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Colt Mustang .380 ACP: The Pocket-Size 1911

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After its 1983 introduction of the .380 Government Model proved to be a big success—partly because it was roughly 3/4 the size of a standard 1911 but managed to maintain the same profile and controls—Colt brought out the similar looking, but even smaller Mustang in 1986. Both were chambered in .380 ACP, but magazine capacity dropped from seven to five cartridges.

The Mustang’s reduced weight and size made it a very popular carry choice. Mechanically, the guns were not identical though. The Mustang, unlike the Government model, did not have a barrel bushing or spring plug. Dual recoil springs and polymer spring guide were another change.

Throughout its history, the Mustang appeared in a variety of versions throughout its run. Using an aluminum frame, 1987’s Pocket Lite model tipped the scales at only 12 1/2 ozs. The Mustang Plus II shipped from the factory with a 7-round magazine the next year. A Nite Lite came out of the company’s Custom Shop in 1993 wearing bar-dot tritium night sights and extended base pad on its magazine.

The guns were surprisingly manageable. “In spite of its small size and light weight, the Mustang is relatively pleasant to shoot, thanks to good grip frame design and its short single-action trigger,” Wiley Clapp wrote in a review of the design for American Rifleman.

Sales slowed, though, and the company removed them from production just before the turn of the century. Technological advances in bullet design and performance drove a resurgence in .380 ACP interest a few years after.

In 2012, Colt re-launched the Pocket Lite, with a 2.84″ barrel and overall length of 5.54″. It weighed 13.7 ozs., retained that manual safety on the left side so familiar to 1911 fans and MSRP was reasonable at $599.

  1. Gil Horman tested one the month it was introduced and concluded, “If you are in the market for a compressed 1911 pocket gun for personal protection, or it would be handy to have a .380 that can be comfortably operated by your whole family during trips to the shooting range, then the Colt Mustang Pocket Lite deserves your attention.”

Unfortunately, the Colt website no longer lists any Mustang as being currently in production. There is, however, some inventory remaining. New models, likely in limited numbers, remain available from big-box sporting goods stores with MSRPs that run from $700 to $600, depending on finish. Magazine capacity is 6+1, barrel length 2.75″ and weight runs roughly 12 ozs.

Article by GUY J. SAGI

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