2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Friday, August 20, 2010

S&W Bodyguard .380 vs. my LCP...MEH!

Smith &Wesson unveiled a new .380 pocket pistol this year at the SHOT show designed and squarely aimed to compete with the Ruger LCP. The LCP is clearly the current sales leader in the .380 class with over 80,000 sold last year alone. S&W has a long and storied past in providing defensive firearms for law enforcement, military and civilian shooters for over a hundred years and obviously could not stand the thought of missing out on this segment of the industry, which has been eating at the sales of its J-frame revolvers as of lately.

They also rolled out a polymer revolver called the Bodyguard .38 to directly compete against the Ruger LCR which had also been eating away at its revolver sales, but that's a post for another time...

They came up with a pretty darn good looking compact pistol and backed it up with some flashy advertising...

As you can see the emphasis on the pistol is the integrated Insight laser that is standard on the Bodyguard .380. A laser unit from Crimson Trade for the LCP (and the pistol it directly copied in design, the Kel-Tec P-3AT) for a while now and has been a very good selling item for them.

As you may remember from one of my earlier posts, Ruger itself used some high profile marketing hype when rolling out the LCP..

There has already been some considerable hype in the usual gun rags about the "new kid on the block" from S&W. Other notable points on the Bodyguard are dovetailed sights and a manual safety, both standard on the pistol and not available on the LCP. Also, the Bodyguard .380 has a slide that locks back on the last round of the magazine, a feature the LCP lacks that I find quite appealing.

Would the LCP's throne is threatened by this dark night armed with a laser and such?....got me thinking. Should I "upgrade" my current LCP? The cost for a Bodyguard .380 in Columbus, Ohio is currently right around $500. I paid $300 for my LCP and the Crimson Trace unit for it is right around $200 if bought locally so price wise it would be a wash. Would it be worth it? I started to take a look and see what I could find...

First off lets take a look at what I consider to be two of the best user videos (yes, this is a video heavy post...I find them, you watch them) of the Bodyguard .380 by my 'net friend George Hill, aka The Mad Ogre from www.madogre.com...

..an overview...

..and a shooting review..

Well, that should pretty much make my decision clear...run out and grab a Bodyguard .380 right? Well, now quite. Before I get into that lets take a look at some of the specs for these two pocket pistols...

S&W Bodyguard .380 Ruger LCP
Caliber .380 ACP .380 ACP
Capacity 6+1 6+1
Length 5.25" 5.16"
Height 4.10" 3.60"
Width 0.75" 0.82"
Weight 11.85 oz. 9.40 oz.
Barrel 2.75" 2.75"
Safety manual none
Sights drift adj. rear, dove tailed fixed, integral
Laser Insight Technologies built into frame Crimson Trace available option ($200)
MSRP: $575 $364
Actual as of 08/10 $499 $299

Some thoughts of the two of them based on my meat pawing of a Bodyguard at a gun store (hey, I make purchase decisions the same way most of you do by searching out info and whatever hands on I can. Unlike some other blogs and sites I don't get manufacturers sending me samples to try out).

  • I like the way that the laser is triggered on the CT unit compared to the Bodyguard, less thought involved.
  • Size wise they are pretty much DNO (dead nuts on) in dimension to where it doesn't matter. The bodyguard does have a 2.5 ounce difference in weight which while not much is certainly more when hanging out in a holster in the loose pocket of my khaki's swinging around.
  • Tossed up on the sights, yeah the dovetailed units are a big improvement over the LCP but for what I think the pistol was designed for it may be overkill, doubt I will be taking this thing to the range with a couple of boxes of ammo just to plink.
  • Definitely like the slide locking back on the last round over the LCP arrangement.
  • Guy at the store had some snap caps so we compared triggers, the LCP is lighter but a bit "squishy" compared to the Bodyguard. The Bodyguard seems to need a bit more to get it to break but it does so cleaner than the LCP (both were new units from the display case)
  • * Didn't like the manual safety on the one I looked at, felt stiff and I though the button would be a PITA to deactivate from a pocket draw when you were also worried about getting the laser engaged at the same time.
  • Found a CT unit for the LCP for $153 shipped on line...
  • While the LCP certainly doesn't look bad (matter of fact the only reason I upgraded to it from the P3AT was for aesthetics) the Bodyguard does have a certain "cool" factor to it the LCP doesn't
  • The bodyguard has a very solid and quality feel to it and the melonite finish on the stainless slide is of very good quality. Good gripping surfaces on the grip also.
  • Rob at the gun store said that they have had several Bodyguards come back for defective laser units in the first couple of weeks of having them available.
So what it basically came down to for me was this, does the Bodyguard .380 offer substantial enough improvements over the LCP to warrant me to spend money on it? No, it doesn't.

While the Bodyguard is certainly a quality product I feel that the LCP suits my needs in every way except one, the laser. After thinking it over and looking at some training videos over on Crimson Trace's web site I decided to get one of their units for the LCP. Sure the sights on the Bodyguard are nice, but check out the groups I put together at 3 yards with the LCP (realistic range for this type of gun)
I was shooting at the top triangle on the target. First 3 rounds are the lower group that I used a 6 O'clock hold on the triangle and then went to a center hold for the last 3. Not bad for a pistol "lacking proper sights" as some have claimed.

The slide lock back would have been nice but this type of pistol is designed and carried as a last ditch type weapon where you are only going to be firing a few shots anyway. If I need to swap mags I will be at a disadvantage for sure, but that is a negligible risk in my book.

Manual safety? A non-issue for me, I have yet to have a ND in my pocket while carrying the LCP due to the trigger being pulled. Just get a holster that covers the trigger guard and you're good to go.


Anonymous said...

If you did not own either gun, which one would you recommend purchasing?

Huey said...

If I were to buy one out of a display case knowing what I know now I would go with the S&W...better iron sights and a built in laser solution. I am fan of how Crimson Trade has there unit activated on the grip, but this is just a training issue. I had heard or read somewhere of a high failure rate on the lasers from the factory but when I inquired at my local shop they had not taken any back for that reason.

Check out this shooting review by the mad ogre...George works in a large shop in Utah (where they love their guns) and is a pretty good judge of quality weapons..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q155agV2Jsc

Huey said...

And I should point out that my decision not to get one in the original post was premeditated on the fact that I already owned a pocket pistol..which I think you correctly assumed when you asked your question.

And thanks for posting the comment BTW...

Gregory said...

I bought an LCP a short time after first released, name on waiting list... finally got one of the first post-recall units, had to return it for repair, so was not happy for a while! Got it back 3-4 months later in Tip-Top shape and has never failed me since! Really like this little gun! Don't like the looks of the CT Laser for it though so if I wanted Laser the Bodyguard would be an option! Smart of S&W to package it so! They can always intro a scaled down version later for the budget concious buyer. Personally I will wait for price and availability to stabilize b4 I add this one to my LONG list!

Gregory said...

BTW the LCP is easy to forget you are carrying it! Can you say light weight? I recently switched out to a Kahr PM40! It is slightly larger but close in size and .40 cal. Wow! Need I say more?

Huey said...

thanks for the feedback Gregory! I have thought about getting rid of the LCP in favor of a 9mm (common ammo with the rest of my pistols) compact such as a Kel-Tec FP-9 or G26 but the one thing that keeps the LCP in my gun safe is its size. Its so small and lightweight that its hard to argue against not having it, especially when the temps get back into their summer highs here in Ohio and I am wearing light shorts and a tshirt. Then the ability to slip it into a pocket holster without having to worry about a belt on my pants is a great feature. Sure, the .380 is not the best round for self defense, but its better than relying on a .22, 32 or any other cartridge normally employed in a pistol of that size.

As for the CT unit, it does not add any appreciable weight nor size to the LCP that makes it a burden to carry above the base pistol. just noticed last night on Ruger's website that they are offering the LCP with a CT laser direct from Ruger..obviously trying to cut the coolness factor lead that S&W has on them in the marketing department.

Anonymous said...

Street Price here in Rochester NY at Beikircks is 379$. Bodyguard at this price is a winner and I up graded from a PT32 to it.

Anonymous said...

Cabela's has the Bodyguard on sale thru Jan 30th for $349 in Texas. But I already have a LCP Coyote Special so maybe the CT will go on sale soon.

Huey said...

LOL! The Texas coyote special...I remember that one!

Detroit Homicide Det said...

There is no mention in this article regarding the "double strike" capability of the Bodyguard. It is THE MOST IMPORTANT distinction between the two guns and certainly what makes the Bodyguard a better gun.

Huey said...

thats a good point to bring up...should of mentioned it in the article but that detail escaped me at the time....

however, I view it as a minor advantage as the reliablity of modern, factory ammo is usually very high...teaching a standard drill to clear a malfunction may be simpler than trying to engrain in your head "ok on my primary I need to TRB...on my backup pull again"

just my 2 cents...being a cop I am sure you have a different opinion of a BUG...I would think statistically that the chances of your primary AND secondary going down consecutively in the same instace would be astronomical...

greg said...

Cabelas in hartford,ct had a sale ;worked third shift trucked out there first thing.First one in line and bought the only one they had.The four cops behind me werent to thrilled.That one was one large unpaid endorsement .The sale price of $350 another. Took to the outdoor range at the club,through two feet of snow.Now I will tell you I need glasses and not using them becuase this gun has effective sights which will allow visually impaired user to hit targets.Honest I put afew into the far target 15 yards.This wood never happen with other nom site guns.

Anonymous said...

You failed to mention or even test one thing. The Rugers laser tends to shift on the gun when sat on. As in when you carry it in your back pocket sit on it then shoot it, the laser will loose zero which does not happen to the S&W because it is built into the frame.

Huey said...

Didn't review it because, unlike a lot of other sites, I don't get paid for any of this I do, its just a hobby. You don't see any paid advertising on here nor do I get paid a publishing fee for any of the 500+ posts I have written. I buy or borrow everything I test and don't have cash just lying around to spend on EVERYTHING I want to talk about. I did post a couple of good vids of a review by George Hill, aka the Mad Ogre and co-founder of Crusader Weaponry. I figured they would suffice, George gets to shoot way more than yours truley due to the area in which he lives and has put thousands of rounds downrange more than I. Generally, if George says something is so, I take his word for it.

I will take your word on the back pocket carry thing with the laser. I don't carry mine that way, its either IWB or in my front pocket. The idea of sitting on my weapon or having it in a position that makes it inaccessable while I am sitting is not appealing to me. Plus, I have just stopped putting my wallet and such back there after having a physical therapy specialist recommend it after my back surgery to avoid having uneven pressure on your hips and spine.

I usually try and get the LCP to the range every month or so to run a few rounds through it and to verify the zero of the CT unit anyway. I generally keep adjusted for more or less poa/poi at 5 yards. I guess you could locktite the screws after you adjust it to where you want it but then you would never be able to ajust it again with the small hex wrench they give you.

I actually carried the LCP sans laser for a few days recently when the battery for the laser unit died and I took it off to replace it, took me a couple of days to get to the store. I guess for what its designed to do (deep cover pocket carry) the vestigital sights will suffice, I have painted the front "bump" bright orange with sight post paint purchased at a gun shop and it does aid in aiming the pistol. I don't know if the laser is totally necessary on the pistol, but it does apparently offer enough curb appeal to buyers that Ruger is now offering it installed by the factory with a pocket holster. I really could go either way on it. I do however, like the full sights on the Bodyguard .380.

I keep going back and forth between getting rid of the LCP and putting the proceeds of the sale towards a LC9. Same caliber as the rest of my pistols and same form as the LCP, with full sights. The small "take anywhere" size of the LCP is just too attractive to get rid of. Lightweight khaki shorts are still able to carry it comfortably.

Huey said...

..and I forgot to say thank you for taking the time to comment, so thank you for that.

BuckeyeChuck said...

Nice write up! I recently evaluated carry guns and after analysis resolved to compare two pistols in a side-by-side shootout: the Ruger LCP and the S&W Bodyguard 380. I rented them both at my local range and shot them side-by-side, one after the other, several times.

I now own a BG. Things I thought justified the higher price:

(1) True DAO with double-strike capability. This works well, too, as I've had two FTF's during practice and in both cases, pulling the trigger made the gun go bang.

(2) Raised sights. The laser is useless in daylight, and my laser was flaky during the last practice session, so I found the sights quite useful. In my DeSantis holster, I don't find the larger sights any impediment to pocket carry.

(3) Integrated laser. I don't care for the method of activation, but practice makes perfect, right?

(4) Slides locks back when open. I can't think of a reason why this might be useful in a self-defense scenario, but I sure like it when practicing.

My BG is now loaded with seven rounds of Hornady Critical Defense, which it seems to eat quite well.

Out-the-door price, including Franklin County sales tax, was just under $400. So far, I'm pleased with my purchase, even with my flaky laser.

Huey said...

Wow Chuck, nice writing yourself, very well thought out logic for your decision. The Hornady Critical Defense is what I have always used in these little .380's, it seems to be a winner in them...

And if you haven't noticed I am now actually back ot a P3AT for a pocket gun! Guess that circle of life thing applies to guns as well!

Thanks for posting!

MP Major said...

WOW..thanks for this comparison / review, plus the comments. This has been very helpful in my research for a pistol for my wife.
Notes for what it is worth..
I carry a .32 SEECAMP for the last 10 years or so.
no sights...no jams...good group at personal / self defense combat distances..less than 30' ..i am a retired MP Officer so I no longer have access to my M9 (i like the 1911 much better), M16, 12 gauge or Mark 19 :)
Yes small caliber and hard slide pull....but talk about concealable (leather skin tight holster)!!!!
i once had a 1st gen SW .380 Sigma...hated it...too hard to hold...harsh kick..tore my hands which led to flinching and jamming...actually it just fell apart, so i returned..hope SW has fixed those problems.

All of this to ask, why you are back to the P3AT?

Huey said...

Well Sir, basically got rid of my LCP as a "charity" sale to my friend and his wife after she was attacked...didn't really know how much I would miss having a mousegun until I didn't have one...got a great price on the P3AT used and it works fine now after some great customer service from Kel-Tec.

I have gone on in other posts to express that overall, for what they are designed to do, that the P-3AT and LCP are basically interchangeable. Putting a laser on it may help in some scenarios, but overall its a gun designed to be drawn from deep concealment and used at bad breath distances where fancy sighting systems will be of little real value.

And for what its worth, if you wife is recoil sensitive these little .380's may not be for her...to me the pistols are "snappy" but for someone else they may jump quite a bit...maybe start her off shooting something larger with more manageable recoil and then work down to a size that is good for her...may I also suggest a Bersa Thunder (PPK clone) it shoots .380, is small but IMHO has less recoil since its all metal...I have a review on the blog from back in 2008 or so....

"Rangers lead the way, Airborne all the way and scouts out...boy nobody left in the office with the coffee and donuts but me....."

Anonymous said...

Got a BG the other day. My usual gun shop sells them for 316.00 plus tax, but they were out and had a huge backorder. Went to a pawn shop I knkow and delt with before i retired (Police), He let me have one for 330.00 plus tax. Threw in a box of ammo (20.00 value). He made money and I was satisified. Will go out tuesday and shoot dit up.

Scott said...

I must say that this post was helpful and entertaining!! I currently own and love the LCP, but have been back and forth in replacing it with the Body Guard. The price of the BG on Long Island, New York is $350. But now after reading all posts and your article, I will be sticking with the LCP!! Love to carry the "little bastard"!! Thanks for some enjoyable reading!!! Usually stick to the sports section!! LOL!!

Huey said...

Thanks Scott...on these little pistols I keep coming back to the logic that if we all KNEW we would be in a gunfight we would probably grab other weapons..but for the comfort of concealability that these mouse guns provide to allow carrying in almost any attire in order to meet requirement #1 of a gunfight (have a gun!) all of them do the job adequately. These are not (necessarily) tack driving, knock down power combat pistols for duty use. They are what they are...having owned and used the P3AT (currently own), LCP and what Georoge has written about the Bodyguard I would not hesitate to carry any of them (provided I could range test each with carry ammo to ensure reliability)

that being said the CCW of the day is the Ruger LC9!

Anonymous said...

Had a 2012 lcp n traded to bodyguard.. safety n ease of the slide and not to forget the hard trigger pull on the lcp made me upgrade to S&W. I love ruger but s&w is truly my bodyguard due to all the positive comments above regarding the bodyguard.

Anonymous said...

I have a BG and like it for what it is (.380). I carry it in a SneakyPete holster that clips to the belt. Looks like an iphone case.

Anonymous said...

Informative post and comments here. Been researching this topic for a couple weeks now and wanted to point out that another selling point (IMO) is that tritium night sights (XS brand) are available for the Bodyguard 380. Considering that if this weapon must ever be used for its intended purpose it is more than likely to be dark, this is important to keep in mind.

Happy Holidays and be safe.

Anonymous said...

I have several carry choices the point of a small weapon is to get the smallest non detected piece and thats the LCP. I dont need a laser or big sights, this is for close up and personal protection, like I said I have other choices for target shooting.

Anonymous said...

I have several carry choices the point of a small weapon is to get the smallest non detected piece and thats the LCP. I dont need a laser or big sights, this is for close up and personal protection, like I said I have other choices for target shooting.Also I know a few Bodyguard owners that had slide trouble, Google that for more information.