Ins and Outs of AR-15 Riser Mounts: Mounting Your Scope Higher

You have your new optic mounted on your AR-15, but something isn’t quite right. Whether a scope, red dot, or holographic sight, the optic is a bit too low for a comfortable line of sight. The obvious solution is to install a riser mount under the optic to get the scope high enough for comfortable use. We searched and found what we believe to be the best AR-15 riser mounts on the market.

Riser mounts come in a variety of styles, sizes, and heights. Some are specialized for one scope or optic. Others are multi-purpose affairs useable on an array of optics. Finding the right riser mount for your application is the key. In addition, you must be sure that the riser mount is expertly machined.

In this article, I look at what I consider the premium riser mount solutions available today. My final check for each of these riser mounts is the question, “Would I use this mount on my rifle?” 

What I Look for in Riser Mounts

The very first thing I look for in a riser mount is accuracy. Remember that the riser mount becomes an integral part of the optics system on your rifle. If the riser mount is not accurately machined, you may never get your scope or optic to zero properly. The quality of construction is the very first consideration in choosing a riser mount. The things I always look for in a riser mount are:

  • Quality of the manufacturing is king. Sloppy machining only leads to sloppy accuracy. Tolerance must be tight, and the machining must be true. Look for clean edges and an absence of machine marks. Mounting surfaces should be flat and even. Unfortunately, many of these qualities are hard to judge by eye. I tend to rely on the reputation of the manufacturer.
  • Riser mounts come with two styles of mounting systems. Many people prefer a quick detach mount that allows them to remove and reattach the optic quickly and easily. Many riser mount manufacturers claim that their QD mounts can be attached and reattached without re-zeroing. I am always skeptical of such claims.
  • Determining the required height of the riser mount is a matter of your preference. The object of adding a riser mount under your optic is to put the scope position where it is easiest for you to get a good sight picture or acquire the sight picture rapidly.
  • The cost of any accessory or part that goes on your AR-15 is always a consideration. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that price equates with quality. Price is not necessarily always a good indicator of quality.
  • You should choose a riser mount style that best fits your needs and your optic. In some cases, this may be a two-piece rail mount set. You may need a cantilevered rail mount on some guns and with some optics to get the scope in the right position.  

My Choices for the Best AR-15 Riser Mounts

These are my choices for the best riser mounts available for AR-15 shooters. I have chosen several styles and price ranges. In addition, I look at the best uses of each riser mount. I also discuss the pros and cons of each mount to give you a better understanding of why I chose each of my list entries.

Best Overall Rise Mount – Wheeler Picatinny Rail Riser Mounts

Wheeler Picatinny Rail Riser Mounts

Wheeler is an unsung stand-out in the scope and optics accessories market. Many people are aware of the fine Wheeler line of gunsmithing tools but don’t recognize that Wheeler makes some of the best optic mounts in the business. Wheeler mounts are high quality and reasonably priced. The Wheeler Picatinny rail riser mount has many features that make it our overall best choice.

  • Precision machining for precision shooting
  • Machined from lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Standard length of 5.75 inches
  • Three Picatinny fasteners for absolute alignment with your AR-15 top rail
  • T15 screws for slip-proof mounting
  • Available in ½ inch, ¾ inch and one-inch heights to meet any requirement
  • Extra fasteners included with each rail riser kit

Overall, purchasers and users of Wheeler riser mounts give this equipment high marks. For the price, you won’t find better quality. Several of my AR-15’s have Wheeler mounts of various styles that perform as well as any mounting systems I have purchased and installed. On the whole, users find these pros and cons.

Pros

  • Quality machining shows in the fit and finish
  • Price is great for the quality of the mount
  • Easy to install and seem to align properly

Cons

  • Follow the recommendations for torque on the screws or you may break one off

If you need a moderately priced riser mount for your AR-15 platform, you should consider the Wheeler riser mount. You will get a quality mount for the cost of most low-end mounts.

Best Red Dot Riser Mount – Vortex Razor Red Dot AR-15 Riser Mount

Vortex Razor Red Dot AR-15 Riser Mount

If you read many of my scope and optics article, you know that I am a Vortex fan. I like their optics and run several different styles of Vortex optics on my different rifles. Vortex also builds high-quality mounts. Vortex, of course, recommends their mounts with their scopes and optics. However, don’t think that other scopes and optics can’t benefit from a Vortex Mount.

If you mount a red dot sight on your AR platform, getting the sight to the correct height to co-witness with your iron sights may be a problem. Vortex has the answer with their Razor Red Dot Riser Mount. These are top-quality mounts that ensure precision alignment and easy zeroing of your rifle and optic. Features of the Vortex Red Dot riser mount include:

  • .6-inch rise above the rail of your AR-15
  • Weighs only three ounces
  • Provides a 1/3 co-witness with the Vortex Razor Red Dot Sight
  • When used with the SPARC red dot sight, you can get a true co-witness
  • Quick detach auto lock lever system
  • It is configurable to lock to the front or the rear
  • Precision machining for absolute flat surfaces

It is hard to find a bad review of the Vortex Razor red dot riser mount. The comments about this riser mount across the board rate it high in both quality and functionality. Looking at the pros and cons reveals how users feel about this product.

Pros

  • Strong quick detach mount
  • Fit and finish are superb. No tool marks visible, and the finish is smooth and even
  • It puts my red dot at the perfect height for quick and accurate targeting
  • Easy to install and remove but doesn’t move when it locks on

Cons

  • A bit pricey for such a small riser mount

It may cost a bit more than other red dot riser mounts. However, the security and accuracy of the Vortex Red Dot Riser Mount assure that your scope is true and accurate and the mount won’t fail at a critical time.

Best Cantilever Riser Rail Mount for your AR-15 – Leupold AR Mark II Cantilever Rail Riser Mount

There are times when a standard-length riser mount just isn’t quite enough. You may find that the eye relief on your scope forces you to put the forward ring on your scope mount beyond the Picatinny rail of your AR upper. In either case, a cantilever riser mount may be your only option.

Adding a cantilever mount demands the highest quality manufacturing possible. Without a doubt, Leupolds tradition and reputation for craftsmanship are undeniable. That reputation carries over to the rest of the scope mounts, including their cantilever riser mount. You needn’t worry about the quality of the machining on these mounts. Leopold’s feature list is as impressive.

  • Rugged and durable construction using premium materials
  • Double Torx screw mounting system with a living hinge design
  • Leupold Gold Ring Lifetime warranty

Purchasers of the Leupold AR Mark II Cantilever Rail Riser Mount give it glowing reports. The machining and accuracy of the mount perform flawlessly by all accounts.

Pros

  • For scopes with large bells, these are the best cantilever riser mounts to buy
  • Precise and flawless machining
  • Adds just the right height for larger and longer scopes

Cons

  • The price is on the high side for a rail riser

Mounting a large scope on an AR platform can be challenging. When it is necessary to span the upper and onto the foregrip with the mounts, a cantilever mount solves many problems. Leupold makes a fine product without worries about the quality of the manufacturing.

Best Two-Piece Riser Mount for Your AR – Truglo Picatinny Riser Mounts

Truglo Picatinny Riser Mounts

Some shooters prefer to mount a rail riser under each ring of their scope or optic. Using two risers is a perfectly valid option. If you are spanning from the top rail on the AR upper to a rail attached to your fore-end, separate riser mounts may be a wise decision.

Truglo is known for its pistol sights more than anything else. However, their expertise in building premier pistol sights carries over to their line of AR-15 rail riser mounts. Machining pistol sights that perform and build a reputation is a perfect foundation for building Picatinny rail risers.

  • CNC machined aluminum for unmatched accuracy
  • The overall length of each riser is approximately 1.36 inches
  • Available in ½ inch, ¾ inch and one-inch rise
  • Integrated recoil lug
  • Each riser uses two tensioning screws for maximum reliability

Many Truglo Picatinny Riser Mounts users have replaced other two-piece riser mounts with the Truglo Models. Their comments reflect the differences they found in the products.

Pros

  • The machine and finish work are far superior to other rail risers
  • The tension screws are thick and coated. No more unfinished bare metal screws
  • No rough or sharp edges. Quality craftsmanship all the way around.

Cons

  • A bit heavier than expected, but they work great

If you prefer dual risers over a single piece, the Truglo two-piece risers are a great choice. The quality of the finish, the precision of the machining and the reliability are all unquestioned.

Best Budget Picatinny Riser Rail for Your AR-15 – Leapers UTG Picatinny Riser Mounts

Leapers UTG Picatinny Riser Mounts

If the cost of a riser mount is a concern, a great option is the Leapers UTG line of Picatinny Riser Mounts. Serious shooters often overlook UTG, and I think this is a mistake. Leapers indeed got their start making parts and accessories for airsoft and paintball sports. However, Leapers moved into the firearms accessories market and began to build a product line.

When Leapers decided to move all their machining back to the US, the quality of their products took a huge leap upward. Many shooters routinely look to Leapers UTG for aftermarket accessories for firearms of all types. Many shooters swear by their UTG mounts and accessories.

  • Available in a wide range of heights, lengths, and styles to suit any need or situation
  • Built-in STANAG interface
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum materials finished in matt black
  • Over-sized thumb screw tension system for quick and easy mounting
  • Full-length tension bars on both sides ensure solid error-free mounts

Reviewing user’s comments gives the impression that most purchasers are surprised at the quality of Leapers UTG rail mounts.  Overall, the comments are positive and reflect a genuine approval of their Leapers rail rise mounts.

Pros

  • Amazingly well-built for the price
  • Fit and finish are excellent
  • Easy to install and looks good on my rifle
  • Solid mount. No movement and it aligns perfectly

Cons

  • Heavier than most other riser mounts

Mounting a Riser Mount

If you decide that you need a rail riser to get your optic in the proper position, you should understand a few things before you mount the riser and your scope rings or optic. These tips may save you headaches later.

  • Dry fit everything before you tighten the mounting screws to spec. Be especially careful to check the eye relief of your scope.
  • Use a blue threadlocker to keep everything in place. When you have finished your dry fit and are sure that the scope or optic is exactly where you want it, back out one screw at a time and apply the threadlocker.
  • Use a torque wrench to tighten all the mounting screws. Check the user manual for your mounts, rings, and risers. Over tightening can cause damage to your scope or even break a screw.

Getting the Right Height for Accuracy and Speed

The importance of having your scope or optic at the right height, the right distance from your eye and securely mounted are essential for accuracy. I hope that my suggestions and tips help you make the right decision for your scope or optic mounting needs.

If you have comments or suggestions, please use the section below and share them with all our readers. We all benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience. Yours is important.




Written by Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here. Read more of Dennis's articles.