The Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 was the top-selling revolver in 2019 among FFLs using the services of Gunbroker.com. The company rolled out the revolver back in 2014—based on the legendary J-Frame—but the gun waited five years before even breaking into the annual top-10 wheelgun list.
There’s good reason it started out on top, though. Its size, rugged build and reliability make it ideal for carry and backup duty, and there’s a growing demand in that niche, thanks to the increasing number self-defense enthusiasts and people with CCW permits. There’s no doubt, however, a big part of the popularity is also a byproduct of the five versions currently available, including a pair compliant with Massachusetts regulations.
All Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38s are chambered for .38 Spl., rated to safely run +P loads and have a five-round capacity. The stainless steel barrels are 1.87" long and the revolver’s total length is only 6.6". Weight runs from 14 to 14.4 ozs.—depending on model—ideal for all-day comfort, thanks to the aluminum-alloy frame and synthetic grips. The hammerless design also minimizes the chances of it hanging up on clothing during the drawstroke. The cylinder release is ambidextrous.
The double-action-only has fixed, integral rear sights with a pinned, black ramp-up front. Finish is matte black and MSRP for the basic, no-frills model is $402. Models with an integrated Crimson Trace laser and have an MSRP of $539. Grips available for this flavor also include one that has a darker, black polymer.
Two Everyday Carry Kits are currently available, each built around laser-equipped models—one being Massachusetts compliant. MSRP stays the same at $539, but enthusiasts receive a S&W Oasis Liner Lock folding knife, M&P Delta Force CS LED flashlight and Smith & Wesson-branded gun portfolio (carry case) with their purchase. Supply it limited. Including items enthusiasts would likely purchase separately without increasing the price is another reason the M&P Bodyguard claimed top honors among revolvers last year.
That momentum hasn’t slowed, either. It claimed top honors in both January and February 2020.