By Duane A. Daiker
In 1982, Colt introduced the Mustang—a lightweight, single-action .380 ACP with a design very similar to the Colt 1911. The Mustang was an instant classic and was extremely popular as a back-up or off-duty gun for law enforcement officers. For a long time, it was hard to even find one to purchase. Colt produced the Mustang in a number of different versions before ultimately discontinuing it in the late nineties, when the company shifted its focus to military sales. As the demand for small, concealed-carry guns has skyrocketed in recent years, the market for used Mustangs has been very strong. Many of us have wondered over the past decade—why doesn’t Colt bring back the Mustang? Then in 2012, after a long hiatus, the Mustang officially rejoined the Colt stable. The new Mustang Pocketlight was an alloy-frame Mustang that revived the model line. The new Pocketlight met with rave reviews, but Colt did not rest on the old-school design. In 2013, Colt innovated with the new Mustang XSP—a polymer-framed version of the classic Mustang .380 auto-pistol.
At first glance, the XSP closely resembles the original Colt Mustang. The pistol is small—only about 5.5 inches long and less than 12 ounces empty. With a capacity of 6+1 rounds, the XSP is perfectly sized for pocket carry or other deep concealment methods.
Interestingly, however, the incorporation of a polymer frame really transforms this classic pistol into a modern marvel. First, the polymer frame saves about an ounce of weight over the alloy-frame Pocketlite model. When you are carrying in a pocket, every ounce counts, and the weight saving is noticeable. The polymer grip also feels great in the hand, with checkering in all the right places. The grip features an undercut trigger guard to help get the most out of the short handle. The right-side grip panel even has a relief cut to provide easier access to the magazine release button. These are all features that you usually expect to see only on customized, high-end pistols. The polymer frame also seems more comfortable to shoot, with better recoil characteristics than the aluminum-framed guns. All of these improvements over the alloy-frame Pocketlite design actually make the XSP much nicer to shoot. The polymer frame really changes the feel of the Mustang—in a good way.
I do take some issue with the squared-off trigger guard on the XSP. It appears Colt is encouraging shooters to wrap the fingers of their support hand around the trigger guard, which is not exactly a well-accepted technique. More important, the use of the oversized square trigger guard means that finding holsters becomes much more difficult. The many Colt Mustang holsters already on the market for the past 30 years won’t fit the XSP. In fact, I had considerable difficulty finding a pocket holster for this review. Ultimately I wound up using a DeSantis Nemesis, which has a generic fit and could accommodate the oversized trigger guard. The Nemesis is a fine pocket holster, but I wish Colt had stuck with a standard shaped trigger guard for more holster flexibility.
The XSP is single-action and designed to be carried cocked and locked, like a traditional 1911 pistol. As a result, the trigger has a relatively light five-pound pull. The trigger is light and crisp with very short travel and is much better than you would expect from a pocket pistol. The thumb safety is easy to disengage, yet it has sufficient tension to keep it from moving accidentally. I am happy to say theXSP does not have a grip safety. Grip safeties are common on single-action guns but can be particularly hard to disengage in small guns.
The XSP has dovetailed front and rear fixed sights. The sights lack any type of dot or white outline, presenting a “black on black” sight picture. The factory sights are real sights, and are much better than the barely visible “nubs” that are found on many pocket pistols. Although the sights are quite useable, I would like to see more contrast between the front and rear sights. There will undoubtedly be a selection of aftermarket sights to choose from before too long, and the dovetail fit will make sight replacement an easy task for any gunsmith.
I was quite impressed with the XSP at the range. I did most of the shooting at seven yards, which I consider realistic for a pocket gun. At that distance, the Mustang will tear up an x-ring with no problems. When I backed up to 25 yards, the groups opened up considerably, which is to be expected from such a small pistol. Even then, I had no problem keeping all my shots inside a standard silhouette target. The accuracy of this smallest Colt is quite impressive, due in large part to good sights and an excellent trigger.
Overall, the Mustang performed flawlessly for me. The pistol digested three different brands of premium defensive ammunition, as well as a variety of range ammo and reloads. The best-performing ammo was the Speer Gold Dot 90-grain jacketed hollow point, which averaged just over 900 feet per second from the stubby 2.75 inch barrel.
For a very small gun, the Mustang is a soft shooter. I passed this gun around at the range and everyone praised the gun’s handling characteristics. Even the most recoil sensitive shooter will have no problems with the XSP.
The Mustang XSP is packed in a hard-side plastic case, and includes two magazines and a cable lock. The MSRP is $649, which may seem a little high for a polymer .380 ACP, but this is truly a top-notch pistol. You simply can’t compare the quality of this Colt to some of the $300 to $400 guns in the pocket pistol category. Colt was wise to rejuvenate the Mustang line. Colt’s biggest mistake was waiting too long. The discontinuation of the Mustang opened the door for Sig Sauer to introduce their excellent 238 single-action .380 that is a close copy of the Mustang. Nevertheless, Colt is an iconic brand and the Mustang is an iconic pistol. Many will buy the XSP strictly for the Colt prancing pony logo. But many others will buy the XSP for its more modern take on the single-action pocket pistol concept. Colt seems truly committed to bringing the Mustang back to its prior glory, and the XSP is a big step in the right direction.
Anyone who is a Colt fan, or a fan of the 1911 manual of arms in general, will definitely appreciate the Mustang XSP. This is a high-quality, soft-shooting and accurate pocket pistol. If you were one of the people who lamented the demise of the Mustang, now is the time to get one. With the new XSP, the Mustang is back and better than ever.