New S&W .38 Spc +P Bodyguard


Billy Shears
October 16, 2010, 04:42 PM
Today, I picked up a brand new, Smith & Wesson Bodyguard that I have had on layaway for the past three months. I intended the piece as a backup gun for work (police detective), and was attracted by the light (but not too light) weight, as well as the grips. S&W has finally provided factory grips on a 5 shot snubby .38 that aren't so ridiculously skinny that normal human hands can get a good grip on them, and no aftermarket grips or T grip adapters are required. I had read that the lockwork was all new, and while looking it over, I noticed that the cylinder now rotates into the frame like a Colt. The trigger stacks like a Colt trigger too, which I thought was interesting as well. That might bother some people, but I am used to it, having a 3" bbl Colt Detective Special that is one of my favorite guns (crying shame they don't make them anymore).

Anyway, I made my purchase and happily went upstairs to the range to try it out. Got all set up, moved the target back, loaded 5 rounds, took careful aim, pressed the trigger, and... CLICK.



Opened the cylinder. Yep, five rounds loaded. Primers pristine and undented. Closed cylinder. Pointed gun in general direction of target. CLICK, CLICK, CLICK, CLICK, CLICK.


Further inspection of the now unloaded gun revealed that the firing pin is not coming out past the recoil shield. What the f#%@ kind of quality control is this?! A gun leaves the factory not even able to fire a single round!?!

Now furious, I gave the gun back to the guy behind the counter so that it could be returned to the factory, but I had more than half a mind just to get my money back. I consider this sort of thing totally unacceptable. This is the second brand new gun I have bought in a row that just plain didn't work (the last was a Kahr). This is one of the only Smith's I'd buy these days, as it doesn't have that damnable key lock, but after this, I may not buy any more. Even if their customer service from this point on is completely exemplary, this is simply egregiously bad on their part.

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Fat Boy
October 16, 2010, 04:53 PM
Unfortunately, it seems to be the world we live in- I believe quality isn't as good overall, and QC seems to be non-existent- Maybe I am just old and missing something besides my reading glasses, but I think things used to be made better

October 16, 2010, 04:59 PM

I was at Cabala's last fall and a guy brought back a Smith snubby that would't fire primers.

He told the clerk it was the third one in a row he had returned.

That right there just ain't right!!


October 17, 2010, 04:58 PM
Thats the chance you take buying anything made in this day and time.

October 17, 2010, 05:06 PM
Sorry Billy

It is a sad state of affairs. I wish you luck on fixing your problem.

October 17, 2010, 06:35 PM
I thought all guns were fired at the factory at least once. How did that get sent out without being fired?
Where is quality control these days, or for that matter, any pride in your work?

October 17, 2010, 06:44 PM
This why I've only bought the Smith revolvers with the firing pin in the hammer. Sorry about your send back and furious wait.:banghead:

October 17, 2010, 06:50 PM
I fired the first shots through my friends brand new HD gun....SP101, snub .357 DAO. Perfect in every way.

October 17, 2010, 07:09 PM
Were you giving the trigger a slow pull or a nice hard pull?

October 18, 2010, 12:07 AM
What is the status of the fired round in the little paper folder for the local authorities?
I really doubt your story.

October 18, 2010, 02:50 AM
I've hear of problems with new guns before but this sounds bad. That revolver was fired at the factory before it left so I'm guessing something is very strange.

Billy Shears
October 18, 2010, 08:11 AM
Smell Test?
What is the status of the fired round in the little paper folder for the local authorities?
I really doubt your story.
You know what pal? I really don't give a rat's ass whether you doubt it or not. I just paid over $600 for a gun that doesn't fire, and now has to be sent from the factory. Whether it fired at the factory or not, it doesn't now. And I find it offensive to be called a liar by some little twerp like you.

Billy Shears
October 18, 2010, 08:23 AM
Were you giving the trigger a slow pull or a nice hard pull?
Both. The first shot was carefully aimed and I gave the trigger a slow pull. When that failed to work, I simply pointed it down range and pulled the trigger hard several times. In neither instance did it fire. And really, a defensive gun shouldn't require the trigger to be pulled a certain way before the gun goes off. That's a hell of a thing to have to think about in a gunfight.

But as I said, when I unloaded the gun and checked it, the firing pin isn't coming out. Leaving aside ignorant and offensive comments about "the firing pin didn't shrink" by loudmouths who weren't there, yet still feel qualified to comment... I think this gun uses a transfer bar and a firing pin mounted in the frame, like most recent Smiths. I don't know whether the transfer bar isn't moving into position or not, but my guess is it's not, and the firing pin isn't being struck by the hammer. Whatever the case, the gun has to go back. So either it left the factory that way, or something in the lockwork went wrong after it did. Either case is unacceptable.

Old Fuff
October 18, 2010, 08:50 AM
Question: Is this Bodyguard one of the older style, or the new one that has a built-in laser sight?

If it's one of the new ones I can't comment, as I've never handled one. But all S&W revolvers, with the exception of some with fully enclosed hammers, made since 1945 have a hammer block, not a transfer bar safety. Supposedly in some recent revolvers that had MIM hammer blocks the part broke, after which the hammer couldn't hit the firing pin. As a result S&W discontinued the use of the MIM block and went back to one made out of a steel stamping. All of this may be a moot point, because the "new" Bodyguard may have neither a hammer block or transfer bar safety. It will be interesting to see what they say when the gun is returned - if anything.

One other thing. When it is returned it will go through a complete inspection, and any and all defects that are discovered will be corrected. So while it shouldn't have gotten out in the first place, it should be better then an ordinary production revolver. We shall see...

Billy Shears
October 18, 2010, 09:00 AM
It's the new one with the laser sight. And looking into it a little further, I found that you are correct: in 1997, S&W moved the frame to the firing pin, but the system they now use isn't a transfer bar (though the firing pin is in the frame as with a transfer bar system), there is a hammer block, and the hammer strikes the pin as long as the hammer block isn't in place to block the hammer from reaching it.

However... This new revolver uses a new lockwork entirely, so I don't know how similar it is to the above system, though I suspect that a hammer block and frame mounted firing pin are employed. When you open the cylinder, you will see there is no hand to rotate the cylinder. Instead there is a flat, circular "ratchet drive" with a star-shaped protrusion that mates with a star-shaped "female end" on the rear of the cylinder. And the cylinder locks up only at the rear, rather like a Colt (which is an improvement, in a small revolver like this, if you ask me, since it permits a full-length ejector rod, which the J frame snubbies have never had).

Old Fuff
October 18, 2010, 09:30 AM
I'm going to be of limited use here because of total inexperience with the revolver in question, but does the owner's manual that came with the gun have an exploded view drawing of it with a part list? Obviously something is blocking the hammer, and the drawing might provide a clue.

In any event, get a free shipping label, send it back, and see what they have to say.

As an aside: I never buy an entirely new-from-the-ground-up firearm until it's been out on the market for at least one year. By then they should have found and corrected any bugs. As it is they rush them to market, and fix the issues later.

Oh, and I agree with you concerning extractor rod lengths on snubbies.

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