Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38: Top-Selling Revolver of 2019

posted on March 12, 2020
The Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 was the top-selling revolver in 2019 among FFLs using the services of 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.


Marlin 1894 Trapper
Marlin 1894 Trapper

I Have This Old Gun: Marlin 1894 Trapper

Collectors refer to these shortened carbines as “trappers,” but that term was never officially used by either Winchester or Marlin. Winchester referred to them as “Baby Carbines” or “Special Short Carbines” on the rare occasions when they were cataloged.

The Rifleman Report: From The ''Inside Out''

The term “inside out” can be taken literally or applied as a phrase to describe the thoroughness with which an idea is understood. In this month’s issue, we hope to illustrate that the latter especially is used as a guiding principle to keep the American firearm industry at the top of its game.

Colt CZ Group Makes Offer For Vista's Ammo Brands

Colt CZ Group made an unsolicited proposal to purchase the Sporting Products Division of Vista Outdoor, which includes Federal, CCI, Remington Ammunition and others.

Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 M2.0 Metal

Firearm trends appear to be a virtual pendulum at times—it isn’t uncommon to see a theme grab hold of the industry only to be reversed entirely some years later.

The Armed Citizen® Nov. 27, 2023

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Double Check Before Hitting That Purchase Button

Fake websites are one of the biggest scams and a painful reminder to slow down, particularly during the holiday season, and double check before hitting that purchase button when online. Ammo, gear and even firearms are not immune to the growing trend.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.