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Colt Model 635 (Colt 9mm SMG)

Submachine Gun (SMG) [ 1982 ]

The Colt 9mm SMG managed to find homes in only a few fighting forces of the world including the USMC, Bangladeshi SWAT, and Indian special police.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/05/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

It was something of an eventuality that Colt released an AR-15/M16-style weapon chambered for the ubiquitous 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge. The cartridge had been in use for decades prior to the 1980s and saw service in both World Wars while becoming the cartridge-of-choice for many semi-automatic pistols and submachine guns. The Colt entry became the Model 635 (known to NATO as the "SMG 9mm NATO") which, as expected, chambered the 9mm round and fired from a blowback action (as opposed to direct impingement gas as seen in the M16) through a closed-bolt system.

The Model 635 - generically called the "Colt 9mm SMG" - retained the general design lines of the classic M16 U.S. military assault rifle (its own design based on the AR-15). It shared some qualities from the earlier Vietnam War-era Colt "Commando" assault carbine. A telescoping butt was installed for compactness which brought the overall length of the weapon down from 29 inches to a handier 25.5 inches as needed. M16-style fire controls were retained meaning that operators already familiar with the larger cousin could easily adapt to managing the smaller offering. One of the more unique design elements apparent to the Model 635 was the magazine which was slimmer and taken from the Israeli UZI SMG design. In order to accept these new magazines into the M16-style feed, a special internal modification was introduced. The Model 635 fed from either 20- or 32-round straight detachable box magazines and the standard barrel measured 10.5 inches long.

Accuracy and familiarity proved the Model 635's selling points but the system did not find many takers. Militarily, only the USMC, Malaysia, and the Argentine Army adopted the type and special police forces of Bangladesh and India were other operators. Locally, the United States Marshals Service, the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) saw enough usefulness in the design to accept it into inventory.

The Model 639 became a related variant given a select-fire trigger group containing a three-shot burst functionality but lacked the full-automatic mode featured in the original Model 635. The Model 633 appeared with a shorter 7" barrel assembly for improved compactness along with a simplified forward sighting device - these went on to serve the DEA.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States


Submachine Gun (SMG)

Colt's Manufacturing Company (CMC) - USA
(View other Arms-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of Argentina National flag of Bangladesh National flag of India National flag of Malaysia National flag of Pakistan National flag of the United States Argentina; Bangladesh; India; Malaysia; Pakistan; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)

Overall Length
730 mm
28.74 in
Barrel Length
267 mm
10.51 in
Empty Wgt
5.73 lb
2.60 kg

Iron Front and Rear; Optional Optics


Blowback; Closed-Bolt

Blowback Operation
Gas pressure from the rearward movement of the ignited cartridge case provides the needed bolt movement, ejecting the spent case and stripping a fresh case from the magazine.
(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)


9x19mm Parabellum

Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a 9mm pistol cartridge
Rounds / Feed

20- or 32-round detachable box magazine
Cartridge relative size chart
*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.
Max Eff.Range
328 ft
(100 m | 109 yd)
Muzzle Velocity
1,300 ft/sec
(396 m/sec)

Colt 9mm SMG - Base Series Name
Model 635 - Standard model with semi-/full-automatic mode.
Model 639 - Three-round burst fire capability added; sans full-automatic mode.
Model 633 - 7" barrel assembly and revised front site for use by US DEA.
SMG 9mm NATO - NATO Designation for the Model 635

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Image of the Colt Model 635 (Colt 9mm SMG)
Image from the Public Domain.


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