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Gun Review: Colt Mustang Pocketlite

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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.

The included manual explains field stripping but anyone familiar with 1911 pistols will find the procedure to be the same.

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:

  • 3 yards, a single head shot in 1.5 seconds.  Repeat
  • 7 yards, a pair to the body in 1.5 seconds.
  • 10 yards, a pair to the body in 2.0 seconds.
  • 15 yards, a pair to the body, standing to kneeling, in 3.5 seconds.
  • 25 yards, a pair to the body, standing to prone, in 7 seconds.

The Colt Mustang Pocketlite sporting a IWB holster and magpouch from Ritchie Leather Co,

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.

Summing up
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?

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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.

2 Responses to Gun Review: Colt Mustang Pocketlite

  1. Vernon Ray Tobias

    September 12, 2012 at 12:55 am

    When Texas first started the concealed handgun license program, naturely I wanted my license. I had about 4 or 5 handguns but the only semi auto was a mustange .380. Well there was about 20 in that first class. When we got to the range to do the shooting several people including the instructor sure did look at me but no one said anything. After the shooting was over, and I had fired a 100% score there was quite a few coments including from the instructor. I had let my license expire so when I went to renew it I had to start from the beginning. This was a different instructor and only 2 other people in the class. Well thin instructor made a comment before we even went to the fange. But when the shooting was over and I had another 100% score he told me at first he had doubts about my shooting the Mustang but after the first round of shooting he felt like I would be ok. The guy that was right beside me said he kinda laughed when he saw what I was going to shoot but, after the first round he said to hisself that he figgered I knew what I was doing. I haven’t shot it since that day 3 years ago. So if I decide to use it agan when I renew I will go out and shoot it agan before I go to renew my license. It has always been the only semi auto that I have had larger than a .30 calibur but, I now have a .45 cal so I may use it. I just like seeing the expression on their faces when I pull out that little short barreled .380 and how their expressions change when we start shooting. I have really had a good time shooting it, what little I have shot it and would not take twice what I give for it. I bought it new when they first came out in ’85 I think.Happy Shooting every one. Thanks for letting me talk about my Colt Mustang. Toby T

  2. Dan

    January 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I have used a Colt Mustang (SS version) for years. This is my daily carry when I cannot carry my Glock 23. The little Mustang fits in a jean pocket and with a handkerchief over it , it doesn’t noticibly print.

    Accuracy is acceptable. I did paint the front sight with orange paint however. WORKS GREAT!

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