Until the late ’90s, there was no real mounting standard that was internationally the same. Many manufacturers had their own mounting solution, and many adopted the 2-piece Weaver rail as the mounting solution for their rifles. Because in some cases the rails weren’t 100% in-line, there was some stress on the optic after mounting. This led to malfunctions and internal damage to the optics. Later on, the manufacturers come out with a single-piece design, which removed these errors.
Because the U.S. Army wasn’t satisfied with the products already on the market, they put together a team which should develop a better mounting solution for all kind of optics and accessories. After measuring many Weaver rails, they came up with a drawing with average dimensions. After the production of the first rail, it was shipped to Rock Island Arsenal, which is the headquarters of the U.S. Army, where the rail was standardized to the Picatinny rail or Mil-STD-1913 in the year 1995.
In 2009 an upgraded version of the Picatinny rail was designed with the name STANAG 4694 NATO accessory Rail, which is backward compatible with the older MIL-STD-1913 rail designed in 1995. This is the rail we know it today, and it was designed in conjunction with weapons specialists like Aimpoint, Beretta, Colt firearms, FN Herstal, and Heckler & Koch. This type of rail has better repeatability than the older design, since the mounts clamp on the rail on 3 surfaces, and not 4 like on the older design. On the older design, all 4 45 degree surfaces were used for mounting, and on the newer design only the big upper surface, and the 2 45 degree surfaces on the bottom side of the rail.
Because there are many aftermarket Picatinny rail manufacturers, it is extremely difficult to choose which rail to buy. Especially for the Remington 700 style action are the most aftermarket rails available, since many manufacturers besides Remington, manufacture actions with the same or similar mounting surface on top. Of course, there are 2 sizes of the original action, depending on the caliber.
All receivers with the cartridge overall length (COL) till 71 millimeters (2.8 Inches) are called ˝Short Action˝ and were designed on the very popular .308 Winchester cartridge. Bigger caliber actions with the cartridge overall length (COL) up to 85 millimeters (3.34 Inches) are called ˝Long Action˝ and were designed to fit the .30-06 Springfield cartridge.
So when buying a Picatinny rail for your rifle, it is good to measure the holes on the receiver, so you can be 100% sure that you get the right rail for your rifle. Whatsoever, the following rifles have the same dimension of the receiver, so the same Picatinny rail fits them all:
- Remington 700, 78
- Mauser M18, M96, M97
- Sauer 100, 101
- Bergara B14
- Haenel Jäger 10
- Roessler Titan 16
- Sabatti Rover (LA)
Here are the dimensions of the receiver for all Remington 700 actions:
The first Picatinny rail we take a look at was from the German manufacturer ERA-TAC. ERA-TAC is a tactical line of products from the company Recknagel, which is well known for their high-quality hunting mounts and accessories.
The Picatinny rail from ERA-TAC we had is made for the long-action Remington 700. It comes in bubble wrap packaging, with mounting screws and a Torx L-key. In our comparison, only ERA-TAC and Contessa had the Torx/hex key included, which is a small benefit if you want to mount the rail on the rifle alone.
The rail has 109 grams, is 160 millimeters long and is made of steel. The finish is black anodized for great wear resistance. The edges of the rail are nicely rounded, and throughout the entire length, a rounded groove is cut out in the middle to provide a good aiming possibility for iron sights. The height of the rail on the front is only 6.5 millimeters. The rail we had has no inclination, but a rail with 20 MOA is also available.
The second rail we had is from the Italian manufacturer Contessa. They are already well-known thanks to the beautiful design and a very high-quality of their products. Also this Picatinny rail is not an exception since it has one of the nicest looking finish. All the edges are nicely rounded, similar to the ERA-TAC rail. The finish is a more glossy matte black and has great wear resistance.
It has one big benefit against all other rails since it has a deeper groove cut out in the middle of the rail, on the entire length. This is designed for using the rail in combination with original iron sights of the rifle, so you can see the sights through this groove. On the bottom side, the inclination is engraved, in our case 0 MOA, and an arrow for the mounting direction.
The height of the rail on the front is 8 millimeters, and the length of the rail is 164 millimeters. It weighs 126 grams. Like previously said, with the Contessa rail also the mounting screws and the hex-key are included, so the rail can be mounted without a gunsmith.
Tier-One is an English company founded in 2008. They produce optic mounts, rails, bipods, moderators, and many more. Their products have exceptional quality and finish. Tier-One produces Picatinny rails only from aluminum, and they advertise they are made from 7075T6 aluminum, which is one of the best alloys for such products. Whatsoever, because it is made of aluminum, the finish can get more quickly damaged if you put the optic often on and off the rail.
Because of the use of aluminum, the rail is extremely light-weight with only 51 grams. The height of the rail on the front is 8 millimeters and the length is 160 millimeters. The rail is black anodized, with a matte finish. The edges are sharp, but not dangerously sharp – this adds the rail a special tactical look. On the right side is the Tier-One logo with an inscription of the inclination value. In our case this was 0 MOA, but also a rail with 20 MOA is available for this rifle.
Between the two mounting sections is the rail really thick with 9 millimeters, which guarantees a stable mounting platform without deformation after heavy usage. On the bottom side also the name of the rifle is engraved, so you immediately know for what rifle this rail was designed. The rail comes in a small plastic box, with screws and mounting instructions included.
EAW is one of the oldest manufacturers of rifle scope mounts on the planet. They produce the mounts already for almost 100 years, which is quite impressive. All their products have the highest level of quality and detail.
The Picatinny rail from EAW is the shiniest in our comparison. It is made of steel, and the finish is a brighter black compared to other products. The finish is quite unique since it is really slippery on the touch. I don’t think this has some pros and cons, but it sure looks nice on a luxury rifle.
The edges are all nicely rounded, and all the surfaces where the mount touches the rail are very smooth. Between the bulges, there are light traces of the milling tool, but this doesn’t affect the quality of the mounting. On the entire length is a rounded groove cut out in the middle to provide a good aiming possibility for iron sights, in-depth very similar to ERA-TAC. On the bottom of the rail, the EAW rail is also unique. All other manufacturers have 2 higher surfaces where the rail gets mounted on the receiver of the rifle. EAW, on the other hand, has the smaller radius of the front mounting surface milled through the entire length, until the surface rises for the rear part of the receiver.
Between the bulges on the upper side, there is also an EAW logo engraved in the rail. There is also a 20 MOA rail available from this manufacturer, and both come packaged in a thick plastic foil with mounting screws included. The rail has 120 grams, is 160 millimeters in length, and with 6 millimeters in height on the front side, it is the lowest rail in our comparison.
The last long-action rail we had in our comparison is from ERA-TAC. Like previously said, ERA-TAC is a German manufacturer of high-quality mounts and other rifle accessories. Here we got the second Picatinny rail from this manufacturer, but the difference is in the material.
This rail is made of high-grade aluminum, so it is extremely durable and resistant to hits and other influences. It has a really nice black matte anodized finish, which is a lot smoother than the finish on the aluminum Picatinny rail from Tier-One.
The edges are rounded, but not so much like on the steel rail. Especially between the bulges, the edges are a lot sharper, but again, not too sharp. Exactly the same like on the steel rail, it has a roundly milled inner surface through the entire length, to provide good aiming capability with iron sights.
Because it’s made of aluminum, the rail is extremely light-weight. It weighs only 37 grams, which you won’t even notice on the rifle when mounted. On the front is the height of the rail only 6.5 millimeters, which is just 0.5 millimeters more than the EAW. The length of the rail is 160 millimeters. Also in this packaging, the Torx key and the mounting screws are included.
Short Action Picatinny rails
The following 3 Picatinny rails are made for short action Remington 700, because, at the time of delivery, our colleagues from Optics-Trade.eu didn’t have any long action rails on the stock from these producers. But whatsoever, we think that the quality and materials of the rails used are the same, so the only difference is in the length and weight.
Rusan-Micron is a Croatian company that started to produce products under their name in the year 2005. Whatsoever, they produce very high-quality gun parts like muzzle brakes, triggers, firing pins, and many more. But Rusan produces also scope mounts, Picatinny rails and other parts for mounting, for a reasonable price.
Like I’ve said before, the Picatinny rail from Rusan we’ve got is made for a short action Remington 700. Because of that, it has 119 grams and is 150 millimeters long. The height on the front is 7.5 millimeters.
The finish of the rail is really shiny and smooth, and there are no traces of a milling tool. The edges on the outside are nicely rounded, whatsoever between the bulges, the edges are a bit sharp. Rusan has the biggest cut-out in the middle of the rail, through the entire length, for great visibility of the iron sights. It is not rounded like on other rails, but it is milled with a standard milling tool, and that very deep. What stays are bulges on both sides of the rail, and the material in the middle is removed.
And the last Picatinny rail we had, was from the German manufacturer MAK. This company is well known due to their big selection of high-quality rifle scope mounts, electronic accessories, and the last few years now, they produce also great value optics.
The Picatinny rail from MAK is made from steel, and like the Tier-One rail, it doesn’t have the rail cut-out in the middle like all other rails, which is designed for aiming with iron sights. This is a small drawback if you consider using the iron sights in the future.
The rail is 138.5 millimeters in length, has 120 grams, and on the front, it is 7 millimeters high. The surface is matte black but nicely smooth. The edges are nicely rounded, especially on the side, between the grooves. On the Picatinny rail we had, were all over the surface stains – probably from washing the rails before leaving the factory? Nevertheless, most of them we could remove just by rubbing with our hands.
The last short-action Picatinny rail we had, was from one of the smallest countries of our planet – San Marino. The company is called Audere and is specialized in the production of high-quality mounts, muzzle brakes, Picatinny rails, and some other accessories.
The first thing we noticed was the beautiful packaging. The rail comes in a nice TAN colored plastic box, with foam inserts, so the rail can’t get damaged during transport. In the box are mounting screws, and the Picatinny rail that is made of steel. The finish of this rail is very nice – it is matte black and nicely rough.
On the upper side, the rail looks very similar to the Rusan rail, since, through the entire length, the middle part is milled out for the best view of the iron sights. This cut-out is more precisely made than on the Rusan rail since you can’t notice any difference in height. What stays are the bulges on both sides through the entire length.
The edges on the upper side of the bulges are all chamfered and not rounded like on other rails. The edges on the bulges on the 45 degrees part are, on the other hand, not chamfered, and because of that a little bit sharp on the touch.
On the bottom side, the inclination is engraved, in our case 0 MOA. The height of this rail on the front is 8 millimeters, and the price of it is 79.00 EUR (without tax)
We had 8 Picatinny rails in our comparison, 5 designed for the long action Remington 700 and 3 for the short action. The quality of all rails is on a very high level, but they differ in the design and a little bit in functionality. In the functionality, I mean exclusively because of using the rifle with the iron sights. With 2 rails the usage of iron sights is difficult or almost not possible because they don’t have the cut-out in the middle of the rail.
All in all, they are designed for the same purpose, so they will all do the job perfectly. The main difference between the rails is in the materials used and on the surface finish. In our opinion, on a Deluxe (Luxury) rifle the shinier rails would look better, and on a tactical style rifle, the rails with a matte finish.
So on a luxury rifle, we think that the EAW and Contessa rails would look great, but also the steel ERA-TAC rail and Rusan rail would look very nice. For a tactical-style rifle, we think that all other rails would look pretty good, the only exception is the material – Audere and MAK if you want a rail made of steel, or ERA-TAC and Tier-One if you want a lighter rail made from aluminum.
We want to thank the Optics-Trade online shop for providing and enabling us to test these 8 Picatinny rails. This comparison was made because of our own interest in optics, mounts, and accessories, and provides an objective opinion of tested Picatinny rails. However, the article features affiliate links to Optics-trade.