[SHOT 2016] S&W Releases New Bodyguard 380 With No Manual Safety

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Smith & Wesson’s big announcement at the show was something concealed carriers have been asking after for years now: An M&P Bodyguard 380 with no manual thumb safety. This would perhaps have been a much bigger announcement than it was, had the company released the product in 2012, rather than 2016. The fact is that those looking for a pocket .380 handgun – those who just can’t live with a nigh-useless manual safety, that is – have so many options to choose from at this point that the safety-less Bodyguard won’t be terribly exciting news for most.

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Smith & Wesson’s execution of the no-manual-safety model (? What do we call this thing? The “less-safe” model? The “safety-free” model – wait, no, not that) leaves a little bit to be desired, as well. One might expect that after six years of their customers (past and potential) clamoring for a Bodyguard with no manual safety, they would spring for new frame molds, but that’s not so. The, um, dingusless model uses the same mold as the old manual-safety-equipped M&P Bodyguard, with the addition of a plastic insert. Maybe one could rationalize this decision as meaning that Smith & Wesson could ship conversion kits to owners of the original models, except A.) There’s no reason they could have done that anyway and B.) Who would spring for a conversion kit when they could just, y’know, not use the gun’s safety?

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Bizarrely, S&W is offering the new model with the same integrated Crimson Trace laser that requires you to lay the gun flat on a table and hit the activation button with a punch to turn it on – a decision made even more baffling by the existence of grip-activated triggerguard-mounted Crimson Trace lasers for the laserless Bodyguard. MSRP on the model without laser is $379, while the one equipped with the impossible-to-use laser is $449.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Kevin

    Could we get this covered by someone a little less salty toward this product?

    • It’s not a bad gun at all, just saying what I think about it. I am pretty confused by S&W’s decisions here, for a company that’s usually pretty on-the-ball this seems… Underwhelming.

      • FightFireJay

        “they could just, y’know, not use the gun’s safety?”

        But if you don’t practice a lot with thumb safeties you’ll have no muscle memory to turn it off, and now you just HOPE that it’s still in the off position when you need it?

        Nor a very good plan, imo.

        • It’s a pretty stiff and out-of-the-way safety. Anyway, I have seen no evidence that S&W actually intends to offer conversion kits.

          • nova3930

            I use the BG380 as a BUG and you’re going easy on the safety IMO. It flat out sucks. Mine also has the old pre-CT laser on it. I think it’s time to trade it for one sans laser and sans safety….

          • Do you have problems with it coming on? At that point, I’d be tempted to just disassemble the thing and see what I could do to eliminate it.

          • nova3930

            Never had that issue myself but I won’t say it couldn’t happen. If it had come on inadvertently I think I’d be finding a new carry piece personally.

      • Brain Miller

        Didn’t S&W already make a version of this pistol a few years back, without the manual safety, per LAPD specifications for their backup pistol?

    • Matt

      Agreed Kevin

    • Sgt. Stedenko

      Sure,
      You can go out to SHOT and tell us what you think, although we already know what you think.

    • Edeco

      Hmmm, yeah, I think the analysis of the insert is unduly harsh, which is a neat achievement.

      I mean, think the insert is cheesy also, looks like a one-cheeked revision. Being able to retrofit safety ones would be a cool option (especially since less-experienced shooters I think are sometimes fixated on safeties that they might end up not wanting later), but in any case future models shouldn’t be be-derped with the retro-fit part as well. But by criticizing them for having the safety, then saying the option to switch the safety out for a panel is won’t be popular because one can choose not to use a safety… you know, which is it?

      • The safety is useless, but it’s not very harmful.

        The Shield w/o safety will be plenty popular, I’m sure. It would have been a lot more popular if S&W had released it years ago, and since all they did was swap the safety for a lump of polymer, why’d it take them so long?

  • Don Ward

    A carry gun that makes it easier to negligent discharge yourself.

    Awesome.

    • With that trigger, I don’t think NDs will be a serious problem.

    • Anonymous

      If you manage to ND a BG380 trigger, you’re a serious idiot. It typically takes several grown men working in conjunction with a mule or horse to exert enough force on the trigger to induce it to fire.

      • Cobranut

        My Bodyguard actually has a decent trigger pull, although not as nice as my wife’s Ruger LCR.
        Also, my laser switch works just fine with a tap of my trigger finger.

    • Lew Siffer

      But of course the original version makes it easier to be murdered as you desperately fumble with the safety.

  • Full size M&P pistols without a thumb safety have had similar plastic frame plugs for years… it’s a non-issue.

    • Right, so why’d it take them so long to slap one in a Bodyguard?

  • Griz

    The long heavy trigger pull is a problem for some, but I don’t mind it. If I have one in a hip holster I would leave the safety off, but seeing how the benefit of these is pocket carry, I value my winky and will keep the safety on when this gun is an inch from my crotch.

  • W.P Zeller

    The manual safety has a far more important value than just helping to prevent negligent discharges. It’s also an instantaneous lock: should you lose your gun, whether dropped, in a fight, whatever, it’s very unlikely the person taking it would be able to fire it at you in any short length of time. Bad guys and children may easily fire a safety-less revolver or Glock, but won’t have much chance of figuring out how to fire your manual-safety-equipped M&P.
    The subject of the manual safety-as-lock had gotten much wider attention as the study of police own-gun shootings has gotten more serious.
    After looking into it, many a credible expert has moved towards wanting a manual safety.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that’s it of value to me, and my carry guns have them (with the exception of the backup snubs).

    • Sure, but then you’re not a part of the market S&W is trying to capture here.

    • Anonymous

      Unless you’re a lefty…in which case we hate you and you suck. Removing the safety opens up about 10-15% more market for them.

      • Twilight sparkle

        I’m a lefty, I learned to shoot right handed so gun companies would think I suck less and they would like me more. It’s interesting how many guns there are that were designed for left handed people though (both intentionally and inadvertently)

  • Justin

    I don’t own a shield and never looked at one other than to pick one up at a gun store, realized as a lefty I would have issues with the safety then gave it back to the sales rep. I might look more closely now but I’ve got this area covered with an XDs for slim holster carry and a DAO revolver for pocket carry should I feel the need.

  • Edeco

    Come, come, come; we’re all expert pistoleros here. Especially me.* But you know how it is with new shooters, non-enthusiast self-defense users, people just less comfortable; they want all of the safeties. One can explain that it’s not a more-is-more thing, or just because it’s called a “safety” it’s not necessary for safety, is not a one-step-solution for safe gun use, or that it can get in the way during a bad situation. But at some point the right gun for someone is the gun they’re comfortable with. And the safety isn’t a lie, it’s not a placebo…

    *facetious, but you know, my serious-business (god forbid) gun is a Glock so I’m no manual-safety/DA-trigger addict.

    • I don’t have a problem with the manual safety, although I do feel it’s unnecessary. I will raise an eyebrow at how long it’s taken S&W to release a version without it, given the demand, however.

    • Kjk

      I’d probably have a glock if it had a safety installed. Call me a sissy if you like but I just like having them. There’s pretty much a zero chance of glock leg if there were a safety. People don’t carry 1911’s cocked and NOT locked do they

      • Edeco

        I understand. There was a post on here in December or so about a guy who shot himself riding the hammer down on a 1911. Turns out some people are comfortable riding the hammer down and have done it many times without ND’ing. Whereas others, myself included won’t do it. So in that case I’m on the relatively timid side.

  • Fred Johnson

    It’s about time. The manual safety is why I bypassed this gun before.

    Now, I’ll wait for the model without the laser and no manual safety.

    • Looks like they’re bringing that to market with an MSRP of $379, so you’ve waited long enough to get one at a decent price.

  • StBernardnot

    Safety on my wife’s .380 is so hard to operate I told her to leave it off. Laser switch is easy to operate on her gun.

    • It varies from gun to gun, I think. On most of the ones I’ve seen, it requires quite a bit of effort.

  • Danny Emerson

    Had no problem activating the laser with my thumb as intended. And, it stays on until you shut it off.

  • JEFFREY ROSS

    Non-issue “manual safety” problem is a bit of a stretch for hyperbolic discussion of the Bodyguard 380 but the Crimson Trace laser “button?” I’m using mine as I type this, having drawn my weapon and activated the targeting device without missing a keystroke on my iPhone.

    • They seem variable in quality. Most of the ones I’ve tried were very stiff.

      Also it’s obvious that the LaserGuard is better.

      • JEFFREY ROSS

        Yes, Nathaniel F. I was stating the obvious on the LaserGuard. This is my first comment back on one of your reviews and I have no experience with quality other than my gun. I got very fortunate as mine is one of the good ones. That is my two cents worth from a very limited viewpoint. I read you for the bigger picture and always enjoy your take and hands on experience. Thanks for getting back to me.

  • ron53

    Sounds like sour grapes to me I see no Problem with the switch on the laser it seems to work well for me . could it be your ham sized fingers that work your keyboard do not fit a switch ?

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Good review…..heh heh heh.

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    A conversion kit, unless installed by a licensed authorized S&W certified gunsmith, would likely be an opening for a lawsuit if a malfunction occurred. Remember, this is the SUE you get a settlement society we have allowed to be created.

    As for the review of the gun: seriously, the new laser still works for S — T much like the original version? S&W bought my BG380 back, because they could not get the laser to function properly after two attempts by them and one by me with parts they sent. They even replaced the frame and it still did not function properly.

    Picked up an LCP with the Viridian Green laser and the instant on holster sensor; very nice; shoots better in my opinion too. PS – Green lasers outshine red big time.

  • BigFED

    In my 65+ years of all things “guns”, I have NEVER understood WHY a double action only pistol, whether striker or hammer fired, would have an independent, manual safety!!! In working in firearms retail for over 45 years, I had several occasion that a customer would ask about an manual safety on a a DAO pistol and I would answer the same with “Show me the manual safety on a revolver!” They were dumbfounded! “Why that is different” they would say to which I would ask “HOW?” Keep your booger hook off the trigger!!!

    • Lew Siffer

      Simple. Police Administrators order officers to carry with the safety on. The officer has to decide if and when to flip the safety off. This does a very good job of protecting the administrators and putting virtually all the liability on the officer for any discharge, intentional or not. Slowing the proces down makes it a bit more likely the officer or a third party will be injured by the bad guy but when is the last time an administrator was sued because her officer was slow on the draw?

  • BrianP

    I’ve carried a BG .380 as a back up for some time. I don’t generally engage the safety, but I don’t mind it because it is about impossible to inadvertently switch it to “safe.” And it may come in handy sometime. I’m not a big fan of lasers, but again it may be of use sometime so I do practice activating it. Which, contrary to the review, is a simple push of a slightly recessed button, with either my trigger finger or support hand thumb. The criticism from the reviewer on these points are somewhat baffling. I get that he’s not a fan of the weapon but critique it for credible flaws. The BG .380 is an easily concealable, reliable and reasonably accurate hide out gun with an overlong trigger press.

    • Like I said in a comment above, it’s not a bad weapon at all, it just took S&W way too long to offer a safety-less version. Heck, Glock beat them to the market by two years!

      My hyperbolic wording in the article aside, the buttons for the lasers on many BG380s has kept me away from them. I’d say 80% of the ones I’ve tried were too stiff to activate holding the pistol normally.

  • ftyjyry

    It’s a good first step, now if they would do something with that horrible trigger. What is that thing, 12 lbs? A little light weight gun with that trigger pull, it’s hard to hit anything even with a friggin’ laser beam.

    The trigger is so heavy they never needed the safety in the first place. It took two hands to pull that thing.

    • The awful triggers of all these .380s threw me willingly into the teflon-coated tupperware arms of a Glock 42.

      • ftyjyry

        Surprisingly the Taurus TCP has a pretty sweet trigger and no safety to deal with. No laser and only minimal sights yet, for me anyway, it’s very accurate. I actually shoot it better than my G19. For a couple hundred bucks, you can’t go wrong. It’s like a cheaper LCP with a better trigger.

  • adverse

    No safety, no sale.

    • BigFED

      Why? Can’t you control your booger hook? The handgun has built in safeties, but there is NO safety that precludes any gun with untold number of safeties from being “unintentionally” discharged!!!