Title:
RAPID DEPLOYABLE WEAPON RETENTION SYSTEM FOR TACTICAL HOLSTERS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A weapon retention mechanism for releasably holding a weapon in a holster pocket including a frame member forming at least a portion of the holster pocket, the frame member including a pair of substantially linear slots, a retention member having opposed side portions and an intermediate portion extending therebetween, each opposed side portion including a projection positioned and located so as to be cooperatively engageable with the corresponding slots associated with the frame member, the retention member being slidably moveable in a substantially linear direction between a first position wherein the retention member restricts movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket and a second position wherein the retention member does not restrict movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket, and a release member for releasably holding the retention member in its first position, the release member being moveable between a first position wherein it holds the retention member in its first position and a second position wherein it releases the retention member and allows the retention member to be moved to its second position. In a preferred embodiment, the retention member is biased towards its second position and the release member is biased towards its first position.



Inventors:
Evans, Scott V. (Jacksonville, NC, US)
Wainwright, Robert Bruce (Oxford, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/307092
Publication Date:
07/26/2007
Filing Date:
01/23/2006
Assignee:
EAGLE INDUSTRIES UNLIMITED, INC. (Fenton, MO, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/196
International Classes:
F41C33/00; B65D83/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LANDOLFI, JR., STEVEN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Christensen, Fonder, Dardi & Herbert PLLC (Maple Grove, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A weapon retention mechanism for releasably holding a weapon in a holster pocket comprising: a frame member forming at least a portion of the holster pocket, said frame member including a pair of substantially linear slots; a retention member having opposed side portions and an intermediate portion extending therebetween, each opposed side portion including a tongue member positioned and located so as to be cooperatively engageable with the corresponding slots associated with said frame member, said retention member being slidably movable within said slots in a substantially linear direction between a first position wherein said intermediate portion restricts movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket and a second position wherein said intermediate portion does not restrict movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket; a release member for releasably holding the retention member in its first position, said release member being movable between a first position wherein said release member holds said retention member in its first position and restricts movement of said retention member to its second position and a second position wherein said release member releases said retention member and allows said retention member to move to its second position; first biasing means biasing said retention member towards its second position; and second biasing means biasing said release member towards its first position.

2. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 1 wherein said release member is engageable with said frame member.

3. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 1 wherein said first biasing means includes a spring member having one end portion attached to said retention member and having its opposite end portion attached to said release member.

4. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 1 wherein said second biasing means includes a spring member attached to said frame member and having at least a portion thereof engageable with said release member.

5. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 1 wherein said release member includes a pawl and said retention member includes a notch, said pawl being engageable with said notch when said retention member is in its first position, the engagement of said pawl with said notch holding said retention member in its first position.

6. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 1 including means for further controlling the linear movement of said retention member between its first and second positions.

7. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 6 wherein said means includes a boss associated with said frame member and a slot associated with said retention member, said boss being engageable with said slot for controlling the linear movement of said retention member.

8. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 1 wherein said release member is positioned and located so as to be engageable by the thumb of a user during the natural hand movement of the user as the user is moving his/her hand to draw the weapon from the holster pocket.

9. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 1 including a cowling member attachable to said frame member, said cowling member and said frame member forming the holster pocket.

10. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 1 including means for controlling the travel of said release member between its first and second positions.

11. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 10 wherein said means includes at least one boss associated with said frame member and at least one slot associated with said release member, said at least one boss being engageable with said at least one slot for controlling the travel of said release member.

12. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 1 including a side cap member engageable with said frame member, said side cap member being positioned and located so as to extend over at least a portion of one side portion of said retention member as said retention member moves between its first and second positions.

13. A weapon retention mechanism for releasably holding a weapon in a holster pocket comprising: a frame member forming at least a portion of the holster pocket, said frame member having an upper portion with opposed side portions, each opposed side portion having a substantially linear groove associated therewith; a retention member having opposed side portions and an intermediate portion extending therebetween, each opposed side portion including a projection positioned and located for slidably engaging the corresponding groove associated with each side portion of said frame member, said retention member being movable in a substantially linear direction between a first position wherein said intermediate portion restricts movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket and a second position wherein said intermediate portion is forward of the holster pocket and does not restrict movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket; a release member attachable to said frame member for releasably holding the retention member in its first position, said release member being positioned and located so as to be engageable by the thumb of a shooter during the natural hand movement of the shooter to draw the weapon from the holster pocket, said release member being movable between a first position wherein said release member holds said retention member in its first position and a second position where said release member releases said retention member and allows said retention member to move to its second position; a first biasing member engageable with said frame member and said release member for biasing said release member towards its first position; and a second biasing member engageable with said retention member and said release member for biasing said retention member towards its second position.

14. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 13 wherein said release member includes a projection and said retention member includes a notch associated with one side portion thereof, said projection being engageable with said notch when said retention member is in its first position.

15. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 13 wherein said frame member includes a boss and said retention member includes a slot associated with one side portion thereof, said boss extending through said slot, the length of said slot limiting the linear movement of said retention member between its first and second positions.

16. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 13 wherein said frame member includes at least one boss and said release member includes at least one slot, said at least one boss extending through said at least one slot for limiting the movement of said release member between its first and second positions.

17. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 13 including a cowling member removably attachable to said frame member, said cowling member and said frame member forming the holster pocket.

18. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 13 wherein said release member includes a channel for at least partially housing said second biasing member.

19. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 13 wherein said frame member includes portions for facilitating attachment of the frame member to a mounting platform.

20. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 13 including a side cap member engageable with said frame member, said side cap member having a portion thereof extending over at least a portion of one side portion of said retention member when said retention member moves between its first and second positions.

21. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 20 wherein said side cap member includes a channel and said one side portion of said retention member includes a projection, said projection being engageable with said channel as said retention member moves between its first and second positions.

22. A weapon retention mechanism for releasably holding a weapon in a holster pocket comprising: a frame member forming at least a portion of the holster pocket, said frame member including a pair of substantially straight spaced apart slots; a substantially U-shaped retention member having opposed side portions and an intermediate canopy portion extending therebetween, each side portion including a projection for slidably engaging the corresponding slots associated with said frame member, said retention member being movable in a substantially straight direction between a locked position wherein said intermediate canopy portion restricts movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket and an unlocked position wherein said intermediate canopy portion does not restrict movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket, one side portion of said retention member including a notch; a thumb release member attachable to said frame member for releasably holding said retention member in its locked position, said release member being movable between an undepressed position wherein said release member holds said retention member in its locked position and a depressed position wherein said release member releases said retention member and allows said retention member to move to its unlocked position, said release member including a projection which is engageable with the notch associated with said retention member when said retention member is in its locked position, the engagement of said projection with said notch holding said retention member in its locked position; a first spring member attachable to said frame member and applying a biasing force against said release member for biasing said release member towards its undepressed position; and a second spring member having one end portion attached to said release member and having its opposite end portion attached to said retention member for applying a biasing force against said retention member for biasing said retention member towards its unlocked position; and means for limiting the travel of said retention member between its locked and unlocked positions.

23. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 22 wherein said means limiting the travel of said retention member between its locked and unlocked positions includes a slot associated with one side portion of said retention member and a projection member associated with said frame member, said projection member extending through said slot and abutting the opposed end portions of said slot when said retention member reaches its locked and unlocked positions thereby functioning as a stop member to limit the travel of said retention member.

24. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 22 wherein said means for limiting the travel of said retention member between its locked and unlocked positions includes a side cap member engageable with said frame member, said side cap member having at least a portion thereof extending over at least a portion of one side portion of one said retention member as said retention member moves between its locked and unlocked positions, said side cap member having a channel associated therewith and said one side portion of said retention member having a projection associated therewith, said projection traveling within said channel as said retention member moves between its locked and unlocked position, said projection abutting the opposed end portions of said channel when said retention member reaches its locked and unlocked positions thereby functioning as a stop member to limit the travel of said retention member.

25. A holster for a weapon comprising: at least one member forming a holster pocket for receiving and holding a weapon, said at least one member having opposed side portions, each opposed side portion having a substantially linear groove associated therewith, said at least one member further including at least one projection member; a substantially U-shaped canopy member having opposed side portions and an intermediate portion extending therebetween, each opposed side portion including a tongue member positioned and located for cooperatively engaging the corresponding grooves associated with said at least one member, said canopy member being slidably movable within said grooves between a locked position wherein said intermediate portion covers a portion of said holster pocket and restricts movement of the weapon out of said holster pocket and an unlocked position wherein said intermediate portion is forward of said holster pocket and does not restrict movement of the weapon out of said holster pocket, said canopy member further including an elongated slot associated with one side portion thereof and a notch associated with one side portion thereof; a release member operable by a user's thumb and attachable to said frame member for releasably holding the canopy member in its locked position, said release member having a pawl associated therewith which is engageable with the notch associated with said canopy member when said canopy member is in its locked position for holding said canopy member in its locked position, said release member being biased to hold said canopy member in its locked position and being movable to release said pawl from said notch thereby allowing said canopy member to move to its unlocked position, said release member further including a channel and at least one slot; a first biasing member for biasing said release member to hold said canopy member in its locked position; a second biasing member biasing said canopy member towards its unlocked position, said second biasing member rapidly moving said canopy member from its locked position to its unlocked position when said release member is moved to release said pawl from said notch, said first biasing member being at least partially insertible within the channel associated with said release member; at least one boss associated with said at least one member extending through the slot associated with said canopy member for defining the extent of travel of said canopy member between its locked and unlocked positions; said at least one boss associated with said at least one member extending through the slot associated with said release member for defining the extent of travel of said release member from its position where said pawl is engaged with said notch to a position where said pawl is disengaged with said notch.

26. The holster of claim 25 wherein said at least one member forming said holster pocket includes a frame member and a cowling member attached to said frame member, said frame member and said cowling member forming said holster pocket.

27. The holster of claim 25 wherein said release member is attachable to said at least one member and overlaps one side portion of said canopy member.

28. The holster of claim 27 wherein said second biasing member includes a spring member having opposed end portions and the one side portion of said canopy member which is overlapped by said release member includes a projection, one end portion of said spring member being attached to said release member and the opposite end portion of said spring member being attached to the projection associated with said canopy member, said projection traveling within at least a portion of the channel associated with said release member when said canopy member moves between its locked and unlocked positions.

29. The holster of claim 27 including a side cap member engageable with said at least one member forming the holster pocket, said side cap member being positioned and located so as to extend over at least a portion of one side portion of said canopy member as said canopy member moves between its locked and unlocked positions.

30. The holster of claim 29 wherein said side cap member includes a channel and said one side portion of said canopy member includes a projection, said projection traveling within said channel as said canopy member moves between its locked and unlocked positions.

31. A weapon retention mechanism for releasably holding a weapon in a holster pocket comprising: a frame member forming at least a portion of the holster pocket, said frame member including a pair of substantially linear slots; a retention member having opposed side portions and an intermediate portion extending therebetween, each opposed side portion including a tongue member positioned and located so as to be cooperatively engageable with the corresponding slots associated with said frame member, said retention member being slidably movable within said slots in a substantially linear direction between a first position wherein said intermediate portion restricts movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket and a second position wherein said intermediate portion does not restrict movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket; a release member for releasably holding the retention member in its first position, said release member being movable between a first position wherein said release member holds said retention member in its first position and restricts movement of said retention member to its second position and a second position wherein said release member releases said retention member and allows said retention member to be moved to its second position; and biasing means biasing said release member towards its first position.

32. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 31 wherein said release member includes a pawl and said retention member includes a notch, said pawl being engageable with said notch when said retention member is in its first position, the engagement of said pawl with said notch holding said retention member in its first position.

33. A weapon retention mechanism for releasably holding a weapon in a holster pocket comprising: a frame member forming at least a portion of the holster pocket, said frame member having an upper portion with opposed side portions, each opposed side portion having a substantially linear groove associated therewith; a retention member having opposed side portions and an intermediate portion extending therebetween, each opposed side portion including a projection positioned and located for slidably engaging the corresponding groove associated with each side portion of said frame member, said retention member being movable in a substantially linear direction between a first position wherein said intermediate portion restricts movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket and a second position wherein said intermediate portion is forward of the holster pocket and does not restrict movement of the weapon out of the holster pocket; a release member attachable to said frame member for releasably holding the retention member in its first position, said release member being positioned and located so as to be engageable by the thumb of a shooter during the natural hand movement of the shooter to draw the weapon from the holster pocket, said release member being movable between a first position wherein said release member holds said retention member in its first position and a second position where said release member releases said retention member and allows said retention member to be moved to its second position; and a biasing member engageable with said frame member and said release member for biasing said release member towards its first position.

34. The weapon retention mechanism of claim 33 wherein said release member includes a projection and said retention member includes a notch associated with one side portion thereof, said projection being engageable with said notch when said retention member is in its first position.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

This invention relates generally to holsters for handguns having a retention mechanism associated therewith for preventing unauthorized withdrawal of the weapon from the holster pocket and, more particularly, to an improved retention mechanism/system which allows for rapid deployment of the weapon from the holster pocket by the user when desired, but prevents unauthorized, accidental or inadvertent removal of the weapon from the holster pocket.

Inadvertent, accidental, and even unauthorized removal of a weapon from a holster is a common problem faced by law enforcement personnel, military personnel and other tactical users of holstered weapons. To be effective, a holster must address two major concerns, namely, (1) security of the weapon at all times, and (2) allowing the authorized user access and means for the rapid deployment of the weapon when desired. There is therefore a need for effectively carrying a weapon in a holster and for rapidly deploying such weapon when needed. There is also a need to effectively prevent accidental, inadvertent, or unauthorized withdrawal of the weapon from a holster such as when the authorized user is running, maneuvering, or otherwise engaging the enemy or an assailant.

The prior art discloses a wide variety of different mechanisms to prevent inadvertent withdrawal of a weapon from a holster, such as, a wide variety of different types of restraining straps, spring mechanisms, trigger guard gripping devices, thumb-break devices, pivotable strap mechanisms, custom molding of the holster to fit each gun, and other similar devices and mechanisms. See, for example, the holster retention mechanisms disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,127,566; 5,199,620; 5,284,281; 5,501,381; and 5,509,591. Such known prior art constructions for the most part are characterized by complicated and cumbersome mechanisms which are inconvenient, awkward and difficult to manipulate and operate to achieve rapid deployment of the weapon from the holster, and such mechanisms can suffer from substantial wear and tear during use. Although such security devices and mechanisms are desired in all types of holsters, including belt carried holsters, shoulder holsters, competition holsters and others, to reduce the risk of unauthorized, inadvertent, or accidental removal of the weapon from the holster, mechanisms which ensure higher security of the weapon within the holster pocket typically lead to a slower draw or slower deployment of the weapon whereas mechanisms which afford rapid deployment of the weapon typically lead to a lesser amount of security for the holstered weapon. As such, the user is often left with an undesirable trade-off between the two necessary features, namely, security versus rapid deployment. Recognizing that the weapon is the implement of last resort and immediate need for an authorized user, use of a weapon retention mechanism which affords both high security and rapid deployment, and which does not compromise either necessary feature, is highly desirable.

Thus, there is a need for a rapid deployable weapon retention mechanism/system for holsters which both effectively incorporate high security weapon retention features in a holster without inhibiting the speed with which a user may deploy the weapon. As a result, the present invention is directed to a holster retention mechanism/system which overcomes one or more of the problems set forth above and represents an improvement over the known prior art weapon retention mechanisms.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The present invention overcomes many of the shortcomings and limitations of the prior art devices and teaches the construction and operation of a rapid deployable weapon retention mechanism/system for use with holsters which effectively incorporates a high security retention mechanism with a rapid release mechanism for rapid retrieval and deployment of the weapon from the holster by an authorized user. The present retention mechanism/system, when in its secured or locked position, effectively blocks the withdrawal of the weapon from the holster pocket and includes a quick release mechanism for allowing access to the weapon which can be activated by an authorized user in a single motion while the shooting hand is moving towards obtaining a firing grip on the holstered weapon. The present mechanism incorporates features that allow this economy of motion to be used to the advantage by the authorized user. The present mechanism also allows for the user to re-set the retention system with a single motion once it has been released via the quick release mechanism.

In one aspect of the present invention, the present weapon retention mechanism includes a frame member, a retention canopy, and a release mechanism. The frame member is the primary support element for the holstering system. The frame member's internal geometry is typically matched to the particular handgun or weapon that is intended to be holstered therewith in so as to best enable a secure fit while providing a smooth snag-free draw. The external portions of the frame member facilitate attachment to various mounting platforms such as, for example, belt loops, leg panels, a paddle, or a belt slide so that the weapon may be transported in a plurality of different ways that best meet the needs of the authorized user. The present frame member also provides attachment points for other components such as an interchangeable cowling for holstering the weapon. The present frame member also serves as the main platform for the retention mechanism and it is molded to receive and support the specific components of the retention mechanism. Modularity of carry and adaptability and precision matching of weapon to the holster are uniquely accomplished.

The retention canopy is slidably attachable to the upper portion of the frame member and, when positioned in its locked position, covers the top portion of the holster and blocks the withdrawal of the weapon positioned therewith in. The retention canopy is movably attachable to the frame member via a sliding tongue and groove arrangement and via the use of a slot and boss arrangement. The retention canopy travels between a first locked and a second unlocked position in a substantially horizontal or linear direction and is biased to its unlocked position through the use of a drive spring. The boss associated with the frame member extends through the linear slot associated with one side of the retention canopy and serves as a stop member to limit the movement of the retention canopy as it travels back and forth between its locked and unlocked position. The boss/slot arrangement prevents the retention canopy from traveling past its desired stopping points associated with both its locked and unlocked position. When in its unlocked position, the weapon housed within the holster can be easily and rapidly withdrawn and deployed from the holster pocket for use.

The present retention mechanism also includes a release mechanism in the form of a thumb trigger member which is positioned and located adjacent the retention canopy so as to be activated during the natural movement of the hand of the authorized shooter while the shooter is moving to draw the weapon out of the holster. The release mechanism integrates several components into a single movable member which includes the thumb button, the track for the canopy drive spring, and a projection or trigger pawl for engaging a corresponding notch associated with the retention canopy. A torsion spring mounts to the frame member and applies a biasing pressure against the release mechanism so as to maintain the projection or trigger pawl in engagement with the canopy notch when the retention canopy is positioned in its locked position. Thumb pressure applied against the thumb button of the release mechanism moves the trigger pawl out of engagement with the canopy slot thereby allowing the retention canopy to rapidly move from its locked position to its unlocked position via the canopy drive spring. When thumb pressure is removed from the thumb button of the release mechanism, the release mechanism is again biased by its torsion spring towards its undepressed upward position. When the retention canopy is again slidably moved into its locked position, the trigger pawl will be engaged with the canopy slot and the biasing force exerted by the torsion spring against the release mechanism will hold the trigger pawl in engagement with the canopy slot as previously explained.

When the retention canopy is moved into its locked position, the retention canopy bridges the side walls of the holster across the top portion thereof and actually wraps around the top, sides and front of the top portion of the holstered weapon thereby preventing the holstered weapon from being withdrawn from the holster pocket. The present retention canopy also provides additional protection to the weapon from the elements and prevents dirt and dust from coming into contact with vital areas of the firearm. Upon activation of the release mechanism, the retention canopy, under the power of the canopy drive spring, is automatically and rapidly moved or snapped forward in a linear motion from its locked position to its unlocked position, thereby clearing the path of the weapon for removal from the holster pocket. The release mechanism through engagement of the trigger pawl with the notch associated with the retention canopy prevents movement of the retention canopy out of its locked position until the thumb button of the release mechanism is pressed downwardly by the user's thumb to release the pawl and to allow the retention canopy to move forward in a linear motion away from the holstered weapon. As a result, the present weapon retention system provides high security when the retention canopy is in its locked position and likewise allows for rapid retrieval and deployment of the weapon by the authorized user when the retention canopy is moved to its unlocked position.

In another aspect of the present invention, the present weapon retention mechanism may likewise include a side cap member which reinforces and holds the retention canopy to the off-side of the frame member opposite the release mechanism so as to further ensure that the retention canopy remains attached to that side of the frame member. The side cap member also aids in limiting movement of the retention canopy and prevents the retention canopy from over travel in both directions.

These and other aspects and advantages of the present weapon retention system will become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering the following detailed description in connection with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

For a better understanding of the present invention, reference may be made to the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the present weapon retention mechanism without the interchangeable cowling member showing the retention canopy in its locked position.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 1 showing the retention canopy in its unlocked forward position.

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the weapon retention mechanism illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 including the interchangeable cowling member.

FIG. 4 is a rear elevational view of the frame member associated with the present weapon retention mechanism.

FIG. 5 is a left side elevational view of the frame member of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the retention canopy associated with the weapon retention mechanism of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 7 is left side elevational view of the retention canopy of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a right side elevational view of the retention canopy of FIG. 6.

FIG. 9 is a rear elevational view of the retention canopy of FIG. 6.

FIG. 10 is a right side elevational view looking at the interior portion of the trigger release member associated with the weapon retention mechanism of FIG. 3.

FIG. 11 is a partial side elevational view of the present weapon retention mechanism showing the retention canopy in its locked position and looking through the trigger release member and showing the spring members associated with the retention canopy and the trigger release member.

FIG. 12 is a left side elevational view of a side cap member which may be used to further hold the retention canopy to the opposite side of the frame member.

FIGS. 13 and 14 are perspective views showing the present weapon retention mechanism fully assembled, FIG. 13 showing the retention canopy in its locked position, and FIG. 14 showing the retention canopy in its unlocked position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the drawings more particularly by reference numbers wherein like numerals refer to like parts, the number 10 in FIGS. 1-3, 13 and 14 identifies one embodiment of a rapid deployable weapon retention mechanism constructed according to the teachings of the present invention. As best illustrated in FIG. 3, the present weapon retention mechanism includes a frame member 12, a retention canopy 14, a thumb trigger release mechanism 16, an optional side cap member 18, and a cowling member 20. The weapon retention mechanism 10 can be constructed so as to be compatible for receiving any type of weapon and for attaching to any suitable holster cowling. Although the specific weapon retention mechanism 10 discussed herein is directed to a specific configuration associated with typical tactical weapons and their associated cowlings, it is recognized and anticipated that the present weapon retention mechanism 10 can be utilized with any type of holstered weapon and with any type of holster cowling or other holster pocket configuration including belt carried holsters, shoulder holsters, and the like. It is also recognized and anticipated that the present weapon retention mechanism 10 can be fashioned into a variety of different sizes and shapes other than those illustrated herein and that various components associated with the present assembly such as the members 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 may likewise be correspondingly sized and shaped to conform to the particular size and shape of the particular weapon that is intended to be holstered therewith in without departing from the teachings and practice of the present invention.

The weapon retention mechanism 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 includes a frame member 12 which functions as the primary support member for the holstering system. The internal geometry of the frame member 12 is matched to the particular weapon that is intended to be holstered and the internal slot or opening 22 associated therewith is sized and shaped to the barrel of the weapon so as to enable a secure fit of the weapon therewith in while likewise providing a smooth snag free withdrawal of the weapon from the internal slot or opening 22 when necessary. As will be hereinafter further explained, the interchangeable cowling member 20 is likewise specifically configured to match the particular weapon that is intended to be holstered therewith in and forms the sides of the overall holster. The opening 22 of frame member 12 in combination with the opening associated with the cowling member 20 form the cavity of the holster or the holster pocket for receiving and holding the weapon to be holstered therewith in. External portions of the frame member 12 are sized and configured so as to facilitate attachment of the frame member to various mounting platforms such as belt loops, leg panels, a paddle, or a belt slide so that the weapon holstered therewith in may be transported in a wide variety of different ways that best meets that needs of the authorized user. For example, the attachment bracket 24 and its associated openings 26 can be designed, positioned and located so as to be compatible for attachment to a particular mounting platform. Attachment projection 28 can likewise be positioned and located to accomplish this task. In addition, the external portions of the frame member 12 also include a plurality of attachment points 30 which are sized, shaped and positioned for mating with corresponding openings associated with the interchangeable cowling member 20 for attaching the cowling member to the frame member. In this regard, attachment of the cowling member 20 to the frame member 12 as well as attachment of the frame member 12 to a suitable mounting platform can be accomplished in a conventional manner such as using conventional screws, rivets, and other appropriate fastening members.

As best illustrated in FIGS. 2, 4 and 5, the upper portion of the frame member 12 also serves as the main platform for the present retention mechanism and such upper portion is molded to receive and support the specific components of the present system. In this regard, the frame member 12 includes a pair of opposed, but offset grooves or slots 32 and 34 (FIG. 4) which are adaptable for receiving a pair of corresponding projections or tongues 36 and 38 associated with the retention canopy 14 as will be hereinafter further explained. The slots 32 and 34, when engaged with the corresponding projections 36 and 38 of the retention canopy 14, allow the retention canopy to move in a substantially straight, linear motion between its locked and unlocked position. The frame member 12 likewise includes a projection or boss 40 for mating with a slot 42 associated with the retention canopy 14 for likewise controlling the linear movement of the retention canopy 14 as it travels back and forth between its locked and unlocked positions as will be hereinafter further explained. As best illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, when the retention canopy 14 is engaged with the upper portion of the frame member 12, the projections or tongues 36 and 38 engage and slidably move within the slots 32 and 34 and the boss or projection 40 extends through the slot 42.

Still further, the upper portion of frame member 12 likewise includes a second boss or projection 44 which is sized and shaped so as to cooperatively receive a circular portion 48 associated with torsion spring member 46 as best illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 11. Frame member 12 likewise includes indentations, channels, or other suitable means such as the indentations 54 and 56 as best illustrated in FIG. 5 for cooperatively receiving the extension arms 50 and 52 associated with spring member 46. In this regard, the spring member 46 mounts to the frame member 12 via the boss 44 and the indentations 54 and 56 as best illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 11 and biases the trigger release member 16 towards its upward or undepressed position. The spring member 46 also maintains the retention canopy 14 in its locked position as will likewise be further explained. When mounted to the frame member 12, the torsion spring member 46 lies substantially flush with or is positioned below the exterior surface of that portion of the frame member 12 where spring member 46 attaches thereto.

The retention canopy 14 is somewhat U-shaped in overall configuration as best illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 and includes opposed side portions 58 and 60 and an intermediate bridging portion 62 which extends therebetween. Canopy side portion 58 includes tongue or projection 36 for cooperatively engaging slot 32 associated with frame member 12 and side portion 60 includes tongue or projection 38 which likewise cooperatively engages slot 34 associated with frame member 12. The size and shape of the corresponding projections 36 and 38 and slots 32 and 34 can vary depending upon the particular application and the materials of construction utilized and are specifically designed for longevity to withstand normal wear and tear during use. As best illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 6, intermediate canopy portion 62 is of a sizable dimension so as to more than substantially cover the top portion of the holster pocket and the particular weapon positioned therewithin. The canopy portion 62 covers the top of the holster pocket and blocks the withdrawal of the weapon positioned therewith in when the retention canopy 14 is moved to its locked position. In this regard, as best illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the slot 42 associated with side portion 58 and the boss 40 extending therethrough controls the extent of linear travel of the retention canopy 14 between its locked and unlocked position.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the retention canopy 14 is in its first locked position when it is moved rearward with respect to the front portion of the frame member 12 and the canopy portion 62 covers the top of the holster pocket. The retention canopy 14 is maintained in its first or locked position through the use of a pawl and notch arrangement such as the pawl or projection 64 associated with the interior surface of the trigger release member 16 (FIG. 10) and the notch 66 associated with side portion 58 of the retention canopy 14. When the retention canopy 14 is moved to its first or rearward most position as illustrated in FIG. 1, the pawl or projection 64 engages the notch 66 and the canopy drive spring 68 as best illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 11 maintains the retention canopy 14 in its first or locked position as will be hereinafter further explained. Also, when the retention canopy 14 is in its locked position, the projection 40 acts as a stop member and abuts the forward end portion of slot 42 as best illustrated in FIG. 1 when the retention canopy 14 is in its locked position.

Side portion 58 of retention canopy 14 also includes a projection or stud member 70 located towards the rear portion of the canopy side portion 58 and functions to attach one end portion of the canopy drive spring member 68 thereto. The opposite end portion of spring member 68 is attached to the lower front portion of the thumb release member 16 as well be hereinafter explained. When the retention canopy 14 is moved into its locked position, spring member 68 is extended and provides a biasing force to quickly move the retention canopy 14 out of its locked position when the pawl or projection 64 is disengaged from the notch 66. In its locked position, the retention canopy 14 wraps around the top, sides, and front portion of the top portion of the holstered weapon thereby preventing the inadvertent, accidental, and/or unauthorized withdrawal of the weapon from the holster pocket. In addition, because the intermediate canopy portion 62 in conjunction with side portions 58 and 60 form a substantially closed member on three sides thereof when the retention canopy 14 is moved to its locked position as best illustrated in FIG. 1, this construction provides additional protection to the holstered weapon from the elements and likewise prevents dirt and dust from coming into direct contact with the vital areas of the weapon. Still further, if the holstered weapon has a night sight installed thereon, the night sight will typically glow in the dark. Traditional holster retention straps do not cover these glowing sights sufficiently to keep them from being seen in the dark by potential hostiles. The present retention canopy construction completely covers that portion of the holstered weapon where a night sight would be installed and effectively blocks the light emitted therefrom. The retention canopy 14 may likewise include an indentation 72 associated with the rear portion of the intermediate canopy portion 62 for providing additional clearance when deploying and removing the weapon from the holster.

As best illustrated in FIG. 2, when the retention canopy 14 is moved to its second or unlocked position, the boss or projection 40 now abuts or engages the rear portion of slot 42 thereby acting as a stop member to again limit the travel or movement of the retention canopy 14 on the frame member 12. The length of slot 42 in combination with projection or boss 40 therefore controls the total linear motion of retention canopy 14 between its first or locked and its second or unlocked positions. This arrangement likewise prevents the retention canopy 14 from being separated, in either direction, from frame member 12.

FIG. 10 illustrates the interior side wall portion of the thumb trigger release member 16 which is mounted to the frame member 12 through the openings associated with projections or bosses 40 and 44. The trigger release member 16 is attached to frame member 12 after the retention canopy 14 is properly engaged with the slots 32 and 34. The trigger release member 16 is positioned so as to be activated during the natural hand movement of the shooter while the shooter is moving to draw the weapon from the holster. In this regard, the top portion of the release member 16 is ergonomically shaped to receive the thumb of an authorized user as at thumb button 74 (FIGS. 3 and 11). Release member 16 includes slots 76 and 78 which are positioned and located so as to respectively receive the bosses 40 and 44 associated with frame member 12. Here again, the overall length of the slots 76 and 78 controls the extent of movement of the trigger release member 16 as will be hereinafter further explained. Release member 16 likewise includes an extension member 80 in the vicinity of slot 78 which is shaped and dimensioned to as to correspond to the opening or channel 82 associated with frame member 12. When the trigger release member 16 is engaged with the frame member 12, the extension member or tongue 80 extends through the opening or slot 82 and remains therewith in during all travel or movement of the trigger release member 16 thereby controlling the direction of movement of the release member 16 as well as providing additional strength and stability to the attachment of the release member 16 to frame member 12. Extension member 80 in conjunction with the boss/slot arrangements 40/76 and 44/78 likewise function to prevent rotational movement of the trigger release member 16 when it is attached to the frame member 12. Connection of release member 16 to frame member 12 can be accomplished using conventional fastening means.

As best illustrated in FIG. 10, the interior side wall portion of release member 16 includes a channel 84 for housing the canopy drive spring 68 when the release member 16 is attached to the frame member 12. The channel 84 includes a bend at 86 and the lower front portion of the release member 16 includes a projection, pin, or stud member 88 located within the channel 84 for attaching one end portion of the canopy drive spring 68 thereto. The pin member 88 can be positioned at any orientation within the channel 84 such as perpendicular or transverse thereto. The channel 84 within release member 16 serves as a housing for the canopy drive spring 68 as best illustrated in FIG. 11 . In this regard, since the opposite end portion of the canopy drive spring 68 is attached to the projection or stud 70 associated with the retention canopy 14, it is important to note that the stud 70 is positioned and located on side portion 58 of the retention canopy 14 so as to travel within the upper channel portion 90 associated with channel 84 which extends along a path substantially parallel to the direction of travel of the retention canopy 14. As a result, when release member 16 is attached to frame member 12 with the retention canopy 14 positioned therebetween, the projection or stud 70 will move within the channel portion 90 of channel 84. The bend 86 in channel 84 also serves to extend the canopy drive spring 68 in a path substantially parallel with the slots 32 and 34 of frame member 12 and substantially parallel to the linear movement of the retention canopy 14 between its locked and unlocked position. When the retention canopy 14 is in its second or unlocked position as illustrated in FIG. 2, the canopy drive spring 68 is substantially collapsed and unextended. In this position, the canopy drive spring 68 can be provided with sufficient tension to hold the retention canopy 14 in its unlocked position without movement. As the retention canopy 14 is moved linearly in a direction towards the rear of the frame member 12, the drive spring member 68 is extended along the upper channel portion 90 of channel 84 as best illustrated in FIG. 11.

Also, importantly, the interior side wall portion of release member 16 as best illustrated in FIG. 10 likewise includes a projection or pawl 64 which is positioned and located so as to engage the notch 66 associated with the retention canopy 14 when the retention canopy 14 reaches its covered and locked position. In this locked position, the canopy drive spring 68 is extended and is exerting a biasing return force to the retention canopy 14 such that when the pawl 64 is removed from notch 66, spring member 68 will rapidly move retention canopy 14 from its locked position as illustrated in FIG. 1 to its unlocked position as illustrated in FIG. 2.

The retention canopy is maintained in its locked position because the torsion spring member 46 applies a biasing force or pressure against the trigger release member 16 when the pawl 64 is engaged with the notch 66. This is accomplished by having the arm portion 52 of spring member 46 engage a projection, pin or stud member 92 associated with the lower bottom portion of the release member 16 as best illustrated in FIG. 10. As illustrated in FIG. 11, when arm portion 52 of spring member 46 is engaged with the stud or projection 92, the trigger release member 16 is forced upward and biased towards its uppermost undepressed or first position. This biasing force from spring member 68 holds the pawl 64 in engagement with the notch 66. When the trigger release member 16 is depressed and pushed downward by the thumb of an authorized user to a second position, the arm portion 52 of spring member 46 is likewise moved downwardly through an interaction with projection or stud member 92 and the pawl member 64 associated with release member 16 is likewise moved downwardly out of engagement with notch 66 associated with the retention canopy side wall portion 58. When pawl 64 is moved out of engagement with notch 66, the canopy drive spring member 66 will immediately and rapidly move retention canopy 14 out of its locked position and into its unlocked position as previously explained. As soon as the user's thumb pressure is removed from release member 16, arm portion 52 of spring member 46 will immediately apply a biasing force or pressure against projection or stud member 92 which, in turn, will immediately move the trigger release member 16 out of its second position and to its upward most undepressed first position. With the retention canopy 14 in its unlocked position as illustrated in FIG. 2, the pawl 64 will be positioned and located adjacent the bottom edge portion 94 of canopy side portion 58 until the retention canopy 14 is again moved into its locked position. The length of the corresponding slots 76 and/or 78 control the total movement of the trigger release member 16 between its first undepressed or static position and its second depressed position. In this regard, this movement must be sufficient so as to allow the pawl 64 to move out of engagement with the notch 66.

An optional side cap member such as the member 18 illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 12 can likewise be utilized in conjunction with the present weapon retention mechanism for providing additional stability and reinforcement to the retention canopy 14 on the opposite side thereof. As best illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 12, the side cap member 18 includes a plurality of openings 94 for attaching to the opposite side portion of frame member 12. In this regard, frame member 12 includes corresponding openings (not shown) for cooperatively receiving any suitable type of fastening means for attaching the side cap member 18 to the opposite side portion of frame member 12. When so attached, at least a portion of the side cap member 18 extends over or overlaps at least a portion of canopy side portion 60. In addition, as best illustrated in FIG. 12, the interior side wall portion of member 18 includes an elongated cavity or blind channel 96 for cooperatively receiving a projection or stud member 98 associated with canopy side portion 60 as best illustrated in FIGS. 7-9. Projection or stud member 98 is again positioned and located so as to travel within the elongated cavity 96 as retention canopy 14 moves between its locked and unlocked position. In this regard, the length of the elongated cavity 96 can likewise be dimensioned so as to correspond with the full travel of retention canopy 14 between its locked and unlocked position and the projection or stud member 98 associated with canopy side wall portion 60 can likewise function as a stop member abutting and engaging the opposite end portions of cavity 96 when the retention canopy 14 reaches its locked and unlocked positions. Side cap member 18 therefore reinforces and helps to hold the retention canopy 14 to the off-side or opposite side of the frame member 12 and likewise helps to ensure that the tongue or projection 38 remains engaged with its corresponding slot 34 on the opposite side or off-side of frame member 12.

It should be recognized that the side cap member 18 is optional and that the present invention will function and operate without the use of member 18. In this regard, the primary objects of the present invention are achieved through the assembly and interconnection of the frame member 12, the retention canopy 14, the trigger release member 16, and the biasing means 46 and 68 associated therewith.

The cowling member 20 illustrated in FIGS. 3, 13 and 14 attaches to the frame member 12 as previously explained and allows the present weapon retention mechanism to achieve maximum versatility in that the cowling member 20 can be specifically sized and shaped to accommodate the particular weapon to be holstered within the present mechanism, including weapons having a light source attached thereto. As the holstered weapon changes, the structure and configuration of the members 12, 14 and 16 should remain compatible with most tactical weapons to be utilized with the present invention and only the cowling member 20 need be changed to accommodate substantial variations in weapon configuration such as attaching a light source or gun light to the weapon. Since the cowling member 20 is easily attachably removable and interchangeable with the frame member 12, matching the cowling member to the weapon or to the weapon/light source combination and thereafter attaching the proper cowling member 20 to the frame member 12 will always provide a proper and secure fit for the particular weapon/weapon configuration intended to be holstered within the present mechanism. In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 13 and 14, the frame member 12 and the cowling member 20, in combination, form the holster pocket.

In operation, as illustrated in FIGS. 13 and 14, when the retention canopy 14 and trigger release member 16 are assembled and attached to the frame member, the retention canopy 14 is biased to its unlocked position as best illustrated in FIG. 14 via the canopy drive spring member 68. In similar fashion, the trigger release member 16 is biased to its upward most and undepressed position via spring member 46. As the retention canopy 14 is moved towards its locked position (FIG. 13), the canopy drive spring member 68 is extended and the retention canopy will continue to move rearwardly so as to cover the open top portion of the holster pocket and so as to block withdrawal of the holstered weapon positioned therewith in until the pawl 64 associated with the trigger release member 16 is moved into engagement with the notch 66 associated with the retention canopy 14. When this engagement occurs, the torsion spring member 46 will continue to hold the pawl 64 in engagement with the notch 66 and will continue to offer resistance when the trigger release member 16 is depressed. In its locked position, the retention canopy 14 prevents withdrawal of the holstered weapon. Removal of the weapon from the holster pocket requires the authorized user to exert a downward pressure against the trigger release member 16 at thumb button 74 so as to push the pawl 64 out of engagement with the notch 66. This downward pressure is achieved during the natural movement of the user's hand and arm as the user's hand is moving towards the weapon to withdraw the weapon from the holster. In this single motion, the user's thumb engages the release member 16 at 74 and depresses the release member 16 downwardly to disengage the pawl 64 from the notch 66 in the same motion as the user is gripping the weapon to withdraw the same. As the pawl 64 is disengaged from the notch 66, the retention canopy 14 is automatically released from its locked position and, under the power of the canopy drive spring 68, snaps forward in a rapid linear motion to uncover the holstered weapon. This allows the authorized user to rapidly deploy the holstered weapon from the holster pocket during the natural movement involved in a rapid draw of the weapon. The economy of motion necessary in the operation of the present mechanism 10 enables faster speed in acquiring the weapon while at the same time provides maximum security for the weapon. Once the pawl 64 is disengaged from the notch 66 and the retention canopy 14 is moved to its unlocked position, and thumb pressure is removed from the release member 16, the torsion spring member 46 will again bias the release member 16 to its upward undepressed condition. In addition, the retention canopy 14 is fully extended forward of the frame member as best illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 14 and the holster pocket is clear so that the holstered weapon an be easily removed.

Although the holster pocket, weapon receiving cavity, or other enclosure for receiving and holding a weapon is disclosed herein as being formed by both the frame member 12 and the cowling member 20, it is recognized and anticipated that the holster pocket can likewise be formed by a single member, or by any plurality of members other than the frame member 12 and cowling member 20. It is also recognized and anticipated that either the frame member 12 or the cowling member 20 could be shaped and dimensioned to form the single member which houses the holster pocket. Still further, it is also recognized and anticipated that the boss 40 and the slot 42 could be eliminated and the means for limiting the travel of the retention member 14 between its first and second positions could simply include the projection 98 traveling within the cavity or blind channel 96 associated with side cap member 18. Still other variations and combinations of the various members disclosed herein including integrally forming many of the above-referenced members into a single member is also anticipated and recognized.

It is also recognized that the movement of the retention canopy 14 between its locked and unlocked positions is substantially linear at all times. This substantially straight-line motion of the retention canopy 14 facilitates a more rapid deployable retention system; it reduces wear and tear on the components involved; it is more efficient than the known pivotable strap mechanisms; and it provides greater protection to the holstered weapon when the retention canopy 14 is in its locked position. Still further, although the present mechanism has been described using a particular construction associated with the retention canopy 14, the trigger release member 16, the frame member 12, and the biasing means 46 and 68, it is recognized that the overall dimensions of the present assembly as well as the specific shape and configuration of the various members associated therewith such as the members 12, 14, 16, 46 and 68 are all subject to wide variations and may be sized and shaped into a variety of different sizes and configurations so as to be compatible with the particular weapon to be holstered therewith in, and that such members can be differently configured but still achieve the substantially linear motion of the retention canopy 14 as it travels between its locked and unlocked position. All such changes and modifications can be accomplished without impairing the teachings and practice of the present invention.

The present invention lies primarily in a construction which allows the retention canopy or other similar or equivalent retention members to move between its locked and unlocked position in a substantially linear motion. This means that the slots, grooves or channels 32 and 34, their corresponding tongues or projections 36 and 38, the bosses 40 and 44, the slot 42, the pawl 64, the notch 66, the slots or openings 72 and 78, the extension member 80, the channel member 84, and the studs or projection members 70, 88, 92 and 98 can be eliminated, redesigned, reconfigured, and/or replaced with other structures so long as the retention canopy 14 operates and travels in a substantially linear direction as explained above. Other variations and modifications to the various components comprising the present structures are also contemplated.

In this regard, an alternative embodiment of the present weapon retention mechanism 10 may include a completely manually operated retention canopy 14. In this particular embodiment, the canopy drive spring or biasing member 68 can be eliminated and the retention canopy 14 can be manually moved from its locked position to its unlocked position when the trigger release member 16 is depressed and moved in a downward direction. In all other respects, the construction of the retention canopy 14 as well as the construction and operation of the trigger release member 16 as previously described. For example, in this embodiment, the retention canopy 14 still would be maintained in its first or locked position through the use of the pawl 64 and notch 66 arrangement previously described including the biasing force or pressure exerted against the trigger release member 16 by the torsion spring member 66. When the trigger release member 16 is depressed and pushed downwardly by the thumb of an authorized user to its second position, the pawl 64 is again moved out of engagement with the corresponding notch 66. Since the canopy drive spring member 66 has been eliminated, the retention canopy 14 will not move out of its locked position unless manually moved by the authorized user. As a result, for certain applications, manual movement of the retention canopy 14 is desirable and can be easily accomplished by holding the trigger release member 16 in its depressed position and simultaneously moving the retention canopy forward to its second or unlocked position. As soon as the user's thumb pressure is removed from the trigger release member 16, spring member 46 will immediately apply a biasing force or pressure against the projection or stud member 92 which, in turn, will immediately move the trigger release member 16 out of its second position and back to its undepressed first position. When the retention canopy 14 is again moved to its first or locked position, it will again be maintained in that position through the pawl 64 and notch 66 arrangements as well as by the biasing force exerted against trigger release member 16. In order to facilitate the manual movement of the retention canopy 14 from its locked to its unlocked position, the retention canopy 14 may include a flange or other member associated therewith positioned and located for easy engagement by the thumb or hand of an authorized user in a coordinated motion while the shooting hand is simultaneously depressing the trigger release member 16 and moving towards obtaining a firing grip on the holstered weapon. It is recognized and anticipated that other variations and modifications to the construction for manually operating the retention canopy 14 are also contemplated.

Thus, there has been shown and described one aspect of a rapid deployable retention mechanism for use with tactical holsters which fulfills the objects and advantages sought therefore. Many changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications of the present weapon retention mechanism will, however, become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering this specification and the accompanying drawings. All such changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention are deemed to be covered by the invention which is limited only by the claims which follow.