Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together an ideal everyday-carry kit. Today, we have aSmith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 pistol in a Blue Force Gear UltraComp pocket holster. Rounding out the gear is a SureFire Sidekick flashlight, a CRKT Large Fulcrum 2 knife, a High Threat Concealment Low Pro Belt and Hornady Critical Defense .380 ACP personal-defense ammo.
Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 ($449)
In the beginning, you could get any small .380 ACP pistol you wanted, as long as it was a Walther PPK or some variant thereof. In the 2000s, though, we saw a veritable explosion in the micro-380 department that started with the Kel-Tec P3AT and saw pretty much every major firearm manufacturer come up with a pocket-sized .380 ACP. Smith & Wesson’s entry was the Bodyguard 380, originally released in 2011. The pistol was upgraded to become part of the M&P family in 2014, at which time the integral laser was changed to a Crimson Trace design.
Weighing in at 12.3 ounces unloaded, the Bodyguard 380 has an overall length of 5.3 inches and a 2.75-inch barrel. Capacity is 6+1 rounds, and the pistol is double-action-only hammer-fired with second-strike capability. The laser is activated via a pushbutton on the side of the polymer frame, and can be adjusted without disassembling the pistol. I find the Bodyguard 380 fits nicely in a pocket holster, and is small and light enough to carry in the back pocket of a pair of jeans as a backup.
The front and rear sights, usually vestigial little nubs on guns this small, are actually real, useful sights. There’s glare-reducing serrations that help keep reflected light to a minimum, and the sights are tall enough to give a moderately decent sight picture without hanging up on the draw. The trigger is, well, there’s no getting around it, long and heavy—but that’s to be expected from a little gun you keep in a pocket.
Numerous variants are currently available, including different frame colors, models with and without thumb safeties, and even models without integral lasers. There’s even a model with an engraved slide, for those who prefer their pocket pistols shiny.
Blue Force Gear UltraComp Pocket Holster ($27)
When you’re carrying in a pocket, there are two things the holster absolutely must do: Keep items out of the trigger guard, and remain in the pocket on the draw. The UltraComp accomplishes the first objective by covering the trigger guard completely and the second by means of a sticky, rubberized fabric that grips the inside of the pocket and won’t let go. There’s also a wing designed to catch the edge of your pocket. The UltraComp is also extremely light, thin and completely ambidextrous.
High Threat Concealment Low Pro Belt ($100)
Again, while a tactical belt isn’t necessary for a pocket holster, it’s likely you might be carrying the Bodyguard 380 as a backup to some full-size gear. If you’re training or on super-secret-squirrel business, you’ll appreciate a discreet belt that can hold all your gear. High Threat Concealment’s Low Pro belt is designed to work with the HTC Low Profile System outer belt and holster/magazine carriers, with hook-and-loop attachment points along the sides and back. The front of the belt, however, looks like a standard dress belt—so if you’re concealing under a sport coat or jacket, it blends in.
SureFire Sidekick ($79.99)
In keeping with the small pistol, SureFire’s Sidekick flashlight offers plentiful illumination in a 2.5-inch long package that weighs 2 ounces. With three settings offering a range of illumination from 5 lumens to 300, the Sidekick fits on a keychain but will light up the entire parking lot. The internal lithium ion battery is rechargeable via a standard micro-USB plug, meaning you can leave it charging at your computer so it’s always fully charged when the sun goes down. It’s even available in colors other than black!
Columbia River Knife & Tool Large Fulcrum 2 ($79.99)
Want to have some fun? Hand the CRKT Fulcrum 2 to a friend and ask them to open it. If they’re not familiar with the unique opening system, you’ll have to show them how to press carefully on one edge to pop the blade out, then grasp the knife normally to open it fully. It’s one of the most interesting ways to open a blade we’ve seen. The plain-edge, drop-point blade measures 3.18 inches and the Fulcrum 2 is 7.56 inches long, with a weight of 4.7 ounces. Scales are glass-filled nylon, and the blade has a titanium nitride finish.
When dropping below a “major” caliber for self-defense, your ammunition choice becomes of utmost importance (of course, it’s important in “major” calibers, too). Hornady’s Critical Defense line is specifically designed with fast-burning, low-flash propellants to launch projectiles quickly and ensure proper expansion even out of shorter barrels. The FTX bullet is designed to resist clogging against soft barriers and expand reliably.