While first seen as a women's toy, the small gun market has gained significant traction in the past few decades due to their convenience and use in a high pressure situation. Granted, a 44 magnum can decapitate a target's head, but what's the point of a high powered pistol when you can't access it.
This is why many reputed manufacturers have started channeling out a variety of pocket guns, such as the Colt Mustang Pocketlite and Sig Sauer's P238. While none of them can be labeled as "perfect", they do their intended job (i.e. close range shooting) quite while. Let's see if the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 can match up to the big names in the firearms industry.
The Bodyguard 380 was introduced at the Shot show in 2010, along with several other offerings in the lightweight firearms catalogue. Given that there are other offerings by better known names such as Colt and Kahr, the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 does have a huge burden on its shoulders.
The main marketing gimmick of the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 is the aiming laser, which is built within the frame and manufactured by Insight technologies. The laser can be taken out for cleaning and servicing. Aside from that, the 380 is pretty much your standard 380 caliber pocket pistol.
At around 12 ounces, the bodyguard is on the heavier side of the pocket carry category. The first things that come to notice in the exterior structure are the 2 soft buttons on each side of the grip. These 2 buttons activate the laser, which shuts off automatically after 5 minutes of use. You can choose to reactivate the laser, along with choosing between pulsating and constant modes.
Most of the body parts are made of stainless steel, which can account for the extra weight along with the built-in laser.
We loaded the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 with a magazine of 6 rounds along with one in the chamber. The magazine is opened through a slide lock located below the barrel. The recoil force was excellent, along with the grip on the gun. The laser activation buttons are conveniently located within the index finger's reach when shooting, allowing for easy activation and alternating between the different modes.
The laser offered excellent sunlight legibility even during the brightest hours of the day. But what impressed us the most was the accuracy even at a 25 yard range. Shots were within a 1/2" inch range, making this possibly the most precise pocket firearm we've ever tested.
Another factor that impressed us quite a lot was the front sights, which was larger and much more viewable than usual pocket guns.
As said before, in a high pressure situation, accuracy and ease of use is what matters the most. In that regard, the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 has proved to be a force to reckon with. Granted that the Bodyguard may cost slightly more than other 380's, but it's reliability and set of features it offers for the price is well worth it.