Title:
Rifle Carrier
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a rifle carrier that is configured for use in conjunction with pack hard frames. The rifle carrier includes a barrel holder and a buttstock cradle. The barrel holder includes an L-shaped bracket defining a hole. The bracket is fastened to or integral with a frame. The bracket holds the barrel of the rifle, which is inserted through the hole. The cradle supports the buttstock of the rifle, and is fastened directly to the frame or to a support beam that is fastened to the frame. The bracket and cradle are separated by a distance that is less than the length of the rifle. The frame or carrier can be adjusted to accommodate rifles of different sizes.



Inventors:
Hyle, Jay R. (Harrisburg, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/174856
Publication Date:
01/21/2010
Filing Date:
07/17/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41C33/00
View Patent Images:
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20100019007Attachable Device for Providing Drinking Water and Storing Hot and Cold Food in an Outdoor EnvironmentJanuary, 2010Wagner
20080251550BackpackOctober, 2008Tong
20060261112ATV mounting bracket and associated methodsNovember, 2006Gates et al.



Primary Examiner:
NEWHOUSE, NATHAN JEFFREY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DUANE MORRIS LLP - Philadelphia (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A rifle carrier comprising: a frame having top and bottom portions; a barrel holder fastened to the top portion; and a buttstock cradle fastened to the bottom portion; wherein the barrel holder and the cradle are separated by a distance that is less than the length of the rifle.

2. The rifle carrier of claim 1, wherein the barrel holder comprises a bracket defining a hole, the hole being larger than the barrel of the rifle, such that the barrel can fit through the hole.

3. The rifle carrier of claim 1, further comprising: a cradle support beam, the beam being integral with the frame, wherein the cradle is fastened to the beam.

4. The rifle carrier of claim 1, further comprising: a cradle support beam, the beam being fastened to the bottom portion of the frame, wherein the cradle is fastened to the beam.

5. The rifle carrier of claim 1, wherein the frame comprises a harness for securing the frame to a user's body.

6. The rifle carrier of claim 1, wherein the buttstock cradle comprises a cup, whereby a buttstock of a rifle is disposed within the cup when the rifle is stowed in the carrier.

7. The rifle carrier of claim 1, further comprising: a grommet disposed within the hole defined by the bracket.

8. The rifle carrier of claim 1, further comprising: a strap fastened to the cradle, wherein the strap is applied across a buttstock to secure the buttstock within the cradle.

9. The rifle carrier of claim 1, further comprising: a cap, the cap having an open end and a closed end, wherein the cap is applied to a barrel by inserting the barrel into the open end, whereby the cap prevents precipitation and debris from entering the barrel.

10. The rifle carrier of claim 1, wherein the frame defines a bore, the bore receiving a fastener for fastening the bracket to the frame.

11. The rifle carrier of claim 10, wherein the fastener is a nut and bolt.

12. The rifle carrier of claim 1, wherein the frame defines a series of bores, wherein each bore is located at a different distance from the cradle.

13. A rifle carrier comprising: a barrel holder fastened to a frame; a buttstock cradle fastened to the frame, wherein the barrel holder and buttstock cradle are separated by a distance that is less than the length of the rifle, whereby the rifle carrier supports the rifle in a substantially upright position.

14. The rifle carrier of claim 13 wherein the cradle is fastened by the frame by way of being fastened to a support beam, the support beam being one of integral with and fastened to the frame.

15. A method of carrying a rifle, the method comprising: applying a frame to the body of a user, wherein a bracket defining a hole is fastened to the frame, and wherein a buttstock cradle is fastened to the frame at a distance from the bracket that is less than the length of the rifle; inserting the barrel of the rifle through the hole defined by the bracket; and inserting the buttstock of the rifle into the cradle; whereby the rifle is held by the bracket and the cradle, leaving the user's hands free to perform tasks other than holding the rifle.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising: securing the buttstock within the cradle by applying a strap across the buttstock, wherein an end of the strap is removably fastened to the cradle.

17. A kit for adapting a frame to carry a rifle, the kit comprising: a barrel holder; a buttstock cradle; and a fastener.

18. The kit of claim 17, further comprising: a support beam.

19. The kit of claim 17, wherein the barrel holder comprises a bracket defining a hole.

20. The kit of claim 17, wherein the buttstock cradle comprises a cup and an anchor protruding from the cup.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments generally relating to a rifle carrier, and more particularly to a rifle carrier that is configured for use with a load-bearing pack system are described.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Load-bearing pack systems are used for hunting, camping, expedition, and military activities. Pack systems commonly include components that are worn on a user's back in the fashion of a typical backpack. Such pack systems commonly include an external hard frame to which bags and equipment are secured. The hard frame is secured to the user's body by straps or belts that are worn across the user's shoulders or around the user's waist or hips.

Hard frames typically have a rectangular configuration with one or more cross pieces. Such frames typically have a shelf extending perpendicularly to the rectangular configuration of the frame and outwardly from the user's body. Bags and equipment that are secured to the frame can rest on the shelf that prevents the bags and equipment from sliding off of the frame when the user is standing or walking. An example of a commercially available hard frame is CABELA'S® ALASKAN OUTFITTER™ frame.

Conventional rifle carriers typically have the form of sleeves and slings that are worn across the user's torso. Known slings cannot be worn comfortably in conjunction with pack hard frames. The slings either do not fit comfortably over or under the hard frames, or the hard frame interferes with ready access to the rifle.

A need exists for a rifle carrier that works in conjunction with pack hard frames, and maintains the rifle in a position that allows the user to stow and retrieve the rifle quickly, easily, and quietly. A need also exists for a rifle carrier that maintains the rifle in a position that does not inhibit movement of the user's legs and arms, and does not stick out from the user's body such that the rifle will snag passing tree branches. A need also exists for a rifle carrier that allows a user to simultaneously carry a large amount of other equipment, and allows the user to access the rifle quickly, easily, and quietly without removing or disturbing any of the other equipment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a rifle carrier. The rifle carrier includes a hard frame of the type sometimes used in hiking and camping. The frame has a top portion and a bottom portion. A barrel holder is fastened to the top portion, and a buttstock cradle is fastened to the bottom portion. The barrel holder and buttstock cradle are separated by a distance that is less than the length of the rifle.

In one embodiment, the barrel holder features a bracket. The bracket defines a hole that is larger than the barrel of the rifle. The frame and the bracket can each define a bore. The bores receive a fastener for fastening the bracket to the frame. The fastener can be a nut and bolt. The frame and bracket can each define a series of corresponding bores. Each bore is located at a different distance from the cradle. The barrel holder can also include a grommet disposed within the hole defined by the bracket. The barrel can fit through the hole in the grommet.

The buttstock cradle includes a cup and an anchor. The anchor protrudes from the cup. The anchor is fastened to the frame. In one embodiment, the rifle carrier has a cradle support beam. The beam can be fastened to the bottom portion of the frame, or the beam can be integral with the bottom portion of the frame. The anchor is fastened to the frame by way of being fastened to the beam. The buttstock of the rifle is disposed within the cup when the rifle is stowed in the carrier. A strap can be fastened to the cup, and applied across the buttstock of a rifle to secure the buttstock within the cup.

In another embodiment the frame has a harness and/or straps for applying the frame to a user's body. The frame is typically worn on a user's back.

In another embodiment, the rifle carrier includes a cap that covers the end of the barrel of the rifle. The cap has a solid end and an open end. The cap is applied to the barrel by inserting the barrel into the open end. The cap prevents precipitation and debris from entering the barrel.

The invention also relates to a rifle carrier that includes a barrel holder fastened to a hard frame and a buttstock cradle fastened to the frame by way of being fastened to a support beam. The support beam can be integral with the frame or a separate piece that is fastened to the frame. The barrel holder and buttstock cradle are separated by a distance that is less than the length of the rifle. The rifle carrier supports the rifle in a substantially upright position.

The invention also relates to a method of carrying a rifle. First, a rifle carrier is applied to the body of a user. The rifle carrier includes bracket defining a hole. The bracket is fastened to the frame. A buttstock cradle is fastened to the frame at a distance from the bracket that is less than the length of the rifle. The user inserts the barrel of the rifle through the hole defined by a bracket. Then the user inserts the buttstock of the rifle into the cradle. The rifle is held by the bracket and the cradle, leaving the user's hands free to perform tasks other than holding the rifle. The method can also include the step of securing the buttstock within the cradle by applying a strap across the buttstock, and removably fastening an end of the strap to the cradle.

The present invention also relates to a kit for configuring a frame to support a rifle. The kit includes a bracket defining a hole, a buttstock cradle, and a fastener. The kit can also include a buttstock cradle support beam.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a rifle carrier in one embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a rifle carrier in one embodiment shown at a different angle than FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of a barrel holder in one embodiment of the showing a bracket and a grommet.

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of a barrel holder fastened to a portion of a frame, showing a bolt and a nut.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a barrel holder in one embodiment wherein the barrel holder is fastened to a portion of a frame, showing a portion of a rifle barrel.

FIG. 6 is a side view of a buttstock cradle of one embodiment.

FIG. 7 is a top view of a buttstock cradle of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a front view of a buttstock cradle of FIG. 6, shown fastened to a portion of a buttstock support beam.

FIG. 9 is an exploded view of a buttstock cradle in one embodiment of the present invention, shown fastened to a portion of a frame.

FIG. 10 is an exploded view of a buttstock cradle according to FIG. 6, shown fastened to a buttstock support beam, which is in turn fastened to a portion of a frame.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a rifle carrier in one embodiment shown carrying a rifle.

FIG. 12 is a schematic view of a rifle carrier in one embodiment, wherein the location at which the barrel holder is fastened to the frame is adjustable.

FIG. 13 is a schematic view of a rifle carrier in one embodiment wherein the length of the frame is adjustable.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a barrel cap in one embodiment.

FIG. 15 is an exploded view of a portion of a rifle carrier in one embodiment showing a cap applied to a rifle barrel.

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a barrel holder in one embodiment, wherein a cap is integral with a bracket.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

One embodiment relates to a rifle carrier that is configured for use with pack hard frames. The rifle carrier is suitable for use with most kinds of hunting rifles and long guns. Referring to FIGS. 1-2, the rifle carrier 8 has two main operative components; a barrel holder 10 and a buttstock cradle 12. The barrel holder 10 and buttstock cradle 12 are each integral with or secured to a frame 14, and are separated by a distance that is less than the length of the rifle. The rifle carrier 8 can be assembled from separate parts. Where the carrier 8 is assembled from separate parts, the barrel holder 10 and buttstock cradle 12 are secured to the frame 14 by fastening. The term fastening, or related terms such as fasten or fastened, as used herein refers to a relationship wherein structures are coupled by physical connection directly or indirectly through intervening structures.

The Frame

Referring to FIGS. 1-2, the frame 14 is a load-bearing hard frame of the type used for carrying bags and equipment while camping or hiking. In one embodiment, the frame 14 is a commercially available pack hard frame. In other embodiments, the frame 14 is similar to pack hard frames known in the art, except for the addition or inclusion of the rifle carrying components described herein. The overall configuration of pack hard frames is generally rectangular, with rounded corners. Frames also have at least one crosspiece 16, which traverses the generally rectangular perimeter of the frame 14. Frames can have multiple transecting crosspieces, forming a lattice within the generally rectangular perimeter of the frame 14.

Conventional frames have perimeter pieces 18 and crosspieces 16 that are typically constructed from hollow aluminum rods. Suitable frames be formed from substantially any material that is durable, lightweight, strong enough to support the weight of the rifle and desired equipment, and rigid enough to hold its shape during use. Examples of such materials include metals and metal alloys, plastics, fiberglass, and wood.

Frames 14 can have attachable or built-in shoulder straps, waist belts, and/or harnesses for securing the frames 14 to a user's body. Frames 14 are typically worn on a user's back. Frames 14 can have pieces that curve ergonomically to accommodate the shape of a human back. A frame 14 can be worn by securing the frame 14 to the user's shoulders and torso with the belts, straps, and/or a harness. When worn by a user who is standing erect, pack frames are oriented such that the length of the frame's generally rectangular perimeter extends substantially vertically. The width of the frame's generally rectangular perimeter extends substantially horizontally, and substantially parallel to the broad dimension of the user's shoulders. The length of the frame 14 is usually greater than the width.

The frame 14 has a top portion 20 that is the portion of the frame 14 that is situated at or above the user's shoulders when the frame 14 is worn on a user's back. The frame 14 has a bottom portion 22 that is the portion of the frame 14 that is situated below the user's shoulders when the frame 14 is worn on a user's back. The barrel holder 10 may be fastened to the top portion 20 of the frame 14, on the perimeter of the frame 14. The buttstock cradle 12 is fastened to the bottom portion 22 of the frame 14.

Bags and equipment can be secured to the frame 14 by ties, buckles, straps, and the like. The frame 14 can have a shelf 24 that protrudes outwardly from the bottom portion 22 of the frame 14, extending away from the user's body. Bags and equipment secured to the frame 14 can rest on the shelf 24 that helps to prevent the bags and equipment from sliding off of the frame 14 when the user moves around.

The Barrel Holder

Referring to FIGS. 3 to 5, the rifle carrier has a barrel holder 10 that holds the barrel of the rifle when the rifle is stowed in the rifle carrier. The barrel holder 10 can feature a bracket 26, as shown in FIGS. 2 to 4. Alternatively, the barrel holder can feature a tube, ring, clamp, sleeve, or any equivalent structure that secures or supports the barrel with respect to the frame.

In one embodiment, the barrel holder 10 features a bracket 26. The bracket 26 is a generally L-shaped piece of material that has a fastening leg 28 and a protruding leg 30. The protruding leg 30 is elongated in one dimension and essentially flat in a second dimension. The flat dimension defines a hole 32 extending therethrough. The fastening leg 28 and the protruding leg 30 meet at a right angle, forming the generally L-shape of the bracket 26.

The bracket 26 can be formed from aluminum or other metals or metal alloys. The bracket 26 can be formed by bending an elongated piece of material into an L-shape. Alternatively, the bracket 26 can be molded, carved, cast, or otherwise formed from plastic, wood, fiberglass, or substantially any material that is lightweight, durable, and rigid enough to hold its shape during use of the rifle carrier.

The bracket 26 is fastened to the frame 14 by a bracket fastener 33. The bracket 26 is fastened to the frame 14 by engaging the fastening leg 28, and the piece of the frame 14 to which the bracket 26 is fastened, with the fastener 33. The bracket 26 may be fastened to one of the vertical perimeter pieces 18 of the top portion 20 of the frame 14, such that the protruding leg 30 extends outwardly from the vertical piece, and in the same plane in which the rectangular frame lies.

The fastener 33 can be any kind of fastener that secures the bracket to the frame 14. In one embodiment, the fastener 33 is a nut 34 and bolt 35. In this embodiment, the fastening leg 28 defines a bore that receives the bolt 35. The piece of the frame 14 to which the bracket is fastened also defines a bore that receives the bolt 35. The fastening leg 28 is positioned along the frame 14 such that the bore in the fastening leg 28 and the bore in the frame 14 are aligned. The bolt 35 is inserted through the bores in the fastening leg 28 and frame. The nut 34 is tightened on the bolt 35 to secure the bracket to the frame 14 such that the bracket 26 is substantially immobilized from linear or rotational movement with respect to the frame 14.

The fastening leg 28 can define more than one bore. The frame 14 can define more than one bore, corresponding to the bores defined by the bracket, where each set of bores receives a bolt. In another embodiment, the fastener 33 is a screw that is inserted through the fastening leg 28 and penetrates the frame 14. In yet another embodiment, the fastener 33 is an adhesive, such as a glue or solder, that is applied between the bracket and the frame 14, bonding the bracket to the frame 14.

When the bracket 26 is fastened to the frame 14, the protruding leg 30 extends outwardly from the frame 14. The protruding leg 30 defines a hole 32. The diameter of the hole 32 is larger than the diameter of the barrel of the rifle, such that the barrel of the rifle can be inserted through the hole 32. In one embodiment, the hole 32 is lined with a grommet 36. The grommet 36 cushions the barrel disposed within the hole 32. The grommet 36 can be made from rubber, plastic, foam, or substantially any material that is at least partially resilient and will not scratch the finish of the barrel when the barrel is inserted into or moves through the hole 32. The grommet 36 may be made from a material that will not clink against the barrel (i.e. make an audible sound) when the barrel makes contact with the grommet.

The hole 32 and grommet 36 can be shaped to complement the shape of the barrel. If the barrel is a generally cylindrical shaft, then the hole 32 and grommet 36 should be circular, with the diameter of the grommet 36 being larger than the diameter of the barrel. If the barrel has two cylindrical shafts, then the hole 32 and grommet 36 can have an oval or rectangular shape, such that the double barrel can fit through the grommet 36. If the barrel has a short sight, then the hole 32 and grommet 36 can have a teardrop, pear, or keyhole shape, to accommodate the cross-sectional shape of the barrel and sight.

The Buttstock Cradle

Referring to FIGS. 6 to10, the buttstock cradle 12 supports the buttstock of the rifle when the rifle is stowed in the carrier. The cradle 12 includes a cup 38 and an anchor 40. The cradle 12 is fastened to the bottom portion 22 of the frame 14, or to a structure or device that is connected to the bottom portion 22, by the anchor 40. The anchor 40 secures the cradle 12 to the frame 14 or structure connected to the frame 14. The cup 38 holds the buttstock of the rifle when the rifle is stowed in the carrier.

The size and shape of the cup 38 should be selected such that the buttstock of the rifle can be inserted into the cup 38 with a minimal amount of force, yet the buttstock fits within the cup 38 snugly enough that the buttstock does not jostle around within the cup 38 when the rifle is stowed in the carrier and the user is moving around. The cross-sections of the cup 38 may be similar in shape to the cross-sections of the buttstock. The cup 38 can be constructed from substantially any material that is lightweight and strong enough to support the weight of the rifle. Examples of suitable materials include leather, wood, plastic, and fiberglass.

In one embodiment, the cup 38 is lined with a lining 42. The lining 42 is disposed on the interior surfaces of the cup 38, i.e. the surfaces of the cup 38 that contact the buttstock when the rifle is stowed in the carrier. The lining 42 can be any soft, smooth, and/or resilient material that will not damage the surfaces of the buttstock. The lining may also be water resistant, or a material that readily sheds water. Examples of suitable materials are cloth, foam rubber, polyethylene foam, and cotton padding. The lining 42 can help prevent wear on the buttstock caused by repeated stowing and retrieval of the rifle from the carrier. The lining 42 can also help improve the fit of the buttstock within the cup 38 by the lining 42 conforming to the shapes of the buttstock and cup 38 and providing a forgiving buffer therebetween. The cup 38 can be manufactured to have a standard size, and the thickness of the lining 42 can accommodate rifle butts of varying sizes. If desired, the cup 38 and lining 42 can have drainage holes to shed water during inclement weather.

In a further embodiment, the cup 38 contains a base pad 44, that is disposed on a bottom or base surface of the interior of the cup 38. When the rifle is stowed in the carrier, a substantial portion of the weight of the rifle rests on the end of the buttstock. The cup 38 supports the substantial portion of the weight of the rifle by supporting the buttstock. The base pad 44 cushions the weight-bearing end of the buttstock when the rifle is stowed in the carrier. By cushioning the buttstock, the base pad 44 can help alleviate wear on the buttstock caused by repeated stowing and retrieval of the rifle from the carrier. The base pad 44 also improves the fit of the buttstock within the cup 38 by conforming to the shape of the cup 38 and the shape of the end of the buttstock, and provides a forgiving buffer therebetween.

In one embodiment, the cradle 12 has a spine 46 extending along the length of the cup 38, perpendicular to the anchor 40. The spine 46 can extend beyond the cup 38, and engage the anchor 40 and the support 48, if applicable. The spine 46 stabilizes the configuration of the cup 38 and the anchor 40, and prevents the cup 38 from moving with respect to the anchor 40. Some frames 18 can have shelves that pivot. Where the cradle 12 is fastened to a support 48, and the support 48 rests on the shelf, the spine 46 helps stabilize the configuration of the support 48 with respect to the frame 18, and prevents the shelf from pivoting.

The anchor 40 protrudes from the side of the cup 38, and is fastened to the frame 14, or to another structure (such as a support beam 48, which is described below) that is fastened to the frame 14. The anchor 40 can have the form of a plate or pair of plates 54 that extend outwardly from the side of the cup 38. The plate or plates 54 can define bores that receive bolts. The frame 14 or other structure can define bores that correspond to the bores in the plates 54. In one embodiment, the anchor 40 has two plates 54 separated by a distance that is equal to the width of the piece of the frame 14 to which the anchor 40 is fastened. The plates 54 and the piece of the frame 14 each define bores that receive a bolt. The anchor 40 is applied to the frame 14 such that the plates 54 are disposed on either side of the piece of the frame 14, and the bores in the plates 54 are aligned with the bores in the frame 14. A bolt is inserted through the bores, and a nut is tightened on the bolt, securing the cradle 12 to the frame 14.

In another embodiment, the anchor 40 is fastened to a buttstock support beam 48. The support beam 48 is an elongated beam. The length of the elongated dimension of the support beam 48 extends along the width of the frame, for a distance that is greater than the width of the frame 14. The support beam 48 can be integral with the frame 14. Alternatively, the support beam 48 can be an independent structure that is fastened to the frame 14. If the frame 14 has a shelf, then the support beam 48 can rest on the shelf.

The support beam 48 has a proximal end 50 and a distal end 52. The proximal end 50 is the end to which the anchor 40 is fastened. The proximal end 50 intersects or is fastened to the perimeter 18 of the frame 14, on the side of the frame 14 on which the rifle is carried. The distal end 52 intersects or is fastened to the side of the frame 14 opposite the side from that on which the rifle is carried. The proximal end 50 of the beam extends beyond the perimeter of the frame 14. The anchor 40 is fastened to the portion of the proximal end 50 that extends beyond the frame 14.

The support beam 48 can be a hollow aluminum rod, a solid plank of wood, or substantially any other structure and/or composition that is lightweight, strong enough to support the weight of the rifle, and rigid enough to maintain its shape during use. If the support beam 48 is integral with the frame 14, then it may be constructed of the same material as the frame 14. If the support beam 48 is a separate piece that is fastened to the frame 14, then the frame 14 can be constructed of aluminum, and the beam 48 can be constructed of aluminum, wood, plastic, fiberglass, or the like.

Where the support beam 48 is a separate piece that is fastened to the frame 14, the ends of the support beam 48 can define slots 53 at the locations where the beam meets or crosses the perimeter pieces 18 of the frame 14. The slots 53 receive fasteners 33. The fasteners 33 can be ties or wire bindings that are threaded through the slots 53 and tied around the adjacent pieces of the frame 14. In one embodiment, the fasteners 33 are strips of velcro that are threaded through the slots 53 and wrapped around the adjacent pieces of the frame 14. The support beam 48 can instead define bores that receive bolts. The adjacent pieces of the frame 14 can define corresponding bores. Bolts can be inserted through the bores, and secured with nuts.

In a further embodiment, the anchor 40 has the form of two parallel plates 54 extending outwardly from the cup 38. The plates 54 are separated by a distance that is equal to the thickness of the support beam 48. The plates 54 and the beam 48 can define bores that align when the anchor 40 is applied to the beam 48. The anchor 40 is applied to the portion of the proximal end 50 of the beam 48 that extends beyond the frame 14, such that the plates 54 are disposed on either side of the thickness of the beam 48, and the bores are aligned. The bores can receive a bolt 35. The bolt 35 is inserted through the bores in the plates 54 and beam 48. A nut 34 is tightened on the end of the bolt 35 until the anchor 40 is substantially immobilized on the beam 48. The plates 54 and beam 48 can define a two or more sets of bores that receive two or more bolts 35.

The buttstock cradle 12 is fastened to the frame 14 such that the cup 38 is oriented with the mouth of the cup 38 facing upwards when the frame 14 is worn. In use, the buttstock is inserted into the cup 38 with the barrel of the rifle protruding upwards and out of the cup 38. The mouth of the cup 38 can be generally elliptical, and can form a dip 55 extending down the side of the cup 38. The dip 55 eases insertion of the rifle into the cup 38 by enlarging the mouth of the cup 38 and angling the mouth to accommodate the angle at which the rifle is inserted into the cup 38.

The buttstock cradle 12 can further include a strap 56 that extends across the mouth of the cradle 12, such as across the dip 55. The strap 56 helps secure the buttstock in the cradle 12. The strap 56 can be made of cloth, leather, plastic, or substantially any material that is durable enough to hold the buttstock and flexible enough to bend. In one embodiment, the strap 56 is pivotally fastened to the side of the cup 38, on one side of the dip 55. The strap 56 is removably fastened to the side of the cup 38 on the other side of the dip 55. The strap 56 can be pivotally fastened with a metal button, staple, or clasp 57. The strap 56 can be removably fastened with a snap or buckle 58. The length of the strap 56 between the fasteners 57, 58 may be long enough to reach across the buttstock of a rifle stowed in the carrier. The length of the strap 56 between the fasteners is short enough to hold the buttstock of the rifle snugly within the cup 38 when the strap 56 is applied across the buttstock of a rifle stowed in the carrier, and fastened at both ends.

Optional Cap

Referring to FIGS. 14 and 15, in one embodiment, the rifle carrier 8 has a barrel cap 59. The cap 59 is a hollow shaft with a solid end 60 and an open end 62. The cross-sectional shape of the cap 59 may be similar to the cross sectional shape of the barrel. If the barrel is cylindrical, then the cap 59 is cylindrical. If the barrel is a double cylinder, or has a short sight, then the cross-sectional shape of the cap 59 can be elliptical, rectangular, pear-shaped, or the like, to accommodate the shape of the barrel. The cap 59 can be molded, carved, cast or otherwise formed from plastic, rubber, wood, fiberglass, aluminum, or substantially any material that is light-weight, water-resistant, and will hold its shape during use.

The cap 59 fits over the end of the barrel when the barrel is stowed in the carrier. The cap 59 can be integral with the barrel holder 10, or it can be a separate structure. The end of the barrel is inserted into the open end 60 of the cap 59. The end of the barrel advances through the hollow shaft of the cap 59. If the cap 59 is a separate structure, then the barrel can advance through the shaft until it rests against the solid end 60. The cap 59 prevents debris and precipitation from entering the barrel when the rifle is stowed in the carrier.

If the cap 59 is integral with the barrel holder 10, then the open end 62 of the cap 59 can be aligned with the hole 32 in the bracket 26. The open end 62 is attached to the bracket 26 around the hole 32, such that when the barrel is inserted through the hole 32 in the bracket 26, the barrel enters the open end 62 of the cap 59. In this embodiment, the length of the shaft may be greater than the length of the rifle minus the distance between the bracket 26 and the butt cradle 12. In other words, the distance between the solid end 60 of the cap 59 and the mouth of the cup 38 is preferably greater than the length of the rifle.

Methods of Use

Referring to FIG. 11, the barrel holder 10 and the buttstock cradle 12 are separated by a distance that is less than the length of the rifle. The base of the cup 38 and the hole 32 defined by the protruding leg 30 of the bracket 26 are separated by a distance that may be equal to the length of a substantial portion of the rifle. The length of a substantial portion of the rifle is approximately 0.5″-4″ less than the length of the rifle. When the rifle is stowed in the carrier, the end of the buttstock rests on the base of the cup 38. In one embodiment, the protruding leg 30 is flat, and the barrel protrudes through the hole 32 and extends approximately 0.5″-4″ past the bracket 26.

When worn, the rifle carrier carries a rifle in a substantially upright position along one side of a user's body. When a user wears a frame 14 that is configured with the rifle carrying components described herein, the barrel holder 10 may be situated near the user's head. The buttstock cradle 12 is usually situated near the user's hips. To stow the rifle in the carrier, the user can hold the rifle by the buttstock or by the barrel. The user inserts the end of the barrel through the hole 32 in the protruding leg 30 of the bracket 26. The user moves the barrel through the hole 32 while positioning the buttstock of the rifle by the mouth of the cup 38. The user advances the barrel through the hole 32 until the buttstock is positioned above the mouth of the cup 38. The strap 56, if present, may be unfastened at the removably fastenable end and not obstructing the mouth of the cup 38. The user then inserts the buttstock into the mouth of the cup 38, and lowers the end of the buttstock until it rests on the base pad 44 of the cup 38, causing the barrel to partially retreat through the hole 32.

The end of the buttstock rests on the base pad 44 of the cup 38, with the cup 38 holding the buttstock, and the bracket 26 holding the barrel. The strap 56 can then be applied across the buttstock and removably fastened to the side of the cup 38. When the rifle carrier includes a cap 59, and the cap 59 is not integral with the barrel holder 10, then the cap 59 can be applied to the end of the barrel that protrudes through the hole 32 and beyond the bracket 26. Where the cap 59 is integral with or permanently affixed to the barrel holder 10, a user can insert the barrel through the barrel holder 10 and into the cap 59 simultaneously.

To retrieve or unload the rifle from the carrier, the user unfastens the strap 56, if present. If applicable, the user removes the cap 59 from the end of the barrel. The user then lifts the rifle by the buttstock or by the barrel. The barrel of the rifle advances through the hole 32 until the buttstock is lifted completely out of the cup 38. The buttstock is then pulled laterally away from the carrier, and lowered until the barrel retreats through the hole 32 (and exits the cap 59, if applicable) and the end of the barrel emerges from the barrel holder 10.

The rifle carrier can be configured to carry rifles of different sizes. The rifle carrier can be configured by changing the distance between the barrel holder 10 and the buttstock cradle 12.

Referring to FIG. 12, in one embodiment, the distance can be changed by changing the location on the frame 14 at which the barrel holder 10 is fastened to the frame 14. The frame 14 can define a series of bores, each bore being disposed at a different distance from the buttstock cradle 12. The bore defined by the fastening leg 28 of the bracket 26 can be aligned with one of the series of bores in the frame 14 that is disposed at a distance from the buttstock cradle 12 that is less than the length of the rifle to be carried. The bracket 26 can be fastened to the frame 14 by a nut and bolt.

Referring to FIG. 13, in a different embodiment, the distance can be changed by changing the length of the frame 14. The frame 14 can have an adjustable length. The top portion 20 of the frame 14 and the bottom portion 22 of the frame 14 can be separate pieces that are connected by inserting the vertical perimeter pieces 18 of one portion into the vertical perimeter pieces 18 of the other portion. The top and bottom portions can slide towards and away from each other, increasing and decreasing the length of the frame 14. The perimeter pieces 18 can have a series of settings, where each setting defines a different length of the frame 14. Each setting can be a stop that maintains the top and bottom portions in a particular configuration, and prevents the perimeter pieces 18 from sliding. The stops can be released to allow the perimeter pieces 18 to slide, until the frame 14 reaches a setting corresponding to a desired length. The stops can be engaged to maintain the length of the frame 14 at the desired setting. The settings can be bores, and the stops can be bolts.

An advantage of the invention is that it provides a rifle carrier that works in conjunction with pack hard frames. Another advantage of the rifle carrier disclosed herein is that the carrier allows a user to carry a rifle and simultaneously carry a large amount of other equipment if desired. The rifle carrying components disclosed herein stow the rifle separately from the other equipment and allow the user to access the rifle quickly and easily without removing or disturbing any of the other equipment.

The rifle carrying components disclosed herein can be lined with soft and/or resilient materials (such as grommets, linings, and pads) that absorb the impact of the rifle when the rifle is stowed or retrieved from the carrier. These materials reduce wear on the rifle and deaden any sounds generated by contact between the rifle and the carrying components. These materials allow the rifle to be stowed and retrieved quickly and quietly while minimizing damage to the rifle.

The rifle carrier maintains the rifle in a substantially upright position, along the side of the body of a user, which is a position that allows the user to stow and retrieve the rifle quickly, easily, and quietly. A further advantage of the rifle carrier disclosed herein is that the carrier maintains the rifle in a position that does not inhibit movement of the user's legs and arms, and does not stick out from the user's body such that the rifle will snag passing tree branches.

In the foregoing specification, the invention has been described with reference to specific exemplary embodiments thereof. It will, however, be evident that various modifications and changes may be made without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims. The specification and drawings are accordingly to be regarded in an illustrative rather than in a restrictive sense.





 
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