S&W Bodyguard .380

September 19, 2011

In the last year .380 pocket pistols have become very popular after years of little interest in them. I credit this to the increased number of states allowing concealed carry. Of course we have the older designs such as the Walther PPK and the Sig P232. The new designs are a good deal smaller and lighter. S&W has joined the ranks of companies making a very small well designed “pocket” pistol.

S&W is always on the leading edge in new firearm design. The “Bodyguard” series is no exception. These are new designs not updated versions of older designs. The S&W .380 semi auto is one in a series of these new designs made for concealed carry for civilians and law enforcement use.

To really appreciate how small and convenient this pistol is look at the size compared to my average size hand in the picture below.

A closer look

The pistol is double action only. It’s a traditional hammer fired pistol rather than a striker type. The hammer is recessed in the frame. When you first take it out of the box the trigger is pretty heavy but lightens up after firing a100 rounds or so. I now have 200 rounds fired through it and the trigger is very satisfactory. A loaded chamber indicator is milled as a crescent cut in the top of the slide.

This firing mechanism makes it safe to carry in a pants pocket without the worry of an accidental discharge. If this is still a concern there is also a manual safety placed in approximately the same location as a 1911. The safety is also very easy to manipulate. It’s very positive when clicked into the safe or fire position. I’ve carried it in a front and back jeans pocket with no printing through your clothing. I’m sure this is partly due to the width of just ¾ of an inch. Not only is the “Bodyguard” small it’s also very light at just 11.85 ounces!

The picture below shows the controls. From left to right is the takedown lever, slide release and finally the manual safety.

The magazine release is in the usual position. Sights are black and well made with no sharp edges. They provide a nice sharp sight picture. The magazine holds six rounds with a seventh in the chamber. The magazine comes from the factory with a finger rest installed. Another magazine base is included which is flat making the pistol grip even smaller. No matter which base you choose chances are your little finger will sit under the base of the grip. This provides a sturdy grip and reduces recoil. One magazine is included with the pistol. Additional magazines are $22.00 each. The front of the grip has two finger grooves.

As is usual with S&W the slide is stainless steel with a Melonite finish. The frame is Zytel polymer.

One great feature on the “Bodyguard” series is a built in red laser. Insight Company makes the laser for S&W. This laser is located inline with the barrel and placed just under the barrel. A conveniently placed gray button is on both sides of the of the frame near the front. The laser can be activated from either side. The first push of the button and the laser is a solid beam. A second push of the button and the laser pulses. A third push turns the laser off. Included are two hex wrenches to adjust windage and elevation coordinating the laser with the sights. Once adjusted the bullet hits where the laser points on your target. This laser works fine at night or in low light but is not visible on a sunny day. The picture below shows the laser activated

Stats

Model: BODYGUARD® 380
Caliber: .380 Auto
Capacity: 6+1 Rounds
Barrel Length: 2.75″ / 7.0 cm
Frame Size: Compact
Action: Double Action Only (Hammer Fired)
Front Sight: Stainless Steel
Rear Sight: Drift Adjustable
Grip: Polymer
Overall Length: 5.25″ / 13.3 cm
Weight: 11.85 oz / 335.9 g
Frame Material: Polymer
Material: Stainless Steel w/Melonite® Finish
Finish: Matte Black
Purpose: Personal Protection
Law Enforcement

The grip angle is just about perfect and points naturally. Other ergonomic features include a stippled grip surface which provides a good grip even when your hands are damp. The aforementioned finger grooves on the front of the grip strap help a good deal even with the flat magazine base used.

Also included is a nondescript carrying case with looks like an organizer that so many people carry. Inside the zipper case is a built in holster with a magazine pouch built in on the other side of the case. The only thing that might give it away is a small S&W logo on the outside of the pouch. I guess they couldn’t resist putting the logo on. At least the carry case and logo are black so it doesn’t show very well.

On The Range

Let me preface this range report with a bit of information on the purpose of the pocket pistol. Normally I would shoot from the 7, 10 and 15 yards. This type of pistol is made for distances as close as touching distance to 7 yards or so. It’s possible to have an encounter at a greater distance but the caliber and sight radius of this pistol and others of the type are not made for this kind of encounter.

I kept this session close with no slow fire. Distances are 3 yards and 7 yards. For this session I used ammunition from Federal ball, Cor-Bon DPX and Winchester Silvertips. The targets used are 5 inch Birchwood Casey adhesives. My goal was to keep all rounds fired within the five inch circle rapid fire.

First up was the Federal 95 grn. FMJ. Drawing from a universal size nylon holster I fired 30 rounds from 3 yards with all rounds inside the 5 inch target grouped within 3 ½ inches on average. Next was the Cor-Bon DPX. This is a hot round with a fair amount of recoil for a .380. Again, I fired 30 rounds total. All rounds stayed within the 5 inch circle rapid fire. With the additional recoil the average was right at the five inch target size.

I back up to 7 yards and repeated the previous string with all three types of ammunition. Firing 30 rounds of each brand of ammunition bringing the pistol up to eye level and using a flash sight picture in rapid fire. Three rounds went outside the 5 inch target. These were the Cor-Bon DPX rounds with more recoil. After that many rounds fired my hands were getting a bit tired. I was very satisfied with the results.

Conclusion

I’m really impressed with this pistol. I normally don’t say that because in all honesty it takes a good deal to impress me anymore. This is one I may keep and that’s rare!

This “Bodyguard” is so handy and light to carry as well as fast to get the first shot off it would be hard to beat as a backup pistol or one you grab to make a quick trip to the convenience store.

The .380 should be the smallest caliber considered for defensive use. With the newer ammunition designs it’s a fairly good round if you do your part. Cor-Bon’s 80 grn DPX is an example of an effective loading. The muzzle velocity is 1050 fps. Pushing a solid copper Barnes bullet. Using this Cor-Bon load I would feel pretty well protected with this new S&W.
Guns for Sale.com usually has this pistol in stock.

Happy Shooting!

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6 Responses to “S&W Bodyguard .380”

  1. Charlie Jm Says:

    Found your review very interesting. As you may remember, my tolerance for very heavy trigger pulls is low. So, did you measure the DAO trigger pull before it broke in and did you measure it after break-in? Also, did it stack like my SW 4040PD does, or is it more consistent troughout the pull?

    As an aside, I sould be interested in a review by yourself of my 4040PD. I think it is one of the most underrated carry pistols. It was SW’s first attempt at a Scandium frame and for whatever reason, they discontinued it shortly after introduction. I don’t think it was safety or function, since I have had no problems with either. As always, Wish you the best.

  2. Gunner Says:

    Hi Charlie,

    Well no I didn’t measure after breaking it in. I’m thinking it dropped a pound of pull though. At first it was at 5 1/2 pounds of pull but it was smooth and not a long pull at all. The shorter pull helps me with a heavier trigger pull.
    It’s close enough to your tolerance level I’d check the pull at a gunshop before getting one. I sure like the little gun!

    Take care!
    Phil

  3. Mary Says:

    As more womean conceal and carry, guns this size will continue to increase in popularity.

  4. Gunner Says:

    Mary,

    That’s very true and in my view this is only the beginning of a continuing trend.

    Phil

  5. Craig Says:

    Does anyone know where I can purchase the above carrying case for the Bodyguard?

    Thanks,
    Craig

  6. Gunner Says:

    Craig,

    You should be able to buy it direct from S&W on the website. That’s about the only way to get one with a S&W logo on it.


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