Title:
HAND GRIP SYSTEM WITH INTEGRATED SIGHT FOR MOUNTING TO FIREARM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A semi-automatic or automatic rifle includes a receiver having a receiver frame, a barrel connected to the receiver frame, a hand guard section extending over and generally surrounding the barrel, the hand guard section connected to the receiver, an accessory mount connected to the receiver frame and located below the barrel, a hand grip with an integrated sight removably connected to the accessory mount, the removable hand grip having a locating and locking feature adapted to engage the accessory mount, wherein, the removable hand grip is selectably interchangeable with other hand grips, each having different predetermined characteristics selectable for coupling to the rifle and wherein, the removable hand grip is configured so that it forms a stand alone sighting device independent of the rifle.



Inventors:
Veilleux, Dennis (Stratford, CT, US)
Application Number:
12/341970
Publication Date:
07/16/2009
Filing Date:
12/22/2008
Assignee:
Colt Defense LLC (Hartford, CT, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
42/111, 42/114, 89/191.01
International Classes:
F41G1/00; F41A5/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TROY, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Perman & Green, LLP (Stratford, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A semi-automatic or automatic rifle comprising: a receiver having a receiver frame; a barrel connected to the receiver frame; a hand guard section extending over and generally surrounding the barrel, the hand guard section connected to the receiver, an accessory mount connected to the receiver frame and located below the barrel; a hand grip with an integrated sight removably connected to the accessory mount; the removable hand grip having a locating and locking feature adapted to engage the accessory mount; wherein, the removable hand grip is selectably interchangeable with other hand grips, each having different predetermined characteristics selectable for coupling to the rifle; and wherein, the removable hand grip is configured so that it forms a stand alone sighting device independent of the rifle.

2. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 1, wherein the removable hand grip is configured to be operated in combination with the rifle.

3. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 1, wherein the integrated sight is removable with the hand grip as a unit.

4. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 1, wherein the integrated sight comprises a diode laser system, the diode laser system being configured for operation in one or more of a pulsed mode or constant on mode.

5. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 1, wherein the integrated sight comprises at least one of a green laser, a red laser, an infrared laser, an LED light source and a thermo-incandescent light source.

6. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 1, wherein the hand grip comprises an ambidextrously operable switch device for selectably operating the integrated sight.

7. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 1, wherein the rifle comprises a direct gas operating system or a gas piston operating system.

8. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 1, wherein the integrated sight is powered by size AA batteries.

9. A semi-automatic or automatic rifle comprising: a hand guard having an upper hand guard assembly and a lower hand guard assembly; and a pistol fore grip with an integrated sighting system, the pistol fore grip being removably mounted to one of the upper hand guard assembly or the lower hand guard assembly, wherein the pistol fore grip is configured to provide the rifle with an accessory sighting system having a selectably configured predetermined sighting characteristics, the configuration of the sighting characteristics being selected by selection of the pistol fore grip from a number of different interchangeable pistol fore grips for mounting to the upper hand guard or lower hand guard assembly.

10. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 9, wherein the integrated sight is removable with the hand grip as a unit.

11. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 9, wherein the integrated sight comprises at least one of a green laser, a red laser, an infrared laser, an LED light source and a thermo-incandescent light source.

12. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 9, wherein the sighting system is configured for operation in one or more of a pulsed mode or constant on mode.

13. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 9, wherein the pistol fore grip comprises an ambidextrously operable switch device for selectably operating the integrated sight.

14. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle of claim 9, wherein the pistol fore grip comprises a replaceable power source, the power source being removable from the fore grip while the pistol fore grip is mounted to one of the upper hand guard assembly or the lower hand guard assembly.

15. A black rifle configuration firearm comprising: a receiver having a receiver frame; a barrel connected to the receiver frame; a hand guard section extending over and generally surrounding the barrel, the hand guard section connected to the receiver, an accessory mount connected to the receiver frame and located below the barrel; a hand grip with an integrated sight removably connected to the accessory mount; the removable hand grip having a locating and locking feature adapted to engage the accessory mount; and wherein, the removable hand grip is selectably interchangeable with other hand grips, each having different predetermined characteristics selectable for coupling to the firearm.

16. The black rifle configuration firearm of claim 15, wherein the removable hand grip is configured so that it forms a stand alone sighting device independent of the firearm.

17. The black rifle configuration firearm of claim 15, wherein the hand grip comprises a replaceable power source, the power source being removable from the hand grip while the hand grip is mounted to one of the upper hand guard assembly or the lower hand guard assembly.

18. The black rifle configuration firearm of claim 15, wherein the hand grip comprises an ambidextrously operable switch device for selectably operating the integrated sight.

19. The black rifle configuration firearm of claim 15, wherein the integrated sight comprises a diode laser system, the diode laser system being configured for operation in one or more of a pulsed mode or constant on mode.

20. The black rifle configuration firearm of claim 15, wherein the integrated sight comprises at least one of a green laser, a red laser, an infrared laser, an LED light source and a thermo-incandescent light source.

21. A kit comprising: a pistol fore grip configured to provide a removable accessory sighting system for a rifle and a stand alone sighting device operable independent of the rifle; and a mount for mounting the pistol fore grip to the rifle.

22. The kit of claim 21, wherein the pistol fore grip comprises an integrated sighting system, where the pistol fore grip and the integrated sighting system are removable as a unit.

23. The kit of claim 22, wherein the pistol fore grip comprises an ambidextrously operable switch device for selectably operating the integrated sight.

24. The kit of claim 21, wherein the pistol fore grip comprises a replaceable power source, the power source being removable from the pistol fore grip while the pistol fore grip is mounted to the rifle.

25. The kit of claim 21, wherein the pistol fore grip comprises an integrated sight having a diode laser system, the diode laser system being configured for operation in one or more of a pulsed mode or constant on mode.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/016,200 filed on Dec. 21, 2007, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Field

The disclosed embodiments relate to firearms and, more particularly, to a firearm having a removable handgrip with an integrated laser sight.

2. Brief Description of Earlier Developments

There is a demand from operators that firearms, such as automatic and semi-automatic rifles, have increased versatility allowing individual firearm components to be operated in either a stand alone mode or in combination with the firearm. In addition to increased versatility, operator's desire robust construction and ease of operability and maintenance even when undergoing use in harsh conditions such as immersion in water and exposure to blowing sand and salt fog. For example, there is an operation desire for a removable firearm handgrip with an integrated laser sight that may be used either in a stand alone mode of operation or in combination with various types of automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Conventional firearm laser sights have not successfully satisfied the demands and desires of operators. U.S. Pat. No. 5,622,000 dated Apr. 22, 1997, discloses an example of a conventional laser sighting system for a firearm fore handgrip assembly. The conventional laser sighting system disclosed a sighting system mounted entirely on a fore handgrip assembly that is marketed as an accessory item for various types of firearms. Removal of the sighting system demands disassembly of the firearm. The conventional handgrip laser sighting system is not conducive to being easily removed and used in a stand alone mode of operation with the firearm being operative (so that the user may continue to operate the firearm in a normal manner while employing the laser sighting system in its stand alone mode) nor is it conducive to being easily attached and used in combination with the firearm. The exemplary embodiments of the removable firearm handgrip with an integrated laser disclosed herein overcome the problems with the conventional handgrip laser sighting system as will be further described below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing aspects and other features of the exemplary embodiments are explained in the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an automatic firearm incorporating features in accordance with an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 1A is an illustration of another firearm incorporating features in accordance with an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 1B is an exploded illustration of the firearm in FIG. 1A in accordance with an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 2 is an exploded isometric of the lower hand guard assembly and the hand grip with an integrated sight system of the firearm shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 2A is a sectional view of a mount interface of the guard system;

FIG. 2B is a partial perspective view of a hand grip of the sight system mounted to a portion of the firearm in accordance with another exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the lower hand guard assembly and the hand grip with an integrated laser sight; and

FIG. 4 is an isometric view the hand grip with an integrated laser sight.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown, an isometric view of an automatic or semi-automatic firearm 20 capable of automatic or semiautomatic fire incorporating features in accordance with an exemplary embodiment. Although the present invention will be described with reference to the embodiments shown in the drawings, it should be understood that the present invention can be embodied in many alternate forms of embodiments. In addition, any suitable size, shape or type of elements or materials could be used.

Firearm 20 is illustrated as generally having what is generally known as a “black rifle” configuration, the “black rifle” configuration being the family of rifles developed by Eugene Stoner, such as an M4™ (available from Colt Defense LLC), AR15 or M16 type automatic or semi-automatic rifle configuration. However, the features of the disclosed embodiments, as will be described below, are equally applicable to any desired type of automatic or semiautomatic firearm. Firearm 20 may have operational features such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,726,377, 5,760,328, 4,658,702 and 4,433,610, and patent application Ser. Nos. 60/564,895 filed Apr. 23, 2004; 10/836,443 filed Apr. 30, 2004, 60/849,957 filed Oct. 6, 2006, 60/910,804, filed Apr. 9, 2007, 60/772,494 filed Feb. 9, 2006, 11/231,063 filed Sep. 19, 2005, 11/339,187, filed Jan. 25, 2006, 11/352,036, filed Feb. 9, 2006, 11/869,676, filed Oct. 9, 2007 and 11/672,189 filed Feb. 7, 2007 all of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entirety. The firearm 20 and its sections described in greater detail below are merely exemplary, and in alternate embodiments the firearm 20 may have other sections, portions, systems or assemblies. Firearm 20 may incorporate a hand guard 30 (for example having upper hand guard 44 and lower hand guard 46 sections), a receiver section 32 having upper receiver 36 and lower receiver 38, a barrel 14, stock 34, rear sight 40, and front sight 42. In the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the firearm 20 may have an accessory sighting system 43 that may be removably mounted to the firearm for use in operating the firearm in integral combination with the accessory sighting system as will be described below. The accessory sighting system 43 may also be used independently or standing alone from the firearm with the firearm continuing to be operative, as will also be described in greater detail below. In the exemplary embodiment, the accessory sighting system may include one or more removable hand grips 48, 48A, 48B. In FIG. 1, a number (e.g. three) of representative hand grips 48, 48A, 48B of the firearm assembly sighting system 43 (illustrated schematically) are shown for example purposes. Each of the hand grips may have a different sighting system characteristic. In alternate embodiments, the firearm accessory sighting system may include more or fewer hand grips with different sighting characteristics. In the exemplary embodiment, the different hand grips 48, 48A, 48B may be interchangeable for mounting to the firearm 20. In the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the firearm 20 is shown with a removable hand grip 48, selected from the different hand grips 48-48B, where the removable hand grip 48 is mounted to an accessory mount 100 (FIG. 2), 108 (FIG. 1) under the barrel 14 of the firearm 20.

Hand guard 30 may further incorporate vent holes, ribbing, heat shields or double heat shields and liners to facilitate cooling of the barrel 14 while keeping hand guard 30 at a temperature sufficient for an operator to hold the hand guard when the removable hand grip 48 is detached from the rifle. Additionally, the temperature may be sufficiently cooled for the operator to hold the hand grip 48 when the hand grip 48 is attached to the rifle. Hand guard 30 may have features such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,663,875 and 4,536,982, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entirety. Hand guard 30, which will be described in greater detail below, may generally have a shell having one or more vent holes and external ribbing. Hand guard 30 may be ergonomically sized to allow a user to comfortably grip the guard. In alternate embodiments, multiple shells, inner ribbing, heat shields or double heat shields and liners to facilitate cooling of the barrel 14 while keeping hand guard 30 and hand grip 48 at a temperature sufficiently low for an operator could be provided. In the exemplary embodiment and as will also be described in greater detail below, one or more removable and relocatable rail(s) 108 may be provided on hand guard 30 and may be permanently mounted or removably mounted and be removable or moveable to different locations on hand guard 30. The rail and mounting system to the hand guard may be substantially similar to rails described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/113,525 filed Apr. 25, 2005, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. In alternate embodiments, rails may be in different locations with different sizes. Hand guard 30 and receiver section 32 may be configured to support rails such as a rail having a “Piccatiny Rail” configuration as described in Military Standard 1913, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. In alternative embodiments, hand guard 30 may be configured to support other rails such as, for example, the clamp system available from Reed Knight, a T slot rail and any other “SNAP ON” or quickly attachable/detachable arrangements. The rails may be made from any suitable material such as hard coat anodized aluminum as an example.

Front sight assembly 42 is shown in FIG. 1 mounted to barrel 14 for example purposes. Front sight 42 may comprise a gas block having an integral sight, for example, as disclosed in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/352,036 and/or U.S. Application No. 60/772,494 and/or U.S. application Ser. No. 11/231,063 all of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety. In alternate embodiments, front sight assembly 42 may be removable, allowing alternate mounting of desired accessory in its place such as a telescopic sight or laser sight. In the exemplary embodiment shown, rear sight assembly 40 is provided and mounted to receiver section 32. The rear sight assembly 40 may be removably or fixedly mounted to the receiver section 32. Rear sight assembly 40 may incorporate a sight ring and sight adjustment knobs provided to adjust the position of sight ring (e.g. windage and elevation) relative to the barrel 14 and front sight 42 for accurate target sighting. In the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, a removable handgrip assembly 48, selected from the different interchangeable grip assemblies 48-48B, is shown mounted to hand guard 30. Removable handgrip assembly 48 may incorporate a locating feature 58, a locking feature 56 and an integrated sighting section that will be disclosed in greater detail below.

As seen in FIG. 1, the automatic or semiautomatic firearm 20 is illustrated as having separable hand guard 30 and receiver 32 sections for example purposes. In other exemplary embodiments such as that shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B (see also FIG. 2B), the receiver and hand guard (or portion thereof) may be integral in a one piece member of unitary construction, similar for example to the receiver described in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/352,036 filed Feb. 9, 2006, and 11/672,189 filed Feb. 7, 2007 which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety. Referring to FIG. 1A, there is shown, a side elevation view of an automatic firearm 530 capable of automatic or semiautomatic fire incorporating features in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The firearm 530 may be substantially similar to firearm 20 of FIG. 1 unless otherwise noted. For example, firearm 530 may have an upper receiver section 534 a barrel 536, gas piston system 538, and hand guard 540 and interchangeable hand grip(s) 48, 48A, 48B. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1A, rifle 530 has receiver 534 having an integral hand guard portion with barrel 536 removably connected to receiver 534. Here, the hand guard portion extends over and surrounds barrel 536. A removable accessory device mounting rail may be removably connected to the receiver and has another hand guard portion mateable with the integral hand guard portion of the receiver as shown here in a locked position, locked to the receiver having an integral hand guard. When in the unlocked position, the mounting rail is unlocked and freely movable relative to the receiver. In alternate embodiments, the firearm may have an indirect gas operating system or gas tube operating system. Further, in alternate embodiments, the firearm may have neither a piston or gas operating system and may rely on recoil action to cycle the weapon, for example, in semi-automatic mode. Here, the gas operated linkage actuating the bolt carriage in the upper receiver may be replaced by a gas tube. Firearm 530 may incorporate, for example, a collapsible stock 542, lower receiver section 544, magazine well 546, clip or magazine 548 and rear and front sights 550, 552. The upper receiver 534 having barrel 536, lower receiver 544 and magazine well 546 are modular and configurable such that firearm 530 comprises a modular rifle design. In addition, lower receiver 544 and magazine well 546 may be removable without tools or fasteners. In alternate embodiments, more or less modules and assemblies may be removable without tools or fasteners. As an example, magazine well 546 may be replaceable and removable such that magazine well 546 may be replaced with a different magazine well to change caliber. Additionally, modularity with interlocking components is provided for ease of assembly and disassembly without affecting fire accuracy as well as to provide a single configurable firearm without having to support multiple firearms. Further, the hand guard, and accessory mounting rails thereon, may be integral with the upper receiver and the integral upper receiver, hand guard and mounting rails may be of unitary construction.

Referring now to FIG. 1B, there is shown an exploded isometric view of the firearm 530 including an exploded isometric view of the upper receiver with hand guard section shown in FIG. 1A. As noted before, firearm 530 generally incorporates an upper receiver section 534, barrel 536, gas piston system 538, hand guard 540, rear and front sights 550, 552, ejection port cover attachment 554 and bolt assembly 556. Firearm 530 may incorporate stock 542, lower receiver section 544, magazine well 546, clip or magazine 548 and auto sear actuator 566 assembled to the bolt carrier (not shown). The barrel 536 and/or the bolt/bolt carrier 556 may be coupled to upper receiver section using conventional splined and/or threaded/pinned locking techniques or otherwise. Hand guard 540 may have features such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,663,875 and 4,536,982, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entirety. Hand guard 540 has features for mounting additional devices on one or more rails similar to the support rails described herein (e.g. “Piccatiny Rail” or other suitable configuration) for attachment of any suitable peripheral devices as also described herein, including but not limited to hand grips 48, 48A, 48B. Hand guard 540 may be configured for basic mission profiles or light duty rail requirements while simplifying techniques such as the Gun/Light technique with firearms such as the M-4. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 1B, upper receiver 534 may be of one-piece, or unitary construction incorporating integral hand guard section 540I having fixed rails for example at the three, nine and twelve o'clock positions relative to the barrel axis. In alternate embodiments, the rails may be positioned as desired. Hand guard 540 has a removable bottom portion 560 with integral lower rail 560R for different mounting options that may be provided. Here, removable accessory device mounting rail 560 is removably connected to the receiver with a hand guard portion mateable with the integral hand guard portion of the receiver. The removable accessory device mounting rail 560 has a quick release lock mounted there to. In alternate embodiments, the quick release lock may be mounted to the receiver. The quick release lock is provided for locking the removable mounting rail to the receiver. As will be described, the quick release lock has a movable locking member movable between locked and unlocked positions. When in the locked position the locking member locks the removable mounting rail in an installed position to the receiver, and when the locking member is in the unlocked position, the mounting rail is unlocked and freely movable relative to the receiver. The locking member has an angled engagement portion protruding from the removable mounting rail and engaging a corresponding angled recess in the receiver. The locking member acts as a wedge in the recess with the removable accessory device mounting rail preloaded with a biasing force against the integral hand guard portion.

In this embodiment the rail 560R may be located at the six (6) o'clock position relative to the barrel axis, though in alternate embodiments the removable rail may be located in any other desired location. The bottom portion 560 may be removable to install other accessories, such a grenade launcher as an example. The removable bottom portion having an integral rail is mounted using a keyed/key way system or tongue and groove system that will be described in more detail below. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 1B, support ring 562 is provided at the front of the receiver 534 for strength and attachment purposes. Lower receiver 544 has interface 568 that removably interlocks with mating interface 570 of upper receiver 534. Interfaces 568, 570 may, for example, have bores and mating surfaces that lock and unlock allowing the user to lock/assemble and unlock/disassemble the two assemblies, for example by the removal of pins. In alternate embodiments, other mating and locking features could be provided, for example, mating and locking features that do not require tools. In this manner, the modular lower receiver interlocks with the modular upper receiver and different receivers with the same interface can be interchanged without further disassembly. Lower receiver 544 has features such as trigger 572, hammer 574, fire control selector 576, and auto sear 578. Lower receiver 544 may have a separable or integral grip 580 and fixtures 582 for mounting stock 542. As may be realized, in alternate embodiments the upper receiver may be coupled conventionally to the lower receiver. Hand guard 540 (formed for example by the joined upper and lower sections 540I, 560) has vent holes, integral external rails, heat shields 503, 504 or double heat shields and liners (not shown) to facilitate cooling of the barrel 536 while keeping hand guard 540 at a temperature sufficiently low for an operator to hold. Removable hand guard portion 540 is shown operating with a piston based operating system. In alternate embodiments, hand guard 540 may operate with a gas operating system. Additional components may be required for a gas operating system, for example, heat shields around the gas tube. As noted before in this embodiment, the upper receiver 534 and hand guard 540I may be integrally formed as a single member of unitary construction, the one piece hand guard and upper receiver unit may be formed of any suitable metal, such as steel or Aluminum alloy, or may be formed from non-metallic material such as plastic or composites. Rails are provided on Hand guard 540 and may be integrally molded. Hence, the “Piccatiny rails”, hand guard and upper receiver may be integral as a one-piece member of unitary construction. In alternate embodiments the rails may be removably mounted. In alternate embodiments, more or less multiple rails may be provided in multiple mounting locations or mounting angles on hand guard 540. The rails may be manufactured as part of upper receiver 534 such that collimating between the rail mounted device and the barrel centerline are maintained as desired. Rails are shown as left and right side rails for ambidextrous use. In alternate embodiments, rails may be mounted further forward or rearward or at different angles. Hand guard 540 allows attachment of a removable bottom portion 560 with lower rail 560R for different mounting options that may be provided. The removable bottom portion 560 with rail 560R may be mounted using a keyed/key way system or tongue and groove system. A heat shield may be secured to the upper portion using any suitable attachment means such as screws, pins, and rivets. The bottom portion has spring loaded movable detents that lock the bottom portion to the upper portion 540I. Accordingly, the bottom portion may be removably attached to the upper hand guard 540I with spring loaded locks that facilitate ease of removal and reattachment of the bottom and upper hand guard portions.

For exemplary purposes only, the firearm 20 and firearm 530 may have a direct gas operating system, though in alternate embodiments the firearm may incorporate a gas piston operating system (not shown) generally similar to embodiments in U.S. application Ser. Nos. 11/869,676, 11/231,063 and 60/849,957 hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety. As a further example, the rifle may include a rear regulator, for example as shown U.S. application Ser. No. 11/339,187 hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The firearm may be provided with over the beach capability allowing immediate firing of the weapon after water submersion regardless of weapon orientation. In alternate embodiments, a folding stock may be provided increasing weapon versatility by reducing the overall length of the firearm. Suitable examples of folding stock configurations are described in U.S. Application No. 60/849,947 and No. 60/910,804, previously incorporated by reference herein in their entirety, and U.S. application Ser. No. 11/869,679, filed Oct. 9, 2007 which is also incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. A folding stock further may enhance weapon balance for stability and to retain a target during firing. Ease of handling, stability during firing and sighting may also be enhanced by mounting the hand grip 48, 48A, 48B (see FIGS. 1 and 1A) in combination with the folding stock (or without the folding stock). The firearm 20 may have greaseless fire control system parts. For example, the fire control system parts may be coated with a coating, such as UCTD UltraCem R coating to eliminate the need for lubrication and to reduce the accumulation of foreign material and residue and to provide ease in cleaning.

Referring again to FIG. 1, in the embodiment shown, forward extending hand guard/rail system 30 is provided. Hand guard 30 is shown removable yet compares in function and alignment to a one-piece upper receiver extended rail system due to the stabilization design approach (see also FIGS. 1A, 1B and 2B). Moreover, in the exemplary embodiment the hand guard system 30 may retain the highly desired thermal isolating properties (such as may be available from some conventional hand guards) with proper convective flow for barrel cooling, while providing the ability to mount accessories to the hand guard, via “Piccatiny Rails”, (as with metal hand guards) without discomfort from barrel heating further, the hand guard system 30 comprises hand guard sections that are fully interchangeable with each other and with conventional hand guard sections. In the exemplary embodiment, the hand guard system may include features similar to the hand guard system described in U.S. Application No. 60/910,802, filed Apr. 9, 2007 which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown an exploded isometric view of the lower hand guard, in accordance with one exemplary embodiment, and a representative hand grip assembly of the firearm shown in FIG. 1. Referring also to FIG. 3, there is shown an isometric view of the lower hand guard assembly and the hand grip 4B of the firearm accessory sighting system 43 of the fire arm shown in FIG. 1. Generally, lower hand guard 46 has non-metal hand guard body portion with integral rails. In the exemplary embodiment, lower hand guard 46 may generally have body portion 98, attachment or T-rail portion 100 and shield portion 102, 104. As will be described, T-rail portion 100 may be molded into body portion 98 making T-rail portion 100 and body portion 98 of unitary construction. Shield portion 102, 104 (which may be made of any suitable materials) may be removably snapped into the unitary assembly of T-rail portion 100 and body portion 98 to allow removal such as for cleaning. Body portion 98 may be made of desired polymer (such as PEEK), and mounting rail 100 may be made of metal (such as aluminum) or any suitable material (for example capable of withstanding temperatures of about 500° F.) and allowing fastening as described below. In alternate embodiments, any suitable combination of fastening techniques may be provided with any of the subcomponents, for example, by conventional fasteners molded into the body portions or otherwise. In alternate embodiments, any suitable combinations of rails, shields or accessories may be provided in any suitable combination. Mounting rail 100 may be embedded and molded in the lower portion of body 98 or alternately could be located anywhere. Here, T-rail 100 may be embedded into polymer section 98 for mounting an accessory rail 108 (see FIG. 2) that has a complementing T-portion 110 that engages and slides on to a mating portion 112 of T-rail 100. In the exemplary embodiment, accessory rail 108 may comprise a “Piccatiny Rail” or other suitable rail or accessory or accessory mount. In the exemplary embodiment accessory rail 108 (see FIG. 1) may be slid forward or rearward to a stop location for mounting a desired accessory in a desired location. Accessory rail 108 and mounting rail 100 each may have a spring loaded detent 114 that engages a mating recess (for example serially located longitudinally along rail 100) for easy location when sliding forward in order to adjust position of accessory rail 108. The position may be selectable from multiple longitudinal positions between accessory and mounting rails whereby the location of the accessory mounting rail is selectable. A set screw, thumb screw or other suitable locking device may further be provided. In the example shown, rail 108 may be “Piccatiny Rails” of differing rail mount heights. As may be realized, in alternate embodiments, the accessory rail 108 may be swapped with another accessory rail, capable of being mounted to mount rail 100 and having any other desired accessory mount system. In other exemplary embodiments, mounting rail 100 may have any other desired accessory mount configuration (see for example FIG. 3 showing the mounting rail 100′ having a “Piccatiny Rail” mount configuration similar to rail 108 in FIG. 2) and may be molded together with body portion 98 to form a hand guard assembly 47 of unitary construction. In the exemplary embodiment, removable hand grip 48-48B of the accessory sight system 43, may be easily attached to and detached from hand guard assembly 47. In the exemplary embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1-2, the hand grip 48-48B is shown mounted to the rail located under the barrel. FIG. 2B is a partial perspective view showing the hand grip mounted to an accessory mount located under the barrel of the firearm in accordance with another exemplary embodiment but in alternate embodiments the hand grip may be mounted to an accessory mount located at any suitable position relative to the barrel, such as for example to a side of the barrel. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 2B, the firearm may have an upper receiver 36A, that is a one piece member (of unitary construction) and has integral accessory mounts (for example similar to the mounting rails described previously and shown in FIGS. 1-2). At least one accessory mount 101A integral to the one piece receiver is located under the barrel of the firearm. The receiver may have one or more accessory mounts positioned around the barrel. In the exemplary embodiment shown, the interchangeable grips may be mounted to accessory mount 100A. In other alternate embodiments, the interchangeable hand grips may be removably mounted to any other suitable firearm accessory mount that may be located under the barrel (e.g. firearm accessory mount or mount rails may be mounted onto the barrel or receiver) or any other suitable firearm accessory mount (for example mount rail 100B in FIG. 2B) allowing the user ergonomic access to the hand grip for stably holding the hand grip when coupled to the firearm.

Except as otherwise noted, the different interchangeable hand grips 48-48B of the firearm accessory mounting system may have a generally similar configuration. Accordingly, the hand grips 48-48B will be described below with primary reference to hand grip 48 (schematically depicted in FIGS. 2-4 as having a generally representative configuration). In the exemplary embodiment, hand grip 48 generally has a housing 48H and a sighting system section 55 (that will be described in greater detail below) located in the housing 48H. Hand grip housing 48H may be made from any suitable material, such as for exemplary purposes only, PEEK molded. The hand grip housing may have any suitable shape with an exterior having a desired ergonomic form, and interior arranged to suitably support the components of the sighting system section 55 within the housing. For example, the hand grip 48 may have a pistol grip shape (e.g. to form a pistol fore grip) or any other suitable ergonomic shape. For exemplary purposes only, referring to FIG. 1, the hand grip, such as hand grip 48A, may have a width W of about 3 inches, a depth D of about 1.75 inches and a height H of about 5.25 inches with a weight of about less than 8 ounces. However, in alternate embodiments the hand grip may have any suitable width, depth, height and weight. As seen best in FIG. 2, the hand grip 48 may have a suitable mount section 53, 53A disposed on the housing 48H and arranged for interfacing with and mounting the hand grip 48 to the mounting rail 100, 100′, 108 (see also FIG. 3). In the exemplary embodiment shown, the mounting section 53 on hand grip 48 may be generally configured (e.g. has an interface 60) to mount to the “Piccatiny Rail” configuration of rails 100′, 108 (though in alternate embodiments the mount section may have any other desired configuration suitable for interface and mounting to the firearm mounting rails). In the exemplary embodiment, the hand grip mount 53 may have for example locating and locking features 56 and 58. FIG. 2A is a schematic sectional view of a representative locating and locking feature 58 (feature 56 may be similar). The configuration shown in FIG. 2A is merely exemplary, and in alternate embodiments the locating/locking feature may have any other desired configuration. Locating and locking features 56 and 58 may engage accessory rail 108 of hand guard assembly 47 attaching hand grip 48 to hand guard assembly 47. As seen in FIG. 2A, locating and locking feature 58 may include a spring loaded latch 58C. The latch 58C of locating and locking feature 58 may be operated (e.g. caused to be moved between locked and unlocked positions) by, for example, a screw knob that wedges against accessory rail 108 locating and locking hand grip 48 to guard assembly 47. In alternate embodiments the locating and locking features may include cam levers and lands or any other suitable features for interfacing with features of, for example, a “Piccatiny Rail” (or other suitable rail system) and locking the hand grip to the rail. In other alternate embodiments, the latch may have any other suitable actuation system to allow the operator to engage and disengage the locating and locking features of the latch from the interfacing features of the firearm substantially without tools. In the exemplary embodiments shown in FIGS. 2-2A, the mount section 53 may be removably mounted, such as with any suitable fastening system 53M (e.g. mechanical fasteners fastening the mount section 53) to the hand grip housing 48H. Accordingly, in the exemplary embodiment the mount section 53 of hand grip 48 may be interchanged with another mount section 53A, having a different firearm mount interface than mount section 53, and capable of being attached to hand grip housing 48H. Thus, for example, mount section 53A may be configured to mount onto mounting rail 100 (e.g. may have a general T-rail configuration suitable for use with rail 100). Hence, in the event the firearm may be without accessory rail 108, the user may select to swap mount section 53 (suitable for use with “Piccatiny Rail” 108) with hand grip mount section 53A, thereby allowing the user to mount the hand grip onto rail 100. FIG. 2 illustrates two different interchangeable mount sections for hand grip 48 for example purposes, though the hand grips may be provided with any desired number of interchangeable mount sections with different mount configuration. In alternate embodiments, the mount section may be unitary with or not easily removable from the hand grip housing. In other alternate embodiments, the different interchangeable hand grips 48-48B of the sighting system may each be provided with corresponding mount sections having mount configurations for interfacing with and mounting to different firearm accessory mount arrangements.

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown an isometric view of the hand grip with an integrated sighting system section 55. In the exemplary embodiment, the sighting system section(s) 55 corresponding to each of the different interchangeable hand grips 48, 48A, 48B may be different thereby providing the interchangeable hand grips with different sighting characteristics. The sighting system sections 55 of the hand grips 48, 48A, 48B may be generally similar in that each may include an ambidextrous activation switch 54, a power source 66, a power source compartment 62, an on/off or mode selector switch 52 and an internal circuit 67 connecting the power source, and the power/mode and activation switches to an electro-optic sighting device 64. The integrated sighting devices 64 in each of the different interchangeable hand grips may be different, so that each of the different interchangeable handgrips 48, 48A, 48B, has a different sighting system characteristic. For example, the sighting devices may be a laser diode system. For exemplary purposes only, in one exemplary embodiment the laser diode system may have an ANSI laser class of 3R and a power of about less than 5 mW while in alternate embodiments the laser diode system may have any suitable laser class and a power of more than about 5 mW. By way of further example, hand grip 48 may have a single laser configuration and another hand grip 48A, 48B may have a dual laser configuration. Suitable examples of laser diode systems are available from LaserMax. Suitable configurations used in the different interchangeable hand grips may be, for example, a single (e.g. 635 nm) red diode laser that is pulsed for example at 10 Hz or kept constantly on (e.g. a continuous wave beam), or a single (e.g. 532 nm) green diode pumped solid state that is pulsed at for example 10 Hz, or provides continuous lasing (e.g. constantly on). In other exemplary embodiments, the sighting system may be a dual (635 nm) red and (850 nm) IR diode lasers where the laser may be pulsed (e.g. at 10 Hz) or kept constantly on. In other exemplary embodiments a (532 nm) green and (850 nm) IR (infrared) diode pumped solid state laser may be used where the green laser may be pulsed e.g. at 10 Hz) and the IR laser kept constantly on. In still other embodiments, the sighting system section of a hand grip may include a light source such as an LED (light emitting diode) in combination with either a red or green diode laser that may be pulsed (e.g. at 10 Hz) or kept constantly on. In other exemplary embodiments, the light source may be a thermo-incandescent device used in combination with either a red or green laser (that may be pulsed or static when on) or used alone. In alternative embodiments other suitable laser and incandescent or LED lighting configurations may be used. It is noted that the on/off or mode selector switch 52 may be configured to switch operation of the hand grip between the different hand grip functions and features, as described above, such as for example, laser sighting and providing a light source to, for example, illuminate a desired region where the operation of the laser and light can be in a pulsed or continuous mode. As may be realized, in the exemplary embodiment an operator may selectably configure the sighting characteristic of the rifle by selecting a desired hand grip from the different interchangeable handgrips 48, 48A, 48B (each with different sighting characteristics as described herein) and mounting to the hand guard of the rifle (or swapping hand guards if an interchangeable grip is already mounted). The operator may selectably configure or reconfigure the rifle as noted in the field substantially without tools.

As may be realized, hand grips having, for example, the different predetermined characteristics described above may be provided singularly in kit 600, 601, 602 (FIG. 1B) form such that each hand grip kit includes one in a series of hand grips, where each of the hand grips in the series has different predetermined characteristics than other ones of hand grips in the series of hand grips. For example, one hand grip in the series of hand grips may be configured with only a red (635 nm) laser while another hand grip in the series of hand grips is configured with both a red (635 nm) laser and a white LED light source. In one exemplary embodiment, the kit 600, 601, 602 may include any combination of the hand grip 48, 48A, 48B, the latch 58C for mounting the grip to the rifle, a power supply, an operators manual (describing the operation of the hand grips), mounting rails and mounting rail adapters, rail “raisers” (to adjust the distance the grip is away from the centerline of the barrel or rail to which the grip is mounted). In alternate embodiments, the kit 600, 601, 602 may include interchangeable kit sections such that, for example, an operator can choose the items or sections of the hand grip(s) to be included in the kit. For example, an operator may select any suitable mount section such as mount section 53, 53A (FIG. 2) for mounting the grip to any suitable rail. In other exemplary embodiments, a set of hand grips (e.g. multiple hand grips which in this example includes hand grips 48, 48A, 48B) may be provided in kit 610 (FIG. 1B) form where each of the hand grips in the set of hand grips has different predetermined characteristics than other ones of hand grips in the set of hand grips.

Laser diode systems 64 configurations that include an IR type laser may be optimized to work with suitable thermal imaging or night vision goggles. On/off switch 52 may turn the hand grip with integrated laser 48 to on mode and an off mode. While in on mode, power may be provided from power source 66 through internal circuit 67 to the ambidextrous activation switch 54. The location of activation switch shown in FIGS. 1-4 is merely exemplary, and in alternate embodiments the activation switch may be positioned in any other suitable location on the hand grip for ambidextrous actuation. While in off mode, no power may be provided to/from power source 66 through internal circuit 67 to the ambidextrous activation switch 54. Power source 66 may be, for example, AA batteries. In alternative embodiments, any suitable battery or power source may be provided. When depressed, ambidextrous activation switch 54 may activate the laser diode system causing the laser beam 50 to be projected from laser diode system 64. Operators may depress ambidextrous activation switch 54 while holding hand grip 48-48B in either their left or right hand and also while firing the firearm. Power source compartment 62 provides a sealed compartment for power source 66. Power source 66 may become depleted through the activation of the laser diode system 64. In one example, the power source 66 and the laser diode system 64 may be configured to provide about 30 hours of runtime with the laser diode system in continuous operation and about 60 hours of run time with the laser diode system 64 in pulsed operation. In alternate embodiments the power source and laser diode system may be configured to provide any suitable duration of run time in the constant on and/or pulsed operation modes. Power source 66 may be removed from power source compartment and replaced with a new or recharged power source. Power source compartment 62 may have a door 63 that locks the power source 66 into the power source compartment 62. In this exemplary embodiment the power source compartment 62, the power source 66 and door 63 are shown at a bottom 69 of the hand grip 48 but in alternate embodiments the battery compartment, battery and door may be positioned at any suitable location on the hand grip. For example, the door 63 may be located on a side or top of the hand grip 48 providing access to a battery compartment correspondingly located on a top or side of the hand grip 48. The door 63 and battery compartment 62 may be located such that the power source can be replaced without removing the hand grip 48 from the firearm. The door 63 may be configured for tool-less removal so that the power source may be easily changed in the field. Internal circuit 67 may be a wire harness connecting power source 66, ambidextrous activation switch 54, and on/off switch 52 to the laser diode system 64. Alternatively, the internal circuit 67 may be a circuit board.

As may be realized the hand grip(s) 48, 48A, 48B with integrated sighting system also may be used as a stand alone device dismounted from the automatic or semi-automatic firearm. The hand grip may be removed from the mounting rail by unlocking the mount interface 60, and then may be operated for lasing or illuminating a desired target or as a flashlight as previously described. If desired, the hand grip 48 may then be easily remounted to the firearm, as also previously described, or may be mounted to a different firearm if desired. As may also be realized, the hand grip 48 after dismounting, may be replaced on the firearm 20 with another hand grip 48A, 48B having a different sighting system characteristic (e.g. replacing a single laser with a hand grip having only a laser or laser and light illumination). The hand grip 48 housing may be arranged so that the hand grip may be used in harsh conditions, such as but not limited to, water immersion in compliance with MIL-STD-810-F, blowing sand test in compliance with DHS and MIL-STD-810-F, salt fog in compliance with MIL-STD-810F and fresh and salt water spray. Hand grip 48 may be completely self contained and does not require external support functions such as power to be used in a stand alone mode of operation or in combination with an automatic or semi-automatic rifle. Hand grip with integrated laser 48 may have an optional (not shown here) mode selection switch that switches the dual configuration laser diode system 64 between individual laser diodes. The hand grip 48 may also be configured to survive as non limiting example, durability and reliability tests such as a drop onto concrete from a height of about 1.5 meters and withstanding about 6,000 rounds of fire at a rate of fire of about 10 rounds per minute while mounted to a suitable firearm such as those described above. In alternate embodiments the hand grip may be configured to survive drops tests from heights greater or less than 1.5 meters and reliability tests of more or less than 6,000 rounds of fire at any suitable rate of fire. The hand grip 48 and the integrated sighting system may be configured to hold alignment within about 1 minute of angle (MOA) or about 1 inch at about 100 yards. The hand grip system(s) disclosed herein is a compact, rugged, versatile fore grip with integrated aiming system that attaches to the firearm rail mount system. For example, the system may have hand grips with different wavelengths and in single and dual laser configurations. The integrated grip may be used interchangeably on several different platforms, simply by moving the grip from one firearm to another, and re-zeroing. The laser may be available in different wavelengths: such as, red, green and IR. The integrated grip(s) may have multiple configurations including: single laser, two lasers, and a single laser with a LED traveling light (e.g. flashlight). The lasers of the dual laser models may be aligned in tandem. The IR version may be optimized to work with, for example, Gen3 night vision goggles or any other prior or later version of night vision. Operating the integrated grip may be performed by, for example, positioning the mode selector switch 59 from an off position to, for example, either Laser A or Laser B (optional) on, for example, a dual laser equipped hand grip. Laser A and Laser B are used for exemplary purposes only and the mode selector switch can be used to select any suitable function of the hand grip 48 as described herein. The operable function (e.g. laser, flashlight, etc.) of the hand grip 48 may be momentarily operated by depressing or pushing the ambidextrous activation switch 54 by a first amount such that the operable function remains active as long as the ambidextrous activation switch 54 is depressed or pushed. Continuous operation (i.e. operation of the device such that the ambidextrous activation switch 54 does not have to be continuously held as distinguished from the pulse and constant on modes of the lasers and lights described above) of the operable function of the hand grip 48 may be achieved by depressing or pushing the ambidextrous activation switch 54 by a second amount until a click is felt. When, for example, a laser aiming device of the hand grip is active, the laser aiming device will project a beam that closely aligns with the factory iron sights when the hand grip is mounted on the firearm. The laser aiming device may be turned OFF from continuous operation by pushing the activation switch again until a click is felt. Zeroing and adjustments may easily be made by operator.

In accordance with one exemplary embodiment, a semi-automatic or automatic rifle is provided. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle includes a receiver having a receiver frame, a barrel connected to the receiver frame, a hand guard section extending over and generally surrounding the barrel, the hand guard section connected to the receiver, an accessory mount connected to the receiver frame and located below the barrel, a hand grip with an integrated sight removably connected to the accessory mount, the removable hand grip having a locating and locking feature adapted to engage the accessory mount, wherein, the removable hand grip is selectably interchangeable with other hand grips, each having different predetermined characteristics selectable for coupling to the rifle and wherein, the removable hand grip is configured so that it forms a stand alone sighting device independent of the rifle.

In accordance with another exemplary embodiment, a semi-automatic or automatic rifle is provided. The semi-automatic or automatic rifle includes a hand guard having an upper hand guard assembly and a lower hand guard assembly, and a pistol fore grip with an integrated sighting system, the pistol fore grip being removably mounted to one of the upper hand guard assembly or the lower hand guard assembly, wherein the pistol fore grip is configured to provide the rifle with an accessory sighting system having a selectably configured predetermined sighting characteristics, the configuration of the sighting characteristics being selected by selection of the pistol fore grip from a number of different interchangeable pistol fore grips for mounting to the upper hand guard or lower hand guard assembly.

In accordance with still another exemplary embodiment, a black rifle configuration firearm is provided. The black rifle configuration firearm includes a receiver having a receiver frame, a barrel connected to the receiver frame, a hand guard section extending over and generally surrounding the barrel, the hand guard section connected to the receiver, an accessory mount connected to the receiver frame and located below the barrel, a hand grip with an integrated sight removably connected to the accessory mount, the removable hand grip having a locating and locking feature adapted to engage the accessory mount, and wherein, the removable hand grip is selectably interchangeable with other hand grips, each having different predetermined characteristics selectable for coupling to the firearm.

In accordance with yet another exemplary embodiment, a kit is provided. The kit includes a pistol fore grip configured to provide a removable accessory sighting system for a rifle and a stand alone sighting device operable independent of the rifle and a mount for mounting the pistol fore grip to the rifle.

It should be understood that the foregoing description is only illustrative of the invention. Various alternatives and modifications can be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variances that fall within the scope of the appended claims.