Is .380 the New 9mm? Ask My BODYGUARD

Smith & Wesson have begun shipping their new BODYGUARD 380 semi-automatic pistol and BODYGUARD 38 revolvers to gun dealers around the country. Both weapons come complete with Insight Technology laser sights. A laser for a double action snub-nosed revolver? That’s a topic for another day. Today we focus like a you-know-what on the BODYGUARD 380′s standard-issue not-so-secret weapon against the chart-topping LCP. Here’s how Smith & Wesson describes their new mini-me semi in today’s press release . . .

Compact, sleek and ergonomic, the BODYGUARD 380 delivers personal protection in an easy-to-carry platform. Chambered in .380, the lightweight pistol features a high-strength polymer frame with a black, Melonite® coated stainless steel slide and barrel. The new BODYGUARD 380 is standard with a 2 ¾-inch barrel, which contributes to an overall length of 5 ¼-inches and an unloaded weight of only 11.85 ounces.

The new pistol features a double-action fire control system, which allows for rapid second-strike capability. The BODYGUARD 380 has been further enhanced with a smooth trigger pull. Adding to its simplicity, the BODYGUARD 380 is standard with a manual thumb safety and an external take down lever and slide stop. On the lower portion of the frame, the pistol has been fitted with an integral INSIGHT® laser, which is easily operated by both left and right-handed shooters.

With its slim-line ergonomic grip, the pistol is comfortable in the hand and points naturally. To help aid in quick sight acquisition when the laser is not in use, the pistol includes black, Melonite-coated, stainless steel, drift adjustable dovetail sights. The BODYGUARD 380 is standard with a 6+1 magazine capacity.

Some might say that the .380 bullet lacks sufficient stopping power for self-defense. Others would point out that a six-bullet mag makes the BODYGUARD 380 a one-bad-guy gun in a multiple felon world. And there are those who would assert that any bodyguard using a BODYGUARD 380 for anything other than a second or even third weapon needs a new line of work.

Me? I couldn’t possibly comment.

One thing’s for sure: someone’s buying these things. In 2008, Ruger sold 83,161 LCPs, helping them supplant Mssrs. Smith & Wesson at the top of the U.S. sales charts.

Common wisdom says the .380′s newfound popularity reflects the large number of personal defense newbies entering the market, thanks to new, less onerous concealed carry laws (in states that aren’t California or New York). It’s a snub-nosed revolver for non-gun people who want a semi-automatic; mostly it looks cooler.

Drilling deeper into the bedrock of baseless conjecture, I reckon the BODYGUARD 380′s an OSG (Oh Shit Gun) for women who don’t like big guns (or guns in general). And men who can’t be bothered to carry a full-sized weapon (so to speak).

Both of whom are highly unlikely to train with the new breed of mouse guns. Did anyone notice that Winchester white box .380 ammo costs around $50 for a box of 100 catridges? The same spec in 9mm runs about $30. Did I forget to mention that the .380′s recoil is fairly punishing?

The Smith & Wesson BODYGUARD msrp’s at $575. The Ruger LCP runs $299 without a laser, $548 with. Too close to call? Time for a shoot out.