The subject of “the ultimate survival gun” is often hotly debated. Some argue that a simple and reliable bolt-action .22 rifle is ideal, while others prefer the added range and stopping power of an AR-15. Others still may say a concealed handgun would be best, or that a shotgun is what you'd really want to stop criminals in their tracks. Depending on your situation and other gear, we could see some validity to each of these choices.

Interestingly, the U.S. Air Force established a design for an all-in-one survival gun back in the 1950s. This firearm was called the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon, and it incorporated elements from both ends of the spectrum above. The M6 is actually chambered in two calibers: .22 Hornet and .410 bore shotgun.

Ultimate survival gun M6 rifle 1

An original USAF M6 Aircrew Survival gun. Note the squeeze-bar trigger. Source: Wikipedia/Curiosandrelics

The weapon was designed in an over-under fashion, with the rifle barrel above the shotgun barrel. This setup enabled airmen to shoot small game animals at long range with the .22, and take out closer targets (such as birds or snakes) with the scatter-shot .410. The tough stamped steel M6 even folds in half for easy storage, measuring only 15 inches long when folded. It also has a unique squeeze-bar trigger, which can be used easily while wearing gloves or even mittens.

As a standardized military weapon, the M6 was produced by several manufacturers—most notably Ithaca and Springfield Armory. The Springfield Armory version is known as the M6 Scout, and was later produced in a commercial version which accepted .22 LR instead of .22 Hornet rounds. The civilian M6 Scout also provides a rail for mounting optics (the military version only has iron sights).


A .22 rifle, like our modified Ruger 10-22 Takedown seen here, makes for an excellent survival weapon.

This .22 and .410 combination sounds like it would make for an excellent survival weapon, as it bridges the gap between rifle and shotgun. We're fans of relying on a .22 rifle for survival situations—check out our 10-22 takedown survival makeover project.

If you could design an all-in-one survival weapon with any features you wanted, what would your ultimate survival gun be like?

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