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Publication numberUS20090126250 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/216,132
Publication dateMay 21, 2009
Filing dateJun 30, 2008
Priority dateJun 29, 2007
Publication number12216132, 216132, US 2009/0126250 A1, US 2009/126250 A1, US 20090126250 A1, US 20090126250A1, US 2009126250 A1, US 2009126250A1, US-A1-20090126250, US-A1-2009126250, US2009/0126250A1, US2009/126250A1, US20090126250 A1, US20090126250A1, US2009126250 A1, US2009126250A1
InventorsDa Keng
Original AssigneeDa Keng
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Bipod assembly & kit with interchangeable bipod legs providing a selection of bipod leg end effecters
US 20090126250 A1
Abstract
A bipod with interchangeable legs comprises first and second tubular, spring-loaded telescopically extendable legs terminating distally in one of a plurality of selected end effectors. Each of the interchangeable bipod legs has a selected end effecter adapted to provide support on a specific surface.
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Claims(9)
1. A bipod assembly and kit, comprising:
(a) a clamp body carrying first and second tubular upper leg segments, said first and second tubular upper leg segments each having a proximal ends hingedly attached to said clamp body;
(b) said first tubular upper leg segment having an open distal end opposite said proximal end to define a first interior lumen;
(c) said second tubular upper leg segment having an open distal end opposite said proximal end to define a second interior lumen;
(d) a first leg extension member having a proximal end opposing a distal end and an exterior sidewall, said first leg extension being dimensioned to be slidably received within said first tubular upper leg segment with said first leg extension member's proximal end adapted to be releasably retained within said first tubular upper leg segment and wherein said first leg extension member's distal end carries a first selected end effecter selected from a plurality of available distinct end effecters;
(e) a second leg extension member having a proximal end opposing a distal end and an exterior sidewall, said second leg extension being dimensioned to be slidably received within said second tubular upper leg segment with said second leg extension member's proximal end adapted to be releasably retained within said second tubular upper leg segment and wherein said second leg extension member's distal end carries a second selected end effecter selected from a plurality of available distinct end effecters; and
(f) a third leg extension member having a proximal end opposing a distal end and an exterior sidewall, said third leg extension being dimensioned to be slidably received within one of said first or second tubular upper leg segments with said third leg extension member's proximal end adapted to be releasably retained within said first or second tubular upper leg segment and wherein said third leg extension member's distal end carries a selected end effecter selected from said plurality of available distinct end effecters.
2. The bipod assembly and kit of claim 1, wherein said first and second selected end effecters comprise a central substantially planar segment from which depend first, second and third radially spaced triangular claw members.
3. The bipod assembly and kit of claim 1, wherein said third leg extension carries a self leveling end effecter comprising a ball-in-socket swivel mounted foot having a substantially smooth bottom surface.
4. The bipod assembly and kit of claim 1, further comprising:
(g) a fourth leg extension member having a proximal end opposing a distal end and an exterior sidewall, said fourth leg extension being dimensioned to be slidably received within one of said first or second tubular upper leg segments with said fourth leg extension member's proximal end adapted to be releasably retained within said first or second tubular upper leg segment and wherein said fourth leg extension member's distal end carries a selected end effecter selected from said plurality of available distinct end effecters.
5. The bipod assembly and kit of claim 4, wherein said wherein said third and fourth leg extension members each carry a self leveling end effecter comprising a ball-in-socket swivel mounted foot having a substantially smooth bottom surface.
6. A bipod assembly adapted for use with interchangeable bipod end effecters, comprising:
(a) a body adapted for attachment to an instrument to be steadied and carrying first and second tubular upper leg segments, said first and second tubular upper leg segments each having a proximal ends hingedly attached to said clamp body;
(b) said first tubular upper leg segment having an open distal end opposite said proximal end to define a first interior lumen enclosed within a solid sidewall;
(c) said first tubular upper leg segment further including a spring biased catch including a transverse end, wherein said catch is movable to a locking position having the catch's transverse end project into said first tubular upper leg segment's interior lumen;
(d) said first tubular upper leg segment further including a removable threaded retaining pin member including a distal pin end, wherein said retaining pin is movable to a retaining position having the pin's distal end project into said first tubular upper leg segment's interior lumen;
(e) a first leg extension member having a proximal end opposing a distal end and an exterior sidewall, said first leg extension being dimensioned to be slidably received within said first tubular upper leg segment with said first leg extension member's proximal end adapted to be releasably retained within said first tubular upper leg segment and wherein said first leg extension member's distal end carries a first selected end effecter selected from a plurality of available distinct end effecters;
(f) wherein said first leg extension's sidewall defines an elongate longitudinal groove dimensioned to slidably receive said retaining pin when said retaining pin is threadably advanced into said first tubular upper leg segment;
(g) wherein said first leg extension's sidewall also defines a plurality of transverse notches dimensioned to receive and releasably engage said catch's transverse end; and
(h) wherein a user may remove said first leg extension from said bipod assembly by withdrawing said retaining pin away from engagement with said first leg extension's longitudinal groove and by actuating said spring biased catch to disengage said catch's transverse end from one of said first leg extension's transverse notches.
7. The bipod assembly adapted for use with interchangeable bipod end effecters of claim 6, wherein said second first tubular upper leg segment has an open distal end opposite said proximal end to define a second interior lumen enclosed within a solid sidewall;
(i) said second tubular upper leg segment further including a second spring biased catch including a transverse end, wherein said second catch is movable to a locking position having the second catch's transverse end project into said second tubular upper leg segment's interior lumen;
(j) said second tubular upper leg segment further including a removable threaded second retaining pin member including a distal pin end, wherein said second retaining pin is movable to a retaining position having the second pin's distal end project into said second tubular upper leg segment's interior lumen;
(k) a second leg extension member having a proximal end opposing a distal end and an exterior sidewall, said second leg extension being dimensioned to be slidably received within said second tubular upper leg segment with said second leg extension member's proximal end adapted to be releasably retained within said second tubular upper leg segment and wherein said second leg extension member's distal end carries a second selected end effecter selected from a plurality of available distinct end effecters;
(l) wherein said second leg extension's sidewall defines an elongate longitudinal groove dimensioned to slidably receive said retaining pin when said retaining pin is threadably advanced into said second tubular upper leg segment;
(m) wherein said second leg extension's sidewall also defines a plurality of transverse notches dimensioned to receive and releasably engage said second catch's transverse end; and
(n) wherein a user may remove said second leg extension from said bipod assembly by withdrawing said second retaining pin away from engagement with said second leg extension's longitudinal groove and by actuating said second spring biased catch to disengage said second catch's transverse end from one of said second leg extension's transverse notches.
8. The bipod assembly of claim 6, wherein said first end effecter comprises a central substantially planar segment from which depend first, second and third radially spaced triangular claw members.
9. The bipod assembly of claim 8, wherein said first end effecter comprises a self leveling ball-in-socket swivel mounted foot having a substantially smooth bottom surface.
Description
RELATED PATENT APPLICATION AND PRIORITY CLAIM INFORMATION

This application claims priority benefit from commonly owned provisional application No. 60/929,486, filed Jun. 29, 2007, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. This application is also owned by the applicant/owner of provisional application No. 60/643,108, filed Jan. 12, 2005, U.S. Pat. No. 5,711,103 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,815,974, the entire disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference. Additionally, this application is owned by the applicant/owner of provisional application No. 60/338,153, filed Nov. 13, 2001, the entire disclosure of which is also incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an apparatus and method for supporting a firearm or other apparatus when at a range or in the field, and more particularly to a support device such as a bipod providing a selection of end effectors adapted to support the muzzle or stock of a firearm on smooth surfaces, slanted surfaces, snow, mud, soil, soft terrain, hard terrain or other surfaces, as the situation dictates.

2. Background of the Invention

When shooting rifles and other firearms, especially in stressful tactical situations, it is important that the firearm be maintained in a steady, stable position to insure accuracy of aim. Most shooters are not able to hold a firearm consistently in a set position without wavering, especially after the onset of fatigue resulting from strain due to the size and weight of the firearm.

Accordingly, peripheral support devices have been used in conjunction with firearms since the early creation of firearms as a means of stabilizing a firearm to reduce vibration and wavering and to improve accuracy.

Referring now to FIG. 1, a military or tactical rifle 100 is illustrated with a Versa-Pod® tactical bipod 102 having conventional rubber feet or end effectors. Bipod 102 is mounted under the forearm 104 of the rifle on a Versa-Pod® spigot-style mount. Other options for mounting a bipod beneath the forearm 104 include a longitudinal Picatinny rail, as are found on Mil-Spec M4 carbines and other military arms.

In the past, shooters have used everything from large stationary objects such as rocks and tree branches to forked sticks, shooting slings, bipods and tripods. Early bipod and tripod supports typically were somewhat crude strands that generally were bulky, inconvenient and difficult to use and typically were not easily adjustable. In more recent times, bipod supports have been developed that are compact and relatively lightweight and are mountable to the forearm stock of a firearm, such as a rifle, to make the bipods portable with the firearm. Most conventional bipod supports include a pair of legs that can be pivoted from an up position adjacent the firearm stock, to a down position engaging a support surface, with the legs also being extensible to adjust the height of the support.

A problem with conventional bipods has been the tendency of the bipod's feet (or distal end surfaces) to slide along or sink into the ground or other soft supporting surface, unintentionally altering the shooter's point of aim.

Additionally, most bipods are not designed for quick and easy attachment and release of the bipod from the firearm stock. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,194,678 discloses a bipod assembly that includes legs that are pivotable independently of one another for ease of adjustment, but which is not easily attached/detached from the firearm. Other types of conventional bipods offer varying types of mountings that can be fitted to various types of rifles without requiring modification or machining of the rifle stock. Harris Engineering, Inc. manufactures a series of bipod mounts for use with a variety of different firearms. However, these bipod mounts do not provide for the quickly releasing an attached bipod support from the firearm.

One of the most popular bipods on the market has been the Parker-Hale bipod assembly. This bipod includes a pair of telescoping legs attached to a mounting frame, and a mounting block for mounting the bipod to the firearm. The mounting block of the Parker-Hale bipod is releasably attached to the mounting frame of the bipod to enable quick attachment/release of the legs of the bipod from the firearm. The problem with the Parker-Hale bipod is that to mount the bipod to a firearm, the forearm stock of the firearm generally must be modified to mount a track or slide therein, along which the mounting block is received to mount the bipod to the firearm. Such modifications generally are expensive and often must be done by specialty gunsmiths and can mar the finish of the firearm.

Military or police shooters using military or SWAT rifles often carry special mounts known as MIL-STD-1913 “picatinny” rails under the rifle forearm; the picatinny rails are customarily used for mounting grenade launchers, lights or other accessories and so the rifles often weigh much more than the lighter sporting arms most shooters are used to carrying.

Prior art bipods that have offered easy attachment still do not provide an adequate remedy for shooters who need a stable engagement with a wide variety of surfaces, including smooth hard surfaces, uneven surfaces and soft or uneven terrain, and so the detachable bipods of the prior art have proven unsuitable.

Accordingly, it can be seen that a need exists for a bipod mounting device for selectively attaching a bipod to a firearm adapted for use in military or SWAT situations, where the shooter may choose, for precision aiming, to have a stable support and stable engagement when used in one of a wide variety of surfaces, including smooth hard surfaces, uneven surfaces and soft, muddy or uneven terrain. Ideally, the attachment should not require extensive modification to the firearm such as machining of the forearm stock of the firearm.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises a bipod support for the forearm stock of a firearm such as a military rifle and includes first and second tubular, spring-loaded telescopically extendable legs adapted to receive a selected bipod leg from a plurality of bipod legs terminating distally in a selected end effecter, so that the shooter or user can select the best foot or end effecter for any of a wide variety of surfaces, including smooth hard surfaces, uneven surfaces and soft, muddy or uneven terrain.

The most important feature of the bipod system of the present invention is the ability of the user (e.g., the shooter or the armorer) to change between bipod legs having different feet or end effectors. That's come about as a result of re-engineering the leg design. In this applicant's previous designs (such as shown in the Versa-Pod™ detachable bipod assembly), the legs had leg-extension latching or locking notches to the rear facing the shooter when in the prone position and running longitudinally along the length of the leg was always a long central slot or groove. Basically the longitudinal slot or groove was there to receive a pin preventing the extended bipod leg from falling out and to prevent the leg from turning about the leg's central axis or rotating freely. Heavy use revealed that the leg extension springs in the leg eventually caused the latching notches to wear excessively in a very short period of time.

The notches showing this wear were the transverse notches adapted to receive the leg extension catch. The wear was most prominent exactly at the intersection between each transverse notch and the intersecting longitudinal slot or groove that ran down the leg and through all of the transverse notches. The notch corners were worn within a couple weeks use and some became almost rounded, thereby providing a poor securing surface for the leg catch.

In response to this wear problem, the applicant has developed a system where instead of relying on the pin that rests underneath the leg catch to hold the legs in, the pin was relocated to the opposing side of the bipod upper leg and lower leg's longitudinal groove is now machined into the opposite side of the bipod lower leg and away from the shooter, so as not to intersect the transverse catch receiving notches. A hex-head screw projects into the longitudinal groove to retain the leg and prevent it from turning. This allows the transverse notches to provide increased solid bearing surfaces and also provides for much better contact because, as compared to the previous design, the latch is actually sitting on only part of the transverse notch wall, since much of the transverse notch wall was machined away when the intersecting longitudinal groove was made.

Put another way, the Raptor™ bipod of the previous designs include, on the distal bipod leg, six transverse notches on a lower bipod leg received in a hollow tubular upper bipod portion. The transverse notches are equally spaced and since the bottom of the leg is substantially circular in sectioned, each notch defines a sidewall that looks like a section of a circle, and so the pin that prevents the bipod's foot from rotating about the central axis of the leg rides in a longitudinal groove that is on the same side of the bipod leg as the transverse notches. So the portion of the bipod leg facing the shooter has an intersection of one long longitudinal groove and six transverse notches. And an intersection of the longitudinal groove with each of the transverse notches creates a bearing surface on the transverse notches, and those bearing surfaces which receive the catch are significantly smaller because they've each been reduced in area by the material removed for the longitudinal groove. The difference in the bipod structure of the instant application is that the longitudinal groove is re-located from the side of the leg that has the transverse notches to the other side of the leg, thereby significantly increasing the amount of bearing surface in each one of the transverse notches that receives the catch.

In the process of making this switch, the pin that had previously held the leg captive, prevented rotation of the leg and positioned the leg catch has been re-positioned. The pin is replaced by a hex-head fastener on the other side of the leg, on the bipod assembly of the present invention, but it is shortened and is less likely to interfere with the extension movement of the leg. A band supporting the pivoting leg catch also carries a hinge pin upon which the catch pivots and has to be made dramatically thicker because that band is welded onto a thicker the outer tubing into which the hex-head screw/pin is threaded.

The end effectors or feet include a claw-shaped foot having downwardly depending spaced members that don't have a very pronounced point. However these downwardly depending spaced members are actually a little bit deeper than this applicant's previous designs and they fit better in the sand. The end effectors or feet of another leg include a ball-in-socket leveler foot that is similar to a vleir leveling device as customarily used in supports for industrial equipment.

The interchangeable feature allows an armorer or shooter to remove one type of bipod leg by removing the spline socket button head cap screw to release the then installed bipod lower extension or bipod leg. From a practical standpoint, the leg is removed against spring tension (i.e., from the leg extension spring) and so leg removal is not something that should be attended to when actually engaged in a shooting activity. Instead, leg removal and installation is something that is hopefully done with enough advance knowledge to enable configuration of bipods for the anticipated terrain. The bipod leg carrying the claw foot is best for sand and for muddy conditions or for snow, whereas the self-leveling foot would be better for use in or on a patrol car while actually using the vehicle as a barricade and as a shooting platform.

The screw that is removed to permit the replacement to happen (the spline socket button head cap screw) is adapted to receive an Allen key that the shooter, user or soldier may carry when afield, and is preferably supplied as part of a kit with each bipod. The kit preferably includes the bipod clamping assembly and upper leg tubes along with a selection of different legs along with the key or tool. In this way, a user's logistical support organization such as the Defense Department can provide soldiers and marines with one bipod system adapted for use in every type of terrain in the world, all in one bipod system and kit.

The bipod system and kit includes the bipod with a rail-connecting clamp assembly and left and right upper legs, along with a selection of lower legs with different feet including a self leveling foot, a claw-shaped foot or terrain gripping end effector, a sled or ski shaped foot, a cushioned or grippy rubber foot and a spiked foot (not shown) having spikes depending from circular flanges or disks where the spike protruding from the bottom (prototypes have been very effective in mud and alpine settings).

An exemplary spike foot is conically shaped spike and points downwardly from the center of a disk. The outside diameter of the circular flange or disk is approximately 2½ inches, and the disk would be oriented in such a way that it provides level contact with a planar surface or the ground the spikes depend from the flange or protrude vertically when the bipod legs are deployed.

A tensioning control including a knob enables the user to allow or lock against tilt and pan movements when the bipod is attached to a rifle. Early prototypes of a similar bipod purchased by the Army had no provisions for limiting tilt/pan movement and complaints were received from the users or troops.

Pan/tilt movement arises from a movable coupling between the pan/tilt ball shaped member on the top of a bracket and that ball shaped member has planar surfaces adjoined by substantially spherical surfaces. The ball shaped member is releasably clamped or grasped between left and right clamping members (referred to as the rail adapter and plate, terms describing the coupling to the rifle or other weapon). The clamping members each have inward facing substantially hemispherical interior surfaces and each one of those are aligned with the axis of bores dimensioned to receive the threaded transverse bolt, where the bolt has two ends and the distal end receives a knurled, threaded knob. When the threaded knob is tightened along the threaded shaft of the bolt, the two opposing jaws grip or come closer together so that they grip the ball member in such a way that they can either limit completely or, by frictionally engaging the ball, provide resistance to either panning or tilting.

What the soldiers or users wanted was the ability to have a wider range of motion than previous offerings, but then they also wanted to be able to lock the bipod's position down more firmly. The wider range of motion is provided by having passages cut through the ball opened up to more than a transverse cylindrical bore. The transverse bore in the ball member has flared ends that actually flare out towards the outer surfaces.

Turning back to the feet to be used, the claw-like terrain gripping end effecter includes a substantially planar central segment having an upper surface defining a polygon resembling a truncated triangle with the first, second and third corners projecting downwardly at an acute angle (e.g., downwardly at an angle of approximately 80 degrees, relative to the plane of the upper surface) to define a dirt-compacting cup shaped periphery functioning as a snow, slush, mud or dirt flow impeding “drag-chute” effect generator. The claws terminate in depending points which dig into and hold ice and other harder surfaces.

In an illustrative embodiment, the present invention is directed to use for mounting a firearm bipod of the type including a mounting block with an integral clamp assembly affixed beneath the forearm stock of the firearm. The mounting block is releasably attachable to a bipod mounting frame. The bipod mounting frame includes a pair of extensible/retractable legs, each having a pair of telescoping sections to enable the height of the bipod to be adjustable as desired.

The resulting attachment of the clamp assembly to the forearm stock provides a quick and easy attachment of the bipod to the firearm (or some other instrument requiring support) and enables the assembly to mount securely in a stable, secure selected position. This prevents the bipod, from shifting fore and aft or wobbling during use.

With the assembly securely mounted to the forearm stock of the firearm, the attached bipod frame is placed in locking engagement with the firearm. Optionally, a detachable sling loop can be provided with the clamp assembly for attachment of a rifle sling to the stock of the firearm. The kit and assembly thus provides a bipod providing a selection of end effectors adapted to support the muzzle or stock of a firearm on smooth surfaces, slanted surfaces, snow, mud, soil, soft terrain, hard terrain or other surfaces, as the situation dictates.

Various other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to one skilled in the art upon a review of the following specification, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a rifle configured with a well known bipod assembly having rubber or elastomeric feet or end effectors.

FIG. 2 illustrates an exploded view of the components in an exemplary embodiment of the bipod assembly and kit, including a selection of end effectors, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 3 a-3 c. illustrate a bipod assembly carrying the claw-shaped end effecters shown in the kit of FIG. 2, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 4 a-4 c illustrate the bipod assembly of FIGS. 3 a-3 c, with the bipod legs deployed, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 5 a-5 c illustrate a bipod assembly carrying the self leveling end effectors, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 6 a-6 c illustrate the bipod assembly of FIGS. 5 a-5 c with the bipod legs deployed, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 7 a-7 c illustrate an embodiment of the right upper leg assembly, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 8 a-8 d illustrate an embodiment of the right leg extension carrying a claw-foot end effecter, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 9 a-9 d illustrate an embodiment of the right leg extension carrying a self leveling end effecter, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 10 a-10 c illustrate a compressed or retracted embodiment of the right leg assembly, including the right leg extension carrying a claw-foot end effecter of FIG. 8 a-8 c, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 11 a-11 c illustrate a compressed or retracted embodiment of the right leg assembly, including the right leg extension carrying self leveling end effecter of FIG. 9 a-9 d, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 12 a-12 c illustrate an embodiment of the left upper leg assembly, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 13 a-13 d illustrate an embodiment of the left leg extension carrying a claw-foot end effecter, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 14 a-14 d illustrate an embodiment of the left leg extension carrying a self leveling end effecter, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 15 a-15 d illustrate a compressed or retracted embodiment of the left leg assembly, including the left leg extension carrying a claw-foot end effecter of FIG. 13 a-13 c, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 16 a-16 d illustrate a compressed or retracted embodiment of the left leg assembly, including the left leg extension carrying self leveling end effecter of FIG. 14 a-14 d, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 17 a-17 d illustrate the right lower leg as seen in the right leg extension carrying the self leveling end effecter of FIGS. 9 a-9 d, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 18 a-18 c illustrate the pivoting bipod leg catch, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 19 a-19 c illustrate the bipod leg catch bracket, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 20 a and 20 b illustrate the spline socket button head cap screw, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 21 a-21 e illustrate the lower leg as seen in the leg extensions carrying the claw foot end effecters, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 22 a-22 c illustrate the bipod leg cap, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 23 a-23 d illustrate the bipod leg tube or upper leg, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 24 a-24 d illustrate the claw foot end effecter embodiment as seen in the bipod assembly and kit of FIG. 2, in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 25 a-25 f illustrate a method for making an alternative embodiment claw foot end effecter, in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to FIGS. 1-25 f in which like numerals indicate like parts throughout the several views, the present invention comprises, in a first embodiment, a kit 200 including a bipod assembly adapted to support a firearm such as rifle 100 or another instrument when in the field.

Referring now to the exploded perspective view of FIG. 2, multi-end effecter kit 200 preferably includes a bipod support assembly with a leg location bracket 201, a main spring 202, a pivot pin 203, a right bent leg 204 carrying a first self leveling foot 208, left and right leg caps 205, left and right catch pegs 207, left and right catch hinge pins 209, left and right catch members 210, left and right catch springs 211, left and right catch brackets or bands 212, left and right claw-foot legs 213 carrying claw-shaped foot members 229, left and right spline socket screws 214, left and right upper leg tubes 215, left and right leg extension springs 216, a left bent leg 217 carrying a second self leveling foot 208, a first rail adapter 219, an upper bolt 220, a lower bolt 221, a second rail adapter 222, a control knob 223, a hex nut 224, a camming lever 225, a flat spring 226, a ball-member clamping plate 227 and a lever actuation hinge pin 228.

The kit includes a bipod support assembly configured to be releasably affixed to or mounted upon the forearm stock (e.g., 104) of a firearm (e.g., 100) and includes a selection of interchangeable bipod legs (e.g., 204, 213, 217) having a variety of feet or end effectors (e.g., 208, 229). Each bipod assembly includes first and second two-part, coaxially nested, tubular, spring-loaded telescopically extendable legs 214, 218 terminating distally in selected end effectors.

The bipod system of the present invention allows the user (e.g., the shooter or the armorer) to change between bipod legs having different feet or end effectors. As noted above, this feature was developed while re-engineering the leg design. In this applicant's previous designs (such as shown in the Versa-Pod™ detachable bipod assembly 102 illustrated in FIG. 1), the legs had leg-extension latching or locking notches to the rear facing the shooter when in the prone position. Running longitudinally along the length of the leg is a long central slot or groove dimensioned to receive a pin that prevents the extended bipod leg from falling out and prevents the leg from twisting or turning about the leg's central axis or rotating freely. Heavy use revealed that the leg extension springs in the leg eventually caused the latching notches to wear excessively in a very short period of time.

The notches showing this wear were the transverse notches adapted to receive the leg extension catch. The wear was most prominent exactly at the intersection between each transverse notch and the intersecting longitudinal slot or groove that ran down the leg and through all of the transverse notches. The notch corners were worn within a couple weeks use and some became almost rounded, thereby providing a poor securing surface for the leg catch.

In response to this wear problem, the applicant has developed a system where instead of relying on an inwardly projecting pin that rests underneath the leg catch to hold the legs in, the pin is relocated to the opposing side of the bipod upper leg and lower leg's longitudinal groove is now machined into the opposite side of the bipod lower leg and away from the shooter, so as not to intersect the transverse catch receiving notches. A hex-head screw 214 (as shown in FIGS. 2, 10 b, 20 a and 20 b) projects into the lower leg's longitudinal groove to retain the leg and prevent it from turning. This allows the transverse notches to provide increased solid bearing surfaces and also provides for much better contact because, as compared to the previous design, where the latch was engaging only part of the transverse notch wall, since much of the transverse notch wall was machined away when the intersecting longitudinal groove was made.

Put another way, the Raptor™ bipod of the previous designs include, on the distal bipod leg, six transverse notches on a lower bipod leg received in a hollow tubular upper bipod portion. The transverse notches are equally spaced and since the bottom of the leg is substantially circular in section, each notch defines a sidewall that looks like a section of a circle, and so the pin that prevents the bipod's foot from rotating about the central axis of the leg rides in a longitudinal groove that was on the same side of the bipod leg as the transverse notches. So the portion of the bipod leg facing the shooter has an intersection of one long longitudinal groove and six transverse notches. And an intersection of the longitudinal groove with each of the transverse notches creates a bearing surface on the transverse notches, and those bearing surfaces which receive the catch are significantly smaller because they've each been reduced in area by the material removed for the longitudinal groove.

So the difference in the bipod structure of the instant application is that the longitudinal groove is re-located from the side of the leg that has the transverse notches to the other side of the leg, thereby significantly increasing the amount of bearing surface in each one of the transverse notches that receives the catch.

In the process of making this switch, the pin that had previously held the leg captive, prevented rotation of the leg and positioned the leg catch has been re-positioned. The pin is replaced by hex-head fastener 214 on the other side of the leg, on the bipod assembly of the present invention, but it is shortened and is less likely to interfere with the extension movement of the leg. Band 212 supports pivoting leg catch 210 and carries a hinge pin 209 upon which catch 210 pivots and has to be made dramatically thicker because band 212 is welded onto a thicker outer tubing 215 into which hex-head screw/pin 214 is threaded.

Referring again to FIGS. 2, 10 b, 11 b, 20 a and 20 b, the band or bracket is identified as catch bracket 212, and it receives the pin 214 which is called the spline socket button head cap screw 214. The when threadably inserted into the aligned bores defined in band 212 and upper leg tubular wall 215, inwardly projecting facing end of screw or pin 214 slidably engages and rides in the longitudinal groove (e.g., 310, 360) in each of the bipod leg extensions (as best seen in FIGS. 10 b and 11 b). The catch bracket 212 is also fastened by a straight axle or pin called a spring-type straight pin 209 which serves as the pivot for each leg's leg catch 210. In a preferred embodiment, five evenly spaced TIG welds into band 212 affix band 212 to each bipod upper leg outer tubing wall 215.

Catch bracket or band 212 is attached to the outer surface of the leg tube 212 or the upper portion of the bipod by five (5) tig welds that may be spaced along the length of the band, but are preferably proximate the side carrying the hinge, with two above and below the upper and lower ends of the band on either side and one weld between the two ends on the lower side, near where the retaining pin 214 penetrates the band 212.

In use, a selected bipod assembly (e.g., 300 or 340) is adapted for use with interchangeable bipod end effecters and is attached to instrument 100 by it's a clamping body, whereupon the user can release spring biased first and second tubular upper leg segments 215, each having a proximal ends hingedly attached to the clamp body. The first or left tubular upper leg segment 215 has an open distal end opposite the proximal end to define a first interior lumen enclosed within a solid sidewall and has spring biased catch 210 with it's transverse end, where the catch is hingedly movable to a locking position (as seen in FIGS. 3 c, 5 c, 10 b and 11 b) having the catch's transverse end project into the first tubular upper leg segment's interior lumen. The first tubular upper leg segment further includes removable threaded retaining pin member 214 which has a distal pin end, where retaining pin 214 is movable to a retaining position having the pin's distal end project into the first tubular upper leg segment's interior lumen. The first leg extension member (e.g., 204) has a proximal end opposing a distal end and an exterior sidewall, where the first leg extension is dimensioned to be slidably received within the first tubular upper leg segment with said first leg extension member's proximal end adapted to be releasably retained within the first tubular upper leg segment and where the first leg extension member's distal end carries a first selected end effecter (e.g., 208) selected from a plurality of available distinct end effecters (e.g., 208, 229 or 400). The first leg extension's sidewall defines an elongate longitudinal groove dimensioned to slidably receive retaining pin 214 when retaining pin 214 is threadably advanced into said first tubular upper leg segment (as best seen in FIGS. 10 b and 11 b). The first leg extension's sidewall also defines a plurality of transverse notches dimensioned to receive and releasably engage the transverse end of pivoting catch 210, to allow the user to select how far the spring biased leg extension is to project out from the tubular upper leg segment 215. A user may remove the first leg extension from the bipod assembly by withdrawing retaining pin 214 away from engagement with the first leg extension's longitudinal groove and by actuating spring biased catch 210 to disengage the catch's transverse end from the selected leg extension's transverse notch.

As can be seen in the Figs, the bipod assembly also carries a second tubular upper leg segment carrying a second leg extension that works just the same way, since it also has a second spring biased catch 210 that releasably engages transverse notches on the second leg extension's sidewall and also has a removable threaded retaining pin member 214 engaging the second leg extension's longitudinal groove, such that a user may remove the second leg extension from the bipod assembly (e.g., 300 or 340) by withdrawing the second retaining pin away from engagement with the second leg extension's longitudinal groove and by actuating the second spring biased catch 210 to dis-engage the second catch's transverse end from one of the second leg extension's transverse notches.

The end effectors or feet of leg 213 include a claw-shaped foot 229 having downwardly depending spaced members that don't have a very pronounced point. However these downwardly depending spaced members are actually a little bit deeper than this applicant's previous designs and more securely engage the sand.

The end effectors or feet of legs 204 and 217 include a leveler foot 208 having a specially dimensioned ball in socket self leveling engagement with the ground that is similar to a Vleir™ style leveling device as customarily used in supports for industrial equipment.

The interchangeable feature allows an armorer or shooter to remove one type of bipod leg (e.g., self leveling foot bipod legs 204 and/or 217) by unthreading and retracting or removing the left and right spline socket button head cap screws 214 from one or both upper bipod legs 215 to release the then installed bipod lower extension or bipod leg (e.g., 204 and/or 217). From a practical standpoint, the leg is removed against spring tension (i.e., from the captive leg biasing extension spring 216) and so bipod leg removal is not something that should be attended to when in the field and engaged in stressful or demanding activities (e.g., when actually under fire). Instead, leg removal and installation is something that is hopefully done with enough advance knowledge to enable configuration of bipods for the anticipated terrain or surfaces. Bipod leg 213, carrying claw foot 229 is best for sand and for muddy conditions or for snow, whereas the self-leveling foot 208 of legs 204 and 217 would be better for use in or on a patrol car while actually using the vehicle as a barricade and as a shooting platform.

The threaded retaining pin that is removed to permit the replacement to happen, spline socket button head cap screw 214, illustrated in FIGS. 20 a and 20 b is adapted with a proximal hex-shaped head socket to receive an Allen key (not shown) that the user or soldier may carry when afield, and is preferably supplied as part of kit 200 with each bipod assembly. The kit preferably includes the bipod clamping assembly (e.g., as shown in FIG. 2 or with the Versa-Pod® spigot mount shown at 104 in FIG. 1) hingedly carrying upper leg tubes 215 along with a selection of different legs having varying length extensions and a suitable variety of feet or end effecters, along with the retaining pin removal key or tool. In this way, a user's logistical support organization such as the Defense Department can provide the user with one bipod system adapted for use in every type of terrain in the world, all in one bipod system and kit.

It will be appreciated that bipod system and kit 200 includes the bipod with a connecting clamp assembly and left and right upper legs 215, along with a selection of lower legs with different feet including a self leveling foot 208, a claw-shaped foot or terrain gripping end effecter 229, a sled or ski shaped foot (not shown), a cushioned or grippy rubber foot (as shown in the bipod of FIG. 1) and a spiked foot (not shown) having spikes depending from circular flanges or disks where the spike protrudes from the bottom (prototypes have been very effective in mud and alpine settings).

An exemplary spike foot (not shown) carries a conically shaped spike and points downwardly from the center of a disk-shaped flange (e.g., as shown in FIGS. 25 b and 25 c). The outside diameter of the circular flange or disk is approximately 2½ inches, and the disk is oriented in such a way that it provides level contact with a planar surface or the ground the spikes depend from the flange or project down vertically when the bipod legs are deployed.

A tensioning control including knob 223 enables the user to allow or prevent (lock against) tilt and pan movements when the bipod is attached to a rifle. Early prototypes of a similar bipod purchased by the Army had no provisions for limiting tilt/pan movement and complaints were received from the troops.

The original prototypes didn't move smoothly enough or far enough. As a result, the bipod system of the present invention has a pan/tilt ball and leg location bracket 201 that have been made with a geometry set up to allow more movement between transverse bolt 221 and the interior surfaces of the oval receiving slots defining the distal ends of the transverse bore in the pan/tilt ball 201. Tightening tensioning knob 223 against bolt 221 increases clamping force of the inner clamping surfaces defined in ball-engaging members 219 and 227 and allows the user to slow, dramatically limit or eliminate any of the pan/tilt movement.

Pan/tilt movement arises from a movable coupling between the pan/tilt ball shaped member on the top of bracket 201 and that ball shaped member has planar surfaces adjoined by substantially spherical surfaces. The ball shaped member is releasably clamped or grasped between left and right clamping members 219 and 227 (also referred to as rail adapter 219 and plate 227, where these descriptive terms describe the coupling to the weapon). The clamping members 219 and 227 each have inward facing substantially hemispherical interior surfaces and each one of those are aligned with the axis of bores dimensioned to receive the threaded transverse bolt 221 (best seen in FIG. 2. Transverse bolt 221 has two ends and the distal end receives threaded knob 223. When threaded knob 223 is tightened along the threaded shaft of the bolt 221 the two opposing jaws grip or come closer together so that they grip the ball member in such a way that they can either limit completely or, by frictionally engaging the ball, provide a damping resistance to panning, tilting or other movement.

What the soldiers or users wanted was the ability to have a wider range of motion than previous bipod offerings, but then they also wanted to be able to lock the bipod down into a fixed orientation more firmly. The wider range of motion is provided by having the passages cut through ball 201 opened up or flared to more than a transverse cylindrical bore. The transverse bore in the ball member 201 has opposing open ends that actually flare out towards the outer surfaces.

The pan tilt ball on the leg location bracket 201 has an oval-sectioned transverse bore and the effect of that is to allow lateral (e.g. left and right or panning) motion of the upper part of the bipod when clamped to a rifle in relation to the bipod's legs when the legs are fixed in or upon the ground. This pan/tilt ball structure and the clamping jaws bearing upon the ball allow a very smooth panning movement when the bipod is mounted on the weapon, because even though the ball's openings are flared towards the outside, they are flared basically to allow panning left and right, and the up and down motion of the bipod is not controlled by that. The tilting or up and down movement is constrained by the lower surfaces of the two clamping members 219, 227 which are constrained by the upper surfaces of the parallel, spaced fore and aft hinge pin (203) receiving plates. This way the bipod allows a user to follow objects in motion in a very smooth form.

The pan tilt ball sits atop the leg location bracket 201 and has parallel, spaced fore and aft hinge pin receiving plates adapted to engage pivot leg pin 203 which carries the left and right upper bipod leg caps 205. Pivot leg pin 203 is optionally permanently affixed and so is not a user-serviceable connection. The legs will be interchangeable, and the legs (e.g., 204, 217 or 213) will be the only parts adapted for removal and interchangeability.

The term “end effecter” (e.g., 208 or 229), for purposes of nomenclature, means the structural element that is engaged with the ground or support surface to provide stability and so should be read to broadly include any support termination member engaging the ground when placing the end effecter on the ground, and so can include any combination of ski-shaped members, rubber feet, pivoting feet 208 or straight or curved wall segments with or without downwardly projecting members.

An alternative embodiment of the soil, sand or snow engaging end effecter 400, and the method for making it are illustrated in FIGS. 25 a-25 f. Step one of the process is illustrated in FIGS. 25 a-25 c, where a substantially circular disk shaped end effecter provided and is clamped in preparation for application of bending force at first, second and third radially equidistant spaced edges, along bend lines that intersect to form a substantially equilateral triangle, best seen in FIG. 25 a. The second step completes first, second and third bends to define first, second and third rounded downwardly projecting wall segments. Each wall segment's bend radius is preferably spaced at 18 mm from the disk's center (as best seen in FIGS. 25 d-25 f).

Optionally, end effecter 400 can be used as an intermediate component to make claw-shaped end effecter 229 by cutting along the first second and third intersecting cut lines shown in FIG. 25 d, thereby defining first second and third downwardly depending triangular, clipped-end claw members.

Further, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that while the present invention has been disclosed for use primarily with a Parker-Hale style firearm bipod assembly, the present invention also can be used for mounting the types of bipods having a bipod leg frame that is releasably mountable to a mounting block for a firearm.

It will be understood that while the foregoing relates to preferred embodiments of the invention, various modifications, additions and changes may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, as set forth in the following claims.

Referenced by
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Classifications
U.S. Classification42/94
International ClassificationF41C27/00
Cooperative ClassificationF41A23/10
European ClassificationF41A23/10