Bring Back The M6 Scout Rifle

The M6 Scout in .22 LR/.410.

The M6 Scout in .22 LR/.410.

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One day last month, I was going through my safe looking for… something. Now that I’m thinking about it, I can’t even remember what I was looking for. While digging, I happened upon a small, zippered case and thought “I remember what’s in here! This is my Springfield Armory M6 Scout rifle!” I picked up the M6 Scout about fifteen years ago, when I was looking for the perfect long gun to take 4 wheeler-riding in the national forest.


This gun was purposefully-built for survival with a family tree to match. Its story begins during WWII. The Army Air Corp. wanted to equip their pilots with rifles that they could use for gathering food if they were forced to, let’s say “become infantry.” The Corp. turned to the Harrington & Richardson Company of Worcester, Massachusetts. Using their bolt-action M265 sporting rifle as the baseline, they made the frame out of sheet metal and swapped the wooden stock with a telescoping wire stock. A fourteen inch detachable barrel chambered for .22 Hornet was added, along with the four-shot detachable box magazine from the M23D. The final package weighed in at four pounds, and could be stored in a fourteen inch overall package.

The M4 in .22 LR.

The M4 in .22 LR.

The M4 served until the 1950’s, when the Air Force updated from the M4 to the M6 Air Crew Survival Weapon, this time choosing the Ithaca Gun Company for production. The M6 was an over-under combination gun, with a rifle barrel in .22 Hornet located above a .410-bore shotgun barrel. The barrels were fourteen inches long, and the gun stored in about sixteen inches due to the break-open design, along with no trigger guard and a squeeze-bar trigger. The butt stock had a nifty storage compartment built-in, which held ammunition of both calibers. Sights were post in the front, with a rear flip-sight that had specific aperture for the choice of round to be fired. The barrel was chosen via a selector/safety on the exposed hammer. To select the rifle barrel, the selector was pulled to the top by means of a knurled knob. Moving the knob to the downward position selected the shotgun barrel. The safe position was achieved by moving the knob to the mid-point between firing positions, and turning it counter-clockwise into a notch. The hammer would drop with the safety engaged, but it would fall between the firing pins. It was a bit of a crude design, but it worked! The gun was fired by squeezing the aforementioned lever on the bottom of the rifle, where you would expect the trigger to be. This unique firing method allowed for two important capabilities: the mechanism itself was simple, and worked in any conditions, and it made firing the M6 into a gross motor skill, which could be carried out with gloved hands or injuries.

An early M6 without a trigger guard, and with a short set of barrels.

An early M6 without a trigger guard, and with a short set of barrels.

Springfield Fills the M6 Scout Gap

The M6 was considered an NFA weapon, due to the fourteen inch barrel, and probably the fact that the Government owned most of them, resulted in very few of these guns ending up (legally) in civilian hands prior to the phase-out of the concept by the Airforce in the early 1970’s.

Springfield Armory, Inc. based in Geneseo, Illinois, began importing their version of the M6, called the M6 Scout, in the late 70’s. They were manufactured by CZ in the Czech Republic. They made a few “legally required” changes to the rifle. The barrel length was increased to 18.25 inches. A trigger guard was added, which prevented the gun from folding cleanly. Thus, a takedown pin was added, allowing the Scout to be stored compactly in two pieces.

The broken down rifle stores neatly in two pieces.

The broken down rifle stores neatly in two pieces.

Which compact nicely.

Which compact nicely.

The M6 offered 3 caliber choices for the upper rifle barrel: the original .22 Hornet, the .22 long rifle, and the .22 Magnum. The lower barrel offered no alternative to the three inch .410 shotgun chambering. The choices for finish were Parkerized or Stainless Steel. There were accessories available from Springfield, which included emergency flares, a lockable flotation carrying case, a padded ballistic nylon sling, a holster, a Springfield 2.5 X 20 telescope, and electronic red dot sights.

I am not sure when the last guns were imported from the Czech Republic, but I do know that none have been imported in the last 8 years.

The gun isn't pretty, but it serves a great purpose.

The gun isn’t pretty, but it serves a great purpose.

Models I have Owned

I have owned 4 of the 6 variants of the M6 Scout. The only one I have not owned is the .22 magnum, which I am told is the rarest configuration. The only M6 scout I have held on to is the Parkerized .22LR version. After spending time shooting the other versions, I found that this variant was best-suited for the role I wanted it to fill. Ammunition was plentiful, and it would work just fine as a game-getter in the woods of Arkansas. The finish was also a real choice: to go with the Parkerized meant a price difference of somewhere around $169 vs $199 (in 1998 retail dollars). The flat black was cheaper than the Stainless Steel, and its lower profile seemed better-suited for hunting. Both finishes would not be affected by weather, so the choice was simple.

The safety is also the barrel selector.

The safety is also the barrel selector.

Where it “Fit In” for Me

This rifle was a loyal companion throughout years of exploring the Ozark National Forest, and it kept me company in the log cabin I owned on the Kings River after that. It was always at the ready, and I believe it dispatched a snake or two in its time. The only reason the gun went lost for 10 years in that zippered case in my gun safe, was that the cabin and ATV changed as the kids grew up. I am glad to have rediscovered the M6, and I’ll be working it into a more active role than tirelessly protecting my safe from critters.


I took the gun to the range the other day, and was delighted to find that it worked after 10 years in the safe with no attention. It was accurate and easy to shoot. The M6 Scout is simple and functional. The only accessory I have ever kept with it is that zippered carrying case. It stores the rifle in half, and is very discreet- so discreet, in fact, that I forgot it had a gun in it!

The Scout stores 15 rounds of .22 ammo and 4 shotgun shells in its skeletonized stock. I know that you can see how this gun takes to para cord and other gear on the internet, but I prefer it simple and clean. I will be adding a sling for easier carrying, but that is all this gun needs for my purpose.

You’ll notice I’m not talking much about shooting. This gun is far more about potential. Yet it still shoots. At distances out to 50 yards, maybe even more, the .22 LR barrel will do good work on small game. You could even take larger game with a well-placed shot from a close enough range.

The .410 barrel offers more potential, and an ability to make use of so many rounds. As this shoots 3″ shells, it has power. You can see a couple of the targets below. What I find is that I need to work with the gun to dial in abilities. After a 10-15 shots, I get to where I could make consistent shots at known distances out to 50 yards. But in a survival situation, that would waste ammo.

The small holes in this target are the .22 LR bullets from 50 yards. Several shots at each of the 5 centers. Then 2 different .410 loads from 25 yards.

The small holes in this target are the .22 LR bullets from 50 yards. Several shots at each of the 5 centers. Then 2 different .410 loads from 25 yards.

An attempt to group shots. As you might guess, practice improves performance. Ignore that 12 gauge slog hole--the M6 didn't do that.

An attempt to group shots. As you might guess, practice improves performance. Ignore that 12 gauge slog hole–the M6 didn’t do that.

In stock storage of both .22 LR and .410.

In stock storage of both .22 LR and .410.

Storage in the stock, but no "thing which tells time."

Storage in the stock, but no “thing which tells time.”

Bottom Line

It is unlikely that any more M6 scouts will be imported for several reasons. Yes! I know that you and about 4 friends and your dog want one! But face it- this is a niche product, and importing such products at the right price, and in small lots, is tough when the USA is the only market. Also consider that we now have CZ USA, and they are the exclusive importer. When I give this some thought it makes my head hurt, but one company sort-of owns the gun (Springfield), while another makes them (CZ Czech Republic), and a third company is the exclusive importer (CZ USA).

So if you want one, you’re going to have to suck it up and pay the price. What is the price? The cheapest ones we’ve seen recently are selling in that $600 range, and they can go much higher.

The trigger bar.

The trigger bar.

Break action.

Break action.

.22 LR over .410. Up to 3" .410s.

.22 LR over .410. Up to 3″ .410s.

The rear sight is in front of the break, and has an open V and a peep sight.

The rear sight is in front of the break, and has an open V and a peep sight.

Front sight.

Front sight.

The case has sleeves to keep the gun from banging against itself.

The case has sleeves to keep the gun from banging against itself.

M6 Scout 16
M6 Scout 17
Full up.

Full up.

Pin holes.

Pin holes.

The design is robust.

The design is robust.

With a strong lock-up.

With a strong lock-up.

The guard prevents the M6 from folding cleanly, so it has a pin for take-down.

The guard prevents the M6 from folding cleanly, so it has a pin for take-down.

The ejector is fool-proof.

The ejector is fool-proof.

The S is for Safe.

The S is for Safe.

The M6 is the ideal balance between weight reduction and rugged utility.

The M6 is the ideal balance between weight reduction and rugged utility.

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  • Darren January 4, 2019, 12:41 am

    I’ve recently stumbled upon and purchased an Ithaca M6 Survivor Rifle and I’m just interested in learning more about it. It does have the USAF stamped on the side of it. Would love to have an original pouch that I believe came with the gun if anyone out there would know where I could score an original. Thanks!

  • Erratic July 4, 2017, 6:22 pm

    Good article. I’ve owned two M6’s over the years in both .22 and .22 Hornet. The hornet model was super accurate and I only sold it because I thought Springfield was coming out with a pistol and carbine model. Recently found one in 22WMR, so they are findable if you keep looking. It’s cheaper to shoot than the hornet but not as accurate.

  • jungle jim January 21, 2017, 8:45 pm

    I own a M6 springfield pre cz, made in USA…. It will do it part, if you do you part in keeping you alive and the grim reaper at bay………It is better then AR 7, 22 rifle …. the barrels bend in heavy use… the key to is to master the trigger pull,,,,, choke up the slop till you feel it break I use my one trigger finger way at the back. If you cant find one buy a savage model 24. I own one in 22mag/20 ga. It is a heavy but more powerfull. the forarm snaps off and the barrel and stock

  • Greg Johnston August 21, 2016, 8:58 am

    Any idea where the flip rear sight for this model can be found, mine is .22Hornet/.410. Any info would be appreciated.

  • Tat2dmf'r March 13, 2016, 4:17 pm

    I know I’m off point here but here goes…Please vote for Ted Cruz or even Rubio. Trump has in the past favored “assault weapon” bans and I do not trust he is completely honest in his support of the 2nd amendment. Attack me if you want but when you have stated on record your support of ban in past then I am wary of you defending my rights.

  • MrFixxit March 8, 2016, 10:47 pm

    The author has a couple things worng. There was a civilian m6 made by Springfield Armory prior to the CZ import that did not come with a trigger guard, I own one. Also the lower barrel did have the option besides 410 and that was 45acp. Fun little gun, I would buy another if they started manufacturing them again.

  • Robert Smith March 8, 2016, 11:57 am

    I really like that little M4 bolt action better. I would bet a reproduction of that would sell well, especially if it were chambered in 5.56mm, barrel and OAL made long enough so as not to be an NFA problem.

  • SPCLWPNS March 7, 2016, 10:32 pm

    I went thru a USAF Aircrew Survival course at Plattsburgh AFB in 1963. One exercise involved firing an M6 chambered in .22 Hornet at fairly close range paper targets. Having fired Expert in both High School and College, I thought this would be a snap. No such luck. The M6 – actually ALL Of the M6 we fired – could not put a cohesive group on a dinner plate sized target at well under 50 feet. Either the barrels were worn out or damaged, but none of these guns had any possible ability to keep someone alive in a serious situation.

    • California14er May 27, 2016, 6:44 pm

      My civilian, CZ made M6 in .22 Hornet shoots very nicely. Benchrested, it shoots under 2″ groups at 100 yards.
      The impediments to accuracy I have had with the M6 are:
      -lightweight rifles are hard to hold still for offhand shooting
      -bizarre trigger

      If you can overcome those two obstacles, commercial ones can be made to shoot straight in the field. I DO NOT consider it an ideal hunting weapon for amatures in desperate circumstances, tho. It is a lot more like a weapon system for bored, experienced hunters, looking for a challenging weapon, to use on backpack hunts. I’ve been trying to master mine for 15 years.

      I wish they would turn out models with a top barrel in .38, 9mm, .380, .32 auto and even .25
      I’d love one in .32 acp

    • DCman December 6, 2016, 1:30 am

      Funny you should bring up Plattsburg AFB. My dad was there – ’55-’57.
      They lived in a trailer court nearby called “Clare and Carl’s”. Those folks also ran a hot dog stand at the entrance to the trailer court. I understand the dog stand is still there but the trailer court is apparently long gone (as is the AFB, which is now a local airport, I believe).
      Any of this sound familiar SPCLWPNS?
      Before my time, so if I’m wrong, feel free to correct me. I got these stories from my folks.
      As for the M6, I really wish it would return. That was a slick little puppy. I’d like to see it in .22 hornet over 28 gauge with a parkerized finish.

      • clark adams May 20, 2019, 2:56 pm

        I lived at PAFB 57-67 and recall seeing one in the survival kit display on Armed Forces Day many times during our stay there. BTW my father was the NCOIC of the area that managed survival gear. That said, I purchased an M-6 25+ years ago in .22 Hornet over .410 as a plinker and to have something others didn’t have. I do like it and keep it in my closet as security for my wife when I’m traveling. I greatly regret not buying the stainless steel version nor any of the accessories that were available then.

      • clark adams April 17, 2020, 10:59 pm

        Ha! We lived at Plattsburg AFB 57-67! I remember that hot dog stand! To this day I m a Michigan fiend! BTW I own a M-6 and was too poor to buy the site and case back in the ’80s. My father was the supervisor of the section that included survival gear, I recall seeing M-6s on display with the various kits carried by PAFB aircraft on Armed Forces Day. Always buy what you can when you see it, I regret not picking up now rare and expensive options.

  • David Blakeman March 7, 2016, 9:33 pm

    During some lean times I had to pawn my M6, been kicking myself ever since. Please bring it back, this is one tough, butt ugly, little rifle, that does just what it was supposed to do. Carried mine for a number of years, always had it with me whenever I was out in the wild and loved it, now you need a winning lotto ticket to buy one, IF you can to find one.

  • Peter Charles March 7, 2016, 4:06 pm

    My choice for cal./gauge would be M-1 Carbine and 20 Ga. . Carbine with bot tail bullet and a little more powder in the case, or a “hotter” powder so one could take a deer with reliability. The 2 ga. is good for all sized of birds and has low recoil. And it still will remain light, good for back pack, off road vehicle and light aircraft. I’d like to have a trigger too, . Certainly this could be done with both quality and reasonable cost.

    • Billc March 7, 2016, 8:25 pm

      I use mine as if it had a standard trigger. Just place your trigger finger on the end of the bar . . . and squeeze.

  • Joe March 7, 2016, 3:32 pm

    I had one that I purchased new, carried in my airplane for many years. No longer needed it and put it up for auction 4 years ago. It went for over $900. I probably should have kept it.

  • Travis Taylor, Jr. March 7, 2016, 11:44 am

    Subject and substance are important. Spelling and grammar are also. Corp. is the abbreviation for corporation, so the word is Corps, Latin for body. Army Air Corps. Enjoyed the article, thanks.

  • Flep Vandergaard March 7, 2016, 11:19 am

    I had one. A s/s in Hornet/.410. I shook a filling loose shooting buck shot 3s. I put a snug cheek weld on that square topped stock and had at it. However, I found that the trigger on it was decent if “choked BACK”, NOT “choked up”. The spur at the rear of the trigger could be manipulated by your trigger finger in such a way that was predictable and similar to a standard trigger, albeit a trigger something like a trigger on an old foreign surplus bolt action. With a little practice, I could split soda cans regularly at 80+ yards in the 22 Hornet. Just my 2 cents, your results may vary.

  • Carlgg March 7, 2016, 10:19 am

    As a folding pack gun the M6 with its capabilities would be very desirable. And it has rugged bare bones beauty. But price that was stated. Whew. Its an old design and probably dose’nt take to much material to manufacture. It would be great to find one second hand at a bargin price.

  • Doc Dempster March 7, 2016, 10:01 am

    Actually more useful for many things than even Savage’s latest 42 iteration, the 42 Take-down.

    I’ve had and used one for years in .22 LR/.410. I had to file down the front sight of mine to get
    an adequate zero using the aperture on the flip rear sight…left the vee blade for use with .410
    slugs…also the five ball 000 buckshot 3 inch .410 load is remarkably effective at close range.

    My only regret is that I did not also get one in .22 WMR and .410…one can use .22 WRF ammunition
    in a .22 WMR barrel (if yours will shoot it accurately, ALL of my .22 WMR barrels WILL
    group .22 WRF ammunition respectably. Even better, if Winchester-USA decides to take advantage
    of several very interesting and useful rimfire products made in OZ by Winchester Division of Olin
    Australia, would be the . 22 WMR SUB-SONIC load from down under–ideal for small game.

    Certainly, if CZ and Springfield Armory ever decide to team up again and do a production run of
    M-6’s (in both/either .22 LR and/or .22 WMR) I would buy one and I’ll met many others would as well.
    The M-6 should sell very well especially in this age of “Preppers!”

  • Norm March 7, 2016, 10:00 am

    I had one in Hornet/,410 & for what it was, I really couldn’t complain. Had to send it back to Springfield twice to fix the barrel latch which had an unsettling habit of unlocking on it’s own after firing 3″ .410 shot shells or 2 1/2″ slugs. This they did fix, but I never was very happy with it. Minute of deer at 50-75′ is about the best one could expect out of mine.

  • Alan March 7, 2016, 9:20 am

    A few years back just before dropping the gun, S.A. proposed and OFFERED (but NEVER came through) a redesigned grip and trigger similar to the AR series.
    The trigger on these was ALWAYS the Achilles heel of the gun, it was horrendous.
    I put money down on the new one, only to never see it.
    In .22 hornet and .410, this would clearly be THE winner for this category weapon.
    Not smart S.A. But then ya’ll are KNOWN for that!

  • Griffendad March 7, 2016, 9:20 am

    I was looking at the Taylors & Co. site recently. They deal in some great highest quality reproductions. Anyway, I believe the product is called the X-Caliber and mey be ultimately made bt Uberti. It shoots just about anything. Fantastic for something like the Walking Dead.

  • Lon March 7, 2016, 8:57 am

    I had an AR-7 Explorer when I was a kid that went with me everytime I went romping about in the woods. I always wanted an M6 for no other reason but to have one.

  • Brazos March 7, 2016, 8:49 am

    We are better off without flawed designs like this and the Savage 24. It is impossible to get decent groups with the rifle barrel unless you wait at least 3 to 4 minutes between shots. With the barrels firmly fixed together at both breach and muzzle, and with the rifle barrel being so thin. The thin rifle barrel heats up rapidly when fired, causing it to lengthen while the shotgun barrel does not. This forces the rifle barrel to bend a little more with each shot unless allowed to cool completely.

    Using a simple sliding bearing at the muzzle, like on Winchester lever action rifles (not carbines) would have allowed the rifle barrel to elongate as it heated, without bending stress.

    • Alan March 7, 2016, 9:15 am

      Umm, you really DON’T understand the philosophy behind this, do you?
      First, 3-4 minutes? Don’t think so.
      Second, it’s a SURVIVAL rifle for taking small game, NOT prolonged self defense nor sustained fire.
      However, having said that, my friends unit would shoot very well (except for that horrendous trigger system) for as many as a dozen or more .22 rounds.

  • John March 7, 2016, 7:07 am

    I have one! Springfield Armory, Hornet over .410, parkerized, case, picatinny scope mount, no trigger guard. 18.5″ barrel. With the original box. One of my favorite firearms.

  • Rob March 7, 2016, 6:07 am

    Chiappa makes a couple versions. One has a 12 gauge lower barrel with adapters that allow you to fire several other calibers.

  • Jeremy March 7, 2016, 4:36 am

    Chiappa is making an upgraded version of the M6, with a 20ga or 12ga barrel instead of 410. On thing they offer is caliber insert barrels for many popular rifle and pistol calibers which really makes for a flexible and versatile survival weapon. They also have a 1913 rail system for optics, lights, and other accessories.

  • Tom Horn March 6, 2016, 9:46 am

    Nice. How about we convince Savage to modify the model 42 (love the ammo storage in the stock of M6), and offer it in more chamberings (.223, .22 hornet, 20 ga.).

    • Rob March 7, 2016, 6:08 am

      Look up Chiappa survival rifle.

      • Tom Horn March 8, 2016, 8:39 am

        Thanks Rob,

        Is that American made?

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