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S&W Bodyguard .380 | Common Issues [Solved]

As we’ve mentioned before on this website, Smith and Wesson is one of the top gun manufacturers in the world. They’re typically on the cutting edge when it comes to new technology and fresh takes on old firearms. They’re also regarded as producing some of the most reliable guns on the planet.

Smith and Wesson Firearms logo

However like all firearms from time to time, the M&P Bodyguard .380 from Smith and Wesson does have a few issues that can sometimes occur with this gun. We’re big fans of S&W, but want to make sure you have all the information you need before purchasing a 380 or to fix the one you’ve got. If you’ve purchased a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380 and are experiencing issues, you’ve come to the right place. 

The Bodyguard .380 is the semi-auto pistol version, not to be confused with the Bodyguard 38 which is the revolver made by S&W.

Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 Problems 

Smith & Wesson 380 Bodyguard Pistol

Slide Lock Mechanism Failure 

One of the most common issues with the S&W Bodyguard .380 is that the slide doesn’t lock into place when you pull it back. The most likely reason this is happening is that the screw holding the laser in place is coming loose. The laser screw is located directly under the slide mechanism and will turn loose over time if it isn’t properly tightened or installed. 


Unfortunately, while it may seem like a minor issue, a laser screw that’s jamming your weapon is a serious problem. This is because the only way to tighten the screw is to disassemble the gun. However, the only way to disassemble your Bodyguard .380 is to pull the slide back and lock it in place. You can’t take a gun apart as a safety measure if the slide is in the firing position. 

Because the root of the problem lies with an inoperable slide, and the only way to fix the problem is to move the slide, the gun is inoperable. One option you have is to find an alternative way to take the gun apart, but this could void its warranty. Therefore, your best bet is to send the gun back to the manufacturer and have them repair the issue or send you a new one. 

If you have experienced this problem firsthand and have a better alternative, feel free to say so in the Comment section below! 

Broken Laser Issue 

Another common problem with the Bodyguard .380 is having a laser that doesn’t work. Depending on the type of S&W Bodyguard you purchased, it’s equipped with a laser below the barrel that you can turn on and off with a button. Broken lasers or a laser button that doesn’t work are usually fairly easy fixes unless the problem stems from a manufacturing mishap. 

S&W Bodyguard 380 with a red laser dot


If the problem is something as minor as a dead battery, you can replace the battery yourself or have it professionally done. It’s also possible that the button is jammed with dirt or debris, and you simply need to give it a good scrubbing. However, if none of these remedy your issue, the laser is likely suffering a mechanical failure, and you should replace it or the entire weapon. 

Light Striker Resulting in a Misfire 

There are times when you pull the trigger, the hammer falls, but nothing happens. Your weapon is supposed to fire anytime the hammer falls during regular operation, but this problem is known as a “light strike.” The most likely problem is that the striker spring is loose or that dirt is getting in the way of your hammer making solid contact. Light strikes are especially common with smaller handguns like the S&W Bodyguard .380 because of their compact design. 


Misfires are never a good thing, and it’s essential to get to the bottom of the issue. On your own, you can disassemble your Bodyguard .380 and make sure that everything is cleaned, oiled, and good to go. You can also tighten the striker spring if the gun appears clean and dirt likely isn’t the issue. If the problem persists or you’re uncomfortable compressing the striker spring yourself, you should have your gun professionally serviced and tested. 

Failure to Feed Fresh Rounds 

Failure to feed fresh rounds means that a new round doesn’t cycle into the chamber when you fire your weapon, and the old cartridge ejects. This is kind of a big deal with semi-automatics. This problem can result from any of the following issues:

  • Damaged Magazines
  • Weak Magazine Springs
  • Dirt or Grease accumulation in or around the chamber
  • improperly seated magazines
  • damaged or faulty cartridges


The best way to overcome this problem is to remove the magazine and make sure the gun is unloaded. Next, thoroughly clean your weapon and magazines before you try using them again. If your magazines are damaged, make sure that you purchase new ones. It’s also possible that your hand is getting in the way of the slide, which causes the slide not to engage fully. Ensure that the slide has a clear path and that the gun is clean. If the problem persists, you likely have a manufacturing error with your weapon. 

Smith & Wesson 380 Bodyguard grip magazine

Failure to Eject Spent Rounds 

Failure to eject spent rounds can occur simultaneously with the problem listed above, or it can happen independently. Either way, it’s a significant issue that will jam up your weapon and keep you from shooting. It’s not something you want to experience when you’re defending yourself. 


Failure to eject spent rounds can result from a corroded barrel or a dirty chamber. The best thing to do is unload your weapon, disassemble it, and clean it thoroughly. If the problem persists, you can try the “Tap Rack Bang” drill. Here’s how that works. 

  1. Make sure the magazine is fully engaged. 
  2. Rotate the gun upside down so that the ejection port is pointed toward the ground. 
  3. Rack the slide firmly to eject the spent cartridge with gravities help. This action will also move a fresh round into the chamber. 
  4. Test fire the weapon to see if the problem is fixed. 

Our Analysis 

Most of the problems with the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380 are common with small, compact handguns. Smaller guns are designed differently than larger weapons and typically have more issues. However, many of these problems happen too often, and Smith and Wesson should do something to remedy the issue. 

Wrap Up

While many regret purchasing their Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380, there are still more who love them. There’s never a guarantee that the gun you choose will perform flawlessly. However, being aware of possible issues and a gun’s reputation is also essential to make an informed decision. If the problematic reputation of the .380 worries you, you should opt for a different handgun.  

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Dennis Hill
Dennis Hill
7 months ago

I recently purchased a S&W 380 Bodyguard in the engraved model and first time on the range I had 4 soft strikes, out of 100 rds, resulting in misfires, and at least 5 jams from not reloading new round correctly. Took gun home and cleaned it. Second trip to the range and had 4 soft strikes out of 50 rds, and 5 more jams from not reloading correctly. At least every third magazine I went through the slide would not lock back when clip was empty. I am returning this pistol to dealer and see if there is any thing they can do. Very dissapointed with this gun as my Taurus PT738 has been way more reliable with no misfires or jams with over 1000 rds having been fired through it.

Lisa fleishauer
Lisa fleishauer
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Hill

Took mine out today – first pull with new cartridge works fine but the rest do not. Hammer pulled- nothing happens. Hammer pulled again – it fires. This happens #2- #6 fires. Ried another clip and same exact thing. I shot this gun many times previously and never. had this problem. I won’t shoot it anymore. Issue is concerning. Going to get a revolver now.

Dave Watson
Dave Watson
7 months ago

I just purchased the 380 bodyguard this week. The first time using it the front sight fell off after only a few rounds. I called Smith & Wesson customer service and had to send the gun back to the manufacturer. Very disappointing. They said it will take 2 to 4 weeks for me to receive it back.

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