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Tech student Trevor Johnson invents locking ammunition holding system, takes work on the road

WVU Tech student Trevor Johnson shows off his invention, the Ammu-Lock.

As a kid in Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, WVU Tech student Trevor Johnson learned how to shoot. His family and friends were avid hunters and target shooters, and Johnson himself developed a hobby in long-range target shooting. Safe and responsible firearm use was simply part of growing up.  

Johnson, a mechanical engineering major at Tech, also has a natural inclination toward figuring out how things work and how to make those things work more efficiently. So when he noticed that storing and accessing rifle ammunition in the field was limited, clumsy and cumbersome, he decided to put his skillset to work.

His idea? A simple device he’s dubbed “Ammu-Lock.”

The Ammu-Lock locking ammunition system, invented by Tech student Trevor Johnson.The Ammu-Lock system (the white component) holds extra ammunition when in the field.

The small device is a locking ammunition holder that affixes to the side of long rifles using a variety of standard mounting configurations. The Ammu-Lock holds five rounds of rifle ammunition in a device that can be engaged and disengaged with the press of a button. It allows hunters and sport shooters to maneuver in the field and quickly access their rounds without fear of losing ammunition.

“It uses a proprietary device to physically secure rifle cartridges from falling out or being removed, but allows them to be freely released when the device is disengaged,” he said. 

Johnson said that he’s been kicking the idea around for awhile and started working on it in earnest nine months ago. He discovered the resources available at the LaunchLab on WVU Tech’s campus and took his idea to the director, Nora Myers.

Since then, he’s worked with the LaunchLab to explore his target market, better understand the industry he’s trying to break into and develop a series of working prototypes.

The Ammu-Lock locking ammunition system, invented by Tech student Trevor Johnson.Ammu-Lock in action. When engaged, the device holds ammunition securely.

“The LaunchLab offers so much support to students to develop ideas into successful products and services,” he said. “I have two prototypes physically working with another being designed. I have done some market research and have received a lot of customer feedback on the first prototype.”

He said he’s put the mock-up to work, soliciting feedback from friends, family and members of the industry. 

“I have received a lot of meaningful suggestions which have been implemented in the second prototype. I am planning to produce several ‘prototype two’ devices and give them to avid hunters and shooters to test,” he said. 

Throughout the process, Johnson said he’s learned a lot of skills, including how to effectively use CAD design programs and 3D printing.

He’s learned a lot about the manufacturing business, too.

“The biggest challenge is figuring out the manufacturing processes that will be used for the final product. I will have to spend a decent amount of time and money to research this after completing the final prototype,” he said. 

Johnson has also taken the design on the road. Back in March, he participated in his first LaunchLab Idea Challenge event in Morgantown.

“I loved it. It was very fascinating to see everyone's ideas and to discuss my invention with others,” he said. “I received a lot of feedback and got to speak with a few potential investors for my product.”

On Thursday, April 19, he’ll traveling to WVU again to share his work at the upcoming Demo Day event . Hosted by the WVU IdeaHub, the inaugural Demo Day allows students, faculty and staff across WVU’s Idea Ecosystem to showcase their work.

“It's very exciting to show people my product, receive feedback and to explore other peoples’ ideas. I hope to get suggestions from people that may see Ammu-Lock used in a different way or for a better design for a component that I have not been able to determine myself,” he said.

Johnson graduates this spring and is hoping to land a career path in maintenance, manufacturing or design engineering. He plans to continue working with the LaunchLab and the HIVE network after graduation to help get his idea off the ground and into the market.

His ultimate goal? Land Ammu-Lock on outdoor outfitter shelves throughout the world. He’s even in the process of working with LaunchLab on applying for a patent.

“I plan to continue prototyping, testing, researching the manufacturing methods for the final product, designing more attachment systems and finding a company that would like to purchase the rights to the design,” he said.