Appreciating The Finer Things.
It’s been said those who might speak ill of spending a quarter million dollars on a sports car have never actually driven a quarter million dollar sports car. A Corvette and a Ford Fiesta will both get you, your spouse and a couple of bags of groceries across town safely. It’s simply the Vette does it with a bit more style. Such is also the case with the new polymer-framed iteration of the classic Colt Mustang.
When Colt decided to enter the concealable handgun market they named their miniaturized 1911 rechambered in .380 ACP the Mustang. The storied lineage of the Colt 1911 .45 as an American icon is foundational dogma to anyone clutching this magazine, and does not bear repeating as a result. Suffice it to say Colt engineers simply took John Browning’s already optimized short-recoil, locked-breech design along with his inimitably crisp single-action trigger and shrank them down to a pocket platform.
The alloy-framed Colt Mustang sold briskly back in the days when concealed carry wasn’t yet cool. I have a law enforcement acquaintance who owes his life to the Colt Mustang he had in his jeans pocket when he had an unexpected off-duty encounter with a violent young man who was the product of some unfortunate life choices. Now that concealed carry has become de rigueur in most places, Colt felt it was time to infuse their venerable .380 Mustang with a little Information Age tech.
There are lots of ways to throw .380 ACP bullets. The PPK armed James Bond, the
S&W Bodyguard has a built-in laser and the MAC-11 does it at 1,600 rounds per
minute. The Colt Mustang XSP, however, is a refined pistol for the serious
gunman who is dedicated to his craft.
The Colt Mustang XSP .380 was perfectly reliable from round one. Hollowpoints,
FMJ rounds, top-end defensive loads and cheap Russian steel-cased ball —
the XSP ate them all without a hiccup.
19th Meets 21st Century
I’m not suggesting you do it, but you can’t swing a dead cat at a gun show these days without hitting a half dozen reasonably-priced .380 ACP plastic handguns. It seems everybody makes them. So what exactly separates the Colt Mustang XPS from its ubiquitous competition, much of which is available at half the price? The answer to that question resides in the details.
The slide is blackened stainless and indestructible. The frame is a typical firearms-grade synthetic and solidly positions the XPS in the near-weightless category. The dust cover incorporates a wee tiny bit of the now-obligatory rail.
However, it’s in the issue of the little things where the gun really gets interesting. The checkering is perfect — not just randomly rough, stippled, or patterned — but perfect. There are tiny bilateral palm swells filing your hand, making the gun feel like an extension of your anatomy. The frame is also undercut slightly behind the triggerguard to lower the bore axis as closely as possible to the wrist.
The slide serrations are deeply cut and properly angled to allow manipulation while sweaty or rushed. The manual frame-mounted safety is ambidextrous and allows the slide to be racked with the safety engaged. The sights are dovetailed, unobtrusive and snag-free, not unlike those of the Mustang’s war hero grandfather, the M1911 military version.
Despite its diminutive dimensions, the new Colt Mustang XSP fits perfectly in Will’s hands with
all the controls easily accessible. Magazines drop free and tactical drills are familiar
to anyone who has wielded a 1911.
If you spend $200,000 on an automobile you’re not going to fill the tank with cheap low-octane gas. Ownership of a thoroughbred demands a little extra for maximum performance. So it is with the new Mustang.
The decision must be made as to whether you will carry the gun in Condition 1 in a proper holster — hammer back and safety on — or with the chamber empty, so the slide must be racked on the draw stroke. This decision is not for the faint of heart, however. In Condition 1 the diminutive weapon is ready to fire and only the safety and a crisp 5-pound single-action trigger pull stand between holster and discharge.
Charging the weapon on the draw stroke is a reasonable and safe solution. This worked fine for countless hundreds of thousands of GI’s in WWII,
Korea and Vietnam. Simply doing so will demand training and conditioning to imprint this action on the subconscious. What you get in return for these eccentricities is an accurate, precise .380 ACP pocket pistol, genuinely pleasant on the range. Who might have imagined that possible?
I maintain half a dozen pocket guns in my personal collection. More often than not, it’s a .380 ACP handgun insulating my family and I from a world grown increasingly bereft of civility. Sometimes it just gets dropped in the front pocket of my jeans as I walk out the door on a quick errand. These guns all exhibit unpleasantly sharp recoil, intentionally long, mucinous trigger pulls — or both. In the Mustang XSP I’ve found a surprisingly pleasant exception.
The Mustang XSP safety is fully ambidextrous and in the expected spot. Unlike
the 1911, the XSP slide may be racked with the safety engaged. The two-tone
look between the frame and controls is cool and the mag is easy to reach.
Recoil is pleasant regardless of the load, the trigger is divine and yes,
you do pay a bit more for that Colt name — but for good reasons.
Did It Shoot?
As expected out of a premium handgun from a classic manufacturer, the Mustang XPS ate everything I fed it without a hiccup, right out of the box. Test ammo ranged from cheap Russian steel-cased and nickel-plated rounds up through quality Winchester and Federal brass-cased target ammo and top-tier PDX-1 and Hydrashok defensive loads.
Recoil from the classic Browning-inspired action is surprisingly pleasant, follow-up shots are fast and accurate, magazine changes are intuitive for any person who knows his way around a combat handgun, and the trigger pull is, frankly, divine. I can keep all my rounds in an unfortunate pie plate at typical engagement distances all day long and, unlike all those other plastic pocket pistols, actually have fun doing it. While this may seem a small thing, it also comes with a spare magazine. As I said, it’s the details distinguishing the XPS.
The Colt Mustang XSP is absolutely tiny. With the chamber empty, it
carries readily and unobtrusively in the front pocket of a pair of jeans.
The new Colt Mustang XSP is a superbly executed pocket pistol based on
John Moses Browning’s iconic 1911 .45 design. Workmanship is perfect and
the ergonomics are extraordinary. Comes with two magazines too!
The Bottom Line
The North American P-51 Mustang was the first Allied fighter capable of escorting bombers all the way to Berlin and back in World War II. The Ford Mustang is the archetypal American muscle car having, for generations, ably transported the flower of American manhood on dates and out cruising, fueled by little more than unfiltered testosterone. The new Colt Mustang XSP is the carry solution for the gunman of distinction who takes pride in his craft and is not satisfied to stroll along with the masses.
I will come out and say it. You’re paying a premium to have Sam Colt’s name on the side. However, it’s not random chance that has made the name Colt synonymous with quality firearms for more than a century and a half. For the discriminating gun owner who demands the very best, the Mustang XPS is a breed apart.
By Will Dabbs, MD
Photos By Sarah Dabbas
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index and click on the company name.