Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dear Smith & Wesson,

You know I love you, right? I go to sleep cuddling my plush stuffed Horace Smith doll. The backs of all my notebooks are covered in loopy cursive reading "Mrs. Tamara Wesson". We're still going out.

But there's something I need to talk to you about.

It's about your new plastic "Bodyguard .38" revolver. I don't mind the plastic. Whatever. It's not like the black anodized aluminum Airweight in my coat pocket is oozing 19th Century tradition, either. And the idea of a built-in laser on a pocket revolver from the factory is kinda cool, especially since I had to go aftermarket and add a Crimson Trace unit to the one I'm carrying.

Here are my beefs:
  1. The "ambidextrous cylinder release", which is "ambidextrous" only in the sense that it's just as awkward and fumble-prone with either hand. Plus, the amount of wiggle and play in it just doesn't fill me with confidence. The latch may not actually be flimsy or fragile, but it sure feels that way.

  2. The only way you could have put that laser activation button in a less-accessible place is if you'd put it in a locked box two rooms away from the gun. The switch needs to be activated by gripping the firearm, so as to avoid the whole "Hang on, Mr. Bad Guy! Time out to turn on my laser!" thing. I haven't seen such a poorly-thought-out control placement since Insight came out with that positively moronic laser that fit in the rear sight notch of a Glock; the "On" button might as well have been in Albania for all you could access it in a hurry on the draw.
"Ambidextrous" and "laser" should be more than just advertising buzzwords. They should be useful and helpful and not just going through the motions to check boxes off on a brochure.

If you want me to consider purchasing your new product, you're going to need to click on this link and copy what you see on the blackboard five hundred times.



Bubblehead Les. said...

Imagine trying to operate it with your gloves on during the Winter months.

Anonymous said...

I alway pictured you as one of John M Brownings junior wives.


Jim said...

I fired a SW Bodyguard a few weeks ago and had similar grumpiness about the laser switch. As near as I could make out from the manual it was because I was shooting during a month ending in "r," and, besides, I was holding my mouth wrong.

Cincinnatus said...

Somebody owes me a new keyboard.

Tango Juliet said...

Thanks for letting him down easy. :)

Anonymous said...

Looks like laser activation is placed for a southpaw using a high thumb grip.
BTW, if your J frame has a pinned front sight, install a big dot tritium. Makes it easy to find on the nightstand and makes it fun to shoot using the sights. ;-)

mikee said...

Mr. Patent might be telling Mssrs. Smith & Wesson not to infringe.

Or maybe Insight and Crimson Trace just don't play well together.

Of such conflicts came the Pederson post a few days ago, IIRCAITID.

I can only imagine some future Tam, blogging in her late 90's or early 100teens, reminiscing in her "Cosmoline, Rust and Circuit Boards" 3D holographic shooting range blog, about the patent wars on the laser sights in the early part of the 21st, way back even before the pulse laser guns and phasers were developed.

Vanilla ice ice baby said...

I'm with you. I gave up on those bastards when they couldn't make up their minds about making a 10mm revolver, or not. Or maybe. But maybe not. Not today at least. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not. Ok. We're done with the 10mm revolver. No, no we're not. Yeah, guess we are. Are we? No idea. Maybe. But, no.

Tam said...

That's because their market results show that all five people who want a 10mm revolver have one already. ;)

(In all truth, they only do runs of "niche" caliber wheelies every so often. It doesn't take a lot of 610s, 632s, or 657s to saturate the marketplace in any given year, and you don't want to tool up a run unless you have them all pre-sold to distributors.)

Ed Rasimus said...

I once owned a S&W product. It was a Model 29 in nickle-plate and the diamond-checkered grips were perfect for second-degree abrasions after a shooting session. After several years as a paper-weight it got sold.

Last year I shopped for a 4" .357 and simply couldn't see value or performance advantage over the Ruger GP100. No Smith.

Then I saw the E-series 1911SC bob-tail Commander size and ordered one. Five months later, still no gun. Email inquiry to S&W got no response either positive or negative. Went back to dealer and came home with a new Colt Wiley Clapp "New Century Commander".

So, in fifty years of gun-ownership I've owned one Smith, didn't like it and see nothing compelling to get me another one. Lots of folks love them and some are excellent. Just hasn't worked out for me.

Alan J. said...

Merry Christmas, Tam. I just looked one up over at Gunbroker, and you forgot to mention that it also comes with a cute little zippered leather planner for the holster. It's just the perfect thing for every office yuppie that doesn't want to frighten anyone at the office, but still thinks they'll have time to put down the cell phone, drag the planner out of the briefcase, unzip it, pull out the gun - and then scare off the not so friendly neighborhood mugger.

Anonymous said...

"Pinned" front sight? J frame?
Your words are strange, friend. Does this happen on a wrestling mat?

BC said...

Your post covers pretty much the only reasons I don't have a 38 Bodyguard yet.

If they sold another model of the same gun without the laser for 50 bucks less, that would help.

Sport Pilot said...

Having grown up with three sister's the loopy name writing comment rang true. As to the S&W Bodyguard wheelgun, I'm less than impressed.There's nothing wrong with the material's used, just how it turned out. I simply do not trust built in or add on laser sight system's, yes it's biased opinion but they concern me.

TheSev said...

I guess they have again gone Sloppy & Wasteful.

Anonymous said...

"Pinned" front sight? J frame?
Your words are strange, friend. Does this happen on a wrestling mat?

Some J-Frames, like my 342, have a front sight held in by a roll pin. These sights can be replaced with a tritium sight.

Will said...

Sport Pilot:

Do you own any LED flashlights? If so, then you shouldn't have a problem with lasers. Same-same.

Anonymous said...

Sport Pilot:

You are allowed your opinions and prejudices, just like the rest of us.
I sighted in my lasergrips 5 years ago. I change the batteries twice a year and it's still on point of impact and always works.
If it ever doesn't, I keep in practice with the sights.

Old NFO said...

I'll stick with my beat up old Colt... Everything on it works, and as you know, I'm NOT a fan of anything that requires batteries to work. And honestly, I'm surprised at the lack of quality from S&W, they have always had a pretty good rep!

Oh, and Merry Christmas too!

Tam said...

The gun works fine, even without batteries. ;)

Merry Christmas to you, too!

Fred said...

I'm just glad they didn't jump on the pocket-9 bandwagon and put out a .410 revolver instead last year. It was a great business move.


I've never even looked at the BG38 because of that stupid cylinder catch.

atlharp said...

Maybe they had Hi-Point make the revolver for them. ;-)

Weer'd Beard said...

I never got the whole "Ambidextrous" cylinder release, as the crane still swings out only one way.

So really what they did was take a manual of arms that is proven to work really well and "Fix" it until it was garbage.

And they did it AFTER Ruger put out the LCR so they look like a bunch of idiots.

Thankfully they won't be discontinuing their fine airweights for this turd.

The Bodyguard .380 isn't bad tho...except for the stupid thumb safety that I'm sure was made just so they could sell it in the state where it was made...

Keads said...

Tam- It does not matter where you put the switch for the thing if the d@*&@ thing does not work!

Oh, if I remember correctly the cylinder rotates clockwise too.

Daniel E. Watters said...

Anyone who has had their right thumb knuckle flayed by a J-Frame thumb latch should be able to understand the attraction of the new Bodyguard's thumb latch. The MIM'ed kidney-shaped thumb latches can only be trimmed so far until you hit the hollowed out section underneath.

Tam said...

Daniel E. Watters,

I choke up pretty darn high on a Centennial, high enough that the joint on the base of my thumb takes a battering from the corner of the frame above the grips, and I've never had a problem with it, although I realize some people do.

The thing I really don't like about the Bodyguard's latch is that it requires juggling a tiny gun around in one's hand to reach it, and that seems like an invitation to drop the thing.

Daniel E. Watters said...


My thumb knuckle gets barked even on the Chief's Specials. I kind of wish someone would come out with a modern version of the old flat thumb latch.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Dad recently got the Bodyguard .38, and I have to admit that, except for the latch and laser issues you mentioned, it's a pretty good gun. As a bonus, it's got real 'iron' sights, so that if the laser does fail it's still usable.

What they should have done is use the traditional cylinder release and put the laser switch where the cylinder release is (assuming they couldn't find a way around the CT patent on a good grip activation, of course). That would let you easily activate it with your thumb as you draw, while keeping the cylinder release in a traditional form that anyone - including the cop who has to hold your gun for evidence afterward should you ever have to use it - would recognize without having to guess.

My biggest beef with the laser switch is that it's so bloody small that it's hard to push, and there's no positive tactile confirmation that you've successfully activated it. It leaves you fumbling to turn it on, and unsure if you got it if you don't immediately see the dot. On the other hand, I somehow managed to frob it unintentionally on almost every shot and turn it off (which is really odd, since it's an on/pulse/off sequence).

On the gripping hand, if you want to see a really bad switch placement you should look at the Bodyguard .380. The button on that is so far forward that I can't get enough force on it to activate the laser while maintaining a good firing grip - which is a shame, since it looks like a good little gun otherwise.

Jennifer said...

Yes, exactly. Shot one of these things shortly after they were released and had the same complaints. Sadly, I was unable to construct such a wonderfully snarky post about it. And my cursive is as loopy as anyone's.