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

5 Shocking Things About the Trayvon Martin Case

5 Shocking Things About the Trayvon Martin Case

By Mark “Six” James  CPO, EPS

There has been a lot of discussion about multiple topics surrounding the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case. In my humble opinion most of it is off base and people have attempted to connect issues which I feel are unrelated and only choose to cloud the issue.

Whenever you talk 2nd Amendment people start to draw a line in the sand.  If you bring race into the topic one side or the other stops listening. If a white man kills a black teen emotions are high. If a black man kills a white teen emotions are high. Kids dying get all of us supercharged.

Let me try and disconnect some of the connections which have been made so far.  In my mind, HERE ARE 5 THINGS this case is not about:

•              2nd Amendment – this is not about the right to Keep and Bear Arms. I wish people would please stop trying to make it be.

•              Race – as I said above kids dying gets everyone upset, regardless of nationality, gender or socioeconomic status.

•              Self-Defense and Deadly force are related but not the same. You can use force to defend yourself but all self-defense actions don’t grant you the ability to use deadly force.

•              Castle Doctrine – a person has no duty to retreat when their home is attacked.  Neither party was attempting to protect their dwelling.

•              Stand your Ground – a person may use deadly force without the obligation to retreat. I don’t think anyone should have to retreat to protect themselves from severe bodily harm or death. History has shown the sequence of events often move faster than the law abiding citizens could retreat to a safe place.

[Read more…]

What’s Under Your Coat – Tools of the Trade

By Mark “Six” James, EPS, CPO

Just like building a house or repairing a car the right tools often make the job significantly easier.  While agents and operators possess varying skills levels your tools are designed to help enhance your operational capabilities and maximize your efficiency.  Below is a selection of commonly used tools of the trade, which can help you, become more efficient in conducting your business.  They are listed in alphabetical order and not tactical importance.  Just as the situation should dictates your tactics, your individual skills, threat level, detail and environment should also help dictate your tools.  It is not expected that an agent would carry all of the tools listed below on every detail, but ideally the ones which best compliment the assignment.

Body Armor – sometimes the shield is more important than the sword.  It is a must have for protection specialists.  It is more important to not get you or your client shot, than it is to shoot, shooting is extra credit.  Personal armor is designed to absorb the impact from handguns, some shotgun projectiles and shrapnel from explosions.  All body armor is not created equal so please do your research.  Metal or ceramic plates can be used with a soft vest, to provide additional protection from rifle rounds.  Soft vests are commonly worn by protection specialists and law enforcement whereas hard-plate reinforced vests are mainly worn by combat soldiers, police tactical units, and other high risk protection teams.  Typically the slimmer the profile and lighter the weight the more expensive the vest will be.  Understand your vests rating capabilities – Level 1 through Level 3.  Most vests will provide minimal assistance against a knife slash, but almost no assistance against a stab or puncture.  There are some very good high tech vests which are stab resistant however they are priced accordingly.  Buy the best vest your budget can afford and upgrade as soon as practically possible.

Communications – in some cases a two way radio is a great communication tool in other cases a cell phone with a good Bluetooth ear piece is a better low profile communication option.  As the public is use to seeing professionals chatting on their cell phones.  Make sure if your cell phone or your PDA is your primary communication tool, make sure your cellular provider is as good as the rest of your equipment.   It doesn’t do you any good to have high tech phone or PDA and a low tech provider.  Make sure whether using a two way radio or cell phone your ear piece has good noise reduction capabilities.   During your advance work make sure your communications will work in the region you are traveling or in the event facility.  If working with a team, make sure you have hand signals in the event you lose verbal communications capabilities.

[Read more…]

Staying Fight Focused – Enhancing your firearms training

By Mark “Six” James

Today, while at the range, I watched a young man in the lane next to me fire 7 shots in rapid succession at a target 8 yards away and missed with all 7 shots.  I asked him what were you focused on, he replied “I don’t know I was just shooting at the target.”  He was proof positive, “only hits count, you can’t miss fast enough to catch up!”

As firearms instructor, this is an all too familiar occurrence.  Many people go to the range and just fire, fire, fire with little to no focus on situational replication.  Ask yourself when you go to the range what are you practicing on?

[Read more…]

Book of the Month

Defensive Handgun: Preparing to Prevail

By Mark “Six” James

Mark “Six” James is a friend of mine, and in my opinion the subject matter expert with regards to Firearms. His book Defensive Handgun: Preparing to Prevail is without question one of the best.

As an executive protection specialist we pray we never have a need to have to bring our firearms into play.    However when we do we realize time is life.  Firearm instructor and fellow bodyguard Mark “Six” James has written a comprehensive, but easy-to-read book focused on the art of defensive combat.

Defensive Handgun: Preparing to Prevail details many critical topics of particular importance to the protection specialist.  It will take you from selecting your tools to defending your client or family member.

This comprehensive resource is beneficial to both new and experienced protection specialist and will challenge us all to upgrade and keep our training contemporary.  In addition to helping you build a strong shooting platform based on the timeless firearm fundamentals.  “

There is no such thing as advanced shooting there is only advanced applications of the basics.”  He also covers many of the most stress filled situations like dealing with multiple adversaries, effective use of cover and concealment, slicing the pie, malfunctions and many more tactical applications.

One of Mark’s key goals is to always make his students “instructor independent verses instructor dependent.”  Defensive Handgun goes a long way toward accomplishing that objective.  It explains means for avoiding dangerous situations, gauging the appropriate level of response to a threat, and how to apply that level of response.

The concepts are easily understood because James takes care to not only fully explain terminology but includes many illustrations to help you visually grasp the techniques.  The 8.5” x 5.5”, 232-page, paperback from Samurai Publishing will fit neatly in your shooting bag or briefcase.

James is the founder and executive director of Panther Protection Services, LLC, which provides security consulting, threat assessment, executive protection, self-defense training and firearm instruction.  He and his company regularly protect government officials, corporate executives, entertainers and professional athletes.

Defensive Handgun: Preparing to Prevail is available for $19.95 plus shipping at or from Panther Protection Services, LLC, 3695F Cascade Road, Suite 2207, Atlanta, GA 30331.  Phone 404-349-9117