Bodyguard 380 Review

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380

Review of the Bodyguard 380

Bodyguard 380 Review

By Mark “Six” James

Recently, I received an email from an individual seeking advice on purchasing a Bodyguard 380 pistol for his wife’s personal protection use. He knew nothing about firearms but wanted something that would be easy-to-carry, and slim enough to slip into her handbag. I remembered in 2012 I reached out to my friend Mark “Six” James and asked him if he would write a review of the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380. I didn’t know much about this particular pistol, so I thought it be best to have an expert weigh in on it. Below is his review.

A friend called me the other day and asked if I wouldn’t mind taking a moment to write a review of the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380. As a protection specialist and firearms instructor, I chuckled and said, “Harlan you know I don’t shoot starter pistols.” He then replied, “You have never seen a handgun you didn’t like to shoot.”  I said, “You are right, give me a week and I will get back with you.”

My everyday carry weapon is typically a compact or full size .45 ACP or 9 mm subcompact when I want to travel light.  I am not one to be sucked into the caliber wars as accuracy should always trump caliber size and in close quarter engagements it is often your tactics more so than the caliber size or marksmanship which will keep you alive.

However I am a proponent of a person carrying the largest caliber that they can shoot accurately.  A well trained operator will handle their business with any caliber you put in their hand, unfortunately most people are not well trained and handgun encounters are rarely one shot stops.

I had seen the “Bodyguard 380” advertised but had not taken the time to really look into it, as I had not historically been a big fan of pocket guns.

A Place for “Pocket Guns” like the Bodyguard 380

Although, I am a firm believer the situation should always dictate the tactics and the tools.  With that said there is a definite place for pocket guns.

Personally I think pocket guns function best as secondary and tertiary tools.  Most have poor sighting systems, undersized grips and are often underpowered.  Probably the biggest challenge I see with them is how they are often sold. I see many people attempting to buy them as primary weapons for new shooters.  Many people are of the misconception that because they are small in both stature and caliber they will be easier to shoot and have less felt recoil.

Effective recoil management starts first with a good grip.  Since most people buy firearms and never get proper professional training they often suffer from poor fundamentals be it improper grip or poor sight alignment.  Thus rarely learning how to master the tool.

Bodyguard 380 a Small Gun that Acts Like a Big Gun

When I went to my local gun shop and range today to take a closer look at the Bodyguard 380, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large number of big gun features built into this small package.

The Bodyguard 380 has a polymer frame with a stainless steel barrel and slide.  It is also equipped with a manual thumb safety, slide stop, external takedown lever and loaded chamber indicator.

It has useable raised stainless steel adjustable sights (dovetail cuts) and an integrated Insight laser sight on the vertical axis with ambidextrous laser controls (constant on, pulsating, off).   The laser features a battery saver cut off, which automatically shuts off after 5 minutes.

It is a double action only, hammer fired semi-automatic handgun. While the double action may help reduce accidental discharges, from the new shooters I polled some were uncomfortable with the long trigger pull. The trigger pull appears to be around 8 – 9 pounds.  However effectively managing a long double action trigger is something that a few more lessons can easily address.  It also features a steel guide rod.

The magazine for the bodyguard 380 has an extended finger tab on the bottom to make the grip more ergonomically pleasing.

The bodyguard 380 performed well on the range. The sighting system was effective and the recoil was what I expected out of a sub 3 inch barrel on a polymer frame. The weapon will also fire with the magazine removed.  The slide also locks back on an empty magazine.

Bodyguard 380 Not Good for Novices: Training Suggested

While I am not ready to make the bodyguard 380 my everyday carry weapon, I would move it to the front of the line for pocket pistols.  The $399 suggested retail is a good value for the features built into the handgun and explains why dealers are having a hard time keeping them on the shelf.

The bodyguard 380 is more than fit for duty as an ultra concealment or secondary tool. In my opinion it is not a starter handgun and functions best in the hands of an experienced shooter.

The light weight, small frame, and short sight radius are not features that lend themselves to new or untrained shooters.  With the right operator or training the Bodyguard 380 can compliment your defensive capabilities.

In the hands of the untrained operator it has the potential for a bad experience.

Bodyguard 380 Review

Model:         BODYGUARD® 380
Caliber:         .380 Auto
Capacity:         6+1 Rounds
Barrel Length:     2.75″ / 7.0 cm
Frame Size:         Compact
Action:         Double Action Only (Hammer Fired)
Front Sight:         Stainless Steel
Rear Sight:         Drift Adjustable
Grip:             Polymer
Overall Length:     5.25″ / 13.3 cm
Weight:         11.85 oz / 335.9 g
Frame Material:     Polymer
Material:         Stainless Steel w/Melonite® Finish
Finish: Matte     Black

Purpose: Personal Protection, Professional / Duty
Mark “Six” James is the Executive Director of Panther Protection Services a full service protection agency.

He is a firearms and combative instructor and internationally published author.  To find out more about Panther Protection Services visit or

History of Executive Protection

History Executive Protection

The History Executive Protection spans over two thousand years and has assisted in influencing many cultures throughout the world. Many of the most well known executive protection specialists include the Samurais of Japan, the Medieval Knights all over Europe, and the Vatican’s Swiss Guard. The earliest protection organizations were most often military divisions assigned to protect one individual.

One of the earliest acknowledged examples of an executive protection is the Praetorian Guard who began as a select group of bodyguards for Roman generals in the 2nd century BC and eventually developed into a protective force for Roman emperors. As the Praetorian Guard grew, they had gained enough power to ultimately effect the appointment of emperors; thus, becoming labeled as disruptive and were disbanded by Constantine I in 312 AD.

Praetorian Guard Standing Post

Another well known group of protection specialists were the Yeomen of the Guard, established by King Henry VII in 1485. The Yeomen’s primary focus was to serve as the organization that provided personal protection for the ruler of England. Originally, the Yeomen provided security for the ruler while in transit to battle or overseas.  With time the Yeomen took on the additional duties of guarding the palace entrances and tasting the food of the ruler.

The Yeoman of the Guard is still in existence today. The United States has a modern form of Executive Protection.  In 1865 the U.S. developed the Secret Service which is still used today.  Originally, the Secret Service was created to investigate currency counterfeiting crimes and did not truly take on EP efforts until 1894.

Beginning as an informal part-time agency until 1901 when Congress invited the Secret Service to provide protection for the president.  The need for presidential protection arose following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901.

Full-time commitment for presidential protection was acquired by the secret service in 1902. In a more contemporary form, Executive Protection no longer relies on resources and powers of law enforcement and federal government.  The separation is attributed to innovative techniques of mid-20th century corporations developing security departments.  Within these security departments protection for top company executives was provided.

Initially, Executive Protection Specialists were chosen from organizations like the Secret Service, police departments, and military personnel. Eventually Executive Protection Specialists were able to ascend above the ranks of corporate security.  These protection specialists began developing skills specifically pertinent to Executive Protection work; this derived from attending Executive Protection training programs/schools.  These training facilities and schools were becoming

increasingly common in the early 1980’s.Secret Service Agent

Executive Protection

Executive Protection exploded in the early 1990’s as crime and violence grew within the workplace and high profile executive kidnappings led to having ransoms attached and death (in some cases).  The main stream media played a major role in making these types of scenarios highly publicized and stimulated the swift growth of the protection field.  Corporations quickly recognized the value of personal protection for top executives and began taking advantage of the safety protection specialists provided.

Following the September 11th attacks, interest flourished and the need for executive protection expanded even further.  Now executive protection was inclusive of not only high profile government officials but also persons who served in international diplomats globally.

In the Corporate world, Executive Protection is seen as a necessary business measure taken to preserve a corporation’s human capital and to maintain corporate confidence with stock- holders, employees, and customers. Any attack can raise questions about a company’s intellectual capabilities as well as its preparedness to continue business as usual.

In times of elevated risk, Executive Protection exists to create an environment in which business can flourish and executives are able to concentrate on business activities with a successful modicum of safety.

The goal of an protection specialist is to provide protection while drawing as little attention to the principal as well as the protector. Today’s protection specialist develops a mindset that focuses on preventing and avoiding threat first, and utilizing combative tactics last. There you have it, the History of Bodyguards, for more info see infographic below.

There are many and varied opportunities in the protection industry, it would be my pleasure to assist you in finding the best possible fit as you make your way into the world of executive protection.

So let’s connect soon!

Warmest Regards

Founder of Bodyguard Careers

Harlan (Hucky) Austin


history of executive protection

The history of executive protection agents and other practitioners of personal protection has spanned hundreds of years. High profile figures like Kings, Presidents, and Popes as well as the wealthy have all required personal protection.

5 Steps needed to start your Executive Protection Career

By Doc Rogers

1. Get properly trained. Some people attempting to break into an executive protection (EP) career believe they can do so without the proper skills and specific training. Sure, you may have some common transferable skills from your pervious career, but there is no substitute for an intense EP training program.

2. Be a leader. Work on your leadership skills because a lot of EP work involves taking the lead on tasks and managing people and/or things.

3. Technical skills and equipment proficiency. Work on both your EP technical skills and the specific tools of the trade. This means mastering the basics in EP (advance and operational work) as well as firearms, Microsoft Office, GPS, automated external defibrillator (AED), etc.

4. Intestinal fortitude. You can have all the EP training in the world, but without the personal courage and determination; toughness of character you will still be unsuccessful. Therefore, get into great physical shape, maintain high mental discipline, teamwork, character, be mature in judgment and a have a burning desire to be a professional EP agent. Intestinal fortitude separates those who man-up and those who don’t.

5. Realize EP is Non-Glamorous. Learn the non-glamorous parts of the job to include the ever important advance work, route assessments and how to manage a halls and walls team, etc. Sure you will be protecting the principal in luxurious locations, travelling in high-end vehicles and wearing expensive clothing. But in contrast to the Hollywood-hype, EP work is done according to a systematic and established form of procedures, conducted by a controlled form of behavior and way of working that is systematic and practical, done according to a plan to keep the principal and the EP team safe. Good luck and God speed.


Need Help Moving Your EP Career Forward?

Check Out The Book Principal Protection; Lessons Learn By Rick Colliver



Certificate Close Protection Course

DenverTraining2015Partnering with The Professional Bodyguard Association (PBA), Security Plus International is offering a 15-day course, on Jan. 26 – Feb. 8 in Denver, leading to the Security Industry Authority (SIA) certified BTEC L3 Certificate in Close Protection. The SIA is the organization responsible for regulating the private security industry (including in the EP/CP field) in the UK and elsewhere.

Click here for details:

Security PLUS International is one of the VERY FEW organizations offering SIA training in the US. As the North American Representative of UK-based Professional Bodyguard Association (PBA), we provide you the opportunity to train for — and gain international access to — working outside the US.

Details here: Established in 1985, PBA is a global leader in the professional bodyguard field. Enrollment deadline: Dec. 31, 2014. We look forward to seeing you in Denver!

NEXT CLASSES: January 26th 2015 – February 8th 2015, DENVER Click here for details: Certificate Close Protection.

3 Day Executive Protection Training Course

Bodyguard Careers3 Day Executive Protection Training Course

Being Offered in Minneapolis, Minnesota

November 7-9 2014

 Limited Space Available


This three day, intermediate course is focused on techniques, tips and methods for the solo executive protection agent (SOLO EPA).  Anyone who has attended a reputable executive protection school will tell you that while most formal training teaches team tactics, the reality is that for many executive protection professionals, the job is often a one-person-show.

The instructors for this course are highly trained in the field of executive protection, have trained at some of the top schools in the industry and have over 60 years of experience in the field.  And while they have worked in teams over the years, the vast majority of their professional careers have been as solo executive protection agents.  This is the course they wished they had taken when they were first starting out in the field – Sixty years worth of insider tips, tricks and shortcuts for the SOLO EPA.

Why Should I Take this Course?

This is an intermediate course designed with the solo executive protection agent in mind.  While having a foundation in basic executive protection is a plus, it is not necessarily a requirement to get the most out of this course.  If you are working in the field of executive protection as a solo agent (or are planning to), you will benefit from this course whether you are a newbie with no previous training, a recent graduate of an executive protection school or seasoned veteran.

What Will I learn?

Students in this course will learn how to efficiently manage the executive protection process for a celebrity or high net worth client when working aloneThis is a method course (not a theory course) so although there will be some time spent in the classroom, the vast majority of the course will be held outside the traditional classroom.

The course will specifically focus on providing solo protection for a client in the following venues:

  • Commercial and Private Airports
  • Hotels and Restaurants
  • Auditoriums, Theaters, Stadiums and other Performance Places
  • Health Clubs and Spas
  • Golf Courses and Country Clubs
  • Casinos, Race Tracks and Sporting Events

The student will learn first hand how to effectively and efficiently advance, secure and navigate with their client through the aforementioned venues without the assistance of other executive protection professionals.  The student will interact with local law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, international airport and TSA personnel hotel management, venue security and many other professionals throughout the three day course.  Students will also receive many helpful checklists, web links, mobile phone apps and a list of telephone numbers and contacts that make the job of the solo executive protection agent safer and easier and more efficient.

This is a real world method course and many find it to be physically and mentally demanding.  The student should expect to spend long periods of time on their feet and in motion in various settings in and around the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area over the course of the three days.  The student will also participate in several, practical exercises and be graded on their performance.

A certificate of completion will be awarded at the end of the course.  The course is also eligible for 18 ASIS credit.

Tuition$750.00 with financing available

Dates:  November 7-9th 2014

The course format requires the total number of students be limited to 15 students.  Reserve your space now.

For more information or to register for the course, please contact us at 952 928-8400 or send an email to