Nick and I continually bemoan the apparent ‘stagnovation’ in the domestic firearms market, where a gun can be sold as “Completely Redesigned For 2014!” simply because the upcoming version will have interchangeable backstraps. But there’s reason to hope it’s not just hype: a record 370 firearms patents were issued in just the last year. This is a 35-year high, and more than twice the average of 169 patents per year since 1977. Our firearms inventors are working away in their machine shops and keeping their patent lawyers’ time-shares paid up, but where’s the next Saint John The Browning? And where’s my caseless 4.73mm carbine? . . .
Some of these patents seem a bit silly, like No. 8.584.391 which envisions a telescoping-barrel shotgun:
A shotgun has a telescoping barrel made of concentric barrel sections slidably engaged together. These include at least an inner barrel section and an outer barrel section. A grip on the outer barrel section aids telescopic movement. A locking pin secures or releases the barrel sections. The barrel sections have protrusions that interfere with further outward movement once fully telescoped out. The grip may have a channel to permit a pistol grip to slide onto the grip. A second pistol grip may be connected to the trigger. The butt of the gun may slide out to make a shoulder rest. A butt plate is connected to a rod that slides into and out of the shotgun. The rod has teeth that engage a spring-loaded arm to secure the rod in an extended position. A compression or tension spring may bias the concentric barrel sections in an extended or shortened configuration.
Would this become an NFA-registered SBS when you collapse the barrel? I don’t know, but nobody’d better tell DiFi that this patent includes a shoulder thingy that goes up. Either way, I’m not sure how a cone-shaped barrel would make your shot patterns any tighter unless it’s got The Mother Of All Jug Chokes at the end of it. (Which is nowhere in the patent abstract, BTW.)
And I hate to second-guess the fine minds of the U.S. Patent Office, but some of these patents seem to have been done already, like the Ammunition Carrier For Firearm Stock described in Patent No. 8,584,389:
An ammunition carrier for attaching one or more cartridges to a firearm. The ammunition carrier may comprise a base member for securing the carrier to the stock of a firearm such as a long gun and a cartridge holder for releasably retaining one or more cartridges within a plurality of cartridge storage loops. A releasable connection between the base member and the cartridge holder allows for the cartridge holder and the cartridges held therein to be quickly and easily removed from the stock of the firearm such as when the firearm is to be placed in a case for storage or transport. A cover may also be associated with the ammunition carrier for covering at least a portion of the one or more cartridges and the cover is at least partially moveable to permit selective removal of the one or more cartridges.
It may be an awkward time to mention this, but I think I’ve already got one of these attached to my old Mossberg 500. And, just possibly, another one attached to the stock of my Remington 70 PSS. But what if I’m wrong, and somebody wants to cover our rifle buttstocks with Picatinny-rail ammunition carriers? The horror! The horror!
Some of these patents, however, sound like a damned good idea. U.S. Patent No. 8572878 protects Beretta’s concept for a cocker/decocker for striker-fired semiautomatic pistols.
A cocking/de-cocking mechanism for semi-automatic striker-fired pistols having a multi-function cocking lever for controlling, by rotational movement, the cocking or arming of the tiring pin, while effecting de-cocking by the lateral displacement of the cocking lever on its support pin.
This is fairly hard to visualize, and I’m not an inventor so this publicly-searchable patent illustration doesn’t help me much. Many of the other patents I searched through (magazine monopods, revolver cylinder shrouds, et cetera, ad nauseum) were solutions in search of a problem, but this Beretta patent actually seems to do something useful: it de-cocks a striker-fired pistol without having to dry-fire it. A lot of Glock owners could have avoided soiling their BVDs if their striker-fired pistols had a feature like this.
Even this good idea still smacks of only incremental, evolutionary change in firearms technology. If you’re waiting for something revolutionary like the Glock, you’ll have to keep waiting. Or maybe you can find it, if you want to spend a long time searching through the rest of the firearms patents at the U.S. Patent Office website.
Have a ball while you’re there. And if you see my caseless 4.73mm carbine, shoot me an email, would ya?