What is a Picatinny Rail Riser and When Do You Need One?

How many times have you tried to mount a scope or an optic only to realize that the scope doesn’t clear the receiver or front sights?

When I first started shooting, I was in the military, and as odd as it seems many things like mounting scopes and optics were done for me so I didn’t really learn how to do it.

I may have been able to take apart my M4, M249, and M9 and put them back together in less than 90 seconds, but I never knew about rail risers until I got out of the military and learned about how people configure their AR-15s and hunting rifles.

If you’re curious about what a rail riser is, when you need to buy one, and why they’re important, you’ve come to the right place. 

Wheeler Digital Firearms Accurizing Torque Wrench

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Why Would I Need a Picatinny Rail or Weaver Rail Riser For My Scope? 

There are really 3 main considerations to make the appropriate choice to buy a pic rail -riser or not:

  1. If you shoulder your rifle (with a scope attached to the top rail) and look through the scope, you should not have to adjust your Length of Pull (LOP) due to the height change. For example, if you have to sit higher or lower on your cheek weld, pull your head back from the scope, or closer to the scope to get a proper alignment, you need to consider a Picatinny or Weaver Rail Riser. 
  2. Having the proper co-witness with your scope reticle and front sight applies more to those with AR-15 platforms, but can also apply to some hunting rifles. If you notice that your Red Dot Sight (RDS) is way off from your front sight, you will not hit anything you’re aiming at. A co-witness in the gun world means that the red dot or reticle of the optic lines up perfectly with the front sight of the AR.
  3. It’s good to remember that the companies making the guns are not normally the companies making the after-market gun accessories. Rifles and scope are all built to be able to sell to the most people possible. Having a universally acceptable product is great for most things, but in this case, most scope and optics fit at different angles and heights. This causes an overall incompatibility with many guns and optics, but as with anything, people adapt and overcome this obstacle by creating a Picatinny and Weaver rail riser. 

Wheeler 1" Pic Rail Risers Multi-Height

What Do I Look For in a Rail Riser?

What is the Rail Riser Made From?

The biggest keyword I look for in my rail riser is “CNC- Machined" because I know how much a CNC machine costs. No company is going to spend $75,000-$500,000 (depending on size) on CNC-Machine to manufacture products if they’re not serious about producing high-quality tools. The level of precision from these types of machines is incredible and the specifications they’re able to consistently reach provide confidence in my purchase. It’s also good to know which metals are stronger than others to know how the mount will hold up the longest.

Which Type of Rail-Riser Am I Looking For?

There are 2 types of rail-risers that I use due to the setup and purpose of the rifle. For example, on an AR platform, it makes life easier to buy a quick-detach rail riser over the standard fixed mount. If you’re one to change between scopes and optics a lot for the versatility of different applications with the same rifle platform, a quick detach is going to be more convenient for you.
You can find YouTube videos and many writers online claiming that it will never impact your zero if you switch an optic rail off your rifle and put it back. I’ve had some luck with different quick detach mounts, but I’ve noticed they come loose easier. I’m not an engineer, but it feels like fixed rail riser mounts are built with tighter specs because they don’t have a release mechanism on the side of the mount. 

I only say this because I’ve done this to myself, but make sure you know which rail your rifle has and which one you buying from the store. A Weaver rail will not fit on a Picatinny rail with enough security to mount an optic. 

Are There Different Size Rail Risers?

Something else I had to learn was that there are at least 6 different sizes of rail risers (.5", .6", .7", .8", .9" and 1") so it can be very difficult to know which size to choose. If you don’t know the correct size rail riser to choose from, it will have a negative impact on your comfort level and accuracy downrange. 

What Is The Most Common Size Rail Riser For AR-15?

There is no one height fits all situation with a rifle, as I mentioned above. The most common sizes I see, however, are the 0.6" and the 1" Picatinny and Weaver rail risers. It really depends on the brand of AR you have because every brand of AR has different specs and will work better with different height levels. This is the same for hunting rifles because every brand of the long rifle has a different LOP, stock configuration, and rail system. 

Which Rail Riser Do I Recommend?

If you have rifles from multiple manufacturers, then you’re going to need multiple sizes of risers. I have Winchester, Bergara, Mossberg, Stoeger, and Remington rifles and only 3 work best with the 1" riser, while my Stoeger and Remington use a .5" and .9" riser for my scopes. 
I use the Wheeler Multi-Height Pic Rails because they come in 6 different sizes (.5", .6", .7", .8", .9" and 1") all with the same length (5.75") and compatibility with the scope and rifle. 
The Wheeler Multi-Height Pic Rails are CNC-Machined out of aluminum to ensure it has the rigidity and abrasion resistance needed to handle the recoil of an AR-15, .308, AK platforms. 
The Wheeler Multiple Height Pic Rails comes with the screws and fasteners needed to install 2 of the 6 rail risers. So if you want to use the risers on more than 2 rifles at a time, you’d need to buy extra screws for your scope. 

Wheeler Multi-Height Pic Rail Risers

at Wheeler Tools
Prices accurate at time of writing


  • Lightweight at less than half an lb (0.4 lbs).
  • Durable enough to stay fixed on my rifle through fall deer season and Winter in duck season on my Stoeger M3500.
  • The Multi-Height rail kit is the best deal and offers all of the sizes you’d need to get the best line of sight and co-witness on your AR optics.
  • Wheeler is a trusted company that I [sent a lot of money in the past decade. (Check out my Laser Bore Sighter Tool).


  • My only complaint is I would like enough gear to install 6 risers on 6 different guns. I think this is an easy fix that they may consider in the future. 
  • Must be precise on the force used to tighten screws or you’ll strip them and compromise the integrity of the rail riser. 

How Do I Know When My Rail Riser is Perfectly Tightened?

You need to make sure you know the required lbs of force and apply the correct amount of torque to ensure the screws are optimized. The easiest way to do this is with the Digital Wheeler F.A.T. Wrench. The Wheeler Rail Risers come with a chart that specifies exactly how much force you need to tighten the screws onto the rifle’s Picatinny Rail system. 

Wheeler Digital F.A.T. Wrench For Scope Mounting

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Would you like to learn more about the F.A.T. Wrench? Read our blog, Best Torque Wrench for Gunsmithing and Scope Mounting

When I first got my F.A.T. Wrench, I was a little skeptical about how it would give me an advantage over my torque screwdrivers and Allen Wrenches. The digital model is going to be much better for you in the long run simply because it’s more convenient.

The LCD screen is clearly visible with a low battery indicator and an audible indicator tone to let you know you’ve reached your optimal torque setting for each type of screw. Wheeler ships them with 10 different bits that fit torque and hex screws. You can set the lb-in pressure from as low as 15 and high as 100 in/lb of force. This gives you universal access to all your rifle scopes, optics, rails, and risers. 

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Table of Contents

  • Why Would I Need a Picatinny Rail or Weaver Rail Riser For My Scope? 
  • What Do I Look For in a Rail Riser?
  • What is the Rail Riser Made From?
  • Which Type of Rail-Riser Am I Looking For?
  • Are There Different Size Rail Risers?
  • What Is The Most Common Size Rail Riser For AR-15?
  • Which Rail Riser Do I Recommend?
  • How Do I Know When My Rail Riser is Perfectly Tightened?

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