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The use of smaller and smaller handguns for concealed carry is always a bit controversial. One camp subscribes to the “no handgun smaller than…” principal. The next camp is the “any gun is better than…” group, where the adage, “it’s better than a stick” is common. In my experience, it depends on the stick and who is wielding it—but that is another argument altogether.
Like everything else in the firearms world, those at the poles are pretty intractable. It is the middle ground where some headway has been made. Terminal ballistics are important, but you can’t use a pistol you don’t have. Using a handgun for self-defense is about stopping the threat from doing whatever caused you to shoot it in the first place. Shooting them six times only to have them continue to attack you is counterproductive, to say the least. Nevertheless, self-defense situations in the real world present themselves unexpectedly, which requires you to actually carry your handgun. A handgun that you will not only always carry but will likely stop the threat is ideal, and the new Smith & Wesson Bodyguards fit right in here. The .380 ACP pistol is certainly small, but not too tiny like many others. Meanwhile the .38 Special is similar to other five-shot revolvers. Both are light, accurate, easy to carry, and can handle the most effective ammunition in either caliber. The addition of integrated lasers help with the sighting process.

Packing 6-shots of .380 ACP in its mag, the Bodyguard 380 is a potent carry pistol.
Packing 6-shots of .380 ACP in its mag, the Bodyguard 380 is a potent carry pistol.

Gun Details
A recent tour of the Smith & Wesson factory demonstrated the differences in these guns. The revolver is not a reworked Model 60—it is completely new, both in design and manufacture. The pistol is small with big pistol features, yet the manufacturing process is so simple in fact that the gunwriters at this event actually assembled some revolvers themselves. Given that S&W starts with their own forgings, there is some pretty tight quality control, and simplicity of the process results in increased consistency. Seeing a billet of aluminum get whacked by the forge, then move through 3 different CNC machines, resulting in a complete revolver frame was impressive. This process lowers the cost as well as providing a consistent and reliable product contained in house.

The Bodyguard 38 is as radical in its design, as it is in its materials, featuring a polymer lower frame mated to an aluminum upper frame.
The Bodyguard 38 is as radical in its design, as it is in its materials, featuring a polymer lower frame mated to an aluminum upper frame.

The pistol is built on a metal receiver that is placed inside the polymer lower. The slide is essentially a mini M&P slide. It is put together with the assistance of just a couple machines, and all done in just a matter of minutes. Again, it allows for tight controls over quality yet allows for lower manufacturing costs.

Both handguns have integrated laser sighting systems, with the revolver’s attached to the right side of the frame and the pistol’s encased inside the polymer lower. Both are manufactured at the state-of-the-art Insight Technology factory. Insight has been making laser-sighting systems for the military for years. Although the smallest such device they have made, the lasers integrated on the Bodyguards still contain the reliability of all their larger products. As we toured the facility, their attention to detail and quality became evident. The facility resembled a medical laboratory, not a factory.

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The use of smaller and smaller handguns for concealed carry is always a bit controversial.…