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Dovetail Vs Picatinny Mounts for Airguns: Should manufacturers move to the new standard?

Updated: May 8

The Dilema

We love this industry but getting stuck behind could see the end of many historic manufacturers. So as the end users of a lot of these products let's take a look at Dovetail Vs Picatinny Mounts for Airguns.


Of course, there are those that started off in a modern mindset but were not talking about those who have already done it, we are aiming this at those manufacturers who probably wouldn't even consider reading this.


Airgun manufacturers have always struggled to keep up with the times; many of them see the industry as a traditional one that was perfect 30 years ago and therefore everything new they come out with is either a shared platform from an older gun or something very different that ends up not working because it wasn't tested and was doomed to fail from the start (I'm sure you all have your own opinions as to what gun fits this one).

The most dangerous phrase in our language is "We've always done it this way" - Quote by Grace Hopper

There was nothing really wrong with these rifles but there wasn't anything really advanced about them. Yes sure some involved electronic triggers or new cocking mechanisms, but they were still using a traditional mindset or at least trying to sell to those who prefer a "Traditional Rifle". As such they appear to become a bit of a commercial issue and seemingly scare off the development of these platforms


So then we see more guns come out with:

  • No QD-sling points or the use of swivel mount sling points that cannot be used if you wanted a bipod.

  • Heavy chassis or wood stocks

  • Experimental/unreliable features

  • and our personal favourite issue with new guns... Dovetail Rails

You see over on this side of the fence, manufacturers have been adopting a simple and pretty much universal rail system developed by NATO... The Picatinny Rail Integration System.


What is Picatinny RIS?

For the non-PlayStation generations, Picatinny Rail Integration System or simply RIS is a standardised and modernised Weaver rail.


Many traditional Airgun Manufacturers are now re-tooling to try the features seen with the new breed of Airgun manufacturers. The main method of this appears to be by swapping Dovetail mounts for the newer standard of Picatinny mounts.

Air Arms S510 Tactical Air Rifle Promotional Image

Companies like AirArms have already done this with their S510 Tactical. Although it is very similar to their S510 Ultimate Sporter with similar performance, the addition of the tactical stock and Picatinny Rails have catapulted it to win the "Airgun of the Year" award at BSS 2023.




Dovetail Vs Picatinny Mounts for Airguns: So why is Picatinny the option manufacturers are now moving to?

Well as a manufacturer, when it comes to choosing a mount for your airgun, there are two main types to consider: Picatinny mounts and dovetail mounts. Both types have their own advantages and disadvantages.


Dovetail Mounts

Dovetail Rail with scope mounted

Let's start with the original... Dovetail mounts.


Dovetail mounts are the older of the two types, and they do have a number of advantages over Picatinny mounts.

Dovetail mounts are typically less expensive than Picatinny mounts, and dovetail-mounted scopes and accessories are also arguably easier to install. Dovetail mounts simply slide into the dovetail grooves on your airgun's receiver (provided it is clear at the ends. While due to Picatinny mount's built-in anti-recoil design, they require the mounts to be opened to be installed into the groves.


The other main advantage of Dovetail mounts is that they tend to be more compact than Picatinny mounts. This makes installing the dovetail rail a good option for airgun manufacturers that have designed limited space on the receiver. This is why you will quite often find Air Pistols that have Dovetail rails to allow for a narrower build.


Picatinny Mounts

Picatinny mount with scope mount

Now we will cover the more modern of the two types of mounts. Picatinny RIS.


After being developed as the NATO standard of Rail Integration System (RIS); Picatinny RIS are now the most used rail standard in the world. they show up on a wide application of guns whether that is real steel powder burners to their replica airsoft counterparts.


Picatinny is regularly installed as it offers a number of advantages over dovetail mounts. Chiefly Picatinny mounts are made from a single piece of metal, which makes them stronger and more durable than dovetail mounts, which are traditionally made from two pieces of metal welded together.


Picatinny mounts also have a wider rail, which makes them more stable and less likely to shift when you're shooting.


In addition, Picatinny mounts are more versatile than dovetail mounts. Picatinny rails can be used to mount a variety of accessories, including sights, lasers, and red dot sights. Dovetail rails, on the other hand, are only compatible with a limited number of accessories.


Finally, with the use of the Picatinny made to the NATO standard 21mm wide. One of the major issues of the Dovetail mount, the non-standardised sizing across manufacturers (BSA's 13mm and Walthers 10mm) is overcome.


The Peoples Choice

But let's put you in the driver's seat here. If you were a manufacturer would you still consider using the old dovetail or would you design to the new standard?


What would you install?

  • 0%Write an answer

  • 0%Write an answer


After running this for some time, it is clear to see that dovetails are out. There are a few traditionalists who are afraid of anything new. However, it is obvious from the above poll that Picatinny makes more sense than the outdated rail format that makes gun ownership confusing and expensive (when you are purchasing different items to make dovetails work).

So are you listening manufacturers? - Get on board or get left behind, the people have spoken!


Converting to Picatinny RIS

So you are one of the enlightened and agree that Picatinny makes more sense, however, your rifle has dovetail rails.... What next? Well the smart money says, don't bin that dovetail rifle, simply convert it.


There are a few conversions out there but we put our investment behind the one we believe to be the highest quality. Eagle Vision.

These rails are made by a small CNC producer in London who makes some quality items that pick up on the shortcomings of manufacturers. You will need to put some work in with a measuring device that is accurate. Bin the old fabric tape measure... Get yourself a digital calliper (you should already have one) and check what width dovetail rail you have. Then chekc how long you want it. We recommend going for as long as will fit on your existing rail system for the aesthetics. Then Click here to select the closest rail to your requirement



Think we missed something?

Let us know in the comments below.




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Image Use for Educational Purposes - This blog post includes images used for educational purposes, not all of which are not owned by the publisher. Efforts have been made to credit image owners/sources appropriately, and any concerns about attribution or copyright should be addressed by contacting us. These images are used solely for educational purposes within fair use guidelines, with no commercial intent. The inclusion of external images does not imply endorsement or sponsorship of our content by image owners/sources. We aim to comply with relevant copyright laws, and any questions or suggestions regarding image use or content are welcome through our contact information provided.


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10 Comments


I prefer Picatinny but some rifles look better with Dovetail

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An industry standard is usually best where possible. Picatinny mounts may be more expensive, but if all new guns had Picatinny Rails, then maybe the price of the mounts might come down.

I also gather that with Picatinny mounts it is easier to swap scopes if your mounts stay on the scope that you use and one can then line the scope mounts into the slot that fits that particular scope.

With Dovetail it's a sliding rail for the mounts to attach onto so getting the precise exact spot each time may be difficult, albeit if using an arrestor pin this could be the guide used if swapping scopes and mount.

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i wish that my Weihrauch 95 had the picatinny on might stop the sight traveling back.

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Unknown member
Apr 21, 2023
Replying to

My Grandad always used some Loc-Tite blue just behind the mounts on dovetails? He'd add a layer strip that was a few mm deep so that it bridged the gap up the mounts. It's not as permanent as LocTite red, just the application of heat form a hairdryer will allow you to remove it, then clean back with alcohol or acetate. I suspect your scope creep isn't the mount itself though (a 1 piece mount is less susceptible to moving)? I suspect that the problem is the scope inside the mount rings? A quick fix for this would be to add some clear nail polish to the inside of the top part of the mount and reseat it before it dries.…

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Unknown member
Apr 15, 2023

Picatinny rails should be included on all modern medium price to high end price rifles, including the more "classic" "I'm happy lugging half a tree and half a ton of steel around in the field for several hours" type rifles.


Modern polymer rifle designers should take a leaf out of the US firearms market when putting new rifles out there in my opinion. If you aren't going to include QD mounts for slings then MLOC points should be added to the rifle. Not only will this allow you to mount QDs wherever you want on the rifle itself, but it will also allow you to mount other accessories on your rifle if Pic rail space is limited? MLOCs and QD…


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Kerry Mullins
Kerry Mullins
Apr 15, 2023

For me why not do both like some manufacturers have, that way you would have a choice that suites you,

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