While a .380 ACP is always going to be a compromise gun, it is far more effective than a harsh word alone at stopping an attacker. It is in that context that I review the S&W Bodyguard 380 today.
Going head-to-head with a custom 1911 or Hellcat Pro, the Bodyguard 380 will fall short. But when considered on its own, does it measure up as an adequate CCW gun? That’s what I wanted to know.
The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 is a subcompact semi-automatic pistol chambered for the ,380 ACP cartridge. Introduced more than a decade ago, it has been a solid part of the Smith & Wesson line.
The Bodyguard 380 is a double-action-only, hammer-fired pistol that is a direct competitor to guns like the Glock 42 and Ruger LCP. It fits the size of what many people would pick for a pocket gun. In the law enforcement community, it is often seen as a backup gun.
Sights are black and serrated to reduce glare. They are small and can be difficult to see – especially in low light. However, they are dovetailed into place, so you are able to replace them with something much more visible should you choose to do so.
Here are two sight sets I recommend as upgrades for the Bodyguard 380:
Smith & Wesson positions the Bodyguard 380 as part of its M&P line of duty-grade firearms. Other than styling, the gun does not match up well with the rest of the Military & Police line as it uses completely different manufacturing, actions and more.
Prior Bodyguard 380 Models
The pistol I am reviewing here is the newest version of the Bodyguard 380 the company introduced. It is also the only version of the model the company still offers.
Original Bodyguard 380 pistols shipped with integral red lasers. This made sense as the sights on the pistol are not very good. However, many people wanted a version without a laser.
In fact, the LAPD authorized the Bodyguard 380 as a backup pistol, but only if the officer had the laser deactivated by a department armorer. Smith & Wesson could see the public wanted a version without the supplemental aiming tool. Hence this version was introduced.
Interestingly, all of the other models have been discontinued. I can only assume that most people wanted the gun without the laser.
If you do want a Bodyguard 380 with a laser, Crimson Trace offers the ability to fit the current Bodyguard with one. Take a look here.
Here are the current specification on the M&P Bodyguard 380:
|Weight (unloaded)||12.0 oz|
|Accessories Included||two magazines|
A gun’s worth is determined on the range. For me, I see guns as tools and want them to function reliably. If a pistol doesn’t go bang with each press of the trigger, it has little value to me.
Likewise, I want to see how accurate a pistol can be in my hands. Theoretical accuracy from a Ransom Rest is one thing, but shooting a gun with the included sights and feeling the recoil can impact real accuracy.
The Bodyguard I used in this review was a loaner from Smith & Wesson. It looked new when I received it, so I gave it a basic field strip and cleaning to clear out any post-manufacturing debris before shooting it.
I carried the gun to the range for multiple shooting sessions and fired almost 1,000 rounds through it over the course of several weeks.
Here are my main thoughts:
Reliability – The gun functioned fine with all kinds of ball and hollowpoint ammo.
It’s true that I did not have as broad a range of ammo on hand for this gun that I do for my 9mm testing. Nevertheless, five different loads totally just shy of 1k rounds is a better test than most people will conduct on this pistol.
Controllability – This gun is small and has a short grip. Even with the pinky extension on the magazine base, not all of my hand fit on the pistol. There’s a good chance you will run into the same issue.
If you accept the shortness of the gun as part of the compromise for having a subcompact pistol, you will be fine. Other shooters might like a larger pistol.
The length of the grip does affect controllability. The gun wants to wiggle a bit in the hand.
While the .380 ACP cartridge does not have overwhelming recoil, when fired from a subcompact handgun, it can be stiffer than you might expect. So, you want to keep a hard grip on the pistol to maintain control through the recoil process.
Trigger – Long and plodding. The Bodyguard 380 has a bad trigger. It is not the worst I’ve ever shot, but it is not even in the same neighborhood as a good trigger.
When you begin the trigger pull, you should be well fed. Otherwise, you may need to stop halfway through and grab lunch. I mean to say it is a long one.
For a pocket gun, you might like this. I do not.
I’ve pocket-carried a variety of J-frame revolvers for 30+ years. Those are all DAO guns and none of them have a trigger that is anywhere near this bad.
But – it does work.
Accuracy – Accuracy was reasonably good for a subcompact pistol. Truthfully, a better trigger could substantially improve the accuracy and precision of this gun. So could a better set of sights.
Even so, I was not disappointed by the accuracy offered by the Bodyguard 380. At 7 yards, you can hit a man-sized target reliably as fast as you can pull the trigger. For this pistol, that’s enough.
Here are the measured results from the five loads I ran through the Bodyguard 380:
|Armscor 95 gr FMJ||821 fps||142 ft-lbs|
|Glaser Silver 70 gr Polymer Tip||1,040 fps||168 ft-lbs|
|Magtech 95 gr JHP||919 fps||178 ft-lbs|
|Remington 95 gr FMJ||811 fps||139 ft-lbs|
|Winchester PDX1 95-gr Bonded JHP||857 fps||155 ft-lbs|
The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 is a solid, reliable pistol based on my testing of it. It has been in the company’s catalog for more than a decade, so I am comfortable that any major issues would have been discovered by now.
Is the gun right for you? That depends on your needs.
If you want a subcompact pistol with a DAO trigger, you could do worse than the Bodyguard. Keep in mind that you should test any ammo you plan on carrying in this pistol before putting it into service.
Where Can I Buy a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380
If you are looking to buy a S&W Bodyguard 380, I suggest using one of my affiliate links below. Each of these companies are people I have done business with in the past. They offer fair prices ands will ship to your local dealer for pickup.
Most gun blogs do not offer a full disclosure of influences on reviews. I do.
There are a lot of gun bloggers and YouTubers that receive guns for free – as in they keep them, not just receive a loaner. How many people have told you that?
The gun in this review was a loan from Smith & Wesson. After the review was completed, I returned it to them. No money was paid by S&W for me to do this review, nor was I asked to provide a positive evaluation of the gun.
I do not own stock or any financial interest in any firearms manufacturer.
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