US Army Aiming Lasers

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The US Army and US Marine Corps use a variety of weapon sights and scopes.

We’re going to review the current crop of sights and scopes – and explain what they are used for.

We’re going to start with aiming lasers – also called laser pointers, target pointers, or target designators.

The US armed forces consider optics, sensors and lasers to be combat multipliers. Some of these are available for sale commercially, and some are not.

All of these cannot be exported outside of the US due to government export restrictions.

Here’s the gear we’re going to review in this article.

AN/PEQ-15 Standard Power Advanced Target Pointer and Illuminator The AN/PEQ-15 is a multi-function light that includes a visible laser for day use, or an invisible IR laser for use with night vision scopes and goggles. Also includes an IR illuminator.

AN/PEQ-16B MIPIM LED Mini Integrated Pointing Illumination Module The AN/PEQ-16B MIPIM combines dual function infrared and visual targeting lasers, IR illuminator, AND a bright LED white light.

Let’s look at these aiming lasers.

AN/PEQ-15 Multi-Functional Aiming Light

The AN/PEQ-15 is described as a “multi-functional aiming light”, or MFAL for short.

It is also known as the Advanced Target Pointer Illuminator Aiming Light (ATPIAL).

For a civilian, think of this as a “laser pointer”, but for a gun. It’s an laser aiming device.

These devices are designed to provide precision aiming in visible and infrared (IR) spectrums. During the daytime soldiers can employ visible red dot lasers for targeting purposes, whereas at night, they can employ IR beams as they can only be detected with the use of night vision devices.

AN/PEQ-15 Multi-Functional Aiming Light.
The AN/PEQ-15 attaches to a variety of weapons and provides a visible daylight laser beam (for aiming) and an invisible IR laser beam for use with night sights and goggles.

It is “multi-function” because it includes both a visible laser for daylight use, and an IR (invisible to the un-aided eye) laser for use with night vision devices.

It is used with a wide array of weapons, including: M16-series rifle, M4/M4A1 carbine, M249 machine gun, M240B machine gun, M2 machine gun, and the MK 19 machine gun/grenade launcher.

It is normally attached to the M1913 picatinny rail or equivalent, as shown here.

AN/PEQ-15 attached to M4 Carbine
AN/PEQ-15 attached to M4 Carbine

It can be mounted on the side, or on the top of a quad rail.

AN/PEQ-15 as mounted on top of a rifle
An AN/PEQ-15 ATPIAL can also be mounted on the top of the quad rail. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jamean Berry/Released)

Because it is an aiming light (laser) it is normally used in conjunction with another optic – as seen in many of these pictures.

The co-aligned lasers are adjustable for windage and elevation.

Not only does the AN/PEQ-15 include two different lasers, but it also includes an IR illuminator.

The IR illuminator provides a wide beam of IR light – sort of like a flashlight.

This can be used to enhance the view through night vision goggles – but is highly visible to anyone (and everyone) else with night vision devices.

AN/PEQ-15 IR aiming laser as seen through Night Optics Device (NODs)
The AN/PEQ-15 IR aiming laser is invisible to the naked eye – but is easily seen with night vision devices (which is the whole point!)
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jamean Berry/Released)

Dimensions: 4.6″ x 2.8″ x 1.6″
Weight: 7.5oz w/ batteries
Battery Type: 1xDL 123 (3 Volt battery)
Battery Life: 6+ hours in Dual High setting
Visible Aim Laser Range: 25m
IR Aim Laser Range: 600m on low, 2000m on high
IR Illuminator Range: 2000m

AN/PEQ-15 MFAL mounted on the front of a weapon.
AN/PEQ-15 mounted on the front of a weapon. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jamean Berry/Released)

The fore-runner of the PEQ-15 was the AN/PEQ-2 and AN/PEQ-4C. The PEQ-15 is lighter and smaller, but both have similar capabilities.

The newest version, the AN/PEQ-15A Dual Beam Aiming Laser – Advanced2 – also known as the DBAL-A2, has improvements.

It incorporates an improved IR illuminator to provide better illumination at longer distances, and the cleaner, circular beam allows for accurate range estimation and engagement of moving targets.

AN/PEQ-15A - the DBAL-A2 - the latest version of the PEQ-15
The DBAL-A2 version of the AN/PEQ-15 is the newest and most improved.

Here’s a closeup of the various switches on the DBAL-A2.

DBAL-A2 - Closeup of switches

Let’s move on and look at some more.

AN/PEQ-14 Integrated Laser/White Light Pointer (ILWLP)

The AN/PEQ-14 Integrated Laser/White Light Pointer (ILWLP) is a small, lightweight device soldiers can handhold – but it is really meant for use with pistols.

It is the equivalent of the AN/PEQ-15 – but for pistols – and it includes a regular white light/flashlight.

It can be mounted on the M9 pistol with a Military Standard (MIL-STD)-1913 rail adapter (picatinny rail.)

AN/PEQ-14 mounted on an M9 pistol.
An AN/PEQ-14 on an M9 pistol. In addition to visible laser, IR laser, and IR illuminator, it has a visible white light. (Photo by Program Executive Office)

The AN/PEQ-14 combines the functions of a white light flashlight with adjustable focus, visible aiming laser, infrared (IR) aiming laser and IR illuminator into one system.

Two DL 123 standard commercial batteries are used.

Weight: 6 ounces
Range IR aim/illumination: >100 meters
Visual aim: 25 meters during daylight but not direct
Range White light: 20 meters facial recognition
Operational time: Supports between 30 minutes and
5 hours of continuous operation, depending on functions
Power: Two DL 123, 3 volt batteries

The AN/PEQ-14 ILWLP is used exclusively by military police units.

AN/PEQ-16B Mini Integrated Pointed Illuminator Module (MIPIM)

Need white (visible) light and laser pointers for a carbine or rifle?

The AN/PEQ-16B Mini Integrated Pointed Illuminator Module (MIPIM) is an integrated white light and laser device.

AN/PEQ-16B mounted on an M4 carbine.
AN/PEQ-16B MIPIM mounted on an M4 carbine.

It enables laser pointing and precision aiming in visible or infrared spectrums. It emits a visible or infrared light for precise weapon boresighting and aiming, and incorporates a Light Emitting Diode (LED) bright white light for target/area illumination.

AN/PEQ-16B as mounted on an M4 carbine.
The AN/PEQ-16B – Much like the PEQ-15, this device has both infrared (IR) and visible aiming lasers that are co-aligned – but unlike the PEQ-15 it includes a white LED light.

Weight: 9.9 ounces
Range IR lasers: 600 meters low power/2,000 meters high
Range Visible laser: 25 meters in daylight, but not in direct
White Light: Facial recognition at 25 meters
Operational time: 5 hours with lasers(s) on Dual High
Power: Two DL 123, 3-volt batteries

AN/PEQ-16B MIPIM weapon mounted aiming light
The MIPIM is a small bit heavier than the PEQ-15, but includes more (the LED light.)

AN/PEQ-16B MIPIM IR laser in use at night
An infantry Marine aims at his target during a night deck shoot. The AN/PEQ-16B aiming laser he is using is invisible unless you are using a NVD (Night Vision Device.) (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia/Released)

AN/PSQ-23 Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted (STORM) Micro-Laser Rangefinder (MLRF)

The AN/PSQ-23 Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted (STORM) Micro-Laser Rangefinder (MLRF) is a lightweight, multifunctional laser system designed to operate on individual and crew served weapons, including the M110 sniper system.

AN/PSQ-23 Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted (STORM) Micro-Laser Rangefinder (MLRF)
The AN/PSQ-23 Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted (STORM) Micro-Laser Rangefinder (MLRF) – does it all – aiming lasers, both visible and IR, plus laser rangefinder and can be used with some GPS devices to determine precise target location. (Photo by Program Executive Office)

It combines the functionality of a laser rangefinder, the AN/PEQ-15/15A Infrared Aiming Laser and Illuminator, The Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES), a digital compass, and a visible pointer into a single system.

Combined with a Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR) or a Defense Advanced GPS Receiver (DAGR), the system can compute and display highly accurate target locations.

A DAGR military GPS device.
The Defense Advanced Global positioning system Receiver (DAGR) is an advanced handheld GPS device used by the US military. (Photo by Program Executive Office)

The STORM is quite small and can be mounted on weapons both large and small.

 AN/PSQ-23 STORM mounted on a rifle
AN/PSQ-23 STORM mounted on a rifle.

 AN/PSQ-23 STORM mounted on top of a quad rail
AN/PSQ-23 STORM mounted on top of the quad rail on an M4 carbine.

The AN/PSQ-23 STORM is an advanced piece of equipment with a lot of features specific to military use.

Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle
A Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle showing the use of the remote weapons station. The AN/PSQ-23 STORM is used as a laser range finder. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Ellen C. Brabo, 2d Cavalry Regiment)

It is not available for sale commercially.

US Army Aiming Lasers – In Summary

The US Army and US Marine Corps use different weapon sights and lasers for different purposes.

They have a variety of capabilities including visible light, visible laser pointing, and IR (invisible) laser pointing meant for use with Night Vision Devices (NVDs.)

Some are available commercially, while others are not.

Most, if not all, are export restricted per ITAR, but there is no reason you can’t own and use most of these devices as a US citizen on US territory.


AN/PEQ-2: Wikipedia

AN/PEQ-15 DBAL-A2 Product Specs (Steiner Defense)


Photo Credits

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Much of the photos in this article are provided by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), or the manufacturers – and are the property of the manufacturers.

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