In the world of night vision, most people use some sort of aiming device. While you can use a red dot sight, there are issues with getting helmet mounted NOD (night observation device) behind the optic to aim. So lasers are the key, specifically infrared lasers. B.E. Meyers has been making lasers for the military starting with the IZLID during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Well, they have taken their laser technology and developed the weapon mounted MAWL (modular advanced weapon laser). They make the Class III MAWL-DA which is restricted to military, government and law enforcement sales only. We were sent the civilian legal version, the Class I MAWL-C1+ for review.
Let’s get the price out of the way first. The MAWL-C1+ is not cheap. It retails for $2500 and while you may have sticker shock, believe me when I say I once thought the same thing. “What makes the MAWL-C1+ worth so much?” I have seen people claim that the MAWL is like no other. And yet they haven’t quantified or explained why it is better than the competition. Most common IR weapon lasers cost half as much as the MAWL. If you can get them, full power restricted IR lasers still do not cost as much as the MAWL. After talking with Chris Danks of B.E. Meyers he understands this hurdle with the MAWL-C1+ so he arranged this loaner MAWL to be sent for review. Seeing is believing. The MAWL-C1+ is hands down better than all the other lasers out there, well except for the MAWL-DA, B.E. Meyers full power version of the MAWL.
Here is a video I shot with the help of my friend J.W. He brought out his collection of weapon lasers and really showed me why the MAWL beats them all.
What sets the MAWL-C1+ apart is the illuminator. As you saw in the video above, the other laser illuminator beam patterns were dirty looking and in some cases unusable. Before using the MAWL, I thought I was set with IR illumination. I have Surefire Vampire Scoutlights and while they do work they do not illuminate at distance. From about 50 yards and in, the Scoutlight works well. But if you need to illuminate something further out then you will have problems. The MAWL can punch its illuminator out to 300 yards and effectively light up the darkness. But I’m wearing night vision how can there be darkness?
Easy, ambient light from street lights and lights of houses etc causes shadows. My PVS14 is autogated and so it dims to protect itself from burning out. Because of this, there can be shadows that are so dark, that night vision cannot show you what is there. So you need to light up the shadows with a good illuminator. The MAWL-C1+ punches through the darkness with both its aiming and illuminating laser.
Matt Meyers told me that LEGO was his inspiration behind the modularity of the MAWL. Almost every weapon laser is some sort of box that sits on top of the handguard. Look at the Steiner DBAL or L3 PEQ-15, they are boxes that sit high on the handguard. The MAWL is an offset design but with a simple twist of a locking screw you can change the battery and change the MAWL orientation for left-handed shooters.
The head is detachable and is a feature for the MAWL system. You can upgrade your MAWL with a MAWL-DA or MAWL-CLAD head if you are a “secret squirrel” in the military or law enforcement world.
Those metal bars are the Head tension bars they are what the tailcap locks onto and holds the MAWL together. The body houses the activation buttons and you can see three brass female contacts. The body has matching contacts on the other side so you simply flip the body around 180 degrees. This makes the MAWL ambidextrous. No other weapon laser is ambidextrous like this. Usually, you just have to adapt your right hand when using other weapon laser systems.
The MAWL head has two recessed LEDs that are only visible to the shooter. There are two so at least one is visible when positioned for left or right-handed shooters. They glow yellow when the MAWL is switched to VIS or IR. This lets you know that the unit is on. When you press either A or B buttons, the LEDs will glow green. This is particularly useful when you are in IR mode as you cannot see the beam with your naked eye.
This is the business end of the MAWL-C1+. The propeller cap is also the on/off switch and selector between visible and IR modes.
Here is the propeller cap set to IR. You can see there are four elements. There are three illuminators and one pointer.
At the rear, the MAWL has auxiliary ports for use with Insight ATPIAL plugs. This will allow you to use a remote switch like the UNITY Tactical TAPS and control your white weapon light.
The set screw can be switched to the other open position and this changes the MAWL-C1+ to its Alt Programming Mode. According to Chris at B.E. Meyers, the Alt Programming mode is for use with NODs with Photonis tubes. The standard programming mode puts out a beam that is sub-optimal for Photonis tubes. I believe the full power MAWL-DA uses the Alt mode for eye safe mode.
The MAWL controls can be actuated with your support hand thumb. There are two activation buttons, A & B. The activation buttons are momentary but a quick double tap and the MAWL will stay on for 3 minutes. Then there is a range selector switch which has three positions. You can change sub-modes while using constant on. With the two buttons and three sub-modes, this gives the MAWL six different modes just in IR.
Just reach forward a little bit more and you can rotate the propeller cap to turn the MAWL on or switch from VIS to IR and back.
The diagram below shows you the six different modes. At short range (aka close range), the flood illuminator is activated. Where in mid-range both the mid-range illuminator and long-range illuminator are simultaneously activated with the IR pointer. Don’t want illumination? Slide the selector all the way forward and push button B.
Here is a page out of the owners manual and lists the power ratings for the IR illuminator and pointer.
It was hard to see the benefit of the two short-range illuminator modes until I was at Jim Grant’s house. Take a look at the video clip below and you can see a noticeable difference between button B and button A in close range mode.
While the MAWL truly shines (pun intended) when used in IR mode with night vision, it is no slouch in visible mode. Here are some photos comparing my Holosun weapon laser compared to the MAWL-C1+.
The beam on the left is the MAWL and the beam to the right is my Holosun.
The difference is more apparent up close.
Just like IR mode, the two different buttons and sub-mode selector switch give the MAWL 3 different modes. When pushing the A button down you get a 5mw green pointer at all 3 modes. It is only button B that has different modes. On Short Range, the pointer is reduced to 1mw. On Mid Range it bumps up to 5mw and when you are in Long Range mode the 5mw pointer pulses.
Yes, the MAWL-C1+ is relatively expensive. But the old adage applies here “Buy once, cry once”. I prefer to equate it to any other well-made item that fetches premium prices. A DPMS AR-10 will fire .308 but the SCAR17S is one of the best out there and it too fetches a premium price tag. Those who have them would re-buy them in a heartbeat. I believe the same goes for the MAWL-C1+. While it is not “melt your face off retina-searing” like the Class III full power IR lasers, it is very versatile, it is ambidextrous and it beats the competition in pointing and illumination. For shooters who want to have the best equipment, the MAWL-C1+ is the one for you.