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TPS Arms M6 Takedown Survival Rifle Review

Survive G.I.-style with the M6 Takedown survival rifle from TPS Arms.

TPS Arms M6 Takedown Survival Rifle Review

Bushcraft expert Todd Jaderborg taking aim with the TPS Arms M6 chambered in .22 LR and .410.

An improved version of the military M6 survival rifle is now being made for civilian shooters by TPS Arms. This is part of the company’s Takedown Series, which includes two models, the .22WMR, and the .22LR, which will be the focus of this article. Perhaps the biggest improvement is the lengthening of the barrel from 14 inches to 18¼ inches, with the resultant weight and balance change making a steadier gun for offhanded shooting which is easier to hit with than the original version. The gun breaks down into two pieces and comes in a padded case with a separate pocket for each piece as well as an exterior side pocket. This case comes with a shoulder strap so that the gun can be carried in it as well. When I went to pick up the sample gun at Reeves Ace hardware in Clayton, Georgia, I was presented with a box measuring 21½" x 14" x 6½". Not your average gun-shipping box, to be sure.

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The M6 .22/.410 survival gun.

The two pieces went together by inserting the hinge pin, which is a captive pin preventing its being lost. The lack of this captive pin was a fatal flaw in the original design, as it was easy to drop and lose when you were fumbling with cold, numb fingers. I now had a gun with a .22LR top barrel and a .410 shotgun barrel underneath it. The shotgun barrel has thick walls, which add needed weight and help to prevent denting in a survival situation. While the .22 can be used out past 50 yards on small game, the tiny shot load of the .410 makes it more of a 30-feet proposition. Try not to waste shells wing shooting in that scenario. Even one miss is an irreplaceable shell lost. A survival situation is not sport shooting. You shoot any bird you can of whatever type or size for the pot, and you shoot them when you cannot miss. This gun was designed to shoot small game, because that is the most plentiful. For most pilots, who aren’t necessarily hunters, this is the surest way to put something in the pot.

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The M6 case and the M6 broken down into two parts.

There are other improvements as well. There is now a better trigger pull with less creep, so you are less likely to miss your dinner. The test rifle has an 11-pound trigger pull, as measured by a Lyman trigger pull gauge from Brownells. I would prefer it to be lighter. For those who don’t like the M6 trigger guard and trigger, TPS Arms will sell you a curved trigger and trigger guard that you can easily swap out on your gun. A wider butt pad spreads out the recoil of .410 three-inch slugs and buckshot for more pleasant shooting.

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The M6 folded. Notice how the trigger guard prevents the rifle from folding completely. This was added by Springfield Armory shortly after releasing the rifle in the 1980s. The M6 has a cross-bolt safety as well as a firing-pin safety so the trigger guard cloud can be removed, but this is not recommended by the manufacturer.

The gun weighs five pounds, one ounce, so it’s like carrying an M1 carbine. The buttstock is drilled and tapped for standard sling swivels just like the original M6. It is a handy 32.25 inches overall and folds to 18.88 inches. There is a flip peep sight for the .22 and a V sight for the .410. My test gun came with a Viper red-dot sight. There is a trap across the top of the stock that opens to reveal inserts that hold six rounds of .410 shells and 13 rounds of .22LR as well as additional space for whatever you want to carry. These inserts are removable so you can use the space to carry something else such as its screw-in choke tube and a wrench. TPS Arms has also added a push-button safety. The extractor has been beefed up for more positive removal of stuck shells. Both full and compact scope mounts are available.


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The stock cover plate down.
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The stock cover plate open.

The M6 survival rifle is an unusual-looking gun, to say the least. Its oversized trigger guard and trigger were intended to be used by mittened hands of pilots forced down in Alaska or, in the event of war with Russia, Siberia.


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The stock cover plate with ammo installed.

The length of pull is only 10½ inches because this gun was designed to fit in the minimum space possible in an Air Force survival kit.  It is usable, but prevents the gun handling like a shotgun should. If the caliber and gauge of the ammunition is ever increased, the stock length must be increased. The whole concept of the M6 is that of the smallest package possible, and any sacrifices 
necessary were acceptable to the ordnance designers.

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The firing-pin selector knob can be seen protruding from the hammer. Pull the knob up for the .22 barrel to fire, or push it all the way down for .410. Pushing the selector knob in the middle will not fire either barrel and this can act as a secondary safety.

The Germans went to the other extreme in WWII. The Luftwaffe survival drilling was a full-size top-quality Sauer drilling with two 12-gauge barrels, the left barrel regulated for Brenneke slugs and the right barrel for birdshot, with a 9.3x74R rifle barrel underneath. This was the classic German all-round hunting gun and capable of taking anything on the planet, from the smallest to the largest game. These are the two schools of thought on survival guns from which the reader must make his choice.

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The hammer knob position determines which barrel will be fired. This projection on top of the hammer in front of the cocking arm is pulled all the way up to fire the rifle barrel and pushed all the way down to fire the shotgun barrel. The middle position is neutral and acts as an additional safety preventing the gun from firing.

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Todd Jaderborg loading the M6. Todd found that TPS Arms M6 was well-made, and easy to carry and pack.

The gun breaks open like the old S&W top-break revolvers. Lift up on the breech lock and the barrels swing down. The barrels will try to hit your fingers if they are not behind the trigger guard, as they don’t politely stop like they did on your Grandfather’s old single-barrel shotgun. There is an extractor that automatically lifts the cartridges out enough for you to grab and remove them. The internal parts are massive and rugged. Parts breakage in a survival situation was something Ordnance wanted to avoid at all costs.




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The flip-up sights on the M6 offer the choice of V notch or peep.

I had 405 rounds of .410 shells consisting of:

  • 30 rounds of Sabot Designs LLC Flechette ammo, each round having seven flechettes weighing eight grains each, for a total of 56 grains. They travel at 1,725 FPS out of a shotgun.
  • 25 rounds of Brenneke .410 slugs at 1,500 FPS
  • 100 rounds of Federal .410 handgun 
    4 pellet 000 buckshot
  • 100 rounds of Federal three-inch magnum five-pellet 000 buckshot
  • 50 rounds Federal three-inch magnum 11/16-ounce loads of 7½ shot
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Federal .410 #4 shot pattern at 10 yards.
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Federal .410 #7½ shot pattern at 10 yards.

I also had 1,150 rounds of .22LR consisting of:

  • 500 rounds of Aguila standard-velocity lead bullet
  • 300 rounds of CCI Mini Mag .22 LR segmented hollow point, a new round designed to fragment into three pieces, creating three wound channels in small game
  • 150 rounds of CCI Quiet .22 RN. Please note this is a practice-only load. Use the Quiet .22 hollow point on game. It works well. The round-nose version proved inhumane in trapline tests, failing to make quick kills, even with brain shots at point-blank range on coyotes and pigs. The CCI Quiet .22 earned its name by having the same noise level out of a regular gun as standard .22 ammo has out of a gun with a silencer on it. For a man trying to survive behind enemy lines, that is a life or death difference.
  • 200 rounds of Federal Hunter Match .22 hollow point. This is a fine hunting load that seemed to kill better than regular .22s on the trapline.
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Federal three-inch load with five 000 buckshot pattern at 10 yards.
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Federal 2½-inch load with four 000 buckshot pattern at 10 yards.

After shooting, the gun was cleaned with Shooter’s Choice bore cleaner and lubed with Shooter’s Choice FP-10 lube. In a survival situation, gun cleaning is a life-or-death issue, and a lot of people don’t seem to realize that.


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Brenneke slugs: one-inch at 50 yards.

The flechettes gave a 16-inch pattern at 25 yards. The three-inch five-pellet 000 buckshot load patterns ran about 4 to 4½ inches. The 2½-inch four-pellet 000 buckshot loads ran about four inches.

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CCI Quiet .22 produced a one-inch group at 50 yards.

Going to birdshot, the 2½-inch #4 shot load had a 22-inch pattern with very large gaps in the pattern. The three-inch #7½ shot load ran about the same with very large gaps in the pattern.

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Aguila standard velocity .22 gave the author a one-inch group at 50 yards.

It was obvious that a small bird could land in one of these gaps and escape unscathed. There just isn’t enough shot in a .410 shell to do more. So I shortened the range to 30 feet. Now the 2½-inch #4 shot load had a seven-inch pattern with some gaps, and the three-inch #7½ shot load had a nine-inch pattern that was a tight five inches in the center. The Federal three-inch .410 buckshot load with five 000 buckshot went into 2¼ inches here, and the regular .410 load with four 000 buckshot went into 1½ inches.

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CCI Segmented HP shot an impressive 3/4-inch group at 50 yards.

The .410 Brenneke slugs grouped five shots in one inch at 50 yards. I am always amazed at the accuracy of the Brenneke slugs.

When I was a small child, I was given a .410 single barrel with a short stock. Faced with its performance, I quickly started using a full-size 12 gauge. The military wanted the .410 so personnel could carry more ammo. They figured you would end up shooting more sparrow-size game anyway in a survival situation. They didn’t factor in how many .410 shells would be wasted on missed or crippled game that got away.

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Federal Hunter Match in .22 HP, another impressive 3/4-inch group at 50 yards.

Turning now to the .22 barrel. The combination of a heavy trigger pull and a very heavy hammer fall with a light rifle made shooting a bit difficult for me. However, at 50 yards, I was able to get one-inch groups with CCI Quiet .22 ammo and Aguila Super Extra standard velocity, and ¾-inch groups with CCI segmented hollow point and Federal Hunter Match hollow-point ammo.

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The TPS Arms M6 can be a great companion on a camping trip and makes a great addition to other guns you would want to have with you, like a centerfire pistol and semi-auto 5.56 rifle. Todd Jaderborg’s great bushcraft videos and survival information can be found at WolfOfOdin.com or on Facebook and YouTube under Odin’s Wolf Survival.

This gun was intended to be as compact and rugged as possible, at the expense of all other considerations. It was very successful, considering its design parameters, and it is unfair to judge it by the standards of guns designed for totally different parameters. The M6 should be used at the closest range possible, regardless of which barrel is used. It can be a tricky, difficult gun to hit with and the original 14-inch government-issue barrel one was much more so. The military went to a .22 Hornet caliber top barrel after reports that the .22LR would not penetrate the winter plumage of Alaskan birds when downed flyers shot them. As a former Alaskan trapper who used both standard and high-velocity .22 ammo out of a Stoeger .22 Luger pistol in Alaska with no problems, I can tell you for a fact that they weren’t hitting those birds.

Firearms News staff also had a chance to fire the .22 Magnum version of the M6. The trigger pull measured in at six lbs., eight ounces (average of three pulls). Testing consisted of three, five-shot groups fired at 50 yards with the following ammunition: Hornady 30-grain V-MAX, Winchester 40-grain JHP, and CCI MAXI-MAG 40-grain TMJ. The trigger was found to be adequate, and accuracy was very good. All groups were fired with a Weaver 2.5x-7x scope set at seven power. Check out the accuracy chart for the results.

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A great companion to the M6 is the caliber conversion kit from Short Lane, LLC. This kit coverts .410 to shoot 9mm, .32 H&R MAG, .32 S&W, .32 ACP, .22 LR, or black powder for birdshot. Short Lane’s new kit also includes adapters for .380 and .38 Special! It even offers single adapters that will fit perfectly inside the M6’s storage in its stock. For more information, go to GunAdapters.com.

The TPS Arms M6 rifle series includes extremely compact firearms designed to be easily carried on a plane or in a vehicle to provide emergency sustenance for those in a survival situation. TPS Arms has improved the military version, and I would always take it over the original. It is a tough, rugged gun made for the worst emergency situations. Unlike the original, with its 14-inch barrels, this version is not an NFA Act weapon, and it can be purchased just as any conventional sporting gun. It enables you to round out a military collection without paying a $200 transfer tax, and it is a better gun than the original. For military personnel who had it stowed on their planes, it makes quite a souvenir of their military days. For an army surplus store, it makes a real attention-getter on the wall. And for the prepper, it makes life a little safer in an unsafe situation. 

TPS Arms M6 in .22LR and .410

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M6 .22 Magnum Accuracy Chart (Three Five-Shot Groups Fired Per Type)

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TPS Arms, M6 Takedown, Over/Under: .22 LR/.410 Specs

  • UPC Code: 859629006036
  • Manufacturer: TPS Arms
  • Manufacturer Part #:  M6-100
  • Model: M6 Takedown
  • Action: Over/Under
  • Caliber: .410, three-inch chamber (Includes full-choke tube and wrench)
  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Barrel Length: 18.25"
  • Finish/Color: Blued
  • Grips/Stock: Aluminum
  • Accessories: Choke Tube / Wrench
  • Chamber: 3"
  • Capacity: 2 Rds
  • Sights: Flip Up Rear, Stationary Front
  • MSRP: $589

TPS Arms, M6 Takedown, Over/Under: .22 WMR/.410 Specs

  • UPC Code: 859629006043
  • Manufacturer: TPS Arms
  • Manufacturer Part #: M6-120
  • Model: M6 Takedown
  • Action: Over/Under
  • Caliber: .410, three-inch chamber (Includes full-choke tube and wrench)
  • Caliber: .22 WMR
  • Barrel Length: 18.25"
  • Finish/Color: Blued
  • Grips/Stock: Aluminum
  • Accessories: Choke Tube / Wrench
  • Chamber: 3"
  • Capacity: 2 Rds
  • Sights: Flip Up Rear, Stationary Front
  • MSRP: $589

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