Title:
Finger-actuated handgun retention device for holster
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A handgun retention device for a holster includes a catch that extends into a handgun receiving cavity defined by a body of the holster where the catch engages a trigger guard of a holstered handgun to retain the handgun in the cavity. A lever is operably coupled to the catch and extends below the grip of the holstered handgun and aft of its trigger guard, typically behind a rear margin of the holster, where the lever can be depressed to move the catch and release the handgun. The position of the release lever may promote safe gun handling. In a preferred embodiment, the catch and lever are formed of a resilient injection molded resin in a unitary structure with a spring arm that flexes when the lever is pressed inwardly toward the user's body.



Inventors:
French, John M. (Boise, ID, US)
Shults, Brian J. (Nampa, ID, US)
Application Number:
11/073021
Publication Date:
09/22/2005
Filing Date:
03/03/2005
Assignee:
Michaels of Oregon Co. (Oregon City, OR, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41C33/02; (IPC1-7): F41C33/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SKURDAL, COREY NELSON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hovey Williams LLP (Overland Park, KS, US)
Claims:
1. A holster for a handgun having a trigger and a trigger guard, comprising a holster body defining a handgun-receiving cavity having a top opening through which a handgun is inserted into the cavity and drawn from the cavity; and a retention mechanism attached to the holster body, the retention mechanism including a spring arm having a fixed end attached to the holster body and a movable end on which a catch is supported for movement between a first position wherein at least a portion of the catch extends into the cavity to engage the trigger guard of the handgun when holstered, and a second position wherein the catch is moved away from the trigger guard to allow the holstered handgun to be drawn from the cavity, and the retention mechanism further including a lever attached to the spring arm proximal the movable end thereof and extending aft of the trigger, such that when the lever is depressed the catch moves toward the second position.

2. The holster of claim 1, further comprising a mounting body interposed between the spring arm and the holster body.

3. The holster of claim 1, further comprising a positioning pin and a positioning socket for positioning the retention mechanism relative to the holster body.

4. The holster of claim 1, in which the spring arm has a thickness in the direction of flexure and a width in the general direction extending from the lever to the catch, and wherein the width is substantially greater than the thickness.

5. The holster of claim 1, in which the spring arm includes spaced apart first and second sections connected by a beam extending transversely of the first and second sections.

6. The holster of claim 1, in which the catch is formed in an inverted-J shape.

7. The holster of claim 1, in which the catch includes a outer surface for facilitating reinsertion of the handgun.

8. The holster of claim 1, in which the retention device is removably attached to the holster body.

9. The holster of claim 1, further comprising an upwardly-facing resting surface against which the trigger guard rests when holstered.

10. The holster of claim 1, in which the body includes an opening for allowing movement of at least part of the handgun retention device therethrough.

11. The holster of claim 1, in which the lever, the catch, and the spring arm are formed of unitary construction.

12. The holster of claim 1, in which the retention device is formed of injection molded resin.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/552,927, filed Mar. 11, 2004, which is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This application relates to security holsters for handguns and the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Known security devices for preventing unauthorized or unintended withdrawal of a handgun or other weapon from a holster include security straps and flaps, internal retention devices, and security hoods, among others. To release such security devices, the user must typically manipulate snaps, clasps, buttons, or “thumb-break” straps with his or her thumb or index finger, or both. The motions required to release such devices often require the user to let go of the handgun while releasing the security device and can hinder the user's ability to quickly draw a handgun.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,419,474 of Marx et al. and 6,547,111 of French describe internal retention devices for handgun holsters that are actuated by twisting the grip of the handgun before drawing it from the holster to allow the trigger guard of the handgun to clear a catch inside the holster body. The twisting motion used to operate these retention devices allows the user to securely grip the firearm while releasing the retention device and further allows the user to extend his or her index finger in accordance with accepted safe gun handling practices, to avoid accidental discharge of the firearm.

Other handgun retention mechanisms may hinder a user's ability to extend his or her index finger away from the trigger when drawing the weapon, in accordance with safe gun handling practice, increasing the chance that the user's index finger may inadvertently come into contact with the trigger and cause an accidental discharge.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,752,300 of Har-Shen and 6,769,582 of Beletsky et al. describe handgun holsters with latching devices that are actuated by inward depression of a button or lever positioned along the outer side of the holster and adjacent the trigger area. The inward finger movement in the region of the trigger may increase the risk of accidental discharge of the handgun when quickly drawing it from the holster.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,769,581 of Rogers et al. describes a holster security mechanism including a first mechanical blocking element that inhibits upward withdrawal prior to rearward movement of a holstered handgun, and a second mechanical blocking element rear of the trigger guard that is biased into a first position that prevents rearward movement of the handgun and that is manually movable by a user's index finger or middle finger to a second position that allows rearward movement of the gun. Thus, the second mechanical blocking element is positioned to avoid inadvertent contact between the release finger and the trigger. The second mechanical blocking element works by cooperation with the first blocking element, and operation of the security mechanism requires a practiced series of handgun movements to withdraw the handgun from the holster.

The present inventors have recognized a need for an improved handgun retention device for holsters, having an operational mode allowing the user to practice safe handgun handling technique to reduce the chance for accidental discharge of the handgun.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A holster in accordance with a preferred embodiment includes a catch that extends into a handgun receiving cavity defined by a body of the holster where the catch engages a trigger guard of a holstered handgun to retain the handgun in the cavity. A lever is operably coupled to the catch and extends below the grip of the holstered handgun and aft of its trigger guard, typically behind a rear margin of the holster, where the lever can be depressed to move the catch and release the handgun. In a preferred embodiment, the catch and lever are formed of a resilient injection molded resin in a unitary structure with a spring arm that flexes when the lever is pressed inwardly toward the user's body. In other embodiments, the catch, lever, and spring arm may be integrally formed of one-piece construction with the holster body by injection molding or otherwise.

Additional aspects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a holster including a handgun retention device in accordance with a preferred embodiment;

FIG. 2 is an outside elevation view of the holster of FIG. 1 holding a handgun;

FIG. 3 is an inside elevation view of the holster of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an auxiliary perspective view looking downwardly into the cavity of the holster to show detail of a catch of the handgun retention device;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the holster of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged front perspective view of the handgun retention device of the holster of FIG. 1, showing detail of the outwardly facing portions of the device; and

FIG. 7 is an enlarged rear perspective view of the handgun retention device of FIG. 6, showing detail of the inwardly facing portions of the device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to FIGS. 1-5, a holster 10 includes a holster body 20 that defines a cavity 24 sized to receive a firearm 25 (FIG. 2) via a top opening 26 of cavity 24 and to hold firearm 25 therein. Holster 10 is normally attached to a wearer's belt (not shown) or in another location. Holster 10 may include mounting holes 27 for fastening to holster 10 a belt loop or other intermediate device (omitted from the figures for clarity) suited to coupling holster 10 to a belt or other support. Holster body 20 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. Holster body 20 may be made of a KYDEX® acrylic/PVC sheet material folded back over itself and formed to define a front spine 28. However, holster body 20 is preferably molded of KYDEX resin. The rearward edges of holster body 20 define a rear margin (or welt) 34 of holster 10 where inner and outer sidewalls 35 and 36, respectively, are fastened together via screws or rivets (not shown) extending through one or more holes 37 in sidewalls 35 and 36. Holster body 20 and cavity 24 may have an open bottom 38, as in the embodiment shown. Alternatively, cavity 24 may be closed at its bottom. In other embodiments (not shown), holster body 20 may comprise two sections of material that are attached along front and rear margins, as in a “pancake” type holster, so that front spine 28 does not include a folded over region.

In the preferred embodiments, inner and outer sidewalls 35 and 36 include inwardly protruding forms 44 that are sized to engage a trigger guard 54 (FIG. 2) of handgun 25 to provide nominal retention and thereby require a substantial upward withdrawal force to draw handgun 25 from holster 10. In other embodiments (not shown) the inwardly protruding forms 44 may be omitted.

A handgun retention device 40 for use with holster 10 includes a catch 50 (FIGS. 3-7) having an inverted “J” shape that extends into cavity 24 where it engages trigger guard 54 to releasably retain handgun 25 in cavity 24. Catch 50 is preferably sized so that it extends laterally at least part way across trigger guard 54 and preferably about half way across trigger guard 54 when catch 50 is in the closed position shown. A lever 60 is operably coupled to catch 50 and preferably extends aft of a trigger 56 of handgun 25, when holstered, below a grip 58 of handgun 25 and preferably behind rear margin 34. In this location, lever 60 acts as a second-class lever that can be depressed in a laterally inward flexure direction indicated by arrow 64 (FIG. 5) in response to force applied by the user's release finger, without requiring the release finger to be moved in the direction of trigger 56. In alternative embodiments (not shown), lever 60 may be arranged relative to catch 50 so as to act as a first-class or third-class lever. Lever 60 preferably includes a contoured seat 68 that has a convex shape for providing purchase for the release finger to prevent slippage. The release finger is preferably the user's middle finger, although the index or third finger may also be used with some embodiments. Positioning of lever 60 and contoured seat 68 aft of trigger 56 may tend to prevent improper gun handling technique that can lead to inadvertent or premature discharge of handgun 25 when drawing it from holster 10.

Pressing inwardly on lever 60 flexes a spring arm 70 (FIGS. 6 and 7) supporting catch 50, causing catch 50 to move inwardly to an open position (not shown), clear of the trigger guard 54. With catch 50 in the open position, handgun 25 may be drawn upwardly from holster 10. To facilitate re-holstering of handgun 25, catch 50 includes a sloped or wedge-shaped top surface 74 (FIG. 6) that extends inwardly downward so that trigger guard 54 drives catch 50 outward when handgun 25 is reinserted into holster 10. As illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7, catch 50, lever 60, and spring arm 70 are preferably unitary (of one-piece construction), and may be formed of a resilient injection molded resin, such as KYDEX® or nylon, for example. In an alternate embodiment (not shown), handgun retention device 40 may comprise separate catch, lever, and spring arm parts fixed together. Spring arm 70 preferably extends upwardly from a mounting body 80. Mounting body 80 is sized to fit between inner and outer sidewalls 35 and 36 of holster body 20 so that a pair of holes 86 in mounting body 80 are aligned with holes 37 of holster body 20. Mounting body 80 preferably includes one or more positioning pins 88 that mate with positioning sockets 89 formed in inner sidewall 35 of holster body 20 for accurately locating handgun retention device 40 relative to cavity 24, holes 37, or some other feature associated with holster body 20. Fasteners (not shown) extend through holes 37 and 86 to secure handgun retention device 40 to holster body 20. In some embodiments, threaded fasteners may be tightened or loosed to flex one or both of the sidewalls 35 and 36 and thereby adjust the spacing between opposing forms 44 to control the tension of sidewalls 35, 36 or the resistance to handgun withdrawal.

With reference to FIGS. 6 and 7, a spring arm 70 preferably operates as a resilient cantilever attached at its fixed end to holster body 20, for example via mounting body 80. Spring arm 70 is configured to resist twisting when lever 60 is depressed so that catch 50 moves clear of the trigger guard 54 (FIG. 2) without binding. For example, the cross section of spring arm 70 preferably has a width “W” in a generally horizontal direction extending from lever 60 to catch 50 (or from front spine 28 to rear margin 34), that is substantially greater than its thickness “T” in the direction of laterally inward flexure 64. For example, width W may be from 2 to 10 times greater than thickness T. The particular ratio of W to T will be dependent on the configuration of holster body 20, the material used for spring arm 70, and the release force desired. Spring arm 70 may include spaced-apart first and second sections 102, 104 connected by a transverse beam 106 and separated by a relief or aperture 92 to reduce the amount of force required to bend spring arm 70 in flexure direction 64 for releasing catch 50. First section 102, which supports catch 50 in the preferred embodiment, may include a thinned neck section 110 so that first section 102 is more flexible than second section 104 in flexure direction 64. Thus, thickness T of second section 104 may provide the majority of the resistance to depression of lever 60. Thinned neck section 110 may thereby act as a fulcrum about which first section 102 may pivot to avoid inducing twisting of catch 50 when lever 60 is depressed.

Spring arm 70 and catch 50 are shaped to define an undercut region 96 adjacent spring arm 70 and below catch 50 to allow spring arm 70 to be flexed inwardly toward the user without interfering with the inner sidewall 35 of holster body 20. An opening 98 (FIG. 3) is preferably provided in inner sidewall 35 to provide clearance for movement of catch 50 when it is released clear of trigger guard 54.

Handgun retention device 40 preferably includes an upwardly-facing resting surface 120 against which trigger guard 54 rests when handgun 25 is holstered. Resting surface 120 preferably extends along the upper surface of beam 106 and across an upper surface of an extension member 122 (FIG. 6) that projects laterally from first section 102 of lever 70 and on which catch 50 is supported. Resting surface 120 is preferably positioned at a predetermined distance “A” above positioning pins 88 or some other feature of handgun retention device 40, to thereby fix the vertical location of handgun 25 relative to holster body 20, when handgun 25 is holstered. Catch 50 preferably includes a hook portion 126 including a downward-facing trigger guard engaging surface (unnumbered) spaced apart from resting surface 120 a distance “B” that is slightly greater than the thickness of trigger guard 54. Distance “B” may preferably be selected to accommodate a nominal thickness of the trigger guard of the particular handgun model for which handgun retention device 40 is designed to fit, and to accommodate typical variation in such thickness without allowing an undue amount of play in the vertical resting position of handgun 25.

In another embodiment (not shown), the catch 50, lever 60, and spring arm 70 may be integrally formed of one-piece construction with the holster body 20 by injection molding or otherwise. Catch 50, lever 60, and spring arm 70 may also be shaped in a variety of shapes and configurations other than those shown. Handgun retention device 40 can be adapted to fit a variety of types of holsters or to retrofit older holsters.

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 hold other kinds of weapons and law enforcement tools, such as stun guns or energy weapons sold under the name TASER®, for example, and the term “handgun” is meant to encompass such devices. The scope of the present invention should, therefore, be determined only by the following claims.