The M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon (officially the Rifle-Shotgun, Survival Cal .22/.410, M6) was an American over-under combination gun produced by Ithaca Gun Comapany and Springfield Armory from 1949. Meant as a survival weapon for use by downed air crews, the M4 was used well up into the 1970s with certain air crews.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

Learning from pilots' experiences during World War II, the M6 was designed in 1952 as a simple weapon that was able to equip downed air crews with something that could be used for them to forage wild game and other resources to ensure their survival.[1] When in use, air crews were told to wrap the barrels using paracord to act as a rudimentary forestock.[2]

The weapon replaced the M4 Survival Rifle in the 1950s, with the M6 fully replacing the M4 when the final aircraft with the M4 survival kit were decommissioned. When the M6 was itself about to be replaced as well, the ArmaLite AR-5 was designed in an attempt to supplant both the M4 and M6 in their roles; the weapon was approved but did not actually replace both the M4 and M6 in their roles as there were enough M4s and M6s in inventory to satisfy the needs of the U.S. Air Force.[3] The weapon was reportedly replaced by the ArmaLite AR-7 in the 1970s and was no longer issued to U.S. Army troops by the 1980s.[4]

Use of the weapon lasted well until the 1970s.[1] Modernized versions of the weapon have been produced by Springfield Armory, Inc. as the M6 Scout (discontinued in 2004[4]) and Chiappa Firearms as the M6.[5][6]

Design Details[edit | edit source]

The M6 was a simple break-action combination gun with two superposed barrels; one holding one .22 Hornet round and the other holding one .410 bore shell. A steel trigger bar was used to fire the weapon instead of an actual trigger so it could be used by winter gloves as most bomber crews would be stationed around the Arctic Region during the Cold War. A small tab is used to break open the weapon. The weapon was heavily influenced by the older Marble Game Getter combination gun.[4]

The weapon was made of stamped steel with a removable barrel made of forged steel. No real furniture is present on the weapon except for a rubber buttplate and cheekrest. The weapon is fired using a hammer, with a toggle switch located on top of the hammer used to switch between which barrel was to be fired. The M6 could be compacted by folding it in half, using the same pivot point used to break open the weapon.[1] The stock's cheekrest is actually a cover; this cover can be opened to reveal storage for nine .22 Hornet cartridges and four .410 shells.[4][1]

As with the M4, the M6 was intended for use as a weapon for foraging wild game and other resources as opposed to a weapon to engage hostile troops.[4]

Ammunition[edit | edit source]

The M6 uses .22 Hornet full metal jacket bullets and .410 bore shotgun shells. Use of FMJ .22 Hornet rounds was so that the weapon would not be in violation of the Hague Convention.[7], despite the weapon not being supposed to be used as a self-defense weapon against hostiles to begin with.[4] To further deter army personnel from using the bullets as a means of engaging hostiles, the following text was printed on the ammunition boxes packaged with the survival kit:[1]

"Under no circumstances is the ammunition to be used for offensive or defensive measures against enemy personnel. This ammunition is provided for use with your emergency survival Rifle for the Killing of Game for food under emergency survival conditions only."

The .22 Hornet ammunition would be used to take down most small predators and varmint game, while the .410 shotshells would be used to take down small birds and certain pests.[4]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5
  2. McCann, John D., Build the perfect survival kit, 2013
  3. Rottman, Gordon L., The Big Book of Gun Trivia: Everything you want to know, don't want to know, and don't know you need to know, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6
  7. U.S. Army, Survival: Training Edition, 1969
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