Pivot mounts have been one of the most popular types of mounts on hunting rifle scopes in the last decades, especially in Europe, where they replaced the expensive and difficult to install Suhl Claw mounts. In the US, pivot mounts did not undergo such mass use and are now mostly manufactured as fixed mounts, and not as quick release mounts, making them more affordable. Some manufacturers also call them swing mounts, and this name has caught on especially among hunters.
Their popularity and usability have been increasing with the usage of riflescopes that have a larger lens diameter, as this type of mounting allows the optics to be positioned lower on the rifle, towards the barrel axis. Moreover, the mounting procedure is easier and cheaper than that of the once popular Suhl Claws. Another great advantage of pivot mounts in comparison to Suhl Claw mounts is that they allow the mounting of various rifle scopes on a single rifle and 100% repeatable mounting of the same optics after the removal (the scope does not need to be zeroed again).
Recently, pivot mounts have been losing their importance and consequently their market share, mainly at the expense of newer solutions for mounting optics. Though this trend is moving at a slow pace and pivot mounts will probably remain in use for a decade or more. New brands such as Blaser, Sauer, Merkel, Strasser, Mauser, etc. are taking over pivot mounts’ market shares with their new and more sophisticated optics mounting solutions. The popular Picatinny rails are also taking a large market share from pivot mounts and other optics mounting solutions.
General Features of Pivot Mounts
What all pivot mounts have in common is that the front of the mount bears the recoil force, and that the back is meant only for horizontal adjustments. All pivot mounts offer the option of horizontal adjustments when the scope is already mounted. The back is simply freely floating in the direction of the barrel (with no tension due to thermal elongations).
Most manufacturers offer pivot mounts for all types of rifle scopes available and for various barrel diameters from 25,4 mm, 30 mm, 34 mm, 36 mm, 40 mm, to those with an LM rail, a ZM/VM rail, an SR rail, an S&B convex rail, etc. Recently, many manufacturers have also begun producing pivot mounts for modern night vision devices (digital and thermal imaging).
In most cases, pivot mounting bases are separate (in two pieces), with the exception of some one-piece STD mounts from the American manufacturer Leupold, as well as INNOmount Picatinny rails with built-in mount bases. The upper part of the pivot mount can be made of one or two pieces. Single piece upper parts of pivot mounts are produced by MAK – MAKflex, INNOmount, and Recknagel.
These mounts offer many flexible solutions for mounting numerous optical devices. They offer the possibility of attaching various adapters (MAK), which allow the mounting of all types of night vision devices (digital and thermal imaging) and better flexibility when setting the eye relief, and are much more durable than upper parts made of two pieces. Various versions of pivot mounts with mounting rings have a 2/3 design and with such mounts, no adjustments or lapping of the rings are needed.
Manufacturers of pivot mounts produce all components modularly. As a result, all parts are usually interchangeable and have different dimensions of front bases for different length and height dimensions, allowing for greater flexibility in mounting. The rear spacers allow the correct adjustment in height and the use of different ring sizes. For the mounting of pivot mounts, it is recommended that they are installed by experienced gunsmiths, as they are not suitable for mounting by inexperienced users due to their complexity.
Types of Pivot Mounts
The EAW Type:
EAW is the most well-known manufacturer of pivot mounts which made these mounts popular and many are of the opinion that their products are currently the best on the market. The price also speaks of their quality, as they are the most expensive of all, which they certainly justify with the quality, as EAW uses the best materials available. EAW pivot mounts offer a large number of variants and options.
Many manufacturers began making similar products, one of them being Rusan. The rear base in EAW pivot mounts is unique and the most common upper parts are of a single piece. Different heights of the rear base locks also allow the elevation to be adjusted correctly. The rear base locks automatically when the mount is rotated to the correct position.
The Rear Dovetail Type:
This type of pivot mounts is characterized by the fact that the rear base is of the mount is made in the shape of a simple 16 mm dovetail. The rear part of the mount is loose in the direction of the barrel and only the front part carries or compensates for the recoil force. Recknagel, Mak, Henneberger, and many other manufacturers use this design.
Different heights of the rear spacers allow the correct mounting height to be adjusted. There are many different bases for locking the rear of the mount: rotational, with a lever, and Recknagel H8. Of all the variants, only the Recknagel R6 locks itself, while all others need to be locked manually. Most mounts of this type have the upper part made of a single piece (MAKflex, INNOmount, and Recknagel). MAKflex offers the possibility of use on EAW/Rusan bases.
The Rusan Type:
Rusan is a Croatian manufacturer that produces mounts and accessories for mounting optics and is well known for making pivot mounts of the EAW type. They are one of the largest manufacturers of such mounts in the EU. In 2017, in addition to the production of EAW type mounts, Rusan added their own version of pivot mounts, which has a modified rear base.
Their base is unique and the only thing that has remained the same is the design of the mounting ring. Elevation adjustment is possible with square spacers. The German AKAH is the largest seller of Rusan’s pivot mounts in the EU. Many such mounts have been sold on the German market together with the Leica Magnus optics.
The Leupold STD type:
Leupold STD is the most basic type of pivot mounts and at the same time, the most affordable. Elevation adjustment is not possible, as both the front and rear mounting rings are made of a single piece of solid material. Single-piece bases are available. For mounting of this type, if it is a version with two-part bases, an experienced gunsmith is required.
It is necessary to ensure that both rings are 100% aligned and in the same plane, so that when tightening the rings, the barrels do not bend and thus reduce the accuracy of the optics or even permanently damage the optics. Suck pivot mounts are gradually disappearing from the market. Their place is being taken by simpler and more reliable mountings for attachment to the Picatinny lever.
Pivot mounts are of high-quality and provide the users, especially hunters, with 100% reliability and repeatability. Their design is secure and simple to use, that is why pivot mounts remain highly popular. They are slowly losing their market share, but due to their reliability, they will remain on the market for decades to come.