I've received quite a few emails asking my opinion regarding the new S&W Bodyguard .380 ACP and the Ruger LCP also in .380 ACP. Most of them focus on whether the .380 ACP cartridge itself is adequate & effective for self-defense use.I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about whether the cartridge itself is or it isn't, but I don't personally own a pistol chambered in 380 ACP and perhaps that in itself speaks volumes. James Bond aside, the micro .380's are notorious for being unreliable and hard to keep running.Reliability is without a doubt the most important thing in a defense firearm.
The .380 ACP is in my opinion marginal at best although it is better than nothing and if the choice is to have or carry nothing at all or a .380,then I choose the 380.The appeal of guns such as the Bodyguard and LCP are of course their diminutive size which is desirable when choosing a CCW piece. Can a gun be too small? That all depends on the individual and personal preference.These guns are extremely light at around 10 ounces and hold a modest 6 rounds in the magazines.Their small size makes them difficult for most to operate and manipulate the controls quickly which might prove fatal in a real-world defense scenario.Even the extension,you can only get two fingers on the grip which doesn't really bode well for weapon retention in CQC or a grappling situation or rape/mugging scenario although there isn't too much for the bad guy to grab onto muzzle wise either.The Glock 26 only allows for a two finger grip with the stock magazine floorplates,but you can easily swap them out for extended ones that allow for a full grip.A S&W J-Frame with a Boot Grip is essentially a two finger grip,but the shape and roundness allow most people to tuck their pinkie in such a way that it is very firm and not "tucked under"in an awkward way as is the case with small autos.
If these small 380's are the biggest gun Your willing to carry,then I say go for it although I would recommend going with a 9mm or +P .38 Special. 9mm guns are a little larger,but pack a whole lot more punch and hold almost twice the rounds.One shots stops with even the best .380 ACP loads usually are around 75% and your talking about guns that only hold 6 rounds.I would prefer & recommend carrying a lightweight J-Frame such as the S&W 340 M&P which is chambered for .357 Magnum,but of course will also take .38 Special & .38 Special +P.Only five rounds in a J-Frame,but the .38 +P is substantially better than the .380 and the .357 a whole lot more so and in a much more reliable package.
Stephen Camp has many articles about the suitability of the .380 ACP as well as other articles comparing it to other cartridges etc.Click HERE to view these articles.