Title:
MODULAR HOLSTER FOR HANDGUNS AND THE LIKE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A holster (10) includes one or more modular inserts (90, 100) positioned within a rigid body (20) of the holster (10) to fit and position a preselected handgun (56) or group of similar handguns or other service items. Also described are security devices including a pivoting security hood (66) and an internal handgun retention device that engages an ejection port (136) of the handgun. The hood (66) and internal retention device may be both opened by a common release lever (70) of the holster (10) that is preferably located along a portion of the holster (10) substantially adjacent a user wearing the holster (10). The release lever (70) drives a rocking latch located along a front wall of the holster body (20), which latches the hood (66) in the closed position and engages an ejection port (136) of a holstered handgun (56). When actuated by the release lever (70), the latch (120) disengages the hood (66) and the ejection port (136), allowing the hood (66) to rotate open and the handgun (56) to be withdrawn from the holster (10).



Inventors:
Seyfert, Todd (OVERLAND PARK, KS, US)
Aiston, Christopher (NASHUA, NH, US)
Webber, Kevin (DEERFIELD, NH, US)
Toner, Sean (HAVERHILL, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/672826
Publication Date:
08/09/2007
Filing Date:
02/08/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/243, 224/912
International Classes:
B65D83/00; F41C33/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LARSON, JUSTIN MATTHEW
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hovey Williams LLP (Overland Park, KS, US)
Claims:
Having thus described a preferred embodiment of the invention, what is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent includes the following:

1. A holster comprising: a holster body including opposing first and second walls; and a first removable insert lining at least a portion of one of the first wall and the second wall.

2. The holster as set forth in claim 1, the first wall being a front wall and the second wall being a rear wall.

3. The holster as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a second removable insert lining at least a portion of the other of the first wall and the second wall.

4. The holster as set forth in claim 1, the first removable insert lining further comprising an upwardly extending spindle proximate a bottom of the holster body.

5. The holster as set forth in claim 1, the body including a front shell and a rear shell detachably coupled together along inner and outer side walls of the body.

6. The holster as set forth in claim 1, further comprising an internal retention device.

7. The holster as set forth in claim 1, further comprising a pivoting hood spanning a top opening of the holster body when in a closed position and pivotable to an open position.

8. The holster as set forth in claim 7, further comprising an internal retention device; and a release lever for actuating the pivoting security hood and the internal retention device.

9. The holster as set forth in claim 8, further comprising a fastening device for securing the holster to a user, the lever being located relative to the fastening device such that when the holster is secured to a user via the fastening device, the lever is located substantially adjacent the user's body.

10. The holster as set forth in claim 8, wherein the release lever actuates the pivoting security hood and the internal retention device when moved in a first direction and then in a second direction.

11. The holster as set forth in claim 8, wherein the release lever actuates the pivoting security hood and the internal retention device when moved in a forward direction and then in a downward direction relative to a user.

12. A holster for a handgun, the handgun including a shell ejection port, the holster comprising: a body defining a cavity and an opening for admitting the handgun into the cavity; a catch for engaging the shell ejection port of the handgun to retain the handgun in the cavity, the catch being movably supported within the cavity; and a release lever for disengaging the catch from the shell ejection port.

13. The holster as set forth in claim 12, further comprising a fastening device for securing the holster to a user, the lever being located relative to the fastening device such that when the holster is secured to a user via the fastening device, the lever is located substantially adjacent the user's body.

14. The holster as set forth in claim 12, further comprising a pivoting hood spanning a top opening of the holster body when in a closed position and pivotable to an open position.

15. The holster as set forth in claim 14, the hood being actuated by the release lever such that actuating the release lever to disengage the catch from the shell ejection port also causes the hood to pivot to the open position.

16. The holster as set forth in claim 12, further comprising: a holster body including opposing first and second walls; and a first removable insert lining at least a portion of one of the first wall and the second wall.

17. The holster as set forth in claim 16, the first wall being a front wall and the second wall being a rear wall.

18. The holster as set forth in claim 16, further comprising a second removable insert lining at least a portion of the other of the first wall and the second wall.

19. The holster as set forth in claim 16, the first removable insert lining further comprising an upwardly extending spindle proximate a bottom of the holster body.

20. The holster as set forth in claim 16, the body including a front shell and a rear shell detachably coupled together along inner and outer side walls of the body.

21. A method of securing a handgun in a holster comprising: placing a removable insert into the holster such that the insert lines at least a portion of one of a front wall and a rear wall of a body of the holster, and such that the insert aligns the handgun with an internal retention device when the handgun is placed in the holster; and placing the handgun into the holster such that the internal retention device engages an ejection port of the handgun.

22. The method as set forth in claim 21, further comprising opening a security hood prior to placing the handgun into the holster and closing the security hood after placing the handgun in the holster.

23. The method as set forth in claim 21, further comprising actuating a single lever to release both the security hood and the retention device, thereby allowing the handgun to be withdrawn from the holster.

24. The method as set forth in claim 23, further comprising actuating the lever by moving the lever in a first direction and then in a second direction.

25. The method as set forth in claim 23, further comprising actuating the lever by moving the lever in a forward direction and then in a downward direction relative to a user.

26. The method as set forth in claim 21, further comprising selecting the removable insert from a plurality of removable inserts such that the selected removable insert is of a size and shape to hold the handgun such that the internal retention device engages the ejection port of the handgun.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

The present application is a nonprovisional application and claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application titled “MODULAR HOLSTER FOR HANDGUNS AND THE LIKE,” Ser. No. 60/743,268, filed Feb. 9, 2006. The identified earlier-filed application is hereby incorporated by reference into the present application.

BACKGROUND

1. Field

The present teachings relate to holsters. More particularly, the present teachings relate to security holsters and holsters for accommodating handguns, stun guns, and other similar weapons and service items of various shapes and sizes.

2. Description of Related Art

Many handgun holsters have safety straps and security hoods for preventing inadvertent or unauthorized withdrawal of a handgun. Known holsters also have internal retention devices that extend into a handgun-receiving cavity of the holster to engage a rigid feature of a handgun, such as a trigger guard or shell ejection port, for retaining the handgun in the holster.

Proper handgun retention and operation of some security devices requires the handgun to be precisely located within the cavity relative to the holster body or the retention device of the holster. For example, trigger guard retention devices include a catch that extends into the space between the trigger guard and the trigger to thereby engage the trigger guard upon an attempt to draw the handgun upwardly from the cavity. To prevent accidental discharge of the handgun, the holster must limit the downward movement of the handgun into the cavity, otherwise the catch of the trigger guard retention device might depress the trigger upon holstering of the gun. In some holsters, a constrained draw path may be needed to properly retain the handgun or operate a security device or other feature of the holster.

Because the shape and configuration of handguns varies greatly between manufacturers and even among a single manufacturer's product lines, security holsters are typically offered in many different sizes, shapes, and configurations to provide the required fit. Unfortunately, the large number of different holster bodies necessary for providing a complete line of holsters not only adds to the cost of tooling for manufacture, but also adds to the cost of manufacturing and assembly and requires sizable inventories to be carried by manufacturers and retailers.

The fit problem is compounded by the needs of some users for a holster that accommodates a tactical illuminator that is optionally attached to a handgun, typically below its barrel and forward of the trigger guard. Tactical illuminators, such as the model M3 tactical illuminator sold by Insight Technology, Inc. of Londonderry, New Hampshire, USA, are typically mountable to a rail system on the body of the handgun and can be readily attached and detached from the handgun without tools, depending on the needs of the user.

Accordingly, there is a need for an improved holster that does not suffer from the problems and limitations of the prior art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

An embodiment of the present teachings is described in detail below with reference to the attached drawing figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of a holster incorporating principles of the present teachings according to a first embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the holster of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the holster of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a rear elevation view of the holster of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the holster of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a front elevation view of the holster of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a top view of the holster of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a bottom view of the holster of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9 is a rear perspective view of the holster of FIG. 1 with a rear shell of the holster body omitted to show detail of an internal retention device, an associated release mechanism, and a front sizing insert of the holster;

FIG. 10 is a rear elevation view of the holster of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a cross section view of the holster of FIG. 1, taken along line 11-11 of FIG. 10, showing a hood and an internal retention device of the holster in the closed and locked position;

FIG. 12 is a cross section view of the holster of FIG. 1 taken along line 11-11 of FIG. 10, showing a release mechanism for the hood and internal retention device depressed and the hood and internal retention device open;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a latch module of the holster of FIGS. 1-12, illustrating an outer portion of the latch module;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the latch module of FIG. 13, illustrating an inner portion of the latch module;

FIG. 15 is a fragmentary view of the holster of FIG. 1 with a belt loop adapter plate removed to show detail of a release lever and mechanism of the holster;

FIG. 16 is a fragmentary perspective view of the holster of FIG. 1 with a front shell of the holster body omitted to show detail of the latch and release mechanism;

FIG. 17 is a rear elevation view of a holster incorporating principles of the present teachings according to a second embodiment; and

FIG. 18 is a cross section view of the holster of FIG. 17, taken along line 18-18 of FIG. 17, showing a hood and an internal retention device of the holster in the closed and locked position

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A holster incorporating principles of the present teachings is illustrated in FIG. 1 and designated generally by the reference numeral 10. The holster 10 includes a body 20 comprising a front shell 22 and a rear shell 24 coupled together to define a cavity 30. Front and rear shells 22, 24 may be coupled together along a longitudinal seam 26 where they overlap and are screwed together via rows of attachment holes 28 and screws (not shown) on the inner and outer sides of holster 10. Front and rear shells 22 and 24 cooperate to form opposing inner and outer side walls 34 and 36, respectively, of body 20. Body 20 further includes front and rear walls 42 (FIG. 11) and 44, respectively, and a floor 48 including a drain hole 50, as best shown in FIG. 8. Body 20 defines a top opening 54 sized to admit at least a portion of a handgun 56 (see FIGS. 11-12) into cavity 30. Cavity 30 may also include other openings, such as an open bottom. A substantially enclosed cavity, such as the cavity 30 illustrated in FIGS. 1-8, may be preferable to inhibit debris from entering cavity 30 and fouling a holstered handgun.

Body 20 and cavity 30 may be sized to accommodate a semi-automatic pistol or other handgun. However, in some embodiments, body 20 may be sized and shaped to accommodate or fit one or more types of sidearms and service items, such as stun guns, knives, batons (truncheons), pepper spray dispensers, and various non-weapon service items, for example. Thus, while preferred embodiments described herein are adapted to carry and/or secure handguns, they may be readily modified or configured for use with a variety of different service items. Forming body of front and rear shells 22 and 24 allows body 20 to be sized or expanded for handguns and other service items of various sizes without disassembling the entire holster 10. For example, rear shell 24 can be removed and replaced without disassembling an internal retention device 80 or pivoting security hood assembly 60 of holster 10. A multi-piece body design may also reduce tooling costs for manufacturing by enabling size adjustment features to be accomplished in a simpler part and tool design. More than two body components may also be utilized in some embodiments, although a two-piece design may be more desirable for strength and assembly precision. However, in other embodiments (not shown), body 20 may be of a one-piece design, in which some or all of inner and outer sidewalls 34, 36, front and rear walls 42, 44, and floor 48, are all formed together in a single unitary molded component.

Turning again to FIG. 1, front shell 22, rear shell 24, and certain other parts of body 20 may form a rigid structure and may be made of a molded plastic material such as an injection-molded nylon-6 resin, KYDEX® resin, or other high-strength resin material. Body 20 may, alternatively, be made of any of a wide variety of other materials, such as metals, laminates, co-molded materials, over-molded materials, and composite materials, by various methods known to persons skilled in manufacturing technologies. Some of the features of holster 10 described herein may also be implemented with body 20 formed of a semi-rigid or flexible material, such as leather.

A pivoting security hood assembly 60 is supported in association with body 20. The hood assembly 60 includes a hood 66 with a top spanning portion 64 that extends over at least a portion of top opening 54 of cavity 30 when hood 66 is in the closed position, as depicted in FIGS. 1-11, to retain handgun 56 when hood 66 is in the closed position. The hood 66 is rotatably mounted at the top of front shell 22 via a pair of pivot pins or screws (not shown) extending through pivot holes 68 in hood 66 and front shell 22. Hood 66 is preferably made of a rigid material such as, for example, cast, molded, and/or machined plastic, metal, composites, or a combination thereof, but may also be formed of flexible or semi-rigid materials. Hood 66 may also comprise other structures, such as, for example, a flexible, rigid, or semi-rigid strap that extends between pivot joints on inner and outer side walls 34 and 36 and that spans over a holstered handgun 56 or other service item.

Hood 66 may further include a front skirt portion 69 (FIG. 2) that depends downwardly from spanning portion 64 and cooperates with spanning portion 64 and body 20 to cover or otherwise shield a holstered handgun 56 or service item from debris and damage. Front skirt portion 69 preferably overlaps a top forward rim of front wall 42 of body 20 when hood 66 is in the closed position. A series of ridges may be provided along front skirt portion 69 for providing a gripping surface for facilitating returning hood 66 to the closed position, once opened. In some embodiments, front skirt portion 69 may seal closely against an outer portion of the top forward rim to provide splash- resistant protection for a holstered service item. Front skirt portion 69 may be former) of a flexible, rigid, or semi-rigid material and fastened to spanning portion 64 to form a lid or shroud assembly along with an optional rear skirt (not shown). Although spanning portion 64, front skirt portion 69, and other parts of hood 66 can be formed in multiple pieces joined together, they are preferably formed of one-piece construction in a unitary molded shroud part.

While front skirt portion 69 (and other skirt structures, such as a rear skirt) may be desirable to provide added protection for a holstered item, the term “hood,” as used herein, is intended to include any of various kinds of spanning members, bails, covers, lids, shrouds, and straps that may extend over at least a portion of a holstered service item and cooperate with holster body 20 to retain the handgun or service item in cavity 30. Thus, unless the context indicates otherwise, the term “hood” is not intended to be limited to devices with front or rear skirt portions or to devices that rotate about a particular axis relative to body 20.

Assembly 60 may be spring-biased with a coil spring interposed between hood 66 and body 20 for driving hood 66 forward to the open position (FIG. 12) when hood 66 is released by actuation of latch mechanism 120, as described below with reference to FIGS. 9-16. Security hood assembly 60 includes a release lever 70 that is manually operable to actuate the latch 120 and open hood 66. Release lever 70 may operate an internal retention device 80 simultaneously with movement of latch 120, as described below with reference to FIGS. 9-16. Alternatively, embodiments a variety of other security hood assemblies and internal retention devices, either alone or in combination, may be used with holster 10. Some suitable security hoods and release mechanisms are described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/916,027 of French et al. titled “Security Hood For Handgun Holsters and the Like,” filed Aug. 9, 2004, and published as Publication No. US 2005/0035163 A1 (hereinafter the “French application”). Many of the security hood assemblies and release mechanisms of the French application may be used with the holster 10 described herein, either in place of security hood assembly 60 and release lever 70, or in conjunction with portions of the mechanisms described herein.

A belt loop adapter plate 84 is preferably mounted along the outside of inner side wall 34 of holster body 20. Adapter plate 84 provides a platform and a set of mounting holes 86 for mounting a belt loop (not shown) to holster 10 for use in suspending holster 10 from a user's belt. The adapter plate 84 also serves to cover and protect a portion of release lever 70 and other components of the internal retention device 80 and security hood assembly 60, including a thin plastic spring section 160 and C-shaped spring arm 168 of release lever 70 shown in FIGS. 15-16. Adapter plate 84 may also require release lever 70 to be moved in two different directions in order to operate the internal retention device 80 and the hood 66. In the illustrated holster 10, adapter plate 84 includes a stop block 88 that requires lever 70 to first be moved inwardly toward the user to clear the stop block 88, then downwardly alongside stop block 88 to actuate the holster 10, as indicated by the arrows in FIGS. 9 and 12.

Modular Inserts

As mentioned above in the section titled BACKGROUND, one challenge faced in manufacturing a security holster is achieving a proper fit for a particular handgun, which may be necessary to hold and retain the handgun in the holster and to safely operate handgun retention features of the holster. This challenge is magnified by the large number of different handgun styles and models in common use today, as well as the increasingly common use of battery-powered tactical illuminators mountable under a barrel of the handgun. To facilitate achieving the necessary fit and positioning of a selected handgun model, both alone and in combination with a tactical illuminator, holster 10 preferably includes a system of one or more modular inserts 90, 100 lining at least a portion of body 20 and cavity 30 of holster 10. The inserts may be removable and replaceable, thereby allowing holster 10 to be modified or customized to fit different models or styles of handguns. Such modifications or customizations may be performed, for example, as a final or nearly final assembly step, or by a customer wishing to modify his or her holster for a different or new handgun or service item, or to fit a handgun with a tactical illuminator attached or removed. The fit and positioning of handgun 56 within the holster 10 may facilitate proper engagement and release functions of internal retention device 80 (FIGS. 9-12), as well as effective retention of handgun 56 by hood 66 when in the closed position. The configuration of the inserts 90, 100 may also facilitate smooth withdrawal of handgun 56 along a constrained draw path when hood 66 and internal retention device 80 are open.

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 7, the system of inserts may include a first insert 90 secured in cavity 30 and lining at least a portion of one or more interior surfaces of body 20. For example, first insert 90 preferably lines an interior surface of rear wall 44 of body 20. More particularly, first insert 90 may be fastened to rear shell 24 via a pair of screws (not shown) inserted through holes 94 along inner and outer sides of rear shell 24 and threaded or embedded in first insert 90. First insert 90 may also line some or all of the inner and outer side walls 34 and 36 of body 20, as shown. First insert 90 is contoured and sized to fit and position a selected handgun or group of similar handguns relative to security hood assembly 60, internal retention device 80, or both, or other features of holster 10. A rear channel 96 (FIG. 7) of first insert 90 may be sized to cradle and guide a trigger guard 98 of handgun 56. Rear channel 96 may have large-radiused corners and lead-in surfaces to facilitate holstering of handgun 56. In some embodiments, first insert 90 and rear channel 96 may include a ledge 99 (FIG. 7) that defines a maximum depth of insertion of handgun 56 relative to body 20. Rear channel 96 also serves to position the handgun 56 laterally relative to body and to orient handgun 56 rotationally relative to a vertical axis extending generally parallel to the bore of the handgun 56.

With reference to FIGS. 9-12, the system of inserts may further include a second insert 100 supported in body 20 and lining at least a front portion of cavity 30 along a front wall 42 of body 20. Preferably, second insert 100 opposes first insert 90, and may cooperate with first insert 90 to form a pocket 104 within cavity 30 that is sized and shaped to hold, fit, and guide handgun 56 or another service item of a certain type or model type during its insertion into and withdrawal from holster 10. Pocket 104 is smaller than is cavity 30 when unlined. Second insert 100 may be attached to front shell 22 via a fastener or retained in cavity 30 by some other means. Second insert 100 may include a sight guide channel 106 extending vertically along the inside of insert 100, which helps to guide handgun 56 into its proper seating position in holster 10.

To fit holster for a handgun of a different shape or configuration, one or both of first and second inserts 90, 100 may be removed and replaced with one or more inserts of a different shape, sized to fit and position the different handgun. The set of inserts may include one, two, three, four, or more inserts. The number of inserts used may depend upon fit requirements for a particular security device or handgun style, or upon other factors. The system of modular inserts allows holster 10 to be customized or custom manufactured for a particular preselected handgun or several like handgun models merely by changing all or part of the set of inserts.

The inserts 90,100 may be formed of an injection molded plastic resin to form a rigid spacer or shim structure that provides strong support for handgun 56 within body 20. However, other materials, such as composites and hard rubber materials could also be used. The particular materials used for the inserts 90,100, the body 20, and other components are a matter of design choice. To reduce weight, inserts 90, 100 may be ribbed as shown in FIGS. 11-12, or have voids formed in the sides of inserts facing body 20.

The set of inserts 90, 100 may cooperate to define a constrained draw path for handgun 56 that may be linear or curved for at least a portion of the height of cavity 30. In some embodiments, the constrained draw path may prevent unauthorized withdrawal by ensuring that handgun cannot rock rearward clear of hood 66 when hood 66 is closed.

The set of inserts supported in body 20 may be removable by a user and replaceable in the field to fit different handguns and combinations of handguns and tactical illuminators. For example, first insert 90 may be removed by unthreading screws from holes 94 and lifting first insert 90 from body 20. First insert 90 may then be replaced with a smaller insert sized and shaped to accommodate a tactical illuminator 108 attached under the barrel of handgun 56.

With reference to FIG. 11, second insert 100 includes a spindle 112 over which a muzzle of the barrel of handgun 56 is seated to help align handgun 56 relative internal retention device 80 and hood 66. Spindle 112 further helps prevent lateral movement of handgun 56 within cavity 30.

Handgun Security and Retention Devices

With reference to FIG. 4, security hood assembly 60 includes a rocking latch member 120 supported on body 20 and, preferably, within cavity 30. Latch member 120 preferably engages hood 66 when in the closed position to prevent hood 66 from opening. FIG. 9 is a partially disassembled view of holster 10 with rear shell 24 and first insert 90 omitted to show details of security hood assembly 60 and internal retention device 80. FIG. 10 is a rear elevation view corresponding to FIG. 9. FIGS. 11 and 12 are cross-section views taken along lines 11-11 of FIG. 10 and showing security hood assembly 60 in respective closed and open positions. FIG. 13 is an enlarged view of latch member 120 showing detail of a forward side of latch member 120. FIG. 14 is an enlarged detailed view of latch member 120 showing interior detail.

With reference to FIGS. 9-14, latch member 120 includes a pair of pivot pins 124 rotatably seated in sockets along the inside of body 20 to allow latch member 120 to rock about the pivot pins as illustrated in FIGS. 11 and 12. A leaf spring 130 is mounted to latch member 120 and presses against the inside of front wall 42 to drive an ejection port engaging catch 132 of latch member 120 inwardly into cavity 30 for engagement with an ejection port 136 of handgun 56. Concurrently, a top end of latch member 120 including a lip 148 is driven forwardly so that lip 148 extends over a top rim of front wall 42 to engage hood 66 and block it from rotating forward. Leaf spring 130 is preferably formed of a spring steel material and inserted into slots 142 of latch member 120 (FIG. 13). Alternatively, leaf spring 130 may be formed of another material or integrally formed of one-piece molded plastic construction with latch member 120.

To actuate latch member 120, lever 70 is manually moved by the user with his or her thumb, first in an inward direction then in a downward direction as indicated by arrows in FIGS. 9 and 12. Depressing lever 70 downwardly causes a drive pin 152 of release lever 70 to press against a lower portion of latch member 120, causing latch member 120 to rock about pivot pins 124 in the direction shown by arrows in FIG. 12. With particular reference to FIGS. 13 and 14, latch member 120 includes a pair of lateral guide slots 182 that slide along rails (not shown) formed along inside surfaces of body 20. Guide slots may help ensure a smooth rocking action of latch member 120 and prevent it from binding in body 20.

Actuation of latch member 120 moves catch 132 forward and clear of ejection port 136, and concurrently releases hood 66 which snaps rotatably forward under spring force provided by flat coil springs (not shown) or another biasing device interposed between hood 66 and body 20. Unless release lever 70 remains depressed under force, latch member 120 and lever 70 will automatically return to their home positions, shown in FIG. 11, wherein catch 132 is in position for engagement with ejection port 136 of handgun 56. Thus, hood 66 can be released and opened to a stand-by position, then lever 70 released to secure handgun 56 via internal retention device 80. When release lever 70 is depressed, either initially or from the stand-by position, latch member 20 is rotated so that catch 132 is moved clear of ejection port 136, allowing handgun 56 to be withdrawn along the constrained draw path defined by inserts 90, 100. When the handgun 56 is again inserted into the holster, catch 132 slides over an outer surface of the body of handgun 56 until catch 132 is aligned with ejection port 136 whereupon spring force of leaf spring 130 drives latch 120 to engage catch 132 in ejection port 136 to retain handgun 56 in holster 10. To return hood 66 to the closed position, the user must manually pull hood 66 back to the closed position where it is re-engaged by lip 148 of latch 120. Because lever 70 is not rigidly coupled to latch member 120, latch member 120 can move in a pawl-type action when hood 66 is closed to re-engage and latch the hood 66.

In the manner described above, manipulation of a single release lever 70 may simultaneously open both internal retention device 80 (catch 132 of latch member 120) and pivoting security hood 66 of holster 10. This arrangement also enables an ejection port type internal retention device to be released through manipulation of a release lever mounted along an inside portion of holster 10. This arrangement is distinguished from certain other ejection port-engaging security devices which are mounted along an outboard side of the holster where they are more easily tampered with by an assailant. Thus, internal retention device 80 in accordance with the embodiments described herein provides enhanced security by placing release lever 70 between the holstered handgun and the user's body. Moreover, the required movement of release lever 70 in two directions (inwardly then downwardly) helps to prevent inadvertent release of internal retention device 80 and hood 66.

With reference to FIGS. 15 and 16, the release lever 70 includes an integral spring section 160 that is thinner than other parts of lever 70 and that allows a distal end of release lever 70 to flex inwardly to clear stop block 88. The release lever 70 is rotatably mounted via a pivot shaft 164 that is journaled in holes or sockets formed in body 20 and belt loop adapter 84. A C-shaped spring arm may extend from release lever 70 to provide additional spring-return force in both the upward and outward directions. C-shaped spring arm 168 includes a mounting ring 172 formed at its free end that is fastened to or seated around a support post 174 shown in FIG. 9. Release lever 70, spring section 160, pivot shaft 164, C-shaped spring arm 168, and mounting ring 172 all may be integrally formed of unitary one piece construction of an injection molded plastic resin, although other materials and manufacturing methods may also be used.

Drive pin 152 may also be formed integrally with release lever 70. Drive Pin 152 extends through a window 190 in body 20. Window 190 is elongated to allow clearance for movement of drive pin 152 in response to depression of release lever 70. A second window 192 is formed along the outer side wall 36 of front shell 22 to enable body 20 to be used in a left-handed version of holster 10 wherein drive pin 152 and lever 70 are mounted along the opposite side of body from that shown in the figures. In fact, all features of body 20 and hood 66 are symmetric about the left to right center line of holster 10.

Thus, the body 20 can be converted to a left-handed holster merely by replacing release lever 70, belt loop adapter 84, and latch member 120 with mirror images of those parts. Thus, the design of the body 20 greatly reduces the number of parts required to provide both left-handed and right-handed versions of holster 10. Further, as noted above, it forms part of a complete system including internal retention device 80 for engaging an ejection port 136 of handgun 56 and spring driven pivoting security hood assembly 60, all in a durable low-cost package.

Although an embodiment of internal retention device 80 for engaging ejection port 136 of handgun 56 is described herein in some detail, the term “internal retention device,” as used in the claims should not be so limited. Accordingly, the term “internal retention device” should be construed broadly to include other types of handgun restraining devices that may typically extend into cavity 30 to engage a portion of handgun 56 when holstered and to releasably retain it in cavity 30. Thus holsters according to the present disclosure may include any of a variety of internal retention devices and secondary security devices, including mechanically operated devices, such as devices that engage a part of the handgun (for example, the trigger guard or shell ejection port); motor- or solenoid-driven devices; magnetic retention devices such as the type described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,616,020, which may not necessarily extend into cavity 30; safety straps of all kinds; and other devices for engaging and retaining handgun 56 in cavity 30.

FIG. 17 is a rear elevation view similar to FIG. 10 but depicting the holster 10 incorporating principles of the present teachings and constructed according to a second embodiment. FIG. 18 is a cross-section view taken along lines 18-18 of FIG. 17 and showing security hood assembly 60 in a closed position, similar to FIG. 11. While not illustrated, the security hood assembly 60 of FIG. 17 is moveable from the closed position illustrated in FIG. 18 to an open position similar to that of FIG. 12 and described above.

It will be apparent to those having skill in the art that many changes may be made to the details of the above-described embodiments without departing from the underlying principles of the invention. The scope of the present invention should, therefore, be determined only by the claims. Furthermore, the described features, structures, and characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the present teachings can be practiced without one or more of the specific details described herein, or with other methods, components, materials, etc. In some instances, well-known structures, materials, and operations are omitted or not described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of the embodiments.