Wheelgun Whiplash: The Ruger LCR vs the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .38
Let’s swing into the world of modern, snub nose revolvers. Whoever thought such a classic concealed carry gun could see any real change. Snub nose revolvers have long been fairly simple weapons, but Ruger and S&W have shaken things up. Ruger’s LCR and S&W’s Bodyguard 38 represent what the modern snub nose can be.
Outside of being snub nose guns, what else do these two have in common? Well, they both use a hefty dose of polymer in their construction. This seems like sacrilege to revolver fans, and I can see why. However, in 2022 the world of the revolver either needs to adapt or disappear.
The LCR uses more polymer than S&W and uses a polymer frame wrapped around an aluminum chassis with a metal cylinder and barrel insert. S&W uses a two-piece design with the upper portion of the frame being metal but the lower portion being polymer.
Both of these guns aim to occupy the same vein of revolver. They are used for concealed carry or as backup weapons for police officers. They are small, easy to conceal, and both chamber the classic 38 Special.
The standard LCR and S&W Bodyguard 38 both use a double-action-only trigger system. They both lack an external hammer, which makes them fairly snag-free for deep concealment. Heck, they are both fairly inexpensive, at least compared to other revolvers. So with all this in common, it’s fairly easy to see that these are hardcore competitors in the snub nose market.
Which is better, and which deserves your cold hard cash?
Snub nose revolvers are not made for precision. They are up close and personal guns that max out on range fairly quickly. That doesn’t mean that accuracy doesn’t matter. S&W and Ruger went with traditional rear trench sights and large front sights. They are ramp front sights and are fairly standard. Nothing special, but they are bad guy accurate at the very least. Which snub nose shoots straighter?
The DAO trigger of the Bodyguard 38 isn’t bad. It’s long, a little gritty, and heavy. It’s what you expect from a DAO revolver. It mine outperform budget brands, but it’s nothing special.
Ruger, on the other hand, mastered the double-action trigger with the LCR. Ruger has a patented friction-reducing cam that makes the trigger pull something truly great. It’s heavy and long, but it is super smooth and has no stacking. That better trigger makes it easier to shoot the gun accurately.
Both S&W and Ruger take some swings and make some misses with their respective guns. Let’s start with grips. The Bodyguard is a longer, more hand-filling grip that is easier to hold. The Ruger LCR’s little grip is pitifully small, and the first thing I changed on the LCR was the grip. The Bodyguard’s bigger grips make it easier to handle.
The problem with the Bodyguard is the grip angle. It’s different, odd, and I don’t like it! Well, honestly, it’s not bad, but it feels odd. It’s straighter up and down than traditional revolver grips.
A good portion of our readership will likely be caught between the methods chosen by each company to release the cylinder. Ruger with a traditional left-side button design that they use on most of their revolvers. It works and is nothing crazy. If you have experience reloading revolvers, then the LCR’s cylinder release will be nothing new to you.
S&W placed their cylinder release where an exposed hammer would typically be and made it ambidextrous. This polymer release is pulled with the thumb and is simple. If you’re experienced with revolvers, then this will throw you for a loop at first.
Once you’ve been properly trained or practiced with the S&W Bodyguard, then you’ll find it completely suitable for quick reloads. If you are new to revolvers, I’d hazard to say this is easier than most revolvers.
These little snub nose revolvers are designed with concealment in mind, so which conceals better? Well, that’s a matter of measurements and weight, right? Weight-wise, the two guns are fairly close together. The LCR is lighter at 13.5 ounces versus the Bodyguard’s 14.2-ounce weight.
The LCR is also shorter overall at 6.5 inches, while the Bodyguard is a hair bigger at 6.6 inches. The Bodyguard takes the height difference at 4.4 inches while the LCR comes in at 4.5 inches. Both are very close in size and weight, so it’s tough to say one is better than another. Both conceal with ease and won’t be much of a challenge for deep concealment.
The S&W Bodyguard offers you two options, a gun with a laser and a gun without a laser. That’s really it. Ruger offers you about a dozen different options if you consider various colors as different options.
Beyond colors, Ruger offers the LCRx model with an exposed hammer. The x models also come in 3-inch barrel models with adjustable sights. We get a deluge of calibers like .357 Magnum, .327 Federal Magnum, 9mm, 22LR, and 22 Magnum.
Ruger offers more in terms of choices and even makes variants that extend well beyond snub nose barrel lengths.
Snub Nose Madness
A good snub nose goes a long way. These classic carry guns have gotten a serious facelift with the S&W Bodyguard and Ruger LCR. The use of polymer helps lower weight and reduce cost significantly while still providing a strong, durable revolver. You’ve got a winner with either weapon, so the question is, which one would you pick?