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  • Post last modified:April 27, 2023

In this article, I have gathered multiple resources based on my personal shooting experience and from others in the community on the 6 reasons to use optic risers, and discuss the origin of risers, accommodation for user's physical neck strain, their practical applications in low light situations, and how they can enhance your overall shooting experience. 

Brief History of Optic Risers

Optic risers have been around for quite some time, with their roots tracing back to early machine gun mounts for optics in trench warfare.

m16 with optic mount

Throughout history, risers have been employed in various forms, from the Germans in World War II to the M16's primitive red dots on the carrying handle mount in the 1960s.

Optic risers have continued to evolve, and recently, we have seen a surge in their popularity due to their numerous benefits.

scalarworks leap mount on ar15

Referenced Scalarworks

Companies like Scalarworks and Unity Tactical are two reputable companies making these optic riser much more modern. They make optic height as tall as 1.93" to 2.26". Much taller than 1/3rd co-witness height.

6 Reasons To Use Optic Risers

Biomechanical Comfort


One primary advantage of using risers is their ability to provide a neutral spine position, offering a more comfortable passive aiming with two eyes open.

This is especially useful if you're caught off guard and need to quickly aim at a target.

When optics are mounted lower, it requires the shooter to bend their neck and head awkwardly, leading to strain on the neck, shoulders, biceps, and lower back. 

This discomfort is exacerbated when wearing additional gear like plate carriers, helmets, and backpacks.

For shooters who do a lot of weight training, MMA or Jiu Jitsu, their necks are constantly experiencing soreness and strain, so using an optic riser like the 1.93" Scalarworks LEAP mount on a standard flat top receiver rifle fit the shooter better, allowing for a more natural and comfortable shooting stance.

However, firearms like KRISS Vector, AK, HK 416, SIG MCX with offset cheekweld position to the top rail doesn't really need additional optic riser.

Shooting Through Night Vision

ground branch IR laser with night vision

Night vision is becoming increasingly important on the modern battlefield, with many first-world militaries equipping their soldiers with at least single or dual tube night vision.

Shooting through night vision can be challenging with lower optics, but raised optics make the task significantly easier. With a riser, shooting with night vision becomes so efficient that there is no appreciable difference in time between shooting with and without night vision.

This advantage is critical in threat environments where both sides possess night vision capabilities.

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Situational Awareness

night vision us navy seals

Risers also play a significant role in improving situational awareness. Lower optics tend to cause shooters to "turtle" over their guns, leading to a decreased field of vision and a loss of peripheral vision.

By using a riser, shooters can maintain a more natural head position and keep their peripheral vision intact.

This increased situational awareness can be the difference between life and death in combat and contributes to speed and accuracy in shooting competitions.

Learn more about aiming with both eyes open

Addressing Injuries and Cross-Eye Dominance


Riser mounts can also be beneficial for those with injuries or cross-eye dominance.

By raising the optic, individuals with back, neck, or shoulder injuries can maintain a more natural and comfortable position for longer periods.

Additionally, risers make it easier for those with cross-eye dominance to switch between dominant eyes, simplifying the shooting process and improving overall performance.

Consistent Weapon Placement


Riser mounts ensure consistent weapon placement regardless of the type of clothing or gear you're wearing. Whether it's a t-shirt, a bulky jacket, or a chest rig, risers allow for consistent head and weapon placement.

This consistency leads to increased efficiency, speed, and accuracy, as each movement becomes more repeatable and applicable to a broader range of situations and shooting positions.

Enhancing Red Dot Magnifier Functionality


Riser mounts can improve red dot magnifier functionality by enabling the magnifier to flip to the center, reducing side snag hazards and keeping the weight centered on the receiver. 

Unity Tactical's FTC (Flip To Center) offers ring mount and screw mount that work with popular magnifiers like Vortex Micro, EOTech G33, Trijicon 3X, Sig Juliet, Aimpoint 3X and more

This central position reduces fatigue and keeps the gun more balanced, enhancing overall handling and performance.


Absolute VS Lower Third Co-Witness

Absolute co-witness refers to when your backup iron sights align directly with the center of your red dot.

On the other hand, lower third co-witness, which is about a half-inch higher than absolute co-witness, allows your head to be slightly higher, making it easier to move and shoot.

Does Tall Optic Mount Affect Point Of Impact?

Tall optic mount definitely affects point of impact at close range. The shooter must test their firearms to find the mechanical offset and adapt to it.

To adapt to potential optic failures, lack of iron sight co-witness or optic obstructions, some shooters may opt for quick-release mounts or 45-degree offset red dot sight.

Regardless of the optic height you choose, training with your chosen setup is crucial. If you don't train with it, you won't be able to use it effectively when it matters most. So, experiment with different heights and find the one that works best for you.