I am a hater of Weaver style bases, and I will make no apologies. If I could wave my magic wand and make one firearms accessory disappear, it would be anything with a Weaver slot. Why so hateful? Glad you asked.
The Weaver rail was developed in the ’70s and is still very popular in the civilian market. It features a slotted base and studs that mount through them to secure scopes or other accessories. At the time of its development, it was a great idea. But a lot has changed since the ’70s.
The biggest problem with Weaver bases is that the slots are not evenly spaced. They are the same width, wherever you find them, but the space between the slots is not a set standard. This leads to all types of shenanigans when you try to swap scopes between rifles.
Picatinny was developed by the military in the ’90s. It also uses slots and studs but with one key difference: the slots are slightly wider and are always evenly spaced. Every MIL-SPEC Picatinny base in the world is the same.
SEE ALSO: Optics Buying Guide: Scope Mounts
Why does that matter to me? Like most of us, I have a lot more rifles than scopes. Good scopes are very expensive, often twice the price of a rifle. With a Picatinny system, provided the height is correct, I can easily transfer my one expensive scope to many different rifles.
If I have a Larue Picatinny mount, and I was smart enough to write down where it was set, I don’t even have to re-zero. Not only do I save money on optics, I can test rifles with an optic that would normally be silly.
If I think my battle rifle might be shot out, I am not at the mercy of the red dot on top of it for grouping. I can swap to my 4.5-27×56 Vortex Razor II and find out. If I want to do some inexpensive training, I can put the same Razor from my 6.5 Creedmoor on my .17 HMR and get some range time in on the cheap. I am training with the same reticle and controls, which is also a plus. And no way I am dedicating a $2,000 scope to a $300 gun. If I pay that much for glass, it is going to get some use.
Weaver doesn’t offer the same flexibility. Because the slots are unevenly spaced, I often have to take one ring completely off in order to get the scope to attach to the base. In the four rifles I shot this month with Weaver bases, I had to move the ring four times. I hate Weaver with a fiery passion because it wastes time.
The first thing I do with all my personal rifles is convert them to Picatinny. This is a cost saving measure as much as anything else. A good set of scope rings will often set you back $200. If you buy it once, in Picatinny, you are set for life. The cost of converting your Weaver base to Picatinny is often less than $50. For the price of one set of Weaver rings, I can convert four rifles to Picatinny. To me, this is a no brainer.
Much like the dinosaurs and muskets, it is time for Weaver to go the way of the dodo. It gave us some good times, but that time has passed.