Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380

By Nick Jacobellis - Last updated: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - Save & Share - 17 Comments

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Summary: Nick Jacobellis’ review and rating of the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 pistol, including a range report, photos, pricing, specs, user ratings and user comments. (Click here to see all of Jacobellis’ gun reviews.)

Editor’s Review

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380When I worked as a uniformed police officer and as a U.S. Customs Agent, I carried a five shot Smith & Wesson (S&W) J-frame revolver on most occasions as a backup and undercover gun. My #2 choice for a backup gun was a Walther PP or PPK chambered in .380 ACP. I did so because in the old days we didn’t have subcompact pistols in more substantial calibers. It took a few years before pistols such as the 9mm S&W 6906 and the S&W 3913 became available and were compact enough to ride in an ankle holster, and even then these pistols were larger than a pocket pistol such as a Walther. For the longest time when you needed to carry the most concealable handgun possible, your choices were limited to a five-shot revolver or a Walther PPK style pistol.

After I retired, I eventually began to carry more compact and full-size handguns for personal protection and home defense instead of pocket pistols, which is the opposite of what most retired law enforcement officers do. However,  I recently changed my position on carrying a pocket rocket after I had the opportunity to field test and evaluate a S&W Bodyguard 380 pistol.

The Details

Historicaly, S&W has used the term “Bodyguard” to describe a particular five shot J-frame revolver with a humpback frame that covers the hammer. The shooter could still cock the hammer on their Bodyguard revolver because the humpback frame was split down the middle in the back, but the humpback kept the hammer from snagging on clothes. Thus, the name Bodyguard signified a handgun capable of being brought quickly to bear in a deadly force situation because it’s snag-free and easy to carry concealed.

S&W has now begun using the term Bodyguard to identify both a revolver (the Bodyguard 38) and the semiauto pistol I‘m reviewing here: S&W Bodyguard 380. This pistol is built on a polymer frame with a stainless slide and barrel, and it sports a black melonite finish. The pistol is double-action only (DAO, hammer fired) with a second-strike capability, and it carries a stainless steel front sight, a drift-adjustable rear sight and a laser.

The Bodyguard 380 is small enough to literally fit in the palm of my hand, yet remains reliable, accurate and comfortable to shoot for a true pocket-size pistol. This is the case because Bodyguard 380 has excellent ergonomics even for someone (like me) who has a large hand.

The DAO trigger does take some getting used to, but it’s better than the heavy DA/SA trigger on a Walther PP or PPK pistol. After maybe 18 rounds of practice ammunition, I grew comfortable enough with the trigger to shoot the Bodyguard 380 accurately.

I was impressed with the overall fit and finish of this pistol, and I actually like the fact it’s equipped with a slide-mounted safety lever. After carry it a while in my pocket in a DeSantis holster, I have checked the pistol, and never once has this safety accidentally disengaged.

The Bodyguard 380 in the author's hand.

The Bodyguard 380 in the author’s hand.

Out & About

While testing this pistol for this review, I carried the Bodyguard 380 as a backup gun when I carried a SIG 220 Compact, a 9mm SIG 228 and a Glock 19. I also carried the Bodyguard 380 as my only pistol on several occasions when I had a larger handgun in a more substantial caliber close by. The bottom line: The Bodyguard 380 was incredibly comfortable to carry all day and all night in an old DeSantis inside-the-pants holster with a metal belt clip, as well as in a DeSantis universal ankle rig and in a DeSantis Style 86 high ride belt holster.

I even carried this pistol in my right-hand pants pocket while using a DeSantis holster and never once felt uncomfortable. I also found it easy to carry at least one spare magazine, and on some occasions two spare six round magazines on my person at all times while armed with the Bodyguard 380.

On the Range

I was able to place the contents of two six-round magazines into the head of a TQ19 Police Firearms Qualification (man size) target at a distance of about 15 feet. I chose 15 feet because in my opinion this is an ideal close-quarter battle (CQB) distance for a pistol the size of the Bodyguard 380. This doesn’t mean you can’t engage targets closer or further away with the Bodyguard 380; it merely means I used 15 feet for this test because it seemed like a suitable “let’s get it on” distance for a backup gun or primary pocket pistol.

To really see if I was getting comfortable using the Bodyguard 380, I kicked things up a notch and intentionally cycled the DAO trigger as fast as I could pull it. I was able to deliver shot after shot inside the diameter of a pie plate at 15 feet. Quite frankly, I was surprised I was able to deliver such precise shot placement while firing such a super subcompact size pistol with a revolver-style double action trigger pull from a standing, unsupported, two-handed position.

The Bodyguard 380 performed flawlessly at all times with 90-grain Federal Hydra Shok hollow-point ammunition, Federal 95-grain FMJ ammo, Winchester Silver Tip ammo and another brand of very old jacketed hollow-point ammo.

The Bodyguard 380 proved accurate at 15 feet.

I do have one complaint that may or may not mean much to the average shooter. At the risk of alienating an entire segment of firearms enthusiasts, I admit I personally have no use for an integrated red-dot laser on firearms, especially on a snubby little pistol. In my hands, the laser activation button is in an awkward position. I tried using the integrated laser a few times, but I never once used it under firing conditions. Quite frankly, I wish S&W would make another version of the Bodyguard 380 without a laser to bring the price down even more. That would make my day.

Conclusion

A Bodyguard 380 with one or two easy to conceal six-round magazines is an insurance policy that will always go bang when you need to engage a hostile adversary with deadly force. I see this pistol as an ideal backup gun and undercover pistol, and as a primary carry pistol if you can’t carry a more substantial handgun in a more substantial caliber for any legitimate reason. The Bodyguard 380 is also the ideal pistol to carry concealed in your residence if a rash of armed robberies or home invasions where you live concerns you enough to motivate you to be armed at all times. The bottom line: This gun should be powerful enough to make a mugger, carjacker, rapist or burglar take their business elsewhere.

In my hands, this pistol proved comfortable to shoot, accurate, flawlessly reliable and easy to carry concealed and operate. If it continues to perform as is, I may state for the record that the Bodyguard 380 is the finest super subcompact pistol on the market bar none. I showed it to my oldest son (a city police officer), and he liked it, too.

My only reason for debating whether or not I should buy this pistol is that I’m not crazy about adopting another caliber to my battery of personal defense weapons, especially with the price of ammunition skyrocketing through the roof. I can get the same if not better protection from my five shot .38 Special revolver, although the arthritis in my hands makes it difficult to shoot a .38 Special revolver with anything more powerful than 148-grain wadcutters unless I use rubber grips, which in turn make a wheel gun larger. This is a tough call, one that I may have to take some time to consider before I send the Bodyguard 380 back to S&W.

One thing is certain: If I do buy a .380 ACP pistol, it will be a Bodyguard 380.

Nick Jacobellis is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and former police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working as an undercover federal agent.

The Specs

Caliber Capacity OAL BBL Weight
.380 ACP 6+1 5.25″ 2.75″ 11.85

MSRP: $575

Note: S&W now offers a non-lasered version of this gun, the M&P Bodyguard 380.

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 (Gander Mountain) Gander Mountain Logo

$399.99

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Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 W/laser (Impact Guns) Impact Guns Logo

$349.99

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Posted in $251-$500, $501-$750, .380 ACP, Compact, Semiauto, Smith & Wesson, Subcompact • Tags: Top Of Page

17 Responses to “Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380”

Comment from wes
Time June 20, 2011 at 7:59 pm

trigger pull sucks, hate the gun, i never buy another smith and wesson

Comment from rome
Time July 11, 2011 at 3:30 pm

sweet shooting… but trigger pull could be better too heavy on the slack…takes some getting use to….a great purse gun for the wife

Comment from Eddie
Time October 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Love this gun! Trigger pull takes a little getting used to but also softens up as you put some rounds through it. No jams yet!

Comment from Dan
Time October 12, 2011 at 2:57 am

Great little pocket pistol. Mine has never failed and it is accurate espcially when using the laser.
The trigger is easy to get used to and I appreiate the pull. When one is excited in a shooting situation he does not need a 3 lb trigger pull. Great gun. S&W has done it again.

Comment from Steeler Phil
Time October 29, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Awesome little gun. Great to conceal. The laser is high quality and dead on. If you use some exploding hollow points for self defense it’s just as deadly as a 45. Triger pull is a little long but not hard. If you draw and pull on an attacker I don’t think the trigger pull will be an issue. I think I am going to purchase another one for my wife !!!!!!

Comment from Wildman
Time October 31, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Beats the LCP and KelTec as it has a safety and lock back. The NAA has this but has (IMO) dependability issues (and no laser). I am able to draw it cocked, and remove the safety with my firing hand on the upswing rather quickly. May we never need to use these weapons, but if you do, quarter seconds may count for your life.

Comment from Dan Leatherwood
Time January 28, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I have owned and shot my Bodyguard for a little over a year. I have put about 500 rounds through it. It has never failed. The gun is very accurate.
The trigger does take some getting used to. I will say that it gets better with the more rounds you put through the gun.
I carry mine daily either as primary at times, or as back up to my Sig C3.
Smith & Wesson has done it again. Great gun!

Comment from 36 Seas
Time February 14, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Never owned or shot a gun with a laser, until now. Wow, will hard to go without. Super little gun. Trigger is less than ideal but overall great. Shot two boxes of ammo no failures and lots of bullseyes at 10 yards. At $350.00 the best deal on the market.

Comment from pandphomealone
Time March 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Excellent pistol.
I carry mine daily with 1 in the chamber & the safety on.
I have had it about 1 year, 600-800 rounds, never a misfire or jam.
The laser and last round hold open is a nice feature.
Good job S&W.

Comment from steve
Time April 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Love it. I recieved it as a xmas present. Carry it daily. yes, trigger pull takes a little getting use to, but after a few rounds you don’t even notice it. I have put approx 150 rounds thru mine without a single issue. I really haven’t played with the lazer much. PS: it will fit very nicely in the watch pocket of most jeans. I did have to alter my wrangler brands just a bit to make it deeper.

Comment from Sonya
Time June 3, 2012 at 9:35 am

I have had my bodyguard 2 weeks, shot maybe 80 to 100 and now it will not pull back far enough to put one in the barrel!! It will not even allow us to break it down. Just seems like something must be obstructing it . It will go almost back enough but not enough to get one in the barrel…any suggestions, i am for sure going to the store tomorrow and see what they say…

Comment from Preston
Time June 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

I read a blog about trigger failure after 350 rounds.Has anyone else experienced a failure like this?

Comment from mike
Time October 6, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I just purchased a bodyguard today.Loaded the pistol for the first time,then attemted to rack the slide to eject a round. The slide is stuck in the closed position! Not a good way to start with a new pistol. This gun will go back to the gun shop.I will move toward a sig 380.

Comment from Jeff
Time December 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Well broken in After about 500 rounds and stll no ftf or fte. Fun to fire, confortable daily pocket carry.

Comment from J.FALLINS
Time April 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

BOUGHT THIS GUN NEW THE FIRST THREE TIMES I SHOT IT THE GUN LOCKED UP.SENT IT BACK TO FACTORY AND THEY SENT IT BACK WITH A FORM LETTER SAYING THEY COULD NOT FIND ANYTHING WRONG. TOOK IT OUT OF THE BOX AND LOADED IT AGAIN AND FIRED IT ONE TIME AND IT LOCKED UP AGAIN. SENT IT BACK TO FACTORY THE SECOND TIME. TALKED TO THEM THE OTHER DAY AND THEY SAY THEY CAN’T FIND ANYTHING WRONG. I HAD TWO WITTNESSES TO EACH EVENT WITH THIS WEAPON.THEY WILL NOT GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK. DO NOT BUY THIS WEAPON. DO NOT BUY THE BODYGUARD 380.THIS WEAPON IT IS A PIECE OF JUNK AND SMITH-WESSON WILL NOT STAND BEHIND IT. I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER SMITH-WESSON AGAIN.

Comment from Marty
Time June 23, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Great little carry pistol. Have had it for nearly a year. I’ve ran around 300 or so rounds through it with no problems. Would highly recommend this pistol to anyone looking for a small carry gun.

Comment from Steven Mael
Time July 3, 2013 at 11:56 am

Fits in the best CCW holster on the market, the MaelWear Industries, LLC PPH-007.

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