US20090122527A1 - Rail mounted multi-function flashlight - Google Patents

Rail mounted multi-function flashlight Download PDF

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Publication number
US20090122527A1
US20090122527A1 US12267034 US26703408A US2009122527A1 US 20090122527 A1 US20090122527 A1 US 20090122527A1 US 12267034 US12267034 US 12267034 US 26703408 A US26703408 A US 26703408A US 2009122527 A1 US2009122527 A1 US 2009122527A1
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Prior art keywords
flashlight
longitudinal axis
housing
battery
firearm
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US12267034
Inventor
Robert D. Galli
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Emissive Energy Corp
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Emissive Energy Corp
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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41GWEAPON SIGHTS; AIMING
    • F41G11/00Details of sighting or aiming apparatus; Accessories
    • F41G11/001Means for mounting tubular or beam shaped sighting or aiming devices on firearms
    • F41G11/003Mountings with a dove tail element, e.g. "Picatinny rail systems"
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41GWEAPON SIGHTS; AIMING
    • F41G1/00Sighting devices
    • F41G1/32Night sights, e.g. luminescent
    • F41G1/34Night sights, e.g. luminescent combined with light source, e.g. spot-light
    • F41G1/35Night sights, e.g. luminescent combined with light source, e.g. spot-light for illuminating the target, e.g. flash lights

Abstract

A flashlight having an outer housing that includes both an integrated means for interfacing the flashlight with a firearm and a surface thereon that serves as a handgrip for assisting a user in holding the firearm itself. In this manner, the flashlight can be slidably received onto a rail interface adjacent a firearm barrel. The flashlight is multi-functioned in that it includes at least a white light flashlight and an infrared illuminator. Additionally, the flashlight includes a plurality of batteries arranged in two functional banks and contained in a battery compartment within the housing such that they are positioned transversely relative to the longitudinal axis of the flashlight causing them to be transverse to the longitudinal axis of the firearm as well in order to preserve the batteries in operational condition.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is related to and claims priority from earlier filed U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/986,322, filed Nov. 8, 2008.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to a multi-functional flashlight assembly that includes an integrated supplemental rail interface mount. More specifically, the present invention relates to a multi-functional flashlight assembly that is particularly suited for being interfaced with a standard military style rail type mount found on most modern combat weapons.
  • In the prior art, flashlights for use in military applications have typically been constructed in a standard fashion utilizing a tubular outer housing. As a consequence, in order to facilitate mounting of the flashlight onto other devices, like military weapons such as an M-16 rifle, a relatively large mounting assembly was required. In this regard most modern type firearms are equipped with an interface rail integrated thereon for the mounting of auxiliary devices such as flashlights and the like. The rail is known in the art as a Weaver type interface and takes the form of a rail having a dovetail cross-sectional profile that extends over the receiver of the firearm. Additionally, there are several supplemental rail systems that mount onto such firearms by interfacing with the Weaver rail on the firearm and extending along and around the barrel to provide additional interface rails. These supplemental systems are employed to offer rail interfaces that are positioned both along the top of the firearm as well as at the 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions around the barrel. All of the interface rails are provided in this manner have a standardized profile and are configured specifically for the mounting of various accessories depending on the type environment in which the firearm will be used.
  • In order to interface a flashlight with these interface rails, a mount is provided that typically employs a heavy gauge band, which is wrapped around the entire outer housing of the flashlight and also includes projections to one side of the band where a large thumbscrew is positioned to allow a user to tighten the band around the flashlight. Further, the band is affixed to a mounting clamp that allows the band containing the flashlight to be installed onto the firearm interface rail. The difficulty encountered with this construction is that in some cases it creates a greater opportunity for the flashlight and mounting assembly to be caught on clothing or brush while the firearm is being carried, thereby knocking the flashlight out of alignment, dislodging the flashlight from the firearm or damaging the flashlight. Further, the interface between the outer tubular housing and the mounting band leaves the potential that the flashlight may slide or rotate within the band requiring frequent repositioning. While this may be acceptable for a sport type firearm, it is not acceptable for a firearm employed for field use, such as hunting or combat environments where immediate, fully aligned use of the flashlight assembly is required.
  • Other difficulties with such flashlights include the fact that they are typically single function devices that must be exchanged for a different flashlight should the need for an additional function arise, such as for example, in infra-red applications. In these situations, the user must carry several different lighting devices with them so that, as the need arises, the user can exchange lighting devices. In addition, while there are some flashlights that include multi-functional features, often the controls are small and fussy making them difficult to operate in the typical military environment where the user is often wearing gloves. In these applications small buttons, sliders and knobs are nearly impossible to operate in a reliable fashion.
  • In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the prior art devices, there is a need for a multi-function flashlight device that provides an improved method of compactly and reliably mounting the flashlight device onto a firearm. There is a further need for an interfaceable flashlight assembly that includes an improved engagement method for firearms while also having the ability to consistently and quickly engage with the firearm in provides accurate alignment therewith, while further still providing a reduced profile thereby reducing potential interference with other devices and attachments. Finally, there is a need for a multi-functional flashlight that eliminates the need for a user to carry several different illumination devices by combining all of the required functions into a single device that provides an improved method of compactly and reliably mounting the flashlight device onto a firearm.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention provides a novel flashlight assembly that includes multi-functionality yet is rugged and easy to operate. The multi-function flashlight device of the present invention is fashioned to have an outer housing that includes both an integrated means for interfacing the flashlight with a firearm and a surface thereon that serves as a handgrip for assisting a user in holding the firearm itself. Generally, the flashlight of the present invention has an outer housing that includes a dovetail shaped interface rail and a recessed curvature to an upper surface thereof that makes the flashlight particularly suited to interface with the accessory rail on the bottom hand guard of a supplemental rail system. In this manner, the flashlight of the present invention can be slidably received onto a rail interface and more preferably, onto the lower rail interface located at the 6 o'clock position relative to the firearm barrel.
  • The flashlight, once installed onto the interface rail may include clamping means for tightening the rail formation against the supplemental rail or an opening at the interior of the battery compartment that allows the installation of a retainer screw that engages through the flashlight with the interface rail. It can also be seen that the remainder of the outer housing of the flashlight is formed to replicate a hand guard such as the one it is installed beneath in order that the flashlight itself serves as the lower hand guard/handgrip for the firearm. This positions the flashlight such that it is in a protected position beneath the barrel of the firearm and locates it out of the way of the various sighting devices that are typically positioned above the barrel.
  • The flashlight of the present invention is multi-functioned in that it includes at least a white light flashlight and an infrared illuminator. In addition, the flashlight may include various different colored lighting elements such as red, green or blue light emitting diodes. The flashlight may also include laser diodes or infrared laser diodes for use in sighting, target acquisition and for automatic directed fire systems. Additionally, the flashlight includes a plurality of batteries arranged in two functional banks and contained in a battery compartment within the housing. It is of note that the batteries are positioned transversely relative to the longitudinal axis of the flashlight causing them to be transverse to the longitudinal axis of the firearm as well in order to preserve the batteries in operational condition as will be described in detail below.
  • Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a multi-function flashlight device that includes an improved method of compactly and reliably mounting the flashlight device onto a firearm. It is a further object of the present invention to provide an interfaceable flashlight assembly that includes an improved engagement method for firearms while also having the ability to consistently and quickly engage with the firearm in provides accurate alignment therewith, while further still providing a reduced profile thereby reducing potential interference with other devices and attachments. It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a multi-functional flashlight that eliminates the need for a user to carry several different illumination devices by combining all of the required functions into a single device that provides an improved method of compactly and reliably mounting the flashlight device onto a firearm.
  • These together with other objects of the invention, along with various features of novelty that characterize the invention, are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed hereto and forming a part of this disclosure. For a better understanding of the invention, its operating advantages and the specific objects attained by its uses, reference should be had to the accompanying drawings and descriptive matter in which there is illustrated a preferred embodiment of the invention.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • In the drawings which illustrate the best mode presently contemplated for carrying out the present invention:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention installed on a combat firearm;
  • FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention installed on a combat firearm;
  • FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a left side view of the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention installed on a combat firearm;
  • FIG. 5 is a right side view of the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention installed on a combat firearm;
  • FIG. 6 is a rear perspective view of the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention with the battery compartment closed;
  • FIG. 8 is a bottom view of the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention with the battery compartment open; and
  • FIG. 9 is a rear perspective view of an alternate embodiment mounting arrangement for the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Now referring to the drawings, the multi-functional flashlight of the present invention is shown and generally illustrated in the figures. The flashlight assembly of the present invention that includes multi-functionality yet is rugged and is configured to easily interface with modern combat weapons as will be discussed in detail below.
  • As can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, the flashlight assembly 10 is fashioned to have an outer housing 12 that includes both an integrated means for interfacing the flashlight 10 with a firearm 14 and a surface thereon that serves as a handgrip 16 for assisting a user in holding the firearm 14 itself. Generally, modern type firearms 14, such as the M-16 depicted herein, include an interface rail 18 integrated thereon for the mounting of auxiliary devices. The interface rail 18 is known in the art as a Weaver type interface and takes the form of a rail having a dovetail cross-sectional profile that extends over the receiver of the firearm 14. Additionally, there are several supplemental rail systems that mount onto such firearms 14 by interfacing with the Weaver rail on the firearm and extending along and around the barrel to provide additional interface rails 18 both along the top of the firearm 14 as well as at the 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions around the barrel 20. All of the interface rails 18 are provided having a standardized profile and are configured specifically for the mounting of various accessories depending on the type environment in which the firearm 14 will be used.
  • The flashlight 10 of the present invention includes an outer housing 12 that has a dovetail shaped interface profile 22 integrally formed therein and a recessed curvature 24 to an upper surface thereof that makes the flashlight 10 particularly suited to interface with the accessory rail 18 on the bottom hand guard of a supplemental rail system. As can be seen in the drawings, the housing 12 of the flashlight 10 is machined or molded to include a housing 10 having a first end and a second end and a channel serving as an interface 22 that extends from the first end to the second end. It can also be seen that the channel interface 22 has a dovetail profile configured to engage the dovetail rail mounting interface 18 on the firearm 14. Turning to FIG. 3 in conjunction with FIGS. 1 and 2, the flashlight housing 12 has an upper surface that includes a curved recessed profile 24 that includes centrally therein the dovetail interface 22 formed integrally with the housing 12. In this manner, the flashlight 10 of the present invention can be slidably received onto a rail interface 18 and more preferably, onto the lower rail interface 18 located at the 6 o'clock position relative to the firearm barrel 20. The curved surface 24 is provided to allow the flashlight housing 12 to aesthetically blend with the lower portion of the firearm 14 supplemental rail system. This extension 26 of the flashlight housing 12 is optional and may be cut back during manufacture in a manner that allows a user to access the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock rails 18 should a user need to mount accessories thereon. It can also be seen that the remainder of the outer housing 12 of the flashlight 10 is formed to replicate a hand guard such as the one it is installed beneath in order that the flashlight itself serves as the lower hand guard/handgrip 16 for the firearm 14. This positions the flashlight 10 such that it is in a protected position beneath the barrel 20 of the firearm 14 and locates it out of the way of the various sighting devices that are typically positioned above the barrel 20.
  • The flashlight 10 of the present invention is preferably multi-functional in that it includes at least one light emitting diode 28. Preferably, the at least one light emitting diode 28 is a high powered white light emitting flashlight, however, the energy emission of the light emitting diode may be selected from the group consisting of: visible white, visible red, visible blue, visible green, ultraviolet, infrared and laser. More preferably the flashlight 10 of the present invention includes at least two energy emitters wherein their emissions are different from one another and selected form the group set forth above. Most preferably, the flashlight 10 of the present invention includes a first white visible light emitter 28, a second infrared emitter 30 and a third laser emitter 32 as depicted with particularity in the figures. The flashlight 10 may also include laser diodes or infrared laser diodes for use in sighting, target acquisition and for automatic directed fire systems. As can best be seen in FIGS. 4 and 5, a user interface in the form of selector buttons 34 for choosing the operational mode of the flashlight 10 as well as a switch element for selectively energizing the flashlight 10 are preferably positioned along the sides of the flashlight housing 12 at or near the front of the flashlight 10 thereby positioning them conveniently for easy access by a soldier's thumb or forefinger when positioned about the outer housing 12 of the flashlight 10.
  • It is intended that the flashlight 10 of the present invention is multi-functional, such that the flashlight 10 includes commands programmed therein whereby if the user engages one of the selector buttons 34 for less than a predetermined period of time the flashlight 10 is energized in a first mode while engaging the selector button 34 for longer than the predetermined period of time causes the flashlight 10 to be energized in a second mode. In this application such first and second modes may be selected from the group consisting of: programming, momentary, strobe, constant on, high brightness and low brightness. More preferably, the first and second modes are selected from the group consisting of: momentary and constant on. Additionally, while the predetermined time threshold may be any duration, in the context of the present invention the predetermined time is of a value that is less than 1 second. More preferably, the predetermined period of time is less than one half second.
  • Turning now to FIGS. 6, 7 and 8, it can be further seen that the flashlight 10 includes a compartment 36 therein for a power supply. A cover or hinged door 38 is provided on the bottom of the flashlight housing 12 that can be opened to provide the user access to the power supply. It can be seen that the preferred power supply of the present in invention is at least one battery 40. More preferably, the flashlight 10 includes a power supply in the form of a plurality of batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d arranged in a battery compartment 36 within the housing 12.
  • It is of note that the batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d are positioned transversely relative to the longitudinal axis 42 of the flashlight 10 causing them to be transverse to the longitudinal axis of the firearm 14 as well. In other words, the flashlight 10 has a longitudinal axis 42 extending from its first end to its second end and the batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d also include a longitudinal axis 44 extending from a first terminal to a second terminal thereof such that when the batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d are received within said housing 12, the longitudinal axis 44 of the battery 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d is transverse to the longitudinal axis 42 of the flashlight 10 and transverse to a longitudinal axis on which the flashlight 10 is mounted. This positioning of the batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d relative to the flashlight 10 is more than a mere design choice in that the present invention has found that the recoil energy travelling along the linear axis of the firearm causes batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d that are positioned in linear series relative to the firearm 14 to repeatedly bang into one another. Over time this transfer of recoil energy into the batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d causes the ends of the batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d to become dented. If the batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d are dented badly enough, eventually they no longer make contact with one another thereby rendering the flashlight 10 inoperable. In the present invention, the transverse positioning of the batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d prevents this end-to-end banging thereby preserving the batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d in operational condition.
  • In addition, the present invention is configured such that the plurality of batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d is arranged in at least two separate battery banks, a primary battery bank including batteries 40 a and 40 b and a reserve battery bank including batteries 40 c and 40 d. In this manner, a selector switch 46 is provided as can be seen at the rear of the flashlight 10 adjacent the battery compartment 36 to allow the user to select between the primary and reserve battery banks. This allows the user to install at least two batteries wherein one of the batteries is used to operate the flashlight 10 while the second is maintained in reserve until a fresh battery is needed. At that point in time, the user simply turns the selector 46 to operate the flashlight 10 using the reserve battery. While the illustrations show four batteries 40 a, 40 b, 40 c, 40 d wherein two are primary and two are reserve, the same type arrangement can be accomplished with any even number of batteries. Similarly, a third bank of batteries may be provided as a second reserve wherein in six total batteries are provided with two batteries allocated to each of three battery banks.
  • As can best be seen in FIG. 7, the flashlight 10, once installed onto the interface rail 18 may include clamping means for tightening the rail interface formation 22 against the supplemental rail 18 or an opening 48 at the interior of the battery compartment 36 that allows the installation of a retainer screw 50 that engages through the flashlight 10 with the interface rail 18. Further, closing the cover 38 against the screw 50 serves as a locking feature that prevents accidental rotation thereof. In an alternate embodiment, as depicted at FIG. 9, rather than slidably mounting the flashlight onto the interface rail, the channel can be seen to have one fixed side 52 and one movable side 54 such that the movable side 54 can be opened relative to the fixed side 52 to install the flashlight 10 onto the rail 18 and the movable side 54 can be closed to engage the dovetail rail mounting interface 18. Further the movable side 54 can be fixed in place by a screw 56.
  • It can be appreciated that all of the components may be milled or cast from metallic materials. Similarly, the materials may be molded from high strength polymer materials. Finally, the materials may be insert molded using a combination of metallic and polymer components as may be necessary to create the durability and strength demanded by the application.
  • It can therefore be seen that the present invention provides a multi-function flashlight device that includes an improved method of compactly and reliably mounting the flashlight device onto a firearm that includes an improved engagement method for firearms while also having the ability to consistently and quickly engage with the firearm in provides accurate alignment therewith, while further still providing a reduced profile thereby reducing potential interference with other devices and attachments. In addition, the present invention provides a multi-functional flashlight that eliminates the need for a user to carry several different illumination devices by combining all of the required functions into a single device that provides an improved method of compactly and reliably mounting the flashlight device onto a firearm. For these reasons, the instant invention is believed to represent a significant advancement in the art, which has substantial commercial merit.
  • While there is shown and described herein certain specific structure embodying the invention, it will be manifest to those skilled in the art that various modifications and rearrangements of the parts may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the underlying inventive concept and that the same is not limited to the particular forms herein shown and described except insofar as indicated by the scope of the appended claims.

Claims (16)

  1. 1. A flashlight configured to be received on a dovetail rail mounting interface comprising:
    a housing having a first end and a second end,
    a channel extending from said first end to said second end, said channel having a dovetail profile configured to engage with said dovetail rail mounting interface;
    at least one light emitting diode received within the first end of the housing;
    a power supply disposed within said housing; and
    a user interface affixed to said housing to allow a user to selectively energize and control a mode of operation of the light emitting diode.
  2. 2. The flashlight of claim 1, wherein said channel has one fixed side and one movable side such that said movable side can be opened relative to said fixed side to install said flashlight onto said rail and said movable side can be closed to engage said dovetail rail mounting interface.
  3. 3. The flashlight of claim 1, wherein said channel is slidable received about said dovetail rail mounting interface.
  4. 4. The flashlight of claim 3, further comprising:
    a clamping mechanism for engaging said dovetail rail interface to selectively retain said flashlight in an installed position.
  5. 5. The flashlight of claim 4, wherein said clamping mechanism is a screw.
  6. 6. The flashlight of claim 5, wherein said screw is positioned in a compartment within said housing for containing said power supply.
  7. 7. The flashlight of claim 5, wherein said clamping mechanism has a locking feature that prevents accidental rotation thereof.
  8. 8. The flashlight of claim 1, wherein said power supply is at least one battery disposed within said housing.
  9. 9. The flashlight of claim 8, wherein said flashlight has a longitudinal axis extending from said first end to said second end and said at least one battery has a longitudinal axis extending from a first terminal to a second terminal thereof, the longitudinal axis of the battery being transverse to the longitudinal axis of the flashlight when said at least one battery is received within said housing.
  10. 10. The flashlight of claim 8, wherein said flashlight has a longitudinal axis extending from said first end to said second end and corresponding to a longitudinal axis of a firearm on which said flashlight is mounted, said at least one battery has a longitudinal axis extending from a first terminal to a second terminal thereof, the longitudinal axis of the battery being transverse to the longitudinal axis of the flashlight and the firearm when said at least one battery is received within said housing.
  11. 11. The flashlight of claim 8, wherein said flashlight has a longitudinal axis extending from said first end to said second end and corresponding to a longitudinal axis of a firearm on which said flashlight is mounted, said at least one battery is positioned within said housing such that recoil energy travelling along the longitudinal axis of said firearm is transverse to a longitudinal axis of said battery extending from a first terminal to a second terminal thereof.
  12. 12. The flashlight of claim 1, wherein said power supply is a plurality of batteries disposed within said housing said plurality of batteries being configured into at least two separate battery banks wherein a user can selectively choose which of said plurality of battery banks is used to energize said flashlight.
  13. 13. The flashlight of claim 1, wherein said power supply is a plurality of batteries disposed within said housing said plurality of batteries being configured into at least two separate battery banks wherein a first of said plurality of battery banks is actively used to energize said flashlight and the remaining of said plurality of battery banks are reserve.
  14. 14. The flashlight of claim 1, wherein said light emitting diode emits a high-powered visible light.
  15. 15. The flashlight of claim 1, wherein said at least one light emitting diode is at least two light emitting diodes emitting different energies from each other, the energy selected from the group consisting of: visible white, visible red, visible blue, visible green, ultraviolet, infrared and laser.
  16. 16. The flashlight of claim 1, wherein said at least one light emitting diode is three light emitting diodes, a first light emitting diode emitting visible light, a second light emitting diode emitting infrared energy and a third light emitting diode emitting laser energy.
US12267034 2007-11-08 2008-11-07 Rail mounted multi-function flashlight Abandoned US20090122527A1 (en)

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