It is undeniable that maintaining the quality and performance of your AR-15 rifle means you should invest in a top-notch AR-15 buffer. However, not all buffers are created equal. You may need to conduct plenty of research to be able to find the best buffer weight for your rifle.
How to Choose the Right Buffer?
Getting a good buffer is important, especially if you want to ensure a smooth operation with your rifle. However, it is worth remembering that the buffer is only part of the recoil management system. The AR-15 gas system varies from rifle to rifle and many other parts need to be taken into consideration together to get the perfect buffer.
The AR system needs the right amount of gas to cycle perfectly. Maintaining a slight over-gassed system can make sure the gun cycles reliably even under extreme conditions but it will also mean increased in felt recoil and excessive wear on internal parts. Too little gas and your AR will not cycle properly which will lead to failure to extract, feed, or bolt that will not lock back on the last round.
Factory AR-15 rifles usually come with a slightly larger gas port to ensure there is sufficient gas to cycle the gun. As mentioned above, being a little over-gassed helps in terms of reliability but that is not always the best solution. This is especially true if you plan on taking your rifle for recreational use or for competitive shooting where one may favor a lighter recoil and smoother operating system. With that being said, upgrading to an H or H2 buffer on your factory stock will help reduce felt recoil, muzzle movement, and internal parts wear dramatically.
In any case, there are a few money-saving tips before you decide on getting a new buffer:
If your existing buffer isn’t giving you any problems such as excessive recoil, then you can stick with the same buffer weight.
Test out shooting with different buffer weights to determine if you will need a heavier or lighter buffer.
The Buffer Weights
Most buffers look the same, but they weigh differently. Getting the right buffer weight will help you reduce your AR-15’s recoil for a much more enjoyable experience. However, you also need to make sure that you maintain your AR-15’s buffer to ensure the bolt carrier is able to reload properly. Anyway, here are some of the most common buffer springs on the market.
Carbine Buffer – This buffer comes with three steel weights and usually come up with a total of 3.0 oz. in weight.
Heavy (H) Buffer – A heavy buffer boasts a combination of tungsten and two steel weights to make a total of approximately 3.8 oz.
H2 Buffer – This feathers the same design as the H buffer but weights more at around 4.6 oz. on average.
H3 Buffer – Pretty much the same as H and H2 buffer but the H3 comes with three tungsten weights and often carries a weight of approximately 5.4 oz. This is also one of the heaviest types of buffer available.
Rifle Buffer – A rifle buffer comes with five steel weights and a steel spacer to make a total of 5.0 oz. This is the most commonly chosen buffer used in a rifle-length buffer tube.
The Buffer Materials
As discussed earlier, no two AR-145 buffers are identical, and as such, the materials used in their construction will vary as well. In any case, there are the most common materials used to create AR-15 buffers that you need to know:
Aluminum – This is the lightest option available. A single aluminum buffer weight holds a weight of approximately 0.22 oz on average.
Steel – With a weight of about 0.62 oz., steel buffers have proven to be a durable option that delivers exceptional value for many AR-15 owners.
Tungsten – Tungsten buffer weights are the heaviest at around 1.5 oz. on average.
Steel and tungsten buffer weights are the most frequently used materials in AR-15 buffers today as they’re both heavy and dense.
Best AR-15 Buffers
Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, here are the top buffers you can get for your AR-15.
1. Rock River Arms AR-15 Carbine Buffer
The Rock River Arms AR-15 Carbine Buffer is a no-frills, good piece of equipment that you can get for your standard AR-15 rifle. This is the type of buffer that you simply need to put into your rifle and not think about it anymore.
With a standard carbine buffer weight and size, the Rock River Arms AR-15 Carbine Buffer fits into any carbine buffer tube that is designed for a collapsible buttstock. Aside from that, the buffer weight is even ideal to use with any rifle that comes with a carbine length or mid-length gas system.
While it isn’t a heavy buffer, it should work well with a pistol-length gas system. However, just to be safe, you should always check with your manufacturer specs to make sure you don’t need something other than a standard weight buffer. You may find that some firearms require a heavier buffer for shorter length gas systems.
As you’d expect, the Rock River Arms AR-15 Carbine Buffer features a standard polyurethane cap to help soften the blow when the buffer bottoms out in the buffer tube. Since it is made with coated aluminum and steel weights, the carbine buffer is able to hit a standard H1 buffer weight to suit plenty of rifle gas systems.
The Rock River Arms AR-15 Carbine Buffer is a no-frills, all function, an affordable buffer that lets you set it and forget about it. With a buffer as reliable as this, you won’t have to worry about hiccups from corrosion or incorrect buffer weights anymore.
- Fits any carbine buffer tube
- Standard buffer weight works with most gas systems
- Industry-standard end cap and aluminum body
- May not function reliably with some pistol-length gas system
2. D.S. Arms AR-15 Standard Weight Carbine Recoil
D.S. Arms delivers a reliable operation for the lowest price with its Standard Weight Carbine Recoil Buffer. Made with aluminum, packed with steel to meet the proper operating weight of 3 oz., this carbine buffer meets all the minimum requirements for an AR-15 rifle. It even comes with a plastic end cap to keep the buffer from knocking hard against the back of the buffer tube. With this, you can expect a nice, standard recoil impulse.
However, you need to remember that you certainly get what you pay for. The D.S. Arms AR-15 Standard Weight Carbine Recoil Buffer is the minimum viable buffer. The aluminum body isn’t brushed with any sort of finish and the plastic end cap is just slightly harder than some of the more rubbery compounds that often accompany more expensive buffers.
This does not mean the carbine recoil buffer doesn’t work as intended. You can still count on the D.S. Arms AR-15 Standard Weight Carbine Recoil Buffer to deliver reliable operation for rifles with carbine-length and mid-length gas systems all at a very wallet-friendly price.
While there are fancier buffers out there that you can get, this is a very good choice if you’re tight on money or running on a slim budget.
- Affordable price
- Meets industry standard
- Works with carbine-length and mid-length gas systems
- The aluminum body does not have brushed or smooth finish
- The dense end cap may be a bit harder than other buffers
3. Foxtrot Mike Products AR-15 FM-9 Heavy Buffer
Best 9mm AR-15 Buffer
The 9mm pistol caliber carbines often have different bolt weights and recoil forces than a standard .223/5.56mm rifle. So, if you happen to have a 9mm AR-15 rifle, the Foxtrot Mike Products AR-15 FM-9 Heavy Buffer will work well to ensure your rifle operates reliably.
As the name suggests, this buffer is definitely much heavier than a standard buffer at 6.4 ounces. This is necessary to ensure the reliable function of your rifle with good blowback-operated pistol caliber carbines. It even works to slow the bolt down to prevent and minimize any unnecessary wear and tear on your upper receiver.
Another great thing about the Foxtrot Mike Products AR-15 FM-9 Heavy Buffer is that it is slightly longer than standard AR-15 buffer. This is great as it means you won’t have to use a spacer with it in a standard carbine length buffer tube. The increase in length also works to prevent bolt catch breakage.
Lastly, the buffer is finished with a salt bath nitride melonite/QPQ coating to help reduce friction and improve corrosion and wear resistance. This way, you can expect a smoother action and longer-lasting buffer with the Foxtrot Mike Products AR-15 FM-9 Heavy Buffer installed.
Overall, the Foxtrot Mike Products AR-15 FM-9 Heavy Buffer works to improve reliability, operational control, and the lifespan of your 9mm AR-15 rifle. On top of all that, this quality heavy buffer is reasonably priced about the same as a standard weight AR-15 buffer.
- Increased weight for reliable cycling and reduced felt recoil
- Removes the need for a spacer in standard length carbine length buffer tubes
- Prevents bolt catch breakage
- salt bath nitride melonite/QPQ coating helps reduce friction and improve corrosion and wear resistance
- May not work with direct impingement 9mm AR-15 systems
4. Brownells AR-15 Heavy Carbine
Best Heavy AR-15 Buffer
If you’re on the hunt for a heavy buffer for your AR-15 configuration, the Brownells AR-15 Heavy Carbine Buffer may just be what you’re looking for.
First off, Brownells offers three different weights for their heavy buffer:
H1: 3.8 oz.
H2: 4.8 oz.
H3: 5.4 oz.
Even the H1 buffer is still designed to be slightly heavier than the absolute lightest AR-15 buffers to help smooth out the action and deliver slightly less recoil. If you have a short-barreled configuration that requires a heavier buffer for reliable operation, then the H2 buffer may be more suitable. At 4.8 oz, this is also the standard weight for U.S. military M4 carbines.
Brownells AR-15 Heavy Carbine Buffer comes in standard aluminum construction with a brushed finish and a plastic end cap to help protect your buffer tube in the unlikely event where your buffer bottoms out.
Aside from that, the Brownells AR-15 Heavy Carbine Buffer also features steel and tungsten weights to ensure you receive a precise overall weight. But one thing worth noting is that these additional weights do drive the price up a little. The heavier the buffer, the heavier the price is also.
Overall, the Brownells AR-15 Heavy Carbine Buffer offers the best value for money in terms of quality and cost. If you happen to need heavier AR-15 buffers without burning a hole through your pocket, then this may just be worth taking a second look.
- Provides smooth operation and less felt recoil
- Offers reliable operation for certain short-barreled configuration
- Standard brushed aluminum construction with a plastic end cap
- May not operate reliably with all rifles
5. DPMS Buffer Body Assembly
Best Rifle-Length AR-15 Buffer
If your rifle comes with a rifle-length buffer tube, then you’ll most certainly need a buffer that is designed for it. Fortunately, the DPMS Buffer Body Assembly meets this criterion for almost the same price as a carbine buffer.
The best part about the DPMS Buffer Body Assembly is that it comes slightly longer than a carbine length buffer to help fill out the rifle-length buffer tube. As such, you can also expect it to be slightly heavier than a standard carbine buffer. This ultimately helps to smooth out the operation and reduces your rifle’s felt recoil.
As for the rest of the aspects, it’s pretty much the same as a standard carbine buffer. Constructed with brushed aluminum, it features a softer, rubber plastic end cap to help ease the impact if your buffer happens to back the back of your buffer tube. The internal weights of the DPMS Buffer Body Assembly are made of steel for precision to ensure reliable operation.
While the DPMS Buffer Body Assembly is nothing flashy, you can certainly count on this buffer to deliver a smooth and reliable operation with any rifle-length buffer tube. However, you just need to make sure you don’t try to force it into a carbine-length buffer tube.
- Provides a smoother action with less felt recoil
- Industry-standard brushed aluminum construction with rubberized plastic end cap
- Precisely weighted for operation in rifle-length buffer tubes
- May be slightly more expensive than a carbine buffer
6. Primary Weapons AR-15 Enhanced Carbine Buffer
Best Enhanced AR-15 Buffer
If you have a suppressed rifle and need a heavier buffer to go with it, then the Primary Weapons AR-15 Enhanced Carbine Buffer may just be what you need. First off, this buffer is heavier than a standard buffer at every level:
H2: 4.4 oz.
H3: 5.1 oz.
H4: 6.8 oz
If you have a rifle that runs on a short gas system, an SBR, or a suppressed rifle, then you can count on the Primary Weapons AR-15 Enhanced Carbine Buffer to ensure reliable operation while reducing felt recoil and minimizing gas blowback. Overall, the enhanced carbine buffer helps to make your rifle more dependable and comfortable to use.
The Primary Weapons AR-15 Enhanced Carbine Buffer even features a fluted body to allow the gases to flow around the buffer more freely. This means there will be less gas being exhausted out the back of the upper receiver and into your face.
Other than that, the fluting also works to offer more room for debris to clear, rather than causing a malfunction. Sporting an FNC LIFE HD Treatment finish, the Primary Weapons AR-15 Enhanced Carbine Buffer effectively reduces friction and wear to ensure smoother action and a longer lifespan for your rifle.
Although the buffer is a bit on the pricier side, especially in the heavier weights, the Primary Weapons AR-15 Enhanced Carbine Buffer certainly offers excellent reliability and shooting comforts for rifles that require heavier buffer due to their gas system or suppressed operation.
- Slightly heavier for reliable operation with short gas systems, SBRs, or suppressed rifles
- Reduces felt recoil and gas blowback
- Fluted body makes your rifle more resilient against malfunctions
- FNC LIFE HD Treatment gives you a smoother recoil impulse and improved rifle lifespan
- May be expensive for some
- May be too heavy for some rifles that only require a standard weight buffer
7. Liberty Suppressors AR-15 Buffer 4oz Stainless Steel
Best AR-15 Buffer for Suppressed Rifles
Although the Liberty Suppressors AR-15 Buffer 4oz Stainless Steel is designed especially for use with suppressed rifles, it can also work to improve the operation of any rifle that sports a carbine-length gas system.
Firstly, the Liberty Suppressors AR-15 Buffer 4oz Stainless Steel is made of stainless steel instead of the more common material: aluminum. This means it is much more durable and corrosion-resistant compared to other standard buffers on the market.
Other than that, it even comes with a plastic end cap to resist pitting and corrosion from operating gases. This way, you can definitely expect your Liberty Suppressors AR-15 buffer to last you for many good years.
At 4 oz., the Liberty Suppressors AR-15 Buffer 4oz Stainless Steel is slightly heavier than a standard H1 buffer, yet not as heavy as an H2. This is great as it smooths out the recoil from the carbine length gas system while the added mass also works to enhance the rifle’s reliability as your bolt won’t slow down as much when it strips the next round off the magazine. This means you don’t have to worry about your rifle failing to feed or go completely into battery.
The Liberty Suppressors AR-15 Buffer 4oz Stainless Steel is an ideal hybrid weight for rifles with quick-detach suppressors as it offers a reliable operation for both suppressed and unsuppressed fire.
Lastly, the head of the Liberty Suppressors AR-15 Buffer 4oz Stainless Steel features a five faceted cut to improve gas flow around the buffer which works to minimize gas blowback and reduce the chances of your shearing off your retaining pin.
While the Liberty Suppressors AR-15 Buffer 4oz Stainless Steel does come with a premium price tag, it does offer flexible reliability for a carbine-length gas system that you can use in both suppressed and unsuppressed rifles.
- Stainless steel construction offers a long lifespan
- 4 oz. hybrid weight offers all-purpose reliability for carbine-length gas systems and suppressed rifles
- Reduces felt recoil and improves reliability
- Five faceted cuts improve airflow and reduce wear and tear on the retaining pin
- May not operate reliability with gas systems that require a lighter buffer
- May be expensive for some
8. Spikes Tactical AR-15/M16 Carbine Recoil
Best Versatile AR-15 Buffer
The Spikes Tactical AR-15/M16 Carbine Recoil Buffer is a really high-quality AR-15 buffer that comes in a few different weights to suit almost any rifle. The three standard weights offered are:
H1: 3 oz.
H2: 4.1 oz.
H3: 5.4 oz.
While there’s nothing special about these weights, all of them will work well in almost any rifle. However, those with mid-length gas systems are better to stick with H1 buffer while those with carbine length gas systems or suppressed rifles should stick with heavier buffers such as the H2 and H3.
Built with brushed aluminum, the buffer also comes with a hard-anodized coat that helps to improve corrosion resistance and lifespan. While the construction is pretty standard, the part where the Spikes Tactical AR-15/M16 Carbine Recoil Buffer shines is in its weights. These buffers feature a low-density tungsten powder or tungsten bar stock instead of standard reciprocating weights to ensure your rifle’s action is much quieter.
The solid weights also work to eliminate the hard shock from reciprocating weights slamming inside the buffer. This will help to ensure a smoother recoil impulse and reduced felt recoil.
Finally, the bumper cap on the Spikes Tactical AR-15/M16 Carbine Recoil Buffer is made with polyurethane to help absorb the impact in case your buffer strikes the back of your buffer tube. While the buffer is quite pricey, the design does offer some practical performance improvement and the buffer can be used in almost any rifle.
- Standard weight options to suit all kinds of rifles
- Brushed aluminum construction with hard coat anodized finish for excellent corrosion resistance and service life
- Eliminates recoil noise and impact
- May be expensive for some
9. Kynetic Corporation AR-15/M16/308 AR Recoil Buffer
Best Hydraulic AR-15 Buffer
If you want one with the best recoil reduction, then you cannot miss out on the Kynetic Corporation AR-15/M16/308 AR Recoil Buffer. You can definitely experience a dramatic reduction in felt recoil thanks to the hydraulic piston that works to absorb some of the recoil force as the bolt pushes the buffer back.
Other than reducing the felt recoil, the hydraulic pistol also helps to make the recoil action less violent. This ensures there is less wear and tear on your bolt, spring, and other parts to last you a long time.
The Kynetic Corporation AR-15/M16/308 AR Recoil Buffer itself is constructed with stainless steel that is much more durable and corrosion-resistant than a standard aluminum buffer while the hydraulic piston rod is nickel-plated to ensure the piston never seizes up. The bumper cap of the buffer is made of soft polyurethane to ensure the impact is soft in case your buffer bottoms out in your buffer tube.
Sadly, the Kynetic Corporation AR-15/M16/308 AR Recoil Buffer is rather pricey and there’s no way to make a hydraulic buffer cheaper. Aside from that, it’s not even universally compatible. While it fits most rifles, some do not work with this buffer. Hence, it is best to check the compatibility list before you purchase it. But, if it does fit your rifle, then you can be certain that you’ve got yourself a fantastic buffer that offers superior recoil reduction.
- Hydraulic piston offers the best recoil reduction on the market
- Reduces wear and tear on all parts
- Stainless steel and nickel-plated construction ensure buffer holds up well
- Soft polyurethane bumper cap resists pitting and absorbs impact
- May be expensive
- Not universally compatible
While many don’t really put too much thought into their buffer, but if do you get one with the correct weight, you can expect a significant boost in performance on your rifle for a minimal price. Hopefully, the guide today has been helpful to you in your search for buffers to improve your overall shooting experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of buffer does a AR-15 use?
The type of buffer a AR-15 used depends on the gas system. With that said, most store-bought rifles come with a carbine-length gas system and 16” barrel, hence carbine buffer is usually the gold standard for commercial rifles. This type of setup is designed to reliably cycle almost any type of ammunition such as the 5.56 or the .223 round.
Will a heavier buffer reduce recoil?
Yes, the heavier buffer does reduce felt recoil and muzzle movement on top of providing additional mass to aid feeding during the loading cycle.