Review - AN/PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser (END)
History of Villain Weapon Systems
Villain Weapon Systems calls El Paso, Texas home. The company provides optical enhancements and upgrades for a series of military and civilian lasers, designators and illuminators for both visible and infra-red lasers. Filling a void in the market that other manufacturers and designers haven't yet touched means that VWS has a distinct advantage.
For more info - visit the Villain Weapons Systems website.
Why the AN/PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser by Villain Weapon Systems?
The illuminator of the AN/PEQ-15 is average, it can throw a beam out 10s of metres and it can illuminate the area. The separating factor between the military and civilian variant is that the military variant is adjustable enabling it to move from a fine focussed beam to a wide all encompassing beam. The civilian AN/PEQ-15 remains fixed with no adjustment available. Operating in an urban environment, you need all of the dark corners illuminated to detect threats or identify materials for SSE which can be done on the standard AN/PEQ-15 illuminator. Step outside into a wooded / open space environment and very quickly the wider beam is lost in ambient light. The additional plus is that by using the IR illuminator it provides additional light for your night vision device to utilise, great, as long as the other person isn't wearing night vision, in which case you're lit up like a Christmas tree. The PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser (END) is designed to upgrade and enhance your IR illuminator output. By specifically focussing the beam and diffusing it using a simple prism design on a lens, the output would be increased. Ever wanting to upgrade and evolve the kit I use and stepping more into the 'operating in darkness' space I jumped in both feet first to purchase the PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser (END).
Herein lies the product description from the website;
Villain Weapon Systems - PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser & Sacrificial Windows
The Enhanced Narrow Diffuser (END) is a ruggedized housing, sacrificial window, and diffuser system that replaces the lacklustre diffuser that comes stock with your AN/PEQ-15.
Once installed, simply flip the diffuser in front of the aperture of the illuminator. The END will effectively diffuse the illuminator into a bright 15° (260mrad) flood. For reference-the widest divergence of a PEQ-15 illuminator is approximately 6° (105mrad). This diffuser is also approximately 5x more intense than the stock diffuser.
The premium diffusive element found in the END is made from a stronger substrate than its predecessor. It also has a wider aperture to allow maximum beam scattering for diffuse illumination.
Please be aware that this diffuser is NOT a solution for the graininess that is found when using the stock diffuser. The "granular" diffuse illumination is a phenomenon that plagues the interaction between coherent lasers and diffusers. If you want to know more about this photonic aberration, please read about laser speckle.
The below video demonstrates the PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser in action.
The PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser (END) and components were shipped in two typical rugged transparent sealable bags. There were no external stickers or markings denoting the products inside.
The END package comes with four components; the END, 2x sacrificial windows, O-ring (replacement) and a 1.5 (metric) allen key. It also had in the bag a VWS business card.
END exterior in detail
The END is manufactured using strengthened mould injected plastic meaning that it's toughened but also easy to manufacture thanks to its' simplistic design.
The END itself measures;
Height 24 mm
Width 1 28 mm
Width 2 25 mm
The END weighs 7g
The END is broken down into two main parts; the Head (as highlighted in red on the image to the left) and the Body (highlighted in green).
The exterior of the END does appear to be 'busy' in regards to grooves, cut outs of the design etc. The END Head is covered in more detail below. The END Body features the VWS logo on two sides which are raised and can be used as grip points when attaching or removing the END from the AN/PEQ-15. These raised areas also house the miniature hex tightening screws for tightening or loosening the fixture.
The interior of the END features three noticeable areas. The first is the sunken circular depression seen in image one. This is where the transparent sacrificial lens can be inserted. Due to the size of the cut out and lens, it simply gets pushed into the depression and will stick there in place. Secondly there are two vertical ridges as highlighted in blue in image two. These ridges are designed to slot into the grooves on the PEQ illuminator diffusor. Additionally the END features 2x miniature hex tightening screws as highlighted in red in the third image. These screws are used to clamp onto and tighten the hold of the END on the illuminator diffusor.
The front of the END aptly named the 'head' can be removed partially or completely. In the images below, the head has been rotated to one side enabling the IR illuminator to be able to be used without the diffuser in place. The head is held in place with an elasticated o-ring (1" ID x 1-1/8" OD x 1/16" CS O-Ring) which is held in place and held taught by fixing it over the struts on the left and right hand sides.
One role of the PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser is to diffuse plus twofold the beam from the atypical 6° (105mrad) and increasing it to a 15° (260mrad) as shown in image one below. Simplistically this can be demonstrated in images two and three where the blue rectangles represent targets on a range. In image two, without the END fitted the beam is 6° which covers the central target and the wider spill of the beam may just illuminate the edges of the targets on the left and right hand side. In image three when the END is fitted providing a beam of 15°, the central target is fully illuminated with the most powerful section of the central beam illuminating the targets to the left and right. The wider spill further illuminates those targets. This upgrade as seen can enable the identification of further hostiles within a darkened room potentially meaning the split second choice of firing off a single shot at one perceived target or multiple shots at multiple targets in the room.
Fitting the PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser
Fitting the END to the PEQ is as simple as sliding it onto the illuminator diffusor. Once in place, the screws can be slightly tightened to ensure that it does not fall off, but instructions state to not overtighten to prevent damage to the END and the illuminator diffusor. I did slightly tighten the END in place as whilst it was not easily removable, I really wanted it to be securely held on to prevent it coming off and being lost.
The below pictures demonstrate the END fitted to the AN/PEQ-15 which is mounted on a TM HK416D.
The below video demonstrates when the AN/PEQ-15 is as standard without the END fitted, using the variable adjustment to go from wider beam to focussed beam. The video then demonstrates when the END is fitted and shows the improvement moving from a fine to a wide beam.
Maintenance of the END is absolutely minimal.
Immersion in warm soapy water may be undertaken (having removed the screws). The recommendation is to break the END down into separate components and wash each individually.
A soft brush can be used to clean the lens whilst a stiffer brush may be used to clean the interior and exterior of the END.
A cleaning cloth may be used to clean the diffuser lens and sacrificial lenses.
Allow components to dry naturally.
Periodically check the O-ring for wear and tear and if required, replace to prevent possible loss of the END Head when in the field.
Thoughts and opinion
The evolution of kit and equipment in use by warfighters will continue onwards with new and innovative products being designed-, manufactured, employed and replaced. Some products will never get past the design stage, others will be adopted and quickly disappear due to new replacements or being not fit for purpose. I personally love exploring the new innovative products there are, to find kit that helps perform a function or make lives easier, it's worth it in my opinion.
The AN/PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser is yet another small, low cost product with a big impact. Having been using the PEQ-15 for a couple of years now, the illuminator diffusor has been used yes, but as with all military and law enforcement comments of it being lacklustre, I tend to agree. That's where the AN/PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser came into its own and provided a specific and unique function to basically overhaul and increase the operability and output of the PEQ-15 at a low price. No technical knowledge required, no finnicky installation required, literally just plug and play and you've got yourself a hugely improved illumination vector.
In a wooded environment or where there are large open spaces the illuminator is now able to punch out further and wider ensuring that sight through the L3Harris DTNVS leaves few dark corners to hide in. Where the PEQ-15 Enhanced Narrow Diffuser comes into its own is in a CQB or urban environment, being able to flood the immediate area, windows and doorways with bright IR light is a huge plus. As long as the opposition isn't also wearing Night Vision. This expanded vector means target acquisition on the periphery is quicker and as mentioned darkened corners and shadows are illuminated leaving no space to hide. If you're using a PEQ, I personally recommend purchasing the PEQ END as it's a worthy investment with noticeable and immediate impact.
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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.