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THE COLT M635 9mm SUBMACHINE GUN
A study in excellence

A decade ago, Colt surprised everyone in the firearms industry by entering the then-budding domestic 9mm submachine gun market -- a market completely dominated at the time by the Heckler & Koch MP5. Most said they didn't have a chance, that the MP5 was so good that Colt's new SMG wouldn't last more than a couple of years.

Well, there was a lot of truth in those statements. The MP5 is a good SMG, no question about it, and it certainly dominates both the military and police special-operations sector. But the truth didn't stop there --despite all the predictions, Colt's new entry not only survived, but prospered as well.

Called the Model 635, the weapon is based on the venerable AR15/M16's tried-and-true design. In fact, with the exception that it's blowback, rather than gas, operated (typical for SMGs), it retains all of that weapon's physical characteristics and even bears a striking resemblance to the ubiquitous 5.56mm "CAR-15" of Vietnam fame.

That it does so makes the Model 635 a "4th Generation" SMG, meaning that it is part of a fundamental weapon design, or "system" within which all integral weapons operate and field-strip the same way. The intent, of course, is to allow maximum operational and training efficiency with as little idiosyncratic variation as possible between the weapons themselves.

I always evaluate weapons using several criteria. First, mechanical engineering -- how well conceived is the weapon for its intended purpose? Second, ergonomics -- human engineering, which includes "real-world" issues like: (A) How well does the weapon fit? (B) How well located and thus operable are its controls? (C) How quickly can the operator acquire the sights under stress and can they be quickly and easily adjusted? (D) Is the gun sufficiently light and well balanced for the high-speed work inherent to combat? Third, quality of manufacture: (A) is the weapon well made and well finished, and; (B) is it accurate?

In all three of these categories, the M635 scores quite highly. Light and well balanced, it carries and mounts quickly and with relative ease. It's sights are rugged, well-protected, highly visible in all reasonable light conditions and easily adjusted. No weapon in the world has a selector switch better located (SAFE to SEMI to AUTO, with the lever literally right under the operator's firing thumb), or has a nicer gray phosphate matte finish. Moreover, it is available with either the CAR-15 retractable or more conventional fixed buttstock, thus satisfying even the most demanding aircraft/maritime/ vehicular storage and operational requirements.

It fact, the M635 is so light that some have criticized it as being uncontrollable in fully-automatic fire, alleging that it vibrates excessively. To this claim, I can only say that in a special-ops environment, no more than two-shots per burst should be utilized and, from the shoulder using proper technique, the M635 will keep both of those shots well-centered in the chest of any typical silhouette target out to a full 15 meters. No other SMG does it any better and most, considerably worse.

In a close-range spec-ops emergency or in a more typical military situation (Underarm Assault Position), the weapon is no more difficult to utilize effectively than any other shoulder arm and is, in fact, actually easier to use than most! So, at least from the practical standpoint, its my opinion that the allegation is entirely false.

Field-stripping the M635 takes only seconds and subsequent cleaning/maintenance are a snap. Due to its simpler bolt assembly, it is actually easier to clean and lubricate than the AR15/M16 system from which it came. As well, it isn't lubrication or carbon sensitive, as are a number of well-known modern SMGs.

For nearly eight years, I've used the M635 in both special-ops and military environments, jumped from aircraft with it strapped to my side and carried/fired it in both sub-zero and tropical environments. I've seen it covered with snow, dust, water and even mud; yet, it functioned without mishap, using a wide variety of 9mm ammunition. Moreover, during this period, its polycarbonate buttstock, pistolgrip and fore-end withstood abuse that at times surprised even me!

Is it accurate? Yes, it is -- even to the point of being academic. Using my M635 with Winchester 147-grain "Black Talon" JHPs, I was able to place 20 consecutive center hits on an 18x25-inch "Taylor Advanced Combat" silhouette at a full 200-meters. At 100-meters with this same ammo, it consistently shoots groups of less than 4-inches. With Hornady Custom 115- and 124-grain "XTP" JHPs, it does the same. Even military surplus ball prints inside 6-inches. Accurate enough for you? It sure is for me! And I would have no reservation about using the M635 to take that critical head-shot on a hostage-holder, even out to a full 15-meters.

Considering its many attributes, it is no wonder that DEA, the U.S. Marshal's Service and a number of other Federal agencies have adopted the M635, as have several elite counter-terrorist and military special-ops units. In addition, its civilian-legal SEMI-only "carbine" version has found considerable favor in lieu of the shotgun with a growing number of police and sheriff's departments around the country.

In short, I like the M635, especially with a 20-rd. magazine. I feel that it exhibits a superior combination of balance, light weight, simple but yet excellent mechanical/ergonomic design, thus providing an excellent package for anyone who needs a compact, highly-versatile shoulder weapon. For SWAT, counter-terrorist or standard military SMG functions it rates as one of the best.

 

 

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