An Unexpected Colt Mustang
Early in 2002 while living in Boise, ID, I began a search for a Walther PPKS in .380 ACP. I already had a Walther PPK and a PPKS in .32 ACP I’d bought new several years earlier and yearned for the .380. I couldn’t find anything new that I could afford but stumbled on a newspaper ad for a not-so-new PPKS.
I called and set up an appointment for a look-see. On my arrival, the elderly gentleman was friendly and explained he was downsizing. He produced the blued Walther, no box or manual, and one magazine. A quick visual confirmed too much wear for my wants. He would not back down on the price, so I asked if he had anything else in a .380. He immediately brought out a blue plastic Colt factory box containing a practically new Colt Mustang Plus II in stainless. I asked the price and he said “same as for the Walther.” I hefted the pistol, worked the action, removed the magazine and saw there was a second magazine in the box. I could see the pistol had been fired, but certainly not much, and showed a few minor mishandling scratches. A quickly written check sealed the deal.
Not being sure what I’d just bought, some online and publication research produced joyful results. I wondered if I’d bought a possible classic pistol and worth much more than what I paid, especially in such pristine condition. I had a box of FMJ shells and ventured out to some nearby Bureau of Land Management acreage, set up a cardboard box and a target.
The little Colt kicked harder than what I’d experienced with a used Sig 232 I’d bought earlier, but the size of the Mustang was ideal for concealed carry. I ran rounds through both magazines and no problems. Accuracy probably is much better than my field trial. I rapidly decided the Mustang deserved a thorough cleaning and would best find a forever home in my gun safe. I’ve never carried the little Colt, although the Bianchi Black Widow holster for my 232 secures the Colt if needed.
My Plus II has a 2.75-inch barrel. With seven rounds of Winchester Silvertips in the magazine and one in the pipe, the Colt scales at 22 ounces. The thumb safety is on the left side and the pistol is safe to carry cocked and locked. I’ve never been fond of that option though. The overall length is 5.5 inches by 4.25 inches high, so small.
Some Wikipedia and Colt website research revealed that Colt engineer Hank Tatro designed the Mustang, introduced in 1983 as the Colt Mark IV/ Series '80 Government Model -.380 Auto. “This pocket pistol was similar in appearance, but not design, to the Colt M1911. The Government Model .380's obvious aesthetic difference being that it is scaled down to roughly 78 percent to that of a full-sized M1911 Government Model. From the factory, the .380 Government Model came with a capacity of 7+1. In 1986, Colt introduced a simplified version of their .380 with a shortened barrel, slide, and grip frame, holding two fewer rounds and sold it as the Mustang.
In 1987, the Pocket Light version was introduced boosting the popularity because of the reduced weight of the weapon. In 1988, the Mustang Plus II was introduced and it had the longer grip frame of the original government model. The Mustang Plus II derived its name from holding two more rounds in its magazine than the original Mustang. In a number of years, Colt changed their spring and follower in the Mustang magazine, increasing its capacity to 6. In 1993, the Night Light .380 was introduced with Bar Dot Tritium night sights. In 1996, Colt added a blued steel frame or stainless version. In 2011, Colt reintroduced the previously discontinued Mustang Pocketlite, along with the Colt Mustang XSP in 2013, a polymer frame version with an updated design.”
Checking the Colt website at https://www.colt.com/serial-lookup, I found my Mustang’s serial number shows a 1993 production date. New Mustangs, if you can find one and now listed as “Out of Stock” on the Colt website, run $600 to $700 MSRP. A recent search for a used Mustang Plus II in stainless, like mine in the original box with manual, runs anywhere from $800 to nearly $1,500. I more than tripled or quadrupled the value of what I paid 18 years ago. What a deal!
After buying the Mustang, I talked myself out of another Walther, a decision I don’t regret. But, if I found a PPKS in .380 for a good price, temptation would be there! Best I’ve found in a used PPKS on the WWW, in the box and two mags are about $600, again if available. The newer Walthers in .380 sure doesn’t resemble the classic PPKS.
With all that is going on with the COVID-19 pandemic and what could happen in society, cherish and defend our 2nd Amendment rights! Stay safe and be prepared. ~ Mike
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.
Growing up in a Missouri fishing family, Mike’s in tune with the outdoors and enjoys camping, kayaking, canoeing, shooting, reloading and gardening. He has been a Hunter Safety Instructor in Wyoming and was an outfitter’s guide for two years in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton Wilderness in the Wind River Mountains.
As a rifle hunter, he’s taken mule and whitetail deer, elk and antelope with his .270 Winchester handloads. Mike has raised and trained Brittany spaniels and favors upland game and turkeys with his 20-gauge over and under. His main firearms hobby now focuses on handguns.
He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and has newspaper and agency writing and editing experience. At Washington State University in Pullman, he earned a master’s degree emphasizing adult education and communications, with minors in mourning dove, chukar partridge, pheasant and mountain quail on the breaks of the Snake River.
While living in Lander, WY, Mike provided photographic coverage of the One Shot Antelope Hunt for three years, and got to meet and accompany folks such as Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, Buzz Aldrin, Dale Robertson and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on their hunts.
In addition, Mike is a Federal Emergency Management Agency certified instructor and has worked and taught for state and federal agencies. He has responded to seven presidentially declared disasters, including Hurricanes Irma and Maria when they struck Puerto Rico in 2017. He also has worked and taught in Africa and Southeast Asia. Check his website at www.sampsonrisk.com.