are the commercial spec and mil-spec tube sizes. These have a different diameter. See the main differences between these two categories:

Overview of Mil-Spec

Military specifications (mil-spec) are standard set by GAO (General Accountability Office) to define standardized measurements and requirements of equipment utilized by the military. These standards are established to certify reliability, commonality, and interoperability for every purchased part.

Remember, the main difference is the diameter of an area where stocks slide on a tube. The buffer tube (mil-spec) is almost two-hundredths of one inch small as compared to commercial. Buttstocks design for a standard may not be compatible with others. There are several differences, such as the rear angle of the tub and metal type. These properties may vary based on the manufacturer.

Difference in Size

Mil-spec and commercial buffer tubes have different sizes. A 7075-T6 alloy is used to design a firearm tube that offers 16-16 and 1-2 UN thread rolls. Commercial additions were designed to decrease the overall cost of the owner of a firearm. The extension may be manufactured from extruded tubes.

The tube comes with a special welded-on cap made from metal. All these threads are compatible with mil-spec 16-16 and 1-3 thread. These may be longer and more slanted. Both tubes (mil-spec and buffer) work really well on AR-15 receivers. However, manufacturing procedures can make threads of commercial tubes weak as compared to other mil-spec tubes.

Commercial-spec buttstock tubes may have buttstock around to mount on the rifle and have a 1.168” diameter. Remember, the Mil-spec is small and has a 1.148” diameter. A buttstock may not work for every tube.

Overview of Commercial-Spec

For commercial buffer tubes, the manufacturers start with one tube that complements the final diameter of the tube. The threads will be cut in the front end with one lathe similar to other threaded pipes. Moreover, the end caps of commercial tubes are welded on and are made from two different material pieces. The outside diameter of tubes can be 1.168”.

Some famous brands for commercial buffer tubes are YHM, Rock River Arms, DPMS, Bushmaster, etc. Manufactures may bring variations in the parts of rifles; therefore, it is essential to carefully check the diameter and confirm the shape of the back end before replacing any buffer tube. A tube should perfectly fit your stock.

Reasons Behind Different Standards

The price of a buffer is an essential element to change its standards. The buffer tubes (mil-spec) are available at an affordable price. You may find some units at an affordable price. Initially, M4 was introduced as a military weapon. At this time, there was only one variety of tubes.

As the M4-pattern rifles moved to civilians, the manufacturing companies realized that these are expensive. They started to offer cheaper versions under the category of commercial buffer tubes. You may find them at different costs and diameter. It is essential to know the exact measurements for your buffer tube to avoid possible issues in its fitting.

FAQ Of Mil Spec Buffer Tube Vs Commercial

Which Buffer Tube Should I Buy? Is One Better or Worse?

If you want to purchase a buffer tube, you have to find out your needs. Several stocks are available in both commercial and mil-spec variants. It will be great to measure with the use of a micrometer. Moreover, measure the diameter of the tube, such as 1.146” for mil-spec and 1.17” for a commercial tube.

It is difficult to put one in the category of the best buffer tubes. Their performance and strength may vary. If you can afford, make sure to buy a mil-spec buffer tube. Remember, it may cost more, but there are several options. You can find several aftermarket stock upgrades.

Mil-spec tubes are widely compatible and produced. If a gunsmith, tactical rifle company, or retailer produces parts of AR-15, they prefer to make these parts in the configuration of mil-spec. As a result, sellers get an opportunity to offer their accessories and products to law enforcement agencies.

Can a commercial tube work with a mil-spec buttstock and lower?

No. There is a size difference, such as 0.024” between a commercial tube and a mil-spec tube. There are no parts or adapters that may be used for retro-fitting to others. A commercial buttstock may feel loose and wobbly on a buffer tube mil-spec. You should not force a mil-spec buttstock on a commercial tube.

The threads on mil-spec and commercial tubes are differently produced. There are some variations in thread measurement and height. It means a commercial tube may not fit a mil-spec 7075 T6 forged low receiver. A mil-spec tube is not compatible with a commercial lower, such as T6 6061 billet.

Why do Commercial Buffer Tubes Exist?

They exist for civilians because mil-spec buffer tubes are expensive. The commercial tubes are cheap because of their production, material, and design. Official mil-spec buffer tubes are forged from T6 7075 aluminum. Remember, threads on the tube are rolled in the metal. It produces strong and tall threads.

Commercial buffer tubes may extrude from 6061 T6 aluminum billet. For this process, the threads on a buffer tube may be cut in the metal.

Final Verdict

Mil-spec buffer tubes are widely compatible and produced. These are capable and stronger than commercial tubes. If torqued suitably to spec and protected with Loctite, the tube may perform correctly in different conditions.

Remember, mil-spec tubes are standard across the market of AR-15. This standard is becoming more accepted as the new manufacturers and parts are introduced in the market.   

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