It’s not hard to see why compact pistols have gained popularity over the years. Not only are they small, lightweight, and easy to carry, but handguns in this category are a good choice for new shooters due to their safety features. A case in point is the Smith and Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380, a little gun with the above characteristics and then some.
This review delves into the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard’s specifications and features. Hopefully, it’ll give you a better idea about whether this is a great gun for your conceal-carry needs.
- Caliber: 380
- Capacity: 6 rounds + 1
- Trigger: 9 pounds (pull weight)
- Dimensions: 5.3″ (overall)
- Weight: 12.3 ounces
- Frame: Polymer
Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380 Review – Overview
The Smith and Wesson Bodyguard is a hammer-fired, double-action pistol based on Smith and Wesson’s original Bodyguard, the Model 38. Originally, the Bodyguard was a J-Frame Revolver with an enclosed hammer that allowed for manual cocking. The M&P Bodyguard 380 inherits some of its predecessor’s design philosophies but goes its own way by being automatic.
Older models of this gun featured a laser sight built into the gun’s frame. Subsequently, Smith and Wesson manufactured a version without the laser, partly in response to market demand. As a result, this laser-less version of the Bodyguard 380 is cheaper and better-looking (in my opinion).
Use Case and Size
The Smith Wesson Bodyguard 380 is a small and lightweight concealed carry handgun. Its overall length is 5.3 inches, while its barrel length and weight (unloaded) are 2.75 inches and 12.3 ounces, respectively. Moreover, the Smith Wesson Bodyguard 380 is pretty thin, measuring less than an inch in thickness.
This is such a small gun you can fit it in your pocket, making it a great weapon for pocket carry or as a backup gun to your main, full-sized firearm.
Frame and Ergonomics
Smith and Wesson use durable materials to build the Bodyguard 380. Both its slide and barrel have a stainless steel build, while the frame is made from polymer.
The stippled pattern on the grip makes the handgun feel solid, and should give you a good grasp on it even with sweaty hands. Meanwhile, this gun has a slight beavertail that helps to prevent slide bite. Meanwhile, the stainless steel parts are weather-resistant, making the gun a good candidate for everyday carry.
The only downgrade in materials is the plastic used for the trigger, though it doesn’t hurt the shooting experience too much (more below). Design-wise, this gun is curvy, so you won’t need to worry about it snagging on clothing when drawn. Also, the gun comes in different colors and combinations, including all back, two-tone silver and black, and flat dark earth and black.
Surprisingly, the Bodyguard features controls you wouldn’t usually find on pocket pistols, including a slide stop, takedown lever, and manual safety. In addition, as a hammer-fired weapon, the Bodyguard 380’s hammer protrudes from the slide’s rear when you pull the trigger.
Capacity, Magazine, and Magwell
Smith and Wesson provide two magazines with every Bodyguard 380: the first is flush-fitting, while the second extends out the mag well slightly, increasing the gun’s height to 4.25 inches (compared to the 3.75 inches of height with the flush-fit mag).
I think shooters with big hands will prefer using the latter magazine, as it gives them a better grip on the gun. Since this gun is so tiny, it doesn’t provide the most comfortable grip right off the bat.
Also, I must warn you that this weapon doesn’t come with a magazine safety, meaning it will fire even if the mag well is empty. Speaking of the mag well, ejecting the magazines out is smooth thanks to the gun’s mag release button.
As mentioned earlier, the Bodyguard’s slide is stainless steel. However, I’ve yet to mention that this material is coated with Melonite, making it corrosion-resistant. Also, the slide has serrations on it, which gives you a good grasp when you’re racking it.
You’ll find the gun’s loaded-chamber indicator on the slide, which lets you see whether there’s a round in the chamber. Meanwhile, the slide lock engages once you have an empty magazine.
Sights and Accuracy
Both the front and rear sights on the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard are dovetailed into the gun’s slide. They’re made from steel, and the front sight is serrated. As mentioned above, the original models of the gun came with a built-in laser sight, but Smith and Wesson have, thankfully, made this feature optional for newer models.
The sights on this firearm are tiny. Unfortunately, that means this pocket gun has a short sight radius, which makes the front and each rear sight difficult to acquire quickly. Obviously, that severely impacts its accuracy, throwing off your aim pretty badly. On the plus side, the sights are adjustable.
You’ll see ambidextrous controls on the Crimson trace laser that comes with the original model of this gun. Additionally, the laser comes with a function that cuts power to the laser after five minutes to save the battery.
The Bodyguard 380’s plastic trigger is double-action-only. It’s got a long trigger pull length due to its heavy trigger weight (9 pounds). The heavy trigger pull gives this gun a higher learning curve, as it takes a while to hit the furthest part of the trigger guard when you pull. I could be wrong, but I think it’s twice as long as what you’d get on other pocket guns.
No doubt, some shooters may struggle with the Bodyguard’s long trigger pull. It eliminates the chances of you taking it to the range to have some shooting fun. However, I don’t see it posing too much of a problem once you put in the practice and the trigger breaks in. Therefore, I’d keep it for concealed carry self-defense.
I wouldn’t use the word “pleasant” when describing the shooting experience the Bodyguard provides. This thing has bucketloads of recoil, and when you add the gun’s grip into the equation, you get a firearm that’s difficult to hold onto when fired. As you can imagine, rapid-fire follow-up shots aren’t easy to do either.
So the gun jumps around when shot, but is it accurate? It depends on what distance you shoot it from. Pocket-carried guns are best used for close-range gun fights, and this one continues that trend. At closer distances (around 5 yards), I hit my target with no problem. However, my accuracy began to suffer once I tried hitting 10-yard targets. I blame the sights for that.
I think this is a reliable weapon, so long as you use it at its intended distance and use: self-defense. The bodyguard 380 didn’t malfunction or jam when shot, though I did experience one or two hiccups with ejection.
Also, it took different bullets without issue, though I found that feeding it hollow points worked best. This isn’t to say the Bodyguard 380 isn’t picky with ammo, just that it feeds well. Overall, I’d say it does a good job as a last-ditch weapon for personal protection purposes.
One of the main safety features of the Bodyguard 380 is its manual safety. It’s located high up on the frame on the gun’s left side, in the same vein as 1911 guns. Once you engage it, you won’t be able to pull the already heavy trigger.
However, unfortunately, it can be difficult to engage or disengage the safety, especially when drawing the firearm. It’s simply too small, so carrying out either of the above actions isn’t smooth. You’ll need to really listen for the clicking sound it makes to know whether you’ve engaged or disengaged it.
More experienced shooters may argue an external safety isn’t necessary for anyone other than novices, but I’m not inclined to agree with that line of thinking. If you worry about misfiring your weapon, you’ll be pleased with this manual thumb safety.
This gun is easy to take down, and it isn’t necessary to pull the trigger before disassembly. Instead, you simply lock back the slide and then put the takedown lever in a ninety-degree position. The slide should come off the frame easily once those conditions are met.
Once you’ve taken the gun apart, apply some lubricant to the metal parts, i.e., the stainless steel slide and barrel. Then, reassemble the gun. You might find it tricky to put the firing pin back in when disassembling the gun for the first time, so I suggest you take some pictures beforehand to help jog your memory for where things should go.
Accessories and Aftermarket
Firearms small enough to fit into your pocket rarely have any room for accessories, even if they have an accessory rail on them. Thus, the Bodyguard 380 doesn’t offer much in accessories besides the obligatory spare magazines and holsters that make daily carry easier.
If your Bodyguard model comes with a laser, I guess you could think about getting replacement laser sights. While the red laser these models come with is serviceable, I think green lasers work better in broad daylight and low light conditions.
Do I feel the Bodyguard 380 is worth the price? On its own, I think the price tag is fair, considering the high-quality materials that go into its build. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think there were better compact guns that cost around the same as Smith and Wesson’s offering.
If you’re looking for a pistol small enough to fit in a pocket holster, it probably doesn’t get any smaller than the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380. This pocket pistol has a weight and size that make it perfect for concealed carry or as a companion firearm to a larger gun.
However, the Bodyguard’s trigger bar is almost universally panned as having too high a learning curve, which, I feel, hurts the shooting experience significantly. The trigger’s long pull confines this handgun to use as a last resort self-defense weapon, so think twice before using it to shoot targets at the range.