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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.

3. I’m not saying the old Mustang was as sloppy as a mining town whore, but Colt’s tweaked the new gun’s internals (so to speak) for finer tolerance. It’s a crisper feeling gun in all ways.

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 The old argument—it’s better than nothing—has been superseded by the development of a new generation of mini-9mm pocket pistols (e.g. Ruger’s LC9).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.


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  1. 12.5 ounces? That’s lighter than the Sig, and significantly lighter than the smallest 9 mm’s. It’s just a bit heavier than the ultralight 380s (Ruger LCP, Keltec P3AT), and it looks like this Colt may be closer than those two to being a ‘real’ gun (like it appears to have decent sights).

  2. How the hell do you carry a gun like this? Unless you’ve got a custom-made ($$$) IWB thumb-break holster, the only safe way to tote a Mustang or the Sig clone is with an empty chamber.

    These guns do not compare well to the new batch of micro-9s from Kahr, Kel-Tec and Ruger. The latter give more firepower, better ballistics, more carry choices and more rapid (one-handed) presentation. All for a few tenths of an ounce more empty weight. The .380s get the nod for lighter recoil and better old-school looks. And possibly a longer a service life, but few of us will ever shoot such small guns so much as to wear them out.

    • Huh? Custom thumb break IWB holster? You can toss a 1911, hammer side, against a brick wall and that hammer is not going to move. Think about it, a Glock can go off with just the pull of it’s 5.5lb trigger. The Colt first needs its manual safety to be forcibly pushed off safety and then have its 5.5 lb trigger pulled. Yes a cocked and locked gun does look scary and those that are scared are best advised to buy something else.

  3. I’ve been waiting for this announcement for years. I’ll take the Colt SA over all the DAO .380’s combined !

  4. I have a Colt Gov pockelite 380 and I love it and I will get the new Mustang it not how big the hole is that counts its where you put the hole that counts.

  5. Had the old one and loved it
    More accurate then all if the other 380 pistols I have shot most are junk
    If it can handle the newer ammo then it will kick ass. I want one NOW .. 🙂

  6. whoever said “These guns do not compare well to the new batch of micro-9s from Kahr, Kel-Tec and Ruger” is talking out of their a$$… 1911 style weapons have been getting a bad rap for a long time… but those in the know realize that they are MUCH more safe to carry cocked and locked that some other “plastic gun” which uses a striker and a trigger safety that is nothing more than a loose plastic lever hinged at mid-trigger (ask Plaxico Burress how he “currently” feels about those oh-so-safe “plastic guns” now THAT’S EXACTLY WHY HIS GUN WENT OFF PEOPLE). the current micro 9 batch are also plastic and also utilize a striker. i’ll carry a colt in my pocket cocked and locked ANY DAY before i put a plastic “striker” gun in my pocket… ANY DAY, ANY TIME.

    the bottom line is… the 1911 platform IS safe and it IS reliable and it IS dependable. uh… THAT’S WHY THIS PLATFORM IS STILL AVAILABLE TO THIS DAY FOLKS.

    i honestly get tired of people gabbing a bunch of useless hot air about the 1911 platform… it’s ridiculous… and shows that you know VERY LITTLE about what you’re talking about.

    • I agree. For some reason inexperienced people do not understand that a cocked and locked pistol may look very scarey to the ill informed but actually is safer than a Glock. To shoot a Glock you just press the trigger either on purpose or accidently as sometimes happens. To shoot a 1911 you need to flip off a manual safety lever that locks firmly in place, depress the grip safety and then press the trigger. If the manual safety somehow comes off safe (never happened to me in 40 years) and the grip safety also fails and the hammer safety fails you are left with a Gun that shoots like a Glock. This and the Sig P238 have about 5-6 lb trigger pulls just like a Glock. However since most gun owners know diddly about guns other than what they THINK or read other uninformed internet posters say, they will voice their opinions with authority and self rightousness to the end. 🙂 I have shot at people and been shot at and even have a scar to prove it but most of the posters just make up stuff in their heads and present it as the truth. Most will buy every accessory they sell for their gun but not a dime on training by professionals who DO know what is true and what is Internet BS.

      • I have been carrying one of my mustang pocketlites since the 80’s.
        Everyone misses the deal with the pocketlite.
        1) Largest caliber you can carry in your back pocket. 9mm too thick & long.
        2) Carry hammer down on a loaded chamber. Just cock if needed. “0” chance of AD.
        3) This is a defensive gun that can save your life. Accurate, & dependable. No jams shooting reloads in 5 different mustangs.
        Holds value better than the plastic DAO ‘s

        • I agree with jrc only person that said carry loaded one in chamber and hammer up on hammer block off of firing pin and safety off.That is the way I carry.Draw pistol with fingers out of trigger guard and thumb on hammer.Pistol can never go off in holster

  7. Strongly agree with JR. “Cocked and Locked” is more than safe. Also single action only is much faster for double taps….and the mustang has a fully supported chamber.

  8. You mean Colt is making NEW Mustangs? I have been on their website & what I see is New Agent and no mention of Mustangs. Personally I love the Mustang adn I don’t mind .380 either. Although I have all sorts of the new Ruger pistols which I really like my favorite pistol of all time is the Colt 1903 .32 only second to the Mustang.

    Why isn’t shown on Colt’s website?
    Rob Drummond
    Hillsboro, NH

    • I so wish Colt had just brought back their 1903 32 and the 1908 380, but with a series 80 firing pin block and better sights. That would have been so cool. Imagine a 1908 380 that could safely be dropped without an accidental discharge. Oh, I wish..

  9. I’m still carrying my Pony almost daily after 15 years. After a few weeks carrying a striker fired 380 pistol paranoia set in and I went back to the Pony. Being able to see or feel the hammer when holstering IWB or shifting the holser when driving makes me feel better. With a striker, I felt I could never be sure what might be going on out of sight. Replaced the hammer spring with a lighter one from Wolf. It’s still a long heavy pull but reasonable

  10. This is a nice looking .380. I had a diamondback .380. Had a lot of failure to feed problems with it. Gunbroker auctions are going for over $700 dollars though. I bought my Sig P290 pocket pistol for well under that. I feel like the 9mm is a more potent round. Think I will stick with it.

  11. Why would anybody consider the single action 1911 unsafe? Sure, the new breed of polymer guns are safety oriented, but this Mustang, as with the 1911, give the user control over a manual safety and the hammer position. User input can only be safer. I own 2 Mustangs and absolutely love them.

  12. I have a unique insight to this…..My first CCW was a Colt series 80 Gov’t Model .380-Nice gun,easy to carry,shot NOTHING reliably other than FMJ.Sold it for what I bought it,got an Interarms PPK(Stainless) and have NEVER had ANY failures in 1500+ rounds-Have worn the gun for a year at a time without shooting it and still no problems-feeds everything including baseball -bat-blunt Silvertip HP’s.When Keltec entered the market I fell for the hubub and bought a P-32.While slipping this dangerous POS onto my belt one day,it WENT OFF!Nicked my right testicle and lodged in my left calf.Spent all of one Florida vacation day at Orlando Regional.Cor-Bon.And I am as careful as can be,except this one time.Got smart.Now I carry only auto’s that have hammers and safeties. Kimber Pro Carry II,My trusty PPK,along with S&W 60,642,Colt Dick Spl.I have carried since 1985,Please think twice before buying Striker Fired Auto’s with No Safety!I just might consider the Mustang because of the safety features,weighs about the same as plastic garbage,and the reliability improvements.

    • true, true, true………………..
      Hammer down on loaded chamber.
      Fastest & safest mode of carry.
      If you don’t have time to cock on the draw, you probably shouldn’t be drawing at all.

      • LoL, 100% agree. I do not like striker fired pistols. My Jennings .22 (which worked just great with CCI Stingers (the old kind) BTW, let me down one day and fired while just chambering a round (and no my finger was no where near the trigger), and that was the end of carrying the Jennings or any .22 as a back up (autopsy disclosed the extractor had jammed on a sliver of brass and it acted as a firing pin, so both the Jennings and the 22s were retired from my perspective) and was replaced with an old WW2 vintage Walther PPK of 32 caliber, but I never carried it with a loaded chamber because of the inertia firing pin. That was replaced by the Mustang Series 80 which safely allows (also the 1911 Series 80 version too, of course) chamber loaded and hammer down carry.

  13. In a full-blown fire fight, I would rather carry a .45. Hell I would REALLY want a Dillon Mini-gun or AA-12.

    For conceal carry, especially in the summertime, the new Colt Mustang is the one I want. It is safe, small and light to carry. As far the .380 vs 9mm argument, an accurate .380 is 1000x better than an inaccurate 9mm. And the differences between the newest .380 ammo and 9mm ammo is minimal at best.

  14. I bought a 70% Mustang plusII.I cleaned it thouroughly and put new springs in it, mags as well, and brought it to 90%. Was gonna trade for the new one, but now I’ll buy it, too! Sending the old one to Talo to make it into a mini Wiley Clapp little brother! will send pix!

  15. I own and carry a Colt 380 Govt. model. One HELL of a shooter! At 20-25 yds, I can put the rounds in the bulls eye. No brag just fact. Of course I do this one handed as my left arm and hand are totally paralyzed. I do hope that you call me a liar. I am willing able and ready to back this up. I offer 1k to any one that can prove I can’t do as I claim. However if you do challenge me you must put up 1k as well. I shoot at the Desert Hills Gun Club in Boulder City NV. I am there every Monday and Thursday morning. The gun carries very well in a belt holster with the safety on, hammer cocked, and a round chambered. Please, oh please do challenge me! All it takes is a little guts, and willingness on your part to lose 1k!

    • Give me a break, as if your the only one in the world who can shoot a pistol with one arm. Back in the day shooting with one arm/hand was how it was done. Sorry about your arm, but it doesn’t make you that special

  16. “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”.

    I disagree! Ask yourself a question. Would you rather be shot with two rounds from a .22, a .380. or a 9mm (Don’t forget, I have 6 to 10 to work with)? Personally, I’d rather not be shot at all. So when the gun comes out, it’s time to go. There have been more people killed with a .22, than any other caliber. So unless you are facing a psycho nut case, with no sense of survival, or pain, any of the three will do. And if you are facing that kind of threat, grab the .44 Magnum and empty the cylinder!

  17. I looked at the Colt Mustang yesterday, a beautiful gun. HOWEVER, I notice that the Colt magazine clips aren’t the quality to my 380 Sig P238 stainless clips. Since the clips are interchangeable & functional on both models, I’d suggest Sig clips for the Colt — much better.

  18. I would like to buy a new slide for my Colt Mustang 380, When I bought mine in the New Box the Slide was Scratched in Two places where the Bullet goes in . The Dealer where I bought it from would do nothing about it. I called Colt they said they wanted 700.00 for a new one. . Where can I get a new one and how Much . The Dealer where I bought the Colt Mustang 380 Was Perry Gun Shop Waddle in NC, Spread the word and tell everyone Perry does not back there new Guns…..Do not buy off of Perry Gun Shop.

    • If you carry the stainless steel pistol in your pocket anyway, sooner or later car keys, a pocket knife or some such may make a scratch mark anyway (LoL, not to mention dropping it on concrete during a scuffle with 2 or more opponents). The easy solution is just buff the scratches out starting with 400 grit emery cloth then working up to a grit that matches the surroundings (on my own, 600 grit is about right). You may also wish to stone down the edges of the slide. On my own, from the factory those 90 degree corners were razor sharp as it came from the factory and I re-worked the sharp places with a hard Arkansas stone so they no longer sliced my fingers. You may also wish to consider stippling the grip frame both front and back in as much as I found the gun’s smooth grip surfaces bearing on only two fingers hard to control if shooting when the hand was wet. Cylinder & Slide used to offer Novak sights for the Mustang. It is possible they still do.

      • Worth noting Colt also makes (made?) a polymer frame version of this pistol which supposedly is also very nice to those into plastic frame guns. I say made?, because Colt just a few weeks ago in June defaulted on their bonds and announced they are bankrupt and will be filing for bankruptcy soon, so I am thinking maybe it is best to snap up all the Colts you can now because soon there may not be anymore.

  19. I have a series 80 Mustang I purchased back in 1992. I am not sure what you saw back then with a ‘cast iron slide,’ but rest assured the slide of my old one is stainless steel. Colt has made multiple variations of this pistol starting with it’s larger brother the Government .380, the Plus 2 (a mix of the longer frame of the Govt, giving 2 extra shots and the shorter frame of the regular Mustang), the Pony (not to be confused with the Star Pony or the failed Colt Pony, this new Pony was a Mustang with a double action trigger), then Colt did their dumb ‘no more handguns’ thing in 97 or so and production stopped, till a few years ago when they realized the handgun market (not military sales) was their bread & butter and brought back the ‘improved’ Colt Mustang. Actually the only four improvements a shooter would notice is the gun is lighter, the slide no longer is marked Series 80 (but it is a Series 80 firing pin safety anyway), the hardness of the slide vs the slide stop has been fixed so the slide stop no longer burrs the slide (early versions had a slide stop made of a harder heat treatment than the slide, so allowing the gun to shoot empty a few dozen times would raise a burr on the slide and eventually totally take out the slide stop notch (fixed now), and of course the early black plastic trigger has been replaced with an aluminum trigger. The other manufacturing changes are debatable as to their being an improvement from a shooter’s perspective, just a cheaper way of making the product. Noting also that when Colt stopped making them just before the turn of the century, Sig Sauer stepped up to the plate and as you say they make a pricey (but blockier) clone of the Mustang as their model 238. The good thing about the Sig clone is they put better (Trijicon no less) sights on theirs.

    Both the Colt Mustangs and the Sig share the same Series 80 type firing pin safety. There therefore exists no concern about carrying the pistol with a round chambered and the hammer down. You can throw it against concrete all day and that firing pin is blocked from moving and nothing will happen. Noting also, on my own 92 vintage example, you can put the hammer down, and also put the safety on, at the same time. That prevents the hammer from being cocked if you don’t want it to cock, making chamber loaded, hammer down, safety also on, all 3 at once a very practical way of carrying the pistol in one’s pocket (or a Bianchi #19L belt holster if you so prefer).

  20. I carried as a CCW in the Republic of Panama after Just Cause (1990). At the time even McDonalds had shotgun toting guards in the parking lot. When driving, I used an ankle holster and when out of the car, a waist holster.
    After WA passed pro drug laws, home invasion break-ins are skyrocketing. I have resumed daily carry of my Mustang PL. I consider it as a defensive weapon to give me time to get to my tactical shotgun- then we are talking.

  21. Very dissatisfied with the Colt Mustang had problems day one. Slide stop falls out clips will not feed called Colt customer service not well pleased with them .The Sig p238 is a well made gun very pleased never any problems at all ( don’t buy Colt )


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