Why S&W’s Bodyguard 380 is the Best Pocket Pistol
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In 2011, Smith & Wesson released the Bodyguard 380, a pocket pistol built for self-defense with an integrated laser sight. It was widely acclaimed and considered top of the line, as far as pocket pistols did go. Three years later in 2014, Smith & Wesson rereleased the Bodyguard under their M&P variant line, now with the new M&P finish, although virtually identical features. Still, does the Bodyguard 380 remain the top pocket pistol in the market? Read on to see if it’s right for you.
The original Bodyguard 380 came with a special INSIGHT laser sight integrated into the pistol itself, which the M&P edition removed initially. However, it is incredibly easy to find laser sights to integrate with the M&P version so it’s hardly a problem. The sights themselves already come out dead accurate, plus the smaller .380 ACP is a considerable help when it comes to accuracy. The control on it I found to be tight and efficient, very easy to keep control of from recoil and such. With the laser on, I was able to consistently shoot half inch to one inch groupings, which is pretty amazing.
For such a lightweight pistol, the Bodyguard 380 proves remarkably strong. Made with a high strength polymer, it provides a great handle as well as resistance to any wear or tear you might get on it. The side and the barrel are made with stainless steel, which protects from the weather and, as such, can be used in practically any environment. I’ve found it remarkably easy to clean, most likely because of how easy it is to pull apart and the incredibly small parts in it. I’ve had no malfunctions with it with close to two hundred rounds fired, which is due to the aforementioned as well as a very clean caliber.
I’d say the handling could be better, but this is mostly a problem with pocket pistols rather than this one in specific. Their small frames make it hard for someone with bigger hands, like myself, to handle them efficiently. Still, it’s lightweight and it’s very easy to pull out. This isn’t even considering the surprising amount of customizability on the Bodyguard 380 (and you can find a ton of good ones in S&W’s custom shop). While I think getting a sight for it is detrimental to the concealability, if it suits your fancy you can easily fit a downsized red dot on the top. It’s easily concealable too (it can fit inside your pocket) and does everything a pocket pistol should.
The trigger is one of my main problems with the Bodyguard. The trigger bar is way too long and it takes way too much to fully pull it. This is a problem as the gun itself is already small enough and the trigger guard doesn’t provide much room, which can be pretty uncomfortable. I’d recommend customizing it with a new trigger bar or even a new trigger, if that’s more your spice. The trigger weight came in at around nine pounds for me, which in my opinion, is way too much. For a more versatile trigger, I’d have to recommend the Taurus PT92.
Magazine & Reloading
The M&P version automatically comes with two magazines, a total carrying capacity for them at six-rounds. These are box magazines too, with nice finger grooves and a flat butt plate. These little quality of life features help tremendously with how small the Bodyguard is, since I actually had few problems with reloading despite the size.
Length & Weight
Now, the Bodyguard 380 is very lightweight. Unloaded, it’s twelve ounces which is just under a pound. Anybody can carry this thing and shoot it as quick as possible, perfect for self-defense. It’s a tiny little gun, not dissimilar to the Chiappa Rhino Gun. The barrel is 2¾ inches long, making up a total length of about 5¼ inches. It’s incredibly easy to conceal and you can fit it in your pocket comfortably. Though, if you plan on running with it, I’d have to say get a small holster to fit it, as it won’t stay comfortable in your pants for long.
You’ll never have to adjust for recoil with the Bodyguard. It’s lightweight might seem to weigh against it on the recoil front, but the small round and the well-built frame ensure stability while firing, so accuracy is all but assured. I never had a problem with it, and I doubt rookie shooters will have any problems either. I think it’s a more suitable “on the go” self-defense gun than, say, its opposite the Ruger GP100.
For the price you pay, this is one of the best prices I’ve seen on the market. MSRP is only $379.00 and I’ve seen plenty of separate vendors selling for as low as $200. This is one of the biggest deciding factors and it’s amazing just how cheap it is for the quality you receive.
Ultimately, S&W’s Bodyguard 380 is probably the best pocket pistol on the market right now. The M&P upgrade only improved the original model and it is perfect for any shooter. For self-defense I prefer to carry bigger cartridges like the Colt King Cobra, but I struggle to not recommend the Bodyguard for just about anybody looking for protection in a small package.
Richard Douglas is a long time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field. Columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.