Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 Pistol Review

By Nick Jacobellis
Reprinted with permission from

Bodyguard 380
Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 Pistol

USA –-( Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 pistol review from the range. When I worked as a uniformed police officer and as a U.S. Customs Agent, I carried a five shot Smith & Wesson (S&W) J-frame revolver on most occasions as a backup and undercover gun.

My #2 choice for a backup gun was a Walther PP or PPK chambered in .380 ACP.

I did so because in the old days we didn't have subcompact pistols in more substantial calibers. It took a few years before pistols such as the 9mm S&W 6906 and the S&W 3913 became available and were compact enough to ride in an ankle holster, and even then these pistols were larger than a pocket pistol such as a Walther.

For the longest time when you needed to carry the most concealable handgun possible, your choices were limited to a five-shot revolver or a Walther PPK style pistol.

After I retired, I eventually began to carry more compact and full-size handguns for personal protection and home defense instead of pocket pistols, which is the opposite of what most retired law enforcement officers do.

However, I recently changed my position on carrying a pocket rocket after I had the opportunity to field test and evaluate a S&W Bodyguard 380 pistol.

The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 Details:

Historicaly, S&W has used the term “Bodyguard” to describe a particular five shot J-frame revolver with a humpback frame that covers the hammer. The shooter could still cock the hammer on their Bodyguard revolver because the humpback frame was split down the middle in the back, but the humpback kept the hammer from snagging on clothes. Thus, the name Bodyguard signified a handgun capable of being brought quickly to bear in a deadly force situation because it's snag-free and easy to carry concealed.

S&W has now begun using the term Bodyguard to identify both a revolver (the Bodyguard 38) and the semi auto pistol I'm reviewing here: S&W Bodyguard 380. This pistol is built on a polymer frame with a stainless slide and barrel, and it sports a black melonite finish. The pistol is double-action only (DAO, hammer fired) with a second-strike capability, and it carries a stainless steel front sight, a drift-adjustable rear sight and a laser.

The Bodyguard 380 is small enough to literally fit in the palm of my hand, yet remains reliable, accurate and comfortable to shoot for a true pocket-size pistol. This is the case because Bodyguard 380 has excellent ergonomics even for someone (like me)who has a large hand.

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380
Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 Handgun

The DAO trigger does take some getting used to, but it's better than the heavy DA/SA trigger on a Walther PP or PPK pistol. After maybe 18 rounds of practice ammunition, I grew comfortable enough with the trigger to shoot the Bodyguard 380 accurately.

I was impressed with the overall fit and finish of this pistol, and I actually like the fact it's equipped with a slide-mounted safety lever. After carrying it a while in my pocket in a DeSantis holster, I have checked the pistol, and never once has this safety accidentally disengaged.

Out & About
While testing this pistol for this review, I carried the Bodyguard 380 as a backup gun when I carried a SIG 220 Compact, a 9mm SIG 228 and a Glock 19. I also carried the Bodyguard 380 as my only pistol on several occasions when I had a larger handgun in a more substantial caliber close by. The bottom line: The Bodyguard 380 was incredibly comfortable to carry all day and all night in an old DeSantis inside-the-pants holster with a metal belt clip, as well as in a DeSantis universal ankle rig and in a DeSantis Style 86 high ride belt holster.

I even carried this pistol in my right-hand pants pocket while using a DeSantis holster and never once felt uncomfortable. I also found it easy to carry at least one spare magazine, and on some occasions two spare six round magazines on my person at all times while armed with the Bodyguard 380.

Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 Pistol Review
Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 Pistol at the Range

On the Range
I was able to place the contents of two six-round magazines into the head of a TQ19 Police Firearms Qualification (man size) target at a distance of about 15 feet. I chose 15 feet because in my opinion this is an ideal close-quarter battle (CQB) distance for a pistol the size of the Bodyguard 380. This doesn't mean you can't engage targets closer or further away with the Bodyguard 380; it merely means I used 15 feet for this test because it seemed like a suitable “let's get it on” distance for a backup gun or primary pocket pistol.

To really see if I was getting comfortable using the Bodyguard 380, I kicked things up a notch and intentionally cycled the DAO trigger as fast as I could pull it. I was able to deliver shot after shot inside the diameter of a pie plate at 15 feet. Quite frankly, I was surprised I was able to deliver such precise shot placement while firing such a super subcompact size pistol with a revolver-style double action trigger pull from a standing, unsupported, two-handed position.

The Bodyguard 380 performed flawlessly at all times with 90-grain Federal Hydra Shok hollow-point ammunition, Federal 95-grain FMJ ammo, Winchester Silver Tip ammo and another brand of very old jacketed hollow-point ammo.

I do have one complaint that may or may not mean much to the average shooter. At the risk of alienating an entire segment of firearms enthusiasts, I admit I personally have no use for an integrated red-dot laser on firearms, especially on a snubby little pistol. In my hands, the laser activation button is in an awkward position. I tried using the integrated laser a few times, but I never once used it under firing conditions. Quite frankly, I wish S&W would make another version of the Bodyguard 380 without a laser to bring the price down even more. That would make my day.

A Bodyguard 380 with one or two easy to conceal six-round magazines is an insurance policy that will always go bang when you need to…

Read the rest of the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 Pistol Review at

Nick Jacobellis is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and former police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working as an undercover federal agent.

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  • 18 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 Pistol Review

    1. My 380 has a worn out magazine release. It looks like the original clip wore it down it only has a couple hundred rounds through it.To avoid sending it in does anyone know where to get the parts

    2. Would like to get the .380 Bodyguard for conceal carry. Would be lighter to carry than the M&P Shield 9mm.
      However, my concern is the stopping power with the .380. Any thoughts on this?

    3. No laser on mine. First time had a stove pipe or two. Last time(yesterday). it shot very well. Was perfect, shot great groups from 20 feet or less. Really like it. Much better for me then my LCP. It’s not for every one. But I trust it now. It is my carry gun.

    4. I just got back from the range with my BG .380 had a problem the gun wouldn't fire with a round in the chamber .. Take the round out the trigger works fine but when I chamber another round nothing happens what am I doin wrong please email me !!! Thanks the gun has never been fired I bought it new

    5. i was thinking about purchase than pulling ou laser completly and fill that cavity with lead to reduce recoil and using screws where laser butons are. just a thought, any opinions///?

    6. Had quality problems with 2 Ruger Lcp. Traded one in on a used S&W BG 380. I am very impressed. Feels and shoots like a larger gun. Seems to be very well made. The Lcp is a piece of junk in my opinion.

    7. I wanted to post my positive results. I took a chance on the Bodyguard .380 because it was the only pocket pistol I found comfortable to hold, and that functioned like a normal firearm. (slide locking on empty, safety, easy insertion of magazine, etc.) So far for me, I've found it to function perfectly.

      I took it to the range to break it in expecting some breakin problems. I ended up running 3 50ct boxes of ball ammo through it. (Blazer, Federal, American Eagle) And I also put a number of HP defensive rounds through it including: "Winchester Ranger "T" series HP ammo", and "Reminton HD Ultimate Home Defense".

      Not a single malfunction, misfire, stove pipe, etc. Every shot, fired perfectly every time. I even took the time to sight in the laser, which upon very careful aiming, revealed the weapon shoots very consistently and is capable of very tight groups.

      Am I as accurate with it as my Springfield XD? No way. (but I've also shot the XD a lot more) I can casually walk around and pop stationary clay targets quickly and consistently from 15-20yards with the XD. Not so with the Body Guard. However, I could hit man size, center mass targets very consistently from 20 yards. (you just don't get to pick exactly where you are going to hit it) Why, for me it's the looooong trigger pull. That's my only complaint about the gun, that trigger should be breaking about half the distance from where it does now. And it's that long pull, that sort of alters your grip on the gun during the follow through, and throws the aim off at the last moment before it fires. With practice, I'm sure I can improve that tendency.

      I've seen a lot of negative "personal experience" postings on various sites, and I wanted to post my positive experience.



    9. Recently purchased my wife an S&W BG38 for personnel defense. Revolver worked quite well. I then purchased myself a BG380. Took this pistol to the range, cycled 50 rounds through it without any problems. Did have to twek the Laser sight but now its dead on. Even the fixed sights were accurate. I let my wife shoot the BG380. Guess this was a mistake because she liked the way the pistol shot and felt in her hand that she traded in her BG38 for her own BG380. This pistol feels good in your hand. Has little recoil. Is accurate and conceals very well. I carry two extra mags because you never know when you might need an extra. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the BG380 as a back-up weapon for LE (I'm retired LE) or for concealed carry off duty. This pistol is comfortable to wear all day. (Carry in a "Bulldog Cellphone Conceal Carry Holster")

      Good job Smith…

    10. I am a 290 lb. man with strong hands but I find it nearly impossible to work my slide back on my BG 380 It feels like it is catching or hanging up on something. My 40 year old Son has NO PROBLEM with it…what am I doing wrong or WHAT IS WRONG with gun ???

      might send back to factory??

    11. My wife just purchased a brand new BG 380, mainly because of her hand size and the need to conceal a fairly small weapon. After about 2 weeks and about 300 rounds, the slide refused to chamber another round. Back to gun shop where it was decided to return to S&W for warranty work on the laser set screw. Who knows just how long S&W will keep it???? I have loaned her my "Baby Glock" for the duration.

      Somehow this does not bode well for the reliability of the BodyGuard 380 as a personal defense choice. Additionally, ammo costs about 30% more than 9mm and does not have the stopping power.

      If one more thing goes wrong with this gun (as in requiring warranty service), it gets put up for sale ASAP.

    12. Generally been satisfied with my 380 Bodyguard.

      Laser died after about 3 months of use. S&W promptly set out a new one.

      Take down pin broke. Again S&W set a new one.

      Started having excessive miss fires with reloads. Factory loads worked just fine.

      Checked and re-checked loading specs. RCBS sent out new expander plug. Did reduce the misfires some what.

      Laser retainer screw backed out and locked slide in the forward position. The staff at Deerfield range in Wisconsin was aware of the problem an got the slide loose and tacked down the screw with blue loktite.

      Noticed the laser cover was missing and the break down pin retainer spring broke sending the barrel, slide , guide rod and spring down range.

      Sent the whole thing back to S&W.

      Just got it back. Replaced all the broken parts along with a new firing pin and laser. Works great but still not 100% with home reloads. The same reloads fire 100% in a Bersa 380.

      Will carry with factory loads but not with reloads. Reloads for range use only.

      I was sold on the way the gun fits in my hand and the great concealability of it.

    13. The slide on my 380 will not go back far enough to disassemble the pistol.

      I have read that the problem is with the internal laser screw.

    14. The BG .380 is a great concealed weapon. At 30 feet all 6 rounds in a size of a grapefruit, but off center of the bulls eye to the right by about 7 inches. The trigger travel is long and at the end very hard to pull. I will ask the dealer to send it back to have this corrected.

    15. My BG .380 was new.

      My laser failed on the second mag. The laser is easy to remove as you are advised to remove it for cleaning.

      Sent it back S&W which sent me a new one. The pistol has not jammed yet 200 rounds and counting.

      I am really liking it and find that I carry more often now, for the simple reason of size and convenience compared to my larger guns.

      The quality of this BG380 blows the LCP away but it costs more. I say it's well worth the cost. I have no buyers remorse on this purchase.

    16. Carried gun to range,shot first two clips taking my time both in 10 ,three more clips rapid fire and my pattern spread out some.very happy with this gun.

    17. I like the .380 Bodyguard Because it is easy to carry. When I took it to the range I test fired with PPU Ammo. It constantly misfired. I had to pull the triger 2ce to fire it. Someone used other good Ammo like Fiocce and it shot very well. So I guess it is a little fussy.

    18. That is pretty dang cool little gun. On one hand its cool that the laser sight is built into the gun, but then again if anything goes wrong with the laser sight – you have to send in the whole gun to get it fixed. Insight does seem to be a pretty solid brand, so hopefully that won't ever be an issue.

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