S&W Bodyguard 380 Review

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.

size of Bodyguard 380 in hand

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.

General Information

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.

Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 review

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.

Bodyguard 380 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.

Bodyguard 380 safety
The Bodyguard 380 comes with a manual thumb safety.

Here are two sight sets I recommend as upgrades for the Bodyguard 380:

M&P Line of S&W pistols

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.

Smith and Wesson 380 pistol

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.

size of Bodyguard 380 vs flashlight

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:

S&W SKU109381
Caliber.380 ACP
Magazine Capacity6+1
Barrel Length2.75″
Overall Length5.30″
Weight (unloaded)12.0 oz
Barrelstainless steel
Slidestainless steel
Finishblack Armornite
Frameblack synthetic
Accessories Includedtwo magazines

Range Testing

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.

Bodyguard 380 range testing

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.

using the smith and wesson bodyguard 380 with a flashlight

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.

smith and wesson Bodyguard 380

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 testing the Bodyguard 380 at the range

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.

Ammo Testing

Winchester ammo tested in the Bodyguard 380

Here are the measured results from the five loads I ran through the Bodyguard 380:

Armscor 95 gr FMJ821 fps142 ft-lbs
Glaser Silver 70 gr Polymer Tip1,040 fps168 ft-lbs
Magtech 95 gr JHP919 fps178 ft-lbs
Remington 95 gr FMJ811 fps139 ft-lbs
Winchester PDX1 95-gr Bonded JHP857 fps155 ft-lbs
Velocity is an average of five shots, measured by a chronograph 9’ in front of the muzzle.  Velocity measurements are in feet per second. 

Final Thoughts

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.

M&P Bodyguard 380

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

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.

Some of the links on this page and site are affiliate links. These links take you to companies I do business with. Should you choose to make a purchase after using one of these links, I earn a small commission. GHG is a for-profit site; it’s how I feed my family. The affiliate links allow me to keep the content free and avoid using a bunch of pop-ups and other annoying advertising.

Got questions or feedback on this review? Feel free to comment below. I just ask that you keep comments civil as this is a family-friendly site.