Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38


The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38 is a small-frame personal defense revolver chambered for .38 S&W Special +P.



Bodyguard 38
Caliber: .38 Special<br />.38 Special +P
Capacity: 5
Sights: Fixed Laser<br />Integral rear sight with black ramp front sight
Action: Revolver
Size: Small
Trigger: Double-action only
Frame Material: Lower: Steel reinforced polymer/matte black<br />Upper: Aluminum alloy/matte black
Cylinder Material: Stainless steel with PVD coating
Website: http://www.smith-wes…
Weight: 0.89375 pounds
Barrel Length: 1.9"
Length: 6.6"

Editor Review

A Small Little Revolver

I was first introduced to this cool little revolver in a gun magazine I subscribe to. I read about it, was somewhat curious, and then put the magazine down. About a week later I was getting ammunition at my local gun shop and of course I had to cruise by the pistol case to see what they had. After a few minutes I spotted the .38 Bodyguard revolver, and actually let out a snicker because of its size. The magazine said it was small but brothers and sisters, this thing is small.

I asked the dude behind the counter to see it and explained that I would likely be writing a review on it, and he happily obliged. I got that sucker in my hand and it shattered any misconceptions I may have had of it being a toy gun. Yes, it was light and yes, it looked small enough to fit into the ridiculous category, but it felt really, really solid. I’m a big Ruger fan because of the ruggedness of their pistols, among other things, but one of the first thoughts in my head when I held the little Bodyguard revolver was that Smith and Wesson sure got it right with this one. It felt downright sturdy.

I wasn’t in the market that day for a new pistol and so I reluctantly gave it back to the salesman and watched with piqued interest as he replaced it in the glass case. I told my wife, who is a big wheel gun fan, about the pistol and she got excited as well. Her baby is a Ruger GP 100 .357 revolver and even she admits that it’s a tad bulky for every day carry. The Bodyguard got her head nodding and her cogs spinning.

Not three days ago we went to our local shooting spot and what is the guy next to me banging away with?  Yup, an S&W .38 Special Bodyguard revolver.  I explained my situation and he was more than happy to hand it over to me as long as he could shoot my Kimber 1911 TLE .45.  We traded guns and I was thrilled to get that little bugger in my hands again. He didn’t look too displeased with the deal, either. It seems that the Bodyguard and I are on some sort of destiny path, because the danged thing keeps entering my life. I may just have to save up my nickels and secure one of these bad boys. Anyhow, I’m sure you are wondering about the gun. Let’s get into this.

Not Your Typical Snubby

There are quite a few things that set the Bodyguard .38 Special + P apart from other .38 revolvers. For one, the lower frame on it is 100 percent reinforced Polymer, while the upper frame is aluminum alloy. The gun only weighs in at a hair above 14 ounces and so the combination obviously works well together. You can hardly tell the gun is there. The gun is double-action only and has no hammer to snag when carrying it concealed. Two thumbs-up from me on that one.

Another difference is that the cylinder cycles clockwise when firing which is new and different, but the gun does it well and so I don’t have any issues as to which way the thing rotates. It may bug a few purists out there, but times they are a changin’. When dry firing the weapon, the cylinder operates really smoothly, but the cylinder also only holds five shots in order to keep the gun more compact. In the end, neither bothered me. You’ll see what I mean if you ever get one of these little guys in your hands. I was super stoked.

Probably the most different feature of the little .38 is the integrated laser sight. That’s right, I said it’s part of the gun, not a bolt on extra you have to buy. A little button on the top, where the hammer would usually be, activates the laser. One push turns it on in standard mode, where the beam is constant. Push it again and the beam strobes, which honestly I could care less about but nevertheless the feature is there. One more push turns the laser off, but it also has a five-minute timer that kills the unit should you forget and leave it on. S&W claims that the laser is good out to 25 yards, but I’m not sure I would trust it that far. Besides, the snubby .38 probably wasn’t meant for more than 10-yard situations.


As for accuracy, the Bodyguard .38 revolver is not a match gun. However, it does surprisingly well for what it is. The fixed sights seemed to be dead on, even in the hands of this not-so-great shooter. I love guns but I’ll never be Annie Oakley, that’s for sure. We were plinking at revolving steel targets that stick in the ground and random beer and soda cans. That’s pretty much the norm ‘round these parts.

While I didn’t measure out the distance, we are usually about 30 feet from the cans or target. The spinning target is a two-circle design, with one big one and one little one but the big one is about the size of a soda can too, so it’s all the same. At 30 feet I could hit the can probably eight of 10 times, which honestly surprised me. I didn’t have any paper targets with me that day to measure the spread, but I wasn’t missing by much when I did fail to contact the target. Usually, it was the classic low-left syndrome that we get when overcompensating for recoil. For as light as the gun is, though, it had shockingly little. It was there, but it wasn’t a wrist-breaker in the least.

My wife’s results with the Bodyguard weren’t quite as good as mine, but it took her much longer to get used to the small frame. Still, I believe that at the same 30 feet both of us would have had no problem hitting the body mass of a bad guy. The revolver felt very solid and kept on firing. We had zero issues for the hundred or so rounds we put through it.

The Laser

It was a bright Southern California day and so we had to move in quite a bit in order to see the laser in action, but when we did it was definitely there. The gun was designed for close-encounter self-defense situations, and at the 15-foot mark we could see the laser pretty clearly on the cans. At that distance, with the laser on, I managed three full cylinders of dead-on hits. That little sucker is accurate! My wife only shot one cylinder full and missed one but sunk the other four handily. We never did try the pulsing/strobe mode.

The DL

The Bodyguard .38 Special is definitely worth checking out. The thing literally slips into your pocket and at under a pound, it may very well be the perfect carry weapon. I would seriously recommend getting your hands on one. I very much regretted having to give the nice gentleman his Bodyguard back. Frankly, I’m tired of having it in my hands and then losing it again a short while later. This author is definitely in the market for one.