Pistols chambered in .380ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) have come a long way in the past several years. As demand for small, reliable pistols suitable for concealed carry has increased, pistol manufacturers and ammunition makers have responded with products to fill the needs of defensive shooters.
Colt’s Manufacturing Company, let’s just call them Colt, was way out ahead of this .380 revolution when they introduced their .380 Government Model in 1985. These pistols, and the several versions of the follow-on Mustang, were produced up until 1997. I don’t know why Colt stopped making these pistols but I’m going to speculate it had little to do with the quality of the pistols and a lot to do with the lack of effective defensive ammunition in .380 ACP available at the time. I do know I have wanted a Colt Mustang for years, and happily, I finally have one, as Colt has brought the little .380 back as the Mustang Pocketlite.
Greg Rozum, Colt’s engineering manager, tells me the Mustang Pocketlite may look like the pistol of old but is actually an entirely new pistol designed to be more reliable, accurate and comfortable to shoot than other pistols in the pocket pistol class. Those are big claims. Pocket pistols can be difficult to shoot, some have terrible triggers, many are not particularly accurate beyond a few yards, and some of them bite your hand pretty hard when you shoot them.
Stats and technical stuff
To begin with, full disclosure here, I’m a fan of 1911 style pistols, and Colts in particular. What you have with the Mustang Pocketlite is a tiny 1911 that is, well, cute. It’s small, lightweight and functions just like a full size 1911. The pistol has a 2.75″ barrel, weighs 12.6 ounces empty and 15.8 ounces fully loaded. The magazine holds 6 rounds and the pistol is designed to be carried with a loaded magazine, one round in the chamber, and the thumb safety on. The frame is an aluminum alloy, the slide is stainless steel and the frame and top of the slide have a matte finish while the slide flats are polished. Sights consist of a dovetailed and drift adjustable rear and a fixed, matte grey ramp front sight. Safeties include a 1911 style thumb safety and a Series 80 firing pin safety. Unlike a full size 1911, the Mustang has no grip safety, and one isn’t necessary. The included manual explains field stripping but anyone familiar with 1911 pistols will find the procedure to be the same.
When people have a chance to compare all kinds of pistols with different trigger systems they will invariably come to the conclusion that 1911s have the best triggers. The single action 1911 style trigger is easier for people to shoot well, and that’s all there is to it. Being a mini-1911, the Mustang Pocketlite has a true 1911 trigger. The trigger on my sample is very good. It breaks at just a bit over 7 pounds but does so with no creep or over-travel. You take up the slack, press, and it “snaps”, just as a good 1911 trigger should.
How does it shoot?
To say I was surprised by the way this little pistol shoots would be an understatement. Shooting Hornady Critical Defense ammunition, I found the Mustang to be pleasant to shoot, despite the grip being so short as to leave my little finger wrapped around the bottom of the magazine. Drawing from a Galco Stinger strong side belt holster, I initially fired six rounds at 3 yards, producing one ragged hole just a bit below my point of aim. Next, I fired single head shots and hammers (very fast pairs), followed by failure drills (two to the body, one to the head) and pairs out to 15 yards. At this point I decided to press my luck and run a Gunsite School Drill:
I normally test pocket pistols out to a maximum of about 10 yards so I didn’t really expect to get back to 25 yards with the Mustang. And, being lazy I shot the 15 yard stage from standing in the 3.5 seconds allowed and gave myself 4.5 seconds to shoot the 25 yard stage from standing instead of prone. To my considerable amazement, I managed to shoot a perfect score and made the times. The School Drill is very challenging with a full size pistol and prior to trying it with the Mustang I would have said shooting it clean with a pocket pistol was beyond my capabilities. This little pistol is accurate and easy to shoot well.
My only criticism of the Mustang Pocketlite is my fault; I can’t see that grey front sight very well with my aging eyes. Some bright orange paint may fix that. Otherwise, in my view, the Mustang has lived up to Colt’s claims. Did I tell you I have a thing for cute little 1911s?
About the Author:
Ed Head is a regular on Shooting Gallery and Down Range TV. He has worked for almost 30 years in law enforcement, first in the United States Air Force and then with the United States Border Patrol, retiring as a Field Operations Supervisor. During his Border Patrol career, Ed worked in a variety of patrol, investigative and training capacities. Ed has an extensive background as a firearms instructor, having trained thousands, ranging from beginners to police, military and special operations personnel. Having taught at Gunsite for 20 years, Ed first trained there under the world famous shooting school’s founder, Jeff Cooper, then later ran the school as the operations manager for more than five years. Ed lives in Chino Valley, Arizona, where he continues to teach and write.