Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 Review

In April, I reported that the Los Angeles, CA Police Department had approved the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 for back-up and off-duty carry.  BlueSheepdog.com obtained one for review, so here we go!

bodyguard 380 review

The S&W Bodyguard 380 out on the range during SWAT training.

LAPD’s initial specifications for the gun called for a deactivation of the laser sight, which is an integral part of the receiver’s polymer frame.  In addition, their specs requested a removal of the left side safety lever.

The laser and safety lever are present on current guns, but a S&W representative told me that future production guns for the LAPD would eliminate these two features.

Unfortunately, the reworked Bodyguard did not exist at press time, so S&W sent us the current production gun.  To be fair, for testing we left the laser and safety alone.

The Bodyguard 380 Pistol

The Bodyguard shipped in the dark blue cardboard box.  Inside, the gun was encased in a nice zippered nylon dayplanner-style case.  The interior of the case had elastic slip holders for the gun and a spare magazine.

The Bodyguard arrived with one steel-bodied six round magazine that has a slightly flared floor plate for added gripping surface.  The magazine has a bright orange follower for visibility.  Included in the box were the manual, test fired casing, and a gun padlock.

Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 review

The Bodyguard 380 is a hammer-fired, double action only, .380 ACP semi-automatic pistol with a polymer lower frame and a stainless steel slide.  The slide is coated in black Melonite.  The left side of the gun has the takedown lever, slide stop lever, manual safety lever, and button magazine release.


For the record, the Insight Technology laser sits in line with the barrel and is activated by a gray button on either side of the frame.  The laser buttons cycle between “on,” “pulsing,” and “off.”

The frame of the gun is a matte polymer with stippled sections on the front, sides and rear of the grip.  I found the gun felt solid in the hand, especially with the lower lip jutting down on the magazine.  The front of the magazine lip also has the stippling.

The gun’s patridge sights are a serrated front ramp and a serrated square-notched rear sight.  Both front and rear sights are drift adjustable for windage.  The sights are designed to be smooth and snag-free.

The slide has a loaded chamber indicator that is a small window in the top of the slide/chamber junction.  This allows you to visually see the case rim of a chambered round.  The bullet casing can also been seen in a relief in the right side of the slide immediately in front of the extractor.

smith and wesson Bodyguard 380 for sale

The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 after a day of testing at the range.

The Smith and Wesson Bodyguard has a 2.75” barrel.  The gun is 5.4” in length, 4.1” in height, and a very svelte 0.75” in width.  At 11.85 ozs., it is very light, yet retains enough weight and size that it does not handle like a toy.

A word about field stripping.  When I first went to break the gun down, I had trouble with the takedown lever.  It did not seem to rotate down as instructed in the manual.  I soon learned that the lever had a slight redesign not yet found in the manual.

Early production guns had a problem with the takedown lever coming loose during extended firing.  Smith & Wesson addressed this by changing the lever.  Now, instead of turning the lever 180 degrees counterclockwise, the lever turns 270 degrees in that direction for disassembly.

This also requires a bit of added force, so unless you have longshoreman’s hands, I suggest using a wood or plastic dowel to assist its movement.

Range Time

I shot the Bodyguard in two range venues:  SWAT training and at a local gun range.  The .380 ACP ammunition I fired included 90 grain Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point, 95 grain Speer Lawman Total Metal Jacket, and 95 grain Fiocchi Full Metal Jacket.

The first range run was predictable for a new semi-auto.  Initial shooting was punctuated with the expected hiccups.  The Bodyguard suffered its share of failures to feed and failures to eject.

Smith and Wesson Bodyguard

The gun shot just below point of aim at 7 to 10 yards with all three rounds.  The Speer GDHP is my department mandated carry ammo.  I did not use the laser, though it could be seen in the bright daylight at 7 yards on the white portions of the targets.

The trigger pull of the Bodyguard is excruciatingly long.  The sear breaks at about 3/16th of an inch before the trigger meets the frame.  I put the trigger pull between 8 and 10 pounds.  The hammer falls with a sharp snap.

Though I had zero ammunition failures, the Bodyguard’s hammer allows for a second strike capability should a primer not fire.

My next range experience with the Bodyguard 380 was much more favorable.  Though I had three failures to feed at the very beginning of the range session, the gun has come into reliability the more it has been fired.

Neither Richard, nor I, was in love with the long trigger pull, but I will say that for a close range combat weapon it is manageable.  Besides, this gun’s intended playing field is the street, not a sniper competition.

I got used to its heavy revolver-like trigger early into several hundred rounds.  By the time we were ready to get some barbeque for lunch, the gun was shooting flawlessly, even with mixed magazines of hollow point and hardball.

I have shot over four hundred rounds through this gun.  It has broken in nicely.  I like to have five hundred rounds through a gun like this before I will trust my life with it, but I don’t foresee a problem making this happen.

Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380

Summary

Despite that it was not yet proofed as a carry gun, I did tote the Bodyguard around as a back-up for several months.  Though similar to my Kel-Tec P3AT, the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard has an advanced feel, as if it were an evolution of the popular original polymer .380.

I cannot stress enough the proper break-in period of a firearm for self defense carry.  Had I not spent the time to shoot this gun into good function, like many other guns I’ve owned, I might have gotten rid of it prematurely.

The Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 offers a list of features not all found on comparable .380 guns; namely, second strike capability, real adjustable sights, a safety lever, a loaded chamber indicator, a slide stop lever, slide lock after the last round, and a built in laser.

S&W achieved a price point of $399.00 MSRP for the Bodyguard 380, which is very reasonable considering how much gun you get for your money.

I like this gun.  With a holster, it is ideal for pocket carry.  I have shown the Bodyguard 380 to quite a few co-workers.  After taking a close look at it, many fellow cops have offered to buy it from me.  I think that says it all.

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 the Midnight Shift K9 Sergeant and department SWAT Coordinator.

April 2013 Update – As with most things, the price on the pistol has gone up.  If you are looking for a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 for sale, the suggested retail price is now $419.  All things considered, this is still a pretty reasonable price for this little pistol.

Also, Smith & Wesson has not made any options or models of the Bodyguard without the laser or manual (thumb) safety.  There may be various gunsmiths who are offering to disable those functions, but neither is a factory option at this time.  Should that change, this page will be updated to reflect that.

The following two tabs change content below.
Randall is a 27 year veteran police sergeant in Florida with experience in SWAT, K9, FTO, and Detective Assignments.
  • Keith Hunt

    I’m reading this after my purchase and it is spot on. After a dreadful experience with Taurus service dept., decided on the Bodyguard and I must say, it feels and acts like a handgun should. Weight, balance and comfort-gets a 10 on my scale.thanks

  • http://sheepdog.com john bradley

    trigger too hard to pull!!! too long pull!!! keep pulling .it will go off after a while. almost to the point of not being able to aim it. and trigger kit for it is 98.00!!!! too expensive

    • http://www.BlueSheepdog.com Aaron

      John I agree. Though the Bodyguard has much to offer, the trigger pull on a compact CCW handgun like that is just too much.

    • Daniel S.

      Luckily there are many variations available in the .380 caliber; from $250 to $750, certainly there is something out there you will eventually find that fits your desire and comfort range. I’ve shot Browning BDA380, Ruger LCP, Sig P232 & S&W Bodyguard; out of those 4, the S&W was my least favorite. Haven’t tried a Kahr, Kimber, Beretta or CZ yet, but I like the Sig P232, except for the unusual bottom mag release. The Browning BDA is nice because it is a double stack that holds 13 rounds. The LCP is certainly easily concealable and with the now available Hogue rubber grip and 7 round finger extension mag, it is not the snappy itty bitty it once was. Easy to hold with the improvements and actually quite accurate, especially with the newer somewhat larger sights than the original model.

    • Todd Mason

      The trigger kit is worth it. The reason it’s $98 is because it replaces the trigger bar, trigger and hammer/sear springs. The trigger is a milled one that has both overtravel and takeup adjustments. It’s not some cheap hardware.

    • Mike

      I agree!

  • Pingback: How Do You BlueSheepDog? :: Blue Sheepdog()

  • Wes Crago

    Just received my replacement laser sight. It is great, easy fit, new activation buttons, and new batteries. Compliments to S&W Crimson trace for the replacement kit! Sent my old laser in and got the new one in 10 days. No cost other that the initial postage. Comes with prepaid return slip if needed. Works much better that the original. No charge for the exchange and it is a better weapon!

  • John King

    Hard gun to shoot due to the recoil. I have upgraded the magazine extention 2.25 inches and i love this gun.

  • Art Nash

    Had nothing but problems with the Bodyguard 380. Jammed after two or three shots. Slide did NOT stay open when empty. Hard trigger pull. Returned Gun.

    • http://www.BlueSheepdog.com Aaron

      Did you return for factory work to receive back, or did you simply return to give back?

      • Art Nash

        I purchased from Cabela’s. I have nine handguns and liked the idea of a small profile with laser for carrying, especially in the summer months. This is for Self Defense – must be reliable 100%!!!! Was NOT please with response from S&W. They said send back and will look at the problem. Never had this issue with any other gun. Concerned about their QC.

        In any case I was able to return to Cabela’s for a full refund. They were very helpful

  • Anny

    I want Bodyguard .380 for my private safety purpose,,,

    I stay In INDIA.

    is it possible to ship it !!

  • eebbog

    I sent an e-mail to S&W asking to purchase to new rubber laser sight buttons. They replied back saying they did not have them any more. But, that I should send them my laser sight. This I did. Two weeks later I got a new laser with new red buttons. They activate the laser in a different syle than the old gray ones. Put a bore sight in the 380 and matched the two laser dots. Went to the range and at 50 feet I shot a group that you could cover with a 50 cent piece. I’m now a happy camper with a weapon that I’m confident in carrying. Thanks to S&W.

    • http://www.BlueSheepdog.com Aaron

      That’s great to hear. Sounds like S&W is going to go above and beyond to keep buyers happy with this very popular handgun.

  • http://bluesheepdog Lisa

    O.K. guys. Here I am, 71 year-old woman, love my Bodyguard .380.
    What recoil? Puhleeze.

    • http://www.BlueSheepdog.com Aaron

      Lisa, great to hear from you! It’s good to know the Bodyguard is working good for you. Thanks for reading.

  • Marvin Lewis

    I had a small problem with my laser on my S & W Bodyguard 380, I e-mailed S&W told them of the problem, They said mail us the old laser and we will send you a new laser. I did and 6 days later I received a new Crimson Trace laser, it fit perfect. I have yet to go to the range and try it out because I just got it today. S&W has excellent customer service.

    • http://www.BlueSheepdog.com Aaron

      Marvin,
      You’re not the first to have a good customer service experience with Smith & Wesson. Glad you’re back to enjoying your Bodyguard.

  • gary looney

    I agree with poster John Bradley and the others that need a gun that is first of all safe and reliable. But this gun is dangerous!!! I like others have owned guns all my life. Most of the 73 years of it. The first time i shot it at Carter Country firing range in Houston, the gun would not fire after “squeezing” the trigger all the way back. I tried to adjust my finger to the tip and the thing went off about 4 feet in front of me as i had to adjust my grip to something less than normal. I quit firing this gun after 100 rounds.
    I sent it to S&W TX authorized repair station in Comanche, TX. I told them about the trigger problem and told them if I were in law enforcement there would be no way I would carry this as a back up. The gun was purchased in 2013 from Academy in Conroe, TX. The repair station guy in TX sent the gun on to Smith in Springfield and I got it back with some canned legal response that it checked out “to spec”.
    I was going to trade this gun at a gun show but I cannot in good conscience put this gun in someone else’s hand as it is truly a dangerous weapon in its current state.
    I bought an S&W also because of its American made. But this Smith is not you fathers Smith & Wesson.

    • http://www.BlueSheepdog.com Aaron

      Sorry to hear about your experience Gary. I agree that the long trigger pull is more than what I would want as a back-up pistol or every day carry. However, it seems others have found the Bodyguard meets their needs. It may be the size of your hand. Very large and very small handguns tend to have a more narrow group of shooters that can work with them.

    • mike

      I agree, Piece of crap!

  • Daniel S.

    Glad to see S&W finally got it together on the BG380 and changed to a laser that appears to be functioning as originally intended. I imagine unlucky people such as myself gave them the impetus to rectify the laser issue. I thought it was a nicely sized weapon, though I truly never had the opportunity to see if I truly would like it. Mine goes back to a Black Friday 2010 purchase. Gave them 3 attempts to rectify the laser and then they agreed to buy it back. S&W to some may not be the company they once were, I however have complete confidence they will do the right thing by their customers. If I did not have the LCP w/Viridian Green laser, I might be looking at one of the new BG380’s today. As for trigger issues, I can’t address that, as I only shot at most 100 rounds with it. The trigger wasn’t the issue, it was the laser. I am not a competitive shooter and have handguns with long, short, heavy, light and in-between triggers. I just get used to them. My stock favorites: S&W 617, 686+, 629, M&P 9c/40c, Buckmark Practical, CZ75B Omega. These were the most enjoyable (stock) handguns I’ve owned with regard to their triggers and semi rapid accurate firing for me. I cannot tell you why, but I still like my M&P 40c more than any other polymer 380, 9, 40 or 45 that I have owned or tried. I haven’t tried them all of course, but I have shot various Rugers, FN’s and Sig’s. A friend keeps suggesting I try a Walther PPQ or CCP, but I do not like the way they fit my hand. Rambled on a bit, have a wonderful spring everyone : )

  • Bernardo B

    Bot my BG 380 on October for Concealed Carry. After shooting ii several times at the range (100-150 rounds) the magazine get dirty, follower gets stock in the middle and it fails to feed.

    Anyone with this problem??

    Also every time I get the grip on the gun the magazine drops. Perhaps I have large hands. I have changed the magazine but it keeps doing the same thing. I really would like to give a second chance to this gun as I really like it.

    Any suggestions?

    PD In the meantime I bot a Shield in 9mm. Great Gun !!

  • Art Nash

    Bernardo,

    I had similar problems with the Body Guard 380. See my post of Feb. 24th. Tried cleaning the mag but no help. Had nothing but issues and absolutely no confidence in carrying for self defense. Shot hundreds of rounds with different mfg ammo and still problems.

    Ultimately, I returned Gun for Full Credit from Cabelas. I still believe there may have been a manufacturing issue with this model

  • Wes Crago

    Keep your mags clean. Look for a BG replacement spring. Buy a few extra mags. But, keeping the BG clean is the big thing! Look for a mag with more capacity and a finger extension this will make your BG shoot better and also will fit most peoples hands better.

  • Bernardo B

    Thanks Art. I think will give another chance. I Like the gun.

    Wes, I will take your advice and try with new mags. I did bot the 10rnd but it FTF a lot so I discontinued it. Anyway is only for the range I do not think is made for CC.

    If it continues with the problem there is no other way than to return it, as Art says if you cant trust the gun there is no way to have it for CC

    Thanks to both.

  • Fla Catman

    In the cases of FTF certain brands of ammo, I think I have uncovered the reason: the firing pin is NOT striking the primer dead center. I looked at a number of fired and unfired rounds and they all show a strike mark right at the edge of the primer and some marks right on the brass. Some primers may not ignite and some will.

    My wife’s BG380, one of the first off the line is due to go back for this reason.

  • Arturo

    Thanks for this review..it really helps one with a decision. The FTF and FTE issues are good to know about.

    Just a note about “price point.” It’s a term that comes from retailing science and has, unfortunately, entered common usage somehow. It does NOT mean price. If you mean price then stick with that. :)

  • Matt

    I purchased by Bodyguard 380 as an off duty gun, especially for the summer months with a pair of shorts. Qualified with it with no problems. After I began carrying the gun in both a hip and ankle hoslter, I noticed that the magazine kept disengaging from the grip. I would check on it periodically throughout the day in its holster and notice that the magazine was not secured in the grip which for a personal protection weapon is a serious problem upon potentially drawing and firing.
    I then took the gun to the range to qualify again. Everytime I fired, the magazine would drop out on the first shot. I thought perhaps it was because it was a smaller weapon and my thumb was accidentally striking the magazine release so I gave it to my rangemaster, who also experienced the malfunction.
    I’ve sent the weapon back for repair and I’m waiting to receive it back. The customer service representative was a pleasure to deal with and the pickup from Fedex was a breeze. I just hope not to receive it back with the “fired as spec” conclusion.
    My suggestion…watch your magazine and ensure that its securely in the grip. If not, send it back for repair.

  • http://www.philipSchua.com Philip S. Chua

    Has S&W successfully addressed the following issues with the Bodyguard 380 with laser:
    (1) insecure magazine latch;
    (2) target impact lower than laser pointer aim;
    (3) trigger pull too hard and long; and,
    (4) failure to load and eject on occasions?

    Did S&W come out with a new BG380 version minus those issues?

    Phil Chua

  • Wes Crago

    If you are going to use the laser sight I would suggest that you use a bore sighter and adjust your laser sight to the bore sight. This needs to be done about evry 150 to 200 shots as the laser will move on you.

  • Matt

    I don’t folks. I’m looking at purchasing one as I type this. Compared to my old Grendel .380 this gun is an amazing piece of craftsmanship for the price etc..
    One thing I’ve noticed over and over I’d the laser. Not a huge problem for me as I’m not a fan of them.
    Thinking S&W will have a loyal customer from myself.

  • WES Crago

    I hope that none of you that are having problems got your gun and took it out of the box and tried firing the 380. You need to field strip it and any place metal contacts metal that you polish any friction spots. Clean it up! Apply lube at any contact spot (spareingly). Keep all lube away from the laser! Make sure you polish the feed ramp! Take about ten rounds of different makes of bullets and try them. I have found that hollow points feed the best. You have to work at it to get the best results.
    This includes mags and extended grips. Good luck and treat the gun as if your tuning it up for your best friend!

  • Justin

    I have had one for a couple years. The trigger breaks in quite nicely once you get a couple hundred rounds through it. Once you get used to the trigger, the accuracy of this phenominal.

  • Curt

    Purchased a bodyguard about a year ago. Constantly jammed on the last or second to last round in the magazine. Sent it to Smith & Wesson for repair. After I got it back, same problem. .. Sent it back in and they replaced the slide, magazine and other components. Got it back and still the same problem. I’m satisfied that the gun is to blame as I tried six different types of ammo in it every time.

  • Paul De La Torre

    Just an update; I just put a Body Guard on hold at my local gun shop and it comes now w/out the laser, $369.00!!
    Dick’s Sporting Goods has one of each in their show case as of yesterday 4/12/15.:-)

    Paul

  • Berean_Bob

    Good review.

    I just handled this gun at a local store but didn’t fire it. The button for the laser was traffic cone orange, but the one in the picture appears to be gray. Was the one I was looking at a previous model to this one or a later version.

    Also, you mentioned that it was shooting low from the sights. Can these be adjusted to correct this issue?

    Thanks.

    • Santo Morales

      Greetings! The Bodyguard with the traffic cone laser button is the new model. I picked mine up just as the new ones were coming out. I haven’t had enough range time to comment on the sites but out of the box, the laser site is dead on and I co sided myself an amateur.

      Have a good one and take care!

      • Berean_Bob

        Thanks for the reply and the info.

        Cheers!

  • http://www.jamesconsultgrp.com George James

    Unfortunately, my experience has not been good. I purchased the Bodyguard 380 new yesterday from a reputable gun store. I took it to the range today and after 40 rounds, the front sight fell off FELL OFF!
    I contacted S&W who said I would have to return it to them so they can take a look at it. I had it less than 24 hours! I now worry about the quality of S&W guns! I would expect this from a cheap handgun made in a garage.
    It seems to me that they should have let me return the gun to the dealer and get a new one. I don’t know how long it will take to get it fixed, but it won’t be quick.

    • http://www.BlueSheepdog.com Aaron

      Sorry to hear about your experience George. With any mass produced item there are bound to be duds. Unfortunately, it appears you got one.

      There are many positive remarks from S&W Bodyguard owners, so I would encourage you to not give up on the firearm. S&W can’t simply exchange your pistol at the dealer due to ATF regulations. However, they have a solid reputation for customer service.

      Let us know how things turn out. I’m confident that when you get your pistol back you will be able to enjoy your purchase and regain confidence.