Update: After several hundred rounds the Smith and Wesson .380 bodyguard started to malfunction on about every second or third shot. No longer recommended.
Most discussions of survival guns leads to talk of battle rifles and door to door combat. But the truth is, you are more likely to need a small, light weight concealable handgun to protect yourself than a full-sized battle rifle. I made this point back in 2009 with my post “The Best SHTF Gun Finally Revealed” and was taken to task by other survival blog writers who sent emails criticising my judgement, one even going so far as to say I was posting dangerous information that would get my readers killed in a “real” survival situation.
Well, you know what they say about opinions – mine is that I would rather have a small .380 on my person when attacked than an M1 Tank stashed away at my home or retreat, where I could not get to it. Remember, the first rule of a gun fight is to have a gun. No, I’m not suggesting you sell your rifles and shotguns and go buy pocket pistols, what I am saying, is that these small handguns have a definitive place in the well-rounded survival arsenal. Think about it…
My personal choice for an everyday carry gun is the new Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 Semi-Auto Pistol, it is small (5.23″ long and 3.78″ in height), light weight (12.3 oz.) with a magazine capacity of six rounds + one in the chamber. For a handgun of this type the trigger pull on the Bodyguard pistol is very good, which is more than I can say for some of the other handgun of this size. The trigger has a smooth release, and the hammer does not have to be pre-cocked by the slide.
Not having to be pre-cocked by the slide is a plus for a defensive handgun. There has been several times (not with this pistol) that I’ve been shooting and had a round not fire with the first pull of the trigger, but fired fine with the second pull. I would rather have the option of pulling the trigger another time and hopefully getting off a shot, than having no other recourse besides racking the slide to re-cock and chamber a new round. Most deadly confrontations happen quickly and you probably won’t have time to rack the slide before your head is being smashed in or your guts slashed out.
A handgun not firing when needed is one of my biggest fears – so I’ve worked out several strikes using the handgun as a blunt force weapon. Even a small handgun like the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 can be effectively used to strike the vulnerable points of the human body, while providing a harder striking surface and less risk of damaging your hands. A punch to the eye socket with the tip of the barrel would likely cause more damage and be more prone to stopping the attack than a punch with a closed fist with the same force to the same area…
One of the things, you’ll notice when gripping the little Smith & Wesson is that you can’t get a full grip with all four fingers, this isn’t a problem and is common with all handguns of this type. It just takes a little time to get used to the feel of having the pinky resting under the grip instead of around it. The short grip makes the pistol easier to conceal, and doesn’t seem to affect recoil management or operation other than the need to alter your grip when changing magazines.
The frame of the Bodyguard 380 is made of reinforced polymer, the slide, sights, and guide rod are made of stainless steel. Speaking of the sights, those on the Bodyguard are of better quality than you would expect on a pistol of this type – much better than those on the kel-tec. The sights look a lot like the Novak sights just smaller and without Tritium inserts. The sights are drift adjustable for windage but are not adjustable for elevation.
I also like that the pistol will fire with the magazine removed. The ability to fire with the magazine removed may not be desirable with regard to safety but from a purely tactical stand point there are several advantages. For one you could accidentally drop the magazine during a struggle resulting in not being able to fire the round in the chamber. I also like that the slide locks open after the last available round has been fired, letting you know it’s time to reload.
The Bodyguard has an Insight Laser sight built into the frame of the pistol. The laser is unobtrusive and removable for service and changing of the batteries when necessary, and the laser is fully adjustable to point of impact via the small tool provided with the gun. The laser is activated by a button on either side of the frame, this button is easy to reach with the tip of the index finger when the pistol is held in the hand. The projected red dot is very easy to see and would be most useful in low light conditions, when most attacks happen.
I tested the laser outside, after dark and at 25 yards it was bright and easy to see on target. Sighting with the laser in bright sunlight proved to be a problem, it was very difficult (for me at least) to see the dot on the target. But using the metal sites under the same conditions was not a problem.
So far I’ve fired just over 200 rounds of Winchester 95 gr FMJ and 50 rounds of Winchester Silvertip through the pistol without any problems. Point of impact was about an inch low when using the metal sites at ten yards with the laser being dead on center of point of aim. Overall, both sighting systems were well-regulated and serviceable. Accuracy was good. I had no problem keeping all my shots in the space of a standard playing card, which is very acceptable considering the purpose of this type of firearm.
Okay, now on to the negative stuff – there have been reported problems of the trigger sticking and the locking pin falling out under recoil – to my understanding these problems were with early models bearing the serial number EAA# and have been fixed with succeeding models. The serial number on mine is EAF# and I’ve not experienced any problems what so ever. So far my Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 Semi-Auto Pistol has functioned flawlessly.
Do you have or carry a .380 auto – if so what kind? Let us know in the comments below…