LAPD Adopts Ruger, S&W .380 Pistols

In early March 2011, the following unsubstantiated information, purported to be from the Los Angeles Police Department, began circulating around several Internet forums.  A call to Smith & Wesson confirmed that the content is true.

In order to encourage officers to carry back-up and off-duty firearms, as well as to take advantage of the technological advances in firearm and ammunition construction, the  Department has authorized the following .380 caliber pistols and ammunition:

Approved Pistols
Ruger LCP, caliber .380
Smith and Wesson Bodyguard, caliber .380 (LAPD SKU ONLY, no manual safety)

Approved Ammunition
Hornady Critical Defense, .380 caliber, 90 grain load

In order to deploy either of these firearms, officers must first successfully shoot the Department’s “Back-Up Qualification Course”, at either the Davis Training Facility or the Elysian Park Police Academy. The “Back-Up Qualification Course” must be shot with Department approved .380 ammunition only. Officers must supply their own duty ammunition for the qualification course and for deployment in the pistol. Upon completion of the “Back-Up Qualification Course” of fire, officers shall take their qualification receipt to the Department Armory and have the pistol entered on to the Department’s Firearms Inventory and Tracking System (FITS).

The Smith and Wesson pistols are equipped at the factory with a laser aiming module. This laser module must be disabled by the Department Armorer, prior to the pistol’s deployment. The Armorer will disable the laser module by removing the batteries; there will be no permanent modification to the pistol. Once these procedures are met, officers will be certified to carry the .380 pistol for back-up and off-duty use. These .380 pistols are an optional individual officer purchase. Therefore, the pistols will not be maintained by the Department armory. If a pistol becomes unserviceable, the officer must return the pistol to the manufacturer for repair. Once these repairs are completed by the factory they must be verified by the Department Armory, prior to the pistol being redeployed.

Additionally, the Department will not supply any .380 caliber ammunition.


According to the Smith & Wesson representative with whom I spoke, LAPD began looking at the Bodyguard 380 at the 2011 SHOT show.  They were enthusiastic about the “real” sights on the gun and the fact that the slide locks back on the last round.  Overall, LAPD liked the gun, but requested some changes.

First, they wanted the laser taken off.  Smith & Wesson said for an initial run, it would be too expensive.  However, it is something that the company may do in the future by modifying the forward portion of the frame.  In the meantime, the laser will be deactivated by armorers.

My guess is the department may want to avoid confusion between the gun laser and the Taser X26’s laser.  In a multi-officer scenario, an officer attempting to use the Bodyguard for deadly force could confuse another officer’s less lethal Taser laser dot on the suspect, when if fact the Bodyguard’s laser may be off target.

Secondly, LAPD wanted the manual safety removed.  Smith & Wesson was able to comply, not only by removing the lever, but by plugging the hole in the left side of the frame underneath.

LAPD S&W Bodyguard 380

The specially made LAPD version of the S&W Bodyguard .380 will have the manual safety removed and the laser deactivated.

Both guns are an interesting choice, as micro 9’s have become increasingly prevalent on the market and there is the on-going debate over the .380 ACP’s place in effective self-defense.  I have personally carried a Kel-Tec P3AT as a back-up gun, but I felt a bit insecure with the caliber.  My back-up is either a Smith & Wesson 442 no-lock with Speer GDHP +P’s, or a Kahr PM9 with Speer GDHP’s.

Randall is a twenty-three year sworn police officer in a mid-sized Florida police department.  He has been an FTO, K9 Handler, Detective and SWAT Team Leader.  He is currently a Midnight Shift Sergeant and SWAT Coordinator.

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Randall is a 27 year veteran police sergeant in Florida with experience in SWAT, K9, FTO, and Detective Assignments.
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    • Aaron

      I would caution stating “many American police agency’s issue and carry the .380″. I do not know of any police departments that have a .380 pistol as their primary issued weapon. Now, as a back-up weapon, yes I think there are many .380 pistols being carried by American cops.