Tussey Custom Colt Mustang Pocketlite

A Pretty Little Pony

Five rounds of hardball fired off-hand from 50 feet prove the little pocket
pistol to be especially accurate for the breed.

The Mustang, a derivative of the .380 Government Model, is a locked-breech, single-action pistol also originally available in a lightweight “Pocketlite” version with an alloy frame. Colt re-introduced the Mustang Pocketlite of old and then followed this with a polymer-framed version. Others, like Kimber and SIG have basically copied the design, but if your heart yearns for a “real” Colt, you can still get one.

Our subject today is the original Pocketlite, but this is hardly a standard gun test. What we are going to do is take a look at how one of today’s most talented pistolsmiths addresses the two main issues plaguing most tiny pocket pistols — sights and a grip frame giving you a proper, sustainable hold while firing.

Terry Tussey is one of the best-known pistolsmiths around and as you look at the photos you’ll start to understand why. His most recent honor is being designated as the Pistolsmith of the Year for 2014 by the American Pistolsmiths Guild — an honor they don’t just toss about lightly.

Our test platform was my Mustang Pocketlite I bought before Y2K and has seen very little use since the initial test and write-up years ago. It’s a neat little gun and I just had to buy it after the loan period, but it’s spent the last decade living in one of those “concealment clocks” on the wall of my garage.

Tussey Custom’s Mustang is a visual knockout, in addition to being a practical and efficient little pocket pistol.
The “finger groove bump” added to the front grip strap of the frame really enhances the controllability of the gun.

The Magic

Obviously, reliability is first and once this was confirmed, Terry literally set his sights — on the sights. The standard Mustang sights are not bad, as the rear unit is fairly visible, and it’s set in a dovetail allowing it to be drifted for windage. The front sight is another issue because it’s integral to the slide, so you get what you get.
Not one to do anything half-way, Terry sent the gun back to me with two slides featuring different, interesting sight configurations. The first has a larger rear sight from XS with fairly prominent side “wings” to the shallow and wide rear “V” face. It’s augmented with a center stripe of tritium to make it easy to find.

Rear assembly number two from Novak has a pair of tritium capsules set into a smaller, smoother body to create a three-dot configuration.

Both slides have a self-illuminated dot on the front with the one for the smoother rear sight mounted flush on the top and the unit paired with “V” rear sight is set into the slide surface via a trough milled into the slide to reduce its height and match the rear. This trough carries back from the sight body almost to the ejection port, for me eliciting comparisons to the “guttersnipe” treatment of years ago. Both front fixtures are from XS.

XS and Novak sights display their versatility. The “gutter-snipe” style (top) helps keep
the eye in line and lowers the front sight to better match the wide “V” rear from XS. Slides
interchange perfectly with the frame.

A Gripping Achievement

Good sights aren’t worth much if you can’t get a consistent, sturdy grip on the gun, and Terry solved this by fabricating a neat little ridge on the front of the grip strap. He first added material to the front of the grip strap by TIG welding, then shaped it for functionality. This is in and of itself a marker of the man’s talent as it’s an alloy frame and will not tolerate any mishaps while welding. There are no seams visible here, and it looks like the pistol frame was forged or machined like this in the first place.

The ridge is sized to fit even my fat finger in the top groove and it leaves plenty of room for the ring finger at the bottom. This treatment certainly has a visual cool factor too, but where the new grip really shines is in keeping your hand right where it needs to be.

It wouldn’t be a Tussey gun if it didn’t have a mind-blowing trigger, and this one goes away at about five pounds after just a tiny bit of smooth take-up.

The integral feed ramps of the barrels are polished, as are the chamber throats, of course. Terry polished the flats of the hammer, the thumb safety and slide lock, both ends of the magazine catch assembly, and the tips of all the cross pins to add a tasteful accent to the matte finish of the receiver and one of the slides. The other slide has more of a polished finish, and either one looks just great on the gun.

Finally, Terry fitted a pair of stock panels having a deep blue and black mottled appearance, fixing them to the pistol with stainless, engraved hex-head stock screws. The grips are from his neighbor, Tony Rist. Tony tells me they’re made of Box Elder, dyed and stabilized, although they appear to be solid slabs of turquoise.

The Mustang is seen here with an S&W 442 Airlight J-Frame hammerless.


As with any Tussey Custom product the gun ran without any problems. Terry is legendary for making guns that work, period. The Mustang was easy to control, and the great sight picture with either sight set-up, combined with the excellent trigger, produced bragging groups clear out to 50 feet.

For carry, keeping the handgun secure and properly oriented for a draw are the first items on the list. There are plenty of holsters available for the Mustang, but I would quickly recommend the gear I have from Center of Mass. The COM products are all molded Kydex providing a perfect fit and a gorilla grip on firearms or accessories. I’ve never experienced a problem with one of their products in over a decade of use. The Mustang is securely cradled in an IWB holster and two extra magazines ride in a trim carrier for placement on the offside.

While the new polymer-framed Mustang looks interesting, it would preclude the frame modification done to my pistol by Terry, and in my opinion it’s a great addition to the gun and a big help in wringing the best accuracy out of the little guy.

Most small semi autos are blow-back designs, but the Mustang uses a locked breech and that great trigger to deliver the kind of accuracy I get from my little Pony. All in all, the Mustang (or the SIG and the Kimber versions, both of which Terry can perform his magic on) really are just downsized 1911’s, so it makes perfect sense Terry, a 1911 Guru, is able to transform them into such remarkable little pistols.

For more info:https://www.tusseycustom.com; Tussey Custom, Ph: (775) 246-1533; Tony Rist, Ph: (775) 883-5952; COM Holsters, Ph: (866) 293-1002

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