M4 Survival Rifle
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|M4 Survival Rifle|
Original US Property marked M4 Survival Rifle with military issue .22 Hornet ammo
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||USAAF, USAF|
|Wars||World War II|
|Manufacturer||Harrington & Richardson|
|Weight||Approx. 4 pounds (1.8 kg)|
|Barrel length||14 inches (36 cm) barrel|
|Feed system||4 shot detachable box magazine|
|Sights||blade front, peep rear|
The M4 Survival Rifle was developed during World War II as part of the survival gear stored under the seat of American military aircraft, to give downed aircrew a survival weapon for foraging wild game for food.
The M4 was developed from the Harrington & Richardson bolt-action M265 sporting rifle, adapted to a sheet metal frame with telescoping wire butt stock, a 14-inch detachable barrel chambered for .22 Hornet and the 4 shot detachable box magazine of the Savage Stevens M23D .22 Hornet sporting rifle. The M4 weighs approximately four pounds and with barrel detached and telescoping stock closed makes a ~14 inch overall package.
Due to the possible use of the M4 by downed aircrew as a combat weapon, military issue ammunition in .22 Hornet is loaded with full metal jacket bullets to comply with the Hague Convention barring use of expanding bullets in warfare.
In the 1950s, the M4 was supplanted by the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon and the M4 was phased out along with the decommissioning of the aircraft containing M4 as part of their survival package. The Armalite AR-5 (MA-1) was approved as a replacement for the M4 but no significant quantities of the AR5 were procured, as there were sufficient numbers of M4 and M6 in inventory to meet USAF needs.
The American National Park Service was issued some of these surplus M-4s for park rangers in the 1960s.
When US Air Force aircraft were decommissioned in the 1950s, their M4 rifles were initially sold on the surplus gun market, but were recalled when it was realized that the barrels were shorter than the US legal limit of 16 inches mandated by the 1934 National Firearms Act. Legally the M4 is a short-barreled rifle (SBR), requiring entry in the US NFA Registry and payment of a $200 excise tax on transfer of registration to a civilian owner.
- "Survival Rifle" Comes Apart To Make Small, Light Package 1951 Popular Science article with rare photos