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For the full review of the Smith & Wesson M&P BODYGUARD 38, click here.

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  1. .38 Special should be regarded as a practice round for use in .357 Magnum guns.

    Why they are still manufacturing firearms chambered for an underpowered black powder cartridge, and why people are still buying them, is a mystery to me.

    • These little snubby .38 specials (Bodyguard, AirWeight, and LCR) offer several key features, which combine to make them excellent carry guns.

      1. Reasonably low price (about $400 retail). The Scandium .357 is a lot more money, and the .357 LCR and SP101 are somewhat more money.

      2. Light weight ( oz.). Recoil of .38sp is acceptable for most people at this weight, while .357 is generally thought excessive. The SP101 and other steel frame revolvers weigh substantially more.

      3. Small size and light weight make pocket carry an option. This is a gun that you can easily carry, and forget that you have it on you.

      4. Powerful enough round for most defensive purposes. Sure, .38sp+P isn’t the best, but it is generally good enough. With quality ammo like Gold Dots, you can get 12″+ gel penetration, with expansion to .55″.

      5. Reloading .38sp is easy and inexpensive. This allows for more frequent practice.

      For a CCW revolver, the AirWeight and LCR fit the bill very well. If I go for a bigger gun, then I want a double stack autoloader like a Glock 19. Most days the 642 goes in my pocket, while the Glocks stay home.

      • “These little snubby .38 specials (Bodyguard, AirWeight, and LCR) offer several key features…”

        Those key features are available in .357 versions of the same guns for a few more dollars and a few more ounces. And you can still practice with .38 Special.

        • More ounces and more dollars

          That is the point of these little revolvers. You save ounces and dollars. Easy on the pocket and the pocketbook.

          I will grant that the .357 LCR might make sense, as it is only a little heavier and more expensive. Moving into something like the SP101 really gets you into a different category of gun. The SP101 is an awesome gun, but it is substantially heavier.

        • First, “A few more ounces” makes all the difference in a pocket gun.

          Sencond, .357 in a light weight snub is double the flash bag, and double the recoil, with only 15-30% increase in energy.

          Third, if .357 works for you fine. That doesn’t mean everybody else should do and see things your way. Who are you, the government? 😉

    • A customer asked me about a Taurus Judge stuffed with five rounds of .45colt as a viable defensive handgun, my response?
      “.45 colt is still around today because it still does just as good a job on outlaws today as it did a century and a half ago.”

      • This raises the question, since .45 Colt is by far the most effective thing to load into a Judge/Governor, why bother with the gimmicky .410 BS that just makes the gun larger and more awkward?

        • That raises another question. If you want a snub nosed larger bore revolver, why not just go with a .44 special – such as the Charter Arms Bulldog?
          Taurus Judge (and Smith copy) seem pretty silly to me.

    • I wish they made basically a rimmed 9mm for wheel guns. shorter cylinder, less weight, more power would be great.The issue to me with 9mm is I don’t want something I’m going to be afraid of jumping crimp. If I got a wheel gun I was going to carry for SD I’d almost certainly make my own carry ammo that was roll crimped 9mm.

    • They are still around because the performance from a .357 out of a 2 inch barrel is not much better if at all better than .38 out of the same sized gun. The slightly better performance of at the .357 in a barrel less than 3 inches is not worth any extra weight, cost, or recoil. But for 4 inch guns I have no clue why someone would get a .38 exclusive gun.

  2. I prefer the 642/442 over the Bodyguard. The traditional AirWeight revolvers are much nicer looking than this polymer piece. The Bodyguard somehow seems chinsy or flimsy to me. If I wanted a polymer revolver, I’d go with the LCR instead. The trigger is much better on the Ruger.

  3. I’ve got one of the 38 body guards and I have to agree with the review. One thing not mentioned is that if you are left handed both the laser and cylinder release are actually more accessible as it’s just use your thumb for either.

    Reloads for me are a little faster with the top cylinder release as I can activate the release as I move my right hand to hold the cylinder open for removal of the spent brass and the feeding of the fresh rounds.

    I wish the laser was grip activated but other than that as a base gun it does everything I need it to do. Also there are aftermarket grips available for it that help at least make +P rounds less painful for the shooter.

  4. I understand the need to pay the bills. This is not so much a review as an advertisement. I think I prefer the previous review.

  5. It is painfully obvious that the sum total of familiarity with revolvers demonstrated by the reviewers is less than that of Elmer Fudd.

    Get a revolver guy to to review revolvers.

    These two should stick to ninja guns.

  6. Describing the cylinder release as “ambidextrous” is misleading, as the way a left-hander reloads a typical DA, swing-out cylinder revolver, locating the cylinder release on the left side is just fine.

    No matter where the cylinder release is located, the reload involves passing the revolver to the right hand supporting the cylinder, slapping the ejector with the strong hand and inserting rounds/speedloading with the strong hand, so most lefties use their index finger for the cylinder release, shifting their grip as part of the pass. I doubt any time is saved with the differing location of the release.

    • I don’t know about most lefties but I use my thumb on my right hand to reach the cylinder release on a standard revolver, with the top release I can use the thumb of my left hand to activate the release while my right hand is pushing out the cylinder.

      I just tried to use my index finger on my left hand to release the cylinder on my Taurus 605 and only was able to keep a very weak grip on the weapons grip. it’s not my usual manual of arms so that that with a grain of salt but I don’t see how it would be faster maybe the about the same once I put enough time into training with it.

    • Yknow, as a southpaw myself, that observation is more significant than the righties here may realise.
      So here’s a question I’ll pose to any of you out there: would a top-break revolver (thus, truely ambidextrous) still be a workable solution in a modern revolver? Thoughts?

      • That is a fascinating question. I’m not a big revolver guy and have never handled a top break revolver but I’d be worried abut the frame strength with modern rounds. Just a casual look I found uberti still makes or at least imports top break revolvers.

  7. Personally I would have liked a bit more contrast to the contemporary model 38/49/Bodyguard series. These are briefs, but maybe a bit too brief. Some range footage mixed in would be cool as well as close ups of interesting features like the cylinder release.

    Something I don’t know if I missed is simply that there’s no hammer on this? The original Bodyguard had a hammer you could use still. would be kinda wild to have a hammer/release all in one. Guessing not however.

  8. The one guy keeps saying “belly gun.” Snub-nosed revolvers are as accurate as the shooter. I can easily hit within a couple inches at 10 yards or so without any particular effort with my LCR. If the Bodyguard’s trigger is heavy enough to make that difficult, that’s a defect.

    • Ditto.

      I’ve put rounds into a 50 yard, slow-fire centerfire pistol target at 50 yards with a S&W Model 60 and a Model 37. It isn’t easy, but it can be done repeatedly with practice. The best way to start is with a snubby that you can cock into single action mode.

      Bob Munden used to show that he could hit a steel plate at 200 yards with a S&W snubby. It looks like a Model 60 to me…

  9. I find your video reviews to be stiff, boring and not particularly informative. No offense, but you should try to find someone who knows how to present themselves in front of a camera.

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