The XSP, designed for defensive use, sports a serrated and easy-to-manipulate hammer and ambidextrous safety.
The 11.8-ounce Colt Mustang XSP offers users a wider grip profile, dovetailed sights, an ambidextrous manual safety!
This is the gun I have been waiting for. No, really. And so have you. This is the original .380 subcompact with all the modern upgrades added.
With all due respect to Walther, Colt created the first .380 ACP pocket pistol in 1908 and in 1986 developed and introduced the first Mustang models. Unfortunately, Colt’s crystal ball was a little cloudy when the fabled American arms-maker discontinued the Mustang at the end of the last century. At the time, it appeared that there was insufficient demand for .380 pistols. Proven wrong by the wealth of new guns that began to appear in the last decade, Colt resurrected the Mustang Pocketlite in 2011 as an improved model based on the original. And there was nothing wrong with that. In fact, Sig Sauer based its entire line of P238 .380s on the basic layout and construction of the original Mustang, as has Kimber with its new Micro CDP.
So here’s the bottom line: When Colt reprised the first and original .380 subcompact, a lot of folks were expecting something really new. What they got was a better-built version of the same gun. That, too, is just fine. But wait—as the old advertising sales pitch goes—there’s more! While Colt was busy filling the niche it had created with its latest iteration of the Mustang Pocketlite, including a new version with a LaserMax laser, the company’s engineers were busily developing a modernized variation with all the features the original design lacked. A little less than two years after Colt reintroduced the Pocketlite, here is the gun I was waiting for, the Mustang XSP.
It isn’t often you get to reinvent yourself not once but twice, so every expectation, known or unknown, had to be addressed with the XSP, beginning with a modern polymer frame, a tactical profile (in other words, a squared-off triggerguard and bolder grip profile) and an integrated accessory rail under the dust cover to accommodate a variety of small lasers and tactical lights. Add some molded-in, rough-textured checkering to the front and backstraps, deepen the relief behind the triggerguard for a more solid purchase on the grip frame (the undercut adds about 0.13 inches of additional clearance), replace the front sight with something more easily visible (I believe white dots would have been even better, but they are dovetailed, so making a change to something more suitable is possible), and lastly, make the little Colt’s excellent manual safety ambidextrous. That’s a tall order to take a good gun and make it better. And Colt just did it.
The XSP, in its covert-looking, matte black guise, has a better grip design since it is integrated into the polymer frame, thus a deeper relief can be molded into the grips around a slightly enlarged, serrated magazine-release button and the reshaped, ambidextrous thumb safety. The rear serrations on the matte black, stainless steel slide are also slightly wider to make chambering the first round or clearing the XSP a little easier. In every other respect, it is the same great little Mustang single action with a 2.75-inch barrel, a compact length of 5.5 inches, a height of just 3.98 inches and a new, lighter carry weight of 11.8 ounces empty—almost an ounce less than the aluminum-alloy-framed version. To add a hint of contrast to the gun’s non-reflective black finish, the slide release, ambidextrous thumb safety, serrated magazine release and skeletonized hammer are given a matte stainless finish. And wouldn’t you know, the new XSP fits perfectly into most of the holsters designed for the Pocketlite, the Sig P238 and many pocket rigs currently in production, so you don’t even have to wait for a new holster to fit the gun! For testing, I pulled two from my holster drawer that fit perfectly, the DeSantis Mini Scabbard for the Sig P238 and the Elite BCH-10 IWB belt clip rig designed for the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380. The XSP fits in both of them like a glove.
I have always liked the Mustang for its compact dimensions and familiar features, such as its thumb safety, which allows the gun to be kept on “safe” while permitting the slide to be worked if you need to check for a loaded chamber, clear the gun or chamber a round. Making the thumb safety ambidextrous is just that much better, and the new, slightly narrower contour worked just as well for me as the original style, snapping smartly on and off. One notable change is the increased ease with which the magazine can be released. The deeply relieved grip contour allows your thumb to easily engage the serrated button, which facilitates a clean, quick tactical reload.
The trigger pull on the XSP was almost identical to the Mustang Pocketlite I had tested just a few weeks before, averaging 6 pounds with 0.18 inches of take-up, no stacking, very slight overtravel and a quick reset. The XSP feels a bit more hand filling, and the undercut triggerguard really gives your hand a better grasp. Overall, I like this gun and the way it handles—not that there was anything wrong with the old Mustang design, this is just better.
The range test was done in late afternoon light, firing at a B-27 silhouette target placed out at 7 yards. While this is a great gun to shoot with one hand, I have always preferred a two-handed grip when possible, even with a pocket pistol. Shots were fired in one-second intervals using a Weaver stance and three defensive brands of ammunition: Hornady Critical Defense 90-grain FTX, which cleared the Colt’s barrel at 930 feet per second (fps), Federal Premium 90-grain Hydra-Shok, traveling downrange at 908 fps, and Speer Gold Dot 90-grain GDHP, clearing the traps at 920 fps.
After running a box of Speer Gold Dot through the XSP to break it in and get a feel for its point of aim, I started off testing it with the Hornady Critical Defense 90-grain FTX, which placed five rounds into 1.25 inches, splitting the 9 and 10 rings at 9 o’clock. The best five with Speer Gold Dot (shifting my aim to the X-bull), landed on target in the “X” with a spread of exactly 2 inches, but with two rounds overlapping and two below that all measuring 0.75 inches, thus making the last shot a flyer, if you will, 1 inch below the four-round group. With the X-bull a bit crowded, I shifted my aim to the 9 ring at 12 o’clock and snapped off five rounds of Federal Premium, always a decidedly accurate round in .380 ACP. The group measured 1.25 inches. Every shot with every brand of ammo would have been a threat deterrent, if not a fight-ender, in a self-defense situation, which is exactly what the XSP is meant to be.
I have always been a fan of Colt handguns, whether from the early Paterson revolvers of the 1830s, to the Civil War-era Army and Navy models, to the legendary 1873 Single Action Army Peacemaker—so anything from the 20th century is already grandfathered into my preferences. That little bit of prejudice aside, the Mustang was always a slightly flawed pistol because of its poor sights, an affliction of many .380 ACPs. Today’s modern pocket pistols have, for the most part, corrected that with dovetailed white-dot sights, at least on top-end models. Rather than just doing the obvious to the resurrected Pocketlite, Colt has taken the gun to the next level and done so in a way that makes this an altogether new pistol that retains all of the virtues established by the Mustang, and in one broad stroke, cures its perceived ills. For Colt fans, this is the gun we have been waiting for. For more information, visit coltsmfg.com or call 800-962-2658.
A true champion’s pistol, the Todd Jarrett Single Stack .40, designed by Abernathy Gun Works/
by Paul Scarlata / Nov 1, 2013