Based on the new-for-2014 laserless semi-auto Bodyguard .380 pistol, the new Crimson Trace model feautres an integrated laser sight. The polymer-framed pistol retains the stainless steel barrel, dark stainless slide, black steel drift-adjustable sights and manual safety. Not significantly larger than many .25 ACP autos, the flat Bodyguard 380 is a near perfect size for all but the tiniest pocket, and still retains recoil levels easily manageable by most shooters. This diminutive double-action-only (DAO) pistol is extremely safe to carry and cannot be cocked for either carry or shooting. The thumb safety is both stiff enough to stay where you leave it (on or off), and protected in a slightly recessed area in the frame to resist accidental activation. M&P-style fish scale slide serrations at the rear, two finger grooves, and two stainless six-round mags (one with finger rest extension, one without) finish up the package.
Continuing on with the partnership, the radical polymer-framed five-shot Bodyguard 38 revolver now features its own integral Crimson Trace laser for low-light backup to its fixed sights. The Bodyguard 38 easily handles a wide range of popular .38 Special loads, and it’s fully rated for +P pressures if you don’t mind the increased recoil levels in this 14.36-ounce package. Another feature of this innovative revolver is the ambidextrous cylinder release, moved from the left side on S&W’s traditional designs on up to the top, where it’s equally accessible to either hand. Offering the same firepower in the same size as the company’s long-running classic J-Frames, but without the weight of either the steel or alloy versions, the Bodyguard 38 with Crimson Trace laser is state-of-the-art in small personal-protection revolvers.
A shade larger in size, but still pocket-eligible, the M&P Shield was introduced in 2012 to runaway success and remains one of Smith & Wesson’s most popular small-framed autos. Chambered in both 9mm and .40 S&W, the Shield’s offered in six slightly different versions. The core model is a locked-breech, striker-fired pistol with a quick-reset trigger, the same controls as the Bodyguard, a left-side magazine release and windage-adjustable white-dot sights. Slim, trim and a good fit in smaller hands, the Shield is a very practical choice for those looking for a single-stack magazine/grip in a full-sized caliber. In addition, the company recently expanded the line to include models with no manual safety.
Admittedly requiring a larger pocket, the compact M&P pistols (M&P9c and M&P40c) are popular as primary concealed carry pieces, as well as backups to the bigger M&P pistols. These mid-frame compacts are available in 9mm and .40 S&W in a variety of configurations. Barrel lengths in both chamberings are 3.5 inches, all are striker fired, and fixed-sight options include steel three-dot Novaks and tritium night sights, with Crimson Trace grip inserts also available. Capacities are 10 in the .40 and 12 in the 9mm, and these Compacts can also use the same magazines as their full-sized relatives.
In revolvers, the M&P340 is a multi-featured member of S&W’s long-lived J-Frame family, here in the more powerful .357 Magnum caliber. The line originated in 1950 with models in .38 Special. One of the more exotic of the popular J-Frames in terms of chambering and material combination, the M&P340 is built on a lightweight scandium frame with a smooth-faced double-action-only trigger and an internal hammer that can’t snag on anything coming out of a pocket. Based on the Centennial frame style with its enclosed, down-curving arch where the hammer would normally be exposed, the five-shot M&P340 wears an XS Tritium Big Dot front sight on its 1.8-inch, aluminum-shrouded, stainless steel barrel ahead of a darkened stainless steel cylinder. The rear sight is a conventional fixed notch in the topstrap, the grip is textured synthetic and the model uses the S&W internal key lock. The whole 13.3-ounce package is corrosion-resistant on this tried-and-true revolver design.
Featuring one of the most revered and respected brand names around, Smith & Wesson has one of the most extensive lines of pocket pistols of any maker anywhere. Never one to rest on its laurels, the company has been expanding its line of compact carry handguns to offer options for just about any need. With literally dozens of models from which to choose, there’s certainly something for you. Take a look at two of the newest available, along with three other classic favorites.
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by Andrew Berry / Nov 4, 2014