S&W Bodyguard 380 Review

by Travis Pike

April 20, 2022

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There was a time…it seems like decades ago now that the pocket 380 ACP ruled the roost. In reality, it was only about a decade ago. The pocket 380 ACP and the single stack 9mm were bells of the ball. Today we are going to look at one of the original pocket 380s, the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 ACP. 

S&W Bodyguard Specs

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

The Bodyguard Background 

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 have 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. At a little over 12 ounces, the Bodyguard certainly posed no challenge for daily carry. 

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. 

Grabbing and Going

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. 

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. 

Ringing Steel 

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 laser is a big selling point, but if you are in a bright environment, you might have a hard time finding that laser. 

The trigger is double-action-only, and that doesn’t always mean bad. Good DAO triggers exist. However, this isn’t one of them. It’s a terrible trigger. The super long and heavy 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. 

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. 

Hang On 

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. 

Is the Price Right? 

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. 

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 1 Reviews

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S&W Bodyguard 380 Ammo

Range Rounds

PMC Bronze 380 Auto FMJ

Working Ammunition

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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