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:
Ruger LCP, caliber .380
Smith and Wesson Bodyguard, caliber .380 (LAPD SKU ONLY, no manual safety)
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.
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.
If you need a holster for your Bodyguard 380, click here to see the list I’ve assembled on all of the options currently available.
Just use the new-but-old “Baby Rock” .380 and say hello to an old friend that has come back in a smaller caliber. All these new clothes doesn’t hide the fact that it’s always been shot placement that wins the day, time after time.
Absolutely agree with shot placement winning the fight!
Seth Burgin says
I remember having the mediocre quality Arcadia Machine Tool, (AMT) .380 Backup. I rather like the Charter Arms Pitbull revolvers. They are slightly larger than a Colt D Frame Detective Special, but you can load them from your duty weapon’s box magazines, whether you carry, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W or .45ACP. I used the Beretta 3032 for ages, loaded with a heavy hollow point. 32ACP is pretty anemic, but it beats nothing, and it’s a tiny 1 pound fully loaded gun that fits in my sock, along with a spare mag. Not a big fan of the S&W Body Guard, as it’s basically a diminutive Sigma. Sturm Ruger LCP is a very nice gun, as is their, .327 Fed Mag LCR, where you get 6 rounds of .327 Fed Mag that approaches .357 S&W Magnum power, with less recoil, flatter trajectory, and higher capacity. Unlike the .45GAP disaster, the .327 Super Mag actually offers multiple positives, in it’s design. Increased accuracy, reduced recoil, increased capacity, near .357 power, less bullet drop out past 100 yards, and it’s beyond great in any pistol caliber carbine too. .380 is still a very a good round. I prefer the heavy 99 grain JHP, over the 90 grain, but anything with a muzzle energy of >220 ft lbs, is fine. I recently moved to the Glock 43, and I dearly love the Kahr PM9 or the rare but exceptionally smart Kahr P9 Compact Covert (if you can find the P9CC Kahr). GREAT GUNS! I still love the Colt D Frame too! My mother has the Detective Special, and the Agent with the hammer shroud. She got a Beretta 86FS tip up barrel .380 ACP for Christmas. It’s a lot like a mini Beretta 92FS, but with wood grips, and that fine Italian build quality. The Charter Arms Pit Bulls are a new addition for everyone. She can load those off any of the 9s, 40s or 45s. Her arthritis keeps slide racking down to a select few auto loaders. She recently went into the alley to see what the dogs were barking at, just in time to see two Hispanic males breech a home, and remove a flat screen TV. She felt calling 911 would be a waste of time, because she had no plate number, or car make & model. The police got a fresh untouched crime scene, and the home owner got his house secured by the police, and the crooks were caught, using some simple detective work. Never think, your call to 911 won’t help. Be the best witness you can, first, and intervene with a gun as an absolute LAST resort. YES, I am trying to get her moved to a safer location.
Aaron E says
Great insight Seth! We have been very impressed with the .327 Magnum as well, and have been glad to see several manufacturers offer a revolver in this caliber. Nice selection with the Glock 43. It took WAY too long for Glock to make the single-stack 9mm but it turned out nice. The Kahr pistols have been very impressive as well.
Domenic Pastore Jr. says
Absolute DITTO on the Author’s choice of ‘Back Up Weapons’ !! My exact choices, with almost the same loadings. The only exception is that during the really cold winter months in my area, I elected to load my Kahr PM9 with Federal’s 147 Grain HST-HP. Other than those few colder months, I too choose the Speer 124 Grain GDHP+P for all around use. These days, there’s really no valid reason to care a .380 caliber pistol, excepting of course, a few physical limitations issues. Both my S&W 642 or Kahr PM9 are not appreciably larger, and or mote difficult to conceal, or carry than most of the currently available .380’s.
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.