This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/552,958, filed Mar. 11, 2004, which is incorporated herein by reference.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application relates to holsters for handguns and the like.
It is known to fabricate handgun holsters from plastic resins. One known holster includes a handgun receiving body made by thermoforming a sheet of thermoplastic resin, such as acrylic/PVC sold under the name KYDEX® by Kleerdex Company, Aiken, S.C., USA. Holsters formed of KYDEX sheet material commonly include handgun retention features comprising opposing indentations integrally formed in the sidewalls of the holster body. The opposing indentations are sized to fit within and releasably engage a trigger guard of the handgun to hinder removal of a handgun and prevent the handgun from accidentally sliding free of the holster. For secure holstering and proper operation of retention features, the cavity of the holster body must be sized and shaped to follow contours of the handgun, with relatively little free play.
Another known handgun holster, sold by Michaels of Oregon Company, Oregon City, Oreg., USA, includes a handgun receiving body that is made of an injection molded KYDEX® resin.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,282,559 of Wisser et al. describes a handgun holster including a pouch formed of a flexible laminate material that is supported by a rigid external plastic frame, which may be formed of KYDEX sheet material.
A common handgun accessory for law enforcement and military personnel is a tactical illuminator. Examples of tactical illuminators include the models M2, M3, M4, M5, and M6 illuminators and a combination illuminator/laser aiming module (“LAM”), all sold by Insight Technology, Inc., Londonderry, N.H., USA. Such tactical illuminators typically include mounting systems that slidably mate with a dovetail rail or other mounting feature formed in the frame of a handgun underneath the handgun barrel and forward of a trigger guard of the handgun. U.S. Pat. No. 6,184,854 of Solinsky et al. describes such a sliding attachment mechanism for detachably mounting a tactical illuminator or other auxiliary apparatus to a handgun.
Some fabric holsters are sized to receive and hold a handgun with a tactical illuminator attached to the handgun. However, when an illuminator is not attached to the handgun, the handgun may float within the holster pocket, which can defeat any handgun retention features such as straps and trigger guard engagement mechanisms.
The present inventor has recognized that some users prefer to detach the tactical illuminator from the handgun when carrying the holstered handgun. For example, it may be desirable to have convenient access to a tactical illuminator for handheld operation separately from a handgun. Furthermore, a tactical illuminator may not be needed for daytime operations and merely adds weight and bulk to the handgun. If the illuminator is carried separately from the handgun, the gun can remain holstered and the illuminator can be made more conveniently accessible. However, known independent-carry solutions for tactical illuminators require a pouch or clip that is separate from the handgun holster. The present inventor has recognized that independent carry pouches and clips can be bulky or inconvenient to use.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present inventor has recognized a need for a more convenient device for storing tactical illuminators and other small accessories and service items.
In accordance with the invention, a weapon holster includes a mounting device for releasably holding a tactical illuminator or other service item on the outside of the holster body. The mounting device may include a mounting rail located adjacent an outer surface of the holster body, preferably extending along a front spine of the holster. In one embodiment, the mounting rail or other mounting device is integrally formed of one-piece construction with an injection molded plastic holster body.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Additional aspects and advantages of this invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a pictorial side view of a holster in accordance with a first embodiment, shown with a handgun carried in the holster and a tactical illuminator attached to an accessory mounting rail of the holster;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the holster of FIG. 1 showing detail of the front and inner side portions of the holster;
FIG. 3 is an elevation view of the holster of FIG. 1 with a belt loop hangar of the holster detached to reveal detail of the inner side of the holster and a belt loop mounting disc;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged elevation view depicting the holster of FIG. 1 with the handgun, tactical illuminator, and belt loop omitted and a rotating security hood of the holster rotated forwardly to an open position;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged pictorial showing detail of a bottom front portion of a holster in accordance with a second embodiment, showing detail of a multi-part holster body;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged bottom plan view of the holster of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a pictorial view showing a holster in accordance with a third embodiment;
FIG. 8 is an enlarged perspective view showing detail of a spine of the holster of FIG. 7 and an accessory mounting rail integrally formed therein;
FIG. 9 is an exploded view of a holster with belt loop mounting disc, retrofitted with an L-shaped bracket including an accessory mounting rail in accordance with another embodiment;
FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing yet another embodiment of a holster including, in which an accessory mounting rail of the holster includes multiple retention slots in a modified Picatinny mount configuration; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 11 is an enlarged perspective view of an accessory holder mounted to the accessory mounting rail of the holster of FIG. 10.
With reference to FIGS. 1-6, a holster 10 includes a body 14 that defines a cavity 16 and a top opening 17 sized to admit at least a portion of a handgun 18 into cavity 16. Body 14 may be made of a wide variety of materials, such as leather, fabric, molded plastic, and other synthetic materials, for example, and by any of a variety of manufacturing methods, such as molding, sewing, lamination, riveting, and other methods. An exemplary holster body is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,419,474 of Marx et al., the relevant disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. An optional rotatable holster securement system 50 of holster 10 includes belt loop hangar 62 (FIG. 3) and a mounting disc 64 of the type described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,161,741 of French, incorporated herein by reference. Holster 10 may also include handgun-retaining security features of the type described in various other patents and patent applications, such as U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/916,027 titled “Security Hood for Handgun Holsters and the Like”, filed Aug. 9, 2004, and other patents listed therein.
An accessory holder 19 of holster 10 preferably includes a mounting rail 20 that extends along the outer surface 22 of a front spine 24 of holster body 14. Mounting rail 20 is preferably an accessory mounting rail such as a Picatinny rail or a Weaver rail. The Picatinny mounting rail, named after the U.S. military's Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, is specified by U.S. military specification MIL-STD-1913, which is incorporated herein by reference. The Weaver rail is named after its original manufacturer, the former W.R. Weaver Co., and does not typically conform to the strict dimensional specifications of MIL-STD-1913. As is understood by those skilled in the art, Picatinny and Weaver rails have conventionally been used to accurately removably mount on an automatic rifle certain accessories, such as riflescopes and laser range finders. Clamps and other mounting devices that will attach to a Weaver rail will generally also attach to a Picatinny rail. Many variations on the standard 1913 and Weaver rails exist and are considered within the scope of the present disclosure.
Generally speaking, mounting rail 20 includes an elongate rail with a cross section sized to securely support an accessory device that includes a mating attachment device, such as a tactical illuminator 26 (FIGS. 1-3) or other accessory item. Mounting rail 20 may be shaped and sized differently from the rail specified by MIL-STD-1913 and from Weaver rails, to accommodate tactical illuminators or other accessories utilizing different mounting systems, such as slidably mountable accessories for attaching to underbarrel rails of handguns sold by Glock GmbH or Heckler & Koch, for example. The shape of mounting rail 20 may be selected to match the same shape profile of the accessory mounting rail of the particular handgun model (or models) that holster 10 is sized to fit. For example, if holster 10 were sized to fit a GLOCK handgun, then mounting rail 20 would be substantially the same shape profile as the accessory rail provided on the frame of the GLOCK handgun. In some embodiments, holster 10 is sized to fit multiple models of handguns having accessory rails of different shapes, in which event holster 10 may include multiple mounting rails 26 with various shape profiles corresponding to the various models of handguns for which holster 10 is designed to fit.
With particular reference to FIGS. 4-6, some embodiments of mounting rail 20 include one or more retention slots 28 that extend transversely across an outer face 32 of rail 20 for engagement by a latch bar 34 of tactical illuminator 26 (FIG. 1) that releasably latches the illuminator to rail 20. A Picatinny-style embodiment of mounting rail 20 b (FIG. 10) includes multiple retention slots corresponding to the “recoil slots” of MIL-STD-1913, which are regularly spaced along the length of the rail. A Weaver-style rail may have one or more retention slots that are not necessarily evenly spaced, as in the embodiments of FIGS. 1-8. In other embodiments (not shown), mounting rail 20 may be replaced by a mounting device that does not have a dovetail shape or that does not include a rail. Exemplary alternative mounts include cradles, channels, slots, spring clips, and other devices sized for holding an accessory item, such as a tactical illuminator, compressed gas canister, magazine clip, or other accessory, to the outside of holster 10. In yet other embodiments (not shown), the mounting rail 20 or other accessory holder 19 may be sized and shaped for removably attaching to holster 10 any of various small articles that are not typically attached to handgun 18 or used as accessories to a handgun, such as a radio or mobile telephone, for example.
Mounting rail 20 preferably extends along a lower portion of front spine 24 of holster 10 to provide clearance for a rotating security hood 38 or strap of holster 10. However, in alternative embodiments (not shown) accessory holder 19 may be positioned in other locations, such as an upper portion of spine 24, an outer side surface 42 of holster body 14, along a welt (rear margin) 44 of holster body 14, at the bottom 46 of holster 10 or in any other location on holster 10. In yet other embodiments, multiple mounting rails 20 or other mounting devices may be provided on holster body 14 for holding and carrying multiple accessory items in various locations around the holster 10.
Mounting rail 20 or other accessory holders and mounting features are preferably formed integrally with holster body 14 in a one-piece construction by injection molding of a thermoplastic resin such as nylon resin, glass-filled nylon resin, or KYDEX® brand acrylic/PVC resin, for example. An exemplary one-piece molded holster is shown in FIG. 7. A holster body with integral mounting rail may also be formed by other methods, such as machining from a solid block of plastic material or multiple pieces that are assembled together. In one alternative embodiment a mounting rail comprises one or more separate pieces fastened to holster body 14 via a T-rail (FIGS. 5-6) extending along an outer surface of the holster body. A T-rail provides modularity that allows a single holster body to fit with various styles of accessory mounting rails, which may be installed by the original manufacturer of the holster or by a purchaser. In another embodiment (not shown), mounting rail 20 is attachable to holster body 14 by screws, rivets, or other fasteners, or by adhesives, welding, or other attachment means. Such attachment means allow mounting rails 20 to be attached to fabric and laminate holsters in a multi-part construction.
When molded integrally with body 14, mounting rail 20 may extend only a few millimeters beyond the outer surface of body 14 and along only a few centimeters of the length of spine 24. In another embodiment (not shown), mounting rail 20 may comprise a pair of channels extending in a generally vertical direction along opposite side surfaces of holster body 14 just aft of spine 24.
In accordance with the embodiment of FIGS. 1-3, a tactical illuminator 26 may be used while remaining attached to mounting rail 20. Rotary holster securement system 50 may further facilitate such use. The mounting disc 64 of holster securement system 50 allows holster body 14 to be rotated 90 degrees on belt loop hangar 62 to a horizontal orientation, so that the bottom 46 of holster 10 is pointed forward of the wearer and tactical illuminator 26 is facing forward. In some mounting configurations, holster body 14 may need to be rotated so that bottom 46 faces rearward of the user in order for tactical illuminator 26 to face forward. Some embodiments of holster securement system 50 may provide a releasable locking mechanism that allows holster body 14 to be releasably held in the horizontal orientation or another inclined orientation.
FIG. 9 depicts another embodiment, in which the mounting rail 20 a is formed on an L-shaped bracket 60 that is secured to holster 10 a between mounting disk 62 of holster securement system 50 (FIGS. 1-3) and holster body 14, so that the bracket 60 extends around the spine 24 or rear margin 44 of holster 10 a where rail 20 a is accessible for attachment of accessories thereto. Providing mounting rail 20 a on L-shaped bracket 60 allows existing holsters to be retrofitted for mounting rails, which then can be used in one or more of the ways described herein. Bracket 60 may also include shapes other than L-shapes, such as U-shapes and other configurations that place mounting rail 20 a proximal to holster 10 a or another device.
FIG. 10 shows yet another embodiment, in which holster 10 b includes a mounting rail 20 b including multiple retention slots 28 b spaced apart along the length of mounting rail 20 b. Mounting rail 20 b has a dovetail shaped cross section and includes first and second opposing guide channels 72, 74 extending along the inner and outer sides of mounting rail 20 b. (Similar guide channels are present in the embodiments of FIGS. 1-9.) Mounting rail 20 b is a modified Picatinny-style rail, in which the dovetail shape has been softened slightly, with corners and edges having somewhat larger radiuses and a flatter overall shape for low profile and for facilitating smooth engagement of an accessory device onto mounting rail 20 b. Retention slots 28 b may also be slightly larger, smaller, or differently spaced than standard Picatinny rails, to facilitate attachment of particular equipment to holster 10 b. Accordingly, strict adherence to MIL-STD-1913 may not be necessary in some embodiments. However, mounting rail 20 b is preferably shaped to securely retain the accessory device to prevent rattling of the mounting attachment and inadvertent disconnection.
In the various embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-10, each of the retention slots 28, 28 a, 28 b preferably spans across mounting rail 20, 20 a, 20 b between its inner and outer sides so that the ends of retention slots 28, 28 a, 28 b are open. In embodiments such as the one shown in FIG. 10, the inclusion of multiple retention slots 28 b along mounting rail 20 b may allow accessories to be positioned at a selective height along rail 20 b or in a reversed orientation (i.e. upward facing vs. downward facing). Multiple retention slots 28 b may also accommodate a wider variety of accessory devices and mounting attachment systems having retention bars at different positions relative to their mounts. Guide channels 72, 74 are preferably open at a bottom end 78 of mounting rail 20, 20 a, 20 b so that an accessory device may be slidably attached and detached from the bottom end 78 mounting rail 20, 20 a, 20 b. In some embodiments, guide channels 72, 74 include a closed end. For example, in the embodiment of FIG. 10 guide channels 72, 74 each include a stop rib 82 adjacent a top end 86 of mounting rail to limit movement of an accessory device along mounting rail 20 b and to prevent the accessory device from being attached from the top of mounting rail 20 b. Mounting rail 20 b may also preferably include a tapered ramp 88 at an open end (e.g. bottom end 78) of mounting rail 20 b that serves as a lead-in to facilitate initial sliding engagement of an accessory device clamp onto mounting rail 20 b.
FIG. 11 is an enlarged perspective view of an accessory receptacle 90 releasably mounted to mounting rail 20 b of holster 10 b of FIG. 10. With reference to FIG. 11, accessory receptacle 90 preferably includes a pocket 92 having a top opening for receiving a small item, such as a spare ammunition magazine for a handgun (not shown). Similarly to tactical illuminator (FIGS. 1-3), accessory receptacle 90 includes a mounting device shaped to slidably attach to mounting rail 20 b, and a movable latch bar 94 sized to releasably engage one of the retention slots 28 b (FIG. 10) of mounting rail 20 b. Accessory receptacle 90 may preferably be made of rigid molded plastic or metal. In other embodiments, accessory receptacle 90 may comprise a pouch made of fabric or another flexible material, to which is secured a rigid mounting clamp or other device attachable to mounting rail 20 b.
It will be obvious to those having skill in the art that many changes may be made to the details of the above-described embodiments without departing from the underlying principles of the invention. For example, holsters in accordance with the various embodiments can be used to holster other kinds of weapons and law enforcement tools, such as stun guns or energy weapons of the type sold under the name TASER®, for example. Mounting rails 20, 20 a, 20 b can also be used to mount accessories other than tactical illuminators. For example, mounting rails 20, 20 a, 20 b may be sized to store a riflescope or other gunsight when not in use. The scope of the present invention should, therefore, be determined only by the following claims.