Ye Olde Colt .380 Mustang was an iconic gun, offering all the I’m-Too-Sexy-for My-Shirt coolness of a 1911 in a shirt-compatible size. When it was launched in 1986, the pistol’s sales burned hot—until 1997, by which time cool meant cool and everyone who wanted one had one (call it the Dodge Prowler syndrome). With the recent liberalization of concealed carry laws, little guns have come roaring back. SIG SAUER’s riding the wave with their Colt Mustang clone, the P238. Colt didn’t kvetch, probably as the Mustang was an imitation of the Spanish Star. In any case, at some point, Colt decided it should bring back the original Colt to suck up sales from the CCW boom. There are three main reasons that it’s a better gun that afore . . .
1. The slide is now made of stainless steel. Not to cast aspersions on the cast iron slide of the previous ‘Stang, but the new material makes the Mustang lighter (12.5 ounces). And lighter’s good in a carry gun, right?
2. The previous receiver was machined from plate. Again, newer, better materials and manufacturing techniques has made the Colt a more durable and reliable piece. The stock’s made out of black composite.
And then there’s what hasn’t changed. It’s still a 1911-style gun and it’s still a .380 caliber weapon with a seven round magazine.
The former raises the same old questions about carry safety. There aren’t many self-defense gun gurus who recommend a 1911-style weapon for their patients who want the bad guys to chew bullets, what with the external safety and all.
Even with better bullets than before, .380 is still not the caliber of choice for people serious about stopping an imminent threat of their life or the lives of their loved ones. The old argument—it’s better than nothing—has been superseded by the development of a new generation of mini-9mm pocket pistols (e.g. Ruger’s LC9).
I asked Colt Rep Paul Smarolli [above] if the Colt Mustang’s arrived too late to the party. Is the .380 still popular. He paused. “We hope.” If the Colt shoots as well as the SIG P238, he has good reason. If not, not. We shall see.