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Reviews : Arsenal

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 Pistol

With an integral laser sight and lightweight construction, this pocket pistol is a solid backup or undercover gun.

September 16, 2010  |  by Paul Scarlata - Also by this author


Between 1913 and 1936, Smith & Wesson produced a pair of centerfire, pocket-type pistols, the S&W .35 Caliber Pistol (a.k.a. Model 1913) and S&W .32 Caliber Pistol. Both were notable for the almost complete lack of interest shown toward them by the shooting public. In fact, their commercial failure put such a bad taste in S&W's corporate mouth that it would be more than seven decades before the Springfield firm marketed another pistol of this class.

The .380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge was a product of the fertile mind of John Moses Browning and first saw the light of day in Colt's Model 1908 pistol. Over the years the round has been known by various aliases: 9mm Browning Short, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Corto, and 9x17. European police agencies and armies embraced it and it was used as a service cartridge well into the 1960s.

As originally loaded, the .380 consisted of a straight walled, rimless case 17 millimeters in length topped with an FMJ bullet weighing 85 to 95 grains with a muzzle velocity of approximately 900 to 1,000 feet per second. While our European brethren considered such a round suitable for military and police service, in the United States it never achieved much popularity.

A Growing Market

But in the last few years, we have seen an explosion of interest in all .380 pistols. The reasons for this renewed interest are fourfold:

  • Quality .380 pistols (e.g. Colt M1908, Walther PP/PPK) used to be made of 100 percent steel and were quite heavy. The use of alloy and polymer frames has allowed the manufacture of significantly lighter pistols that are much easier to carry all day.
  • The use of improved propellants and high-tech JHP bullets has improved the effectiveness of the .380 cartridge, making it a much more practical choice for defensive purposes without any real increase in recoil.
  • As more and more states have adopted "Shall Issue" CCW laws, the demand for small, lightweight handguns has really skyrocketed.
  • Increasing numbers of law enforcement officers now carry a backup gun while detectives often need a "deep cover" handgun and .380 pistols' flat profiles and light weights make them naturals for these tasks.

Purpose Built

As its name indicates, the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 was designed from the ground up for use by police officers and licensed civilians who needed a small, lightweight, concealable, and easy to use pistol. I believe it would be safe to say that S&W's engineers have delivered just that.

The Bodyguard 380 is based upon a polymer frame. The frame is reinforced with a steel insert that contains the trigger mechanism and the rails, which the slide reciprocates on.

The most important aspect of this construction is that it allows the 0.87-inch-wide Bodyguard 380 to tip the scales at a mere 11.85 ounces. That means unless you're wearing only a thong, you should have no trouble carrying this pistol concealed. Its smooth, snag-free exterior and bobbed hammer make it easy to draw from concealment.

There are, of course, a number of lightweight .380s pistols on the market today. But what makes the Bodyguard 380 really stand out from the crowd is that the polymer frame has an integral InSight Technologies laser sight. This unit can be activated by pushing buttons on either the right or left side of the frame. One push and you get a continuous light; two pushes give you a pulsating light; and three pushes shut it off.

Tags: Smith & Wesson, Firearms Reviews, Backup Guns, .380 ACP

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Comments (14)

Displaying 1 - 14 of 14

usmcvnv @ 12/28/2010 11:42 AM

As a Private Security Officer, I find the S&W Bodyguard a perfect back-up weapon. It's small size makes it ideal for deep concealment, and I would highly recommend it for any law enforcement professional that needs a reliable back-up.

Danny Schultze @ 1/15/2011 4:50 PM

I love my bodyguard. Works perfect everytime. I do wish S@W would send me my 2 mags. that I ordered over 3 weeks ago to make it easier for me at the range. Where can you get such craftsmanship and a laser that's so accurate for $349.00. Best buy for comfort in a ccw on the planet.

rodger @ 1/17/2011 5:17 AM

I would have loved to have this little guy in the sand box. As a Psyop Sgt we did a lot of face to face work.

7th grp Psyop

Paul @ 1/20/2011 8:11 PM

Great little gun only cons- laser button is hard to turn on and off in a real quick need in an urgent situation you most likely wouldn't have the time to fumble with it. Over all nice gun just needs a softer button to turn on laser. I think S&W probably made it this way to prevent from coming on in your pocket or waist band?

John @ 9/12/2011 1:56 PM

Need to know if a second mag comes with pistol. Mine did not have one. My dealer has been known to remove extra mag from box before selling it. Just want to keep him honest.

Jarred Speakman @ 2/29/2012 11:38 AM

I had to wait 3 months to receive my Bodyguard, but it was worth it. It's designed with full size features, reliable, accurate, and priced right! With an LE/EMS discount, I was able to get one for $299.99. The advancements in .380 ammunition have made it a great defense round. My only problem is the laser button....very hard to push quickly! I also wish that it came with 2 mags. I hope that S&W eventually makes a Bodyguard in 9mm.....Ruger did!

C. Roberts @ 4/1/2012 10:51 AM

Just got this little gem two days ago and took it to the range yesterday. Fires a lot differently than my Glocks, but otherwise it’s going to be great for my concealed. I love how small and compact it is and the fact that it has a laser. I have smaller hands and I can’t turn on the laser with just my trigger hand. That could be a problem in a defense situation. I really like the case that it comes with. The case has a built in holster and will fit in my bag perfectly. Pretty surprised that it only comes with one magazine. Especially since all my Glocks come with three. But all in all, very satisfied with this little handgun.

John G. @ 8/20/2012 11:09 AM

Jarred, I'm a Police Officer & would like to know where I can purchase a bodyguard .380 for $299.99.

michelle hanington @ 2/1/2013 5:09 PM

would love to purchase a s&w 380 bodyguard but can't find one anywhere. since I am by myself I feel the need to be able to protect myself.after researching handguns this little gun looks perfect.so if anyone out there knows i can locate one i would appreciate the info.

Mike A. @ 4/5/2013 5:55 AM

Quantico Tactical has them. Found the link here and just called them up. You have to be LE, .mil, or a 1st responder to buy from them though.
http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_7_88/1150048_FS___SandW__380_Bodyguards____339_99_ea___LE_Military_1st_Responder_only_.html

Mike H @ 12/7/2013 5:52 AM

To answer the question about extra mags, NO - they do not come with one. Just got mine. Cannot wait to learn the ropes with it.

Charles r @ 3/10/2014 10:09 AM

Bought one yesterday came with two mags..hard trigger pull is tricky to get used to but excellent gun..would recommend it for protection and defense weapon..buying the 15 round mag cant wait..

L Louis @ 4/4/2014 10:59 PM

Question: Which ammunition's manufacturer would you consider makes the best, most reliable FMJ 380ACP for the S&W Bodyguard?

Gordon Eatley @ 7/10/2014 11:19 AM

Got mine at Academy Sports for $349 and it had the built in laser included

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