The M6 Scout is a multipurpose firearm, combining rifle and shotgun. It has been in and out of commercial production several times since the late 1970s (out of production again as of March 2008). The latest models were manufactured by Česká Zbrojovka Uhersky Brod and sold by Springfield Armory. Other variations of this firearm are the M6 Carbine and the M6 Scout Pistol. The M6 Scout was produced in two types, a standard model with Parkerized finish and a version made from rustproof stainless steel.The M6 design and model number come from the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon, issued to U.S. Air Force aircrew from the late 1950s until the early 1970s. The commercial model is nearly identical to the USAF version, though there are a couple of minor cosmetic differences. There is a removable trigger guard. The greatest change is that the commercial model has a barrel length of 18.25 inches (46.4 cm) instead of the 14 inches (36 cm) barrel length of the USAF version. Athens Arms produced a 14″ barreled version that qualified as “Any Other Weapon” (AOW) under the NFAexemption for the Marble Game Getter: combination of rifled and smooth bore barrels between 12 and 18 inches.
Unlike nearly all other firearms, there is no “furniture” on the M6 — no wooden or composite stock or forearm — the only parts which are not steel are the rubber buttplate and cheek rest. The M6 stock is stamped sheet steel, while the removable barrel assembly is forged steel. Aircrew who were issued the M6 were instructed on a way to make a field expedient forearm by wrapping the barrels with a length of shroud line from their parachute. The USAF M6 Survival Weapon used iron sights, while the M6 Scout commercial model includes provision for mounting a telescopic sight. The stock holds four .410 shells and 15 .22 LR cartridges. The stock of the version in .22 Hornet stores 9 rifle rounds and 4 shotgun shells.
The M6 Scout is a superposed “over-under” design, with a rifle barrel mounted above a .410 shotgun barrel. The barrel assembly is connected to the stock/action group by means of a removable hinge pin. Whether folded or disassembled, the overall length for storage is approximately 18.5 inches. The commercial production M6 was made in .22 Long Riflein addition to the .22 Hornet used in the USAF M6.
The advantage of the .22 Hornet / .410 shotgun combination is to enable the user to take any type of small or medium-sized game. .22 Hornet has been used to hunt animals up to the size of small deer (and can be used for defense), while shotshells are used for birds or snakes.
One other unique feature of the M6 is the “squeeze-bar trigger.” Intended for use by aircrew who might be downed in any type of weather and terrain, the trigger, hammer and barrel latch are designed to be easily operated while wearing heavy gloves or even mittens. To this end, the USAF M6 was the only firearm issued to American armed forces which had no trigger guard. The amount of pressure needed to release the sear, combined with the practice of keeping the hammer uncocked unless preparing to fire, was considered sufficient to counter any risk of accidental discharge.
The design also reflects the philosophy that downed aircrew are supposed to stay quiet, out of sight and be patient. This was considered an advantage over the bolt actionArmalite AR-5 during procurement tests. The AR-5 is relatively complex, less durable and, without the shotgun barrel, less versatile. The Armalite had several advantages, however, including the ability to float, and the buttstock acts as a storage case for the parts of the disassembled rifle. For these reasons, the AR-5 was also accepted and designated the MA-1 Survival Rifle, and the AR-7, a commercial semiautomatic version in .22 Long Rifle, has been popular for decades. Aircrew who preferred the M6 noted that, with the AR-5, an excited user can go through a week’s worth of ammo in moments, while the user of the M6 is more likely to use proper shooting techniques due to the time necessary to reload after each shot.