Rifle: U.S. M6 Aircrew Survival Rifle


Rifle US M6 Aircrew Survival Manufacturer Ithaca, Springfield
Cartridge .22 Hornet / .410 Overall Length 28″
Action Manual breech loader Barrel Length 14″
Magazine Single shot Weight 3.75 lbs


The U.S. M6 Aicrew Survival rifle was a simple, robust, and compact combination gun designed to save pilots lives in the worst of conditions.

Learning from downed pilots during WWII, the U.S. Air Force sought out a simple survival rifle with which to equip their crews in rugged or hostile territory.  A solution was provided by the Ithaca gun company in the form of a light, fold-able combination gun.  This new rifle was evolved from earlier concepts like the “Marble Game Getter.”  It was built to be rugged and weatherproof, made almost entirely of steel and a little plastic.  Loaded by breaking open along the same hinge that folded it for storage, it was a single shot device.


Two barrels, aligned vertically provided for chambering either a .410 shotgun shell or .22 hornet cartridge.  The latter is a center-fire hunting round with a soft core and necessitated the inclusion of explicit instructions on the box that it not be used offensively or defensively to avoid a war crime.  These two ammunition types provided amble ability to hunt a variety of small game or defend against medium sized predators.  Nine .22 Hornet cartridges and four .410 shells can be stored inside a hatch in the butt of the M6.


The hammer was manually operated and had a selector on top to swap between .410 and .22.  While the rear sight is not finely adjustable there are two positions provided, a shorter range leaf for the .410 and longer range aperture for the .22 Hornet.  The trigger is a long squeeze bar on the underside and there is no safety mechanism.  After firing, breaking the action open actuates an ejector to help empty the chambers.

Adopted in 1952, the M6 served into the 1970’s before being replaced.  Because the M6 sports a 14” barrel it falls under Federal SBR laws, however Springfield has produced a civilian version with an 18” barrel, off and on, from the 1970’s.


Special thanks to the South Carolina Military Museum for sharing this piece with us and all of you!


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