Survey: rings or rail

BeeMaa

AH legend
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
3,566
Reaction score
7,053
Location
Alexandria, VA USA
Media
120
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
NRA Life Member, SCI
Hunted
Eastern US & RSA
I have 3 Swaro rail scopes for our Blaser rifles and as @rookhawk stated, eye relief adjustment is incredibly easy. Not to mention the fact that there is no leveling of the scope required. Simple, easy and the lowest mount possible. I am using a Contessa QR mount between the scope and the rifle.
1634943895934.png


1634943996284.png
 

ZG47

AH fanatic
Joined
Jan 20, 2015
Messages
619
Reaction score
626
Location
Wellington, New Zealand
Member of
NZDA, NZMSC
Hunted
New Zealand
Contessa makes beautiful and solid-looking kit. Obviously no shortcuts taken and definitely not a budget option. Buy once, cry once BUT has to be cheaper than going to a best gunmaker.
 

Philip Glass

Lifetime bronze benefactor
AH legend
Joined
Feb 26, 2015
Messages
4,475
Reaction score
8,127
Location
Texas
Website
www.dorper.net
Media
103
Articles
13
Hunting reports
Africa
9
USA/Canada
2
Asia/M.East
2
Member of
NRA, Life SCI, Life DSC, Life EWA
Hunted
RSA, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Austria, Australia, TX, NM
I would jut say for hunting rails can just add more weight with little advantage. We seem to be in a bench shooting world these days with little thought to actual hunting. Love to hear others thoughts.
 

Opposite Pole

AH elite
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Messages
1,469
Reaction score
2,720
Location
Warsaw & Sydney
Media
102
Member of
SSAA; PZŁ, KŁ Sęp
Hunted
Australia, Poland
I would jut say for hunting rails can just add more weight with little advantage. We seem to be in a bench shooting world these days with little thought to actual hunting. Love to hear others thoughts.

I’m not sure they do, yes the scope with a rail is heavier than the same model without rail but I think the extra weight of the rings would make it more or less the same.
 

Opposite Pole

AH elite
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Messages
1,469
Reaction score
2,720
Location
Warsaw & Sydney
Media
102
Member of
SSAA; PZŁ, KŁ Sęp
Hunted
Australia, Poland
This is a complicated question because even in the "like so" photos I don't see optimal, only necessary evils.

First to concur, we are talking about European railed scopes, not Picatinny rails.

As to "why use a rail scope" there are two key benefits. 1.) It allows the absolutely lowest scope mounting which in turn reduces recoil and allows a stock to operate well with iron sights or an optic. 2.) It allows micro-adjustment of the front-back eye relief to allow precise location for an instinctive, snap shot without searching for the scope when shouldered.

So if you are buying a rail scope you better be achieving points 1 and 2 above. Sadly, many people do not understand how form and function work and they just pay more for a rail needlessly. Many times people put a scope with an exit objective so large on their rifle that they cannot get the scope low anyway. They also may find that they do not need micro-adjustable rails because the main scope body has adequate length to slide it back and forth to get good eye relief.

Apologies to my Germanic gun friends above (I own them too) but the blaser/heym mounts that clamp to the barrels or receivers aren't that great on their mass-produced kipplaufs, drillings, combo guns, and double rifles at the entry-level. The problem is they take up more room than a normal action mount and normal quick detach scope rings. They also do not have the tolerances to give quick detach the same level of assurance as the truly excellent quick detach arrangements from EAW and Rechnagel like claw mounts, pivot mounts, and the like. (even more superior if the claws or pivots are integrated into the quarter rib or the square bridge to make the mounts even lower.

A rail mount into a German claw with a saddle machined into the bridge or quarter rib in an ultra low location that identically matches the iron sight to stock comb alignment is the ultimate. It is rarely achieved because so few people understand what these expensive components are designed to accomplish.

Interesting point. The double in my picture above is actually a Krieghoff and the mount is a Recknagel pivot mount. I had the stock custom made for open sights and therefore the scope is a compromise. The scope is mounted on the small, 9.3x74R barrels as optical sight is a legal (and practical) requirement here in Poland for night time boar hunting. But it is slightly too high and while acceptable on a 9.3 I would not want that kind of fit on the 470NE. It’s a swing mount so while the light allows the scope stays in the backpack.

The K95 kipplauf in the other picture is a different story. I would not want a lower mount for two reasons: one, it is at a perfect height, any lower and I would have to force my face on the stock (I’m average height and build); two, this mounting height gives sufficient clearance for the thumb to operate the lever and the cocking mechanism.

I’m not sure you could mount these scopes any lower using ring mounts, rings have bases too.

As for mounting repeatability, for hunting, and on a double in particular, the Recknagel system is repeatable enough. However, the Blaser type mount is superior in my opinion. I use mounts from Blaser, Contessa and a name less local CNC business. It is the best QR system I’ve seen so far.

I cannot envision a system were open sights and scope have identical height. Here is why:

This is a small, 24mm objective scope. To align with the sights it would have to be mounted below the barrel

Image1635123682.279149.jpg


And here is the same scope with line of sight aligned with the sights of Win M70 Safari. Here too it would have to be mounted below the barrel.

Image1635124154.874300.jpg


It seems to me the only way to actually achieve it would be to have very tall open sights, kind of like co-witness sight on a handgun with a red dot type sight.
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,975
Reaction score
6,622
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
Interesting point. The double in my picture above is actually a Krieghoff and the mount is a Recknagel pivot mount. I had the stock custom made for open sights and therefore the scope is a compromise. The scope is mounted on the small, 9.3x74R barrels as optical sight is a legal (and practical) requirement here in Poland for night time boar hunting. But it is slightly too high and while acceptable on a 9.3 I would not want that kind of fit on the 470NE. It’s a swing mount so while the light allows the scope stays in the backpack.

The K95 kipplauf in the other picture is a different story. I would not want a lower mount for two reasons: one, it is at a perfect height, any lower and I would have to force my face on the stock (I’m average height and build); two, this mounting height gives sufficient clearance for the thumb to operate the lever and the cocking mechanism.

I’m not sure you could mount these scopes any lower using ring mounts, rings have bases too.

As for mounting repeatability, for hunting, and on a double in particular, the Recknagel system is repeatable enough. However, the Blaser type mount is superior in my opinion. I use mounts from Blaser, Contessa and a name less local CNC business. It is the best QR system I’ve seen so far.

I cannot envision a system were open sights and scope have identical height. Here is why:

This is a small, 24mm objective scope. To align with the sights it would have to be mounted below the barrel

View attachment 432706

And here is the same scope with line of sight aligned with the sights of Win M70 Safari. Here too it would have to be mounted below the barrel.

View attachment 432707

It seems to me the only way to actually achieve it would be to have very tall open sights, kind of like co-witness sight on a handgun with a red dot type sight.

I have a similar setup as your Kipplauf On my son’s heym o/u small bore double rifle. The barrel is notched (like an R8) to receive the scope mount. My confidence in its return to perfect zero isn’t as high as your pivot mount arrangement that instills more confidence.

Nonetheless, none are terrible. When I think about the systems that get the scopes very low so that iron sights and optics are both roughly similar, what you’ll often see is the back mount on the rear bridge of a magazine rifle (rear bridge is lower) and then a saddle on a tapered barrel (the barrel is lower than the front bridge). That’s one way to get them low.

In your rifle’s example. I’m not sure that the eRa mount, plus the dove tail is actually getting it any lower than a ringed arrangement. A ring would conceivably get it even lower. However, at perfect eye relief on yours the rear mount is below the turrets, thus there would be no way to elegantly get scope rings in the proper locations without a lot of goofy offset mounts. I understand why you picked the rail for those reasons.

I haven’t owned many of the “new” rail scopes as of recently. My understanding is that the gearing on the bottom of all the systems eliminates the need to drill a hole through the bottom dovetail on rail scopes. (Yes, for those reading this, most German claw scopes mounted to rail optics require you to DRILL holes in the scope itself). It does seem the older dovetails allowed for lower mounting than the new system at the expense of permanently altering an optic with a drill.
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,975
Reaction score
6,622
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
Throwing out some other examples here for discussion, several being less-optimal but other attempts to mount low, many failed, a few succeeded. See if you can detect where a rail mount would have avoided a negative compromise that was required due to where ring locations were required.
A45E7E4E-6B67-4C5F-911C-D706DF5315A0.jpeg
1F16D3D5-B126-4988-821D-86FB5647534F.jpeg
43064709-1495-4097-9597-760BDE4796D6.jpeg
E845A819-925D-479E-BC76-F8249CCDC490.jpeg
08769130-518C-48CB-8D90-BDE80AFBA0A3.jpeg
287D277A-7A41-42B3-966C-240580152286.jpeg
4B100C64-8D2C-4BC3-9670-E7085D9611CD.jpeg


5AA3BE47-DB77-468C-ADD6-264DC4527029.jpeg
AFB6EE8D-8C38-48CF-A93E-253AB69BA2DE.jpeg
B9CE8BAE-AD6C-4F89-A592-5D6B1D464802.jpeg
2A51DF95-6429-41A7-BE72-5E0DBCC6A7FD.jpeg
16A49CDA-7FC4-4E0D-96DF-AEAFB3AB6235.jpeg
070DE761-F96D-4ACE-A157-33410388E1BA.jpeg
93612C3E-F894-44E3-B27A-38341F5B6A58.jpeg
EB2203E0-A5F6-464B-A612-20FC67C7B08D.jpeg
 

Joker12

AH veteran
Joined
Jun 21, 2021
Messages
124
Reaction score
226
Location
Michigamme, Michigan
Member of
NRA
Hunted
South Africa
Some years ago rails became a "tactical" thing. Add the word Picatinny to top off the cool factor description. :) Both systems have their place. Actually Weaver, unless I'm mistaken, was one of first to use it in their one piece base before it was called a Picatinny rail.

For plinking, target rifle scope mounting and "tactical" rifle scope mounting along with accessories for the tactical "look", a rail mount system makes sense and it allows for a much more foolproof, torque free and easier-to-do mounting. For adding elevation to a scope mount system for extreme long range shooting... whatever system works for the purpose- just not my bag as long range sniping and is definitely not in my lexicon for hunting rifle use.

For most hunting rifle scope mounting, especially DG, I prefer two rings. I lap and use a solid rod to prevent off-axis torque and stress to the scope when mounting. Two rings maximize loading port space for loading and ejection. Example of maximum loading port clearance is shown below- my 416 Rem Mag Win M70 with scope using dual dovetail mounts.
View attachment 429167
Nice combo! I have the same rifle and scope using talley rings and bases which also leaves the loading port unobstructed.
 

VertigoBE

Bronze supporter
AH elite
Joined
Jan 17, 2021
Messages
1,021
Reaction score
2,022
Location
Brussels
Media
41
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Europe
3
Hunted
Belgium, Scotland, Slovenia, South Africa
Throwing out some other examples here for discussion, several being less-optimal but other attempts to mount low, many failed, a few succeeded. See if you can detect where a rail mount would have avoided a negative compromise that was required due to where ring locations were required.View attachment 432868View attachment 432869View attachment 432870View attachment 432871View attachment 432872View attachment 432873View attachment 432874

View attachment 432875View attachment 432876View attachment 432877View attachment 432878View attachment 432879View attachment 432880View attachment 432881View attachment 432882
Those are some gorgeous rifles @rookhawk ! Especially love that first one...
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,975
Reaction score
6,622
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
Those are some gorgeous rifles @rookhawk ! Especially love that first one...

Thank you. Of the whole lot, in my opinion the "best" optic mounting job was on the Heym 470 sidelock double you'll note in the mix. It was the older style rail mount S&B made until recently, and indeed it was drilled. But take note of how very low the whole arrangement is to get a similar sight picture as you would with the iron sights.

Some of the others are just awful. The first one pictured was a lovely German rifle but the optic selected (a rail) did not fit the gun very well and was extremely high. This shouldn't have been this way, but an American serviceman demanded it with a grotesque scope that did not fit the profile of the weapon.
 

Bonk

AH enthusiast
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
284
Reaction score
656
Location
Kentucky, USA
Media
8
Member of
Life Member NRA
To be honest I didn't even know they made scopes with integral rails until I opened this thread. I thought we were going to be discussing mounting on picatinny rails vs on bases. I have no opinion on the actual subject because I just discovered it. I think I like the idea but unless it becomes an option on $500-600 Leupolds I'll never have the opportunity to try it out. Unless......

I have a Zoli O/U double rifle I've been looking to mount a scope on. It has an integral 12mm dovetail quarter rib. I think I'm going to take a closer look at this method of mounting if I can find the correct base (rail) for my rifle.
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,975
Reaction score
6,622
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
To be honest I didn't even know they made scopes with integral rails until I opened this thread. I thought we were going to be discussing mounting on picatinny rails vs on bases. I have no opinion on the actual subject because I just discovered it. I think I like the idea but unless it becomes an option on $500-600 Leupolds I'll never have the opportunity to try it out.

No joke @Bonk you cannot even buy the bases for such a mounting system for $500-$600 in some countries. The scopes with rails integrated are from Schmidt & Bender, Swarovski, Zeiss, Leica, and Kahles. Not their economy-line products either, but only in their flagships.

It's a lot cheaper to spend $1000 more on the mounts and scope to get this feature than it is to cobble it together wrong with a custom stocked weapon. For off-the-rack stuff, its a bad investment as the optics and mounts will easily outpace the value of the firearm.

For best value, buy used guns with these mounts and scopes included. You may pay $1000 more for the gun even if it cost the prior owner $6000 to set up the arrangement.

I've owned many, many guns where I paid less for the rifle, optics, and accessories than the original cost of parts and labor for the scope mounts alone.
 

Bonk

AH enthusiast
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
284
Reaction score
656
Location
Kentucky, USA
Media
8
Member of
Life Member NRA
@rookhawk , you're correct and I knew I couldn't do this sort of thing for $600. I looked for a set of rings/bases for my rifle a few months ago and discovered that they alone would be at least $400-500. What I like about the method described in this thread is how clean the look is and how low the scope sits on the rifle. I have a little bit of money in this rifle so it wouldn't be out of line to spend $2500+ for a nice scope setup worthy of the rifle.
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,975
Reaction score
6,622
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
@rookhawk , you're correct and I knew I couldn't do this sort of thing for $600. I looked for a set of rings/bases for my rifle a few months ago and discovered that they alone would be at least $400-500. What I like about the method described in this thread is how clean the look is and how low the scope sits on the rifle. I have a little bit of money in this rifle so it wouldn't be out of line to spend $2500+ for a nice scope setup worthy of the rifle.

Hey @Bonk while its true that they go $500-$600 for the mounts and rings, or mounts and "rail rings" if we can call them that, you can find deals on them at "the world's largest online auction site".

Rechnagel and EAW are the two brands that virtually rule the high end claw mount and pivot mount market.

Here's the really tricky thing though. If you have a custom rifle, you need to measure flawlessly the front and rear mount heights (usually offset, not the same height on guns like Mausers) in order to be sure not just that the scope will fit, but that the scope will be parallel to the bore. But, if you know this stuff, I see mounts for $200 as new old stock on fleabay.

If your rifle is a cookie-cutter standard, non-custom rifle, the firms make some sets ready to go where your dimensions are pre-configured out of the box.

Post what action and model you have, I may know where rings and bases or rail mounts and bases are located in the States. I'm not a savant at these things yet, but I've installed many sets so I'm about "journeyman" level at figuring these out properly. Bold enough to order individual parts from Europe in half-millimeter increments confident it is going to fit and work properly.
 

Forrest Halley

AH elite
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
1,424
Reaction score
2,464
Location
VA, USA
Media
28
IMG_20210812_115125695~2.jpg

There's a way to get a scope low on a rifle, but some folks haven't quite figured it out. This 40mm objective 30mm tube is pretty low slung and for all its sins of being too high of a magnification(4.5-14) it comes up very fast to the eye. Pictured also with an ultralight 2.5x which is also zeroed for this rifle.
 

Kevin Peacocke

AH legend
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Messages
2,277
Reaction score
6,472
Location
Harare Zimbabwe
Media
92
Articles
2
Hunting reports
Africa
2
Member of
Cleveland Gun Club
Hunted
Zimbabwe, SouthAfrica
I never liked a rail on a scope, but everything I have read here convinces me otherwise. Live, learn, change.
 

rookhawk

AH legend
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,975
Reaction score
6,622
Location
North America
Media
152
Articles
2
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
I never liked a rail on a scope, but everything I have read here convinces me otherwise. Live, learn, change.

Kevin, rail scopes are incompatible with African gunsmithing. They are virtually incompatible with American gunsmithing too. It requires 1/4 million USD of scopes and mounts on hand to fit for all permutations. It’s not something practical for a stocking dealer unless they have the clientele to pay for $5000 scope and installation jobs. There is one such dealer in North America and there are about 5 that can measure twice and order once from Germany to accomplish it without stock on hand. I’ve done it this way once and I measured for about 8 hours on and off before I was willing to risk making a $4000 non-refundable mistake.

every time I do one it gets easier because I have many of the wrong parts on hand. I can test it wrong, say “I’m 1.5mm too high on the back” therefore I’ll order a 9.5mm rear mount instead of an 8mm.

you can always identify “forced fit” gunsmithing. I’ve seen many doubles and drillings with three base mounts on them because they couldn’t get the original two to be compatible with the next optic, so they forced it by a clownish plan to lay another mount in the rib.
 

Forrest Halley

AH elite
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
1,424
Reaction score
2,464
Location
VA, USA
Media
28
I like the rail for some of the positives mentioned. One drawback is that it appears to be by nature much higher mounting than rings would be able to achieve especially if there is any good sized objective involved. I would also think that just one scope ring would have more contact area than several clamps to a rail, but therein lies a can of worms.
 

Longwalker

AH fanatic
Joined
Apr 2, 2015
Messages
925
Reaction score
2,199
Location
Canada
Media
84
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
4
Member of
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Saskatoon Gun Dog Club
Hunted
Canada, USA, Germany, South Africa, Namibia
I wish that all of my rifles had scopes equipped with rail mounts. They are technically superior, produce less mounting stress on the scope and allow a greater range of eye relief and adjustment for fit fore and aft. I like the clean look with no rings too. I have rail mount scopes from S&B, Swarovski, Zeiss, and some older European models. All are expensive, or were expensive in their day. But for most cheaper USA made rifles and scopes, rings are the only viable option. I can't think of anything that rings do better than rail mounts, except that they are cheaper. Most rings are serviceable, and problem free, except that when mounted poorly by amateurs they mar the scope and cause stress on internal components. Or they are canted away from alignment with top dead centre. More than half of all the used scopes I see offered for sale on our local marketplace are damaged by rings that have been poorly installed.
 
Last edited:

Forum statistics

Threads
40,418
Messages
790,363
Members
73,614
Latest member
222
 

 

 

Latest profile posts

when is my donation due?
trstallone wrote on HUNTROMANIA's profile.
I've Hunted So.Africa, love to try Romania
Clifford Johnson wrote on Mark A Ouellette's profile.
Mark, How did your hunt go with Wayne in Zimbabwe?
Cliff
Spartan2473 wrote on tnshooter's profile.
Hey buddy,
Have a great hunt in West TN. Looking forward to planning this next safari with you.

we’ll talk soon!
 
Top