One of my favorite all-purpose rifles is the M6 Scout. This is an over-under combination gun designed for military aircrews as a survival weapon. It is a break action, .410 shotgun with either a .22 long rifle or a .22 hornet barrel above it.
This gun was first produced for the US Air Force in the 1950’s and issued up until the early 1970’s. Since then, it has been sporadically available commercially from Springfield Armory. While Springfield Armory distributes the M6, it was actually manufactured by CZ in either the standard parkerized or a stainless steel models.
This firearm was designed to be cheap and easy to mass produce. It is also extremely light, small, and durable. The gun’s components are mostly stamped—all metal with no furnishings on the firearm save for a two small rubber pads on the stocks. One is at the rear of the butt and the other is attached to a top cover. This hides an ammunition storage inside the stock.
Since there is no fore-end, aircrew were taught to use shroud lines from their parachutes to wrap the outside of the barrels, protecting them from barrel heat, as well as providing emergency cordage. Personally, I have never had a problem with barrel heating, as the break action design is not conducive for rapid fire, but I do have a paracord wrap on mine both for the extra cordage and for some style points.
The civilian version is almost identical to the military issue though there are a few notable exceptions due to firearm legalities. The main difference is barrel length. Because of the National Firearm Act, the civilian barrel is 18.25 inches, which is 4.25 inches longer than the Air Force version. There are a few shorter “Any Other Weapon” (AOW) versions available to civilians, but for me the shorter length does not outweigh the additional paperwork and cost. There is also a trigger guard installed on the civilian model, even though “trigger” may not be the best term.
This gun is unique in that instead of a typical trigger, there is a “squeeze bar” which allows the user to operate the firearm while wearing mittens in the event the flight crew becomes stranded in mountainous or arctic conditions. The squeeze bar operates a single hammer with a 3-position pull toggle allowing the user to select the bottom .410 barrel, the safety, or the upper .22 barrel.
Since this was designed from the ground up as a foraging gun for downed aircrews, it’s deconstruction is simple: breaks apart into a stock group and a barrel group allowing it to store in an extremely small space (about 18 inches folded). For the weekend warrior, the gun only weights about 4.7 lbs so it’s great for hunting or camping. This gun comes into its own as a small game rifle, its short and easy to carry, and with a .410 barrel and a .22 it’s great for squirrel and rabbit hunting. It has a flip up sight that is a peep for the rifle and a v for the shotgun. My version is drilled for a scope, and with optics mounted it is pretty accurate for the size and the trigger setup. With a cost in the low $200 range, it’s not so expensive that I mind using it as a knock around woods gun. It’s a well-designed special purpose gun that works very well for the outdoors type.
The M6 Scout is however part and parcel a survival/bug-out bag gun. In fitting with this theory, consider that it holds reserve rounds inside the butt stock. Amounts vary based upon the caliber of .22, but it holds 4 3-inch .410 shells, and either 9 rounds for the .22 hornet version, or 15 .22 rounds for the .22 long rifle.
Today this firearm has found a strong following among backpackers and hunters so there is no shortage of modification recipes on the Internet. I added the aforementioned paracord hand guard, a sling and a hard case. I like to keep it in the back of my jeep so it’s always ”around” and I can store it because of its compact design.