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Personal Defense Personal Defense TV

Guns of PDTV: Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38

by Scott E. Mayer   |  July 7th, 2011 10

This season on Personal Defense TV, the smallest and lightest revolver George is using is the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38.

The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38 is a little five-shot double-action-only cuts weight by having an aluminum alloy upper frame and synthetic lower grip frame. Both the cylinder and barrel liner are stainless steel, which is why the Bodyguard 38 is rated for .38 Special +P ammunition.

This little five-shot double-action-only cuts weight by having an aluminum alloy upper frame and synthetic lower grip frame. Both the cylinder and barrel liner are stainless steel, which is why the Bodyguard 38 is rated for .38 Special +P ammunition.

Despite its light weight, the Bodyguard 38 is surprisingly manageable to shoot. Its svelte one-piece hard rubber grip is easy to wrap up tightly for shooters with small to large hands.

Despite its light weight, the Bodyguard 38 is surprisingly manageable to shoot. Its svelte one-piece hard rubber grip is easy to wrap up tightly for shooters with small to large hands.

Smith & Wesson moved the latch to the top of the frame where you would expect a hammer spur.

Ordinarily, the small size of the Bodyguard 38 could cause the cylinder latch to painfully strike the shooter in the thumb during recoil. That’s not going to happen with this gun because Smith & Wesson moved the latch to the top of the frame where you would expect a hammer spur. It takes training to get used to the new location, but the new latch is totally ambidextrous, and is one less thing to snag during the draw or reholster.

Both the light weight and trim size makes the Bodyguard 38 sweet to carry in a pocket or ankle holster.

Both the light weight and trim size makes the Bodyguard 38 sweet to carry in a pocket or ankle holster. If there’s any criticism of snubnose revolvers it’s that their short sight radius makes them difficult to shoot accurately.

The Bodyguard 38 has an integral laser sight that is fully adjustable for windage and elevation.

Smith & Wesson addressed that issue by making the Bodyguard 38 with an integral laser sight that is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. Simply put the laser’s red dot where you want the bullet to go, and smoothly pull the trigger.

There are times when a laser sight isn’t the right tool, and all electronic devices can fail, so the Bodyguard 38 has fixed iron sights that can never be knocked out of alignment.

The Bodyguard 38 did really well for us this season and those trainers we worked with who used it were also impressed.

Overall, the Bodyguard 38 did really well for us this season and those trainers we worked with who used it were also impressed. Snubbies may be somewhat “old fashioned” but you can tuck one just about anywhere, and they always work when you need them to.

  • breamfisher

    Is it possible to replace the front sight with a tritium sight? Will Smith & Wesson consider doing that? Something like a XS Big Dot would be a good addition to five you a truly useable package.

  • Scott E. Mayer

    bream, that front sight is pinned, so I see no reason why you couldn't replace it.

    • breamfisher

      Okay Scott, thanks. It just surprises me that a manufacturer would market an SD arm these days with plain black sights, given that most uses of such arms will be in low light. At least a colored front sight would be more useable, as it would be more likely to show up in ambient light.

      • Frank

        Well, this model comes with a laser (for low light) standard, which makes a night site somewhat redundant. I'm sure cost was also a factor. S&W offers other models with night sites and no laser.

        • breamfisher

          It never hurts to have options. The laser button is in a somewhat inconvenient place to access, in my opinion. Better if they had put it on the grip like Crimson Trace. And if you're going to put sights on a defensive revolver, why all black? That's the least useful sight combo for a defensive handgun.

          • breamfisher

            Forgot to mention: lasers can also fail. Sights tend to stay on a firearm, unless there's real abuse.

  • Antonio

    I just opted for a steel 2-inch revolver. As much as I like S&Ws and Rugers, to me, the Bodyguard and LCR are just too light. Then again, the 6-inch GP-100 is my favorite revolver — that says a lot about my personal preferences.

    • Frank

      With standard pressure ammo, the lighter weight isn't that big a deal with respect to recoil, and makes extended concealed carry more comfy. But I've also shot enough +P ammo out of air-weight J frames (442 and 637) to sympathize with you in some respects. It's pretty brutal.

  • Joe Cooler

    Just sent my BG38 back to S&W. Consistently hitting high and to the left. Confirmed the phenomena with several blogs and sites; I was not alone. S&W Customer Service claimed ignorance, but did say their shooters produced the same results with my pistol. Heard it was a barrel to frame attachment problem. They are sending me a new one. Great pistol if the POA/POI problem is resolved. I am using 125gr Standard Pressure Nyclads….its really the wife’s gun.

    • BC

      Was having a similar problem with mine, had a gunsmith truncate the barrel ( receiving cone cut in front of the cylinder) no more problems, stays accurate out to 25yds and all I run through it is +p or buffalo bore hard cast ,,, over 1500 rounds and gaining… No sign of any potential failure issue in the barrel, yet.

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