S&W Bodyguard 380 Review [Updated]

by Travis Pike

December 20, 2023

0 comments

3.5
(17)

There was a time when the pocket 380 ACP ruled the roost. About a decade ago, the pocket 380 ACP and the single stack 9mm were belles of the ball. Today we are going to look at one of the original 380s pocket guns, the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 ACP. In this personal S&W Bodyguard 380 review, I’ll take you through the background and specs of this gun as well as my personal experience with it.

I originally reviewed this gun back in 2022 but after a year and a few hundred rounds more with it, my opinions have changed than when I had purchased it as a new gun. So I’ve updated my review accordingly. Let’s get right into it.

S&W Bodyguard Specs

  • Barrel Length 2.5 inches
  • Overall Length 5.25 inches
  • Weight 12.3 ounces
  • Caliber 380 ACP
  • Capacity 6 Rounds

Background and Specifications

The S&W Bodyguard 380 ACP traces its lineage back to the original S&W Bodyguard series. The Model 38 was the original Bodyguard and was a 38 Special five-shot, J-frame revolver. The frame featured an enclosed hammer that has a small tab that allows the hammer to still be manually cocked. The Bodyguard series has always personified small, concealed carry firearms. 

The S&W Bodyguard 380 ACP follows that same idea, but makes it an automatic platform. This little Bodyguard grants you a tiny, very easy to conceal firearm. Smith and Wesson saw the success of firearms like the Ruger LCP and wanted to get a piece of that pie.

The S&W Bodyguard 380 ACP was only 5.25 inches overall, and it packed a 2.5-inch barrel, making it a slightly larger gun than its counterparts like Ruger LCP. At a little over 12 ounces, the Body guard certainly posed no challenge for daily carry. 

The S&W Bodyguard 380 is designed with a fixed firing pin, which means it doesn’t move or strike the cartridge like a traditional firing pin. Instead, it has an internal hammer-fired system where the hammer directly strikes the firing pin to ignite the cartridge primer when the trigger is pulled.

Usually, the S&W Bodyguard 380 comes with two magazines, providing shooters with a backup option or allowing for quick reloading during practice sessions or in case of emergencies.

Regarding the magazine release, the Bodyguard 380 utilizes a unique slide-release type of magazine release. It’s located on the left side of the frame, just below the slide. To release the magazine, you need to pull the slide to the rear and then push down on the mag release button, allowing the magazine to drop free. This design aims to prevent accidental magazine releases while providing a relatively intuitive way to eject the magazine when needed. However, it might require some practice to get used to, especially if you’re accustomed to other types of magazine release mechanisms.

The S&W Bodyguard promised to be a smooth little option for pocket carry. They rounded the edges and frame, the hammer is bobbed, and overall it’s very smooth and snag-free for the pocket. The little gun came with nubs for sights, and original models came with a laser sight integral to the frame. Later models made the laser sight optional and reduced the gun’s size even more. 

The Smith and Wesson Bodyguard seemingly promises to be a very stout and micro-sized concealed carry firearm designed to be easily carried by anyone in any clothing. 

S&W Bodyguard 380 Features

1 Integral Frame Laser 
2 Double Action Only Trigger 
3 Manual Safety 
4 Stainless Slide and Barrel 

S&W Bodyguard 380 Models 

S&W Bodyguard 380

S&W Bodyguard 380
Standard Without Laser

S&W Bodyguard 380 SS

Stainless Slide Model

Bodyguard 380 ACP – Our Take

Let’s start with the good things. Or, well, a good thing. The S&W Bodyguard 380 ACP does give you a very reliable little weapon. The little automatic cycles and functions without any issues. I’ve yet to have the weapon malfunction. Little guns like this can be a little tricky for new shooters. 

They tend to be more susceptible to limp wristing due to their small size and snappy recoil. Limp wristing can cause issues with reliability, but it’s more on the shooter and less on the gun. I won’t fault the Bodyguard for someone limp wristing the gun. Hold it firm, and you’ll be good to go. That old-school double action trigger just works. 

The S&W Bodyguard is absurdly small. You get two magazines, one with a flush-fitting baseplate and the other with a slight finger extension. I prefer the slight finger extension because I need as much grip as possible on the gun. I have more than just a hanging pinky, but a hanging pinky and a half-hanging ring finger. Don’t forget, it’s .75 inches thick! 

It’s so absurdly thin, and the grip is so short that it’s not super comfy to grip. You can grab it, but it’s not very comfortable. My finger naturally wants to ride the trigger just past the first knuckle. You want the pad of your finger on the trigger, and it takes a conscious effort to do when you draw the firearm. The really small size of the grip doesn’t give you a ton of room to grab the gun for a clean draw, either. 

Just a note: manipulating the safety isn’t super easy. S&W should’ve just ditched the safety altogether. It’s super small and hard for me to engage in the draw. Typically, I wouldn’t use it and carry without it, but you have to train to disable it just in case it accidentally jumps in place while being carried. A slight beavertail protects your hands from slide bite, and I appreciate it from a technical perspective. I’m not too fond of slide bite, and I happily don’t experience it with the S&W Bodyguard 380 ACP. 

Oh boy, this is not an easy gun to shoot. Chic Gaylord, a pistolero and holster man, said something along the lines of that nay man looking to carry a snub nose revolver should shoot at least 100 rounds a week in practice. I feel that way about the S&W Bodyguard 380 ACP. While a lot of new shooters will choose small guns for their convenience factor, many might not know just how hot they are to handle and how hard they are to shoot accurately. 

Your sights are two tiny nubs, and your sight radius is almost nothing. The sights are not fast to acquire by any means. The crimson trace laser is a big selling point, but if you are in a bright environment, you might have a hard time finding that laser. 

The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 ACP typically features a double-action-only (DAO) trigger mechanism but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Good DAO triggers exist. However, this isn’t one of them. It’s a terrible trigger. The super heavy and long trigger pull does not leave a good impression. It takes a very slow and dedicated pull to ensure your sights don’t move. That’s not a good trigger for a combat handgun. 

I’ve found that the weight, typically around 8 to 10 pounds, and the longer trigger pull length can be a bit of a hurdle, especially for those used to lighter, crisper triggers. For precise shooting, especially at longer distances, it might take some getting used to.

In high-stress situations like a gun fight, that heavy trigger pull might slow down your response time, and the longer pull could affect accuracy until you’ve really familiarized yourself with it through practice.

Sure, it’s a safety feature in its own right, making accidental discharges less likely, but for some shooters, myself included, it can feel like a bit of a drawback, making rapid or precise shooting a bit more challenging than desired.

In general, this weapon is bad guy accurate and only at very close range. Even well-aimed, slow fire doesn’t group well. Throwing shots is very easy to do, and even after lots of practice, I felt barely competent with the gun. 

This thing is a hand slapper. 380 ACP recoil in a .75 inch thick grip, and a 12-ounce gun, doesn’t equal a pleasant experience. The gun bucks and jumps and fights its way out of your hand. That recoil, mixed with the average grip, makes the gun hard to handle. After a few shots, you’ll have to adjust your hand to fire again. 

The long DAO trigger, sharp, snappy recoil, and adjustment requirements make it tough to fire rapidly. Even a double-tap isn’t easy, and this gun is very poor in the shootability department. 

Admittedly, a 400 dollar price tag isn’t too bad, and that’s a common price for a dependable, reliable firearm. However, I think there are much better, easier to handle firearms at this same price point. I think most people would be better suited with any of the current Micro Compacts over the S&W Bodyguard 380 ACP. Check out our list of best 380 pistols to find what we think is a better option.

Final thoughts

From my experience with the S&W Bodyguard 380 ACP, it’s a mixed bag. On the bright side, this little gun is reliable, never giving me any malfunctions, which is a huge plus. But there are hurdles, especially for newer shooters. Its small size and sharp recoil make it prone to issues like limp wristing, more due to shooter technique than the gun itself.

The gun’s tiny frame and ultra-thin grip sacrifice comfort for concealability. Handling the safety can be a hassle due to its small size, making carrying without engaging it a tempting choice.

Shooting it isn’t a walk in the park either. The sights are small, the trigger is heavy with a long pull, making accurate and rapid shooting a challenge. In high-pressure situations, that heavy trigger can slow down response time.

While it’s affordable at around $400, I think there are better options out there. Its limitations in handling and shootability push me toward considering other micro compacts at a similar price. For close-range accuracy, it might do the job, but for overall usability, I’d lean toward exploring alternatives.

Bodyguard 380 Pros And Cons 

  • Super Easy to Conceal 
  • Reliable
  • Hard To Shoot Accurately
  • Hard To Shoot Fast
  • Dinky Sights
  • Long DAO Trigger 

Report Card

Shootability

Ugh, trying to hold onto the gun isn’t easy. It bucks and kicks with snappy recoil and makes it hard to handle. 

D
Reliability

The S&W Bodyguard 380 goes bang every time that long trigger is pulled. It cycles well and handles all types of ammo. 

A
Ergonomics

The grip is lightly textured, very short, and hard to hang onto. Manual safety is a poor idea. The laser on and off button is placed for a natural press.

D
Accuracy

A short sight radius, combined with dinky sights, a poor grip, a heavy trigger, does not equal an accurate firearm. It can hit a bad guy at close range, but it’s tough to be precise and accurate with the Bodyguard. 

D
Value

Sure it’s the same price as most reliable firearms. The price isn’t that bad. What’s bad is the fact you can get much better firearms for the cost.

C

Our Grade

C-

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

C

Based on 28 Reviews

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FAQs

Is there a safety on the Bodyguard 380?

Yes, the S&W Bodyguard 380 features multiple safety mechanisms, including a manual thumb safety located on the left side of the frame, near the rear of the slide. Additionally, it has a passive internal safety feature.

How much does the S&W Bodyguard 380 trigger pull weight?

The trigger pull weight on the Bodyguard 380 typically ranges between 8 to 10 pounds in a double-action-only mechanism. This heavier pull is deliberate for safety purposes, aiming to prevent accidental discharges and requires intentional pressure for firing.

Is the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 a good pocket gun for concealed carry?

Absolutely, the S&W Bodyguard 380 is often hailed as a reliable choice for concealed carry due to its small size and ease of pocket carry. It’s popular among those seeking a compact yet effective firearm for self-defense.

Is the S&W Bodyguard 380 a good daily carry option?

While I can recommend it as a backup gun, its recoil, and heavy trigger pull doesn’t make it a great choice for regular carry.

S&W Bodyguard 380 Ammo

Range Rounds

PMC Bronze 380 Auto FMJ

PMC Bronze 380 Auto FMJ

Working Ammunition

Sig Sauer .380 Elite V-Crown 90gr

Sig Sauer Elite Performance 380 Auto

S&W Bodyguard 380 Starter Pack

If you’ve decided to pick up the Bodyguard 380, or found another firearm that suits your needs, there are some bare essentials you’re going to need to pick up in order to maximize its potential and your safety regardless of if it’s your first firearm or not.

  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Otis All Caliber Elite Range Box on Amazon, or build your own personalized cleaning kit with premium components.
  • Shooting Glasses: All it takes is one piece of rogue hot brass, and you’ll learn the importance of shooting glasses. But not all glasses are built the same. See our recommendations for the Best Shooting Glasses.
  • Hearing Protection: Firing a gun without wearing proper ear pro can be very dangerous and detrimental to your hearing. Find out the best hearing protection for you in our full length review.
  • Storage: Check out our article on the Best Biometric Gun Safes
  • Targets – If you’re wanting a great resource for shooting practice or zeroing your optics on your optics rifle or pistol, download our FREE Sighting in Targets below.

Upgrades and Accessories

S&W Bodyguard 380 Accessories

Do-All Outdoors Steel Resetting Target
  • Rated For . 38 – . 44 Caliber Pistols
  • High Visibility Targets
  • Reset Without Walking Down Range
Check Amazon
100 Round Ammo Box
  • 100 Round Capacity
  • Scuff-resistant textured surface
  • Snap lock latch
Check Amazon
Pineworld Biometric Gun Safe
  • Reliable Biometric Scanner
  • Sturdy and Well Built
  • Cheaper Than Most Biometrics
Check Amazon
Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
  • Great In-Ear option
  • Custom molded – super easy and comfortable
  • NRR: 31
Check Amazon

Caring for your S&W Bodyguard 380

It’s critical not only to keep your guns secure, but also to understand how to care for your firearms properly. We’ve located a fantastic video below on this subject.

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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