US20120132187A1 - Pneumatic weapon system - Google Patents

Pneumatic weapon system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20120132187A1
US20120132187A1 US13/152,385 US201113152385A US2012132187A1 US 20120132187 A1 US20120132187 A1 US 20120132187A1 US 201113152385 A US201113152385 A US 201113152385A US 2012132187 A1 US2012132187 A1 US 2012132187A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
projectile
gas
breech
weapon
barrel
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US13/152,385
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Adam M. Murray
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MURRAY TECHNOLOGIES Inc
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MURRAY TECHNOLOGIES Inc
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Priority to US13/152,385 priority patent/US20120132187A1/en
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Publication of US20120132187A1 publication Critical patent/US20120132187A1/en
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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41BWEAPONS FOR PROJECTING MISSILES WITHOUT USE OF EXPLOSIVE OR COMBUSTIBLE PROPELLANT CHARGE; WEAPONS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F41B11/00Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns
    • F41B11/70Details not provided for in F41B11/50 or F41B11/60
    • F41B11/73Sealing arrangements; Pistons
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41AFUNCTIONAL FEATURES OR DETAILS COMMON TO BOTH SMALLARMS AND ORDNANCE, e.g. CANNONS; MOUNTINGS FOR SMALLARMS OR ORDNANCE
    • F41A9/00Feeding or loading of ammunition; Magazines; Guiding means for the extracting of cartridges
    • F41A9/37Feeding two or more kinds of ammunition to the same gun; Feeding from two sides
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41BWEAPONS FOR PROJECTING MISSILES WITHOUT USE OF EXPLOSIVE OR COMBUSTIBLE PROPELLANT CHARGE; WEAPONS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F41B11/00Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns
    • F41B11/50Magazines for compressed-gas guns; Arrangements for feeding or loading projectiles from magazines
    • F41B11/54Magazines for compressed-gas guns; Arrangements for feeding or loading projectiles from magazines the projectiles being stored in a rotating drum magazine
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41BWEAPONS FOR PROJECTING MISSILES WITHOUT USE OF EXPLOSIVE OR COMBUSTIBLE PROPELLANT CHARGE; WEAPONS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F41B11/00Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns
    • F41B11/50Magazines for compressed-gas guns; Arrangements for feeding or loading projectiles from magazines
    • F41B11/55Magazines for compressed-gas guns; Arrangements for feeding or loading projectiles from magazines the projectiles being stored in stacked order in a removable box magazine, rack or tubular magazine
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41BWEAPONS FOR PROJECTING MISSILES WITHOUT USE OF EXPLOSIVE OR COMBUSTIBLE PROPELLANT CHARGE; WEAPONS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F41B11/00Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns
    • F41B11/60Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns characterised by the supply of compressed gas
    • F41B11/62Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns characterised by the supply of compressed gas with pressure supplied by a gas cartridge
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F41WEAPONS
    • F41BWEAPONS FOR PROJECTING MISSILES WITHOUT USE OF EXPLOSIVE OR COMBUSTIBLE PROPELLANT CHARGE; WEAPONS NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F41B11/00Compressed-gas guns, e.g. air guns; Steam guns
    • F41B11/70Details not provided for in F41B11/50 or F41B11/60
    • F41B11/72Valves; Arrangement of valves
    • F41B11/721Valves; Arrangement of valves for controlling gas pressure for both firing the projectile and for loading or feeding

Abstract

A pneumatic weapon is described. The pneumatic weapon includes a gas storage chamber in fluid communication with a breech that houses a projectile. The weapon also has a gun barrel in fluid communication with the breech. A barrier is situated intermediate the projectile and the gun barrel. The barrier impedes the forward movement of the projectile until gas is released from the gas storage chamber and the pressure within the breech builds to a point sufficient to force the projectile through the barrier and out the gun barrel. The weapon also has several unique projectile storage devices that function with the aid of recycled gas.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application claims the benefit of my prior co-pending provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/351,874, filed Jun. 5, 2010, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates generally to pneumatically powered weapon systems that are analogous to those used to fire paintballs. More particularly, the present invention relates to pneumatic weapon systems, such as pneumatic rifles, that propel projectiles (e.g., BB's, pellets) at forces and speeds approximating or exceeding those measured with traditional firearms.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • Pneumatic or “air” powered pistols and rifles are well known in the art and are especially popular in the sport of “paintball”. As used herein the terms “pneumatic”, “air” and “gas” are all interchangeable because the weapon systems discussed herein may utilize several types of compressive gas such as air, nitrogen, CO2, and the like. Also, the terms “round”, “ammunition”, and “projectile” are interchangeable as used herein.
  • Usually pneumatic weapons fire very small caliber rounds, including BB's, various forms of pellets, or polymer spheres containing paint or dye. Air rifles and pistols have well known advantages, including the use of low cost ammunition, the production of relatively less noise as compared to a firearm, and the ability to be safely fired inside a dwelling, practice area or the like. While many air rifles and pistols are used as toys, their use and effectiveness as training devices, particularly the automatic versions, are well recognized.
  • Prior art semi-automatic and automatic gas guns suffer from unreliable firing mechanisms, and jams are common. Many are difficult to reload or service. Typical magazines for pneumatic BB guns, for example, have limited capacity. Ammunition feeding difficulties result in relatively low firing rates. To correct for feeding difficulties from gas leakage and the like, manufacturing tolerances must be minimized, raising costs. Moreover, known air guns are capable of mating only with a single magazine at once, complicating desired changes between different types of ammunition. In known designs the entire magazine and/or breech and/or barrel must be changed to switch between different types of ammunition. Further, known feeding mechanisms tend to be optimized for a single type of round, i.e., BB's or pellets, which detrimentally affects the available rate of fire when different types of ammunition are used in a single weapon.
  • The known designs of pneumatic weapons fail to provide a mechanism by which a user may fire two different types of ammunition without having to change magazines, reload, and/or change other components of the weapon. Furthermore, the known designs of pneumatic weapons fail to provide performance that approach or exceed that of standard firearms.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • It is, therefore, a primary object of the present invention to provide a pneumatic weapon capable of automatic fire, semi-automatic fire or both.
  • It is a further object of the invention to provide a pneumatic weapon that is capable of firing two or more different types of ammunition without having to change magazines, reload, or change other parts of the weapon such as barrels or a breech.
  • The above objects are met by the present invention, in which according to one aspect, provides a pneumatic weapon capable of being loaded with two different types of projectiles simultaneously and firing two different types of projectiles through the same barrel. In broad terms, the pneumatic weapon according to the invention is comprised of three basic sections: a solenoid section for providing a source of compressed gas; a barrel section; and a firing section intermediate the solenoid section and the barrel section. The firing section receives projectiles and aligns the projectiles with the barrel. The firing section also receives compressed gas from the solenoid section that provides the energy to fire a projectile. Furthermore, the firing section contains a barrier situated between the projectile and the barrel. The barrier impedes the forward progress of the projectile into the barrel thus providing for the building of gas pressure behind the projectile. When the gas pressure is sufficient to overcome the resistance provided by the barrier, the potential energy of the compressed gas is instantaneously converted to kinetic energy as the projectile fires through the barrier and out of the barrel.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • These and other more detailed and specific features of the present invention are more fully disclosed in the following specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, in which the terms “left” and “right” designate the side of the weapon that would be on the user's left hand side or right hand side when firing the weapon (note: firing the weapon left-handed or right-handed does not alter the orientation of the weapon to the user):
  • FIG. 1 is a right side view of a pneumatic weapon according to the invention, with portions thereof broken away for brevity;
  • FIG. 2 is a left side view of the pneumatic weapon shown in FIG. 1 with portions thereof broken away for brevity;
  • FIG. 3 is a partially exploded right side view of the weapon of FIGS. 1 and 2;
  • FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the shoulder stock and the solenoid sections of the invention;
  • FIG. 5 is an enlarged, exploded isometric view of the solenoid control section of a weapon according to the invention;
  • FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a gas storage unit;
  • FIG. 7 is a schematic of the firing mechanism of the invention;
  • FIG. 8 is an exploded right-sided perspective view of the firing section of the invention;
  • FIG. 9 is an exploded left-sided perspective view of the firing section of the invention;
  • FIG. 10( a) is a left-sided perspective view of a gun body;
  • FIG. 10( b) is a cross section of FIG. 10( a) take along line 10(b);
  • FIG. 11( a) is a cross section of the firing section of the invention where a magazine cover is closed;
  • FIG. 11( b) is a cross section of the firing section of the invention where a magazine cover is open;
  • FIG. 12 is a drawing of a portion of a mechanism to control the transfer of projectiles into the breech of the invention;
  • FIG. 13 is an isometric view of a breech;
  • FIG. 14 is a view of a tope clip assembly;
  • FIG. 15 is a view of the breech block lower assembly;
  • FIG. 16 is an exploded view of a projectile storage device designed to store spherical projectiles;
  • FIG. 17( a) is a partial cross section taken along line 17(a) of FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 17( b) is a cross section taken along line 17(b) of FIG. 17( a);
  • FIG. 18 is view of a barrel and related elements;
  • FIG. 19 is a schematic of a barrier for impeding the progress of a projectile;
  • FIG. 20 is a frontal view of a barrier utilized in a weapon according to the invention;
  • FIG. 21 is a partially exploded view of a “barrel section insert”;
  • FIG. 22 is an enlarged cross sectional view of a gas recovery device;
  • FIG. 23 is a cross section of FIG. 24;
  • FIG. 24 is a side view of a gas recovery device;
  • FIG. 25 is an exploded view of a gas recovery device;
  • FIG. 26 is a front on view of a gas recovery device;
  • FIG. 27 is an exploded view of a projectile storage device in the form of a magazine clip;
  • FIG. 28 is a top-down view of the magazine 11 p of FIG. 27;
  • FIG. 29 is a side-view of the magazine of FIG. 27 with exterior portions removed;
  • FIG. 30 is a side view of the magazine of FIG. 27 with exterior portions removed;
  • FIGS. 31-33 schematically illustrate how projectiles from a magazine clip are fed through the invention.
  • FIG. 34 is a top-down cross sectional view of a gun body schematically representing a pin used to switch the weapon to and from full automatic mode.
  • FIG. 35 is a side view of an “L-rail” projectile storage device with exterior portions removed for clarity;
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous details are set forth, such as device configurations and movements, in order to provide an understanding of one or more embodiments of the present invention. However, it is and will be apparent to one skilled in the art that these specific details are not required to practice the present invention.
  • Furthermore, the following detailed description is of the best presently contemplated mode of carrying out the invention based upon the existing prototype. The description is not intended in a limiting sense, and is made solely for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the invention. The various features and advantages of the present invention may be more readily understood with reference to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
  • The terms “left” and “right” as used herein designate the side of the weapon that would be on the user's left-hand side or right-hand side when firing the weapon (note: firing the weapon left-handed or right-handed does not alter the orientation of the weapon to the user). Likewise, the terms “front” and “rear” are to be interpreted in the context of a user firing the weapon (i.e., the gun barrel muzzle is at the “front” of the weapon while the stock is at the “rear”).
  • Referring now to the drawings in detail, where like numerals refer to like parts or elements, there is shown in FIG. 1 a pneumatic weapon in the form of a rifle constructed generally in accordance with the best mode of the invention and designated by the reference numeral 20. Those familiar with construction of small weapons and gunsmithing will readily recognize that the concepts discussed herein with relation to the disclosed rifle are equally applicable to a pneumatic handgun. The primary difference between the two embodiments being size and weight of construction. Generally speaking, the same components described herein could be used to build a handgun with slight engineering adjustments to account for the smaller size of the typical hand held gun.
  • The pneumatic rifle 20 may be adapted to fire round (e.g., BBs) or conical (e.g., bullets) ammunition. For ease of discussion this detailed description will utilize BBs and/or pellets in the description of the invention. One unique feature of one embodiment of the weapon according to the invention that is discussed in greater detail below is that the weapon is capable of firing two different types of ammunition (e.g., BBs and pellets) without having to reload, change feeding systems, or change magazines or barrels. By operator selection of the appropriate control and feed structures to be described, the operator can switch between either of these two preferred projectiles, and firing can be either semi-automatic or full automatic as described hereinafter. Switching from one type of ammunition to another has obvious benefits in law enforcement situations where an officer can switch from non-lethal ammunition (e.g., rubber balls) to lethal ammunition (e.g., steel) without having to take the time to switch weapons or reload a single weapon. Similarly a weapon that can fire both in a full automatic or semi-automatic mode has certain advantages, particularly in military situations.
  • Rifle 20, comprises a plurality of interrelated sections, best seen in FIGS. 1-3. Generally speaking, the rifle 20 comprises four sections as shown in FIG. 3: a shoulder stock section 22 (which is preferably foldable or completely removable); a solenoid control section 24 which includes a trigger assembly 30; a firing section 28; and a barrel section 36. Ammunition is provided via various projectile storage devices. Side feeding of spherical projectiles (e.g., BBs) through two types of spherical projectile storage devices are described hereinafter as is bottom feeding of a different type of projectile (e.g., pellets) via a magazine 32.
  • Returning now to FIGS. 1 and 3, a shoulder stock section 22 adjoins the solenoid control section 24. The shoulder stock section 22 may be any of several commercially available rigid or collapsible stock pieces. The shoulder stock section 22 shown in the drawings is a rigid, commercially available stock piece which is similar to the stock piece used on a military AR15 or M16. The shoulder stock section 22 is mounted to the weapon via a natural pipe threaded wire stock 48 which engages with matching threads at the rear of a high pressure gas storage unit 56. The gas storage unit 56 is a component of the solenoid control section 24 which is discussed below.
  • Turning now to FIGS. 4 and 5, the solenoid control section 24 of the weapon according to the invention comprises a frame which secures the section's components. The frame utilized in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 comprises a top mounting plate 49, a handle bracket 50, and a forward handle bracket 51. The frame components provide places of attachment for the battery pack 75, high pressure gas storage unit 56, and the trigger assembly 30.
  • The high pressure gas storage unit 56 is shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 4 in relation to the overall structure of the weapon and in cross section in FIG. 6. Gas storage unit 56 is generally rectangular and in the prototype of the invention was made of a solid block of aluminum. Turning now to FIGS. 4 and 6, the gas storage unit 56 is defined by an enclosed gas storage chamber 57 that is capable of fluid communication with other components. The enclosed gas storage chamber 57 utilized in the practice of the prototype was created by boring four holes into the body of the gas storage unit 56.
  • There are two borings, beginning at the front of the gas storage unit 56 and extending to a point near the rear of the unit, that are generally parallel to the longitudinal axis of the unit and which create an upper air passage 58 and a lower air passage 59. Both the upper air passage 58 and the lower air passage 59 terminate in threaded ends 60 at the front of the gas storage unit 60. FIG. 6. The threaded end to the upper air passage 58 fluidly communicates with a threaded solenoid coupling 92 which in turn provides fluid communication with a solenoid 84. The threaded end to the lower air passage 59 connects with a threaded gas storage unit plug 61. The gas storage unit plug 61 serves to seal the threaded end of the lower air passage 59. The gas storage unit plug 61 can be removed for attachment of a standard gas quick-connect coupling (not shown). This latter type of arrangement, where a high pressure gas line is connected directly to the lower air passage 59, is envisioned as a preferred arrangement for stationary mounted weapons.
  • Turning now to the rear of the gas storage unit 56 as shown in FIG. 6, there are two additional portals for fluid communication with gas storage chamber 57 created by two additional borings. The upper boring provides fluid communication with the gas storage chamber 57 and is identified as the pressure port 63. The pressure port 63 receives pressure gauge 70 which is used to measure the pressure inside the gas storage chamber 57. The pressure gauge 70 may be any of several commercially available pressure gauges and one skilled in the art will readily choose the appropriate gauge for use in the practice of the invention.
  • The second and lower portal at the rear of the gas storage unit 56 which provides fluid communication with the gas storage chamber 57 is designated the gas feed port 72. As shown in FIGS. 4, 5 and 6, the gas feed port 72 is threaded at its entry point into the gas storage unit 56. The threaded portion of the gas feed port 72 may be engaged by a gas feed port plug 73 as shown in FIG. 4 or by a quick couple connector 74 as shown in FIG. 6. The quick couple connector 74 may be any of several commercially available gas port quick couple connectors such as those commonly used on CO2 bottles utilized with paintball guns or which serve as quick connectors to gas lines (e.g., air hoses). Those skilled in the art will be able to select the connector type most suitable for their particular utilization of the invention.
  • In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the weapon according to the invention is a hand held, mobile weapon (e.g., pistol or rifle) carried by user. The weapon is connected to a mobile compressed air tank (not shown) carried by the user via a high pressure hose which attaches to the quick couple connector 74 engaged in the gas feed port 72. This arrangement of components provides the user with a long term supply of compressed gas for long term operation of the weapon.
  • Turning again to FIG. 6, those skilled in the art will readily comprehend that the functionality of the gas storage unit 56 and the enclosed gas storage chamber 57 may be accomplished in several different ways. For example, the rear portion of the gas storage unit shown in the drawings has two angled faces: one each for the gas feed port 72 and the pressure port 63. The gas feed port 72 angle aids operation of the weapon by directing the gas feed line down and away from a user's face. The angle of the pressure port 63 is convenient for operator observation of the pressure gauge 70.
  • Furthermore, the storage chamber 57 could be formed by a creating a single large boring on the front end of the gas storage unit 56 instead of two smaller borings. As discussed in more detail below, there is a volumetric relationship between the amount of gas utilized to fire the weapon and the kinetic energy transferred to the projectile. Accordingly, one skilled in the art can increase or decrease the power of the weapon by adjusting the volume of the gas storage chamber 57.
  • The weapon according to the invention is controlled and fired electronically via an electronic firing mechanism schematically shown in FIG. 7. The firing mechanism utilized in the prototype of the invention is similar to many firing mechanisms currently used in commercially available electronically controlled pneumatic weapons. A 12-volt battery pack 75 disposed beneath the gas storage unit 56 leads to an on/off switch 77, FIGS. 4 and 7, that outputs on line 79 to a switch (not shown) operated by the trigger 80, which, when pulled, energizes line 82 applying positive voltage to positive solenoid terminal 85. The negative line 86 from the battery pack 75 leads to a switch 87, FIGS. 4 and 7, comprising a safety. The circuit is completed via the return negative line 88 leading to the negative post 83 on the solenoid terminal. As best seen in FIG. 7, an arcuate trigger guard 89 protects trigger 80.
  • The firing mechanism also comprises a microprocessor (not shown) that is programmable to provide for semi-automatic, automatic, or repetitive burst (e.g., 3 rounds in succession) firing. Such programmable microprocessor controlled firing mechanisms are known in the art and need not be discussed in detail herein. By pulling the trigger 80 a user activates the solenoid. The solenoid opens allowing gas from the gas storage unit to flood through the solenoid and into the gun body 93 and breech 250 ultimately resulting in the firing of a projectile from the weapon. This aspect of the invention is discussed in more detail below.
  • The battery pack 75 and its associated wiring can be located anywhere along the frame of the weapon. In the prototype of the invention and the Figures, the battery pack 75 is attached to the weapon below the gas storage unit 56. This location was chosen to reduce the length of wire necessary to connect the battery pack 75 to the other two electrical components on the weapon: the trigger assembly 30 and the solenoid 84.
  • As shown in FIG. 4, the handle bracket 50 is generally “L” shaped having an upward extending portion 52 and an upper horizontal plate 53. The handle bracket 50 is also defined by a beveled channel 54 on the face situated opposite of the face engaging the trigger assembly. The beveled channel 54 approximates the length of the battery pack 75 while the upward extending portion 52 approximates the height of the battery pack 75. The battery pack 75 thus slides into the space created between the upper horizontal plate 53 and the beveled channel 54. Depending on desired manufacturing tolerances the battery pack 75 may stay in its position due to friction or other means (e.g., clamps) may be utilized to keep the battery pack 75 in place.
  • The upper horizontal plate 53 serves a second function in that it provides the lower attachment point for the gas storage unit 56 as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. The gas storage unit 56 contains two threaded holes that align with two holes 55 drilled into the upper horizontal plate 53. Standard hexagonal socket head cap screws were used to connect the gas storage unit 56 to the upper horizontal plate 53 in the prototype of the weapon. Similarly, two holes 55 are also found in the forward face of the handle bracket 50 which serve as attachment points for the forward handle bracket 51, FIGS. 4 and 5.
  • The trigger assembly 30 utilized in the practice of the invention may be any of several commercially available options currently on the market for use in electronic pneumatic weapons or even tools. The exact trigger assembly 30 used in the practice of the invention is a user preference decision. The trigger assembly 30 is secured to the frame via standard means which may vary depending upon the trigger assembly purchased by the practitioner. In most instances the trigger assembly will likely be attached to the frame (e.g., handle bracket 50) by a bolt. However, there is a degree of flexibility in the exact placement of the trigger assembly 30 in the practice of the invention. For example, the trigger assembly 30 can be moved further back on the handle bracket 50 or forward to attach directly to the forward handle bracket 51.
  • Practitioners should note that the frame utilized in the practice of the invention, and thus the overall appearance of the weapon, can vary depending upon the preferences of the practitioner. As those skilled in the art recognize, weapon frames can be altered to fit the particular needs of the user. For example, a tall shooter with long arms may prefer a longer overall weapon which could translate into using a longer top mounting plate 49 or a longer handle bracket 50. Thus, the geometry of the frame parts discussed herein are to provide the reader with an understanding of how the prototype was assembled but the geometries discussed herein should not be interpreted as limiting the scope of the invention.
  • Turning again to FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, the upper border of the solenoid control section 24 is defined by the top mounting plate 49. The top mounting plate 49 is attached to the gas storage unit 56 in the same way as the gas storage unit is attached to the handle bracket 50. The top mounting plate 49 can be a single flat rectangular piece of metal (or a suitable polymer construction) or it could be a bar having a substantial cross section which could contain borings or ridges for attachment of weapon accessories such as scopes and sites. Again, the exact form of the top mounting plate 49 used in the practice of the invention may be altered by the practitioner. As shown in FIG. 3, the top mounting plate utilized in prototypes of the invention is of sufficient length to connect the solenoid control section 24 to the firing section 28 thus providing frame like support traversing two sections of the weapon.
  • The remaining component of the solenoid control section 24 to be discussed is the solenoid valve 84. A tubular, threaded coupling 92 connects the gas storage unit 56 to the solenoid 84 and provides fluid communication between the gas storage chamber 57 and the interior of the solenoid valve 84. A similar tubular, threaded coupling identified as velocity tube 94 connects the solenoid valve 84 to the firing section 28 and the firing chamber 108 in particular, FIG. 8.
  • The solenoid valve 84 utilized in the practice of the invention is a standard, commercially available (although modified) pneumatic solenoid valve such as those available from STC of Palo Alto, Calif. The prototype weapon utilized a “T-shaped” STC model 2E200-34 originally rated at 800 psi out of the box. An early prototype of the weapon employed this solenoid valve with satisfactory results. However, at the inventor's request, STC modified the solenoid valve such that it was rated at 1500 psi. Other pneumatic solenoid valves with even higher psi ratings (e.g., 5800 psi) are available to consumers and can be used in the practice of the invention. However, at this time such pneumatic solenoid valves are very heavy and are not practical for a hand carried weapon. As solenoid valve technology improves new generations of solenoid valves can be incorporated into the practice of the invention.
  • As shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 6 and 7 the pneumatic solenoid valve 84 is fluidly connected to the gas storage chamber 57 and electrically connected to the battery pack 75, trigger 80, and the firing circuit as discussed previously. The solenoid valve 84 can also be attached to the frame of the weapon at some point (e.g., clamped or bolted to the handle bracket 50) if desired as shown in FIG. 5.
  • The solenoid control section 24 is connected to the next forward section of the weapon: the firing section 28. The connection between the solenoid control section 24 and the firing section 28 is twofold. First, the two sections are connected by frame pieces (e.g., top mounting plate 49 and forward handle bracket 51) as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3. Second, the two sections are connected via the components of each, namely, the connection of the pneumatic solenoid valve 84 to the gun body 93 via a threaded and rigid velocity tube 94.
  • The gun body 93 is the primary component of firing section 28 and will be described first. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 8, the gun body 93 is generally rectangular in shape. The gun body 93 is defined by a plurality of machined openings, tubes and slots that provide means for attachment of projectile storage devices and means for switching between different types of ammunition. The following paragraphs will describe the gun body 93 in more detail.
  • Turning now to FIGS. 8, 9 and 10, the gun body 93 is generally rectangular in shape and can generally be divided into a rear section 109, a middle section 110, and a front section 111. The rear section 109 is the point of attachment of the gun body 93 to the solenoid 84.
  • The top edge of the rear section 109 of the gun body 93 is continuous with the top edge of the middle section 110 of the gun body 93. However, the bottom edge of the rear section 109 is situated apart from the bottom edge of the middle section 110 of the gun body 93 thus defining a small recess at the lower rear of the gun body 93 which gives the rear section 109 of the gun body 93 a more square cross section than the remainder of the gun body 93. The rear section 109 of the gun body 93 is also defined by a boring, the velocity pin port 106, that provides fluid communication between the solenoid 84 and the middle section 110 of the gun body 93. The velocity pin port 106 also houses a mechanism to control the transfer of projectiles into the breech. This mechanism is discussed in more detail below.
  • The middle section 110 is the location of the breech 250 and the point of the attachment for projectile storage devices. As shown in FIG. 10, the middle section 110 is primarily defined by 2 spaces machined into the gun body. One space is the firing chamber 108 which is where the breech 250 resides. The other space is the lower loading chamber 133 which is where a projectile storage device such as a projectiles clip may attach. Note that the lower loading chamber 133 extends a distance into the front section of the gun body 43. This is because the loading chamber 133 also houses elements that slide back and forth to seal off the firing chamber 108. The final portion of the gun body 93 is the front section 111. It is defined by two borings. The first is the barrel bore 270 which are largely co-axial with the firing chamber 108. The barrel bore 270 receives the barrel 271 and other related elements. The other boring shown in FIG. 10 a is the breech block pin port 151 which receives the breech block pin 143 which is used to move the breech block 141 back and forth in the lower loading chamber 133.
  • Continuing with FIGS. 8, 9 and 10, the rear section 109 of the gun body 93 is connected to the solenoid 84 via a rigid velocity tube 94. The rigid velocity tube 94 utilized in the practice of the invention was a metal connector similar to the connector tube 92 connecting the gas storage unit 56 to the solenoid 84. Although metal connectors were used in the prototypes of the invention, polymers capable of withstanding high pressures may also be used. The velocity tube 94 extends to and mates with a threaded end of a tubular velocity pin port 106 in the rear face of the rear portion 109 of the gun body 93. The velocity tube 94 allows fluid communication between the interior of the pneumatic solenoid valve 84 and the interior of the gun body 93.
  • Turning now to FIGS. 8 and 11, a smaller diameter spring return bushing 96 is coaxially disposed within the interior 97 of the velocity tube 94. The forward end of the spring return bushing 96 abuts an internal pin plunger 99, FIG. 8, which is of approximately the same diameter of the spring return bushing 96. In a prototype of the weapon according to the invention both the return bushing 96 and the internal pin plunger 99 were made of high strength, low friction polymers such as Delrin® from DuPont. The internal pin plunger 99 mates with a velocity pin 100 via a pressure sleeve 101. FIG. 12. Velocity pin 100 extends coaxially through the velocity pin port 106 terminating proximate firing chamber 108 containing the breech 250 FIGS. 8, 9, 10 and 13. A coiled velocity return spring 104 disposed within the velocity port 106 and over the velocity pin 100, FIGS. 8 and 11, biases the velocity pin plunger 99 to abut the spring return bushing 96 at rest.
  • The forward end of the velocity pin port 106 terminates at the firing chamber 108 (FIG. 10( b)) and abuts the rear face of the breech 250 (FIG. 11) which resides within the firing chamber 108. The forward terminus of the velocity pin port 106 is machined to create an annular shoulder 107 (FIG. 10( b)) to receive the velocity pin guide 102 (FIG. 11). The velocity pin guide 102 reciprocally receives the velocity pin 100 through a hole placed in the center of the velocity pin guide 102. FIGS. 8 and 11.
  • Both the velocity pin guide 102 and the velocity pin plunger 99 are further defined by a plurality of very small (e.g., 0.5 mm) holes traversing the body of each which provides fluid communication throughout the velocity pin port 106 and into the firing chamber 108. However, the plurality of small holes in the velocity pin plunger 99 and the velocity pin guide 102 are not of a number or of a size that would substantially eliminate resistance to fluid (e.g. gas) flow through each. This is particularly important with respect to the velocity pin plunger 99 as its function is to reciprocate, and thus cause reciprocal movement of the velocity pin 100, in response to changes in air pressure in the velocity tube 94 and the velocity pin port 106 during firing of the weapon. The movement of the various parts of the weapon during firing is discussed in more detail below.
  • The rear section 109 of the gun body 93 is connected to the top mounting plate 49 via threaded holes 41 and screws (not shown) (FIGS. 1 and 9) in a fashion similar to that described with respect to the gas storage unit 56 thereby providing an extension of the overall framework of the weapon.
  • Situated directly beneath the velocity pin 100 apparatus is a series of components that make up the top clip assembly 116. FIGS. 8, 9 and 14. The top clip assembly 116 is a generally rectangular arm that engages with the cover of a projectile storage device such as an ammunition magazine or “clip”. The function of the top clip assembly 116 is to pull the cover of the magazine back to allow projectiles to rise from the magazine into the firing chamber 108.
  • Turning to FIG. 14, the top clip assembly 116 comprises a top clip bolt 117, a top clip pin 118, a top clip spring 119, and a top clip bolt handle 120. The top clip bolt 117 is generally rectangular as shown in FIG. 14 and possesses a bore 122 extending its length and a notch 123 for mating with a platform 306 on a magazine cover 305. FIGS. 11 and 30. The bore 122 is preferably of a diameter just sufficient to receive the top clip pin 118. The bore 122 should not be of a diameter sufficient to receive the top clip spring 119 which slides over the top clip pin 118. FIGS. 11 and 14.
  • The top clip bolt 117 is received within a top clip channel 112 that is machined in the bottom of the rear section 109 of the gun body 93. FIGS. 9, 10 a and 11. The top clip channel 112 is machined to a depth and shape to mate with the shape of the top clip bolt 117 and a magazine cover 305 FIG. 11. As shown in FIG. 10( a), the top clip channel 112 possesses two distinct sections. The upper section 113 is machined to closely mate with the shape of the top clip bolt 117 while the lower section 114 is machined to have a greater width suitable for receiving a magazine cover 305.
  • Enclosing and securing the top clip assembly 116 to the rear section 109 of the gun body 93 is a top pin guide plate 121. The top pin guide plate 121 is generally “L” shaped having a vertical arm 124, a horizontal arm 125, and a plug 126 abutting the vertical arm 124 and sized to fit snuggly within top clip channel 112. The vertical arm 124 of the top pin guide plate 121 is also defined by three bores: two for mating with machined screw holes in the gun body 93 and one aligned with a similar bore in the plug 126. The bore in the plug 126 and its aligned bore in the vertical arm 124 receive top clip pin 118 when a “clip” or magazine is engaged with the weapon.
  • The final two components necessary for the operation of the top clip assembly 116 are the top clip bolt handle 120 and the clip breech slot 127. FIG. 8. The top clip bolt handle 120 is defined by a threaded stem (not shown) that engages with a mating threaded hole (not shown) in the top clip bolt 117. The top clip bolt 117 is inserted into the top clip channel 112 and pushed forward until the threaded hole in the top clip bolt 117 is visible through the clip breech slot 127. The top clip bolt handle 120 is then joined with the threaded hole which allows the top clip bolt 117 to slide along the length of the top clip channel 112.
  • The clip breech slot 127 is preferably of a length that enables the top clip assembly 116, and specifically the top clip bolt 117, to engage with a cover 305 of a “clip” or magazine and move the cover such that it provides an entry point into the gun body 93 for ammunition as shown by the cross section in FIGS. 11( a) and 11(b). In FIG. 11( b), the top clip bolt 117 is pulled rearward compressing the top clip spring 119 which biases the top clip bolt 117 in a forward position at rest. FIG. 11( a) shows how the firing section looks when a clip magazine is attached to the weapon but is not open to feed projectiles to the firing chamber and breech. Note that the bore in the top pin guide plate plug 126 may have a small recess in it to receive and secure the rear end of the top clip spring 119 as shown in FIG. 11( b).
  • The gun body middle section 110 is defined by several characteristics and components. The gun body middle section 110 can be divided into two general sections: the firing chamber 108 and a lower loading chamber 133 that are generally separated by the top clip assembly 116 when the top clip assembly 116 is moved to a forward position as in FIG. 11( a).
  • The description of this portion of the gun body 93 will begin with the firing chamber 108. FIGS. 8, 10(a), 10(b), 11(a) and 11(b). The firing chamber 108 is a generally rectangular chamber that is open to the top of gun body 93 as shown in FIG. 8 and extends downward to the top of the top clip bolt 117 when the top clip bolt 117 is in a forward resting position. The rear of the firing chamber 108 is defined by a generally rectangular wall having a rear opening that is coaxial with the forward terminus of the velocity pin port 106. FIG. 11. Similarly, the front of the firing chamber 108 is defined by a generally rectangular wall having a front opening that is coaxial with the velocity pin port 106 and coaxial with the barrel 271. The top of the firing chamber 108 is defined by the aforementioned rectangular opening in the top of the gun body 93, said rectangular opening defined by a slight rectangular ledge 128 distal from the top of the gun body 93, said ledge 128 providing a resting place for the top plate 251 of the breech 250 discussed hereinafter. The ledge 128 may contain a channel for receiving a rectangular “O” ring to aid in the sealing of this opening into the firing chamber 108.
  • Staying with FIGS. 11( a) and 11(b) and also referring to FIGS. 9 and 10( a), one wall of the firing chamber 108 (and thus one side of the gun body 93) contains a portal through which ammunition may be fed into the firing chamber 108. In a prototype of the invention shown in FIG. 1, the left side of the gun body 93 corresponding to the left side wall of the firing chamber 108 contains a generally oblong portal 129 for receiving a generally oblong stem 200 FIG. 10( a) from a projectile storage device that holds spherical projectiles (e.g., BB's, rubber balls, paintballs, etc.) which is described below. The ammunition portal 129, and the spherical storage device, could be situated on the right hand side of the gun body 93 depending on the preference of the practitioner.
  • The lower loading chamber 133 is situated directly beneath the firing chamber 108 as shown in FIG. 10( b). The lower loading chamber 133 is separated from the firing chamber 108 by the top clip assembly 116 (FIG. 14), specifically the top clip bolt 117 when the top clip bolt 117 is in a resting position. When the top clip bolt 117 is pulled rearward through action of the top clip bolt handle 120 the lower loading chamber 133 is continuous with the firing chamber 108.
  • Returning to FIGS. 10( a), 10(b) and 11, the lower loading chamber 133 is essentially a channel extending from the middle section 110 of the gun body 93 into the front section 111 of the gun body. The lower loading chamber 133 has a side to side width approximately equal to that of the firing chamber 108. The front to rear width (or length) of the lower loading chamber 133 is approximately twice the front to rear width (or length) of the firing chamber 108. The front to rear distance of the lower loading chamber 133 is about twice that of the firing chamber 108 because within the lower loading chamber 133 resides a breech block lower assembly 140. FIG. 15. The breech block lower assembly 140 slides along the length of the lower loading chamber 133 with the breech block pin 143 sliding within breech block pin port 151.
  • The breech block lower assembly 140 comprises a breech block 141, a breech block bolt 142, a breech block pin 143, a breech block pin guide 144, a breech block spring 145 (shown in FIG. 11) and a breech block cap 149 (FIGS. 1 and 8). The breech block pin guide 144 is a hollow tube with an inner diameter sufficient to receive the breech block pin 143 and the breech block spring 145, said spring positioned between the inner wall of the breech block pin guide 144 and the outer surface of the breech block pin 143. The breech block 141 is sized to tightly fit within the lower loading chamber 133 yet slide along its length.
  • The breech block 141 contains a threaded hole that traverses its front to back width. The hole has two diameters: a rear diameter sufficient to receive the breech block pin guide 143 and a larger, more forward diameter to receive the breech block pin 143 and breech block pin guide 144. FIG. 11. The breech block cap 149 is a round threaded plug having a hole in the middle of sufficient diameter to reciprocatingly receive the breech block pin 143. FIG. 8. The threaded breech block cap 149 connects with the hole in the breech block 141 and serves as an abutment for the breech block spring 145 thereby biasing the breech block 141 to the rear of lower loading chamber 133.
  • A small breech block slot 148, FIG. 8, and breech block bolt 142 similar to those utilized in by the top clip assembly 116 advances the breech block 141 to the front or the rear of the lower loading chamber 133 (and the breech block pin 143 along the breech block pin port 151).
  • The breech block pin 143 is advanced through the breech block 141 until it protrudes from the rear wall of the breech block 141 as shown in FIG. 15. This protrusion 146 of the breech block pin 143 mates with an equal sized indentation 147 in the rear wall of the lower loading chamber 133 when a magazine is not inserted into the weapon or into an equal sized indentation in a magazine when such is inserted into the weapon. The cross section shown in FIGS. 11( a) and 11(b) is a cross section taken when a magazine is inserted into the weapon.
  • As shown in FIG. 11( b), when the breech block lower assembly 140 is positioned to the front of the lower loading chamber 133 there is a pathway from the bottom of the gun body 93 to the firing chamber 108 when the top clip assembly 116 is positioned to the rear of the top clip channel 113. When the breech block lower assembly 140 is positioned to the rear of the lower loading chamber 133 this pathway to the firing chamber 108 is removed. Furthermore, When the breech block lower assembly 140 is positioned to the rear of the lower loading chamber 133, the top clip assembly 116 should be positioned to the front of the top clip channel 113. This positioning slides the top clip bolt 117 directly on top of the breech block 141 thus creating a double seal of the firing chamber 108 which maintains the high air pressures needed in the firing chamber 108 for firing projectiles.
  • As a general matter, the firing of the weapon according to the invention requires the generation of high gas pressures within the firing chamber 108 and any component that is in fluid communication with it. Therefore all components of the weapon should be precisely machined to eliminate gaps between parts. In the prototype of the invention the application of gun grease between the connecting parts was sufficient to maintain an air tight firing chamber capable of 1500 psi. However, “O” rings were employed in a few critical locations to help prevent leaks. As pressures increase with improved solenoid technology additional measures such as including additional “O” rings may be needed in future models.
  • Turning now to the components that provide ammunition to the firing chamber, this discussion will begin with a description of a projectile storage device designed to store spherical projectiles and referred to herein as the spherical projectile magazine 21 shown generally in FIG. 8 and in more detail in FIGS. 16, 17 a, and 17 b. In general terms, the spherical projectile magazine 21 is cylindrical tower enclosing a spiral ramp which delivers spherical projectiles via gravity to the firing chamber 108. The overall height and width of the spherical projectile magazine 21 is determined in part by the size and quantity of ammunition desired by the practitioner. Thus, a practitioner skilled in the art can easily vary the dimensions of the spherical projectile magazine 21 to fit individual needs.
  • Turning now to FIGS. 16, 17 a and 17 b, the spherical projectile magazine 21 comprises three basic components: a cylindrical cover 201, a base 203 to mate with the cylindrical cover, and a spiral tower 202 situated inside a chamber created by the cylindrical cover 201 and base 203. The cylindrical cover 201 is a cylinder where the end opposite the base 203 is closed. In the prototype shown in the drawings the closed end of the cylindrical cover 201 is the “top” end but for reasons discussed later, the spherical projectile magazine 21 could be attached to the weapon such that it extends “downward” below the gun body 93 in which case the enclosed end would be the “bottom” end.
  • Although the inner diameter of the cylindrical cover 201 remains constant throughout its length, the end of the cylindrical cover 201 proximate the base 203 has an outer diameter that is less than the outer diameter of the end of the cylindrical cover 201 distal to the base 203 thus allowing the cylindrical cover 201 to couple with a cylindrical boring 204 in the base 203 and provide a uniform inner diameter throughout the chamber created inside the spherical projectile magazine 21. FIG. 16.
  • Situated within the chamber created by the cylindrical cover 201 and the base 203 is a spherical tower 202. The spherical tower 202 is defined by a central core 205 having a ramp 206 spiraling toward the bottom of base 203 at an approximately 12 degree pitch. The spiral ramp 206 terminates at the bottom of the cylindrical bore 204 in the base 203 proximate an opening the base 203 that is the entrance to a projectile feed port 207. FIG. 16. Thus the feed port is in fluid communication with the cylindrical bore 204. The projectile feed port 207 is drilled through the wall of the base 203 and through a stem 200 integral with said base 203 at a sweep angle sufficient to maintain forward momentum of spherical projectiles as the projectiles travel from the spiral ramp 206 and into the firing chamber 108. The sweep angle also creates a slight suction force as projectiles traverse the stem thus aiding in the continuous feed of ammunition into the firing chamber 108.
  • Those skilled in the art will note that the alignment of the terminus of the spiral ramp 206 with the opening to the feed port 207 must be precise, FIGS. 17( a) and 17(b). This is accomplished by placement of two alignment pins 208 in the floor of the cylindrical bore 204 that are aligned with holes in the bottom of the spherical tower 202 FIG. 17( a). Preferably, two additional screw holes are placed in the bottom of the base 203 to engage with screw holes in the base of the spherical tower 202 to further secure the assembly of the spherical projectile magazine 21.
  • The side of the base 203 that is adjacent to the gun body 93 is machined or otherwise configured to form a face plate 209 which abuts the side of the gun body 93. The stem 200 juts from the face plate 209 and is received by projectiles portal 129. An “O” ring 222 is situated in a groove in the face plate 209 encircling the stem 200 to aid in forming an air tight seal between the spherical projectile magazine 21 and the firing chamber 108. Alternatively, the feed port 207 could terminate at the face of face plate 209 and align with projectile portal 129 thus eliminating the stem 200.
  • At a point on the cylindrical cover 201, preferably maximally distal from the base 203, there is a loading port 210 through which spherical ammunition may be loaded into the spherical projectile magazine 21. FIG. 16. The loading port 210 is threaded and is closed with a threaded plug 211. There is also positioned at a point distal to the base 203 a cylindrical cover gas portal 212. FIG. 9. The cylindrical cover gas portal 212 is connected via standard couplings 213 and a gas line 214 to a similar gas portal 216 in the wall of the gun body 93. FIGS. 9 and 10 a. The gun body gas portal 216 provides fluid communication between the pressurized interior of the gun body 93 and spherical projectile magazine 21. Therefore, the interior pressure of the spherical projectile magazine 21 is generally equal to that of the interior of the gun body 93.
  • The gas that enters the spherical projectile magazine 21 through cylindrical cover gas portal 212 aids in maintaining the progress of ammunition toward the ammunition feed port 207. In normal firing positions this gas assistance will not be needed to maintain a steady feed of spherical ammunition to the firing chamber 108 due to gravity. However, with the gas assist a user of the weapon should be able to hold the weapon upside down and still maintain a suitable ammunition delivery into the firing chamber 108.
  • Another point of novelty regarding the weapon according to the invention is its ability to switch between two different types of ammunition without having to change magazines or barrels or the mechanics of the firing chamber. A user of a weapon according to the invention can change from one type of ammunition to another simply by adjusting two levers. One such lever is located in the base 203 of the spherical projectile magazine 21.
  • Turning to FIGS. 16 and 17, there is shown an ammunition blocking pin 215 connected to a bushing 220 and a blocking pin handle 217. The blocking pin 215 is received by a blocking pin passage 218 that extends the length of the base face plate 209, through the stem 200, and into the opposite side of the base face plate 203 as shown in FIGS. 16 and 17 b. When the blocking pin 215 is advanced to a forward position as shown in FIG. 17 b it blocks the passage of spherical projectiles through the feed port 207 and into the firing chamber 108. Again, the blocking pin 215 and the blocking pin passage 218 are machined such that the application of gun grease will provide an air tight seal. Alternatively, higher operating pressures may require the use of polymer sleeves 219 on the blocking pin 215 and/or “O” rings to help maintain pressurization of the system.
  • There is another embodiment of projectile storage device that is used to store spherical projectiles in the practice of the invention. This embodiment, as utilized in a prototype of the invention and shown in FIG. 35 is referred to as the “L-rail” 160 due to its “L” shape. FIG. 35 schematically represents one embodiment of the “L-rail” 160 projectile storage device. The “L-rail” 160 can be divided into two integral components: a loading component 161 and a storage component 162. Generally speaking the loading component 161 comprises the vertical component of the “L” while the storage component 162 comprises the horizontal portion of the “L”. It is the storage component 162 that connects to a gun body 93 and transfers projectiles to a breech 250.
  • The loading component 161 comprises a projectile feed portal 163 that communicates with the “L-rail” spherical projectile storage chamber 164. The “L-rail” projectile feed portal 161 is sealed by a cap 165. In preferred embodiments the cap 165 also acts as a one-way gas valve for reasons explained later.
  • At the bottom of the loading component 161 and running along the longitudinal axis of the storage component 162 is the storage chamber 164. The storage chamber 164 runs the length of the storage component 162. At the end of the storage component 162 that is adjacent the loading component 161, there is found residing in the storage chamber 164 a projectile biasing device generally represented by element number 166. The “L-rail” projectile biasing device 166 continuously feeds spherical projectiles toward the opposite end of the storage chamber 164 and into the breech 250 of the weapon.
  • The “L-rail” projectile biasing device 166 can incorporate any method or combination of components capable of pushing spherical projectiles toward the breech of the weapon. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 35 the device 166 comprises a handle 167, a plunger pin 168, an air tight guide bushing, a spring 170, and plunger 171. As shown in FIG. 35, the spring 170 biases the plunger 171 toward projectiles 172 stored in the storage chamber 164 which has the effect of pushing the projectiles toward the end of the storage chamber 164 connected with the weapon. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 35, the end of the storage chamber 164 that connects with the weapon is closed by a threaded cap 173. This cap 173 can be removed to allow the storage chamber 164 to communicate directly with an ammunition portal 129 such as that shown in FIG. 10( a) or the cap 173 can be replaced by a stem 200. The “L-rail” may be connected to the weapon using known means with the condition that such means should be capable of maintaining high pressures within weapon.
  • An alternative, but preferred component of the “L-rail” projectile storage device 160 is a self-lubricating mechanism generally represented by element 174. The self-lubricating mechanism 174 comprises a lubrication portal 175 that is in fluid communication with the storage chamber 164. The lubrication portal 175 is sealed by a threaded plug 173. Within the lubrication portal 175 resides a porous plug (not shown) that is preferably made of a porous polymer. A small amount of gun oil can be applied to the porous plug.
  • One of the benefits of the design of the “L-rail” is that it provides for exceptional, non-jamming feed of projectiles to the weapon along with a method of lubricating the weapon which in turns aids in maintaining the high pressures needed to achieve optimum performance of the weapon. During use of the weapon, spherical projectiles 172 leave the “L-rail” and enter the weapon. When the projectile is fired a small vacuum is created in the “L-rail” as gas is drawn down the barrel of the gun. The one-way valve in the cap 165 allows the “L-rail” to “breathe” and eliminate the vacuum. However, the very slight vacuum that does occur serves to slowly pull oil out of the self-lubricating mechanism and into the storage chamber 164 and onto the projectiles 172. This minute amount of oil is then distributed throughout the gun body 93, particularly the area immediately surrounding the firing chamber 108.
  • Turning now to the portion of the weapon that fires projectiles, the firing chamber 108 FIGS. 10 a and 10 b contains the breech 250. FIGS. 9 and 13. The breech 250 is the component that places ammunition in the proper position to be fired out of the barrel. As shown in FIGS. 8, 9, and 13, the breech 250 is a generally rectangular structure having 4 side walls defining an open interior and a top plate 251 enclosing the open interior on the “top” end of the breech. The top plate 251 is sized to be received by the upper portion of the firing chamber 108 and rest along the firing chamber ledge 128 as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9.
  • Of the 4 generally rectangular side walls, three are defined by openings. The first wall 254 (or “left” wall as shown in FIG. 9) is defined by a stem opening 258 sized to tightly receive the stem 200 from the spherical projectile magazine 21. As shown in FIG. 17( b), the stem 200 advances within the stem opening 258 a distance equal to the thickness of the first wall 254 such that the end of the stem 200 is flush with the inner face of the first wall 254.
  • The second wall 255 (or “front” wall) of the breech contains a round opening 259 that is coaxial with the barrel and sized to be slightly larger than the diameter of the projectile that is to be fired from the weapon. FIG. 13. The third wall 256 (or “rear” wall) of the breech contains a round opening 260 that is coaxial with the velocity pin port 106 and is sized such that its diameter is smaller than that of the velocity pin guide 102. FIG. 11. As shown in the figures, the design of the breech 250 provides sealed and pressurized fluid communication between the firing chamber 108, specifically the interior portion of the breech 250, the velocity pin port 106, and the spherical projectile magazine 21. Additionally, if the top clip assembly 116 and the breech block lower assembly 140 are both moved to their non-biased position (e.g., the top clip assembly is moved rearward and the breech lower block assembly is moved forward) there will be additional fluid communication with the interior of lower “clip” containing ammunition. FIG. 11. This latter aspect is discussed in more detail below.
  • The breech 250 is further defined by a body 253. FIGS. 11 a and 11 b. The breech body 253 is defined on the top by the top plate 251 and on the bottom by a bottom face 252. The bottom face 252 of the breech body 253 is flush with the top of the round opening 259 in the second (or front) wall of the breech 250 as shown in FIG. 11. The breech body 253 also contains at least one magnet of a sufficient strength to hold at least one and preferably several projectiles in place proximate to and generally coaxial with the round opening 259 in the second (or front) wall of the breech 250. In the prototype shown in the figures, two magnet holes 261 were drilled in the breech body 253 traversing the thickness of the breech body 253. Each magnet hole 261 received a magnet 262. This particular design utilizing two magnets was chosen to aid in stabilizing oblong projectiles such as metal pellets that may be fed up from an attached magazine. However, it is envisioned that other designs will incorporate different sized and shaped magnets depending on the preferences of the practitioner.
  • The second (or front) wall 255 abuts the forward wall of the firing chamber 108 which is the general demarcation line for the front section 111 of the gun body 93. FIG. 10( a). Disposed within the front section 111 of the gun body 93, and situated coaxially with the velocity pin port 106 and the round opening 259 in the second wall 255 of the breech 250, is the barrel bore 270. FIG. 10 b.
  • The barrel bore 270 receives the barrel 271, FIG. 18, to be used in the practice of the invention. The barrel 271 is received into the barrel bore 270 in the standard threaded manner. The diameter of the barrel bore 270 may vary depending upon the needs of the practitioner and those skilled in the art are well aware of the variations that go into designing gun barrels.
  • One novel feature of the weapon according to the invention is its novel use of compressed gas to fire a projectile. Known pneumatic weapons utilize a blast of compressed gas to propel a projectile unimpeded out of a barrel. Until now, the conventional wisdom in gun making is that impeding the path of a projectile out of a gun, such as by plugging the barrel, would make the gun inoperable and likely lead to disastrous results. For example, plugging the barrel of a conventional firearm can cause the gun to explode when the gun is fired.
  • The weapon according to the invention opposes this convention by placing a barrier directly between the projectile and the barrel for the specific purpose of impeding the forward progress of the projectile. Furthermore, it is this impedance of forward movement of the projectile and the manner in which it is carried out that gives the weapon its power. This aspect of the invention is discussed in greater detail below.
  • The barrel bore 270 also receives another component that directly relates to another novel aspect of the invention: a barrier 290 intermediate the breech 250 and the barrel 27. FIGS. 8, 11 a, 11 b and 19. In a prototype of the invention the barrier 290 is located immediately to the right of the firing chamber 108 (or “forward” of the firing chamber) in the rear terminus of the barrel bore 270.
  • The barrier 290 as used in the practice of the invention is a device that prevents the movement of the projectile from the breech 250 to the opening of the gun barrel 271 in the absence of applied pressure. More specifically, the barrier 290 is a device that is generally coaxial with the projectile and the gun barrel 271 and contains an opening 293 that traverses its length. The opening 293 is capable of providing fluid communication between the breech and the gun barrel, although as described below, in most instances the interaction between the projectile and the breech results in intermittent fluid communication between the breech 250 and the gun barrel 271.
  • The barrier 290 impedes movement of a projectile due to the size of the aforementioned opening 293. The opening 293 is smaller than the projectile. Thus when the force of gas through the solenoid and gun body pushes the projectile toward the gun barrel, the barrier prevents its forward movement until the pressure in the gun body 93 (specifically the firing chamber 108) reaches a point that it forces the projectile through the opening thereby instantaneously converting the potential energy of the gas pressure into kinetic energy of the projectile.
  • Turning now to a preferred embodiment shown in the Figures, the barrier used in the practice of the invention is an annular bushing 290 having a cylindrical opening extending throughout its length. The exact size and shape of the barrier may vary depending on the design of the gun barrel 271, gun body 93 borings, etc. For example, some gun barrels are octagonal.
  • Likewise, the opening that defines the barrier may also vary in its size and shape. As shown in FIGS. 19 and 20, the annular bushing 290 is preferably round and has a round opening traversing its length. Theoretically, the opening could take on another shape such as an oval or a “star”. For those preferred bushings 290 that contain a round opening, the inner diameter of the opening is smaller than the outer diameter of the projectile. The absolute value of the difference between the inner diameter of the bushing 290 and the outer diameter of the projectile can vary and this variance can alter the velocity of the projectiles leaving the weapon. For this reason the bushing 290 utilized in the preferred embodiment is also called a “velocity bushing” 290 because by altering the makeup and dimensions of the bushing one can alter the velocity of the projectiles leaving the weapon. In a preferred embodiment the bushing 290 is made of durable polyurethane such as Natural 90A durometer polyurethane.
  • Preferably the input face of the velocity bushing 290 (the face adjacent the firing chamber 108 and the front wall 255 of the breech 250) is slightly conically tapered to the inner diameter to allow for the setting of a projectile into firing position by the velocity pin 100. FIG. 19. This conical tapering is graphically represented by solid line 292 on the left hand side of the velocity bushing 290 shown in FIG. 11( a) and by the concentric circles in FIG. 20 and is shown schematically in FIG. 19. The opposite face of the velocity bushing 290 is disposed adjacent a barrel spacer 291 that separates the velocity bushing 290 from the barrel 271. The opposite face of the velocity bushing 20 can be tapered as well as shown by the dotted lines 294 in FIG. 19. A velocity bushing 290 having both ends tapered generally fires a round with less power than a velocity bushing having only the entry side tapered because a double taper holding it back reduces the force of the round as discussed below. However, such bushings might be desirable as a power reduction failsafe during certain circumstances (e.g., crowd control).
  • The dimensions shown in FIG. 19 are illustrative of dimensions that might be used in preparing a velocity bushing for a .313 caliber projectile. These dimensions are for illustration only and should not be interpreted as limiting the scope of invention. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the dimensions can be changed according to the principles discussed herein.
  • Although the barrel spacer 291 can be an optional component, its use is recommended because if it is removed it is easy to tighten the barrel 271 too tight and distort the geometry of the velocity bushing 290. The inner diameter of the barrel spacer should be equal to the inner diameter of the barrel.
  • In a prototype of the invention designed to fire a .313 caliber round, steel projectile, the velocity bushing 290 was made of natural 90A durometer polyurethane. The velocity bushing was 0.5 inch long by 0.5 inch wide. The outer diameter was 0.5 inch and the internal diameter was 0.28 inches. During operation, because the inner diameter of the velocity bushing 290 is smaller than the outer diameter of the projectile, the velocity bushing 290 initially prevents forward movement of the projectile. Because the face of the velocity bushing 290 adjacent the projectile is tapered to create a generally concave face, it snugly receives a portion of a rounded projectile. In other words, the concave face of the velocity bushing receives the convex projectile which provides for an even distribution of resistive force on the face of the projectile which greatly stabilizes the projectile in the breech.
  • When the trigger is pulled the solenoid opens releasing gas from the gas storage unit which travels through the velocity port 106 and into the firing chamber 108. Pressure builds in the firing chamber 108 almost instantaneously pushing the projectile toward the velocity bushing 290. Yet, because the velocity bushing 290 prevents the forward movement of the projectile, and creates an air tight seal, the pressure in the firing chamber 108 builds to pressures beyond that seen in known pneumatic weapons. When the gas pressure reaches a certain level (1500 psi in the prototype), the potential energy of the compressed gas overcomes the resistance provided by the velocity bushing 290 and the projectile if forced through the opening 293 in the bushing 290. The potential energy of the compressed gas is then almost instantaneously converted to kinetic energy of the projectile as it shoots through the velocity bushing 290 and out the barrel.
  • This conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy is much more efficient than the conversions seen in current known pneumatic weapons. In known pneumatic weapons unimpeded projectiles slowly gather kinetic energy as the initial burst of gas immediately dissipates down the barrel. Alternatively, known weapons place an insubstantial and non-air-tight barrier in front of a projectile to keep it from rolling out a down turned barrel (e.g., a flap hinge). In contrast, the gas released by the firing mechanism in the invention is not immediately dissipated or used to knock over a weak flap. Instead, the gas is trapped and builds pressure thereby storing additional potential energy that is then transferred to the projectile.
  • Using the prototype velocity bushing 290 described above the weapon was capable of firing a .313 round, steel projectile at 1000 feet per second. This type of velocity bushing 290 is also very durable in that prototypes of the invention have fired over 2000 rounds before noticing a decline in power or accuracy.
  • As those skilled in the art can readily see, altering stiffness of the velocity bushing 290 (e.g., using a different polymer), or changing the geometry of the velocity bushing (specifically the internal diameter of the bushing), or increasing or decreasing the size of the fired projectile can all effect the final pressure at which a projectile is fired and thus alter the muzzle velocity (or power) of the projectile as it leaves the barrel.
  • For example, another planned prototype of the invention is a .50 caliber weapon using a .50 caliber barrel and a 90A durometer polyurethane velocity bushing 290 having a 0.75 inch outer diameter, an inner diameter (ID) less than 0.75 inch (exact ID is variable depending on pressure used), and a length of 0.75 inch.
  • Turning now to the barrel section of the invention, the barrel bore 270 receives the barrel 271 to be used in the practice of the invention. The barrel 271 utilized in the practice of the invention can vary from a standard straight non-rifled barrel such as those used in BB guns or muskets to complex rifled barrels with noise reduction components and gas assist mechanisms. The former type of barrel is well known in the art and need not be described in detail here. The latter type of barrel was used in a prototype of the invention and is described herein.
  • FIGS. 18, 21 and 26 show the various components of the barrel section of the representative weapon and a representation of a barrel insert that can be used to change the caliber of ammunition fired from the weapon. As an initial matter, there is shown a gun site 272 FIG. 22 such as those that are standard in the industry and commercially available.
  • The barrel 271 may be made of any of the standard materials (e.g., steel alloys) that are used to make gun barrels. Similarly, the barrel 271 may be of any reasonable length. The prototype of the invention used a stainless steel barrel 271 approximately 24 inches in length. The barrel 271 was rifled due to the simultaneous use of round projectiles and oblong projectiles (e.g., pellets) with skirts that may expand upon release of the compressed gas and engage with the rifling. Standard rifling techniques were utilized to place rifling 273 in the barrel as shown in FIG. 22.
  • Another type of rifling technique utilized in the practice of the invention is spiral venting. As shown in FIG. 18 and FIG. 22, a plurality of small holes or “vents” 274 were drilled into the muzzle end of the barrel 271 in a spiraling pattern. These vents 274 allow gas to escape from the muzzle in a defined spiraling pattern. Normally, when round steel projectiles (BBs) traverse the barrel they do not engage with the rifling or only to a minimal extent. Thus they only slightly spin as they leave the barrel, if at all. This lack of spin causes a lack of accuracy when firing such spherical projectiles. The vents 274 help address this problem.
  • As a spherical projectile traverses the vented portion of the barrel 271, the pattern of the escaping gas causes the spherical projectile to rotate or twist in a fashion similar to that of lead bullet leaving a standard rifle. This improves the accuracy of the weapon according to the invention when using spherical ammunition as compared to other pneumatic weapons.
  • The vents 274 serve another purpose as well. That purpose is to provide a gas assist mechanism which aids in the feeding of ammunition from a bottom loaded magazine and recycles a portion of the compressed gas utilized to fire the weapon.
  • FIG. 22 shows a variation of the barrel 271 that uses a gas collection mechanism 279. Looking at FIGS. 22 and 25, the gas collection mechanism 279 comprises two components: a locking ring 281 with a mating cylindrical cover 280. The locking ring 281 comprises a flange 282 that is integral with a threaded plug 283. Integrally attached to the threaded plug 283 is a half collar 284 which forms half of an annulus that will surround the barrel 271. The other half of the collar 284 (not shown) combines with the half collar 284 attached to the threaded plug 282 via set screws 285. Tightening the set screws 285 tightens the two halves of the collar 284 and clamps the collar 284, and thus the locking ring 281 to the barrel 271. The threaded plug 283 mates with the rear portion of the similarly threaded cylindrical cover 280 to create the gas collection mechanism 279 that encloses the end of the barrel.
  • The cylindrical cover 280 seals itself against the flange 282 and is partially enclosed at the muzzle end of the barrel. The muzzle end 288 of the cylindrical cover 280 is defined by an annular flange having a inner diameter sufficient to receive the end of the barrel 271 and a plurality of vents for expelling a portion of the gas that is expelled at each firing. FIG. 26. The cylindrical cover 280 possesses an inner diameter substantially greater than the outer diameter of the barrel 271 thus forming an annular space 278 for collecting a portion of the gas that is expelled at each firing. FIG. 22.
  • The locking ring 281 preferably contains a return gas port 286 drilled within the flange 282. The return gas port 286 comprises a one way valve connected to a standard gas coupling 287 which in turn connects to a gas return line 277 which leads to a bottom feed ammunition magazine. FIG. 1. When the weapon is fired, the gas utilized to propel the projectile out the barrel flows through the vents 274 in the barrel and is captured in the annular space 278. A portion of this gas escapes out the front of the gas collection mechanism through vents 289 but a portion is also sent through the one way valve and gas coupling 287, down the gas return line 277 and back into the system via a bottom loaded magazine.
  • Another novel feature of the present invention is the relative ease with which the weapon may be modified to fire different ammunition of different caliber. FIG. 21 is a view of a barrel insert 269, a barrel cap 268 and a velocity bushing 290 and spacer 291 of a different caliber than one originally used by a user. By way of explanation, consider FIG. 18 to represent a .50 caliber barrel along with a .50 caliber velocity bushing and spacer and FIG. 21 to represent a .22 caliber barrel, bushing, and spacer.
  • Generally speaking, .50 caliber ammunition is much heavier and more expensive than .22 caliber ammunition. Accordingly, a user of the weapon may not want to fire .50 caliber ammunition at all times (e.g., during practice or training). Such a user can change the weapon to fire .22 caliber ammunition by simply inserting a smaller .22 caliber barrel insert 269 into the .50 caliber barrel. The user can begin the transformation by removing the breech 250 from the weapon and inserting a .22 caliber spacer 291 and velocity bushing 290. The breech 250 is then replaced and the .22 caliber barrel insert 269 is inserted into the .50 caliber barrel. The end of the .50 caliber barrel is threaded to receive the barrel cap 268. The barrel cap 268 is an annular cap with an opening that receives the muzzle end of the barrel insert 269. Engaging the barrel cap 269 with the barrel insert 269 and the end of the .50 caliber barrel locks the barrel insert 269 in place. Thus after replacing only two items and inserting a third, the weapon is ready for firing .22 caliber ammunition.
  • Note that a forward “L” shaped bracket 297 having a plurality of holes for receiving the barrel 271, breech block pin 143, the gas return line 277 and a forward hand grip 298 (or other similar type of hand rest) completes the frame of the weapon as shown in FIG. 8.
  • The weapon according to the invention preferably contains a dual feeding system for ammunition that allows the weapon to fire at least two different types of ammunition without having to change barrels or breeches. One type of ammunition, spherical projectiles (e.g., BBs), was discussed previously. This section will discuss a second type of projectile that is non-spherical and is shaped more like traditional pellets or bullets.
  • The return gas line 277 extends from the gas collection mechanism 279 rearward to couple with a second type of projectile storage device that can be used with the weapon accordingly to the invention. This second type of storage device is similar to known “clip” magazines for holding bullets and is shown as a magazine 32 in FIGS. 1, 2, and 7. The return gas line 277 couples with the clip magazine 32 via a gas portal 299 at the bottom of the magazine using standard gas couples recovered gas is thereby returned to the system via the interior of the magazine. Turning now to FIGS. 27-30, there is shown in an exploded view and in cross-section a representative magazine 32 that may be utilized in the practice of the invention. The magazine 32 is generally rectangular in shape as is common in the art and has a first end and a second end. The second end inserts into a slot in the bottom of the gun body 93 and supplies projectiles to the breech 250 of the pneumatic weapon.
  • In a preferred embodiment of this type of projectile storage device, the clip magazine 32 comprises an outer rectangular sleeve 300 that is open on both ends with at least one tension device 302 disposed therein. Attached to the bottom of the rectangular sleeve 300 is a base plate 301 from which a tension device extends. In preferred embodiments the tension device is one or more springs 302. The magazine springs 302 engage with a magazine plunger 303 via spring receiving sleeves 309 located on the bottom of the magazine plunger 303. The tension device (e.g., magazine springs 302) bias the plunger 303 toward the second end of the magazine 32.
  • Attached to the top of the rectangular sleeve 300 (the end opposite the base plate 301 or the “second” end of the magazine) are two magazine cover brackets 304. The magazine cover brackets 304 are “L” brackets and are attached to longitudinally to the top of the rectangular sleeve 300 such that each creates a slot for receiving a longitudinal edge of a magazine cover 305 as shown in FIGS. 27 and 28. The cover 35 is thus connected to and covers the second end of the magazine 32. The magazine cover 305 is further defined by a raised platform 306 on the end facing the gun body 93 and a conical beveling 307 on the side opposite the side with the raised platform 306. The conical beveling 307 provides stability for bullet shaped projectiles stored in the clip magazine 32 as it is pressed upwards by the magazine springs 302. A small hole 308 for receiving the breech block protrusion 146 is situated on the forward face at the top of the clip magazine 32.
  • Projectiles are loaded into the clip magazine 32 from the top of the magazine through the opening between the magazine cover brackets 304. The projectiles are pushed downward against the magazine plunger 303 to compress the magazine springs 302 as shown in FIG. 29. When the clip magazine 32 is full or the desired amount of projectiles are loaded the magazine cover 305 is moved forward to fully engage with the magazine cover brackets 304 thus containing the projectiles within the magazine.
  • The clip magazine 32 is designed to engage with the middle section of the gun body 93, specifically the lower loading chamber 133. More specifically, to engage the magazine 32 with the gun body 93, the breech block bolt 142 is moved forward thus moving the breech block 141 forward in the lower loading chamber 133. The magazine 32 is inserted into the void created in the lower loading chamber 133 by the forward movement of the breech block 141. Once the magazine 32 is in place the breech block bolt 142 is released and the breech block spring 145 moves the breech block 141 and the breech block pin protrusion 146 rearward where the protrusion 146 engages with a small hole 308 in the top of the magazine 32 thereby locking the magazine 32 in place as shown in FIG. 11.
  • Continuing with FIG. 11, note that when the magazine 32 is engaged with the gun body, the magazine cover raised platform 306 engages with the top clip bolt notch 123. Thus, when the top clip bolt handle 120 and top clip bolt 117 are pull rearward, the top clip bolt 117, which is engaged with the clip magazine cover 305, pulls the clip magazine cover 305 rearward providing fluid communication between the interior of the clip magazine 32 and the firing chamber 108. This firing arrangement is what is shown in cross-section in FIG. 11.
  • Turning now to the operation of the weapon according to the invention, the weapon may be fired in automatic or semi-automatic mode using one type or two different types of ammunition. The semi-automatic mode will be discussed first.
  • FIGS. 31-33 graphically illustrate how the weapon fires ammunition from a magazine in semi-automatic mode. Firing of the weapon begins by noting that at rest (i.e., before the system is pressurized) the velocity pin 100 is biased back out of the firing chamber 108 by the velocity return spring 104. FIG. 11. In addition, the ammunition blocking pin 215 that prevents spherical ammunition from entering the firing chamber 108 is pushed forward FIG. 17 b. The first active step in firing the weapon involves charging the gas storage chamber 57 with a gas at high pressure (e.g., 1500 psi) via the gas feed port 72 which is connected to a source of high pressure gas. Then a round of ammunition is placed in the firing chamber 108. In FIGS. 31-33 the ammunition is a skirted pellet or bullet fed from a clip magazine. The first round is placed in the firing chamber 108 by pulling back the top clip bolt 117 and magazine cover 305 to open the interior of the magazine 32 as shown in FIG. 11. The magazine springs 302 press upward against the magazine plunger 303 which pushes a round of ammunition into the firing chamber 108 where it is held in place by magnets 262. Preferably, the ammunition is made of a metal that is attracted to the magnets 262 located in the top of the breech 250 or is coated with such a metal. The magnets 262 hold the round in a firing position immediately behind the velocity bushing 290.
  • The trigger 80 is then pulled completing the circuit activating the solenoid 84. Upon activation, the solenoid 84 opens allowing high pressure gas to flow almost instantaneously from the gas storage chamber 57 through the velocity tube 94 where it both presses the velocity pin plunger 99 forward and fills the velocity pin port 106 and firing chamber 108 with high pressure gas due to the perforations in the velocity pin plunger and velocity pin guide 102.
  • As the velocity pin plunger 99 and thus the velocity pin 100 move forward, the forward terminus of the velocity pin 100 engages the rear of the round that is in the firing chamber 108 thereby seating it coaxially within the slight conical depression in the rear face of the velocity bushing 290. The velocity bushing 290 restrains forward movement of the round until the pressure in the firing chamber 108 builds to a point sufficient to overcome the resistance provided by the velocity bushing 290.
  • At that point, the round is violently forced through the aperture of the velocity bushing 290 and the potential energy of the compressed gas is converted into the kinetic energy of the round. FIG. 31 schematically represents the moment when the round is traversing the velocity bushing 290 and about to traverse the velocity spacer 291. The round travels down the barrel 271 of the weapon and out the muzzle. Gas expended in the firing of the round escapes out the end of the barrel either through the muzzle or through vents located at the end of the barrel in the gas collection mechanism 279. The gas escaping through the vents 274 and captured in the gas collection mechanism 279 causes an increase in pressure sufficient to open the one way valve in the gas return mechanism and transmit gas from the gas collection mechanism back to the firing chamber 108 via gas line 277.
  • When the round is fired through the velocity bushing 290 there is a momentary drop in air pressure sufficient to allow the velocity return spring 104 to push the velocity pin plunger 99 and the velocity pin 100 rearward for a distance sufficient to allow another round to enter the firing chamber 108. FIG. 32 schematically captures the moment right after the projectile exits the velocity bushing 209 and the velocity pin 100 is moving rearward to allow another projectile to feed into the breech. FIG. 33 captures the instant the next projectile feeds into the breech. The cycle then repeats when the trigger is pulled again.
  • For automatic fire the process is exactly the same with a couple of exceptions. First, the trigger circuit microprocessor is programmed to remain open until the trigger is released. Thus, the solenoid remains open and gas continuously floods the firing chamber 108 firing round after round until the ammunition is spent (or the trigger is released). Secondly, the gun body 93 is equipped with a small automatic fire port 231 in which resides an automatic fire pin 230 which is schematically represented in FIG. 34. The automatic fire port 231 and the automatic fire pin 230 communicate with the firing chamber 108 such that when the automatic fire pin 230 is engaged, it extends into the firing chamber 108 for a distance sufficient to block the velocity pin 100 from reciprocating which allows a free flow of ammunition into the firing chamber 108 where they are fired as quickly as allowed by the velocity bushing 290, pressure levels, size of ammunition, etc.
  • Alternatively, the trigger circuit microprocessor can be programmed to fire bursts of rounds of any given number (e.g., 3, 5, or 7 round bursts). As noted previously, such programmable firing mechanisms are known in the art and need not be detailed here. Prototypes of the invention have achieved a rate of fire of 30-40 rounds per second depending on the pressures used, diameter of opening in the velocity bushing, etc.
  • Spherical ammunition is fired through the weapon in a similar manner. To fire spherical ammunition one must first isolate the magazine 32. This is accomplished by moving the top clip assembly 116 to a forward position thus re-engaging the magazine cover 305 with the magazine cover brackets 304 as shown in FIG. 35. FIG. 35 is a view at the clip magazine with portions removed to show the relevant elements. If desired the entire magazine 32 may be removed by disengaging the clip magazine 32 from the breech block pin protrusion 146.
  • If the ammunition blocking pin 215 (FIG. 16) is pushed forward it should be pulled back thereby opening the stem 200 to the firing chamber 108. Gravity will feed spherical ammunition from the cylindrical ammunition magazine 21 via the spiral ramp 206 and stem 200 to the firing chamber 108. Firing of the weapon then proceeds as previously discussed.
  • It is also worth noting two design features that provide for continued fire of spherical ammunition even if the weapon is held upside down. First, the magnets 262 utilized in the practice of the invention will typically hold a chain of 8-12 or more projectiles depending on the size of the projectile and strength of the magnet. Current prototypes utilize magnets capable of holding 8-10 .313 caliber projectiles in a continuous chain extending from the firing chamber back into the magazine.
  • Second, the spherical projectile magazine 21 is pressurized via a gas line 214 that connects directly to the gun body 93, specifically the velocity pin port 106, via gas port 216. As the velocity pin plunger 99 moves forward during a firing sequence it unblocks the gas port 216 allowing the gas flowing from the open solenoid 84 to flow through gas line 214 and pressurize the spherical projectile magazine 21 along with the firing chamber 108.
  • When the round fires and travels down the barrel it creates a “dragging/vacuum” effect in the firing chamber 108. Furthermore, the pressurized gas in the spherical projectile magazine 21 assists in creates a slight “push” of gas out of the stem 200 and into the firing chamber 108. These “pull and push” effects related to gas movement immediately after firing a round, in conjunction with the magnets 262, and the constant movement of ammunition toward the firing chamber 108 during operation, should be sufficient to feed spherical ammunition to the firing chamber 108 even if the weapon is held upside down.
  • In yet another embodiment, the invention comprises a method of expelling a projectile from the barrel of a pneumatic gun. The method according to the invention is generally described in the following paragraphs in reference to the apparatus that was described previously.
  • In general, the method according to the invention comprises the steps of providing a source of compressed gas that is in fluid communication with the breech of the pneumatic gun. The flow of compressed gas into the gun is preferably controlled by an electronic circuit such as that controlling the aforementioned solenoid.
  • The method according to the invention also comprises the step of placing a projectile in the breech of a pneumatic gun where the projectile is coaxial with a gun barrel. A barrier, such as the velocity bushing 290 described previously, is placed intermediate the projectile and the gun barrel.
  • Once the projectile is in the breech the electronic circuit initiates the flow of compressed gas into the breech. The pneumatic pressure inside the breech increases to a pressure sufficient to force the projectile through an opening in the barrier and out the gun barrel.
  • As many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
  • While the invention has been described with respect to a various embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in detail may be made therein without departing from the spirit, scope, and teaching of the invention. Accordingly, the invention herein disclosed is to be limited only as specified in the following claims.

Claims (36)

1. A pneumatic weapon comprising:
a gun barrel;
a gun body containing a breech for receiving a projectile;
a barrier positioned intermediate said breech and said barrel and coaxial with said barrel, said barrier defined by an opening therein permitting fluid communication between said breech and said barrel, said opening having a diameter sufficient to prevent a projectile from traversing the velocity bushing in the absence of applied pressure.
2. A pneumatic weapon according to claim 1 in which said barrier is a bushing defined by an inner diameter that is smaller than the outer diameter of said projectile.
3. A pneumatic weapon according to claim 2 further comprising:
a gas storage chamber;
a solenoid providing fluid communication between said gas storage chamber and said breech;
a firing mechanism for activating said solenoid; and
at least one projectile storage device capable of providing projectiles to said breech.
4. A pneumatic weapon according to claim 3 wherein said firing mechanism comprises an electronic circuit that activates said solenoid.
5. A pneumatic weapon according to claim 3 wherein the weapon comprises a first projectile storage device which contains a first projectile and a second projectile storage device which contains a second projectile, said first and second projectiles being different from one another.
6. A pneumatic weapon according to claim 2 wherein said bushing is defined by a concave face adjacent said breech.
7. A pneumatic weapon according to claim 1 wherein said barrier is made of a polymer.
8. A pneumatic weapon according to claim 3 that fires projectiles in a semi-automatic fashion, an automatic fashion or both.
9. A barrier for placement intermediate a projectile and a gun barrel, said barrier having an opening therein that is coaxial with said gun barrel and permits fluid communication with said gun barrel.
10. A barrier according to claim 9 wherein said barrier is a bushing.
11. A barrier according to claim 10 wherein said bushing has a concave face adjacent said projectile.
12. A barrier according to claim 9 wherein said barrier is made of a polymer and prevents the traversal of said projectile through said barrier in the absence of applied pressure.
13. A barrier according to claim 10 wherein said bushing has an inner diameter that is smaller than the outer diameter of said projectile.
14. A projectile storage device for a pneumatic weapon comprising:
a base having a least one face adjacent said pneumatic weapon, said base comprising a boring and a projectile feed port for transferring projectiles to said weapon, said feed port in fluid communication with said boring;
a spiral tower situated within said boring capable of transferring spherical projectiles to said feed port; and
a cover enclosing said spiral tower, said cover having a loading port for receiving spherical projectiles.
15. A projectile storage device according to claim 14 further comprising an ammunition blocking pin for blocking the passage of spherical projectiles through said feed port.
16. A projectile storage device according to claim 14 further comprising a gas portal for receiving a gas into the interior of the projectile storage device.
17. A projectile storage device according to claim 14 wherein said feed port extends from said base.
18. A projectile storage device according to claim 14 wherein said feed port terminates at the face of the base that is adjacent to said weapon.
19. A projectile storage device comprising:
a magazine, said magazine having a first end and a second end, said second end capable of supplying projectiles to a breech of a pneumatic weapon;
at least one tension device disposed within said magazine;
a magazine plunger connected to said tension device, said tension device biasing said plunger toward said second end of said magazine;
a sliding cover connected to and covering said second end of said magazine; and
a one-way gas portal providing fluid communication with the interior of said magazine.
20. A projectile storage device according to claim 19 wherein said tension device comprises at least one spring.
21. A projectile storage device according to claim 19 wherein said one-way gas portal is connected to a gas line that receives gas expelled from a barrel of said pneumatic weapon.
22. A projectile storage device according to claim 19 wherein said magazine is designed to store bullet shaped projectiles.
23. A mechanism to control the transfer of projectiles into the breech of a pneumatic weapon, said mechanism comprising:
a breech;
a port in fluid communication with said breech;
a pin coaxially disposed within said port, said pin capable of reciprocal movement within said port and breech in response to changes in air pressure.
24. A mechanism according to claim 23 further comprising:
a gas storage chamber;
a solenoid intermediate said gas storage chamber and said port, said solenoid providing fluid communication between said gas storage chamber and said port; and
a plunger coaxially disposed within said port and attached to said pin, said plunger providing resistance to fluid flow through said port.
25. A mechanism according to claim 24 further comprising a trigger mechanism controlling the transfer of gas through said solenoid and into said port.
26. A mechanism according to claim 25 wherein when said trigger mechanism is activated gas flows from said gas storage chamber through said solenoid and into said port thereby moving said plunger and pin toward said breech.
27. A projectile storage device comprising:
a loading component;
a storage component for storing projectiles, said loading component and said storage component being in fluid communication with each other;
a one way gas valve integral to said loading component;
a self-lubricating mechanism integral to said loading component; and
a projectile biasing device that communicates with said storage component for biasing projectiles toward the breech of a pneumatic weapon.
28. A projectile storage device according to claim 27 wherein said projectile biasing device comprises a plunger and a spring.
29. A projectile storage device according to claim 27 wherein said self-lubricating mechanism comprises a lubrication portal integral with said loading component, wherein said portal is in fluid communication with said storage component and wherein said portal retains a porous plug, said plug for receiving a quantity of gun oil.
30. A method of expelling a projectile from the barrel of a pneumatic gun, said method comprising the steps of:
placing a projectile in the breech of a pneumatic gun, said projectile being coaxial with a gun barrel;
placing a barrier intermediate said projectile and said gun barrel;
increasing the pneumatic pressure within said breech to a pressure sufficient to force said projectile through said barrier and out the gun barrel.
31. A method according to claim 30 wherein said barrier is a bushing that is coaxial with said gun barrel, said bushing having an inner diameter smaller than the outer diameter of the projectile.
32. A method according to claim 30 further comprising the step of providing a source of compressed gas in fluid communication with said breech.
33. A method according to claim 32 wherein the transmission of said compressed gas to said breech is controlled by an electronic circuit.
34. A method according to claim 33 wherein a portion of the gas transmitted to said breech is transmitted through the barrier and out the gun barrel where a portion of the gas is reclaimed for re-use in the pneumatic gun.
35. A method according to claim 30 in which said pneumatic gun fires projectiles in an automatic mode, a semiautomatic mode or both.
36. A method according to claim 30 wherein said gun possesses two different types of projectiles and is capable of firing either type without changing projectile storage devices or barrel.
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Cited By (7)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US8776771B1 (en) * 2013-02-27 2014-07-15 Green Science Laboratory Inc. Pneumatic gun and extension barrel
WO2014113610A1 (en) * 2013-01-16 2014-07-24 Tiberius Benjamin T Pneumatic system and method for simulated firearm training
EP2674719A3 (en) * 2012-06-11 2015-08-12 Alexander Nikolaus Von Poswik Barrel for a paintball marker and paintball marker
CN105188868A (en) * 2013-03-12 2015-12-23 乐高公司 Shooting toy
US20160363413A1 (en) * 2014-08-01 2016-12-15 James Nicholas Marshall Magnetically-chambered fully automatic air gun
US20180073831A1 (en) * 2016-01-15 2018-03-15 Zhongshan New Swan Technology Co., Ltd. Automatic pellet loader of pneumatic air gun
RU2657846C2 (en) * 2016-12-12 2018-06-15 Александр Сергеевич Штернберг Pneumatic weapon

Cited By (15)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP2674719A3 (en) * 2012-06-11 2015-08-12 Alexander Nikolaus Von Poswik Barrel for a paintball marker and paintball marker
US10436539B2 (en) 2013-01-16 2019-10-08 Virtra, Inc. Pneumatic system and method for simulated firearm training
WO2014113610A1 (en) * 2013-01-16 2014-07-24 Tiberius Benjamin T Pneumatic system and method for simulated firearm training
US10209025B2 (en) * 2013-01-16 2019-02-19 Tiberius Technology, Llc Pneumatic system and method for simulated firearm training
US9719747B2 (en) 2013-01-16 2017-08-01 Benjamin T. Tiberius Pneumatic system and method for simulated firearm training
US8776771B1 (en) * 2013-02-27 2014-07-15 Green Science Laboratory Inc. Pneumatic gun and extension barrel
CN105188868A (en) * 2013-03-12 2015-12-23 乐高公司 Shooting toy
AU2015296835B2 (en) * 2014-08-01 2020-01-02 James Nicholas Marshall Magnetically-chambered fully automatic air gun
EP3186577A4 (en) * 2014-08-01 2018-03-21 Marshall, James, Nicholas Magnetically-chambered fully automatic air gun
US9885536B2 (en) * 2014-08-01 2018-02-06 James Nicholas Marshall Magnetically-chambered fully automatic air gun
US10408563B2 (en) 2014-08-01 2019-09-10 James Nicholas Marshall Magnetically-chambered fully automatic air gun
US20160363413A1 (en) * 2014-08-01 2016-12-15 James Nicholas Marshall Magnetically-chambered fully automatic air gun
US10066896B2 (en) * 2016-01-15 2018-09-04 Zhongshan New Swan Technology Co., Ltd. Automatic pellet loader of pneumatic air gun
US20180073831A1 (en) * 2016-01-15 2018-03-15 Zhongshan New Swan Technology Co., Ltd. Automatic pellet loader of pneumatic air gun
RU2657846C2 (en) * 2016-12-12 2018-06-15 Александр Сергеевич Штернберг Pneumatic weapon

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Owner name: MURRAY TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ARKANSAS

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MURRAY, ADAM M., MR;REEL/FRAME:026585/0777

Effective date: 20110705

STCB Information on status: application discontinuation

Free format text: ABANDONED -- FAILURE TO RESPOND TO AN OFFICE ACTION