The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard is a family of small J-frame revolvers with shrouded hammers manufactured by Smith & Wesson. They are available chambered in either .38 Special or .357 Magnum.
The Model 38 is aluminum-framed, has a carbon steel cylinder with a five round capacity and barrel. Chambered in .38 Special.
The Model 49 is an all carbon steel-framed revolver chambered in .38 Special.
The Model 638 is aluminum-framed with stainless steel cylinder and barrel. Chambered in .38 Special.
The Model 649 is an all stainless-steel framed revolver. Chambered in .357 Magnum or .38 Special.
The M&P Bodyguard 38, introduced in 2014, is the latest incarnation of a Smith & Wesson revolver using the Bodyguard moniker. It is a polymer framed revolver chambered in .38 special, and is only available with a Crimson Trace laser sight integrated in to the grip. Like previous Bodyguard models, it has a five round cylinder and a concealed hammer but unlike the previous models, the hammer cannot be cocked for single action fire. The lockwork is different than any other Smith & Wesson revolver and the model has no parts interchangeable with the J-frame series. Chambered in .38 special, it is only available with a Crimson Trace (previously Insight) red-dot laser sight integrated in to the grip. It is most closely related to the Centennial models.
Clyde A. Tolson, special assistant to FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, owned a Model 38 Airweight, serial number 512236, with his name engraved on the side.
Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, South Vietnam's chief of National Police, was photographed using a Model 38 Bodyguard to execute a Viet Cong prisoner, Nguyễn Văn Lém, during the Tet Offensive of 1968. The picture, which earned photographer Eddie Adams a Pulitzer Prize, is credited with increasing public antipathy towards the Vietnam War.
On April 4, 1981, Texas prisoner Eroy Brown used a Smith and Wesson Bodyguard belonging to the warden Wallace Pack of the Ellis Unit to kill farm manager Billy Moore before drowning the warden himself.
On December 22, 1984, Bernhard Goetz used a Model 38 Airweight in the shooting on a New York subway train of four men who he believed were about to rob him.