The Mustang XSP is a locked-breech, semi-automatic pistol with a magazine capacity of six rounds. It is just 5.5 inches long, weighs less than 12 ounces and appears to be a 1911 built for Lilliputians. However, this little handgun has several features not found on most 1911s—or even on original Mustangs for that matter. The obvious distinction is the polymer frame, but look further for some other, more subtle differences incorporated into the new design.
For example, the frontstrap and backstrap are heavily dimpled, and the sides of the XSP grip have a pebbled surface to aid control during rapid firing. (Anyone who chooses a concealed-carry pistol chambered for the .380 ACP—or any other defensive cartridge—should train to fire multiple shots in order to stop a threat.) There is a small shelf molded into both sides of the frame just under the ambidextrous safety levers. It’s exactly where the thumb of your shooting hand should be after you disengage the safety and are ready to fire.
The front of the frame has a tiny, single-slot accessory rail. Thanks to the squared-off trigger guard, a small weaponlight or laser will mount to the frame nicely. Neither of these two features changes the height or width of the XSP from the dimensions of the earlier Mustang Pocketlite, but they can definitely affect holster selection. Don’t assume the Mustang XSP will fit in the same holster as the Pocketlite or older Mustang versions.
The XSP has a number of safety features. Perhaps the most significant is the ambidextrous, frame-mounted thumb safety, which blocks hammer movement. The thumb safety can be engaged while the hammer is cocked or at rest, and with the slide either forward or locked back. If the safety is engaged with the hammer cocked, you can still manually cycle the slide. However, if the safety is engaged with the hammer forward, the slide will not cycle. This is an important point to remember, particularly if you carry your pistol with the magazine loaded, chamber empty, hammer down and safety engaged. In this condition, you cannot cycle the slide of the XSP to load the chamber unless you first disengage the safety.
A shooting session at a nearby indoor range confirmed what I learned outdoors. As ambient light diminishes, effective range decreases and group sizes increase. The exercises I went through at the indoor range consisted of using half-scale silhouette targets at 7 to 25 yards in front of the firing line. One type of target had a black silhouette on a white background, with white scoring circles inside the silhouette. The other target was the reverse: a white silhouette with black rings on a black background. I started with the white silhouette at 7 yards, which put my offhand, slow-fire groups at about 2 inches.
The next exercise involved putting six rounds into each type of target for time, first at 7 yards and then at 10 yards. Ammunition was a mixture of Cor-Bon 90-grain JHP and Remington Express 95-grain Metal Case (MC) loads, along with some cast-bullet reloads that have been in my garage for about 20 years. The total group size for 12 shots was 4.5 inches on the white silhouette and 7.5 inches on the black. When I sped up my firing rate to about one round per second—as fast as my local indoor range permits—7-yard groups with the mixed ammunition stayed inside 5 inches on the white target.
Just for grins, I moved one of each target to 25 yards for some slow-fire shooting. All six shots were in the torso of the half-scale white silhouette, while surprisingly, four of the six shots hit the black silhouette. Admittedly, I cheated on the black target by first acquiring a sight picture against the white background and then sliding the gun into the black section while trying to maintain sight alignment. I could not really see a sight picture once the background changed. Considering my deteriorating vision and light dependency, I wasn’t unhappy with the Mustang’s ability to provide protection, even without the use of my ever-present pocket flashlight.
I mentioned earlier the differences in the shape of the XSP may negate the use of holsters designed for the original Mustang configuration. The XSP is a new pistol, and few companies currently make carry gear specifically for it. However, in digging through some Galco holsters used in previous pocket-pistol projects, I came up with two excellent selections that fit perfectly—both were made for the Kimber Solo.
The first holster is the Tuck-N-Go inside-the-waistband model, constructed of premium steerhide with a natural finish. The other outstanding candidate is the Galco Pocket Protector. Given the XSP’s minimal width and weight, you may choose to carry it in a pocket. When the pistol is snugly inserted into the Pocket Protector, there is still room between the holster and the frontstrap to get a proper grip while the gun and holster remain in your pocket.
While Colt may not have been responsible for the recent .380 ACP craze, the company offered pocket pistols in the chambering long before it became trendy. The Mustang XSP is a fitting response to what many citizens now want to carry for personal protection. This new chapter in Colt’s long history with the cartridge and pistols made for it may be the best one yet.