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Thanks to the enormous surge in concealed-carry-weapon licenses, the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard series is a major league hit. Springfield’s diminutive five-shot .38 caliber revolver and .380 semi-automatic pistol have been selling like ballistic hotcakes. With Smith’s factories running full out, supplies of both guns are finally easing. You can now head down to your local gun dealer confident that you can get a BODYGUARD faster than a freshly-minted Republican presidential candidate. Ah, but should you?



First Impressions

The Bodyguard 38 revolver’s fit is top notch, as you’d expect from a Smith & Wesson wheelgun. Everything’s buffed and smooth. Aesthetically, the Bodyguard .38 looks like a plastic water pistol from 1958. The revolver’s made of several materials including steel, aluminum and polymer. Yet every surface of the gun screams “plastic” (even if it isn’t). Compared to an all-metal or Airlight J-frame revolvers, the S&W Bodyguard looks likes more like a Smith & Wesson knock-off than a Smith & Wesson.

The BODYGUARD 38’s thumb-operated ambidextrous cylinder-release latch (atop the frame and the laser affixed to the right side) is especially disconcerting. The release latch is moderately flared on its top and left side, providing the shooter with an extra bit of purchase while unlatching the cylinder. The release is truncated on the right side and chopped on the right to accommodate the laser. In short, the design looks like an afterthought. It’s not pretty.



The BODYGUARD 380 is Kylie Minogue to the BODYGUARD 38’s Nikki Blonsky. The semi-automatic pistol‘s small and [almost] perfectly formed, with superb fit and finish. The 380 balances well in the hand. The laser’s molded into the frame, sitting comfortably forward of the trigger guard and below the barrel. My only kvetch: The left side of the handgun looks somewhat cluttered, with three levers trying to occupy barely two linear inches.

The BODYGUARD 38 weighs about 14 ounces. By way of comparison, a Model 442 Airweight, a similar internal-hammer variant of Smith & Wesson’s storied J-frame, tips the scales at 15 ounces without a laser. The 442 has an MSRP of $449. Fitting an aftermarket, side-mounted laser would cost around $100 and add about an ounce of weight. So, in a head-to-head comparison of the $509 MSRP BODYGUARD 38 and a laser-equipped 442, the BODYGUARD works out to be two ounces lighter and $50 cheaper.

The BODYGUARD 380 is about 20 percent lighter than the BODYGUARD 38. The BODYGUARD 380 also compares favorably with competing .380 pocket pistols in terms of weight and price. The well-integrated laser positions the $399 MSRP BODYGUARD 380 in the upper value echelon of major brand .380 mouse guns.

Shooting the BODYGUARD 38

I’ve been shooting snubbies for years. The traditional contours of the BODYGUARD 38’s handle accommodated my medium-size shooting hand well enough. The sights were atrocious. No surprise there. The BODYGUARD 38 is a pocket-carry piece; useful sights might snag. Believe you me, nobody wants an unsightly trouser tear in the heat of a gunfight. It makes the after-action pictures look ridiculous.

While the BODYGUARD 38’s black finish aids concealment, I expected that the all-black color of the sights would make accurate shooting a challenge for even the experienced snubby shooter. Roger that.



There are top shots who could shoot a hummingbird off a sunflower at 100 yards with a Smith & Wesson snubby without ever touching a petal. Without using the BODYGUARD’s laser, four-inch groups at five yards are about the best a man can get (women too). Anyone who has a BODYGUARD 38 in their future should consider high-contrast sight paint or learn to point shoot.

The BODYGUARD 38’s laser is supposed to be aligned when it leaves the factory, but there’s a how-to link on the product home page. ‘Nuff said? Our test sample’s laser was a good five degrees off. Not five MOA. Five degrees. Once the laser is properly set, shooters can expect the size of their groups to shrink by 25 percent. The average shooter may not be measuring many groups; shooting the BODYGUARD 38 is about as pleasant as high-fiving a grizzly.

I’m not recoil averse. I’ve never had a problem shooting Smith’s J-frame revolvers. But the BODYGUARD 38 was writing checks that my hand didn’t want to cash. Before a box of bullets went down the pipe, the BODYGUARD 38 began to sting the body electric. After running through a few boxes of standard .38Spl ammo, the web and pad between my thumb and forefinger told me too little mass behind too much power is too much.



The BODYGUARD 38 is rated for +P ammo. Ouch. Well, at least the BODYGUARD 38 will prove to be economical over time; owners won’t be spending a lot of time shooting it at the range.

I’ve never found that J-frames naturally return to the point of aim. It was no surprise that the BODYGUARD 38 was difficult to fire rapidly with accuracy; the revolver’s mini-muzzle wanted to climb like a spider monkey. In a shoot-out between the BODYGUARD 38 and a Smith & Wesson Model 442 or 638, none would be stellar pointers. But I’d put my faith in the 442 or 638 every time.

We have all heard the expression, “there’s a lawyer attached to every bullet.” Smith & Wesson must feel that there’s also a lawyer attached to every trigger; they make their revolver triggers heavy enough to hoist an entire bench of lawyers with each pull. Clocking the BODYGUARD’s laser on target, I watched the little red dot jump by eight to 10 inches with every trigger pull. To be evenhanded (if only), there there was no trigger grit or creep. And that’s that.



I don’t like lasers for self-defense pocket guns. At bad breath distances, I consider a laser a needless, possibly dangerous affectation. That said, I appreciate Insight lasers for their cost and reliability. And operating the one on the BODYGUARD 38 required the deft touch of a London pickpocket.

The conventional three-way steady-flashy-off-and-on button for the 38 rests on top of the laser, which itself is positioned on the right side of the frame behind and on a higher plane than the cylinder. I found it impossible to operate the pushbutton with my strong hand holding the stock and difficult to work with the weak hand.

The difficulty was exacerbated by the tiny button, which provides no tactile feedback. In the event you might need to deploy the BODYGUARD 38 in a hurry, fumbling for the small button on the top of the laser, then trying to place the red dot on target in any kind of light, would be a major PITA. I could place two or three rounds into the center of mass faster that I could deploy this laser.

The BODYGUARD 38 is best described as a belly gun: extremely lethal at distances that are way too close for comfort.



Shooting the BODYGUARD 380

The BODYGUARD 380 has actual sights (as opposed to the shallow trough running along the top of the 38’s frame). There are no dots to aid alignment; once again, a touch of sight paint can make up for that sin of omission.

The three-way laser switch on the BODYGUARD 380’s nose-mounted internal laser is ambidextrous. The button is easier to find than the 38’s, but provides similar levels of tactile feedback (i.e. none). It was impossible to discern whether the laser was on, off or flashing without seeing the red dot. The switch works better than the one on the Bodyguard 38, but not enough better. The button can only be operated with the shooter’s weak hand. In the heat of “battle,” it’s almost guaranteed to be muzzled.

The 380 is a hammer-fired, DAO pistol with second-strike capability. With so much work to do, the 380 go-pedal is long and heavy. But effective. And . . . that’s about it. Compared to a gun with a great trigger, the 380 was mediocre at best. Compared to the BODYGUARD 38, it’s the best trigger in the history of the world ever. I know: It’s not fair to compare a pistol trigger to the trigger on a revolver. As a great man once said, “so sue me.”



With or without the laser, at five yards, palm-sized groups were the norm. I had no trouble putting two or three rounds into the same ragged hole, even with the BODYGUARD 380’s vestigial iron sights. Shooting rapid fire, groups opened up as expected, but rounds were still clustered around the center of the target rather than strung vertically. For such a small pistol, the 380 is damn accurate — at distances up to seven yards or more. Ten- to 15-yard shots could be made all day long, but tight groups at distance were more a matter of luck than skill.

Shooters sometimes refer to the recoil of the little .380 cartridge as “snappy.” That it may be true on blowback pistols, but the 380’s locked breach design soaked up recoil fairly well for a mouse gun. Small pistols might not be among the best choices for new or inexperienced shooters. But those who are unused to recoil or who are adversely affected by it will accommodate quickly to the BODYGUARD 380.



Back to the left side of the frame. There are three levers, the one closest the muzzle is for takedown, the one in the middle holds the slide open, and the one closest the butt is the safety. Yes, this little hammer-fired DAO pistol has an external safety that when pushed, locks the slide in the closed position by moving it up, where it engages a notch in the slide.

The safety lever is small and stiff. Because it’s small, it affords the shooter no leverage. Operating it isn’t easy or intuitive. For range use, the safety may be a plus. Fingernailing the little lever would be no big deal. In the event of a life or death situation, the odds are great that the coroner would find this gun in a shooter’s dead hand with the safety still enagaged.

Racking the BODYGUARD’s slide took just a bit more time that finding and snapping off the safety. I am not recommending carrying without one in the pipe. I am saying that in the heat of battle, there may not be a difference in lost time between racking and snapping. That’s not good. Maybe lots of practice operating the safety would make things better.



I won’t comment on the efficacy of the .380 round for personal defense. Does it lack adequate power? I don’t know. II’ve examined all the ballistic charts available to mankind and have conclusively determined that there’s always a more powerful round out there somewhere. I’m one of those shot placement trumps caliber types. You know the old saw: A .380 hit is better than a .45 miss. As if hitting and missing were the only two options.

After sending hundreds of rounds down the tiny 2.75-inch barrel of the BODYGUARD 380, I can say that it will consistently put rounds into a playing-card size target at relevant distances. If three in the t-box doesn’t stop a bad guy, I have four words: Kiss your ass goodbye.



Shooting PPU ammo, I suffered misfire after misfire. Some 15- to 20-percent of the rounds failed to fire. The BODYGUARD 380 has second-strike capability. I used it to good effect. What didn’t light on the first try, lit the second. Examining the primers on rounds that weren’t struck twice and thus remained unfired, it seemed that the strike was light. I was concerned that the gun was a dud or needed to have its firing pin adjusted. When I changed ammo and fired off a mixture of Fiocchi and Speer, the gun performed flawlessly, time after time, restoring my confidence.

Comparing the spent Fiocchi cases to the PPUs that didn’t light the first time, the strikes on the Fiocchis seemed much deeper. That can’t be, not if the all cartridges fit the chamber properly. Which they did. No pistol can selectively strike one brand’s primers better than another. What can be is that the PPU primers were too hard for this gun to handle.

Coincidentally, there was another shooter at the range shooting his brand-new BODYGUARD 380, using PPU ammo from the same case as mine. He also suffered multiple FTFs. When he switched brands, his problems ended too.




It seems to me that Smith & Wesson built the BODYGUARD 38 to a price point, with little thought as to whether or not it was good. A Smith & Wesson Airweight equipped with an aftermarket laser will shoot rings around and look better than the BODYGUARD 38 for a small premium. Better still, a shooter could buy a 442, forget the laser, save some money and shoot the hell out the gun. Pass.

The BODYGUARD 380 is a different matter. I liked this pistol. More than that, I understood it. Despite the two-handed laser deployment, the Bodyguard 380 is an accurate, easy to carry pistol that’s also a fun shooter that will be enjoyed at the range. A buyer who wants a .380 pistol would not go wrong with the BODYGUARD 380.



Model: Smith & Wesson BODYGUARD 380

Caliber: .380 ACP

Magazine capacity: 6 rounds

Materials: Polymer frame, stainless-steel slide with Melonite Finish

Weight empty: 11.85 ounces

Barrel Length: 2.75″

Overall length: 5.25″

Sights: Stainless-steel front and drift-adjustable rear, integrated Insight laser. (Currently available with an integrated Crimson Trace laser sight)

Action: Hammer-fired, double action only

Finish: Matte black

Price: $399 MSRP, less via Brownells


BODYGUARD 380 RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * * * *

Fit and finish are first-rate. Too much clutter on the left side, with the takedown lever, slide lock lever and safety packed into two inches of space. On such a svelte gun, the integrated laser looks a bit like a double-chin on a fashion model.

Ergonomics (carry) * * * * *

It’s tiny, light and fits easily in a pocket, purse, IWB holster, jock strap or garter belt. If it had a lanyard ring, it could be hung from a gold chain and worn like a necklace. The black color would harmonize well with pearls.

Ergonomics (firing) * * * *

The grip is comfortable and even has room for all three fingers including the pinkie. The gun points well for such a tiny pistol. The trigger is too heavy by 50%, but its smooth enough. It stacks noticeably just before the sear trips, a flaw that it seems to share with almost every other S&W pistol recently fired.

Reliability zero  – * * * * *

This pistol has second strike capability, and boy did I need it. I suffered an appalling 15- to  20-percent misfires with certain ammunition. With ammo that the gun liked, reliability was flawless.

Customize This

It is what it is. Take it or leave it.


The BODYGUARD 380 plenty accurate despite vestigial iron sights. Accuracy improves but speed decreases when using the laser. The gun’s easy to carry, but it’s picky about ammo. With the wrong stuff, it’s too light to use as a club, and too unreliable to use as a gun. With the right ammo, I would be confident carrying this pistol.



Model: Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38

Caliber: .38Spl +P

Cylinder capacity:  5 rounds

Materials: Stainless-steel barrel and cylinder, one-piece aluminum-alloy upper frame, steel-reinforced polymer lower frame, rubber grip.

Weight empty: 14.3 ounces

Barrel Length: 1.9″

Overall length: 6.6″

Sights: Black ramp front sight, integral rear sight, integrated Insight laser (currently available with a Crimson Trace laser).

Action: Internal hammer, double action only

Finish: Matte black

Price: $509 MSRP, less via Brownells


BODYGUARD 38 RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * *

My first thought on seeing it was, “was this gun made by Wham-O?” The whole revolver looks plasticky and the top-mounted ambidextrous cylinder release looks tacked-on.

Ergonomics (carry) * * * *

It carried like an Airweight, which was good. Tucked into a pocket or purse, it’s unobtrusive and handy.

Ergonomics (firing) * * *

Fired like an Airlight and made .38 Specials feel like.357 Magnums. The polymer lower frame did nothing to dampen felt recoil. The trigger was smooth but very heavy.

Reliability * * * * *

It’s a Smith & Wesson revolver. Five for sure, ‘nuff said. Durability, however, is unknown. A lifetime of use could be simulated with, say, 10,000 rounds, if TTAG would spring for all the ammo for the gun and an orthopedic hand surgeon for me.

Customize This *

The laser can be removed. Does that count?


Shooting the Bodyguard 38 was as much fun for me as shaving my eyeballs. Accuracy was mediocre, even compared to other snubbies. It’s a belly gun that does not compare favorably with Smith & Wesson’s classic J-frame revolvers, or the BODYGUARD 380.

More from The Truth About Guns:

New from Smith & Wesson: M&P Bodyguard with Crimson Trace Green Laser

New from S&W: M&P Bodyguard 380

Gun Review: Ruger LCP II .380 Pistol

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  1. The S&W .380 Body Guard made my short list when I was looking for a CCW. I ended up going with a P238 Sig with a laser, because the weight and build felt more substantial then the Body Guard, and I had an extended finger grip option on a mag.

    Used to be the Bodyguards laser was HARD to activate. The next gens seemed to fix that though.

    I do find the Body Guard asthetically pleasing and it feels good in the hand.

    What did you think about the trigger pull?

    How about the use of sights on such a short barreled defensive weapon to begin with?

    • “What did you think about the trigger pull”

      It was too long, too heavy by 50% and stacks a bit. In other words, it was an S&W trigger du jour. On the plus side, it was grit-free and creep-free.

      To me (other shooters will disagree), not counting those 20 lb. triggers out there, creep is the worst trait a trigger can exhibit. Grit can sometimes be removed with a polishing cloth. Heaviness and stacking are constants. Creep is a variable. Eliminating variables is what accuracy is all about.

      • +1

        Must agree. The trigger pull for me was long and hard. But I figured it was because I live in NH, and my local gun shop sells both NH and Mass compliant firearms. The BG380 I tried, was Mass compliant. My M&P40 isn’t as bad, though I may look for a trigger upgrade later down the line.

        Good review though. Very insightful.

        • A trigger should work like a switch. When a trigger “stacks,” it means that the force required to depress the trigger builds and builds. The futher the trigger is pulled, the heavier the force required, until the trigger finally reaches the point where the gun fires.

          Don’t confuse this with a two-stage trigger, with a light first stage that takes up slack, and a second stage that requires an increase to actually fire the gun. With a good two-stage trigger, there will be one force required for the takeup stage, and another one force to fire. The force in the second stage does not build and build. It remains constant.

          I hope this helps.

  2. How would you compare the pistol to the Ruger LCP? The LCP (with Crimson Trace) is 1.85 oz and a little bit smaller. But it doesn’t have the little lip on the magazine to keep those fingers in place, and looks like it shouldn’t be held by anyone over 5’4″ and 130lbs. I’ve never shot either. Anyone got an opinion? I know diddly squat about pocket pistols.

    • I’ve shot both, but I didn’t have enough trigger time to report on the LCP. I didn’t even get to fire a full magazine. As far as I can remember, the 380’s sights are better, but the Ruger is better looking IMO.

      • Pierce magazine extensions, they make the LCP much easier to handle.

        I’m 5-9 or so with average size hands. It’s a good grip for me. I practice with my LCP weekly and they are the difference between night & day for me.

  3. I guess if these little guns mean people will carry, all the better. But I still look upon them with disdain. Forget the largely useless concealed carry of little guns and become a deterrent against crime (without ever drawing) and celebrate freedom. Open carry the largest pistol/revolver you have for maximum control under pressure

    • I’m with you — except that open carry can’t be done in my home state. It isn’t illegal, but it will get one stopped by the po-po. In some towns, the police are understanding and inadvertent flashing would warrant a brief stop but not an arrest. Open carry will result in an arrest for disturbing the peace almost everywhere.

    • I’m half with you stateisevil; a .380 with a 2 inch barrel isn’t the gun I want in a fight, but in this package it’s usable. I habitually carry one of these on my ankle, and except at home after removing my primary, it’s always a BUG to something more substantial. That said, what Ralph found I’ve also discovered: This little gun is astoundingly accurate, and fairly easy to make rapid, multiple follow-up shots with. It doesn’t like hard primers, but is flawlessly reliable with either Fiocchi or Critical Defense ammunition, which happen to be the winners of shootingthebull.410s testing of these little .380s. It’s so small, and so light that I literally have to check at times to make sure it’s (still) there.
      With 7 rounds on board, it’s a serious little weapon, and can be carried concealed anywhere and anyhow, so long as you wont be searched thoroughly. I love mine, and love having a BUG that isnt a pain to carry. As a weapon, it’s really a lot more capable than it’s size suggests. My ‘panic dumps’ single hand rapid fire mag dumps at about 10 feet put all 7 on the rough center of the target very fast, and that is big medicine for a little gun.

  4. These guns would likely sell better if they could knock another $50 off the price and get rid of the useless laser.

    Crimson Trace must have the patent on the “auto-on” switch because that is the only way a laser works on a SD gun in a practical manner. Having to unholster the gun and press a little 5mm button to turn the laser on is stupid and useless on these S&W guns.

    It was designed and included in this product simply to say “Hey – we have a laser and we are $100 less than the competition” even though the said feature is garbage.

    I don’t know how many ways I can say it….the laser is a stupid, unusable, and impractical feature on these guns.

    • +1 Agreed on the laser issue. Wouldn’t you rather have night sights or an adjustable rear sight or a white light or,.. another box of ammo.

    • I agree about the lasers. I like them for training where they can be very helpful. In the real world, I think they’re more likely to get me into trouble than get me out. But good sights? Priceless.

      • I couldn’t respectfully diagree more with regards to the laser.

        Like any other part of a firearms manual of arms, your going to be as quick and efficient with a laser as your regular practice allows.

        Quite frankly, if your being rushed so quickly and violently that you can’t take the extra milliseconds to turn on the laser as you take the pistol off safety, then your not going to have time to sight in accurately.

        The laser is a nice middle ground option to help make a bad guy think twice; In between pulling your CCW and actually pulling the trigger.

        Although, that would be an interesting question to be posed on TTAG.:

        ” In your minds eye, what is the scenario that plays out most commonly, involving the drawing of your weapon?”

        • ” In your minds eye, what is the scenario that plays out most commonly, involving the drawing of your weapon?”

          Bumping into one of my ex-wives.

        • Right…well…with ex-wives, your probably better off using a wooden stake anyway, and trying to spend most of your time in the sunlight.

        • ” In your minds eye, what is the scenario that plays out most commonly, involving the drawing of your weapon?”

          When I think of lasers??

          I’m woken from sleep to the sound of something rummaging around my home. I think I see the silhouette of a person while squinting in the dark. I click on the laser and before I get a chance to point it at Mr Badnews I get shot repeatedly because Mr Badnews saw a tiny red light down my hallway.

          (i’m thinking if its day time I wouldn’t need a laser anyway)

    • my BG was manufactured October 2014……hadn’t fired a handgun since about 1980. First time at an indoor shooting range….hit 29/30 points (6 shots) using the laser at 25 yards (75 feet)……astounding!!!!!

    • The laser is great…when it’s already on, and it’s dark. Otherwise it’s only use is to entertain cats. It also tends to deregulate after much wear, carry and use. The good news is that they now make this pistol w/o the laser.

  5. Regarding the BG380:

    I haven’t had any light strikes in mine or firing issues of any kind. However, I’ve only shot Win White box FMJ at the range. I did notice the pistol has loosened up some. I’ve shot it a heap so I couldn’t exactly say at what point, but the safety is easier and the the take down and slide lock are easier too. Don’t know if that a good thing or not, but I’m not having any issues with the gun.

    Out of of the box, mine was dead-on accurate to the laser at 7 and 10 yards. I haven’t shot with the laser since. My pistol is one with the hard laser button.

    I’ve learned to stage the trigger as I shoot and can follow up the second shot pretty quickly. However, that took some learning to do. I hate the trigger on this gun, but all the “current breed” of pocket pistols have this horrible long trigger heavy pull. I can’t say with certainty that this one had the best trigger of the bunch, but I like it a ton more than the Ruger LCP I shot.

    My wishes for the next generation of this pistol would be: 1. Fix the trigger. If it has a mechanical safety, then give me a decent trigger, please. 2. Keep the laser and give me some night sights! At least on the front. I think if you’re stuck defending yourself in the dark then you’d be better served by night sights than being a your own little red dot searching the darkness for a bad guy by shining him with another little red dot. Or for that matter, make it a regular LED white light! That being said, this isn’t my beside weapon.

    BTW: Good write up! Now do Smith vs Ruger!! LCR vs the .38 and the LCP vs the .380

    • If you come across my post, you’ll here my praise of the Sig P238 .380. Nice trigger pull, 1911 manual of arms, based on the Colt Mustang design.

      I liked it so much, my wife has one, and now I have one. She has night sights, and I went with a laser. Though I will likely add the nightsights post haste.

  6. My experience with PPU ammo is that the OAL is disgustingly short. Like out of spec short. The light primer hits were likely due to that.

    • Eyeballing them side by side with the other rounds, the PPUs didn’t seem to be out of spec. I suspect hard primers because they did light on the second strike. Nevertheless, your explanation is as good as any.

    • I don’t know about OAL, but PPU have what we used to call sub-gun primers: reliable…in a weapon that really crushes them. The term came from shooting surplus ammo in cases marked ‘for submachine gun use only’ back in the 90s. It would run in some pistols, not in others, and seemed to be hotter than normal commercial loads. All the PPU commercial ammo I’ve tried has shown evidence of hard primers, which is fine in some guns, and useless in others.

  7. Good review Ralph. Interesting to see that you had a similar experience with the Bodyguard .38’s trigger that RF did with the Model 60. What’s going on in S&W’s trigger dept?

    What do you think it was about the bodyguard that made the recoil so much more evident than it is in a J frame?

    • “What’s going on in S&W’s trigger dept?”

      They’re lawyer triggers.

      “What do you think it was about the bodyguard that made the recoil so much more evident than it is in a J frame?”

      Most J-frames come standard with Uncle Mike’s grips that do a great job at dampening recoil. The Airweights are also just a bit heavier, which dampens recoil albeit marginally. Finally, the Airweights are all-metal, while the lower frame of the Bodyguard 38 is a polymer. Metal does a better job of soaking up recoil. Yeah, I know that most modern pistols are polymer and they don’t sting. I attribute that to the locked breach designs that inherently direct recoil away from the shooter’s hand. With no such mechanism in this or any other revolver, the true buzziness of polymer is exposed.

      I used to race a carbon fiber bicycle. It was light, fast, and beat me up like I was riding a jackhammer. When I switched to steel, I lost a bit of speed, added a bit of weight and gained twenty years of comfortable riding. Steel has the best blend of rigidity and vibration dampening. IMO, plastics don’t come close.

      • I own several polymer 9’s and they are large enough to do a decent job of absorbing recoil, but my Ruger P89 is 32 oz of American made steel and alloy frame and though large and a bit heavy, with Pachmyar grips I can shoot all day without fatigue. My FEG-380 is a PPK knockoff that has an alloy frame and a fixed barrel and it transmits every bit of recoil back and isn’t something I like to shoot in high volume, though it is accurate.

        I’ve shot the newer Bodyguard and LCP II and have a hard time with the long pull of the Bodyguard, and the LCP is just not comfortable shooting for me. I ended up getting a Shield 380 EZ which is not nearly as small as these, but is a good shooter and absorbs recoil well which is great for my arthritic hands. Bottom line is to get something that is comfortable and you can handle and don’t worry about what the “experts” may be saying because if you don’t like the way it handles or shoots, then you’ll likely end up leaving it at home.

  8. I bought a BG38 a month ago for concealed carry. Use American Eagle 38/158 Grain Lead Round Nose for practice (primarily) and Federal 38+P/ 129 Grain Hydra-Shok JHP for carry. This is my first revolver (own a PX4 Storm as well). Reading your writeup and other reviews and commentaries, I get the impression there is a lot of positive prejudice for S&W older makes/model designs. That is understandable. I do not have that bias. I like the aesthetics; looks, feel and color. I think again because this is my first revolver. Plus I am a “Lefty” Let me state upfront that I bought this gun for home protection and carry for very close range. For my application, aside from when I practice, the use of the front sight in a short distance confrontation seems to be of little practical use (just point and shoot). As for the laser, I agree with your comments. I only use it for practice and it was not the deciding factor buying the gun. As a lefty, the cylinder release latch for me is quite useful. At the range and via website commentary, I have noticed people have misfires due to improper positioning of the thumb on top of the gun evidently pushing the cylinder release forward enough to release the wheel out of alignment. With the ammo I use, after 4 practice sessions and about 300 rounds in total, I am consistently hitting in 2-3 inch clusters around the bullseye at 7.5 yards using one or two hand-held configuration. Plenty of recoil for sure and area between my thumb and index finger gets sore after 15 or more shots. But in the real world a confrontation will be over before one shoots 5 times. Additionally, I tried the Ruger LCR and the S&W 442 with the same ammo and for me anyway, I did not perceive any significant difference in recoil (same sore hands as well). The BG38 suits my needs well.

    • Ron West, I am a died-in-the-wool Smith & Wesson junkie. I like their traditional guns as well as their more modern and updated styles. I didn’t hate the Bodyguard 38, I just didn’t like it all that much. But I’ve had a long love affair with my 638 that remains unabated.

  9. Good T&E, Ralph. I have the BODYGUARD .38, but the trigger isn’t too bad on mine at all, which makes one wonder if there’s a consistency problem. I got it partly as another pocket piece, although nothing will ever replace my old 340PD .357, but primarily as a training aid. The laser helps to show what the correct sight alignment should match up with, as well as the way I paint the front sight with two colors. If they see all red-good to go. If they see white under the red, the front sight is too high. For me, I have practiced reaching over with my weak thumb as I grip, to turn the laser on. In the real world, I would already have it on before engaging or not on at all.

  10. I bought one of the BG 38s as a “walk down the rural road near my house early every morning before sunrise and wanted to be able to deal with any problems caused by a coyote/wolf/mean dog” concealed-carry gun [deep breath]. The laser was a selling point for that specific purpose, plus the low-snag hammerless configuration. The trigger pull was crappy, until I dropped some Tetra gun lube on the steel activating rod coming out of the back of the plastic trigger, plus a bit on all other visible moving surfaces, and then loaded it with snap caps and cranked the trigger about 300 times. That smoothed it out quite a bit.

    I turn on the laser by indexing my right thumb to the back/top of the rear sight, and then squish down hard. That seems to get it turned on without looking at it.

    I load it with Hornady 110gr .38+P Critical Defense ammo, and the laser and fixed sights shoot to the same point of aim with that ammo. Had to do a fair amount of adjusting with the laser, but it was well within the range of available adjusting. I had to sight it in at an indoor range, because the laser dot is not visible on a target at 5-7yds at an outdoor range in bright sunlight.

    One plus is the ready availability/low cost of batteries for the laser, and a major plus is that the laser re-indexes to the same point of aim when you remove it, change batteries, and re-install it. That helps – wouldn’t want to go through a $20 box of the premium ammo every time I change the batteries. You will also get a pretty good indication that the batteries are getting weak, since the laser dot loses brilliance abruptly, rather than gradually (although it is still usable as an aiming point). For me, that was after about 3-4 weeks of playing with the laser and snap caps in my house. Haven’t had to change the batteries since I got it broken in and sighted in.

    The BG 38 isn’t my all-day carry piece, but it works well for those low-light walks. And no, so far no wolves, coyotes or mean dogs have been injured in the testing of this product.

      • So far. I did try it on several vicious, attacking milk jugs full of water – in low light conditions. Admittedly, they were not moving at the time.

  11. I own an original Model 38 dating from the ’60s.. When I first bought it, the little splinter stocks left me with the same feeling in hand your plastic version did.

    I added a set of the rubber CTC-305 grips, and never looked back.

    I picked up a new Bodyguard 38 recently to compare, I was not impressed. I’ll stick with the classic.

  12. I compared several for pocket carry and narrowed it down to the Body Guard 38 and the Ruger LCR. Trigger pull on the LCR to me was much easier and less “notchy” than the S&W. The Ruger had the basic simplicity to me and made the S&W look way too complicated. Wen with the Ruger. Be interested if others have used the Ruger LCR

  13. Ray: I didn’t try the S&W BG38, but I do own the LCR. I originally got the 38spl, but eventually traded it for the 357 version. The 38spl is 13.5oz IIRC, while the 357 is 17oz. I do pocket carry, and the weight difference was noticable. Not so bad after a while; but it’s still there. Anyhow, I changed as I found I just couldn’t practice much with the lighter version. Too much recoil turned into too little shooting. Which probably wouldn’t be an issue if I had other shooters similar to the LCR; but the only other one I have is an SP101 and, as much as I like that gun its trigger in DA just doesn’t match up.

    • My son and I shot rentals of the LCR and SP101 at the range recently. My experience was like yours: the LCR got painful after a while and the SP101 had a trigger that was like some kind of hand exercise device. I ended up buying an LCRx, with it’s slightly heavier 3″ barrel and larger grip, hoping that would make it more comfortable to shoot. I’ll find out.

      I have shot the Bodyguard .380 and found it surprisingly comfortable and surprisingly accurate. I shot better with it using the laser than aiming with the sights.

  14. This is a great review, and I’d concur with almost everything in it. I compared these and several other firearms this year. I didn’t buy either one of them. I’ve got a S&W 442, and a Diamondback 380 for EXACTLY the same purposes.

    To me, trigger pull was essential, and when I tried the bodyguards, they were terrible. kind of like broken glass sliding on pebbles lubricated with sand.

    I agree with the review, the Bodyguard .38 really looks like S&W designed the pistol, and on its way to production, somebody who has never fired a weapon said, hey, we need to move the little button that opens the cylinder to the top. *huh?*

    I’ve since fired my mother-in-law’s bodyguard .38, and it seemed incredibly accurate to me – with sub-2 inch groups at 10 yds, every group I shot had at least 3 of the 5 holes touching… but it took way more concentration to shoot. I can pull up the J-frame, or the Diamondback, and put 5 or 6 quick rounds in a pie plate at 7 yards with a great amount of speed and way less concentration. I’d be lucky to do 2 of 5 with that Bodyguard .38.

    I have a Crimson Trace on my Diamondback, so the form is probably almost identical to the Bodyguard 380, but there’s no “laser activation” process. Grab it and the laser turns on. In similar fashion, I’ve dabbed about 1/16″ of the top of the front sight of the S&W 442 with a three or four coats of dollar-store white fingernail polish. the same would probably work wonders for both of these pistols. Finally – I’m pretty happy with the 442 because for the most part, when I’m firing it for training, I use Sellier & Bellot wadcutters – something like 148gr bullet at 700fps. With their VERY light recoil, I can do 150-200 rounds from the S&W 442 J-frame, easily – but 10 or 15 rounds of +P starts to be painful.

  15. Yes. The 380 I shot worked like a charm with a wide variety of loads. All shooters pronounced it comfortable and did well with it. the 38 was an abomination. The first shot would recoil the cylinder ratchet out of contact with the peculiar gonad they use in place of a pall/hand. It would take two pulls of the trigger to set off the next shot. The bg 38 seems to be a crude rip off of the ruger lcr. where the smith shoots lack luster groups way to the left of the sighs, the ruger is quite usable out to 50 yards.

  16. I picked up my new Bodyguard 380 in Oct. 2011. Prior to taking the gun to the range for the first time I adjusted the laser using both eyes open and then lightly oiled my new Bodyguard.

    The first time at the range, the new bodyguard ate 200+ rounds with no issues and no misfires. The gun performed absolutley 100% flawlessly. The laser was right on the bullseye of the target, easy to operate on and off, and no futher adjustments will need to be made.

    The Bobyguard 380 excellent concealability makes it a perfect choice for conceal carry self defense hand gun. A small pocket holster is how I carry my 380 with me.

    The only thing I would recommend S&W change to this gun, is the long trigger pull.

  17. I must say as a female I truly enjoy the size of this pistol… my husband has a Springfield XDM .40 and it is much to gun for me to carry around in the diaper bag… way to heavy and big. Its fun to shoot but not fesiable for someone like me to carry, concealed or open. So as a women this is perfect for me.

  18. Open carry is about the dumbest thing you can do with your weapon (if you’re not a LEO). Why ? Instead of being a deterrent to crime, many criminals will see your firearm and start devising hasty plans on how they can get it away from you.

    Would not EVER, EVER recommend open carry; unless on your private property, or in the National Forests, or something.

  19. I’ve been told you can take the laser off for cleaning and servicing. But can the laser be removed and not put back on. I would prefer not having the laser mounted when using or carrying the weapon. I just don’t want to screw something up.

  20. Get real guys….the SW 380 and 38 Spl are rib guns. They are what they are. Get over it. I carry a Kimber 45 ACP mostley but in certain situations it is reassuring to have a SW in my pocket or a 22 derringer…….When the time comes you will not have time to adjust your line of thinking about which side the cylinder opens or worry about the optics…believe me I have been there period.

  21. Being new to shooting, am I being unreasonable to expect my new BG38 to handle Czechoslovakian ammo without jamming the cylinder shut. SW says it will cost me $360 to fix a gun that has only fired 10 rounds. Did I screw up or am I getting screwed?

  22. Sounds to me like there must be some misunderstanding. If you bought the gun new it should be covered under warranty, basically for as long as you own the gun, unless you abused it somehow.

    I purchased a new BG 38 in December, 2011 and returned it to S&W due to the cylinder locking up with the trigger locking in the firing position. I had fired a few hundred rounds of Czechoslovakian ammo also, Sellier & Bellot, and some other ammo before mine locked up.

    I simply went to the S&W web site, under “Resources”; “Customer Services” and “Warranty Repair Shipping Form”, filled it out, and I received a FedEx 2 day shipping form to return it to S&W. I returned my piece, following the directions I received along with the FedEx shipping form, and within two weeks they repaired and returned it to me, no charge.

    Here’s the web sight and phone number, hope this helps:

    1-800-331-0852 Ext. 2905

    Good luck, John

    • Thanks for this info. I’m going to their page right now. I plan on having them fix it and then I will sell/trade this trashy little piece.

  23. ive put about 600 rounds though my .380 and not a single issue. maybe i lucked out, but the thing has performed without a hitch. maybe you shouldnt be buying cheap ammo, you get what you pay for.

  24. Bought my bride a BG38 w/laser…… works well…….. we qual’d it on the LE range with a CC Class recently…… and the only negative comment is the size of the grip. We’re looking for a Hogue or Pachmeyer slip-on type overgrip if anyone knows of one available. She’s used to my Ruger GP100 and P-91DC sized grips for range shooting. Her little Taurus 380 is an up-close and personal last chance for the perp to run purse gun, and the S&W38 is a step up which she feels more comfortable with for fishing and hunting situations.

  25. I don’t understand all of the hatred for the .38 special bodyguard. I have been involved in gunfights, not shooting in a range, or at some cans, but shooting people, with guns and usually assault rifles, and I’ve had no problem putting their dick in the dirt with it. I have used rem. hollow point, Corbon glaser FMJ with great effect, Aguila, etc. and I don’t have any complaints. Like with any firearm, once you get used to it, you’ll know where your bullet is going to go. I like the fact that I don’t have to saw off the hammer of this .38 like I’ve had to since the 80s w/other .38’s.
    The stopping power is excellent, and even without using custom packed ammo, I’ve been able to penetrate vests, even going through a guy and hitting the person behind them by accident. I have no complaints about this firearm other than the laser sight burns through its batteries a lil too quick for my taste, but I rarely use it anyway unless it’s at night. Thanks, and GOD bless.

  26. Being a knife-man myself, but prudent enouff to carry a handgun as a backup, with VietNam history as a Navy Corpsman in a Navy-FMF pool of like-minded wannabe ironmen, I was hesitant to accede to my bride’s sudden wishes for a small handgun and a concealed carry permit. We fired a plethora of small weapons, and she decided that the S&W Bodyguard w/laser was the absolute best fit and most reliable of the bunch. She liked the hammerless feature most of all, because, like most women, her purse is full of more important items, some having snags which tend to come out of the bottomless void in the purse with the pistol attached !!! And she IS accurate with it, as much as she is with my Ruger wheelguns and Ruger-Glock-H&K-Springfield XD-S&W SA’s (not to mention the 870 12ga and M-77 .44mag), easily qualifying on the range, going as far in our home as to rearrange the furniture to accommodate making the laser visible to any prospective intruder. The heavy trigger is another semi-good feature, making it somewhat failsafe to inquisitive toddlers in a home that is grandkid friendly and occupied by a semi-deaf grandpa and a grandma grizzly who shoots 96’s left-handed. Thumbs Up (no pun intended) for the hammerless BodyGuard .38 Sp !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (But now she wants rangetime on my Savage Tactical 10 .308 !!! Next she’ll be wanting to tag-a-long elk-hunting and I’ll probably have to haul a pink porta-potty with us to match her new backup Taurus .380 and Coachman ankle holster !! Who sponsored the Equal-Opportunity Amendment, anyway ???)

  27. Wow, am I relieved to read these comments. Reading the review of the Body Guard 38 scared the crap out of me – I just bought one and thought for sure I had made a huge mistake based on the reviewer’s comments. But obviously it’s wiser to rely on the review of those who have actually been using the gun. Thanks, folks!

  28. Shot my new Bodyguard 38 today. It is a hunk of junk! Shooting 158g SWC low power from 10 feet it shot about a 2″ group from the Weaver stance. High and right several inches from the laser. After laser adjust it was dead on and stayed that way. By the way I am 54, failed several times to qualify in the Marine Corps, have a bad flinch, jerk the trigger, don’t do any sort of breath control, and my Weaver stance gets very sloppy. So you might think that a 2″ group with this gun makes it amazing. I found the recoil to be very manageable and I am out-of-shape and only 5’6″ 150 lbs. But here are the problems:
    Out of 40 shots 6 FTF due to weak firing pin strike, this alone makes this weapon unusable for its intended purpose…click, oh, ok, stop for just a moment mister mugger, I need a do over. And it should be criminally negligent for this company to sell this gun
    Next, when closing the cylinder it has to be rotated just right to get it to latch, I have never had a revolver do this. I went to a local gun store and tested another and it did the same thing. Multiple times I tried to close the cylinder only to have it fall open.
    And lastly, I fired one round of +P which locked up the cylinder not allowing a second shot.
    If you gave me the choice of this gun or a knife to defend myself I have to go with the knife, evan a cheap steak knife is better suited for defense than this gun.
    It is going back to S&W for repair and then I am going to sell it to someone I don’t like.

  29. First time my wife every shot a gun was her new BodyGuard 38. She put that freaking laser and held it rock solid on the target that was at 7 yards.

    Her first shot was dead center bullseye. Her instructor and myself could not belive it. She then emptied 4 more rounds and ended up with a 3 inch group for her first 5 rounds she has ever shot with a gun.
    Turned the laser off and repeated it for another 5 rounds.
    She now keeps it loaded with Speer Golddot +P, God forgive anyone who messes with her cause she can outshoot nearly all semi shooters with that thing.

    She does not like to shoot more then a dozen or so rounds because it does get painful but the gun is as light as a 380 and witl +P’s it is pretty devistating.
    We were going to get the airweight originally and thought the BodyGuard was about the same but it is not, the Airweight IS a better gun but the BodyGuard is an excellent CCW gun with it’s high grip design muzzel flip is kept to a minimum.

    • Shooting a tight group is only a foundation for self-defense. It’s the difference between being able to kick a soccer ball and playing soccer. I HIGHLY recommend that both of you get some proper self-defense training, including force-on-force.

      • Understanding the accepted Force Continuum is MOST important when dealing with the aftermath of gunfight !

  30. Excellent review and spot on! I wish I had read this before buying this Bodyguard .38. Nice piece but my hubby, brother and I did not enjoy firing it today. The trigger was amazingly heavy. A kind shooter next to me offered to let me shoot her .380. It was so much easier to fire and I shot accurately at 20 yards with site only. With the .38 my laser danced around as I attempted to squeeze the heavy trigger. As a little woman, it seemed like an eternity to fire, took us by surprise and reminded me of a 357. We didn’t spend as long as I expected shooting and it’s going to take a while to go through the whole box of ammo for the .38. Will have to check out the 442. Thank you!!!

  31. Spot on review.
    Bought a S&W 638 Airweight w/bobbed hammer recently because the fit and feel was much better to me than the BodyGuard .38. Order a spring tune-up kit from Wilson Combat, and it shoots even better than stock (and it was only a $12 modification).

    I’m now looking at a BodyGuard .380 for my wife and possibly for me as another concealed carry for my collection.

    I would rather have night sights than a laser, and will probably change out sights if I do buy the gun. For the price of the gun, if you don’t like the laser, don’t use it.

    As far as trigger pull, S&W seems to have a stronger trigger pull on their CCW guns. I would carry the .380 with the safety off in a quality holster that protects the trigger.

  32. Wife just purchased a new BG 380 a little more than 2 weeks ago. So far it has only misfired some factory loads (Estate & Independence) a couple times. However……with a little over 300 rounds thru it, the slide refused to chamber a new round. Problem seemed to be the laser set screw. Returned under warranty to S&W but no indication of turnaround time. When it comes back, will give it a workout. If any other problems crop up, this gun goes on the resale market. She does not need reliability problems with a weapon meant for defensive carry.

    At the moment, she is carrying my “Baby Glock” G26 and likes the light and smooth trigger pull much better but hates the additional weight (and manly sized grip).

    Will wait for final verdict as regards this piece but right now it is not reassuring. Plus, 380 Auto ammo is about 30% more expensive than 9mm and has less stopping power.

  33. The Bodyguard 380 seems nearly impossible to find. Pictures available on Gallery of Guns and Cheaper Than Dirt, but stock has been “0” for months. Are they selling that quickly or is there a problem with this weapon? After above review, suspect the second statement.

  34. I don’t like to bad rap products, but I had high hopes for the BG380 because of the built in laser and unfortunately, that was what made me get rid of mine. It never worked easily and even after repair twice, including a new frame, it still would not function like the sample I tried at the gun shop. I also did not really like the trigger on this model. I like my LCP a whole lot more. I’ve had my LCP for over 3 years, no problems at all. I had the BG380 for almost a year, it was sent out three times, the last time for good. When they first came out, they listed for $499 and were selling between $479 and $449; now they can be had for $349 at most places, some even less. I would not recommend this weapon, but I still regard S&W handguns, especially M&P models and their revolvers very highly and am looking forward to acquiring an M&P Shield 40 in the near future.

  35. The reviews for the bg38 are unfair and biased towards old j frames. Simply put, these reviews don’t like change and never will. My bg38 it’s very accurate at 7 yards and I can do 3 or 4 inch groups on my second time shooting it. I choose the bg38 over the m638 because the laser that everyone supposedly hates gives me better groups than trying to pull the shrouded hammer back for single action. S&W has a winner on their hands and I think the sales numbers will reflect this masterful .38 special.

  36. Wife and I bought a BG38 today and will be shorting for the first time tomorrow. I’m hopeful we end up on the positive side of things given the variable reviews. For us the price was right ($460) compared to other S&W snub noses that ranged $640 – $1010.
    All the characteristics that everyone is debating are legit factors but the reality is that I’m confident it can do the job when called upon. For her it’s a good choice: simple, compact, does the job. My only real concern will be the recoil. I don’t want her afraid to use it, but I think after a box of ammo, she be fine with it.

    • Having shot quite a wide range of handguns, I would say the most important factors are: how it feels in your hand, reliability and will you actually carry it and train with it as needed. If not, it’s wasted money. If it were me, I would have spent the extra and bought a similar weapon that would also fire 357 Magnum caliber and it would not be a polymer revolver (Stainless, Nickel or Blued). As I stated earlier, You Must be comfortable with the Firearm in Your hand, no one else. There are a lot of firearms that just do not feel right, others feel like an extension of your body. Some feel great till you shoot them, or try to carry them on your person. All these factors are important, as well as the cost to train with it. If the ammo is too much, you likely won’t go fire enough rounds often enough. I personally feel you need to practice with at least 25 rounds once a month, twice would be nice and 50 rounds preferred. In order to stay in practice with shooting form and comfort with shooting, I suggest a 22LR firearm of similar design to your carry weapon (if possible & feasible). The initial cost of the firearm is not much less expensive, but the operating expense (ammo) is 5¢ or less a round if you buy 500 packs, versus .20¢ a round for 9mm and more for every other caliber.

      • The cost of ammo is not insignificant…..9mm is pretty cheap compared to the cost per round of .380 ACP ammo by about 30% or so. However Daniel is right, the most important aspect of a defensive handgun is how it fits the owner. I hate my wife’s BG380 for many reasons but she loves it, mainly for small size. Somehow, she never took to the LCP 9mm tho.

  37. Shooting the BG 380 was great, BUT twice now I had to send back to SW to replace laser screw. After shooting and cleaning 380 was OK, but installing parts back will not work because laser screw would not hold down openning where batteries are placed casuing the slide to stop short of barrel end. I am hoping they fix it this time or buy another brand.

  38. Was this lengthy article and all of the verbal vomit really necessary? These guns are intended to dispatch carjackers and home invaders at distances of zero to 10 feet, period!

    • My previous comments were to the effect that the BG 380, brand new and straight from factory, was DEFECTIVE in the sense that the Laser set screw could and did back out, preventing a reload. My wife, who loves the BG 380, experienced this problem at a range fortunately, instead of a life or death situation. Several others have commented on other problems about this gun…… yes, the verbal vomit was necessary.

  39. If I were looking for a carry conceal revolver today, I would certainly go test shoot the Ruger LCR line. They are extremely comfortable to hold and the market price seems to be reasonable last I looked (late March 2013). If you want versatility, get a .38/.357 model; gives you a full range of power levels to experience.

  40. I’ve owned a Bodyguard .380 for over a year now, shoot it regularly, and recommend it to others. THAT SAID, here are my three main caveats. IMHO, accept these or buy a different gun.

    – You’ll never like the trigger. Long and hard.

    – Anyone who says it’s fun to fire is talking about the first 20 rounds or so (of a day’s shoot). Much after that and your hand starts to hurt. It is not your “all day at range” gun.

    – MOST IMPORTANT IN A GUN FIGHT… You can easily over grip this gun and find that there’s no boom when you’ve run out of trigger squeeze. I bought a Pachmayr sleeve and have trained myshelf to rotate my grip to the left so as to not press the trigger with the second pad of my trigger finger.

    • Absolutely right on! Big hands and/or long fingers do not agree with this lengthy and hard trigger pull. My wife does love her BG380 but shooting anywhere near a 100 rounds makes her want to ice that hand…….with a stiff drink.

      Now that she is more experienced and possibly more discerning about what is out there, she may decide on another gun. Until then, she is adept at clicking that safety off and has no objection to carrying with a chambered round. She did use some appliance paint to accent the front sight, which helps at the range and may help out in a dark parking lot. Hope she never has to find out!

  41. I have the .38+P Body Guard. Trash. Very particular about ammo. Cylinder jams during rotation if you don’t have the round it wants. The laser is ridiculous. Ruger SP101 CCW FTW.

  42. I own a BODYGUARD 38. It is a “special purpose” pistol for concealed carry – period. It’s a great gun for its purpose. This gun is for my wife’s purse (with a special CC pouch). It is not supposed to be a “fun day at the range” pistol (her SigSauer P250 9mm is good for that). The BG 38 is for making someone hairy and scary who grabbed her arm in a parking lot go away (probably lying in a pool of his own blood). It is for “bad breath” ranges (as the author stated), not for shooting bank robbers from across the street. Sure, the laser is a marketing gimmick mostly. The front sights don’t matter much either. The gun is designed to have smooth contours to avoid snagging on clothing or purse interiors in the event it needs to be put to work. This gun is for close up attitude adjusting; it excels in this mission.

  43. I didn’t read all the comments so I don’t know if anybody mentioned it but PPU ammo is made in Serbia by Prvi Partizen. All of their primers are hard primers. I recently bought some M193 ball 5.56×45.I had JP Sales’ Reduced power springs in my trigger and had misfire issues(they stated that foreign ammo could do this. Long story short. Use American made ammo for less ftf. I have a S&W Bodyguard and love it. Ive never shot foreign ammo and have never had a misfire.

  44. The S&W bodyguard .380 will get you into rather than out of trouble. It is a double action only weapon. You have pull through the entire action when firing a round. This means cocking back the hammer and releasing it to hit the pin in one full pull. The hammer does NOT remain in the cocked position. Ever! Period. This sacrifices accuracy. I am unable to comprehend why anyone would prefer this weapon to a true semi-automatic. With a true semi-auto, as in the 1911, the hammer is coked when a round is chambered and requires manual releasing. When you are required to pull the trigger through the entire action to fire an “auto”; it is NOT a semi-automatic weapon. I can fire 4 accurate rounds in the time it takes to fire 2 inaccurate rounds from the S&W bodyguard with a “true” semi-automatic weapon such as the Walther PPK. I purchased the bodyguard by mistake believing it was a semi-auto. Anyone interested? Otherwise I now have a very expensive fishing sinker.

    • While I’m in violent agreement with Vince about the long, hard trigger pull (see my May 29th comments), I haven’t found a better gun in its class and price point than the .380 Bodyguard. About the only other action available on the market other than the Double Action Only is the Single Action mini 1911-type guns like the Colt Mustang and Sig P238. With these guns, you have the option of thumb cocking it while being assaulted or leaving it cocked in condition 1. I like a front pocket carry and having a cocked gun pointed at the family jewels isn’t for me. .

      [And for me, the Bodyguard is not a fair comparison to the fine Walther PPK. The Walther is twice as heavy and its longer/taller. If I wanted that sized gun, I’d get a slim 9mm.]

      My 2¢

    • And…… the S&W Bodyguard 380 does not seem to be very well made or very reliably assembled. The slide retaining pin is a bitch to remove and re-insert. Firing pins seem to break with disconcerting regularity. The laser set screw can back out easily, causing the slide to jam midway without any way of clearing. Plus, I never much liked the idea of a “safety” lever.

  45. Great article and thread of responses!

    When shopping, I selected the BG38 over the BG380 for 2 reasons –
    1.) The .38, although having a slightly slower comparable velocity than the .380, has much better knockdown power, and although the bullet diameter of the .38 is slightly larger (.002″) than the .380, it still has much better comparable penetration. Also, when comparing both guns with such short barrels, the accuracy of the .38 in a controlled fire scenario is likely going to be likely better.
    2.) My wife prefers wheel guns over SA’s – much simpler to operate in a pinch (just point & pull the trigger), and generally speaking, the reputation for fewer misfire & feed jam issues goes to the wheel gun.

    I ended up buying the BG38 for my wife, and liked it so much I bought one for myself as well.

    I’ve owned it for about 2 years now, use it as back-up in an ankle holster while on duty, and had to brandish it once while carrying it concealed off-duty (ironically, my designated CC iron happened to be in the shop that day – timing is everything). I was able to successfully subdue & detain the assailant until uniforms arrived.

    I guess under certain circumstances (excluding someone who’s heavily under the influence or just plain psycho), there’s something to be said about the intimidation factor when inadvertently forced to stare down the barrel of a loaded wheel gun being held by an extremely pissed-off would-be victim…..the aforementioned perp actually told me later that when he saw I had a revolver, pegged me as an “old school” shooter who had been around guns for lotsa years, and and figured I would have no hesitation in planting the lead seed in his gray-matter soil; I don’t think in this case the laser would have enhanced his perception, and may have actually hindered it slightly if it had made him instead see me as some kind of an inexperienced, weak wannabe.

    Anyway, back to the subject at hand – Overall, the BG38 seems to accomplish the mission it was designed for fairly well. I’ve put probably close to 1,000 rounds through it, and have never had any misfire or “loosening up” issues. And yeah, the trigger pull leaves a lot to be desired, but when cleaned and properly lubed, it does OK for a mid-caliber handgun in it’s price range.

    I do agree that the laser is a bit of a waste, I could see it maybe being handy in a situation where I am pinned down, hiding in a dimly lit confined space and I’m presented an opportunity to initiate a preemptive discharge. In a scenario like that I guess there would be enough time to get it turned on and ready to use, but realistically speaking, the time it would take to switch the laser on in a critical encounter is probably time that could be better spent on target acquisition utilizing the front sight (which I added white-out typo correction liquid on mine for better visibility).

    The .38 is a little bit bulkier and heavier than the .380, but all trade-offs considered, if I had it to do over, I’d still have to go with the .38, which is a rare exception for me since I’m a true, dyed-in-the-wool, die-hard fan of the semi-auto side arm format.

  46. I’m not sure if anyone else mentioned this but Galloway Precision makes a shorter trigger bar that reduces the trigger pull length by about 30%. I installed one for a friend of mine and his BG was a new gun! This a close quarter, carry all the time, fire it fast weapon. Does it compare to a Sig Sauer? No. It’s not supposed to. The issues of the old versions (E* serial numbers) have all been addressed from what I can see. I like it and will get one if the price drops a tiny bit more.

  47. I own both the S&W 380 Bodyguard and the Ruger LCP. They are both very nice little weapons. I will comment on the Ruger LCP first. Viridian makes a pretty impressive light for the Ruger LCP. However, like most of the small pistol lights, it lacks some common sense in design. It utilizes a small, single, sequential, pushbutton type switch, with ON, Strobe, and off modes. It also has the option of using a specially designed (magnetic) pocket holster (included with the light) which turns off the light in either the on or strobe mode and keeps it off until drawn. That is the saving grace for the light’s somewhat awkward switch. Combined with a holster which activates it, this little pistol/light combination is hard to beat. Having said that, a two position slide switch would have made this Viridian light model a superior weapon light. For example, Left could have been ON, Center could be OFF, and Right could be STROBE. I don’t think the people who design these lasers and/or lights gave it much thought.
    With regard to the S&W Bodyguard, its laser is a burden to operate and not practical for any type of self defense. They should have done a little more R&D and came up with a small but bright LED to fit in its place. Perhaps they will come out with a drop-in replacement for the laser since it is removable for battery changing. I may try to build and retrofit one in mine. Ironically, S&W did market a light, the Micro 90, which works quite well on pistols with picatinny rails. It has ambidextrous momentary ON and ambidextrous Constant ON switches and is one of the most compact and brightest of lights for the money. Had they added a strobe into one of the two momentary switches, I would have bought a dozen of them. Why S&W chose to use a laser over a light on the Bodyguard 380 is a mystery to me. Again, I don’t think the designers ever actually test fired the weapon until after the fact. I think lasers look really cool but in reality, are pretty useless other than for target training. They may offer some help in training the user to steady the weapon during the extra long trigger pull of these small pistols.
    All in all, both weapons are very nice. The S&W has some nice features, especially the second strike capability that might make it a bit superior for reliability. However, my LCP has never malfunctioned with quality ammo and combined with the Viridian light, it is my favored choice.

  48. Re-strike capability should be an unnecessary option. From my experience with the Sig P232 & P290RS, the RS should stand for Return to Sender or Resell Soon. They are the only guns I own that advertise re-strike capability and the only ones that need it, how odd is that? As for the BG needing it, didn’t get to shoot mine enough to ever use it or see if it needed it; had less than 100 rounds though it, when it was returned to vendor.

  49. Does anyone know of a grip that will fit the .380? My husband purchased the gun for me as a gift and I love everything about it except the handle. It has a more squared shape rather than rounded which hurts the inside of my thumb when shooting. I love the feel of the S&W shield, but it’s too much gun for me to carry all the time. I’d love a grip for the .380… other than the rubber one that I’ve seen online ($12) with complaints of it interfering with the magazine load in the reviews. Any advice?

    • I know that Galloway Precision makes or stocks a whole bunch of extras and upgrades for the BG380. You can shop online with them but they are not particularly cheap.

  50. The bodyguard 38 revolver is my 3rd Smith along with a model 19 .357 and a mountain gun .44 (I live in the mountains of Montana). Anyway I love my little bodyguard .38. Sure it barks a little and won’t group moa at a hundred yards but it is what it is. It’s protection that I can carry virtually anywhere unnoticed and unfelt (is that a word?). The laser is a bonus and works well. Why do people care about what it looks like, it looks like a gun. It’s reliable and lightweight and I know it’s capable of saving my life. Love it!!

  51. My wife is a very good shot and got very frustrated with her new bodyguard 380 when she couldn’t hit the center target area at 15 feet. After many rounds fired I asked her to let me shoot the gun and immediately discovered that not only was the trigger pull long but it was impossible to get the shot off without jerking the trigger. The abnormal force at the end of a long trigger pull is the reason for her inaccuracy! I handed her my 38 snub-nose and she hit the center target area seven out of ten shots at 15 feet. Incidentally, it was her first time shooting my 38 and one shot was a bulls eye! WROTE TO S&W TO SEE WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS LIFE THREATENING PROBLEM.

    • I used to have a BG380 do not any longer; I do have a Ruger LCP. I might mention that the BG is about 3 to 4 ounces lighter than the Snubby (most likely), the snubby also is longer and probably has a longer sight line. In addition, S&W revolvers are known to be quite accurate and recoil is different from a pistol to a revolver. I was more accurate with every revolver I’ve shot the first time, even my 460V, than I was with any pistol except maybe the CZ75B 9mm. One of my favorite most accurate pistols (for me) has a long heavier trigger pull (Kahr MK40). I didn’t like the trigger a bunch on the BG380 either, but it had nothing to do with why I no longer have it. The laser unit wouldn’t function properly, even when replaced twice; it was sent back for evaluation permanently. I read constantly about dry-fire practice, to get used to the trigger. It might be something worthwhile, if you like the firearm. Otherwise I would look into something more appealing from the get go. I have a Sig P938, pretty darn impressed with it. I hear the P238 is equally as nice, but it depends what you like and of course cost is always to be considered. Rent them at a range and try them out, it helped me avoid a couple models I had been interested in.

  52. I like the size of my Bodyguard. I experimented with holsters and found a great pocket holster made by Allen at Eagle Military Outfitters in Winchester, VA. 540 667 6947. He made it with Velcro at the top so it is completely concealed in a back pocket, yet it opens up quickly. I paid $20 for mine.

  53. Every argument this review makes is full of holes. He doesn’t like the looks of it. Who cares. It’s self defense. He says he doesn’t like a laser for close up. Well, don’t turn it on for god’s sakes! I bought a Body Guard cause I wanted the laser for shooting them in the dark when they’re getting away. !! LMAO He compares the Body Guard weight to that of an Air Weight. FLAME DELETED The Air Weight is weak. It can barely handle standard loads.

    The Body Guard is rated +P. He doesn’t like the recoil and after shooting a whole box of ammo through it, it bothered his hand. FLAME DELETED My wife and I each have a Body Guard, and when we took gun class for our permits, we had to shoot a whole box through them that day on the range. If my wife can do it, so can you.

    The real point is, everytime some tries to mug you, do you plan on shooting 25 rounds at them.

    I know from deer hunting experience, a gun that bothers you on the bench, like a 300 Winchester or a 7 MM …. you don’t even notice it going off when you are shooting at the biggest buck you ever saw.

    Pretty much everything this reviewer is saying is hog wash. He talks in the beginning about bad breath distances. Next thing you know, he says, the gun isn’t very accurate at a 1000 yds!! FLAME DELETED The gun is short range self defense. And you probably won’t put 50 rounds through it in the rest of your life. I bought ours as belly guns, not target weapons.

    I love our Body Guards. Lightweight, strong, not prone to rust, lasers, +P, nice feel in the hand, reliable, and hard to beat for the money. I looked at used 38s in pawn shops for about 100 dollars less. I decided to hell with it. I’m buying something I want. Ours are always loaded with Hornady’s +P Zombies. Try that with an Air Weight!!!

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  55. I bought the 38 because of its size. I agree with the reviewer’s criticisms plus a few of my own. The laser batteries die even if they are not used. I can’t rely on it working when it is needed and changing them is a pain. The worst problem comes from the cylinder. I clean my weapons after each use. However powder residue builds up on the cylinder shaft. S&W designed this revolver to require a gunsmith to take the cylinder off. What moron came up with that design. It is the first weapon that I have ever had that I could not strip and completely clean. There was so much drag on the cylinder that my wife could not fire it. I had to return it to S&W to have their gun smith and special tools split the frame and clean the rod. A black revolver with black sights in a low light situation? Good luck hitting anything. I painted the sights and got an immediate improvement. You can’t rely on the laser to work when needed. Even it it works the laser tells the bad guys where you are hiding. I sent a letter to S&W about my concerns. Of course they didn’t care enough to acknowledge my letter.

  56. I’ve owned the Bodyguard .38 for over six years and my original batteries are still good! They haven’t been used a lot, but I do practice with them from time to time. I find the laser very helpful with keeping aim on target when dry firing.

    The times we’ve shot this handgun, it has worked flawlessly. I’m an older small femaie, and the recoil wasn’t too much for me. I’ve only shot a couple of cylinders of ammo at a time, so I haven’t experienced the sore hands some complain of. I like the laser and I love the size and sleekness of this firearm. I don’t choose to carry any firearm routinely, but I’ve occasionally pocket carried it in an Uncle Mike’s pocket holster. Sometimes it’s taken in the console of my car if I’m driving distances alone. It’s a close range self defense gun and is well suited for that purpose in my opinion. If any firearm is defective, I can understand the dissatisfaction with it, but otherwise, I don’t understand all the negativity in some of the reviews. It seems to have a slightly lighter trigger pull than my new 642, but maybe that’s because I’ve had it longer. The BG 38 is one of my favorite guns.

    • It is wonderful that you have had a good experience with your revolver. Six years on the original batteries? You must have a magical set as my laser goes through batteries like water. If an individual serial numbered weapon has issues they can be addressed. In my opinion, every BG38 has a design flaw. I discovered that you can not strip down and completely clean the weapon. You have to take it to a gunsmith to have it disassembled. I find this to be repugnant and flies in the face of proper weapon care and maintence. I am one of those people who disassembles, cleans, lubricates my weapons every time it is fired. My life depends on my weapon and I take personal responsibility for its condition. I do not choose to “trust us in the S&W armory”. I have communicated my concerns to S&W. They chose to not aknowledge my correspondents which shows how much that they don’t care about customers opinions.

  57. Looks like we have some real puss’ trying to shoot like big boys. I’ve fired the bodyguard .38 spl using both regular and +P. While I do favor the regular (Due to less recoil.) neither one caused my hand to feel like Sister Mary just laid a rule across the palm of it. The little revolver does exactly what it’s intended to do. It works 5 shots in a 5 inch circle in less than 10 seconds. Now… that being said, it’s not a full sized M9 and certainly not like my 6″ Python. It’s a 5 shot, close range, easy to carry, safe, last line of defense, reliable revolver. If you want to shoot boxes of rounds up buy a AR and wear an overcoat. You just can’t please some people.


  59. Spent some quality time at the range with my new BG 38 Revolver. Laser was right on. Consistent head shots at 25 feet offhand using iron sights with no Kentucky windage needed. Amazing for a snubbie. Went through a box of ammo with no discomfort and I’m no spring chicken so not sure what those complaints are about. I do agree that a laser on a snubbie is something of a waste but even with the iron sights this puppy will put metal on target at any distance I would expect to hit something.

  60. I just fired a Bodyguard 380 with Fiocchi ammo. I was having 2 or 3 light primer strikes on every single magazine. A Ruger LCP (first gen) using the exact same ammo box didn’t have a single malfunction.

    I’m definitely not going to go for the Bodyguard. There has to be something with how lightly it’s striking for it to fail seemingly at random (since Fiocchi worked for you).

  61. 2018 Bodyguard 380 here. I get zero light strikes using 500 rds of Federal Ammo. Winchester, I got 2 out of a box of 50. Not even going to bother with brands other than Federal.

  62. Too many comments to read them all…maybe somebody already said, who are kiley minogue and niki blonski? Jesus I feel old.

  63. It appears S&W changed the ambidexterous cylinder release of the M&P 38 Bodyguard revolver at or around the time they changed from the Insight to Crimson Trace lasers on these guns. Is the newer cylinder release an impovement over the older/original cylinder release on these guns. If so, how? Thanks.


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