Title:
Firearm locking system and firearm locking kit containing components of system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Systems and methods are provided for locking firearms through use of one or more cable segments having ends to which a locking endpiece and a plugging endpiece are attached, wherein the locking endpiece is locked to or within a locking device or area and the plugging endpiece is plugged within a firearm, thus effectively locking the firearm, the components of which also can be locked through use of a locking sleeve.



Inventors:
Williams, Nicholas (Boonville, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/166316
Publication Date:
12/28/2006
Filing Date:
06/24/2005
Assignee:
The Otis Patent Trust (Lyons Falls, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41A17/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060283069Targeting a hunting or sports weaponDecember, 2006Nygaard
20090113779Rapid Acquisition Shooting SystemMay, 2009Shipman et al.
20070107292Retro-reflective aiming meansMay, 2007Bar-yona et al.
20070240350Automatic Integrated Distress DeviceOctober, 2007Borlase
20020007580Shotgun with automatically marked ejectaJanuary, 2002Randall et al.
20100024275SIGHTING OPTICS AND METHODS FOR SIGHTINGFebruary, 2010Crandall
20090313872FIREARM WITH UNDERARM GUN STOCKDecember, 2009Goertz
20060248770Monolithic extractor system for a shotgunNovember, 2006Moller
20040226211Composite receiver for firearmsNovember, 2004Keeney et al.
20100077646Quick-acquisition optical sight with red-dot-indication functionApril, 2010Gaber et al.
20080127538SMART MAGAZINE FOR A WEAPON SIMULATOR AND METHOD OF USEJune, 2008Barrett et al.



Primary Examiner:
KLEIN, GABRIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARJAMA MULDOON BLASIAK & SULLIVAN LLP (SYRACUSE, NY, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A firearm locking system, comprising: at least one cable segment having a first end and a second end and a cable body therebetween; a first endpiece adapted to be attached to the first end of the cable segment, wherein the first endpiece has a predetermined shape effective to enable the first endpiece to be inserted into and withdrawn from at least a first firearm; and a second endpiece adapted to be attached to the second end of the cable segment, wherein the second endpiece has a predetermined shape effective to cause the second endpiece to become plugged within the first firearm.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first endpiece and the second endpiece is pre-attached to the cable segment.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the first endpiece is pre-attached to the first end of the cable segment and the second endpiece is pre-attached to the second end of the cable segment.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the first endpiece is adapted to be attached to the first end of the cable segment by compression and the second endpiece is adapted to be attached to the second end of the cable segment by compression.

5. The system of claim 1, further comprising a locking device for locking the first endpiece.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein the locking device is a locking bracket having a slot defined therewithin, the slot having a bore at a first end thereof, and wherein the first endpiece has a predetermined size and shape to enable the endpiece to fit within the bore but also to prevent the endpiece from being withdrawn through the slot when the bore is obstructed.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the cable body has a length in a range between about seven feet and about thirty feet, both inclusive.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the first endpiece has a substantially cylindrical body with at least one frusto-conical end.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein at least a portion of the substantially cylindrical body of the first endpiece has a non-cylindrical contour.

10. The system of claim 9, wherein the second endpiece has first and second cylindrical portions, and wherein a diameter of the first cylindrical portion is different than the diameter of the second cylindrical portion.

11. The system of claim 10, wherein at least a portion of the first cylindrical portion of the second endpiece has a non-cylindrical contour.

12. The system of claim 10, wherein the first and second cylindrical portions of the second endpiece are concentric and wherein the diameter of the first cylindrical portion of the second endpiece is less than the diameter of the second cylindrical portion of the second endpiece such that the second cylindrical portion of the second endpiece has a shoulder defined thereupon.

13. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a plugging assistance device in communication with the second endpiece to enlarge the second endpiece.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the second endpiece has first and second concentric cylindrical portions, and wherein the diameter of the first portion is less than the diameter of the second portion such that the second cylindrical portion has a shoulder, the plugging assistance device being in communication with the shoulder.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein the second endpiece has an effective overall diameter, and wherein the plugging assistance device increases the effective overall diameter of the second endpiece when placed in communication with the shoulder.

16. A method of locking at least one firearm, comprising the steps of: providing at least one cable segment having a first end and a second end and a cable body therebetween; attaching a first endpiece to the first end of the cable segment; attaching a second endpiece to the second end of the cable segment; inserting the first end of the cable segment into a first firearm; withdrawing the cable segment from the first firearm in a breech-to-muzzle direction until at least the first end of the cable segment is removed from the first firearm; continuing to withdraw the cable segment from the first firearm in a breech-to-muzzle direction until the second endpiece becomes plugged within the first firearm so as to substantially prevent the cable segment from being further withdrawn from the first firearm in a breech-to-muzzle direction; and placing the first endpiece into communication with a locking device.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the step of inserting the first end of the cable segment into the first firearm is performed after the step of attaching the first endpiece to the first end of the cable segment.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein the first endpiece is attached to the first end of the cable segment by compression and the second endpiece is attached to the second end of the cable segment by compression.

19. The method of claim 16, wherein the locking device is a locking bracket having a slot defined therewithin, the slot having a bore at a first end thereof, and wherein the step of placing the first endpiece into communication with the locking bracket entails: inserting the first endpiece into the bore; sliding the first endpiece into the slot; and obstructing the bore.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the first endpiece has a predetermined size and shape to prevent the endpiece from being withdrawn through the slot once the bore is obstructed.

21. The method of claim 19, wherein the step of obstructing the bore is accomplished by placing a lock within the bore.

22. The method of claim 16, wherein the following steps are performed prior to placing the first endpiece into communication with the locking device: inserting the first end of the cable segment into at least a second firearm; and withdrawing the cable segment from the second firearm in a breech-to-muzzle direction until at least the first end of the cable segment is removed from at least the second firearm.

23. The method of claim 16, further comprising the steps of: providing a locking sleeve having at least a first eyelet and a second eyelet; inserting one of the first end and the second end of the cable segment through one of the first eyelet and the second eyelet; advancing a predetermined portion of the cable body through the one of the first eyelet and the second eyelet into communication with at least one component of a firearm; inserting the one of the first end and the second end of the cable segment through the other of the first eyelet and the second eyelet; advancing a predetermined portion of the cable body through the other of the first eyelet and the second eyelet; and causing the cable body to be prevented from being further advanced through the cable body.

24. The method of claim 23, wherein the step of causing the cable body to be prevented from being further advanced through the cable body is accomplished by compressing the locking sleeve.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein the step of compressing the locking sleeve is performed by crimping the locking sleeve.

26. The method of claim 23, wherein each of the at least one component is selected from the group consisting of at least one firearm optic, at least one trigger guard, at least one lanyard.

27. The method of claim 16, wherein the cable body has a length in the range of about seven feet to about thirty feet.

28. The method of claim 16, wherein the first endpiece has a substantially cylindrical body with at least one frusto-conical end.

29. The method of claim 26, wherein at least a portion of the substantially cylindrical body of the first endpiece has a non-cylindrical contour.

30. The method of claim 26, wherein the second endpiece has first and second cylindrical portions, and wherein a diameter of the first cylindrical portion is different than the diameter of the second cylindrical portion.

31. The method of claim 30, wherein at least a portion of the first cylindrical portion of the second endpiece has a non-cylindrical contour.

32. The method of claim 28, wherein the first and second cylindrical portions of the second endpiece are concentric and wherein diameter of the first cylindrical portion of the second endpiece is less than the diameter of the second cylindrical portion of the second endpiece such that the second cylindrical portion of the second endpiece has a shoulder defined thereupon.

33. The method of claim 16, further comprising the step of: placing a plugging assistance device in communication with the second endpiece to enlarge the second endpiece.

34. The method of claim 33, wherein the second endpiece has first and second concentric cylindrical portions, and wherein the diameter of the first portion is less than the diameter of the second portion such that the second cylindrical portion has a shoulder, the plugging assistance device being in communication with the shoulder.

35. The system of claim 34, wherein the second endpiece has an effective overall diameter, and wherein the plugging assistance device increases the effective overall diameter of the second endpiece when placed in communication with the shoulder.

36. A kit for containing equipment of a firearm display locking system, the kit comprising: at least one cable segment, wherein each cable segment has a first end and a second end; at least one endpiece, wherein each endpiece has a predetermined size and shape and is adapted to be connected to at least one of the first end and the second end of each endpiece; and a plurality of plugging assistance devices, each of which is adapted to be placed in communication with at least one endpiece.

37. The kit of claim 36, wherein the plurality of plugging assistance devices are selected from the group consisting of a plurality of spacers, a plurality of protective devices, and a combination thereof.

38. The kit of claim 36, wherein the at least one endpiece is selected from the group consisting of at least one locking endpiece, at least one plugging endpiece, and a combination thereof.

39. The kit of claim 38, wherein the at least one endpiece includes at least one plugging endpiece, and wherein each of the at least one plugging assistance devices is adapted to be placed in communication with each of the at least one plugging endpiece.

40. The kit of claim 36, further comprising: at least one locking sleeve having at least one eyelet through which the at least one cable segment is adapted to fit.

41. The kit of claim 40, further comprising: a tool adapted to compress the at least one locking sleeve.

42. The kit of claim 41, wherein the tool is a crimping tool.

43. The kit of claim 38, wherein the at least one endpiece includes at least one locking endpiece, the kit further comprising: a locking device having a slot and a bore, wherein each of the at least one locking endpiece is adapted to fit within the bore and to slide into the slot.

44. The kit of claim 43, further comprising an obstruction element adapted to fit within and obstruct the bore.

45. The kit of claim 44, wherein the obstruction element is a padlock.

46. The kit of claim 43, further comprising at least one piece of equipment adapted to secure the locking device to a surface.

47. The kit of claim 45, wherein the at least one piece of equipment is selected from the group consisting of at least one screw, at least one C-clamp, at least one nail, and combinations thereof.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to firearm locking systems, and, in particular, to a firearm locking system for reliably and securely locking a wide variety of firearms and their components whereby they can be viewed, handled and moved while in their locked condition, and, further, to a kit for containing equipment used in accordance with the firearm locking system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Most firearm owners are familiar with the numerous benefits of locking their firearms when not in use. Unfortunately, currently available locking options generally achieve safety at the expense of aesthetics and/or freedom of movement—that is, to safely lock firearms one must place them in a condition wherein the ability to move, handle and/or view the firearms are significantly restricted. This is undesirable under many circumstances, but is especially problematic in a retail store or tradeshow environment, where it is often necessary to maintain firearms in a locked condition, yet also imperative that people be able to appreciate the locked firearms.

Current firearm locking options also suffer from various other related drawbacks. Most notably, known firearm locking devices generally are not adapted to effectively lock different firearms having varying sizes, shapes, actions and/or calibers, let alone to do so without severely compromising the ability to view, handle and move the firearms. Moreover, such devices often do not allow one to see through the sights of a locked firearm, thus inhibiting a potential buyer or firearm enthusiast from assessing the firearm. Also, many currently available locking options cannot effectively lock both a firearm and its detachable components. This is a particular problem because such components (e.g., sniper rifle optics) can be targets for theft while firearms are on display.

Therefore, a need exists for a firearm locking system that can reliably secure a wide range of firearms in a condition whereby the firearms, and, if desired, their components, are locked so as to prevent firing and theft of the firearms and/or their components, yet also such that the firearms and components can be viewed, handled and moved.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention meets these and other needs by providing a firearm locking system in which firearms and/or their components are locked through use of one or more cable segments and endpieces. Each cable segment has a leading end, a trailing end and a cable body therebetween. The length of the cable body will determine the distance the firearms and components can be moved while in their locked condition.

A locking endpiece is attached to the leading end of the cable segment and a plugging endpiece is attached to the trailing end of the cable segment. Either or both of the locking endpiece and the plugging endpiece can be pre-attached to the cable segments, or, alternatively, they can be attached during the locking process. For example, the locking endpiece can be attached to the leading end of the cable segment prior to being introduced into the firearm or after the leading end has emerged from the firing end of the firearm. The plugging endpiece is attached to the trailing end of the cable segment at any time prior to the trailing end first entering the firearm.

To lock a firearm, the leading end of the cable segment—with or without the locking endpiece attached thereto—is inserted into the chamber of a firearm and advanced through the firearm in a breech-to-muzzle direction until the leading end emerges from the firing end of the firearm. If not already attached, the locking endpiece is then secured to the leading end of the cable segment and subsequently locked within or to a locking device. To lock the plugging endpiece, the cable segment is further advanced through the firearm in a breech-to-muzzle direction until the trailing end of the cable segment—with attached plugging endpiece—enters the firearm chamber and becomes lodged within (i.e., plugs) firearm barrel or chamber. Because both endpieces are effectively locked, so too is the firearm.

One or more plugging assistance devices can be utilized in accordance with the plugging endpiece. For example, a spacer can be placed into communication with the plugging endpiece to enable an otherwise undersized plugging endpiece to plug the barrel or chamber of a firearm. Alternatively, a protective assistance device can be placed into communication with the plugging device in order to prevent a properly sized plugging endpiece from damaging the barrel or chamber as the cable segment is being pulled through the firearm barrel.

The locking system of the present invention also can be utilized to lock one or more non-detachable or, as is currently preferred, detachable firearm components through use of at least one cable segment and at least one locking sleeve. The cable segment is fed through a first a first eyelet of the locking sleeve, then into and around the component, and then through a second eyelet of the locking sleeve. Steps are then taken to cause the cable segment to be prevented from being further advanced through the locking sleeve eyelets (e.g., by crimping or otherwise compressing the locking sleeve), thus effectively creating a lock.

Some or all of the equipment that is utilized in connection with the locking system of the present invention can be stored, packaged and/or offered for sale as a kit. The kit is generally contained within a portable yet sturdy container, e.g., a carrying case.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the nature and desired objects of the present invention, reference is made to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures, wherein like reference characters denote corresponding parts throughout the views, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a pistol and a rifle locked in a displayed, movable condition through use of the firearm locking system of the present invention;

FIG. 1A is an enlarged side view of a portion of the rifle of FIG. 1 with a cutaway showing the plugging endpiece plugged within the chamber of the rifle and with the trigger guard of the rifle in a locked condition;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a cable segment for use in connection with a firearm display locking system of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the cable segment of FIG. 2 with a locking endpiece and a plugging endpiece attached thereto for use in connection with a firearm locking system of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the cable segment of FIG. 2 with only a locking endpiece attached thereto for use in connection with a firearm locking system of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the plugging endpiece of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional, front view of the plugging endpiece of FIG. 5 taken along line 6-6;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the locking endpiece of FIG. 3.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional, front view of the locking endpiece of FIG. 7 taken along line 8-8;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a first exemplary spacer for use in connection with a firearm display locking system of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a second exemplary spacer for use in connection with a firearm display locking system of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional, front view of the second exemplary spacer of FIG. 10 taken along line 11-11;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the plugging endpiece of FIG. 5 attached to a cable segment and in tactile communication with the first exemplary spacer of FIG. 9;

FIG. 13 is plan view of the cable segment of FIG. 3 with the first exemplary spacer of FIG. 9 being tactile communication with the plugging endpiece;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an exemplary protective device for use in connection with a firearm display locking system of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the plugging endpiece of FIG. 5 in tactile communication with the protective device of FIG. 14;

FIG. 16 is plan view of the cable segment of FIG. 3 with the protective device of FIG. 14 in tactile communication with the plugging endpiece;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a locking bracket for use in connection with a firearm display locking system of the present invention;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the locking bracket of FIG. 17 with the locking endpiece of FIG. 7 being locked therein; and

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of an exemplary locking sleeve for use in connection with a firearm display locking system of the present invention; and

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention provides a firearm locking system that includes one or more cable segments with ends to which one or more endpieces are (or can be) attached. The locking system is highly beneficial because it enables displayed firearms and/or their components (e.g., detachable components such as optical sights and/or non-detachable components such as trigger guards and lanyards) to be reliably and securely locked yet also viewed, handled and moved. The cable segment(s), the endpiece(s) and various other pieces of equipment adapted for use in connection with the firearm display locking system can be stored within a container for packaging and/or sale as a kit.

The firearm display locking system can be utilized to simultaneously or separately lock one or more firearms, wherein the locked firearms can be identical or can vary in their size, shape, model, caliber and/or action. The term “firearm,” as used herein, refers to a weapon that is capable of firing a projectile therefrom. Examples of firearms for purposes of this invention include, but are not limited to, guns, handguns, shotguns, machine guns, rifles, assault rifles, revolvers, derringers, pistols, machine pistols, and small canons, wherein such weapons are considered firearms for purposes of this invention whether or not they are carried by a user or are mounted onto something (e.g., an aircraft, a tank, a foundation) for use. Firearms for purposes of this invention can have any caliber, including a caliber above or below 0.50 caliber, and can have any type of action, including, but not limited to single action, double action, pump action, bolt action, lever action, automatic or semi-automatic action.

A firearm is considered “locked” for purposes of the present invention if the firearm is placed in a condition in which it cannot be fired—even if loaded—yet can be appreciably viewed and handled, and can be physically moved up to, but not beyond a predetermined distance from its at rest, displayed position. The predetermined movement distance can be selected based on several factors, including, by way of non-limiting example, the type(s) of firearm(s) being locked, the setting in which the firearm(s) are being displayed, and the intended or anticipated viewing/purchasing audience for the firearm(s). For example, if the firearm is being displayed in a retail environment (e.g., a firearm show, a firearm store), then the predetermined movement distance could differ from that of another setting (e.g., a firearm owner's home). According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, the predetermined movement distance is in the range of about two feet to about twenty-five feet.

FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary arrangement of a firearm locking system 100 in accordance with the present invention in which a rifle 200 and a pistol 300 are in a condition whereby they are securely locked, yet also can be viewed, handled and moved. It should be noted that the number of locked firearms can vary above or below the total number—two—shown in FIG. 1, as can the size, shape, caliber and/or action of the firearm(s) that are locked.

In accordance with the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1, at least one segment of cable 400 leads into and out of each locked firearm 200, 300. As illustrated in FIG. 2, each cable segment 400 has a cable body 430 culminating in a leading end 410 and a trailing end 420. The length of the cable body 430 will determine the predetermined distance the firearms 200, 300 will be able to move while in their locked condition, and, thus, the cable body length should be selected accordingly. As is currently preferred, the cable body 430 can range in length from seven feet to thirty feet, with the understanding that cable body lengths outside of this range are a matter of design choice and, accordingly, are within the scope of the present invention.

The material from which each cable segment 400 is made should be flexible enough to allow for easy maneuvering of the cable segment through a firearm, yet strong and durable enough to maintain the structural integrity of the cable segment during and after the locking process. According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, each cable segment 400 is comprised of a metal-based core surrounded by a plastic-based outer layer. By way of non-limiting example, each cable segment 400 can be made of the same materials from which the flexible shaft of the gun barrel cleaner described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,716,673 to Williams et al. (the entirety of which is incorporated by reference herein) is constructed. The softer outer layer of the cable segment helps to prevent any scratching or other damage to the firing chamber, barrel, rifling and muzzle of the firearm during the locking process.

Each cable segment 400 should have a predetermined diameter that is small enough to fit within and through a wide variety of firearms, and that can allow for an endpiece to be attached to either of its ends 410, 420. FIG. 3 depicts a cable segment 400 with a first endpiece 500 attached to the leading end 410 of the cable segment 400 and a second endpiece 600 attached to the trailing end 420 of the cable segment. The endpieces 500, 600 should be substantially irreversibly attached to the cable segment ends 410, 420 in order not to compromise the locking ability of the system 100. By way of non-limiting example, substantially irreversible attachment can occur by compressibly attaching (e.g., via crimping) each endpiece 500, 600 to each end 410, 420 of the cable segment 400. It should be noted, however, that substantial irreversible attachment can be achieved in accordance with the present invention via techniques other than compression, such as by welding or through the use of a high-strength adhesive.

The first endpiece 500 is a locking endpiece that is locked or otherwise secured to a locking device and the second endpiece 600 is a plugging endpiece that is plugged within a firearm barrel or chamber. The specific roles of the endpieces 500, 600 in accordance with the firearm locking system of the present invention will be described in detail below.

Both the locking endpiece 500 and the plugging endpiece 600 can have a variety of shapes and sizes in accordance with the present invention. By way of non-limiting example, and as illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4, 7 and 8, the locking endpiece 500 has first and second cylindrical portions 510, 520, wherein the first cylindrical portion tapers to a frusto-conical end 540. Generally, the diameter of the first cylindrical portion 510 is slightly smaller (e.g., by about 5% to about 15%) than that of the second cylindrical portion 520. As illustrated in FIGS. 3, 5 and 6, and also by way of non-limiting example, the plugging endpiece 600 has first and second concentric cylindrical portions 610, 620 wherein the first cylindrical portion 610 has a diameter less than (e.g., by about 20% to about 60%) that of the second cylindrical portion 620. This diameter differential defines a shoulder 640 (see FIGS. 3 and 5) on the second cylindrical portion 620 of the plugging endpiece 600.

Each endpiece 500, 600 can be made of a variety of materials; however, the material from which each endpiece is made should be strong and hard in order not to compromise the efficacy of the locking system. As is currently preferred, however, each endpiece 500, 600 should also be at least partially deformable in order to enable attachment of the endpiece to an end 410, 420 of a cable segment 400 via crimping. Also, the locking endpiece 500 can be made of the same or different material as the plugging endpiece 600. Exemplary materials from which the endpieces 500, 600 can be made include metallic-based materials and alloys thereof. According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, each endpiece is made of a different brass alloy.

A bore is defined within each of the locking endpiece 500 and the plugging endpiece 600, wherein the locking endpiece bore is depicted in FIG. 7 with reference numeral 530 and the plugging endpiece bore is depicted in FIGS. 3 and 5 with reference numeral 630. According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, each bore 530, 630 is a transverse bore, wherein at least a portion of each bore is threaded. As is also currently preferred, the diameter of each transverse bore is greater than the diameter of the cable segment 400. This enables the leading end 410 of the cable segment 400 to be inserted at least partially into the bore 530 of the locking endpiece 500 and the trailing end 410 of the cable segment 400 to be inserted at least partially into the bore 630 of the plugging endpiece 600. Once such insertion has occurred, the endpieces 500, 600 can be attached to their respective ends 410, 420 of the cable segment, e.g., via compression.

According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention in which attachment of the endpieces 500, 600 occurs by crimping, a least a portion of each endpiece is configured so as to more readily allow for crimping to occur, yet also so as not to prevent the locking endpiece from otherwise functioning in accordance with the locking system. By way of non-limiting example and as shown in FIGS. 3 and 7, the first cylindrical portion 510 of the locking endpiece 500 can have a non-cylindrical contour. Although not shown in the drawings, the first cylindrical portion 610 of the plugging endpiece 600 can have a non-cylindrical contour as well. Suitable non-cylindrical contours for each portion 510, 610 include, but are not limited to, octagonal, and, as is currently preferred, hexagonal.

Such non-cylindrical contours are advantageous if the endpieces 500, 600 are to be attached via crimping because the non-cylindrical contours more readily allow for a crimping tool (not shown) to clamp onto the first portions 510, 610 of the endpieces 500, 600. Moreover, the presence of the non-cylindrical contour portions of the endpieces 500, 600 is beneficial if it is desired to subsequently detach either or both of the endpieces from the cable segment 400, since it is easier to grasp non-cylindrical contour portions (e.g., with pliers) than portions with a cylindrical contour.

As is also currently preferred in accordance with the present invention, the diameter of the transverse bore 530, 630 of each endpiece 500, 600 is non-uniform, with the bore diameters that correspond to the non-cylindrical contour portions 510, 610 being smaller than the bore diameters that correspond to the cylindrical portions 520, 620. However, the bore diameters corresponding to the non-cylindrical contour portions 510, 610 of the endpieces 500, 600 should be greater than that of the ends 410, 420 of the cable segment 400 to which the endpieces are attached, in order to allow for attachment via crimping.

According to the exemplary embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIG. 3, the locking endpiece 500 has been pre-attached (e.g., via crimping) to the leading end 410 of a cable segment 400, and the plugging endpiece 600 has been pre-attached (e.g., via crimping) to the trailing end 420 of the same cable segment. To commence the firearm locking process, the leading end 410 of the cable segment 400—with attached locking endpiece 500—is inserted into the chamber of a firearm 200, 300 and advanced through the firearm in a breech-to-muzzle direction until the locking endpiece emerges from the firing end of the firearm. The cable body 430 of the cable segment 400 is further advanced through the firearm in a breech-to-muzzle direction until the trailing end 420 of the cable segment—with attached plugging endpiece 600—enters the firearm chamber and the plugging endpiece 600 becomes lodged within (i.e., plugs) the barrel or chamber of the firearm. By way of illustration, FIG. 1A depicts a plugging endpiece 600 that has been plugged within the chamber of a rifle. Once it has become plugged as such, the plugging endpiece 600 cannot be further advanced within the firearm barrel in a breech-to-muzzle direction.

According to the FIG. 3 embodiment of the present invention, each endpiece 500, 600 has been pre-attached to its respective end 410, 420 of the cable segment 400, thus not requiring one who uses the locking system to attach the endpieces him/herself. However, according to alternative embodiments of FIG. 3, either or both endpieces 500, 600 can be attached (e.g., via crimping) during the locking process.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention in which at least the locking endpiece 500 has not been pre-attached to the cable segment 400 (see, e.g., FIG. 2), the locking endpiece can be attached to the leading end 410 of the cable segment either prior to inserting the leading end within a firearm, or after the leading end has emerged from the firing end of the firearm. In such an embodiment, it is currently preferred to attach the locking endpiece 500 to the leading end 410 of the cable segment 400 prior to inserting the leading end into a firearm (see, e.g., FIG. 4), since as the locking endpiece is being fed through the firearm in a breech-to-muzzle direction it will unblock dirt, debris or other materials that may have previously accumulated within the firearm barrel.

In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention in which at least the plugging endpiece 600 has not been pre-attached to the cable segment 400 (see, e.g., FIGS. 2 and 4), the plugging endpiece can be attached to the trailing end 420 of the cable segment at any point in time until the trailing end enters the firearm chamber.

Because the purpose of the plugging endpiece 600 is to become plugged within the barrel or chamber of a firearm, the plugging endpiece should be sized and shaped such that it fits within the firearm chamber and barrel but also such that it cannot emerge from (i.e., is too large to emerge from) the firing end of the firearm. Due to the varying barrel/chamber shapes and calibers of firearms, however, a plugging endpiece 600 having a certain size and shape will not be able to successfully plug all different types of firearms—that is, a plugging endpiece may not be wide enough to become plugged within the barrel or chamber of different sizes, shapes and/or calibers of firearms.

To address this situation, one or more spacers can be placed in tactile communication with the plugging endpiece 600 in order to enlarge the effective diameter of the plugging endpiece, thus enabling the plugging endpiece to be configured to plug the barrel or chamber of a firearm having a comparatively larger barrel/chamber. FIGS. 9-11 depict two exemplary spacers 700A, 700B, wherein the FIG. 9 spacer 700A is designed for use to assist in plugging a 9 mm caliber firearm, and the FIGS. 10 and 11 spacer 700B is designed for use to assist in plugging a 12 gauge firearm.

Each spacer 700, including those shown in FIGS. 9-11, is generally cylindrical and has a transverse bore 710 defined therein. According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, and as shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the 12 gauge spacer also preferably includes a rim 720 to further ensure that the plugging endpiece 600 will remain plugged within the firearm barrel or chamber.

The transverse bore 710 of each spacer 700A, 700B has a diameter greater than that of the first cylindrical portion 610 of the plugging endpiece 600 but less than that of the second cylindrical portion 620 of the plugging endpiece. This enables a spacer 700 to fit over the first cylindrical portion 610 of the plugging endpiece and come to rest in tactile communication with the shoulder 640 of the second cylindrical portion of the plugging endpiece, as shown, e.g., in FIG. 12. Once in place as such, the spacer 700 has an effective overall diameter greater than that of the second cylindrical portion 620 of the plugging endpiece, thus enabling an otherwise undersized plugging endpiece 600 to become plugged within a firearm barrel or chamber. In an embodiment of the present invention in which a spacer 700 is utilized, it is currently preferred to place the spacer into tactile communication with the shoulder 640 of the plugging endpiece 600 prior to attachment of the plugging endpiece to the trailing end 420 of the cable segment 400. FIG. 13 depicts the spacer 700B of FIGS. 10 and 11 having been placed into tactile communication with the plugging endpiece 600, which has been subsequently attached to the trailing end 410 of a cable segment 400.

It should be noted that spacers 700 other than those illustrated in FIGS. 7-9 can be utilized to enable the plugging endpiece 600 to successfully plug certain firearms. By way of non-limiting example, a spacer 700 also can be utilized when plugging a 0.45 caliber firearm or a 0.30 caliber (7.62 mm) firearm. It is currently preferred that each of such other types of spacers 700 also be generally cylindrical and have a transverse bore in order to allow for tactile communication with the plugging endpiece 600 in the manner described above with respect to the spacers 700A, 700B depicted in FIGS. 9-11.

A spacer 700 serves an added purpose in accordance with the present invention, namely to protect the firearm barrel and chamber from damage that could occur as the cable segment 400 is being pulled though the firearm barrel in a breech-to-muzzle direction. For example, in an embodiment in which the plugging endpiece 600 is made of a metallic-based material, the spacer 700 prevents or at least inhibits the shoulder 640 and the outer periphery of the second cylindrical portion 620 of the plugging endpiece from coming into contact with—and, in doing so, potentially damaging (e.g., by scratching)—the firearm barrel or chamber. To ensure that it does not similarly damage the firearm barrel, the spacer 700 should be made from a comparatively softer material than the plugging endpiece. Suitable such materials include, but are not limited to plastic-based materials, with rubber materials being currently preferred.

Because of the potential damage that can be caused when a plugging endpiece 600 is not equipped with a spacer, it is currently preferred that the plugging endpiece be fitted with a protective device even if a spacer is not utilized. In other words, a protective device serves the protective role of the spacer 700 in instances wherein use of a spacer is deemed unnecessary, e.g., due to the plugging endpiece 600 having a size and shape suitable to plug the firearm.

FIG. 14 depicts a protective device 800, which is generally in the form of a cylindrical washer and, as shown in FIG. 15, has a transverse bore 810 defined therein. The transverse bore 810 has a diameter greater than that of the first cylindrical portion 610 of the plugging endpiece 600 but less than that of the second cylindrical portion 620 of the plugging endpiece. This enables the protective device 800 to fit over the first cylindrical portion 610 and into tactile communication with the shoulder 640 of the second cylindrical portion 620, as shown in FIG. 15. In an embodiment of the present invention in which a protective device 800 is utilized, the protective device generally is placed into communication with the plugging endpiece 600 prior to attachment of the plugging endpiece to the trailing end 420 of the cable segment 400. FIG. 16 depicts the protective device of FIG. 14 having been placed into tactile communication with the plugging endpiece 600, which has been subsequently attached to the trailing end 410 of a cable segment 400.

Like the spacers 700 described and depicted herein, the protective device 800 should be made from a strong, yet comparatively soft material, such as a plastic-based or rubber material. Also, although the protective device 800 is shown on FIGS. 14-16 as a washer, it can have other shapes in accordance with the present invention.

Whereas the plugging endpiece 600 becomes locked, for purposes of the present invention, by being plugged within a firearm, the locking endpiece 500 becomes locked by being secured within a locking device or area. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, and as shown in FIG. 17, a locking device can be a locking bracket 900; however, other known locking devices and areas can be utilized in accordance with the invention as well, with the specific selection of a suitable locking device depending on such factors as the degree of security sought to be provided by the locking system, the type(s) of firearm(s) being locked, etc.

The locking bracket 900 has a first face 910 with at least one transverse bore 920 defined therein. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 19, the first face 910 is placed in communication with a substantially flat attachment surface 50 (e.g., a table top) and at least one securing element 915 (e.g., one or more screws, one or more flat head nails, one or more C-clamps) is inserted into one or more of the transverse bores 920 in order to reliably (and, as is currently preferred, reversibly) secure the first face to the attachment surface.

The bracket 900 also includes a second face 930 having a first side 940 and a second side 950. The second face 920 protrudes from the first face 910 at a predetermined angle, which, according to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, is about 90° but can be greater or less than 90° as well. The second face 920 also has a slot 960 which culminates in a bore 970, wherein both the slot and the bore span between and through the first and second sides 940, 950 of the second face, thus defining a first side opening 980 and a second side opening 990 of the bore.

In use, the locking endpiece 500 is pulled completely through either the first side opening 980 or the second side opening 990 of the bore 970 until at least a portion of the attached cable body 430 has passed through the other of the first side opening or the second side opening. The cable body 430 is then slid toward the non-bore end 965 of the slot 960. According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, and as shown in FIGS. 1 and 19, the slot 960 should be wide enough to accommodate multiple locking endpieces 500 at once.

After the locking endpiece(s) 500 are in place, steps are taken to obstruct the bore 970 in a manner whereby the locking endpiece becomes locked. According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, and as shown in FIG. 19, the bore 970 is obstructed by placing a lock 985 (e.g., a padlock) therewithin. The lock can be locked through the use of keys 995 (see FIG. 1) or by turning a combination dial on the lock, thus effectively securing the locking endpiece 500 within the slot 960 of the locking bracket 900. To prevent the locking endpiece 500 from being withdrawn or otherwise removed from the locking bracket 900 after it has been locked therein, it is currently preferred that the diameter(s) of at least one of the cylindrical portions 510, 520 of the locking endpiece 500 be greater than the width of the slot 960.

Once the locking endpiece 500 has been secured within the locking device or area 900 and the plugging device 600 has become plugged within the barrel or chamber of the firearm, then the firearm is considered locked and, as an added advantage, cannot be fired (even if loaded) due to the presence of the plugging endpiece within the firearm barrel or chamber. As shown, e.g., in FIG. 1, despite the fact that the firearms 200, 300 are locked, they can be advantageously displayed with little to no visual obstruction thereof. Moreover, the firearms 200, 300 can be handled and moved while in their locked condition, wherein the specific distance they can be moved will depend on the available length of the cable body 430. Also, despite the rifle 200 being in a locked condition, one can freely look through its sights 220.

In accordance with the present invention, a single cable segment 400 can be utilized to lock one firearm or, alternatively, a plurality of firearms. To lock a plurality of firearms, the process would be similar to that which is described above, except that the locking endpiece 500 would not be locked in a locking device or area 900 once it emerges from the firing end of a first firearm. Instead, the locking endpiece 500 would be inserted into and through one or more additional firearms and then locked in the locking device or area 900 only after emerging from the firing end of the final firearm to be locked.

In such an embodiment, the plugging endpiece 600 would be plugged within the first firearm to be locked. For example, if three firearms were to be locked, then the plugging endpiece 600 would be within the first firearm, and portions of the cable body 300 would be within the second and third firearms. The second and third firearms are effectively in a locked condition, since the locking endpiece 500 is locked within the locking device 900 and the plugging endpiece 600 is within the first firearm. A plurality of firearms can be successfully locked at one time according to this embodiment of the present invention, with the exact number of locked firearms being a matter of user preference and depending upon the length of available cable body 430.

Moreover, the loading bracket 900 of FIG. 17 can include more than one slot 960 to enable the locking system 100 to lock even more firearms at once as compared to a system in which the locking bracket 900 had only one slot 960. Further, a plurality of locking devices (e.g., locking brackets) 900 can be utilized, thus also providing the locking system 100 with additional locking capacity.

The locking system 100 of the present invention also can be utilized to lock one or more firearm components, including detachable components such as optics or other components which, if not locked, could be physically separated from the firearm, and/or non-detachable components such as trigger guards and lanyards. Such detachable and/or non-detachable components can be locked individually or in addition to the firearm with which they are associated. For example, and as shown in FIG. 1, both a rifle 200 and its trigger guard 210 have been locked in accordance with the locking system 100 of the present invention as have a pistol 300 and its lanyard loop 310. It should be noted, however, that the locking system 100 of the present invention could be utilized to lock only the firearm or its component if instead desired.

According to a currently preferred embodiment of a present invention in which at least one firearm component is locked, the component is locked through use of the cable segment depicted in FIG. 4 and at least one a locking sleeve 1000 (see FIG. 19). Initially, the free end 420 (i.e., the end to which the locking endpiece 500 is not attached) of the cable segment 400 of FIG. 4 is fed through a first eyelet 1010 of a locking sleeve 1000. The free end 420 is then inserted into and around the trigger guard 210 or lanyard loop 310 (or a detachable component such as an optical sight), after which the leading end is fed through a second eyelet 1020 of a locking sleeve 1000. Once a predetermined length of the cable body 430 has been pulled through the second eyelet 1010, the sleeve 1000 is compressed (e.g., via a crimping tool). This prevents the cable body 430 from being further advanced or withdrawn through either eyelet 1010, 1020 of the locking sleeve 1000. The process of locking the firearm component is completed by securing the locking endpiece 500 within a locking device 900, e.g., within a slot 960 of a locking bracket 900 as described above.

Alternatively, a cable segment 400 as shown in FIG. 2 can be utilized to lock one or more firearm components, e.g., one or more detachable and/or non-detachable firearm components. In accordance with such an embodiment, either free end 410, 420 of the cable segment is fed into the first eyelet 1010 of a locking sleeve 1000, then into and around the trigger guard 210 or lanyard loop 310 (or a detachable component), after which the end 410 or 420 is fed through a second eyelet 1020 of a locking sleeve 1000. After this has occurred, and either before or after the locking sleeve 1000 is compressed, a locking endpiece 500 can be attached (e.g., via crimping) to an end 410, 420 of the cable segment 400. The locking endpiece 500 is then secured within a locking device or area 900, e.g., within a slot 960 of a locking bracket 900 as described above, to complete the component locking process.

The locking system 100 of the present invention is especially effective to lock one or more detachable firearm components (e.g., firearm optics) because although the detachable components still can be physically detached and separated from the firearm in their locked condition, the components can only be moved a predetermined distance because they are in communication with the secured cable segment 400, which has been both compressed within a locking sleeve 1000 and locked—via the locking endpiece 500—within a locking device or area 900.

In an embodiment wherein the locking system 100 has been utilized to lock a firearm component, the locking endpiece 500 can be further utilized to lock additional firearm components and/or one or more firearms by repeating the appropriate insertion steps described above and, only once such additional steps are completed, by securing the locking endpiece 500 within the locking device or area 900. The specific number of additional components and/or firearms that can be locked will depend various factors, including but not limited to user preference and the length of available cable body 430.

Any or all of the equipment utilized in connection with the locking system 100 can be included within a kit. By way of non-limiting example, the kit components can be housed within a container, such as a carrying case. According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, the container in which the kit is housed should be portable and lightweight, yet also sturdy, and substantially waterproof. An exemplary suitable container is currently sold by Otis Products Inc. of Lyons Falls, N.Y. in connection with the Otis Elite Cleaning System.

According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, the kit will include a plurality of cable segments 400, a plurality of locking endpieces 500, a plurality of plugging endpieces 600, a plurality of plugging assistance devices (e.g., a plurality of spacers 700 and a plurality of protective devices 800), and a plurality of locking sleeves 1000, although it is understood that the kit could include additional or fewer components as well.

The plurality of cable segments 400 included within the kit can be of the type shown in FIG. 2 (i.e., with no endpieces attached), and/or of the type shown in FIG. 3 (i.e., with a locking endpiece 500 pre-attached to the leading end 410 of the cable segment 400 and a plugging endpiece 600 pre-attached to the trailing end 420 of the cable segment), and/or of the type shown in FIG. 4 (i.e., with a locking endpiece 500 pre-attached to the leading end 410 of the cable segment but without a plugging endpiece 600 pre-attached to the trailing end 420 of the cable segment). According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, the kit includes at least a plurality of cable segments of the type shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. If the kit includes cable segments 400 of the type depicted in FIG. 2, it is currently preferred that the kit also include a plurality of loose (i.e., unattached) locking endpieces 500 and plugging endpiece 600 as well as a tool (e.g., a crimper) to enable the endpieces 500, 600 to be substantially irreversibly attached to their respective ends 410, 420 of the cable segment. If the kit includes cable segments 400 of the type depicted in FIG. 4, it is currently preferred that the kit also include a plurality of loose (i.e., unattached) plugging endpieces 600 as well as a tool (e.g., a crimper) to enable the plugging endpieces to be substantially irreversibly attached to the trailing end 420 of the cable segment.

The lengths of the cable body 430 of each cable segment 400 within the kit can vary; however, all cable segments within the kit generally will have a cable body within the range of about two feet to about forty feet, with a cable body range of between about seven feet and about thirty feet being currently preferred. To provide design flexibility, a cable segment 400 of the type depicted in FIG. 2 normally will have a longer cable body 430 than that of the cable segment depicted in FIG. 3, wherein currently preferred cable body lengths for the FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 cable segments are about thirty feet and about seven feet, respectively. In an embodiment wherein at least one FIG. 4 cable segment 400 is included within the kit, it is currently preferred for each such cable segment to have a length of about seven feet.

It is also currently preferred for the kit to include a plurality at least two different types of spacers 700 for use in connection with different sizes, shapes and/or calibers of firearms. By way of non-limiting example, the kit can include different spacers 700 for use to assist in plugging a 9 mm firearm, a 7.62 mm firearm, a 0.45 caliber firearm and/or a 12 gauge firearm. It is also currently preferred that the kit include a plurality of protective devices 800, which, as noted above, are placed into communication with the plugging endpiece 600 when a spacer 700 is not utilized. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, each of the plurality of protective devices 800 is a rubber washer.

Generally, the kit will further include a plurality of locking sleeves 1000 to enable the system to be utilized to lock firearm components. In an embodiment wherein locking sleeves 1000 are included in the kit, it is currently preferred that the kit also include a tool (e.g., a crimper) to enable a user to compresses (e.g. crimp) the eyelets 1010, 1020 of the sleeve, as explained above. It is also currently preferred that if a crimper is included in the kit that the crimper be sized and shaped not only be able to crimp a locking sleeve 1000, but also be able to attach the endpieces 500, 600 to the respective ends 410, 420 of the cable segment.

The kit can contain other pieces of equipment as well, including, but not limited to, one or more locking devices 900 (e.g., locking brackets) as well as other equipment (e.g., one or more C-clamps, one or more padlocks, one or more screws, one or more combination- or key-operated padlocks) for use in securing the locking device to a surface 50.

The kit also can include product literature, such as, by way of non-limiting example, an inventory of components list, one or more advertisements, one or more coupons, and one or more warranties. According to a currently preferred embodiment of the present invention, the kit literature will include at least instructions for using the locking system to lock firearms and/or detachable (or non-detachable) firearm components. The literature can be provided in the kit as hard copy (e.g., on paper or laminate) and/or as soft copy (e.g., a CD-ROM or another computer readable medium).

While the present invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to the preferred embodiments as illustrated in the drawings and described hereinabove, it will be understood by one skilled in the art that various changes in detail may be effected therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the claims.