Colt Mustang .380 ACP: The Pocket-Size 1911

posted on September 15, 2021
Colt Mustang

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.


ARTV2808F 1
ARTV2808F 1

The Men And Guns Of D-Day: 101st Airborne Division

Watch this segment of American Rifleman Television "The Men And Guns Of D-Day" to learn more about the men of the 101st Airborne Division, their stories and the firearms they used during "The Great Crusade."

NRA Reschedules The Annual Members' Meeting

The NRA has rescheduled its Annual Members' Meeting to occur on Oct. 2, 2021 in Charlotte, NC.

Pat Garrett's Pistol Sells for Highest Price in History

The Colt Single Action Army revolver used by Pat Garrett to kill Billy The Kid sold at auction from Bonhams for more than $6 million dollars, in what is probably the highest price ever paid for a civilian firearm.

Review: Trijicon RMRcc

Ten years ago, it was rare to encounter a handgun with an optic mounted atop it, but today it is a far more common thing to see. Many semi-automatics now leave the factory with some sort of provision with which to mount a micro red-dot, and Trijicon’s RMR is one of the most prominent pistol-compatible optics on the market to be developed for use with these guns.

Handloads: The Versatile .223 Remington

By utilizing Hornady's projectiles and Hodgdon powder, this recipe for the .223 Rem. proves its versatility and effectiveness by producing great groups on target through multiple firearms showing it to be a stable choice for the varmint fields.

The Armed Citizen® September 13, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.