Saturday, October 9, 2010

Colt Mustang, Why all the Hype?

Saw this in the traffic stats, someone searching for that sting of text ended up here.

Allow me to elaborate on why the Mustang, Mustang +II, Gov't .380 and Sig 238 line of pistols is so neat.

Most .380s are either too large for their caliber such as the PPK, Sig 230/232, Bersa .380, Beretta Cheetah. 
Even the new Walther PK .380 is larger than some 9mms. Or don't have some of the features we come to expect with larger guns. With newer options in 9mm such as offerings from Kahr and Keltec carrying a .380 of the same size doesn't make a lot of sense. The Mustang series and spin offs are slimmer than the .380s listed above and smaller. The Mustang +II while having the same capacity of a PPK, Sig 232, and Bersa .380 is more compact overall.

Lets take some time to look at the sub-combat .380s since the compact ones are not really in the same size class, lets face it if you're looking at the Mustang you're looking for guns in the pocket pistol category regarding size.

The most popular small .380s are the Ruger LCP/Kel-Tec P3AT, NAA Guardian, Seecamp , Kahr P380 and the Sig 238. I'm not up to speed on the Desert Eagle .380 so I'm not including it in this piece.

Comparing the Mustang to those (excluding the 238 as it's basically the same gun, I will compare the two to each other later) what you get in the Mustang is a much better trigger, "proper" mag release and functional slide stop, and either an aluminum or steel frame. While other guns do have a metal frame they don't have both the mag release and usable slide stop/release. I will not compare the Pocketlite series of Mustangs to the others as I do not own any, my three Colt .380s are of the steel frame variety and these are the models I am comparing to the other .380s in this posting. When it comes to shooting a steel frame Colt .380 and a P3AT, it's night and day, especially if it's a +II as there's a little more to hang on to. Unaltered the P3AT really wanted to jump out of my hand and the trigger is atrocious, however adding a Hogue JR grip sleeve and a pinky rest do make a very big difference in P3AT control but the Mustang still beats it.

Another thing the Mustang has over some models is that the sights aren't too terribly bad and they actually have a rear sight. Now I understand that tiny .380s are not bullseye guns, but I like to have usable sights on my guns that give me a little better of an indicator of how I'm aligning the gun with my target. And we've all heard the sage advice that your carry guns should have the same manual of arms. Show me another quality pocket .380 with a thumb safety?

I would say that the biggest reason that there's some hype regarding the Mustang is that "it's a 1911 only smaller"...I hate this statement. If you actually own one or just look at the schematics you will see the differences and that while the Mustang does share similar traits with the 1911, it is NOT a 1911, add to that the fact that they wore the Colt name and are no longer in production thus being a little more collectible and you get some increased hype.

While the Mustangs are nice little shooters and pocket guns they do have their fair share of issues. That stupid ejector getting stuck in the mag well, the fact that a single action auto acts like lint trap in the pocket and the not so hot quality in the cast frames etc and you have the making for a fine lemony scented gun if you don't know what you're doing.

Why all the hype? If you ask me, I would say that the hype is all about it being 1911ish, having a decent reputation, and some features that just weren't available in a pocket .380 until recently and the fact that they have collectors appeal. The Kahr P380 and Sig 238 offer the same things that the Mustang did and actually offer a little more. Both seem to be made of better materials, setting aside my grief on my 238 experience I can tell you that the 238 is a much better made gun than the Mustang and has real honest to goodness sights. Unless you have a lemon you have a very nice, well made, quality pocket gun that handles much better than the polymer pocket guns and has features that the metal framed pocket guns don't have. The Kahr P380 is probably next on my list of my replacement 238 doesn't run as it has a usable slide stop unlike the LCP's slide stop that is manually activated and has a decent set of sights on it. And trust me when the only range in town has 50' fixed target points the sights come in handy.

Now comparing the Colt and the 238 to each other, here's why the 238 beats the Mustang hands down. In typical Sig fashion there are about 30 different option packages (just kidding there are 11...What? Eleven different packages? WTH???) so there's something for everybody. The Nitron finish beats bare stainless and bluing but the Mustangs did come in Colt Guard (Satin Nickel) and that finish was/is awesome. The slides and frames appear to be forged as I did not see any signs of casting. While the ejector issue still exists, Sig did add a mechanical preventative as it seems there is a spring forcing the ejector up so you really have to mess up to get the ejector stuck, I don't know for sure as my 238 has spent almost as much time back in NH as it has in Iowa and I never got around to fully stripping the gun. As mentioned the 238 has very nice sights for a pocket gun. The front strap is serrated, it comes with a metal guide rod, not the plastic rod that was standard in the Mustangs (The Gov't .380 had a plug and spring guide like that of a GI 1911) so that's a nice touch and the magazines seem to be of better quality. Sig also redesigned the 238 to incorporate a removable mainspring housing which should make for easier stripping and maintenance.

So that's pretty much it. The Mustang and the 238 are some neat little guns and they shoot very well, but they are not the best option for everyone. I do not generally pocket carry these guns, as previously noted the cocked hammer creates a nice channel for lint to collect and I am wary of too much build up causing a light strike failure to fire.

If you like a metal frame, slide stop and magazine release located on the frame, it's pretty much the Mustang or the 238. If you want those things in polymer is the Kahr P380. If you don't like the manual safety but want a metal pocket pistol, I'd probably suggest the NAA Guardian.

No comments:

Post a Comment