This study evaluated five commercial extraction kits for their ability to recover DNA from Bacillus anthracis spores and spiked environmental samples. The kits evaluated represent the major types of methodologies which are commercially available for DNA or total nucleic acid extraction, and included the ChargeSwitch gDNA Mini Bacteria Kit, NucliSens Isolation Kit, Puregene Genomic DNA Purification Kit, QIAamp DNA Blood Mini Kit, and the UltraClean Microbial DNA Isolation Kit. Extraction methods were performed using the spores of eight virulent strains of B. anthracis. Viability testing of nucleic acid extracts showed that the UltraClean kit was the most efficient at depleting samples of live B. anthracis spores. TaqMan real-time PCR analysis revealed that the NucliSens, QIAamp and UltraClean kits yielded the best level of detection from spore suspensions. Comparisons of processed samples from spiked swabs and three powder types indicated that DNA extraction using the UltraClean kit resulted in the most consistently positive results and the lowest limit of detection. This study demonstrated that different nucleic extraction methodologies, represented here by various commercial extraction kits, differ in their ability to inactivate live B. anthracis spores as well as DNA yield and purity. In addition, the extraction method used can influence the sensitivity of real-time PCR assays for B. anthracis.