Apex Gunsmithing
14Mar/15

Detail Strip Guide: S&W Bodyguard .38 Revolver

A few years back, Smith and Wesson brought out a new pocket pistol line that challenged all sorts of conventions including how much MIM and plastic can fit into a revolver, whether or not users really do want lasers on everything, and sensible ways to name models of firearm.  The Bodyguard .38, not to be confused with the nearly identically named Bodyguard 380, is the Crimson Trace equipped revolver using a plastic grip frame vaguely reminiscent of the Ruger LCP.

A customer brought one in recently asking about tuning the trigger up, a common job on J-frame S&W guns made simple by available spring kits from Wolff and Apex Tactical Specialties.  Unfortunately because the gun isn't anything like the venerable J-frame, kits made for classic snubbies don't work here.  It's a clever design in a lot of ways, but largely incompatible with drop in mods for other S&W guns.

On top of that, no parts diagrams or guides seem to exist for the BG38.  Smith and Wesson maintains that there are "no user serviceable parts" and the gun should not be taken apart.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.  Let's get to it!

Lasers, definitely more dangerous than bullets judging by the warnings.

Lasers, definitely more dangerous than bullets judging by the warnings.

Disassembly

As always the prologue to detail stripping any firearm is to clear your work area of any ammunition, clear the firearm and get all your tools in order.  You'll need a hook or dental pick, some pliers, 1/16" and 0.050" allen wrenches, your trusty hammer and punches.

1. Remove the Crimson Trace unit, by unescrewing the single retaining screw.

Lifts off, retained by one screw and two pegs.

Lifts off, retained by one screw and two pegs.

2. Remove the grip, by driving out the roll pin retaining it.

Pretty straightforward

Pretty straightforward

3. Remove the cylinder group and crane by driving out the front trigger guard pin, left to right, and pulling the trigger guard down.

A stud on the trigger guard retains the crane.

A stud on the trigger guard retains the crane.

4. Separate the crane and cylinder, and the ejector rod comes out with its spring simply by pushing it through.

One of several 1/16" allen screws...

One of several 1/16" allen screws...

5. Unscrew the ejector rod retainer screw, a 1/16" allen head.

Pretty standard aside from the allen screw.

Pretty standard aside from the allen screw.

6. Remove the trigger guard by driving out the rear trigger guard screw, again left to right.  Both pins are identical and only go one way.

Note the stud or tab on the front portion which retains the crane.

Note the stud or tab on the front portion which retains the crane.

7. Remove the front frame screw, which is the only dedicated screw in the gun.  It helps retain the plastic grip frame.  All screws besides the laser unit one are 1/16" allens.

The two pins are identical, the two screw-pins are identical.

The two pins are identical, the two screw-pins are identical.

8. Remove the two remaining frame screws which are actually screw-pins.  The top one acts as the pivot for the thumb piece lever to open the cylinder.

9. Pull the grip frame off, left side facing up to avoid the aforementioned lever running away.  Set that lever aside, too.

Don't worry, that's not red loctite. It's very weak.

Don't worry, that's not red loctite. It's very weak.

10. Remove the hammer strut by rotating it up and lifting it off. Clever arrangement, but remember the direction the strut bends for later.

Wolff says the J-frame hammer spring will NOT work in the BG.

Wolff says the J-frame hammer spring will NOT work in the BG.

11. Remove the hammer, the pivot pin simply pushes out.

A good view of the firing pin block and guts.

A good view of the firing pin block and guts.

12. Remove the firing pin block by first unhooking the bottom (straight) leg of its tiny wire spring.  Once the spring is out (note how it sits) the block pushes out like a pin, right to left.

13. Remove the firing pin and its return spring, straight out the back.

Firing pin spring may be J-frame type.

Firing pin spring may be J-frame type.

14. Remove the trigger return spring and guide. Pull the trigger rearward fully, clamp some pliers on the tail of the rod and hook underneath the ball end to raise it.  Release tension slowly.

Wish they'd have put a hole in that guide rod...

Wish they'd have put a hole in that guide rod...

15. Remove the trigger.  The blind pin must be removed with pliers, tweezers or forceps.  BE CAREFUL, as the 'drum' will fly forward once the pawl/hand is pulled down.

Pawl blocks the drum via a shoulder, seen here.

Pawl blocks the drum via a shoulder, seen here.

Dig through that toolbox, you'll need tweezers.

Dig through that toolbox, you'll need tweezers.

16. Remove the cylinder stop.  Again, blind pin.  Behold the tiniest coil spring!

Drum, spring, cylinder stop and baby spring.

Drum, spring, cylinder stop and baby spring.

17. Disassemble the trigger.  All of the small parts disassemble and reassemble easily and should be easy to figure out.

I think that's an M&P sear spring plunger!

I think that's an M&P sear spring plunger!


 

Assembly Tips

  • Make note of the position of the firing pin block spring.  Bent leg on top, straight leg resting on the firing pin block's shelf.
  • When reassembling the trigger return spring and rod, make sure the flat cutout on the retainer pin is facing forward.
  • The easiest way to get the trigger return spring back in is to push down on it until the rod's tail sticks out of the frame, then grab it with pliers and pull it far enough back to clear the trigger.
  • Remember to leave the front trigger guard pin for last, since the trigger guard stud retains the crane assembly.

 

Thoughts on Design

I mentioned earlier that the Bodyguard revolver is a major departure from other Smith and Wesson products.  Though the trigger and cylinder stop are pretty conventional, the real differences start to show in the way the cylinder is rotated and the fact it rotates the opposite direction of traditional S&W revolvers.

The clever part of the design is the "drum" pictured earlier, which locks into the ejector star by way of a five-armed starfish shape with a solid peg in the middle to center it.  The drum is spring loaded and pulled back by the thumb piece, unlocking the cylinder from the starfish.

On the back side of the drum, five pegs stick out and are engaged by the pawl/hand attached to the trigger in a conventional manner.  When fired, the hand helps to block the drum from creeping too far rearward under recoil and keep good contact with the cylinder.  Unlike most S&W revolvers the trigger is not blocked when the cylinder is open, so you can essentially dry fire it.  Fixing timing problems would probably be the same as a traditional pawl/hand setup using length and width of the hand.

Overall it's really neat, but I'm not sure how strong it is or how it holds up to wear long term.  The starfish drum is simple and effective.


 

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