Would you rather engage an armed threat from an open space or from behind cover/concealment?
No brainer, right?
Well, Aimpoint offers a very nice little device that enables an operator to maximize whatever cover or concealment is available in a given area during a gunfight. Called the CEU (short for Concealed Engagement Unit), it’s one of those things you just want to have in your bag — just in case.
The Aimpoint System of Systems
First introduced in 2009, the Aimpoint CEU is not exactly an unknown item to many operators, but twice I’ve shown it to folks on the rifle range, and I’ve yet to have a guy tell me, “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that,” or “Oh, yeah, I have one of those.”
I certainly hadn’t seen one until my recent trip to Brunswick (Ga.) for an on-site summary of the Telluric Group’s Close Combat Optic (CCO) course designed to help police officers and military personnel get the most out of their Aimpoint optics and accessories.
During that event we had access to a wide array of Aimpoint gear, but the item that most interested me was the CEU.
Aimpoint describes the CEU thusly:
“The Aimpoint CEU (Concealed Engagement Unit) gives an operator the ability to use an ordinary carbine to observe or engage targets from behind cover as well as around corners or over barricades without exposing themselves to hostile fire.
“The CEU is quickly and easily fixed behind the Aimpoint sight using the TwistMount, and can be stripped directly from the CEU ring to return to CQB mode in an emergency. The CEU unit rotates a full 270 degree in its mounting ring, allowing use by left or right handed shooters, and features a lanyard ring to prevent loss.”
That about sums it up, but I’d add a word:
Brief Adjustment Period
Shooting with the CEU mounted behind your red dot is pretty different. Many shooters seem to want to snug up close to the stock as if the CEU isn’t even there. They’re so familiar with getting their eye right behind the optic’s rear lens that they struggle to sit back a ways, putting a bit of distance between your face and the CEU.
Strangely, I didn’t have that problem. I set up on the rifle, and immediately was using both eyes to look through the rear lens from a distance of about a half-arm’s length.
However, the very first time I used the CEU, I had a devil of a time acquiring the target. Squatting behind simulated cover at the Telluric facility, I looked downrange through the CEU and saw nothing but an amorphous grey surface... the ceiling.
The Telluric guys, either being enormously helpful to me or highly protective of their ceiling — probably some of both — gave me a couple of quick pointers on how to mount the weapon in such a way as to quickly get target acquisition.
It wasn’t long before I was accurately firing rounds into my chosen spots. Yes, it was awkward to shoot an AR-15 with the rifle stock dangling in the air midway between my wrist and my elbow, but it was accurate!
Quality Time on the Line
At the Telluric Group event, there were eight other shooters present, so I only had a limited time to test out the CEU. Upon my return home to San Francisco, I asked for a T&E unit I could use during an Intermediate Carbine class presented by Spartan Concepts and Consulting in late July.
Regular readers of this space will recall that I do a fair bit of training with Spartan, which provides law enforcers and vetted, responsible, armed citizens with top-quality training.
You’ll also remember that this organization is run by my very good friend and fellow PoliceOne scribe Ken Hardesty, who on this day was teaching with Kyle Gentry, another law enforcer from near my neck of the woods here in the Bay Area.
During our lunch break, Ken, Kyle, and I set up a V-TAC Barricade, loaded up a couple of magazines, and ran my S&W M&P-15 with the CEU mounted behind my Aimpoint CompM4.
All three of us were duly impressed.
“Operating behind simulated cover, I was able to employ the unit from both sides of the barricade, as well as while elevating the carbine,” Hardesty told me recently. “Providing the operator the ability to put rounds on the threat with little to no body exposure creates an obvious advantage to the guys in white hats.”
As you can see from the photos above and to the left, one of the really significant advantages to using the CEU is that your entire body — except for your hands, of course — can be positioned well behind whatever cover or concealment you have available.
You can easily switch to support-side shooting by just rotating the CEU from one side of the rifle to the other. You can hold the rifle way up above your head, over a cinder-block wall for example, or get low and acquire your target from around a mailbox or some other such object you’d find in a street fight.
Simply said, if you can dream up a position from which you might shoot, you very likely will be able to use the CEU to enhance your own safety and survivability in that position. Listed online at less than $400, it is one of those investments that just makes sense. Who wouldn’t pay that to potentially save their life?
Final Thoughts on the CEU
In my humble opinion, the Aimpoint CEU (and the Aimpoint 3X Magnifier, which I will review in coming weeks) are essentials — not accessories! — for any Aimpoint red dot optic you may run on the top rail of your AR.
Using the quick-twist mount can rapidly adjust from a 100-yard outdoor shot taken with the 3X Magnifier... to a 10-yard, around-the-corner-in-a-hallway shot taken with the CEU. In a dynamic environment, that kind of rapid flexibility gives the police or military operator a very significant advantage.
I get a lot of products sent to me out of the clear blue sky — some of which I test and write about, some of which I send to one of my columnists, some of which I simply send back to the manufacturer with a note of “thanks but no thanks.”
There are some instances — such as the pants and boots I’m presently wearing — in which the manufacturer doesn’t want their stuff back.
However, this is not the case with the Aimpoint CEU — they’re gonna want it back.
I’m going to be very, very bummed out when I slap the shipping label on that box drop it in the outgoing mail. My wife is going to be very, very bummed out when the Aimpoint CEU is the only thing I put on my 2012 Christmas list!