Review - AN/PEQ-15 ATPIAL (Advanced Target Pointer Illuminator Aiming Laser)
Updated: Jul 26, 2021
Why the AN/PEQ-15 ATPIAL?
The Laser Aiming Module (LAM) have been around for a number of years and have been utilised by Military forces across the globe along with Law Enforcement Agencies and Civilians. The purpose of these LAMs is to provide the operator with a visual reference as to where rounds when fired will land. The AN/PEQ-15 is one of a line of systems that the US Military has absorbed into their use in multiple theatres. An improved upon design from the PEQ-2 to the PEQ-15, a number of upgrades, changes and tests were conducted to ensure that the PEQ-15 was battle hardened and able to withstand abuse from the operator, storage and operating environments. The PEQ-15 enables the user to operate a visible and IR laser and IR illuminator ensuring that it can be used both during the day and during low light / night time operations. The ability to utilise night vision alongside this system provides the operator with a unique advantage over an enemy that may not utilise night vision.
Continuing with the drive to build a screen accurate replica of the HK416s seen in use on SEAL Team by Bravo, the AN/PEQ-15 was another part bringing the rifle one step closer to completion.
Procurement of the PEQ-15 was solely enabled thanks to Tactical Waffles, a well renowned site run by a well renowned individual. The store sets out that they're here to provide the best Tactical Gear and Night Vision on the market at an unbeatable price guaranteed. TW is based in both the US & EU and sources products for individuals in the US / EU / UK. Having detailed my requirements he was able to answer a plethora of my technical questions and his customer engagement was second to none, hence why I'm putting Tactical Waffles details here. If you have a requirement for high end equipment, this should be your first stop.
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Herein lies the product descriptions sourced from multiple websites;
Advanced Target Pointer Illuminator Aiming Laser (ATPIAL) AN/PEQ-15
The ATPIAL is a small, lightweight, easy-to-use aiming system with integrated infrared and visible aiming lasers as well as an infrared illuminator.
The ATPIAL is also known by the military nomenclature AN/PEQ-15. The system is available in Low Power (ATPIAL-C (Civilian)) or High Power configurations (Military & Law Enforcement).
ATPIAL features a Rail-Grabber interface and is ruggedized to military environmental standards for use on small arms and crew-served weapons.
Co-aligned visible and infrared lasers
Ruggedized for use on small arms and crew-served weapons
Retains zero with 0.5 MRAD
The Advanced Target Pointer/ Illuminator/ Aiming Light (ATPIAL) is the standard issue laser module for the U.S. Warfighter. Designed and built as the next generation weapon-mountable IR laser/Illuminator, it is the battlefield replacement for the venerable AN/PEQ-2A which has faithfully served US Military Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies for years. One of the key improvements in the ATPIAL is the addition of a co-aligned visible laser diode which increases functionality, allowing for use without night vision devices. The visible laser is slaved with the IR laser pointer, meaning a zero with one, ensures the same zero with the other. This is extremely advantageous because you can positively zero or check your zero during the day using a simple boresight technique. The ATPIAL’s increased functionality comes at almost half the weight and size of its predecessor.
The exceptional functionality of this unit gives you everything you could want in a single compact package. Its design seats the unit low on the rail, and wraps around the Picatinny for a snag-resistant, low profile. This is accomplished by utilizing a recessed rail-grabber mount. The recessed controls are located on top of the housing for easy access in the field with gloves. The body housing is constructed of a high-density/ impact polymer and feels extremely robust. The material takes a lot of weight out of the unit, which is appreciated during long hours of carrying a rifle. The ATPIAL also features a rear-facing battery compartment which allows the user to remove the battery without removing the unit. A moulded-in lanyard loop rounds out the back. Windage and Elevation are adjusted with tiny screws on the top and sides of the unit. Each adjustment produces a positive click. The requirement of a tool to adjust windage/elevation is nice since it keeps the adjustment points low profile so they do not catch in the field.
Soft Carry Case
Operator's & Unit Maintenance Manual
Quick Reference Card
One (1) 3V DL123A Lithium Battery
Allen Wrench (3/32 Hex (7/64 SAE))
Aiming Exit Port Cover
Remote Cable Switch
Velcro Tape Fastener
Optical Pattern Generators
NSN: 5855-01-534-5931 (Black)
NSN: 5855-01-577-7174 (Tan)
The below table (first image) was created using technical specifications from several websites based on the High / Full Power PEQ-15. The second and third images are tables relating to Laser Classes, specifically power, visibility and risk of use (which are important to note for anyone utilising a laser weapons system).
The PEQ-15 and accessories are packaged in a black soft carry case with no exterior markings. The case has 2x belt clips to enable it to be attached to a webbing belt. The main flap is affixed with 2x vertical strips of velcro and upon opening there are five interior pockets; the main pocket and 2x accessory pockets. Inside of both of these accessory pockets is an additional shorter pocket made from elasticated material, designed for battery (CR123) storage. Inside the main pocket is; the PEQ-15 itself, Operator & Field Maintenance Manual and the Quick Reference Guide. At the rear of the main pocket is a water drainage hole. In the front left accessory pocket are; 2x retaining straps and a packet of 5x Pattern Generators. The front right accessory pocket contains; Remote Cable Switch, 4x tape fastener loops (velcro) and a 123A battery.
The PEQ-15 package includes a number of parts which are covered in detail later in the blog;
Operator & Field Maintenance Manual
Quick Reference Guide
2x retaining straps
5x Pattern Generators
Remote Cable Switch
4x tape fastener loops (velcro)
Product exterior in detail
The PEQ-15 is a lightweight, robust and highly tested and ruggedized piece of equipment. Manufactured using high-density/ impact polymer, the item has a sleek, well moulded outline. The PEQ-15 as described in the Operators Manual can be used weapons mounted or by hand, for the purpose of this blog it will cover when the PEQ-15 is weapons mounted. The exterior is designed to be low profile when mounted with limited protruding parts thereby reducing any snag points (on slings or ropes). For use with the the Military and Law Enforcement, the product is required to be simplistic to look at, simple to use and be highly effective. All of these three main points are achieved. The below sections cover each face of the PEQ-15 in detail.
The below two images firstly highlight and identify the key parts and features that will be covered through this blog.
Serial number - this is stamped or marked on and uniquely identifies the PEQ-15.
Laser radiation awareness sticker - details the wavelength and type of lasers utilised in the PEQ-15.
Laser radiation awareness sticker 2 - near identical to above with addition of manufactured date.
Activation button - this large button when pressed once, activates the laser / illuminator momentarily. Pressed twice they are activated for continuous usage.
Battery insertion diagram - denotes correct way to install battery.
Mode selector - comprises of three parts; rotating dial / selector switch in the centre, exterior of the hollowed section bearing the markings of the available modes and the safety screw to prevent accidental activation of High Power modes.
Aim Neutral Density Cap - when in place in front of the lasers the cap reduces the visibility of the IR laser and completely removes any visibility of the visible red laser. The cap is held in place using a fixing point on the top and bottom of the PEQ-15 and can be removed and replaced with an alternate Pattern Generator if required.
Lens Cap Pins - these are located on top of and underneath the PEQ-15 and are fixing points for the Pattern Generators.
Infrared laser - only visible using Night Vision device providing a POA (Point Of Aim).
Visible Aim laser - visible without Night Vision device providing a POA. Can also be used for bore sighting the weapon system. Both Infrared and Visible lasers are co-aligned meaning that when boresighting using the visible laser, the IR laser will also be adjusted at the same time.
Illuminator Diffuser Lens Cap - when in place spreads Illuminator energy over 180° enabling the illumination of a small room.
Infrared Illuminator - only visible using Night vision device. Purpose of illuminator is to illuminate target/s at close to far distance. Beam spread can be adjusted by rotating the Focus Knob left for a narrower beam or to the right for a wider angled beam.
Battery cap - metal cap seals the 123A battery inside the PEQ-15 and has an O-ring inside the cap preventing any moisture or particles to enter the battery compartment.
LED Status Indicator - when any of the functions are activated, the green LED at the rear lights up to provide a visual confirmation for the user that the PEQ-15 is active. The LED off and on function can be seen in the third image below.
Lanyard attachment - this moulded in loop enables the user to tie paracord to the PEQ-15 to be used in a non weapons mounted function.
Remote Jack - the remote jack (presell switch) can be inserted enabling the user to activate via pressure, the PEQ-15 when fixed to a foregrip or rail.
Illuminator Adjusters - The left side houses the Illuminator adjustment screws that effect azimuth and elevation changes.
QR code - further identifying sticker with Serial Number, date of manufacture and Part Number.
Aim Laser Adjusters - these adjustment screws affect both the IR laser and Visible laser that enable the user to adjust the azimuth and elevation.
Integral Rail Grabber Bracket - secures PEQ-15 to a MIL-STD-1913 rail.
Of note if you look at the screws in the above image, at the top, bottom and right hand side, you can see that the screw wells are filled with silicone. This is done to ensure that the screws a) never rattle loose, b) screws reduce likelihood of water damage (i.e. rust), c) prevent dirt build up in screw wells and d) visibly show that the system has not been interfered with.
The PEQ-15 weighs a total of 212g with a battery or 196g without a battery.
Parts in detail
There were a number of additional parts included within the PEQ-15 package that were worthy of inclusion and expansion on details for reference.
The PEQ-15 comes with 5x Pattern Generators (PG); Circle, Cross, Square, Triangle and T bar. In addition to these, the PEQ-15 also comes with 1x standard Aim Neutral Density Cap that does not contain a pattern. When installed and facing the front of the PEQ-15, the shape of the fitted PG should be on the left hand side of the PEQ-15. The purpose of the PGs are to project different shapes onto the target / area and affect both the IR and Visible lasers. Only one PG can be fitted at a time. The purpose of these is for command and control, for example where a squad leader may be designating a specific building for his units to approach or in some cases different units being assigned different PG for use in training as a means of identification and target assignment. Of note is that they when lightly shaken they do produce a small rattle due to the lenses not being fixed / glued between the front and rear sections of the PG.
Remote Cable Switch
In addition to the button on top of the PEQ-15, the package also includes a Remote Cable Switch. The purpose of this is to provide another method of activating the PEQ-15, in this case, using a presell switch which can be mounted horizontally on a rail or vertically on a foregrip. The RCS is plugged into the Remote Jack securely. The switch can then be fixed in place using the retaining straps or the loop velcro.
Quick Reference Guide
The Quick Reference Guide (QRG) is split into a number of sections and is an aide memoire for the operator. It covers;
NOHD (Non Ocular Hazard Distances)
Use of lasers & illuminator
LED status indicator
Weapon system options
Operator & Field Maintenance Manual
This 80 page booklet (including front & rear covers) contains all of the relevant information for the operator to understand how the PEQ-15 works, it's advantages, technical information (such as laser power, distancing etc) as well as usage criteria and effects.
Installing a battery
To install the CR123 battery at the rear of the PEQ-15, is a screw battery cap. Unscrewing this it can be seen that the collar on the PEQ-15 has an O-ring to provide a seal for the battery compartment. On top of the PEQ-15 above the battery cap is a diagram illustrating which way around the battery needs to be inserted. Once inserted the cap can be screwed back on tightly.
The PEQ-15 has functional 8 modes which have been detailed in the table below.
To change mode, the Mode Selector is moved to the relevant position. In order to select the High Power modes (AH, IH, DH) the blue Safety Screw must be removed using a 3/32 Hex or 7/64 SAE allen key. Once the Safety Screw has been removed as seen in the second image below, it can be stored in the Safety Screw Storage position on the right hand side of the PEQ-15 as shown in the third image.
Illuminator Pulse Mode
The Illuminator is designed to be used in three modes; momentary, continuous and pulse. When activated in Pulse Mode, an emitted pulse occurs every 1, 2, 4 or 8 seconds. The purpose of Pulse Mode is to briefly illuminate a specific close area intermittently.
The AN/PEQ-15 is designed for use war fighting across a multitude of operational environments and therefore it has to be rugged, able to withstand the elements such as atmospheric and temperature changes as well as damage.
Extreme Cold - system will likely fail to operate in -51F (-46C). At -40F (-40C) battery life will be seriously degraded.
Extreme Heat - system can operate successfully up to 124F (51C). Visible Aim Laser may degrade in temperatures above 104F (40C).
Dust / Sand Storms - caps must be fitted and seated correctly thereby reducing any probable damage to lenses.
Maritime - system is designed to be immersed up to 6m for one hour. System should be set to O (Off Mode).
Fitting the AN/PEQ-15 to a weapon system
To fit the PEQ-15 to a weapon system, you must use on the underside of the PEQ-15, the Integral Rail Grabber Bracket or use the 2x velcro tape fasteners to attached the PEQ-15 to your rail. The Rail Grabber Bracket enables the PEQ-15 to be fitted to a standard 1913-MIL-STD rail. By using a flathead screwdriver, the screw can be untightened, the PEQ-15 placed onto the rail and the screw tightened up. Caution needs to be taken to not overtighten and crack the screw. The PEQ-15 can be mounted on top of the rail or on the left and right hand side. It can further be mounted either directly at the forefront of the rail or just in front of any weapons sights if preferred.
The PEQ-15 was tested on the range to provide the following information;
Visibility test of Visible laser, IR laser and IR Illuminator at varying distances using Pattern Generators.
Dimensions of Predominant Target Area (PTA) and Spill of aiming reticle at varying distances using different Pattern Generators.
These results were captured in three formats; text, images and video footage, all of which have been included below for reference.
Range Review Footage
Predominant Target Area vs Spill
The standard target shown above was used for testing and was applied to an A3 white piece of paper. On this was drawn a central vertical bar measuring 24" from top to bottom. On the vertical line, 7 horizontal lines were drawn measuring 12" from left to right, each space 3" height above and below them. Where the vertical and horizontal line met in the middle of the target, a 1" x 1" Aiming Point square was drawn. This was used as the Aiming Point during the testing phase.
It's important to note that there was a difference between the use of the Visible and IR lasers. When using the Visible laser, it was evident that the projected point made as a result of the Pattern Generators was made of two parts as shown in the image to the left. The Predominant Target Area (PTA) (reticle) and the Spill (S). The PTA produced a defined targeting shape and it stood out. The S was in effect a 'bleed-out' from the PTA with it being dense close to the centre and losing integrity further away from the centre. When using IR, it was noted that the measurements increased in regards to Spill.
Visible Laser and IR Laser
Both the Visible and IR lasers are designed to provide the operator with a visible POA (Point of Aim) either using the naked eye or Night Vision equipment.
1st row - Pattern Generators (PG) supplied.
2nd row - visual representation in clear of the PG output.
3rd row - output of Visible laser using PG (filmed at dusk).
4th row - output of IR laser (Low Power) using PG (filmed at darkest hour using Gen2 NV).
5th row - output of IR laser (High Power) using PG (filmed at darkest hour using Gen2 NV).
Stills taken from 1080p video filmed on GoPro Hero9 at distance of 2m & 5m from solid white paper background with laser pointed against target.
The below table breaks down the visibility of the lasers at various ranges denoting whether the laser was clearly seen or not when used with and without the Pattern Generators. For the 1m - 5m section of the table I was able to additionally and accurately measure in inches (height and width);
P - Predominant Target Area (PTA) (reticle)
S - Spill
The purpose of the IR illuminator is to illuminate target/s at close to far distance. Beam spread can be adjusted by rotating the Focus Knob left for a narrower beam or to the right for a wider angled beam.
1st row - output of IR illuminator (Low Power)(filmed at darkest hour using Gen2 NV).
2nd row - output of IR illuminator (High Power)(filmed at darkest hour using Gen2 NV).
Stills taken from footage filmed on Samsung A20E at distance of 25m against a woodland background.
The below table breaks down the visibility of the illuminator at various ranges denoting whether the illuminator was effective or not. For the 1m - 5m section of the table I was able to additionally and accurately measure in inches (height and width);
F - Fine beam (smallest)
M - Medium beam (Middle)
W - Wide beam (largest)
Thoughts and opinion
The AN/PEQ-15 ATPIAL is an iconic and sought after item in circles outside of the Military and Law Enforcement. Fortunately the ATPIAL-C (Civilian) enables individuals to purchase an AN/PEQ-15 with lower power but still with many of the benefits (visible / IR laser and IR Illuminator) without breaking the bank. The use of the PEQ-15 on any weapon system is likely to give the operator a distinct tactical advantage especially if combined with NVDs (Night Vision Devices) as the system really comes into its own element once the sun sets.
The real steel version does cost, a lot. For those wanting to stray into this territory, I 100% recommend undertaking research, watching the YouTube reviews, speaking to actual owners and if you can get your hands on one for testing, do it. You will be shelling out a lot of money and you need to ensure it's right for what you need and it doesn't become very quickly an expensive paperweight. On the other hand, there are a huge variety of reproductions manufactured by a wide range of companies such as; G&G, Element, FMA and Nuprol. These come in a variety of guises, either a simple battery storage box with no functionality through to a repro that has a weak torch and pithy red laser, through to an upgraded repro that has a strong green laser, functioning IR laser and a simple high powered white torch. As with everything present today, reproductions these days are to the untrained eye identical to real steel items and you can be duped. That's where the research and time is taken to get you the best deal for what you're after.
The genuine AN/PEQ-15 is a hugely functional and necessary element to a weapon system and has now been mounted on my HK416 and will be of huge benefit in both daytime and night time scenarios.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.