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Raptor Products could lock up arms safety market

Nathan Wasankari, a mechanical engineer who bizO-RobinsonAvila_Kevin_BizOworked at Intel Corp. for more than a decade, has invented a new device to rapidly snap almost any firearm securely into a mounting platform and retrieve it again just as fast. The device can be used in homes, offices or vehicles to safely secure weapons against unauthorized use.

The device caught the eye of Cottonwood Technology Fund, an early-stage venture investment firm in New Mexico, leading to a $1.25 million investment that could help propel Wasankari’s new company, Raptor Products Inc., into national markets.

“There aren’t many good options on the market today that combine security with easy access to arms and this offers a unique approach to resolving that problem,” said Cottonwood Managing Partner David Blivin. “We particularly like it because it could draw broad support from both gun enthusiasts who want a safe way to secure their weapons and from gun-safety folks. With all the heightened awareness about weapons security in the U.S. today, we think this could ultimately generate support from both sides of the gun debate.”

Wasankari invented the new Raptor fast-access mounting and display system the old-fashioned way – tinkering in his home workshop to build a personal device for his own gun after finding nothing he liked on the market to secure his weapon at home.

“It was born out of necessity,” Wasankari said. “I was looking for a way to secure and maintain a firearm for in-home self defense, or for when transporting it in a vehicle. I had bought a BullPup short-rifle shotgun for my home and I couldn’t find a good market solution to securely store it.”

Nearly all safe-storage mounts available today are platform-specific for different types of weapons, with no one-size-fits-all system that any gun owner could rapidly install, Wasankari said.

As a design engineer at Intel, Wasankari had often created customized manufacturing support equipment, so he put those skills to use.

“The lack of options kicked my brain into high gear as a problem solver and I decided to create something new,” Wasankari said. “I went through dozens of design iterations before finally boiling it down to one showcase, flagship product – the Raptor Picatinny Mount.”

Since most guns today have Picatinny rails – a bracket with teeth that’s mounted on the weapon to snap on accessories like a telescope or laser light – Wasankari created a palm-sized mount that allows the teeth of the Picatinny rail to snap in and out the device. It’s an auto-lock that opens when the weapon is pushed into it and then snaps securely closed. To remove, the user pushes down on the weapon again and the device snaps open to release the gun.

The user can bolt the mount to a wall or inside a vehicle or RV for quick access. The device can be locked with a key for when the gun owner leaves home.

“You can lock it when there’s a party or the kids have friends over,” Wasankari said. “When you go to bed, you unlock it and the weapon is available to use if needed.”

The mount is specifically designed for secure storage without impeding rapid, easy access to the weapon.

“Even if you were injured and only had one hand, you could reach up and rapidly retrieve the weapon from the mount,” Wasankari said.

With the basic design in hand, Wasankari developed a line of complementary Raptor mounting products to make them easily adaptable to different types of weapons, sizes and accessories attached to the guns. He and a business partner invested about $30,000 to build the original prototypes before Cottonwood stepped in.

The venture funding allowed much more rapid prototyping of Raptor’s full line of products, patenting of the mounting design, initial manufacturing and packaging of product, and the first marketing efforts at trade shows and with retailers.

The company has received its first retail purchase order from ABQ Guns on Albuquerque’s West Side, which will hold a “parking lot launch” of the Raptor mounting and display system in November.

“It’s very unique,” said ABQ Guns co-owner Arnie Gallegos. “It makes the weapon accessible and secure at the same time, and that’s a big thing in this market, especially for home defense. People can know children or other family or friends can’t just grab the weapon.”

The next step is to develop an electronic monitoring system that would sound an alarm if someone did try to access a weapon without authorization. That would also allow police or other security agencies to track a gun if it’s removed without permission.

Those future capabilities, which Wasankari is now developing, helped lock in Cottonwood funding, Blivin said.

“If military or police use the system, they could gain an electronic audit every time a weapon is removed,” Blivin said. “That will make the next generation of the mounting system much more relevant for police and other security agencies.”

With electronic monitoring, the system could also be integrated into home or vehicle security alarm programs, Blivin said. “We see the Raptor line potentially becoming part of a recognized brand of secure mounting and display systems with a lot of market applications,” he said.