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Thread: S&W Bodyguard .380 review
07-14-2012, 01:25 PM #1
S&W Bodyguard .380 review
Posting here my thorough review of the Bodyguard .380 for anyone who intends to pick one up or has any curiousity about it.
The bodyguard .380 is a small-frame (a pocket pistol) chambered in .380 auto and holds 6+1. It's a semi-automatic pistol that appears very similar to the S&W M&P models, just sized down. It has an Insight brand laser attached to the pistol just under the recoil spring with ambidextrous controls that allow for a solid or flashing red dot. It has an MSRP of $419 and comes with a magazine and a soft case that fits great in the range bag.
.380 is like a short version of the 9mm and comparably priced to it and relatively easy to find. It has low recoil and good enough ballistics to reliably take down another human being.
Accessories and Modifications
There doesn't seem to be many accessories or modifications made specifically for the Bodyguard in .380, other than holsters. Unfortunately there is currently no trigger kit to help the incredibly long trigger pull. It is relatively new, though, so these could come in the future.
I carried this in my pockets a few days to get a good feel for it. I carried in a pocket-holster which protected the trigger and at no time was it ever uncomfortable, heavy, or difficult to carry. It concieled very well in normal and large sized pockets, but I noticed the finger groove extender on the magazines would stick out on shallow pockets.
The Bodyguard in .380 was impressively accurate for such a small-sized pistol, with good trigger control and sight picture I was able to hit close to bullseye at about 25 feet so I have no question about its accuracy in a self-defense situation. The recoil was also very desireable and negligeable with good grip. The trigger leaves much to be desired and has a high pound pull on it with a long length of travel; a gunsmith also told me that there's currently no real way to modify the Bodyguard to make the trigger better performing. With a slow trigger pull, the pistol is accurate, but with a short and fast trigger pull simulating a self-defense situation we found shots landed a solid foot lower than intended, tested by multiple shooters. The pull is noticeably long, painfull after about 100-150 rounds, and great trigger control is required for an accurate shot (Speed shooters will be dissapointed here.) The frame, while small, was large enough for my huge hands to get a fantastic grip on it. I had tramendous control over the firearm and was never afraid of it "jumping" out of my hands and I was able to keep recoil to a minimum.
Here's where the Bodyguard falls short. It would not reliably feed cartridges and would, for apparently no issue, stovepipe regularly. Every 50 rounds or so and the slide would close on a cartridge being chambered, or actually eject this new cartridge being fed and then close on it during ejection. We were completely baffled that this was happening, and with such regularity. The magazine or the cleanliness didn't seem to be at fault. The laser also broke the first day of shooting, and this also baffled us. We had the laser running solid during the whole session and we noticed the laser was slowly dimming over time, and we quickly realized it was getting covered in powder. Once we wiped it clean we noticed a burn-like mark on the inside of the protective plastic, seemingly caused by the laser itself, and it is no longer visible at any light settings or distance. The magazine also had another baffling malfunction and would eject every 1-2 rounds fired, but only when fired from a right hand on a right-handed shooter. Our leftie had no issues and we had no issues shooting left handed or with both hands. However, the magazine would disconnect every 1-2 rounds fired when fired in the right hand. We tested this to see if we where actually hitting the mag release and tried a total of 10 different grips, even a two finger grip (Thumb supporting, index firing, no other fingers on the handgun at all) and the magazine disconnected and fell straight to the ground. We still don't know what has caused this as the magazine sits locked firmly, has no issue during the same test from the left hand, and the magazine release hasn't been pressed whatsoever. Additionally, the extractor is too tough to remove a cartridge manually. We litterally could not extract a cartridge manually. After carrying it loaded, I could not remove the cartridge from the chamber to perform any maintenence. I had to take it to the range to fire the cartridges. Lastly, the Bodyguard has a common error with light strikes. When I first purchased the pistol and tried it, we litterally could not get it to fire. We required about 20 trigger pulls, which would leave about 2-3 light strikes on a primer to set it off. Every single time the trigger was pulled it left a light strike or no strike at all, on good ammunition with soft primers. We sent it in for repair and a month later we put it through the real tests with only one light strike this time out of 250 rounds fired in the session.
While I've been unbiased to this point, here's my opinion after lots of testing with this firearm. In my opinion, stay away at all costs. The decent price, and good performance (less the trigger) are fantastic but the reliability offsetts all of the pros. I know if I carry it, there's a chance it will either misfeed or have a light strike, and I have no doubt that if I'm unable to use both of my hands then I'll only have one or two shots from the pistol before the magazine disconnects and falls out. If I where to carry it regularly, I would be extremely weary of never being able to remove a chambered cartridge (Like I usually do when I get home, or going to bed, when I put it away).
I'll be sending mine off again, for repair and hoping they can fix the magazine release issues after I take it to the range and video-record the issues with two different types of ammunition. Currently, this firearm has been out for repair longer than it has been in my possession.
07-14-2012, 01:29 PM #2
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
I own a 380 BG and it's nothing to write home about, thats for sure.
The trigger is laughable and its quality is 100% questionable. The gun breaks on people all the time, the laser is a joke and the thing does jam way more than any other semi i've ever shot.
i've had no issues with light strikes, though.
07-14-2012, 01:33 PM #3
Based on a google search it seems like near a 50/50 chance of getting one with light-strikes. People who report the repairs generally say it doesn't happen again.
07-14-2012, 02:42 PM #4
Now I have almost a 100% opposite experience with mine!
I've got close to 1000 rounds thru mine and haven't had a single issue, not a 1 (probably just cursed myself now). I've run a couple boxes of Hornady Critical Defense (my carry round), tons of Winchester white box, Magtech and PMC Bronze thru it. Most rounds between cleanings is probably about 250.
I am a right handed shooter as well, never had the mag drop issue you mention. There are a few hits about it about it that I found prior to me buying it and all of them reference it being the thumb hitting the release.
I find it incredibly accurate for its size with the iron sights. Laser is alright, nothing to brag about and battery life is decent too. I do keep her clean and make sure the battery button head is tight every time I break it down as that it known to loosen. I find the same thing with the laser getting dull when it's dirty but not seeing any burn marks in it.
The trigger pull is definitely LONG, but it is smooth the whole way IMHO.
My 2cents is it's a great carry gun that’s plenty reliable!It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
07-14-2012, 03:05 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
well i have to say i have read a bunch of reviews on this gun, and had no problems until now!. it seams something broke inside the gun, because the slide will not retract enough to take down. i have sent it to smith and wesson, and i am waiting for the verdict!.
07-14-2012, 03:11 PM #6
07-14-2012, 04:09 PM #7
One of the guys at my club has problems with his too....
07-14-2012, 05:19 PM #8
- Join Date
- Jul 2012
Thanx for the review! I always think its awsome when some one takes the time for posting a review esspecially on a newer gun why wife has mentioned she may like to have it but after again seeing another lack luster report I feel it will be a few years before we consider it I am also not a fan of 380 its exspencive and dosent have nearly the power of 9mm from the tests I have seen on the web...but as I always say it better then a sharp stick and again thank you I would be happy to see any other reviews posted thanks for taking the time!
07-14-2012, 06:11 PM #9
- Join Date
- Jan 2012
Nice write up, I wasn't expecting all the malfunctions listed. Looks like i'll stay away from that, i was actually considering picking that up after seeing it at the range. Guess not!
07-14-2012, 06:13 PM #10
- Join Date
- Feb 2011
It seems people either love it or hate it. I've had one light strike with UMC but everything else, especially defense ammo was flawless. I've had none of the issues mentioned. Keep in mind it's an inexpensive polymer pistol, and not a PM9. The laser wasn't a selling feature I was looking for. To me it was about the 11 oz weight for summer pocket carry. Mine's been reliable so I have no concerns about carrying it with critical defense. Hydro Shoks worked great too" There's a fine line between crazy and brilliant; it just depends on whether or not you succeed"