S&W has your duty gun and your backup gun ready to go.

S&W has your duty gun and your backup gun ready to go.


It’s been some time since my last article for Concealed Carry Magazine.

I’d been meaning to write one sooner, but to be perfectly honest, most of the new concealable handguns that have been coming out have just not sparked much interest in me. I’ve been bored with most of the options out there and no one wanted another compact 1911 article. During most of this time off, I’ve been packing SIG C3s and 229s, and all year I’ve been packing a G23-RTF2. That has all been from Mark Walter’s bad influence on me.

At SHOT 2010 I trudged through the show looking for something that piqued my interest enough to review. As I looked at all the new guns on the market, I really struggled with the malaise that’s been plaguing me when it comes to small handguns. That was until I walked into the Smith & Wesson booth. They showed me their new Bodyguard BG380. Instantly my Spock Eyebrow went up. What’s this? A little semi-auto pistol that I want to shoot? Since Kahr hasn’t come out with a 10mm MK10 pistol, this would do.

While the BG380 is the same size as the other pocket .380s that have dominated CCW handgun sales for the last two years, the new Smith is different. The difference comes from the whole feel of the gun. It’s as if S&W took an M&P pistol over to Walt Disney and put it in their “Honey, I shrunk the thing” machine. Normally when you shrink something, you lose a lot of qualities other than just size and weight (much like the Doberman Pinscher shrunk to Toy Pinscher size gives you a twitchy, fickle, and delicate thing). These Micro M&Ps are just as serviceable and snarly as the original, just in pocket size.

Concealed: Specs-Table


As neat as the little Bodyguard is, the real cool part happens when you are just packing it. I used a Galco Pocket Protector made for another pistol and it seemed to work just fine, but it’s hard to tell. You see, I’d put the gun in the holster and the thing would just evaporate. Gone. I’d have to reach back into the pocket to find it to make sure it was still there. I could carry it through 18 hour days and never know it was there until I was taking off my pants at night to go to bed; “Oh, what’s this?” It’s like finding that 20 dollar bill in your suit coat on Sunday, but better.

Concealed: Ammo-Table


No printing, no giveaway bulge like on a snubby revolver when you are wearing your Levis or Wranglers. It carries and hides extremely well. Just like all the other polymer framed pocket guns that have become the bee’s knees for CCW permit holders. However this one, should you have to pull it, is actually an effective weapon because you shoot this one and hit your target. An advantage in my book.

Concealed: I used my binos to carefully scope out the back stop to make sure the range was clear and safe.

I used my binos to carefully scope out the back stop to make sure the range was clear and safe.

The most unique feature of the BG380 is the in-frame laser module. Insight Technologies makes it for S&W and we’ve not seen anything similar out there. The module, should it fail, is replaceable. It’s fairly bright, but not as cohesive as other laser aiming devices from other companies. This isn’t a problem as this pistol isn’t meant for any longer range shooting, but I would have liked a more powerful laser. If I were Crimson Trace or Viridian, I’d be working on my own module to drop into the Bodyguard. The limitation on power comes of course from the batteries, and having the batteries within the frame as they did it makes me scratch my head. You can only shove so much battery in there. I’d rather they had engineered the weapon to carry the batteries in the floor plate of the magazine and had power contacts on the sides of the magazine body. Dewalt knows how to do this. It wouldn’t be hard, and it would be possible to use more battery. More battery is a good thing.

Some shooters argue against lasers as unnecessary gadgets. It’s true that a laser isn’t a necessary thing, but any device that gives you any sort of an advantage in target engagement or intimidation is a huge benefit, especially with pocket sized guns. Another thing some guys claim is that sights are unnecessary to such small guns. However, I checked the law books and I didn’t find any exceptions to gun laws or liability of gun use for small guns. You launch a bullet out of a small gun, you are just as liable for where it goes. And for a pocket gun with the purpose of defensive use, that bullet needs to go exactly where it will do the most work. Shot placement is even more critical in small defensive guns.

Concealed: Six shots, fired deliberately but quickly at 10 yards. This kind of accuracy is flat out impressive. Only one zombie was injured during this test, but he didn’t feel it.

Six shots, fired deliberately but quickly at 10 yards. This kind of accuracy is flat out impressive. Only one zombie was injured during this test, but he didn’t feel it.

With the BG380, I found the accuracy to be exceptional thanks to the good sights and the laser. Making hits where I wanted the hits to go was not as difficult as other small pistols with their vestigial sights. Small guns don’t have the power and shock effect of bigger weapons, so placement must be precise.

The only downside to the BG380 is the trigger. It is heavy, with stacking, but it’s smooth. The more I shot it, the better it became. In spite of that, the pull is easy to predict. One section of the pull is long and it gets back to the point where you can feel that it stages for the break. I was able to shoot very consistently with this trigger, but I must admit, the Ruger LCP’s trigger is better. However, unlike other small .380 pistols that I’ve fired, I did not experience a single malfunction. I only had access to two different loads for this test: CCI Blazer Brass 95 gr. JHP rounds and Winchester 95 gr. Silvertips. Both rounds shot to the same point of impact without any problems.

Concealed: Small pocket sized autos have been popular since the Colt 1903. S&W has brought the concept into the 21st century. They have even managed to make it look so cool, it’s a shame to carry it in a pocket.

Small pocket sized autos have been popular since the Colt 1903. S&W has brought the concept into the 21st century. They have even managed to make it look so cool, it’s a shame to carry it in a pocket.

The pistol itself is just the platform from which the projectile is launched and the BG380 gives you a small, concealable platform that you can have on you at all times, or just when greater discretion is required. The only thing one is giving up with the BG380 is power. I can’t let this review go by without mentioning that I consider the .380 Auto round to be the minimum cartridge which I deem as acceptable for defense. It falls someplace in the Force Continuum between harsh language and 9mm. I would only use it when guns of greater caliber are not an option. While I am not a huge fan of the .380 auto, I must admit to being a fan of the S&W Bodyguard. It’s cool, it’s reliable, and it works. It’s an absolute buy for those looking for a pocket pistol.

All prices as of November, 2010.

[ George Hill is an NRA Certified Pistol and Personal Protection instructor and the writer and publisher of MadOgre.com. Visit his website at www.madogre.com. ]

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25 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. dalvarez@alvarez-gilbert.com

    I bought a BG 380 in early 12/11 at the Scottsdale Gun Club. The first time I fired it, there were problems. The laser went out and the magazine kept popping loose. SGC sent the gun back to S&W and, after about a month, it was returned and has worked fine ever since. It is extremely easy to carry concealed and is fairly accurate.

  2. Yep, I got mine about a month ago. It feels great in my hand, and looks beautiful. Has the looks of a bigger weapon without the bulk. Great built in laser is a nice touch. Smith Wesson will sell a million of these babies.

  3. I love the size and how well it is to carry.

  4. You can’t have everything in one gun, but the bodyguard .380 offers a lot in nice small package. I carry it all the time in a pocket holter and nobody knows it’s there.

  5. I bought mine 4/11 as easily carried pocket size protection. For a new CC such as I, this is an excellent choice. It is comfortable, especially in a billfold style pocket holster, which is important. If you aren’t comfortable with your weapon, you won’t carry it all the time. Shoots well, no misfires either, hits where it is aimed with or without the laser.

  6. I got my BG 380 back in June and have shot it extensively with different kinds of ammo. I haven’t had any malfunctions yet which surprised me. I guess SW had worked out all the bugs from the earlier models. The trigger took a little getting used to, but I can now double tap with little trouble as the trigger reset after the 1st shot allows for quick follow ups. Before this pistol I didn’t take my gun everywhere. Now I have this little guy in my pocket with 2 extra mags no matter what.

  7. It’s a great fit in a busy lifestyle especially with a sneaky pete “holster” that is effective in masking the carry in plain sight!
    It’s accurate, doesn’t hurt your hand, and darn it – looks good too.

    1. I doubt, seeing these “sneaky pete holsters”, you can held in hands a big poster, “there on my side I have a sharp weapon”, you know this SP from google and from journals.

      Thats like having a base cap, with the big Name Colt, Kahr, or Smith&Wesson, and having a coffee mug from them in the Hands, i.m.O., lol

  8. I bought my bodyguard about two months ago and love it totally.
    Once I found where the trigger break was, I was fine with it. It just took me a while to find that break, it’s a little long for me, I have arthritic fingers and it hurts a little, but like I said, this is my carry gun and I love it!!

  9. I got mine and the only problem I had was when trying to take the gun down for cleaning. I could not rotate the takedown pin with my finger alone. I had to use a wood dowel. I sent it back to S&W and got it back promptly with the problem corrected. It is a great gun for concealed carry.

  10. I have had mine for about 8 months now. It has eaten Winchester White box , TAP, and Hornaday Critical Defense (carry load). I haven’t had 1 F2F or F2L. I had to adjust the lazer slightly but at 15 yards it is dead on with a 2 inch group. The open sights are just as good. After about 500 rounds the trigger gets easier and it seems to me the gun got more accurate. I LOVE my BG .380 no complaints here!

  11. I like mine however I’d like to see about getting the trigger pull length reduced. Other than that it’s about as nice as it can be for something so small.

  12. I agree with Dave about the trigger pull length. Sometimes I feel like I’ll be pulling forever. I’m hoping I can get it worked on soon to shorten same..

  13. I have one and recommend it but…

    – Laser activation is difficult and you won’t do it unless you have lots of time. Grip activation would have been better.
    – Long, heavy trigger pull. This is your emergency gun not your all-day-at-the-range gun.
    – Take down lever is a bear. You’ll need more than just fingers. Maybe I’ll send mine in but I imagine the postage to send a complete gun is steep.
    – Took it to a gunsmith to see about a trigger job. We called S&W tech support and they confirmed that this would have invalidated the warranty. And, S&W doesn’t do trigger jobs on this gun. Bummer.

  14. The BG380 is an excellent backup pistol, and with well-chosen JHP ammo it can serve as an adequate primary defensive carry pistol when wearing a business suit, and is equally practical for women with small hands (and strong fingers). The laser is difficult to turn on, but the hole appears exactly where the red dot shines. It took a few hours at the range, spread over five trips and roughly 400 rounds, to get comfortable with the very long and heavy trigger pull; the Popeye-forearms I acquired in the process are a bigger give-away than the pistol itself, which becomes essentially invisible in an IWB holster. My defensive carry ammo of choice: (1) Hornady’s Critical Defense; (2) Speer’s Gold Dot; and (3) Buffalo’s JHP +P+. I’ve tested a few boxes of each of these, plus many others, and all of them performed flawlessly in the BG. I suggest sticking with good name-brand JHP ammo from a highly-respected manufacturer; don’t try to skimp here. Your goal is to produce the largest wound cavity you can, placed accurately, when you shoot a comparatively weak round such as the .380. It’s still not a pleasure to shoot, especially after 50 rounds or so, but it is imperative to know how the gun feels and behaves in your hand when you shoot it. I bought my BG to improve my odds of surviving an attack, and knowing exactly what to expect when I pull the trigger is part of the deal. I put it on whenever I step outside my home, and even my LE colleagues have never known, and they know what to look for.

    It’s a great little gun– any carry pistol is a compromise of factors, and the BG is a compromise I can live with. Every other pistol I’ve had was either uncomfortably bulky or heavy, but the BG is neither. The little pistol I carry is much more practical than the big one left at home.

    BTW– I use an expended brass case, slightly flattened, and slid over the take-down lever, when I strip the gun. It makes it much easier to turn.

  15. I bought mine in June 2011 and love it. Like others, I find that if nothing else, I carry this one all the time. I love the fact that I can put it in my pocket and keep my hand on it if being approached by suspicious people. They have no idea, looks just like some typical “maroon” walking along with everyone else. The only problem I have is getting it back together. My sausage fingers seem to screw up the innards and I find the slide too far forward when assembled. Then I have to fight with it to get it apart and try again. Still like and carry my 1911, but this will do in a pinch!

  16. Absolutely love the size of my BG380, it is small enough to put in your pocket and forget you actually have it on you.
    The only issues I have are that the laser is really tough to turn on and off. In a real world self defense situation I will probably not fight with turning the laser on…this is an issue that can easily be remedied by putting an on/off pressure switch in the pistols grip.
    The other issue I have is that when the pistol is in my pocket, if anything with significant amount of weight hits my pocket area or if I lean up against anything it will hit the magazine release button which will release the magazine. I quite often will reach in my pocket to find the magazine not snapped into place and I can foresee this to be a problem should I have to pull it quick and the magazine drops to the floor (that only gives me the one round in the chamber to defend myself with). Possibly S&W could put some sort of mag button support walls around it where a finger will be able to depress the button but anything larger will hit the support walls around the mag button….

    Other than the two issues mentioned above, I absolutely love the pistol and I never leave home without it. It handles very nicely and I have hand no jams or issues with it’s accuracy….

    If S&W can fix the two issue I mentioned above this pistol would be that much better…

  17. Great CCW but the tension in the magazine when fully loaded makes the magazine pop out really easy. Hope S&W post a recall about this!!!

  18. I love my body guard! worn on my ankle and i don’t even know its on me.1000+ rounds and no fails,cheep guns suck! i had a keltec p3at failed a ton. returned it for repair, it looked like they stretched the spring and sent it back to me, it still failed,so that one is gone.
    2nd try at a cheep gun was a bersa thunder 380 this one i do like a lot super accurate with the fixed barrel around 1000 rounds i started to have problems, and then trigger failed. that one is at bersa. we will see when returned.also have a lc9 love this one never fails.Point is S&W and Ruger are worth every penny !!
    ps no worries the wife has a 38 special j frame with pink grips and i have a 357 for home defense, all is well in Wisconsin.

  19. All this info is great, I was looking at ruger also, but I’m going with s&w .380. All my other carries r .40 cal little heavy but under shirt kangaroo holster make it easy carry. Can’t wait to be able to put concealed in pocket. Some of the concealed .380 cals donot have safety, the S&W does. I am looking for any input please. Acvirg7@ att.net

  20. Guys, I’m looking for a Smith & Wesson 380 Bodyguard. All sporting stores in the area have none and don’t know for sure if they can even get any at this time. Not interested in any used. Must be new, reasonably priced. Just need some information right now.
    I learned of this gun from a law enforcement officer. Best concealed carry gun in his opinion. Why; Smith Wesson 380 Bodyguard has a safety, others don’t. Thanks for all your help.

  21. hatedumbcops

    most apartments don’t even allow a manual safety if any gunshould not have a safety is your backup gun

  22. Most departments damn auto correct

  23. helistens2002

    Had my S&W BG 380 for about 6 months now & love the accuracy, weight & pocketability. Being a senior, my first issue with it was the rear sight in low light conditions. I fixed that with a quick trip to Hobby Lobby where I got some iridescent orange paint and a tiny brush. 3 coats & problem solved.
    Next was the ouch between the thumb and index finger after 50 rounds at the range. This small puppy kicks! A pachmyr sleeve over the grip softened the blows & #2 solved!
    The Bodyguard is now my casual carry pocket piece and my old S & W 908 9mm fits well inside the belt for all other occasions where danger may lurk.


  24. A loaded weight of ELEVEN more ounces, or 22 total oz? My math shows 18 rounds of 9mm. weighing less than 8 ounces. So what would 6 or 7 rounds of .380 weigh? Must be 5 or 6 ounces. I would put the loaded weight of a BG at less than 18 ounces.

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