American Rifleman - November 2010 - (Page 8)

CORRESPONDENCE EDITOR’S LETTER espite the huge surge in popularity and accompanying demand for semi-automatic .380 ACP pistols, there are those old-school handgunners for whom the Smith & Wesson J-frame is the personal-protection gun of choice, be it with an internal hammer, as with the Centennial, or with an external, shrouded one as on the “Bodyguard.” Today, demand still exceeds supply. That’s because J-frames are still built the old-fashioned way. Back in the 1950s (really the lockwork dates back to the 1890s), the parts were not designed with modern high-speed manufacturing in mind. Today, assembling a J-frame takes highly skilled craftsmen, and each gun goes to a tter for nal assembly. At the gun shop, you have to pay for that old-school design and handwork, and today a Model 442 in blue runs $640, while a 638CT with a factory-installed Crimson Trace Lasergrip runs $901. Just as S&W carried over the name of its most enduring revolver design, the Military & Police, to modern polymer-frame pistols, and semi-automatic AR-based ri es (and now some J-frames, too), it has christened its newest pistols—a polymer-frame .380 ACP and a polymer-frame .38 Spl. +P—with another great name from Smith’s history: the aforementioned Bodyguard. Although late to the .380 pistol market (let’s not discuss the ill-advised SW380 of the ’90s), and being a step behind Ruger with a polymer-frame revolver, the new Bodyguards do mark a milestone in rearm design. The BG 380 comes with a laser sight built into the frame design and installed at the factory by S&W employees on the oor of the Spring eld, Mass., plant (for more on the Bodyguards, turn to Field Editor Wiley Clapp’s story beginning on p. 52). These two new guns were designed with manufacturing ef ciency and affordability in mind: the BG 38 is priced at $625 while the BG 380 is D $525. That’s with their Insight Technology lasers. The laser-sighted handgun entered popular culture with the 1983 lm “The Terminator.” As described by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character, it was the “.45 Longslide laser sighting.” It was a Laser Products (which became SureFire) device larger than the slide of the .45 ACP AMT Longslide Hardballer it topped—and, according to screenwriter John Fasano, that ri escope-sized unit didn’t even include the battery, which rode in the actor’s pocket. Both lasers and their power sources have miniaturized, and devices such as the Crimson Trace Lasergrip and the LaserMax guide rod unit are unobtrusive, don’t add weight, don’t materially change the handling characteristics of the rearm and allow the use of standard holsters. With the BG 38, S&W attaches the laser module to the upper right rear of the frame. More signi cantly, the laser and its power supply are built directly into the lower front frame of the BG 380. At the new Bodyguards’ debut in January, one overly enthusiastic— yet not necessarily intellectually gifted—gunwriter questioned the need for iron sights. A polite S&W representative took the query under advisement, but I couldn’t help myself. I replied, “Plan B. Batteries die, sights don’t.” Lasers have come a long way, and I am a convert to their effectiveness. They can be handy in aiding shot placement, and battery life now is measured in hours, not minutes, but at times you still need a backup plan. Sincerely, 8 NOVEMBER 2010 WWW.AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG http://WWW.AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - November 2010

American Rifleman - November 2010
Editor’s Letter
Armed Citizen
Standing Guard
President’s Column
Readers Write
News, Notes and Ephemera
Questions & Answers
Loading Bench
Expanding Bullets: Really Work
Laser On Board: The New Bodyguards
Election 2010: Had Enough? Vote Freedom First!
Political Report
Election 2010: Races To Watch
The Model 94 Rides Again
Spanish Broomhandles
Blaser: The Evolution Of German Hunting Rifles
Arms Of The “Chosin Few”
Walter R. Walsh: An Amazing Life
Dope Bag: Data & Comment
ILA Report
Regional Report/Member Info & Benefits
Programs & Services
I Have This Old Gun

American Rifleman - November 2010