This application claims the benefit of Provisional Application No. 60/764,166, filed Jan. 31, 2006, the contents of which are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety.
A variety of devices have been developed for use in connection with the muzzle of a firearm. These devices, or muzzle attachments, include silencers, rocket and/or grenade launchers, line launchers, and the like. Because the circumstances under which a firearm is being used are liable to change quickly, it is desirable that the muzzle attachments and/or the corresponding firearm be adapted to allow rapid and reliable securing and removal of the muzzle attachments.
The reliability of the connection of the muzzle attachment and muzzle, and the ease or quickness with which the muzzle attachment is secured and removed, tend to provide competing objectives in the design of a muzzle attachment system. For example, large numbers of fine threads and locking pins typically provide a very reliable connection but require a relatively long amount of time to secure or remove. The use of one or more tools may also be required.
In addition to providing a sufficiently secure, yet readily releasable connection, for many types of muzzle attachments it is also important that a muzzle attachment system ensure proper alignment of the muzzle attachment relative to the barrel and firing axis of the firearm. For instance, some muzzle attachments, such as silencers, substantially encircle the firing axis, and the projectile, once exiting the muzzle, must also pass through the muzzle attachment.
Many existing firearms are manufactured with a muzzle that includes a distal portion having a flash suppressor and/or compensator. Flash suppressors are designed to reduce the visible flash produced by hot gases exiting the muzzle, thereby reducing the deleterious effect such a flash would otherwise have on the night vision of the user, when the firearm is used in darkness. The muzzle flash is produced by the rapid ignition of un-burnt gunpowder leaving the muzzle after the projectile, together with the high velocity and temperature gases.
Flash suppression effects are typically achieved by both gradually increasing the diameter of an inner surface the distal portion, which inner surface is concentric with the firing axis, and providing one or more ports, elongated in the direction of the firing axis, around the circumference of the distal portion, which ports extend between an outer surface, also concentric with the firing axis, and the inner surface in a generally radial direction. As the projectile exits the muzzle through the inner surface of the distal portion, the hot gases trailing the projectile expand radially outward through the ports. The resultant lower temperature and velocity of the gases result in a less violent combustion of the remaining gunpowder, and a correspondingly less intense flash. While many flash suppressor designs feature ports that extend outward normal to the firing axis, more effective flash suppression is generally achieved by having one or more ports that extend outward less than normal, in a skewed geometry.
Compensators, generally, compensate for, or mitigate one or more undesirable motions of the firearm that occur as a result of firing. Such undesirable motions include recoil and muzzle lift. A flash suppressor arrangement is typically designed to also compensate for one or both of these undesirable motions. For instance, vectoring the high velocity gases radially away from the firing axis for flash suppression purposes also tends to mitigate the recoil that would be caused by such gases exiting the muzzle along the firing axis. By eliminating ports from a bottom side of the circumference of the distal portion, the force exerted by the radially dissipated gases exiting the ports arranged on an upper side of the circumference of the distal portion tends to counteract muzzle lift.
Because the distal portion, typically a flash suppressor, is usually designed and manufactured to be removable, many muzzle attachment system designs involve replacing the stock distal portion with a modified distal portion. The modified distal portion is adapted for releasable connection with a complementarily adapted muzzle attachment. Typically, the modified distal portion is intended to remain in place on the firearm, even when no muzzle attachment is connected. Accordingly, the modified distal portion is frequently also designed to serve as flash suppressor and compensator.
Some types of muzzle attachments, such as silencers and other can- or canister-type attachments, must substantially enclose the modified distal portion. Any adverse effect this enclosure would have on the flash suppression or compensation effects of the modified distal portion is typically mitigated, as the muzzle attachment itself may provide substantial flash suppression and/or compensation, ancillary to the muzzle attachment's primary purpose. For instance, silencers tend to effectively suppress muzzle flash and provide some compensation, ancillary to their primary purposes of muffling the audible report of the firearm.
However, the fact of this enclosure by certain muzzle attachments has tended to influence the design of the modified distal portion. Particularly, until the present invention, modified distal portions including ports skewed from normal, relative to the firing axis, have not been employed, as the inclusion of such ports in conventional configurations tends to impart undesirable torsional forces to the muzzle attachment, when connected. Accordingly, firearms employing prior art muzzle attachment systems with modified distal portions exhibit inferior flash suppression capabilities when no muzzle attachment is connected.
Some of the unburnt powder, as well as other particulate matter entrained in the expanding hot gases behind the bullet or projectile, tends to deposit both along the barrel of the rifle and within the distal portion and the muzzle attachment. As a result, periodic cleaning of the firearm, including the distal portion and muzzle attachment, is required to remove these deposits. If the interface between the corresponding engagement surfaces on the muzzle attachment and the modified distal portion is not sufficiently isolated from the expanding gases to prevent deposition of particulate matter on the engagement portions, deposits on the engagement surfaces can result in binding of the muzzle attachment to the distal portion, as well as damage to the engagement portions. Damage to the engagement portions can result in an undesirable discharge of gases between the muzzle attachment and the modified distal portion, leading to decreased efficacy of the muzzle attachment and impaired accuracy.
From the foregoing, it can be seen that there is a need for a muzzle attachment system that provides for both a connection between the firearm and the muzzle attachment that is reliable and secure, but which also allows for the muzzle attachment to be easily and quickly connected and disconnected. There is also a need for a muzzle attachment system having a modified distal portion incorporating skewed ports for enhanced flash suppression when no muzzle attachment is in place while avoiding undesirable torsional forces when a muzzle attachment surrounding the skewed ports is connected. Additionally, there is a need for a muzzle attachment system in which the engagement portions are not exposed to particulate deposition from the expanding gases.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to an embodiment of the present invention, a muzzle attachment system for a firearm includes a muzzle attachment having a first engagement means, and a muzzle distal portion including a second engagement means, the second engagement means being complementary with the first engagement means. The first and second engagement means cooperate to releasably secure the muzzle attachment to the muzzle distal portion.
According to one aspect of the present invention the first and second engagement means include complementary coarse threaded engagement portions. The coarse threaded engagement portions allow for quick and easy attachment and detachment. The first engagement means and second engagement means also include an annular grooved surface having a plurality of grooves, and a grooved surface engagement mechanism.
The annular grooved surface and the grooved surface engagement mechanism engage one another with sufficient force to overcome torsional forces acting on the muzzle attachment during use, even when the muzzle attachment is not completely screwed on to the muzzle distal portion. However, the force exerted between the annular grooved surface and the grooved surface engagement mechanism still permits easy manual removal of the muzzle attachment.
According to another aspect of the present invention the first and second engagement portions include first and second position stops that prevent overtightening of the coarse threaded portions and abut to form a gas seal, the gas seal substantially preventing gases exiting the muzzle distal portion from reaching the coarse threaded portions, thereby preventing fouling.
According to a further aspect of the present invention, the muzzle distal portion is a flash suppressor, the flash suppressor including at least two elongated ports substantially equally skewed from normal relative to a firing axis of the firearm, the at least two elongated ports being substantially evenly distributed around the circumference of the flash suppressor. Thus, the flash suppression of the distal portion is enhanced when no muzzle attachment is in place.
These and other features and advantages of the present invention will be better understood in view of the drawings and the detailed description, below.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 shows a silencer and a flash suppressor employing a muzzle attachment system, according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 shows a side view of the flash suppressor of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 shows a side view of the silencer of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 shows an end view of the silencer of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 shows a sectional view of the flash suppressor of FIG. 2, with another notch embodiment;
FIG. 6 shows a side view of the flash suppressor of FIG. 2, with the notch embodiment of FIG. 5, and with the grooved surface engagement mechanism removed;
FIG. 7 shows a sectional view of the flash suppressor of FIG. 6, taken along line 7-7;
FIG. 8 shows a sectional view of the flash suppressor of FIG. 6, taken along line 8-8; and
FIG. 9 shows a side view of the flash suppressor of FIG. 2, with an exploded view of the grooved surface engagement mechanism.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
Referring to FIG. 1, a muzzle attachment system 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention, includes a silencer 12, also known as a sound suppressor, and a flash suppressor 14. Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the silencer 12 has a cylindrical body 20, partially defining an interior volume 22, which interior volume 22 concentrically surrounds a firing axis 24 of a firearm (not shown). The cylindrical body 20 extends between a first end 26 and a second end 28, the first and second ends 26, 28 each disposed substantially perpendicularly to the firing axis 24.
In the vicinity of the first end 26, proximate to a muzzle (not shown) of the firearm when the silencer 12 is connected to the firearm, an internal passage 30 is defined within the cylindrical body 20. The internal passage 30 extends between a first passage opening 32 in the first end 26 and a second passage opening 34, the second passage opening 34 communicating with the internal volume 22. The internal passage 30, first passage opening 32 and second passage opening 34 are each substantially concentric to the firing axis 24.
The silencer 12 is further formed with first engagement means 38, including a female coarse-threaded portion 40 and a first position stop 42, in the internal passage 30, and an annular grooved surface 44 (best seen in FIG. 4), including a plurality of grooves 46, extending radially outward relative to the firing axis 24. The annular grooved surface 44 is formed on the first end 26, surrounding the first passage opening 32. A projectile discharge opening is disposed in the second end 28 and also arranged substantially concentrically with the firing axis 24.
Referring to FIGS. 2, 5 and 6, the flash suppressor 14 is formed as a generally cylindrical body 50 concentric to the firing axis 24, and having a first end 52 and a second end 54, the first and second ends 52, 54 disposed substantially perpendicular to the firing axis 24. A muzzle engagement portion 56 extends into the cylindrical body 50 from the first end 52 and is designed to engage the muzzle end of the firearm barrel (not shown) when a stock distal portion (not shown) is removed.
A frustoconical cavity 58, concentric to the firing axis 24, extends into the cylindrical body 50 from the second end 54. Communication between the firearm barrel, when engaged in the muzzle engagement portion and the frustoconical cavity 58 is through a small bore 60 and a large bore 62, both bores 60, 62 concentric to the firing axis 24. The frustoconical cavity 58, together with the large bore 62, partially define a gas expansion volume 64.
Each of a plurality of elongated ports 70 extend through the cylindrical body 50 to the gas expansion volume 64. The elongated ports 70 are evenly spaced around the cylindrical body 50, and as can best be seen in FIG. 7, each of the elongated ports 70 is equally skewed from normal 72 relative to the firing axis 24.
One or more notches 74 are formed in the cylindrical body 50 proximate to the second end 54. Notches 74a, 74b show different notch embodiments, notches 74a (FIGS. 2 and 9) having a triangular profile and notches 74b (FIGS. 5 and 6) an overlapping semi-circular profile. Typically, the flash suppressor 14 is provided with two notches 74, having the same profile, on opposing sides of the cylindrical body 50. When the muzzle attachment, such as silencer 12 is not in place, notches 74 facilitate proper alignment of the firearm when shooting through the shank of a padlock, a wire, or the like, and result in a more aggressive appearance of the firearm. Alternately, notches 74 can be omitted.
Opposing flat surfaces 76, best seen in FIG. 8, are formed in the cylindrical body 50 proximate to the first end 52 to allow a wrench, or the like, to be used for tightening the flash suppressor 14 onto the firearm muzzle when replacing the stock distal portion (not shown) with the flash suppressor 14. Adjacent to the flat surfaces 76 an annular groove 78 is formed in the cylindrical body 50.
The flash suppressor 14 is further formed with second engagement means 80, complementary to the first engagement means 38. The second engagement means 80 include a second position stop 82, a male coarse-threaded portion 84, and a grooved surface engagement mechanism 86. The grooved surface engagement mechanism 86 (best seen in FIG. 9) includes a retaining ring 88, dimensioned to snap-fit into the annular groove 78, a biasing means 90, such as a wave spring, and a toothed-washer 92. The toothed-washer 92 is formed with a plurality of teeth 94. Each tooth 94 is dimensioned to complementarily engage a corresponding one of the plurality of grooves 46.
An accommodating portion 96 of the cylindrical body 50 accommodates the wave spring 90 and the toothed-washer 92 between the retaining ring 88, in the annular groove 78, and the male coarse-threaded portion 84. Preferably, the diameter of at least a portion of the cylindrical body 50 in the area of the male coarse-threaded portion 84 slightly exceeds the diameter of the accommodating portion 96, so as to limit the motion of the toothed-washer 92 along the cylindrical body 50 in the direction of the male coarse-threaded portion 84.
Referring again to FIG. 1, when the muzzle attachment system 10 is fully connected, the first position stop 42 (FIG. 3) and the second position stop 82 (FIG. 5) abut, thereby cooperating to form a gas seal 100. Hot gases expanding in the internal volume 22 toward the second passage opening 34 are, thus, impeded from reaching the female and male coarse threaded portions 40, 84 and potentially harmful deposits thereon are substantially prevented.
In operation, the stock distal portion (not shown) is removed from the firearm muzzle (not shown). The grooved surface engagement mechanism 86 is positioned around the cylindrical body 50 of the flash suppressor 14, such that the retaining ring 88 is snap-fit into the annular groove 78 to retain the wave spring 90 and the toothed-washer 92 around the accommodating portion 96. With the grooved surface engagement mechanism 86 in place, the muzzle engagement portion 56 of the flash suppressor 14 is secured to the firearm muzzle and tightened using a wrench (not shown), or the like on the flat surfaces 76. The firearm is then operable for normal use without any muzzle attachment.
To attach the silencer 12 to the flash suppressor 14, the second end 54 of the flash suppressor 14 cylindrical body 50 is partially inserted through the internal passage 30 of the silencer 12, until the male coarse-threaded portion 84 abuts the female coarse-threaded portion 40. The silencer 12 is then rotated about the firing axis 24 to inter-engage the male and female coarse-threaded portions 84, 40.
Rotating the silencer 12 brings the annular grooved surface 44 into engagement with the toothed-washer 92 of the grooved surface engagement mechanism 86, and compresses the wave spring 90 between the retaining ring 88 and the toothed-washer 92. Wave spring 90 biases the toothed-washer 92 against the annular grooved surface 44, with each tooth 94 being held in engagement with a corresponding groove 46.
The rotation of silencer 12 continues until the first position stop 42 abuts the second position stop 82. The abutment of the first and second position stops 42, 82 provides a user with a clear indication that the silencer 12 attachment is complete and prevents over-tightening of the silencer 12, thus avoiding possible damaging of the coarse-threaded portions 84, 40 and/or complicating subsequent removal of the silencer 12.
It will be appreciated from the above-description that the use of coarse-threaded portions 84, 40 allows for quick and easy removal and attachment of the silencer 12, or other muzzle attachment. The grooved surface engagement mechanism 86 produces sufficient force to overcome any torsional forces acting on the silencer 12 during operation the firearm with the silencer 12 in place, while requiring minimal force to manually overcome the engagement and remove the silencer 12.
It will be clear to those skilled in the art that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described, but that numerous variations and modifications are possible within the scope of the present invention.
Although the present invention has been described with reference to the silencer 12, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the muzzle attachment system of the present invention is equally adaptable to any of a variety of other common muzzle attachments, such as those listed above, without departing from the scope of the invention. Additionally, although the present invention references a combination of a distal portion and a muzzle attachment, both muzzle distal portions and muzzle attachments separately fall within the scope of the present invention, if the muzzle distal portions and/or the muzzle attachment are adapted for use with the muzzle attachment system of the present invention.
The modified distal portion used in the muzzle attachment system of the present invention is shown as the flash suppressor 14. It will be appreciated that, within the scope of the present invention, modified distal portions with other features and capabilities are advantageously employable, and that the distal portion need not include a flash suppressor. Additionally, though the present invention is described in connection with a modified distal portion that replaces a stock distal portion, stock distal portions can also be advantageously modified according to the muzzle attachment system of the present invention, whether or not such stock distal portions are replaceable. Where a replacement modified distal portion is used, the present invention is not limited to any particular means for attaching the modified distal portion to the distal end of the firearm barrel. One advantageous means includes fine threads on the distal end of the firearm barrel and in the muzzle engagement portion 56.
Although the flash suppressor 14 preferably includes skewed elongated ports 70, and flash suppressor that includes elongated ports that extend through the cylindrical body 50 in a direction normal 72 from the firing axis, is also within the scope of the present invention. However, the inventors of the present invention have found that the flash suppressor 14 with skewed elongated ports 70 is advantageously employable with the muzzle attachment system 10, while avoiding the undesirable torsional forces discussed above, if the elongated ports 70 are evenly distributed around the circumference of cylindrical body 50 and if each port is skewed to the same degree. Thus, the flash suppressor 14 enables enhanced flash suppression, relative to non-skewed ports extending normal to the firing axis, when no muzzle attachment, such as silencer 12, is in place. The present inventors have further found that a flash suppressor 14 with four elongated ports results in extremely satisfactory performance.
Although the wave spring 90 is shown as the biasing means 90, it will also be appreciated that other biasing means 90 can be used in addition to, or in place of the wave spring 90. Although the retaining ring 88 is shown as snap-fitted into the annular groove 78, other placement means for ensuring the positioning the biasing means and the toothed-washer are possible within the scope of the present invention.
While the use of four evenly distributed teeth 94 on the toothed-washer 92 has been found optimal for evenly distributing the contact of the toothed-washer 92 with the annular grooved surface 44 and ensuring proper alignment of the silencer 12 relative to the firing axis 24, more or less teeth 94 can be used, although at least two teeth 94 are preferred, and it is further preferred that the teeth 94 be evenly distributed on the toothed-washer 92. The teeth 94 can also be placed on the silencer 12 and the annular grooved surface 44 on the washer 92. Additionally, other complementary shapes for teeth 94 and grooves 46 fall within the scope of the present invention. For instance, knurling or complementary hemispherical cavities and protrusions may also be employed.
These and other modifications, variations, and adaptations for particular circumstances are all possible within the scope of the present invention.