Thursday, April 9, 2015
The M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon was USAF issue from the 1950s until the early 1970s. It was a simple over/under, with a .22 Hornet rifle barrel over a .410 smoothbore barrel and was intended, as the name implies, as a way for aircrews to harvest wildlife in a survival situation. They're rarely seen in the private marketplace, in part because the 14" barrel means they're regulated as an AOW (Any Other Weapon) by the BATF, and that means not only is BATF permission and paperwork is needed to transfer ownership, but until recent a $200 transfer tax had to be paid as well.
A number of companies produced civilian versions o the M6 between the 70s and 2008, with Springfield Arms being the last that I'm aware of. Springfield also produced a pistol version, which I wrote about not long ago. I've long wanted one, but never got around to buying when they were available. Now Chiappa Arms, makers of a wide range of curious arms (like their Rhino revolver) has produced two versions of the M6 design as well as an interesting multi-caliber package. Compared to the Springfield design, the Chiappa M6 adds a more sophisticated trigger guard and three separate Picatinny rails.
The basic M6 is available in .22/20 gauge or .22/12 gauge. (I'd prefer the original .410 version made by Springfield arms, but at 6lbs the Chiappa is probably heavy enough to damp the recoil from reasonable 20 and 12 gauge loads.) The multi-caliber version, called the "X-Caliber," consists of the .22/12 version along with a series of steel inserts for the shotgun tube that allow you to use eight pistol calibers (.380 , 9 mm , .357Mag/.38SP , .40 S & W, .44 Mag, .45 ACP , .410/.45colt ) and two shotgun shell sizes (410 ga, 20ga). I'm not sure how practical the pistol cartridges are, as the point of aim would be different for every cartridge.
So how much does this all cost? Slickguns.com has the standard M6 models at $438.99, and the X-Caliber for $614.19. To that, add shipping, sales tax, and FFL fees, and you're probably at around $500 and $700, respectively. I still want one... but not enough to spend $500.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
The last time we saw this gun (Ruger Mark-III Hunter) it was sporting a set of Volquartsen molded plastic grips and a silver Ultradot sight. I sold the Ultradot as I was shooting this pistol with iron sights, but recently I mounted another dot sight (Millett SP-1) and purchased a set of Herrett Nationals grips. These can be a bit hard to find; not many retailers carry them, and Bullseyegear.com has had them on back order for a long time. But I found a set at a good price ($69 + $5.95 shipping) on eBay and they arrived a few days ago.
I took the newly configured pistol to my club yesterday and spent about an hour on the 25 yard outdoor range with the Herrett-equipped Ruger and a box of the Federal Auto Match I bought at Field & Stream last week. First impressions are that these grips are definitely easier to hold steady than most previous grips I've tried. The palm self makes it easier to get a solid grip without excessive gripping force that can make the hand tense up. A light squeeze in the grip causes the hand to push down on the shelf, which pushes the muzzle up.
The screws that hold the shelf in place are not as secure as I'd like; I may add some star washers, or perhaps a couple of pins to better secure the shelf. But overall I like it. My XL-sized hands require that the shelf is set almost at the bottom of its travel. Those with hands significantly smaller than mine have reported that they can't set the shelf high enough for a good grip, but some small handed target shooters have added padding to the shelf to fix this.
As for the Federal, it all fed without any problems (I fired around 100 rounds). I can't give any real reading on the accuracy, as it was pretty windy that day. I plan on shooting some indoors from this gun next week, and that should give me a better idea. Reports from other shooters say it's a lot more consistent than most bulk-pack .22LR, but certainly not up there with the low end match ammo like Ely Club; it might be in the same class as good old CCI Standard Velocity. I'll reserve some for comparison with other ammunition in my Anschutz and my custom 10/22.