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I Carry: Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38 in a DeSantis Flex-Tuk Holster

Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together a potential everyday-carry kit. Today we have a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace revolver carried in a DeSantis Flex-Tuk holster. We're also carrying a 5.11 Tactical leather belt, a Steel Will folding knife and a Streamlight flashlight.

Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace (MSRP: $539)

Smith & Wesson rolled out the Bodyguard 38 in 2010 and has refined the polymer-frame revolver over the years. The integral laser was exchanged for a Crimson Trace unit in 2014, at the same time the 38 became part of the M&P family, and recently units have been offered without lasers. It’s still only available in .38 Special and in the internal-hammer variety, so for different chamberings or action options, look to the line of J-frame revolvers.

Speaking of the Smith & Wesson J-frame, while the Bodyguard 38 may look like a hammerless J-frame, internally they’re nothing alike. The most-obvious difference, of course, is the top-mounted cylinder release. Maybe Smith & Wesson was listening to the southpaws when their engineers designed the ambidextrous release mechanism, or perhaps the company chose to modernize how revolvers opened. Another, more-subtle difference is in the rotation of the cylinder—it’s clockwise, like a Colt. While the overall outside dimensions are similar to the J-frame line, the top-mounted cylinder release and side-mounted laser may change how the Bodyguard fits in certain J-frame holsters.

Internal-hammer revolvers like the Bodyguard 38 are excellent choices for deep concealment or backup gun status. Whether carried in a pocket, at the 1-o’clock position for appendix carry or simply strong-side inside-the waistband, the light weight and small size are welcome in a pistol you’ll tote all day. Shooting the Bodyguard 38, it’s not as punishing as exotic-metal variants while retaining the same approximate weight. While the grip area is synthetic polymer, the stress-bearing portions are either aluminum, as in the upper frame, or stainless steel, as in the barrel and cylinder.

DeSantis Flex-Tuk holster (MSRP: $65.99)

With two different clip options, the Flex-Tuk can be worn as a cross-draw, appendix-carry or standard inside-the-waistband holster. This model, for all Smith & Wesson J-frames with 2-inch barrels, makes for a handy, multi-use unit that can hide a hammerless version like the Bodyguard 38 for discreet appendix carry or put a powerful Model 360 on your belt for hiking in the woods.

5.11 Tactical Basketweave Leather Belt (MSRP: $39.99)
Holding this gear together is 5.11 Tactical’s Basketweave leather belt, a more-traditional design available in black or tan leather. Like the company’s Casual belt, the Basketweave is constructed of full-grain leather, reinforced with the company’s PermaStiff insert, and features a finished-brass buckle. For fans of traditional design, like a snubnose Smith & Wesson, the Basketweave will certainly appeal.

Steel Will Gekko Mini 1550 Folding Knife (MSRP: $199.99)
The Gekko series from Steel Will incorporates micarta scales, single-hand opening via a thumb stud on either side of the blade, pocket clip with ambidextrous possibility and simple lockback mechanism for keeping it open. The N690Co cobalt-steel blade is 3.5 inches long and the Gekko measures 7.87 inches, open. Weight is 4.76 ounces, and other finishes and handle options are available in the Gekko line.

Streamlight 2 AAA Propolymer Haz-lo (MSRP: $32)

When it comes to lights, there’s a wide variety of options available. Streamlight’s Propolymer line offers significant water- and weather-resistance at an eminently affordable price. This version runs on 2AAA batteries and offers 60 lumens of light for up to 16 hours, all in a 1.9 ounce light with integral pocket clip. Models are also available in yellow or black, and the “street price” is generally under twenty bucks.

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