June 2013

S&W Bodyguards: Revolver Or Semiauto for Self Defense?

For us, neither. These laser-equipped sidearms have problems we’re not willing to overlook, though they do some things well.

In this report we look at S&W’s two so-called Bodyguards, one a revolver in 38 Special, the other a semiautomatic pistol in 380 ACP. Both were fitted with adjustable laser sights. The first thing we found was the lasers are useless outdoors in bright daylight, no matter what you’ve been led to believe by various TV shows. On an overcast day, the lasers on these two pistols might be of some value, but we much prefer to use iron sights when we can see ‘em. With them, there’s nothing to turn on, no buttons to push.

If you like the idea of using a laser indoors at night, these setups might be okay for you. We’ve said before we don’t like giving our location away by the glow of a laser sight to anyone who might be in our house who’s not supposed to be there. However, a good laser — and these seem to be excellent — is a reasonable aiming device in conditions when you just can’t see your iron sights and don’t — or can’t — have tritium inserts. Both of these handguns have adjustments so you can put the laser dots right at the impact point of your chosen ammo. One push of a button turns on the laser. A second push puts the laser into a pulsing mode, and a third turns it off, same for both guns, though they have different button setups. We shot with the ammo available, which for the 38 Special was one handload with 158-grain lead SWC and some CCI Blazer 125-grain JHP. For the 380 we used brass-case CCI Blazer with 95-grain FMJ bullets. Here’s what we found.

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