Weaver Rails vs. Picatinny Rails


Few accessories that are mounted commonly onto the guns are foregrips, scopes and lights. Manufacturers these days offer different types of mounting accessory options upon base model guns. These mounting systems do incorporate slotted rails such as Weaver and Picatinny rails, which have become extremely popular and also a standard in majority of the firearms. 

Difference between Weaver Rails and Picatinny Rails

Both appear identical in few cases and also serve same purpose, thus making it difficult to even determine their difference merely by seeing it. but Weaver and Picatinny rails are not fully compatible. Hence the differences between the two are to be understood clearly prior to adding such accessories to the guns. 

Picatinny Rail

It comes with specific dimensions of noches and grooves, is created onto a long gun or handgun to help mount various attachments. At times, it is termed as ‘Pic rai’ and is similar to MIL-STD-1913 rail. This product’s testing was initially done at New Jersey’s Picatinny Arsenal and given MIL-STD-1913 designation. 

Where to use such rails?

  • Handgun applications: Besides shotgun and rifle applications, they can be found on few handguns, especially rimfires featuring Picatiny rail along slide top to allow mounting of red dot optic. Full to medium size handgun do include this rail built into frame’s bottom front portion, known widely as the accessory rail. The common items that are mounted using it are laser sights and weapon lights. 
  • Long gun applications: It originated to facilitate scope mounting on high powered hunting rifles. They can be designed to be fit for front handguard on such rifles in several positions. Different design accessories have emerged to be included with the AR-15 style rifles. Such products include tactical lights, scopes, night vision sights, laser sights, reflex sights, bayonets, bipods and foregrips. 
  • Weaver Rail: They may not have consistent spacing in between the grooves. It predates Picatinny and comes with some dimension differences. Although Picanny rail is quite similar to the design of the Weaver one, they however, do not interchange perfectly. Rather, the weaver mounting rails is designed with 180” slots and no consistent spacing is present between grooves. On the other hand, Picatinny slots width are of .206” and comes with .394” center to center groove width. Weaver accessories can easily fit on the Picatinny rail, but not the other way round. 

It means that the accessory that has been designed to be used in Weaver rail can fit into wider Picatinny rail slot. But the accessories that are meant for Picatinny rail system is likely to have notches which are extremely wide to be fit into the much narrower Weaver spacing. This is difference is very small and the user may get to fit if handy with a Dremel tool or a file. 

Therefore, when it comes to purchasing weaver or picatinny rail for rifle, great care should be taken to find out more information about them, so that a wise decision is made to buy them.