M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon

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M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon
M6 Survival Rifle.jpg
Original USAF M6 Survival Rifle/Shotgun
Type Combination rifle/shotgun
Place of origin United States
Production history
Manufacturer Ithaca Gun Company, Springfield_Armory, Inc.
Caliber .22 Hornet or .22 LR
.45 Colt/.410 bore shotgun
Barrels 2
Sights Iron
.410 bore M-35 shotgun shells next to a .22 LR cartridge for comparison

The M6 Air Crew Survival Weapon was a specially-made firearm issued to United States Air Force aircraft crews to help forage for food in the event of a plane crash. It was issued to U.S. Air Force aircrew from the early 1950s until the early 1970s, in conjunction with the M4 Survival Rifle. Plans to replace both with the MA-1 never came to fruition.


The M6 was a superposed ("over-under") combination gun, with a rifle barrel located above the shotgun barrel. The rifle barrel fired a .22 Hornet bullet and the shotgun barrel was chambered for a .410 bore shell. For compact storage, the M6 folded in half and a compartment in the stock held 9 rounds of .22 Hornet ammunition with 4 shotgun shells. A firing pin selector allowed the shooter to choose which barrel would be fired.[1]

The M6 was never intended as a weapon with which to engage hostile troops. Instead it was designed so that a downed aircrew could forage for wild game.

Because most bomber crews operated in the Arctic region during the Cold War, a trigger bar was used that could be depressed while wearing mittens as opposed to a conventional trigger.[1]

The standard version, as used by the military, has a 14-inch barrel version, and folds in half to a minimum size of 15 inches.[1]


Being a military firearm, the originals were sold only to the US military.[2]

Springfield Armory, Inc. manufactured three versions called the M6 Scout with 18" barrels for legality reasons.[3] The Springfield Armory M6 Scout and pistol has been made in .22 Hornet/.410 bore calibers and alternately in .22 Long Rifle with .410 bore. The prototype M6 pistol built for Springfield Armory was a version of the M6 which could fire a .45 Colt cartridge in the .410 bore.

In 2010, Chiappa began marketing a version of the Aircrew Survival Weapon called the Chiappa X-Caliber. It is an evolution of the M6 Scout, which had the major failing of disassembling by removing a pin to take the gun down into two easy to stow parts. If the pin was lost, the gun could not be reassembled. The Chiappa X-Caliber is designed to fold in half by pushing one locking lever. In addition, it comes with adapters that allow up to a dozen different calibers of cartridges and shotshells to be used, one at a time in each barrel.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Thompson, Leroy (20 August 2013). US Combat Shotguns. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-78096-016-6. 
  2. ^ "Military Survival Rifles". Archived from the original on September 4, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  3. ^ S. P. Fjestad. Blue Book of Gun Values, 13th Ed. Blue Book Publications. 
  4. ^ Cassell, Jay (6 October 2015). Shooter's Bible: The World's Bestselling Firearms Reference. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 777. ISBN 978-1-5107-0192-2. 

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