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Despite the fact that Picatinny rails are now standard on many airsoft pistols, there are still many airsoft pistols that don't have built-in rails. Even the ones that do, come with a small, measly rail at the bottom that is easily consumed by a single accessory (see photo below).
In this article, we will provide off-the-shelf solutions to give you more rail space on your pistol. The additional rail space allows you to mount accessories of all sorts--tactical flashlight, laser sight, red dot scope, bullet cam, foregrip, etc. We will go from the typical modest bottom rail installation to the extreme rifle-like rail space upgrade. See "Related Links" section at the bottom of this article for links to products mentioned in this article.
Even with the proven advantage of having rail space on pistols, most airsoft pistols do not come with rails. That is probably because the firearm replica collecting hobby is just as widespread as the sport of playing airsoft. Nevertheless, there are several ways that you can add rails to your rail-less airsoft pistol.
There are trigger guard rail brackets for many rail-less airsoft pistols. They mount to the trigger guard and may be fastened to the bottom of the pistol via glue or screws. Screwing it on requires you to tap screw holes, but lets you remove it at any time. When you get a trigger guard rail bracket, be sure to get one that is specifically designed for your airsoft pistol to avoid fitment issues. The following is an example of a trigger guard rail bracket for the Berretta M9 airsoft pistol.[photo placeholder]
Many Weaver rails comes with a curved bottom. You can mount these rails on the bottom or top of the pistol. You will have to either drill screw holes in the pistol or glue the rails on. The following photo shows you examples of the curved bottom Weaver rails.
These Weaver rails are being sold on Amazon as "Remington 870 with Drilled & Tapped Receiver". Our "Adding Rails to a Mock Silencer" article provides an sample of how you can attach the rail to your pistol.
If you have a more modern airsoft pistol with built-in rail (see photo below), your work is half done for you. You at least have enough rail space for one pistol accessory. But to make pistols as effective as rifles, you will need to add more rail spaces. Why would you want to make your pistol as effective as a rifle when you can just use a rifle? Well... pistol-only airsoft games for one.
There are some accessories on the market that not only mounts to a Picatinny, but also provides a Picatinny rail for another accessory to mount to. Many laser sights are available in this manner. Using this technique, you can piggy-back accessories. The photo below is a laser sight with a Picatinny rail.
A rail doubler adapter converts one Picatinny rail to two parallel rails. Using this adapter, your small pistol rail will be able to host two accessories at the same time. Currently, Airsoft3D's Two-Picatinny-Rails Adapter is the only rail doubler on the market. The following photo shows the adapter.
There are many generic rail adapters that converts the bottom Picatinny rail to a top rail (see photo below). But you have to be sure the adapter will clear the slide. It is best to get one that specifies its compatibility with your pistol.
The quad-rail is very similar to the top rail adapter. But instead of giving you a single top rail, it also provides rails on the two sides. The quad-rail adapter gives you about as much rail space as a railed rifle. Although many are made generically for all pistols, most of them do not provide enough clearance for all pistols. The photo below shows a quad-rail adapter that only works on one airsoft pistol, out of the four we trie. Definitely test the rails at the retail store, or read online reviews to ensure compatibility with your airsoft pistol.
Airsoft3D makes the Pistol Hex-Rail. It is a spin-off on the quad-rail, but provides three additional features: 1) it has six rails instead of four; 2) the rails are all considerably long for rifle-like rail space; and 3) The top is tall enough to clear most airsoft pistols on the market.
Like the quad-rail, the Pistol Hex-Rail attaches to your airsoft pistol via the bottom rail. With the Pistol Hex-Rail, it is unlikely your airsoft pistol will ever run out of rail space. You can mount enough accessories to outclass a rifle in some cases.
Airsoft pistols with top rails are rare. But if you are luckily enough to get a pistol with top rails, or are able to use a top rail adapter, you will have a few more options to increase its rail space. The following photo shows an airsoft pistol with both top and bottom rails.
With a 90 degree picatinny adapter, you can turn a top or bottom rail into a side rail. That may give you additional rail real-estate for more tactical accessories. Just make sure the 90 degree adapter clears the gun.
Some 90 degree Picatinny rail adapters allows you to screw addition rails to the top. That gives you the option of having even more rail spaces.
An angled Picatinny adapter attaches to the top rail. It provides a small rail that is generally angled 45 degrees from the rail it is attached to. It allows you to mount a red dot sight at an angle, while allowing you to use the iron sights on your pistol as co-witness. The following image shows a one-sided angle adapter, but there are also adapters that are angled on both sides.
Once you have a top rail on your pistol, you can attach an offset Picatinny rail to it to game more rail space, either in front or behind the pistol. With it, you have more options to adjust the red dot sight position relative to your eyes.
Generally, offset Picatinny risers comes in three different heights: 1/2", 3/4", and 1". Therefore, you can use them to adjust the height of your accessories relative to the pistol.