Title:
Pneumatic Single Pulse Driven Bolt and Valve Assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a pneumatically operated, projectile impelling apparatus having a single pulse driven pneumatic bolt/valve assembly. The assembly is used in an action mechanism in operative communication with a trigger group and a gun barrel. A single gas pulse operated bolt/valve assembly in the action mechanism operates on the input of a single gas pressure flow signal pulse to complete a complete firing cycle of chambering and launching a loaded projectile and to load a next projectile. The gas pulse is provided by trigger actuated fast acting, high flow rate gas valve disposed between a constant gas pressure flow supply and the action mechanism.



Inventors:
Moritz, Colin (Houston, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/697701
Publication Date:
10/11/2007
Filing Date:
04/06/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
124/73
International Classes:
F41B11/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, TROY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SHERMAN D PERNIA, ESQ. (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pneumatically operated projectile impelling apparatus having a single pulse driven pneumatic bolt/valve assembly, the apparatus comprising: an action mechanism in operative communication with a trigger group and a gun barrel; a single gas pulse operated bolt/valve assembly disposed in the action mechanism and operable on the input of single gas pressure flow signal pulse to complete a complete firing cycle of chambering and launching a loaded projectile and to load a next projectile; a constant gas pressure flow supply selectably in operative communication with the action mechanism; a trigger actuated fast acting, high flow rate gas valve disposed between the constant gas pressure flow supply and the action mechanism, and a trigger disposed in the trigger group and selectably operable to actuate the gas valve.

Description:

The present application claims the benefit of prior filed U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/790,409 filed 6 Apr. 2006, which the present application fully incorporates by reference thereto.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is in the field of mechanical guns and projectors in which the projectile impelling apparatus utilizes a nonexplosive propelling agent. Specifically, the present assembly relates to such devices which are pneumatically operated utilizing compressed gas to chamber and launch projectiles. More specifically, the present invention relates to chambering and launching mechanisms for use in paintball markers.

BACKGROUND

The present invention is particularly well adapted for use in a pneumatically powered projectile launcher apparatus, such as a paint ball marker. “Paintball” is a recreational sport in which members of opposing teams attempt to mark opponents with paint, thereby removing them from the game. Marking is accomplished by using a paintball marker gun to shoot a projectile (paintball) containing paint or other appropriate marking material at an opponent. Paintballs are spherical capsules filled with paint or other marking material which burst upon impact. Upon contact with a player, the paintball ruptures, thus marking the player. Once a player is marked, he/she is out of the game.

SUMMARY

The present invention is a pneumatically operated bolt assembly for use in the “action” (also called the “receiver”) of a paintball marker gun or similar type of projectile launcher. More specifically, the present invention is a pneumatic, single pulse driven bolt and valve assembly, and forms a part of the receiver or action of a pneumatic projectile launcher. The receiver or action body of a firearm is the housing that contains the mechanism that fires the gun. The receiver/action is generally distinguishable from the trigger group and barrel of a firearm. Although, the present action is not strictly a part of a “firearm,” because the action is pneumatic and the gun itself comprises a projectile impelling means that utilizes a nonexplosive propelling agent—compressed gas, certain features are analogous.

The present pneumatic bolt/valve assembly is particularly adapted for chambering and launching a projectile in a marker gun or similar type of projectile launcher. The present pneumatic bolt/valve assembly can be practiced in an “in-line” action design and in a “stacked-tube” action design as well. The pneumatic bolt/valve assembly has a generally a cylindrical shape and is received in a correspondingly shaped bore of the action in which it is utilized. The action bore has an axis that is coaxial with an axis of the barrel of the projectile launcher and the axis of the bolt valve assembly. The pneumatic bolt/valve assembly has a first forward bolt member (proximal the breech) and a second rearward valve body (distal to the breech). The bolt member is able to extend and retract along the axis of the assembly relative to the valve segment. The travel of the bolt member is designed to be limited by either its relationship to the valve body or by travel stops set in place in the action bore. Activation and operation of the bolt/valve assembly serves to chamber and “fire” a projectile from the launcher. The bolt/valve assembly should be relatively close to the same diameter as the projectile and is intended to reside in the same axial alignment as the projectile's launch path (the barrel of the launcher).

An object of the present invention is to provide a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device wherein the bolt normally remains in the retracted (“resting” or “open”) position until a source of gas pressure is applied to it, and which will chamber a projectile while preventing the pressurized gas from reaching the projectile until the projectile is properly chambered, and which will then expose the projectile after it is chambered to the pressurized gas, thus launching the projectile.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device that requires only one control element, in the form of a single input pulse of air pressure, to perform the operations of chambering and launching a projectile.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device that utilizes a biasing element to keep the bolt in the retracted or “open” position, and does not require the bias to be removed in order to chamber and launch a projectile.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device that utilizes a single, relatively fast-acting, controlled pulse of gas pressure to chamber and launch the projectile.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device that does not require highly efficient gas seals or a “continuous” supply of gas pressure present for the device to operate properly, because the activation pulse is relatively short-lived, and thus there is not adequate time for somewhat less efficient gas seals to lose enough pressurized gas to have a negative effect on performance efficiency.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial cutaway side view illustrating a preferred embodiment of the present pneumatic bolt/valve assembly installed in the action of a pneumatic projectile launching device.

FIG. 2 is a partial cutaway side view illustrating another preferred embodiment of the present pneumatic bolt/valve assembly installed in the action of a pneumatic projectile launching device.

FIG. 3A to 3C are partial cross-sectional and exploded views of a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an embodiment side cutaway view of a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device according to the present invention.

FIG. 5 is an embodiment side cutaway view of a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device according to the present invention.

FIG. 6 is an alternative side cutaway view of a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device according to the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a side cutaway view of a projectile launching device according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is an alternative embodiment side cutaway view of a projectile launching device according to the present invention.

FIG. 9 is an alternative side cutaway view of a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device according to the present invention.

FIG. 9a is an alternative side cutaway view of a pneumatic projectile chambering and launching device according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings, the details of preferred embodiments of the present invention are graphically and schematically illustrated. Like elements in the drawings are represented by like numbers. A typical projectile launcher 8 generally comprises of a projectile launcher action 23, a barrel 24, a trigger group 28 and trigger 29, a projectile feed port 16 opening to the breech 21, and a pneumatic gas pressure regulator 27.

FIGS. 1 and 2 depicts two embodiment of the pneumatic single signal driven bolt and valve assembly 10 for chambering and launching a projectile 20. The bolt/valve assembly 10 is installed into a projectile launcher 8, and is shown in the retraced position (i.e., the breech is open). The pneumatic bolt/valve assembly 10 has a forward bolt member 13 (proximal the breech) and a rearward valve body 12 (distal to the breech). The bolt/valve assembly 10 is secured within the receiver bore 9 (see FIG. 7) of the action 23 by an assembly retainer 30. FIG. 7 depicts a projectile launcher without a bolt/valve assembly installed. In the embodiment illustrated, the assembly retainer means 30 is a mounting cross-pin that passes through the wall of the receiver bore 9 and at least a portion of the valve segment 22 of the bolt/valve assembly 10. The bolt member 13 preferably has a cylindrical shape. A fast acting, high flow rate “activation pulse” valve 25 is situated between a constant supply gas chamber 26 and the primary gas pressure flow path 11, and normally isolates the bolt/valve assembly 10 from exposure to pressurized gas, until the trigger 29 is operated. When the trigger 29 is operated, the “activation pulse” valve 25 opens and connects the constant supply gas chamber 26 to the bolt pneumatic chamber 15 via the primary gas pressure flow path 11, and a pulse of pressurized gas is transferred to the bolt primary pneumatic chamber 15.

As shown in FIGS. 3A to 3C, in a preferred embodiment, the bolt/valve assembly 10 includes a launch or firing valve 18, which when closed pneumatically separates the primary pneumatic chamber 15 from the secondary pneumatic chamber 19, and obstructs The pressurized gas from the primary pneumatic chamber 15 from entering the secondary pneumatic chamber 19. The launch valve 18 is a delayed action sliding valve, and its operation serves two sequential functions: first is the chambering of the projectile 20; and second is the discharge of pressurized gas from the primary pneumatic chamber 15. The bolt member 13 has a porting means 56 which communicates pressurized gas in the secondary pneumatic chamber 19 to be transmitted through the bolt face 17 (&17a) to impact and launch the projectile 20. The launch valve 18 comprises a sliding interface between the interior surface 58 of the bolt skirt 60 on the bolt member 13, and the shoulder 62 of the valve member 44 on the valve body 12.

The bolt skirt 60 of the bolt member 13 is partially exposed to the primary pneumatic chamber 15 in such a manner that when pressurized gas is present in the primary pneumatic chamber 15 during the activation pulse, an actuation force f is applied by the pressurized gas on the rear surface 66 of the bolt skirt 60. This force overcomes the bias force F of the bolt retractor mechanism 14 which normally holds the bolt member 13 in its retracted/open position. The retractor mechanism 14 comprises a retractor rod 38 having a rearward rod glide end 40 and a forward bolt interface end 17a. The rod glide end 40 is acted upon by a bias means 36 that normally holds the retractor rod 38 in a rearward (away from the breech) position, and thus the action 23 in an “open bolt” condition. In the embodiment illustrated, the bias means is a helictical compression spring 36 through the center of which the shank 39 of the retractor rod 38 is received. Other bias means are known to and in view of the disclosure and figures herein are selectable by one of ordinary skill in the art for practice in the present invention. For example, a retraction spring set-up rather than a compression spring to pull the rod 38 rearward, a double helictical spring (in a compression or retraction set-up), etc. For example, FIG. 2 depicts an alternative pneumatic single signal driven bolt/valve assembly 10 which uses a pull-spring 14a as an alternative bias means 36 to provide a return force F.

In the embodiment f the bolt retractor mechanism 14 in FIGS. 3A to 3C, the mechanism 14 has a bias force F tuning/adjusting means. The bias force tuning means adjusts the amount of the normal bias force F holding the retraction rod 38 in the retracted “open bolt” condition. This is accomplished in the embodiment illustrated by having a threaded rearward rod end 68 on the retractor rod 38, which is screwed into a complementary threaded receiver 70 on the rod glide 40 into which the threaded rod end 68 can be screwed to different depths to alter the length of the rod shank 39 and thereby adjust the return bias force F exerted by the bias spring 36. The threaded receiver is coaxial with the retractor rod 38. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3B, this is accomplished by the rod glide 40 having a hex key receptacle 71 set into it as shown. Additionally, the forward bolt interface end 17a has a similar hex key receptacle 71 set into it. Other adjustment means are known to and in view of the disclosure and figures herein are selectable by one of ordinary skill in the art for practice in the present invention. For example, the rod glide 40 can terminate in a standard hex nut fitting (not shown), or a screw driver receptacle, etc. For clarity reasons, the bias spring 36 is not shown in FIG. 3B, but otherwise, the figure illustrates the relationships between the components of the bolt/valve assembly 10.

When the trigger 29 of the trigger group 28 is actuated, the pulse valve 25 is actuated and opens. The pulse valve 25 is a fast acting, high flow valve, and connects the bolt pneumatic chamber 15 to the supply gas chamber 26 via the primary gas flow port 11. The gas pulse charges enters and charges the primary pressure chamber 15, but is prevented from further expansion by the launch/discharge valve 18, which is in its normally closed condition. The rear face 66 on the bolt skirt 60 of the bolt member 13 is exposed to the primary pneumatic chamber 15. The pressure of the charge pulse entering the pneumatic chamber 15 exerts a closing force f on the rear skirt face 66 of the bolt skirt 60 during the activation pulse. This bolt closing force f overcomes the bias force F of the bolt retractor mechanism 14, which normally holds the bolt member 13 in its retracted position and holds the launch/discharge valve 18 closed. As the closing force f caused by the pressure pulse exceeds the bias force F, the bolt member slides forward, pushing the projectile 20 present in the breech 21 forward with it. The bolt member continues to extend forward through the breech 21 and sufficiently into the chamber of the barrel 24 to close the breech 21 and provide a discharge seal. The projectile is pushed along in front of the bolt face 17 and is consequently chambered in the barrel 24.

The magnitude of the closing force f directly affects the speed at which the bolt member 13 extends forward. In the presence of a constant pressure gas pulse, the surface area of the rear face 66 on the bolt skirt 60 determines the speed and force with which the chambering action of the bolt member 13 occurs. Therefore, the relationship between the surface area of the rear face 66 and the magnitude of the pressure pulse must be with in an appropriate range. If the closing force f is too high, it is possible to distort or damage the projectile during the chambering operation. If the force is too low, the maximum possible rate of fire for the action 23 is reduced, and there is an increased risk of gas loss from seals 80 that are under pressure for a longer time; either of which conditions reduces the efficiency of the launcher. FIG. 4 illustrates the condition of the bolt member 13 of the bolt/valve assembly 10 near the end of the chambering of a projectile 20. Note that the discharge valve 18 is not yet open. FIG. 5 illustrates the condition of the bolt/valve assembly 10 with the bolt member 13 fully extended, the breech 21 sealed, the discharge valve 18 open, and the projectile 20 being propelled down the barrel 24 by the gas pressure flow of the gas activation pulse.

Upon the exit of the projectile 20 from the barrel 24, the pressure flow of the activation pulse rapidly dissipates through the barrel 24 to atmosphere. The rapid dissipation of the pressure flow causes the closing force f to dissipate as well, and the normal bias of the retractor mechanism pulls the bolt member 13 back to its normally retracted position. As the bolt member returns to its normally retracted position, a next projectile 20 drops into the breech 21 in front of the bolt face 17, and the action 23 is ready for another firing cycle.

The character of the single activation pulse of gas pressure and flow is controlled by the fast acting, high flow rate “activation pulse” valve 25. However, the design of the structural features of the bolt/valve assembly 10 is what enables the single pulse capability of the present invention. No other valving or gas charging of the bolt/valve assembly is required in order to perform a complete firing cycle.

FIG. 6 illustrates an alternative pneumatic single signal driven bolt/valve assembly 10. A portion of the cross-section of the bolt member 13 is shown in phantom to more clearly illustrate the relationship of the interior surface 58 of the bolt skirt 60 with the shoulder 62 of the valve member 44 on the valve body 12. In this embodiment, a small portion of the gas pressure flow from the activation pulse is used to serve as a return force F′ additive with the retractor bias force F to more rapidly retract the bolt member 13 to its normal position. This is accomplished by using the small valve port 50 to charge the valve chamber 51 inside the valve body 12 with the pressure flow of the activation gas pulse when the primary pressure chamber 15 is charged. This gas charge is captured in the valve chamber 51 between a small pneumatic valve seal 53 at the front of the valve body 12 and a large pneumatic valve seal 52 between the rod guide 40 and the interior surface chamber 51 of the valve body 12. Although upon the exit of the projectile 20 from the barrel 24, the pressure flow of the activation pulse dissipates rapidly, there is sufficient residual pressure in the valve chamber to add some initial early force F′to the retractor bias force F to more rapidly retract the bolt member 13 to its normal position.

FIG. 8 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present pneumatic single signal driven bolt/valve assembly configured in an “in-line” action.

FIG. 9 depicts another alternative embodiment of the bolt/valve assembly 37 which installs into the action 23 of a projectile launcher 8. In this alternative embodiment, the assembly incorporates a two stage design which utilizes two cascading discharge valves 18 and 18a. These two valves result in there being two different levels of forces exerted on the bolt member 13 during the activation pulse. Typically, the first discharge valve 18 results in there being less extending force applied to the bolt member 13 until the bolt member 13 has extended past a determined distance. After that, the discharge valve 18 opens and exposes the activation pulse to a second discharge valve 18a, which has a larger exposed surface area to the activation pulse and therefore the bolt member 13 has more force f applied to it. This two step design allows for a more gradual acceleration of the projectile 20. This can be beneficial when the projectile might be fragile, or when the projectile to be launched 20 is not fully situated into the breech area 21, in which case the lower extending force on the second cylindrical segment 13 will prevent the second cylindrical segment 13 from destroying the projectile 20. Another advantage of this two-stage design is the higher extending force on the second cylindrical segment 13 during the second stage. This faster second stage allows for the discharge valve 18a to open quickly and allow the gas pressure of the activation pulse to pass through the valve efficiently to launch the projectile 20.

FIG. 9a depicts an alternative pneumatic single signal driven bolt and valve assembly 38 which installs into or onto a projectile launcher. This figure depicts the loading operation and the opening of the discharge valve 18 which has entered the second stage and is exposing the activation pulse to the typically larger surface area second pneumatic obstruction valve 18a.

While the above description contains many specifics, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as exemplifications of one or another preferred embodiment thereof. Many other variations are possible, which would be obvious to one skilled in the art. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined by the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents, and not just by the embodiments.