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Old February 3, 2013, 01:34 AM   #1
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Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 38 Special +P

Hi, I'm new to this forum. Does anyone have any information to share about Smith and Wesson's Bodyguard. I'm interested in using the revolver for home defense and for my concealed carry. It fits my small hands good and I like the way it handles, in store anyway. I do want a revolver but if anyone has any other suggestions to share please do. As I mentioned, I have small hands and would like something fairly easy to use which is mainly the reason I'm looking at a revolver.
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Old February 3, 2013, 01:02 PM   #2
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S&W Bodyguard(38+P)

dmarie.... Welcome to TFL !! This is a GREAT place to learn all about firearms, and much expertise can be found here. The S&WBG is a fine choice. Any of the j-frame SW's are ideal for a person with small hands or slight of build. The "bodyguard" is excel. for ccw as it has the shrouded hammer which will not snag on clorhes. (pay extra attention to hammer area when cleaning as lint/dirt can collect inside of the shroud). Try different brands of ammo and find one that suits YOU. Some brands of (+P) may be a bit much on recoil in the airweight guns, but there are many mild ones also, such as the Speer 135grn. "Gold Dot" +P HP. Explore the ammo field and find one you can handle and shoot well, and practice...practice...practice!! Good luck with your Bodyguard!!

Last edited by Gapper 1; February 3, 2013 at 01:12 PM.
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Old February 4, 2013, 01:23 PM   #3
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Welcome, I had a S&W BG .38 +p. For me it worked very well as a CCW gun, particuarly for pocket carry. For your intended purposes it should serve you nicely.
The only reason I let mine go was that I found an old Charter Arms Bulldog .44spl. in very good shape. don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the Bulldog is a better gun, just one that was on my bucket list. I also came out money ahead which is not a bad thing.
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Old February 4, 2013, 01:54 PM   #4
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My brother has one that I have shot a few boxes through. Trigger pull is a little long for my tastes but overall very nice. As someone mentioned recoil is a little snappy with +p ammo.
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Old February 4, 2013, 07:05 PM   #5
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The Smith and Wesson J frame series are some of the most popular carry and home defense revolvers produced. If the M-38 works for you get one, then get some proper training in it care and feeding.
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Old February 5, 2013, 10:00 AM   #6
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The short sight radius and lightweight makes it less than ideal for a beginner.
Good gun but if you don't have any real experience with handguns, I would suggest something different for you.
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Old February 5, 2013, 10:01 AM   #7
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Are you referring to the original J-Frame version that has been around for years or the new version Body Guard 38?
I carry the original bodyguard almost every day but have no experience with the new version.

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Old February 5, 2013, 10:17 AM   #8
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S&W 638

I rotate a 638 for my CC and find that it's very easy to carry/conceal all day long. Since it is an airweight, it is a little snappy, but I don't believe it to be anything that you would not be able to handle. When I go to bed at night, I take it off and leave it on the nightstand. So it does serve as both a carry and home defense role.

As others have said - practice, practice, practice. The long trigger pull is a great safety, especially for CC, but it also takes some time to become familiar with it.

Best of luck!
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Old February 5, 2013, 10:32 AM   #9
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S&W model 38

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Old February 5, 2013, 11:09 AM   #10
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I have one. I also have a 642, which is similar in concept (hammerless J frame sized wheelgun), but completely different in execution (the Bodyguard 38 has a completely different design).

There was a batch of BG38s where the barrel was attached improperly. My first one was one of these... it shot about 2 feet to the left at 7 yards. S&W replaced the gun at no cost to me; I can't complain about that service (if something goes wrong, best they fix it quickly and without hassle- S&W is known for good service).

My BG38, once replaced, has been solid. It shoots well and the plastic frame and lighter trigger make it slightly easier to shoot than the 642 (the 642 gives the feel of being capable of more accuracy, but in practice the BG38 is easier to shoot, so both guns are effectively as accurate in my hands). It isn't a good gun for a beginner- the kick is still substantial, but if you put in the time to learn it you will find it becomes manageable.

The laser is not the selling point it really should have been. Activation is awkward at best, making it less useful in a pinch. IMO, the laser is NOT a reason to buy this gun... a Ruger LCR with the Crimson Trace grips is going to be a better laser assisted platform. But the base Bodyguard 38 is indeed competent and worth a look.
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Old February 10, 2013, 12:05 AM   #11
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Smith & Wesson 38 Special +P

Thank you all for your great and informative responses. I have heard the same, that the recoil in the airweight gun is a almost like shooting a 9mm, which is not what I wanted but I also did not think I could get away from that if I want a something that is more substantial. My brother in law is recommending the Beretta TomCat but I'm reading that it won't stop a 250 lb person who is determined to do some real harm. Thx again.
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Old February 10, 2013, 07:12 AM   #12
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I prefer the Federal standard Nyclad for carry in these light J frames.

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Old February 10, 2013, 01:34 PM   #13
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Hi again dmarie, ... I would advise you to TRY some of the new "low recoil" ammo (such as the Speer 135gr. short barrel, 38spl.+P) there are others out there also. If these are still a bit much for you, then use a good "heavy" (158gr.) "standard pressure" round in semi wad-cutter(flat nose) form. The heavy round will give good penetration which is most important according to the FBI. Almost all ammo makers have a good 158gr. semiwad-cutter round in standard pressure 38 spl. cal. on the market. The "heavy" rounds in 38spl. have decent "stopping power" if you put them where they count. Again I stress Practice, Practice Practice !! Good shooting to you! Gapper 1
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Old February 10, 2013, 01:49 PM   #14
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I carried a S&W BG38 for quite some time and only sold it when I acquired a S&W 340PD .357 mag.
The BG was a great revolver, light weight, easy to carry and rated for +P.
I wouldn't have any problems recommending one.
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Old February 11, 2013, 08:00 AM   #15
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I carry a 638 (older version w/the shrouded hammer and aluminum frame). I am not an expert but do have some experience. Snubs are very difficult to shoot well. If at all possible try rent one at a local range and shoot it first. Most indoor ranges rent guns. The rental isn't expensive but the range ammo you have to buy is. Think of it as an outing and don't think about the cost.

When I did this I was able to elominate a snub .357 for purchase. +P is hard on the hand in a revolver this light.

I don't want to discourage you. It is a great platform but difficult to control in an aluminum frame. S and W does make one with a steel frame that might be more appropriate recoil wise. Good luck.
John M.
Mesa, AZ
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Old February 11, 2013, 08:52 AM   #16
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I'd agree with one of the above that a light-weight snub-nose may not be the best option for a first CCW. You really didn't say how much experience you have but if you are a relative beginner and picking a gun based on size for CC I'd defininetly try to shoot one before you bought one. You mentioned not wanting something like a 9mm - my 642 is harder on the hand than any other gun I have, 9mm, 357, 45acp, and that's with standard 38 specials. I would think a BG 38 would be the same. I also wouldn't be to concerned about worse-case scenarios regarding stopping power in any gun. That BG 38 won't stop a 250 pound Mongo any better. Find a gun that you can shoot with reasonable comfort and that you will be confident with. 99%+ of any possible assailants are going to want something better to do if you can get the gun out and pointed at them let alone get a couple of rounds off and on target.
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Old February 13, 2013, 11:07 AM   #17
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I hope you are still around these parts. I just saw your post, and wanted to reassure you that the Bodyguard will work fine for you.

I bought one for my wife as a Christmas present this last Holiday. She has never had a gun of her own, so she is some what of a rookie, herself.

She very much likes the gun and was excited to shoot it. She found that she could only shoot around 40 shots of standard ammo, though, before her wrist started to feel the effects of recoil.

So, after her first range session, we started loading the gun up with +P for the first five shots, then the rest of the practice is done with cowboy 38's.

She can manage to go through a box of cowboys and 5 +p every time we practice now. It seems to work.

As for the short sight radius, we only practice to 7 yards, as that is what her gun is intended for. Protection if someone gets too close. When she started, she was having problems hitting a 8"x11" piece of paper, but after only a few boxes of ammo, she can put the whole box of cowboys in the paper.

I suggest that you shoot a few +P every time you practice, then use the cowboy ammo for the rest of the time. Don't try and shoot past 5-7 yards, as any further will be discuouraging.

I hope you enjoy your BG as much as my Mrs. does.

P.S. We found the laser to be pretty far from Point of Aim. It was hard to adjust, because we shoot outside and it was hard to see. But once we finally got it adjusted, it is near POA. I think it will help if she ever needs the gun indoors.
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Old February 13, 2013, 12:35 PM   #18
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My wife chose the Bodyguard 649 for the reasons you enumerate. She was not happy with the factory grips so those were replaced with Pachmayr Compacs. So far, so good.
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