Image source: ArmsList.com
One of the more interesting firearms used by the U.S. military was the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon. This was a superposed 22 Hornet rifle barrel over a .410 shotgun barrel that was usually stored in collapsed form in a tool bag aboard airplanes, particularly long-range bombers that flew over the Arctic. Spare ammunition was stored in the butt stock.
The point of these firearms was to give a downed aircrew a fighting chance at survival until they reached safety or were rescued. Based on its design, it sounds almost like the perfect survival rifle to store in a vehicle, boat, aircraft or backpack.
Instead of a typical firearm trigger, the shooter has a large trigger bar to depress in order to fire the M6 Scout. This design shows the lineage from the Cold War because it was made so the shooter could fire the M6 while wearing extreme cold weather mittens.
It is definitely interesting, but it has a few quirks.
A civilian version was offered by Springfield Armory called the M6 Scout. The rifles were actually built by CZ and came in two caliber choices: 22 Hornet over .410 shotgun or 22 long rifle over .410 shotgun. Parkerized and stainless steel versions also were available.
“Civilian version” is a key term, as the M6 Scout had 18-inch barrels in order to comply with the National Firearms Act that prohibits smoothbore barrels shorter than that, without paying for a tax stamp. For safety reasons, a “trigger guard” was added over the trigger bar.
Small Hands Needed
Image source: GunListings.org
In order to fire it as it shipped from Springfield Armory, you need to have tiny hands. The trigger guard also keeps the M6 from compactly folding in half. I just remove the trigger guard to make life simpler.
With the trigger guard out of the picture, the shooter needs to cock the hammer like a single-action revolver and can choose which barrel to fire by pulling the hammer up to fire the top barrel or pushing it down to fire the shotgun barrel.
The sights are crude, but scope mounts are available to aid in accuracy. Yet the weakest link is that trigger bar. It is almost never consistent, besides being heavy and awkward.
There is no forend on the M6. Some shooters wrap the lower barrel in paracord to aid in shooting and to give a ready supply of paracord should they need some. I leave mine the way it is, but do run a sling made from paracord.
This is another area where the ball was dropped. There is a front swivel of sorts: a hole in the barrel band that can accept a European swivel. Smaller Euro swivels can be ordered for more money than a custom sling may cost; I drilled mine out to take a standard U.S. swivel. For the rear swivel I removed a stock screw and installed an M1 Garand stock swivel using the existing stock screw to keep it in place.
Accuracy is not the best with these, but if you get used to that trigger bar, you can use the M6 on small game. If space allows it and you can find the mount, a small red dot sight might come in handy, as well.
They may be one of the most overrated prepper guns on the market. One of the modern Savage or Chiappa superposed rifle/shotgun combinations will work better in this regard — such as a 223 or 22 Magnum over a 20 Gauge.
As a collector’s piece they are interesting and they certainly fit a minimalist role as a take-down rifle, but I think there are better survival rifles for real-world purposes out there that offer improved accuracy, better take-down power on small game as well as higher capacity.
Have you ever shot an M6? Do you think it is overrated? Share your thoughts in the section below:
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