Patent application title: ACCESSORY ATTACHING DEVICE FOR STANDARDIZED SMALL ARM MOUNTING RAILS
William B. Atkinson (Placerville, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AF41C2700FI
Class name: Firearms implements
Publication date: 2013-03-14
Patent application number: 20130061506
The present invention is an easily detachable "rail clip" to provide an
inexpensive, rapid and secure fastening means to affix sight components,
flashlights, lasers, electrical wires, tags, tools, carrying straps, or
other tactical gear or accessories to a standardized firearm mounting
rail as defined by MIL-STD-1913(AR). The herein disclosed rail clip is
economically manufactured as a single piece spring without moving parts,
can be operated silently, can be repositioned in seconds, and can be
attached and detached from the weapon without the need for any tool
making this an important alternative attachment means for military and
1. A single piece spring clip for mounting an accessory to a standardized
firearm mounting rail, comprising: a main part that provides two primary
locking arms extended perpendicularly downward, configured with a locking
claw formed to couple to the lower angular side of said mounting rail; a
secondary spring arm that includes a retaining lip formed transversely to
the said main part to snap past the corner formed by the angular sides of
the said mounting rail, directly opposed to said primary locking arms,
retaining the rail clip in a fixed position relative to the said mounting
rail; two locating tabs that extend perpendicularly downward that engage
the side walls of a transverse slot of the said mounting rail, thereby
preventing front to back motion of the rail clip when the weapon is
handled or fired; and including offset top and side accessory holes for
attaching an accessory or carrying options.
2. The accessory mounting rail clip of claim 1, wherein the device single piece structure provides simultaneous rigid and flexible mounting characteristics.
3. The accessory mounting rail clip of claim 1, wherein the device provides a practical disengagement lever that is formed as an integral part of said main part.
4. The accessory mounting rail clip of claim 1, wherein the device provides a uniform centerline accessory mounting hole for mounting sight components or optics.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 Provisional application No. 61/533206, filed on Sep. 10, 2011
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention is in the field of firearm accessories. More particularly, the present invention refers to the attachment of sight components, tools, accessories, and personal or tactical gear to standardized firearm mounting systems.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 Modern tactical firearms, as typically used by military and police forces can be be fitted with a wide variety of optional accessories to enhance the weapon's functionality, configure the weapon for specific applications, improve sighting and accuracy, improve handling or achieve more effective operation. The utilization of accessories provides maximum convenience and personalization of a weapon for the individual operator's shooting preferences or tactical role. The increasing practice of attaching accessories directly to firearms created the need for a uniform, practical and efficient standardized mounting rail to securely and accurately position accessories in relation to operational parts of the weapon.
 To address this demand, a military standard for an accessory mounting "rail" was standardized by the United States Department of Defense, Picatinny Arsenal, and carries the official designation of MIL-STD-1913. It is also known by the NATO designation STANAG 2324. Since this standard was established, the Picatinny rail mounting system has been widely implemented across numerous military and police organizations in the United States and other countries around the world, and is also in broad use with numerous civilian firearms.
 The Picatinny mounting rail is typically placed in a parallel orientation to weapon's receiver or barrel, or can be incorporated into a long arm's stock or a pistol frame. Accessories have been typically clamped or attached to the rail by a combination of rigid and clamping members, affixed by screws, bolts, thumbscrews and/or cam levers that index into transverse slots that repeat for the length of the rail at a precise uniform spacing. These slots are standardized in size in the Picatinny rail with a width of 0.206'' (5.2324 mm). The spacing of slot centers is 0.394'' (10.0076 mm) and the slot depth is typically 0.118'' (2.9972 mm).
 There also exists an alternative, similar mounting rail that is used primarily on civilian hunting and target type weapons that is referred to as a "Weaver" rail. The primary difference between the Picatinny rail standard and the Weaver rail design is the size of the transverse slots, the Weaver type having a slot width of 0.180'' (4.572 mm) and due to production inconsistencies of various commercial vendors, can be inconsistent in the spacing of slot centers. Because of this dissimilarity, Weaver devices will usually fit on Picatinny type rails, but Picatinny devices will not always fit on Weaver type rails.
 The widespread adoption of standardized mounting systems by the Department of Defense has created the need for a simple, cost-effective, and reliable rail clip designed specifically for the standardized MIL-STD-1913 mounting rail, such as embodied by the present invention. This is particularly true for accessories that, unlike optical sights, do not need to be critically aligned to the weapon. The present invention is more economical to produce and is less complex for increased reliability and ease-of-use.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a side view of the rail clip of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a side view of rail clip of FIG. 1 showing engagement with a standardized mounting rail.
 FIG. 3 is an oblique side view of the rail clip of the present invention showing the position of the rail clip's rigid end and flexible end accessory attaching holes.
 FIG. 4 is an oblique bottom view of the rail clip of the present invention showing the position of the rail clip's locating tabs and locking arms, and the retaining lip.
 FIG. 5 is a top view of the rail clip of the present invention showing the shape and orientation of the rail clip's rigid and flexible ends.
 FIG. 6 is an elevated perspective view of the rail clip of FIG. 2 that shows the rail clip locating tab positions and engagement in the transverse groove of a standardized mounting rail.
 FIG. 7 is a bottom perspective view of the rail clip of FIG. 2 showing the engagement of the rail clip retaining lip against the bottom longitudinal grip surface of a standardized mounting rail.
 FIG. 8 is a bottom perspective view of the rail clip of FIG. 2 showing the engagement of the rail clip's locking arms against the bottom longitudinal grip surface of a standardized mounting rail.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 Referring now to the rail clip invention in more detail, in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 there is shown a side view of the rail clip's body (1) that shows the downward extension of the locking arm (7), rigid side hole (4B) and the integral retaining lip (9) created by the curved edge, angular shape formed by a fold in the body (1).
 FIG. 2 further illustrates the position of the retaining lip (9) as it corresponds to the lower longitudinal grip surface of a standardized mounting rail (10), when engaged.
 In further detail, referring to FIG. 3 and FIG. 4, the device body (1) provides a duality of ends, a rigid end (2) and a flexible end (3) that extend outwardly from the center of the device body (1). The rigid end (2) is located and held in engagement by two locking arms (7) that extend perpendicularly downward from the rigid end (2) forming a rigid "box" structure and providing rigid contact edges that corresponds angularly to the lower surface of the longitudinal grip surface that runs along both sides of a standardized mounting rail (10). Into the rigid end (2), a top hole (4A) is provided, and in the two locking arms (7) side holes (4B) are provided that are of suitably large diameter to permit a wide variety of bolts, straps, "zip-ties," cord, or numerous other conventional mounting means to be attached.
 The off-center relation to the weapon provided by the rigid end (2) permits the attachment of accessories in a manner that will not impede or block the critical sight line that crosses the device body (1) transversely at the point of and bisecting the center hole (6). Because of the dynamic relationship of the weapon's central sight line to the center hole (6), the accessory device can be used to locate sight components and other optical accessories, aligned with and on the critical sight line if desired.
 The design of the present invention permits the placement of such sight components forward or backward along the standardized mounting rail (10), while maintaining the critical central alignment along the sight line. The center hole (6) is of suitable diameter to permit the use of a fastener, rivet, or screw to attach sight components aligned to the critical center sight line of the firearm.
 The symmetrical design of the standardized mounting rail (10) permits the rail clip to be engaged with the rigid end (2) and flexible end (3) reversed. This permits the user to optionally locate accessories offset to either side of the centerline of the weapon horizontally, or offset reversibly vertically if the mounting rail is located on the left or right side of the weapon.
 Additional applications of the current invention could employ 2 or more of the rail clips. This means, for example, that a pair of rail clips could be used to mount a flashlight with one rail clip fastened to each end of the flashlight and the two rail clips engaged simultaneously in corresponding transverse grooves of a standardized mounting rail (10).
 The flexible end (3) is aligned and held in place by a strong elastic spring tension formed by the body (1) as it is held firmly against the standardized mounting rail (10) by the locking arms (7) from one side and the opposing retaining lip (9) from the other side. This combination of opposing engaging elements requires that any force that would be applied to remove the rigid end (2) from engagement with the standardized mounting rail (10), would need to increase the length between the locking arms (7), and the retaining lip (9). This increase of length is strongly opposed by the shape of the rail clip and the spring tension provided by the material characteristics of the device body (1).
 The device body (1) shape corresponds closely and wraps over the flat upper surface of the standardized mounting rail (10) between the two angular grip surfaces that extend longitudinally on both lower sides of the rail. The rail clip body (1), when engaged on the standardized rail, forms a bridge over a single transverse groove of the mounting rail (10) while the locating tabs (8) simultaneously protrude into the bridged transverse groove, providing front to back positioning of the rail clip body (1) in relation to the weapon. The locating tabs (8) also serve to accept recoil energy and prevent the rail clip, with or without accessory attached, from moving front to back along the standardized mounting rail (10) while the firearm is being handled or fired.
 The flexible end (3) is formed at the point that the device body (1) is folded to create the retaining lip (9). The flexible end (3) is essential to the novel functioning of the rail clip as it provides a integral "lever" that assists with the engagement and disengagement of the device from the standardized mounting rail (10). When the device body (1) is being engaged, a suitable downward force applied by pressing against the body (1) at a position approximately between the center hole (6) and the retaining lip (9) will flex the flat device body (1) and force the retaining lip (9) over and past the corner formed by the angular side surfaces of the standardized mounting rail (10) with a positive snapping action. This requires a significant deformation of the relaxed state and shape of the strong spring material of the device body (1). The user is assisted in that downward deformation and snapping action of the retaining lip (9) by a simultaneous opposing upward force applied against the outer extent of the flexible end (3), if needed.
 Conversely, a sufficient upward deformation force applied against the outer extent of the flexible end (3) provides leverage and produces the means by which the device is effectively disengaged from the standardized mounting rail (10). This is further optionally facilitated by a flexible hole (5) that provides a diameter suitable for lacing through a length of shock cord or ring that can be gripped to apply greater upward force to disengage the retaining lip (9), disengaging the rail clip from the mounting rail (10) without the need for a tool.
 In addition, a loop of cord being connected to, hung, or retained by some external hook or body, while passing through the flexible hole (5) permits the rail clip to be forcibly and rapidly disengaged from the weapon without any contact by hand on the rail clip itself in an emergency or tactical situation, providing a desirable and possibly critical "break-away" function wherein the rail clip can be disengaged without physical contact by the user. This function is provided in that a sharp pull on the weapon in a direction that would cause sufficient upward perpendicular force on the flexible end (3) by a cord passed through the flexible end hole (5) so as to deform and overcome the spring tension of the body (1) to permit the retaining lip (9) to pass past the corner formed by the angular side surfaces of the standardized mounting rail (10).
 In this manner, the rail clip can perform a alternative function, not of an attachment means for an accessory, but a means for holding or hanging a firearm in a manner in preparation for rapid access and deployment by the user. In a similar manner, one or more of the rail clips could be used with a connecting strap, cord, or sling attached to the rigid end top hole (4A) or side holes (4B) to provide a secure lightweight, flexible, easily re-positionable, removable, temporary, or discardable carrying or hanging means for the firearm.
 In a preferred embodiment of the current invention, the construction and material details of the invention as shown in FIGS. 1, 3 4, and 5 are that the device body (1) could be made of a sufficiently rigid and strong metallic material that can be stamped, pierced, formed and tempered to produce a generally flat spring with the previously defined integral functions and details. A suitable thickness of metal is utilized to provide sufficient spring tension to hold the retaining lip (9) securely and firmly against the lower grip surface of the standardized mounting rail (10). In addition, suitable thickness and dimension are required for the device to provide suitable strength to the locking arms (7) to firmly grip the lower grip surface of the standardized mounting rail (10), without the arms bending or deflecting when forces are applied to the rigid end (2), or to any mounting means that is provided by the holes (4A or 4B).
 In addition, suitable material thickness and strength are required to provide satisfactory locating tabs (8) that can locate the rail clip, while preventing deflection or damage when the device body (1) is engaged with the standardized mounting rail (10) and the weapon is handled or fired.
 The top hole (4A), the side holes (4B), the center hole (6) or the flexible hole (5) can further provide a convenient means for the one or more of the rail clips to be carried on a key ring or hung on a hook by the user when not in use, for easy storage.
 The uniquely simple construction, light weight, and relatively small size of the rail clip makes reasonable the permanent attachment of the device to accessories, creating a modular system where the rail clip that is the subject of this invention becomes an incorporated universal attachment feature of the accessory, for example, a rail clip being left permanently affixed to the wire of an electronic accessory when it is stored between uses.
 The advantages of the present invention include that it is lightweight, inexpensive to manufacture, and is exceedingly easy to use. It is advantageous over other many accessory mounting means as this device requires no tools for attaching, detaching or repositioning. Further, it can be used preferably in tactical situations as its functioning is instantaneous and silent. Further, it is reliably fabricated from a single piece and has no moving parts. Further, the device can be utilized without adding significant dimension or weight to the firearm.
 Another significant and distinct advantage of the present invention is that it offers, simultaneously, either a rigid or flexible mounting means depending on which side of the device the attachment is made, permitting a rigidly locked or alternatively "break-away" attachment means, an option that may be of major importance in a combat or tactical use.
 Another advantage of the present invention is that it can be manufactured to conform to both the MIL-STD-1913 as well as the alternative standard Weaver type mounting rails.
 In addition, this invention is an ideal solution when there exists a need to temporarily attach items to a firearm such as repair tags, manuals, lubrication bottles, cleaning cloths and supplies, weapon specific tools such as sight adjustment devices, extra batteries, spare parts, electrical wires and switches, or camouflage for military operations where the complex nature and increased expense of exiting standardized mounting rail devices makes those solutions cost prohibitive or impractical.
 This invention overcomes the undesirable requirement for many existing accessory attachment means for standardized mounting rails whereas a screw or bolt needs to be removed, requiring the use of a tool and further, a length of time to accomplish that disassembly and added difficulty of handling multiple parts, that may be exceedingly difficult in cold or low light situations where this type of firearm is regularly utilized.
 While the foregoing written description of the invention enables one of ordinary skill to make and use what is considered presently to be the best mode thereof, those of ordinary skill will understand and appreciate the existence of variations, combinations, and equivalents of the specific embodiment, method, materials, and examples herein. The invention should therefore not be limited by the above described embodiment, method, and examples, but by all embodiments and methods within the scope and spirit of the invention.
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