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Navy

Adjustable, ergonomic pistol grip for M4 carbine

Ergonomic grip better conforms to the shooter

Military Technology

The military’s transition from the use of longer rifles such as the M-16 to the more recent M4 carbine along with changes in the preferred firing position necessitates a new rifle grip. Currently, assault rifle grips are fixed at a specific angle. This angle is primarily based on the ability to fire a rifle with the center of mass aligned to the forearm, with little to no wrist movement.

The traditional grip angle best accommodates shooting from the hip and a bladed shooter stance. When using a bladed stance, the shooter’s weak-side shoulder faces the target and the dominant elbow is positioned away from the body. Tactical shooting has led to the development of a squared, athletic stance.

With the squared stance, the shooter’s shoulders are squared-up with the target allowing body armor to face the target. The buttstock of the rifle is placed near the centerline of the body and high up on the chest with elbows kept down and tucked in. With current rifle grips, this stance results in ulnar deviation of the wrist causing wrist fatigue and injury.

There are a variety of rifle grips on the commercial market that claim to be ergonomic. The majority of ergonomic grips address gripping itself. Instead of being entirely of plastic, the grips often have a rubber coating that pads the shooter’s hand. They often have grooves for finger placement as well. Other ergonomic grips attempt to address trigger span or reach, for example a grip that permits the shooter to effectively shim the grip backward to accommodate for a larger trigger reach. Another example is a grip designed to force the shooter to keep their elbows tucked-in to maintain a proper squared/athletic stance. This grip actually results in not only ulnar deviation of the wrist, but also supination (rotation) and extension of the wrist. Each of these grips suffer from weaknesses mainly related to fact that the shooter’s hand, wrist and arm must still conform to the grip.  A grip that conformed better to the shooter would be ideal.

A patent illustration shows the adjustable, ergonomic hand grip.
A patent illustration shows the adjustable, ergonomic hand grip.

To address these issues, Navy scientists and engineers have developed, and patented an adjustable ergonomic hand grip that allows the grip angle to be modified, by push-button or screw, to accommodate different shooting stances. By rotating the grip, wrist fatigue and injury can be minimized by allowing the shooter to hold the weapon at, or closer to, the natural wrist position. Additionally, the rotatable grip could be folded up to the body of the firearm to make it more compact for concealment or storage.

This invention is embodied in US patent 9,599,429 (device) and US application number 20170191791 (method of production and assembly).

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