Are you one of those people who thinks anything less than a .45 isn’t worth carrying?
If so, you can probably just skip this one and just head on over to our .45 ACP roundup, but if you do you’re going to be missing out.
The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard ($349) is a pocket-sized pistol worthy of S&W’s long heritage, and it makes for an excellent carry gun.
We’re going to look at what makes these little pocket guns so popular, and what about the Bodyguard in particular caused it to wind up on my belt.
Let’s get to it.
Why Buy a S&W Bodyguard?
Pocket pistols are by no means toy guns. Sure, they typically come in smaller caliber, but up close a .380 can do some serious damage.
Remember, it’s only slightly smaller than a 9mm. If you need a refresher on the sizes of the various common handgun calibers, check out our handgun caliber comparison.
With guns like this, it really isn’t size that matters; its shot placement. And that’s where guns like the S&W Bodyguard excel.
See, the smaller round mean less recoil, which means more accurate shooting, which means more holes in the bad guy and less in the wall behind them.
S&W Bodyguard for Concealed Carry
Carrying a gun this small opens the door for a lot of people to carry a gun more often. Did you buy a larger gun and don’t always carry it because of its size or weight?
I bought my S&W Bodyguard specifically to deal with a problem I had with my regular carry gun. Any of you folks that carry know what its like in the summertime when its hot out and you’re wearing light clothes and trying to conceal a larger firearm.
The gun prints, which isn’t ideal, and the heavier gun can weigh down lighter clothing.
Plus, its hot. Guns get hot. Then you sweat.
Tactical implications of trying to draw, aim, and fire a sweat-soaked firearm aside, sweaty guns are no fun.
So, because I don’t want to wear thicker or baggier shirts or multiple layers in the summer, I thought it would be smarter to get a smaller, thinner gun than my Glock.
Since I got the S&W Bodyguard, there have been plenty of times when I don’t want to lug around my Glock 27, ($539) even in the winter months. I know the Glock 27 isn’t huge in comparison to other guns, but it still feels like you’re toting a boat anchor compared to the Bodyguard.
Whether you’re wearing it in your pocket or on your belt in an IWB holster, it’s an easy gun to conceal.
These little guns are not for everyone, but they are perfect for those shooters with a smaller frame that can’t conceal a larger firearm, or want something a little smaller for easier carry.
Which Bodyguard Should You Buy?
There are several variations of the Bodyguard 380 available. Aside from the color, your options are a combination of whether you want a thumb safety (they are not quick to un-safety, I recommend going for the no-safety version) and whether you want a laser.
The main consideration is whether or not you want the version with the laser, and if so which color laser, green or red.
We strongly recommend laser sights for defensive guns, so its definitely a good idea to spend the extra to pick up the laser.
The color choice is up to you, but I recommend going with the one that aligns with your Jedi/Sith inclinations.
All of them come with two magazines that hold six rounds each.
Shooting the S&W Bodyguard
The handguns I’ve shot have typically been larger than the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard. If you’re used to a sub-compact like a M&P Shield 9mm, when you go to the Bodyguard you’ll notice there’s a lot less room for your hand on the gun.
It takes a little getting used to, but it shouldn’t be a problem.
Another thing I had to get used to was the Bodyguards Double Action only trigger, as I’ve only rarely shot a DAO trigger.
Getting used to the trigger was a little bit of a learning curve, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. A lot of the guns I’ve shot have really short trigger pulls…about half what the Bodyguard has.
Newbie Note: A double action only gun means there is no need to cock the hammer. If a round doesn’t fire when you pull the trigger, you just pull the trigger again. With other gun types, you need to rack the slide again to cock the hammer before it will fire. For more information we actually have a article that explains the difference between double and single action.
I can’t say I’m a big fan of the long trigger pull. Unlike some handguns, you truly have to pull the trigger all the way to the back before you get to the break.
While that’s one of the things you get with a double action only, the pull could be about half the length in my opinion.
I did a bunch of checking around the web in forums and talked to some people I know who have owned pocket pistols and they suggested I look for an adjustable trigger and a shorter trigger bar.
By adding a new trigger and shorter trigger bar you will gain adjustability. You can have your trigger break about halfway through the pull, which is where most people are used to.
Some people like to add all kinds of mods to their EDC pistols, be it a trigger, springs, barrel, or something else. When you make these changes, you are potentially compromising the careful engineering of the firearm, so make sure you’re aware of the risks
Always keep in mind that even something as simple as a shorter pull trigger can come back to bite you in the butt if you end up in a life-or-death situation. Proceed with caution, and at your own risk.
The Reality of Carrying a S&W Bodyguard
Something you should realize right away is that the Bodyguard is not designed for long-range shooting, partially because of the size, but also because of that trigger pull.
If you’re not squeezing the trigger carefully, its very easy to yank the barrel to one side when you’re firing. What’s only a slight error at 3 feet becomes a complete and utter miss at 20 feet.
Because of this, we recommend you get a few boxes of a good .380 defensive ammo, and practice practice practice to make sure you’re used to the recoil and the considerable trigger pull.
Maintaining the S&W Bodyguard
Taking this little guy apart to clean and lube isn’t too bad. Make sure it’s unloaded, lock the slide back, turn the front rod holding everything together to the 9 O’clock position and pull it out.
Of course, as with everything, there’s about a million YouTube videos out there that will show you how to do it.
If your gun is new, it might take a small flat blade screwdriver and some patience to get it out. After a few times, you’ll get the hang of it, and things will loosen up.
The a little of your favorite lube on the barrel and other metal to metal contact points are all you should need.
Once you do that, you can put it together. This is where you’ll need to be patient and might learn a new curse word or seven.
Putting the pin back in is… challenging to put it nicely. After a few attempts at doing it, you learn how everything should go together, and things get much easier.
Just remember: the pin goes back in the same way it comes out.
Make sure the barrel is pushed all the way forward, have the pin at 9 O’clock, and twist it in. Once the pin is turned to the 3 O’clock position, you’ll have to push it in.
If it’s new, you might need to tap it with something like the back of a screwdriver or small, hard rubber mallet. Avoid metal tools as this will mark up your nice new finish.
Like even some of the best .380 pocket pistols can be a little picky with ammo. Having a double strike capability with the S&W Bodyguard 380 is nice because if you have a light primer strike, all you have to do is pull the trigger again.
Other pistols like a Kahr CW ($349) for example, you’ll need to re-rack the slide.
It still be my recommendation to practice with several different types of ammo just to make sure that when you need to pull the trigger to save your life, something actually comes out.
Like they say, the two loudest noises are a bang when you expect a click, and a click when you expect a bang.
The carry ammo I’ve had good luck with is the Hornady American Gunner Series 90 Grain XTP Hollow Point. When training, I have used ball ammo from Winchester and Federal with no problems.
S&W Bodyguard by the Numbers
With higher quality ammo and some testing to find out what works with the gun.
It’s not going to win any long distance marksmanship competitions, but it’s more than adequate for self-defense distances.
All pocket pistols suffer from being a bit hard to get a grip on, but this one is better than most, and the controls are easy enough to reach for even the hammiest of hamfisted shooters.
You either like it or you don’t.
There are a surprising amount of customizations out there for this gun, but by far the best options are in S&W’s custom shop.
Bang for the Buck 5/5
Its cheap, reliable, and it fits in your pocket. For my money, this is an awesome carry gun.
Overall Rating 4/5
The S&W Bodyguard makes an excellent carry gun for those who are looking for a smaller EDC piece, and its low cost and decent featureset make it a great choice for first time shooters, and those new to carrying.
Carrying a gun this small is convenient. You almost forget you have it on you, it’s so small and light.
For my EDC and summer carry, it works well. Aside from procrastinating over getting a new trigger, I have been really happy with my Bodyguard 380 ($349).
Training and range time to get used to the size and quirks of a smaller gun are important when you’re starting out with one of these. You don’t want to be in a life or death situation and have your rounds miss your target.
And as with any carry gun, always bang out a box or two of your defensive ammo of choice at the range to make sure the gun feeds and fires as expected.
Other than that, the S&W Bodyguard makes a great choice for those with smaller hands, or those who want to carry without having to worry about printing or carry a weighty piece around.
What’s got you thinking you want to go the pocket pistol route? Or did you read this and find that you still don’t want one? Let me know what you think in the comments!