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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

To my way of thinking, the advantages of the laser are threefold: First, it permits very fast target acquisition; second, you can "aim" the pistol from awkward positions such as shooting from waist level, from around cover, or if your shooting arm has been partially incapacitated; lastly, in some situations "painting" an attacker with the laser may dissuade them from continuing their antisocial activities.

The Bodyguard 380's slide is machined from solid stainless steel and has a Melonite finish that protects it from wear and environmental extremes. Sharp slide serrations make it easy to retract the slide even with wet hands or when wearing gloves. Lastly, a set of rugged steel sights are dovetailed into the slide and can be adjusted for windage.

While in the past most .380 pistols were blowback designs, the Bodyguard 380 uses a variation of the Browning locking system in which the hood of barrel chamber moves up into, and bears against, the front edge of the ejection port. As the pistol is fired, the slide unit moves to the rear, whereupon an angled ramp on the bottom of the barrel cams it down out of the ejection port, allowing the slide to continue to the rear, thereby extracting and ejecting the spent cartridge case. The recoil spring, located under the barrel, then pulls the slide forward, picking the next round out of the magazine and chambering it. As the slide goes into battery, the barrel hood moves up into the ejection port again, locking the two units together.

In keeping with its intended role as a close range, defensive handgun, the Bodyguard 380 uses a DAO trigger. This not only simplifies the operating drill and provides additional safety but allows the same, consistent trigger pull for each shot. All three are features that I believe are highly desirable in any defensive handgun. And because the pistol is hammer fired, it is not necessary to retract the slide to reset the striker in case of a failure to fire....you just pull the trigger again.

The six-round magazine has a finger rest base plate (a flat base plate is included), which allows a two-finger grip on the little pistol. This improves handling and recoil control to a marked degree. The magazine release is located in the "proper" position (You know what I mean. I really dislike those heel-mounted magazine releases.) and the magazines fell free of the pistol when it was depressed.

The Bodyguard also differs from many of its peers in that it features manual safety, slide stop, and takedown levers, providing additional safety and allowing simpler disassembly for cleaning.

Bench Testing

S&W provided me with a Bodyguard 380 to evaluate. My first impressions were positive. Fit and finish were all first rate, it fit my hand well, the sights were easy to see, and the trigger had a consistent and fairly light stroke.

While it is hardly germane for a pistol of this class, accuracy testing was conducted by firing the pistol from an MTM Predator rest at a measured 15 yards with three different brands of .380 ammunition. The best group was 2.5 inches with Cor-Bon 70-grain Pow'R Ball. That's not exactly tack driving but it's solid performance for a pocket pistol.

After the accuracy test, I ran the Bodyguard 380 through a series of offhand drills on a target placed out at a practical five yards, firing the pistol with both supported and unsupported (one-handed) grips. I also took the opportunity to fire it from waist level using only the InSight laser for guidance.

Despite its attenuated grip and short sight radius I was able to place all but two rounds inside the targets' X and 9 rings. To my way of thinking that's about as good a performance as one could expect from a pistol of this class.

While I must admit to not being a big fan of the cartridge it fires, I found the S&W Bodyguard 380 a very likeable handgun. It was light, flat, easy to shoot, suitably accurate, and completely reliable with the 200-plus rounds I ran through it that afternoon. My only complaint was that the manual safety was rather difficult to manipulate but, when you consider the pistol has a DAO trigger, I don't really consider this a problem.

If you're in the market for a small, reliable pistol that fires a relatively effective cartridge for use as an off duty, backup, or deep cover gun, the Bodyguard 380 deserves serious consideration. 

Paul Scarlata has served as an auxiliary police officer and is a frequent contributor to POLICE.

Visit Smith & Wesson Online

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

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Comments (13)

Displaying 1 - 13 of 13

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?

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