The Return of the Colt Mustang PocketLite 380 Semi-Auto Pocket Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

October 27th, 2011


YouTube Video





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Colt's newly-reintroduced Mustang PocketLite 380 pistol.



Six-shot steel magazine.





Grips are checkered black polymer - well-fitted, good-looking, and functional.





Magazine release.



Sights are functional, with the rear sight being windage-adjustable.











At the 2011 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada back in January of this year, Colt had on display a new version of their previously-discontinued PocketLite 380 auto pistol. In recent years, the original PocketLite, which was discontinued just a few years ago, has developed somewhat of a cult following. Those who own them usually do not want to sell them, and if they do sell, the little pistols command high prices. I was happy to see that Colt was bringing back the PocketLite, as 380 pocket-sized auto pistols have become one of the hottest-selling types of firearms in the industry. More and more folks in the US are deciding to go heeled in public, and the smallest 380 pistols seem to have the right balance of size, weight, recoil, and power to suit most people who choose to carry concealed.

Descending from the Colt Mustang lineage, the PocketLite is my favorite of the Colt pocket pistols. The PocketLite has a stainless steel slide with an electroless- nickel finished aluminum frame. The lightweight frame reduces weight. While not as light as the lightest polymer-framed 380 pistols on the market, the Colt is pretty close in both size and weight to the most popular of the breed. The Colt Mustang PocketLite is now in production, and I recently received one in here for review. It was a long time coming, but just like with the reintroduced Colt New Frontier sixgun, the end result was worth the wait.

The new PocketLite is very well finished and perfectly fitted. The tolerances are tight, with no unsightly gaps nor any sharp edges to cut the hand. Resembling a small 1911 in profile, there are a few differences. The PocketLite does have a recoil-operated design, similar to the 1911, but the trigger and safety mechanisms are different, as well as the 380 has a bushing-less slide. The magazine release is just like that on a 1911, on the frame behind the trigger, just where God and John Browning intended it to be. The trigger on the PocketLite is pivoted off of a pin at the top, and the safety does not lock the slide in place, but if you are familiar with a Colt 1911, you will have no problem immediately running the Pocketlite. The PocketLite has several safety features. It does not, thankfully, have a magazine safety. On the left side of the frame is a thumb-operated manual safety, which falls handily under a right-handed shooter’s thumb. There is no ambidextrous safety for the left-handed shooter. The manual safety blocks the hammer, but allows the slide to be operated even with the safety in the “on safe“, upward position. The hammer has a “shelf”, which serves the purpose of a half cock notch in the sense that it will catch a hammer if not fully cocked, preventing it from hitting the firing pin. There is a disconnector to prevent the pistol from firing out of battery, and there is also a firing pin safety. In addition, the firing pin is an inertia type, and must receive a solid hit to fire. This little Colt is as safe as a mechanical device can be. If you do not pull the trigger, it will not fire. Carrying the Colt is just like carrying its big brother, the 1911. It is best carried ready to fire, hammer cocked and safety on.

The PocketLite has a handsome two-tone finish, with the satin silver of the stainless and nickel parts contrasting nicely with the black grips, trigger, and rear sight. The sights are pretty easy to see. I would prefer a black front sight, but that is just personal preference. I do not know if the Crimson Trace Laserguard for the Sig P238, which is a close copy of the Colt, will fit the new PocketLite or not, but if not, hopefully Crimson Trace will have one for it soon.

Critical dimensions for the Mustang PocketLite are listed in the chart below. The weights are listed in ounces, and linear measurements in inches. The weight includes an empty magazine. Height includes the sights. Maximum width is across the grip panels. The PocketLite magazine has a flat base that sits flush with the bottom of the frame. The trigger pull on the PocketLite pistol is very good, and about right for a single-action pocket pistol, with a smooth, crisp release. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of force required to trip the sear. Weight is with an empty magazine in place.

Weight 13.7 oz.
Height 3.98"
Length 5.54"
Slide Width 0.752"
Maximum Grip Width 0.77"
Maximum Frame Width 0.66"
Maximum Width 1.06"
Barrel Length 2.82"
Trigger Pull 5.75 lbs.
Magazine Capacity 6

I fired the PocketLite with every brand and type of 380 auto ammunition available to me to check for reliable function. I fired a variety of ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX is a hollow nose homogenous copper bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FP is a full metal jacket flat-nose bullet. PB is Cor-Bon Pow’RBall. HC is a hard-cast flat-nose lead bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, ten feet from the muzzle, with an air temperature around the seventy-two degree Fahrenheit mark, with fifty-six percent humidity. Not bad weather for late October in Tennessee!

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Cor-Bon JHP 90 945
Cor-Bon PB 70 1219
Cor-Bon DPX 80 1006
Handload JHP 88 797
Buffalo Bore JHP 90 1023
Buffalo Bore FMJ 95 954
Buffalo Bore HC 100 1049
Remington JHP 88 811
Stryker FP 95 888

For accuracy testing, no attempt was made to benchrest this Colt pocket pistol, as target shooting is not the weapon’s intended use. I did fire the little Colt standing offhand at distances of three, five, seven, fifteen, and twenty-five yards on full-size and reduced-size human silhouette targets, keeping everything in the kill zone all the way out to twenty-five, with head shots attempted and made out to seven yards, both slow-fire and rapid-fire. For such a lightweight, small pistol, the Mustang PocketLite is very easy to shoot. The grip has sufficient length to allow me to get all but my little finger on the grip. The checkered grip panels allow for a secure hold under recoil, and the little Colt is quick to get back on target. The Colt has a slide lock, and the weapon locks open on an empty magazine, facilitating a rapid reload, with a loaded magazine at hand. The magazine functioned perfectly. It is made of steel, and electroless nickel plated to match the finish of the Pocketlite.

Functioning was perfect with the little Colt. Every round of every brand fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. The empty cases were thrown clear and to the right, and thankfully, none were flung back at the shooter. The slide was fairly easy to manually operate, especially if the hammer was cocked first. Some small 380 pistols are hard to operate, but the Pocketlite slide manipulated very easily for such a pistol.

I am glad to see the reintroduction of this dandy little pocket pistol. It has the right balance of power to portability to suit the carry needs of most who choose to go armed. I am glad to see that the folks who are now running the Colt factory seem to be very dedicated to producing pistols and revolvers that are as good as any to ever come out of Hartford. The Colt Mustang PocketLite comes packed in a hard case with two magazines, instructions, and cable lock. The Mustang PocketLite is lightweight, reliable, accurate, easy-to-shoot, and made in the USA.

Check out the entire line of Colt firearms and accessories online at

For the location of a Colt dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order the new Pocketlite online, go to

To order quality 380 ammunition, go to,, and

To order a quality leather pocket holster for the Colt Mustang PocketLite, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.






The manual safety blocks the hammer, but allows the slide to be operated to load and unload the pistol.





Colt Mustang PocketLite (left) compared to Ruger LCP (right).