One of the greatest dangers facing combat pilots is being downed over enemy territory. Having survived the ensuing crash, the pilot must then survive long enough to be rescued in some fashion. In the period following World War 2 (1939-1945), the United States Air Force (USAF) teamed with Harrington and Richardson Arms to develop a portable, small-caliber bolt-action-rifle for issuance to American aviators for the purpose of hunting game - this initiative producing the "M4 Survival Rifle". The company was founded in 1871 and is still in existence today (2022).
Based in the company's existing M265 sporting gun, the M4 was chambered in .22 Hornet and intended for the hunting of varmint-sized animals. It was operated through a manually-actuated bolt-action system (the lever set over the right side of the frame) and its overall arrangement was largely conventional. Design features included a 14"-long smooth, rounded barrel assembly (detachable), fixed iron sights fore and aft (blade and peep, respectively), wire pistol grip and trigger unit, magazine feed, and collapsing wire frame shoulder stock.
Weighing approximately 4 lb, the rifle could be made to have a smaller footprint by sliding the wire stock forwards along channeled blocks affixed to either side of the frame. The detachable magazine (taken from the Savage Stevens M23D) held four ready-to-fire cartridges.
The guns were manufactured in 1949 to the tune of 29,344 units solely for the USAF and Canada. The series was eventually superseded by the "M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon" (detailed elsewhere on this site) of similar battlefield scope.
An example of the M4 Survival Rifle is showcased behind glass at the armory exhibit of the United States Air Force Armament Museum in Florida.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Qualities of this weapon have shown its value to Special Forces elements requiring a versatile, reliable solution for the rigors of special assignments.
Special purpose weapon for a specially defined battlefield role.
Compact nature allows for relatively easy concealment.
Operating action requires operator management of a bolt-handle or similar, clearing the chamber of spent cartrides and introducing a fresh cartridge from the magazine.
Supports 'iron sights' allowing for inherent accuracy in ranged fire.
812 mm 31.97 in
356 mm 14.02 in
3.97 lb 1.80 kg
Iron rear peep with front blade.
Manually-Actuated Bolt-Action System.
Manually-actuated process of managing the bolt lever to eject spent cartridge case, clearing the breech, to introduce fresh catridge into the chamber.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)
Rounds / Feed
4-round detachable box magazine.
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources. **Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
M4 Survival Rifle - Base Series Designation.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.
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Battlefield developments of similar form and function, or related to, the Harrington and Richardson M4...
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