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In 1986 Colt introduced a smaller, lighter and somewhat simplified version of the Government Model .380, the Mustang. While the firing mechanism was identical to the Government Model .380, the Mustang design eliminated its predecessor’s barrel bushing and spring plug. The new gun also featured a dual recoil spring rather than the .380 Government’s single coil spring, and incorporated a flexible synthetic full-length recoil spring guide positioned in a hole in the slide face. The Mustang measured ½ inches shorter in both height and length, was 3 ounces lighter in weight, and initially with a five-round magazine capacity, held two fewer rounds than the Government .380.
In 1992 Colt increased the Mustang's magazine capacity to six rounds.
The Mustang’s popularity spawned a number of variations. The Pocketlite, brought out in 1987, used an aluminum frame, thus reducing total weight by 6 ounces to only 12 1/2 ounces. The Mustang Plus II made its debut in 1988, and combined a Mustang slide with the .380 Government Model’s longer frame for additional capacity.
In 2011 Colt re-released the stainless version due to popular demand.
Designed by John Browning and introduced by Fabrique Nationale of Belgium, this cartridge has achieved world-wide acceptance and has even been adopted as the standard pistol cartridge by several governments. One reason for the round's success is that it is the largest practical cartridge that can be easily adapted to small automatic pocket pistols. Ballistics fall far short of even the 9mm Luger, but still prove adequate for most self-defense situations. The round has established quite a niche position in this role, often being chosen over more traditional small calibers such as the .25 and .32 Autos.
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