Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Springfield M6 Pistol

You're probably familiar with the Springfield M6 rifle, which was a civilian version of the USAF's M6 Aircrew Survival rifle. The original gun had two barrels, one for .22 Hornet and one for .410, and a storage compartment in the stock that held 8 rounds of .22 Hornet and four .410 shells. The theory was that between the two of them a downed pilot could obtain fresh game to live on while awaiting rescue.  The civilian version had two differences from the military unit: It was also available with a .22LR barrel, and a trigger guard that was added to prevent accidental discharges. That also made it impossible to fold the gun in half, but such are the tradeoffs we must make in a world full of personal injury attorneys.

What's less well known is that Springfield also marketed, for a time, a pistol version of the M6 rifle. Also available in .22LR or .22 Hornet over .410, this gun is in some ways more practical than its rifle cousin for the outdoorsman or woman. The lower barrel is partially rifled, too, in order to avoid violating Federal laws, which means it can also fire .45 Colt cartridges.

The M6 pistol is smaller and lighter than the rifle version, which means it's much easier to carry. (And you have to admit it has a fantastic sort of Steampunk look to it, too.)  I'd love to add an M6 pistol or even the rifle to my collection, but they're getting increasingly hard to find, and some dealers are starting to raise the asking price. I've seen the M6 rifle go for anywhere from $400 to 900, and I haven't seen an M6 pistol for sale in a very long time. Maybe a smart maker like Henry Arms will take that as encouragement to put one or both back into production.

Postscript: A Steampunk-appreciating friend of mine saw this photo and fell in love with it. It does have a certain amount of that 19th Century technology look to it, doesn't it? The curve of the receiver behind the hammer reminds me a bit of the Martini single shot rifles and shotguns of that era.