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
Caliber .22 Hornet or .22 LR/.410 bore shotgun
.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 late 1950s until the early 1970s, replacing the World War II-era 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. Designed in the 1920s by the Springfield Armory it was first produced by Winchester in 1930 and later by the Ithaca Gun Company.[1]

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 d Thompson, Leroy (20 August 2013). US Combat Shotguns. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-78096-016-6. 
  2. ^ Military Survival Rifles at the Wayback Machine (archived September 4, 2007)
  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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