Edward Wilks - The Tradesmen Gun Store - 128 East 3rd Street Rifle CO 81650 Colorado - Advanced Combat Training

Edward Wilks - The Tradesmen Gun Store - 128 East 3rd Street Rifle CO 81650 Colorado - Advanced Combat Training

B.U.G.s (Back Up Guns & Pocket Pistols)

     We sell a variety of different "Pocket Pistols." They come in a spectrum of calibers from .22 to .45 (although most are .22 to .380) and include brands such as Smith & Wesson, Glock, Taurus, Ruger, Kel-Tec, Sig, etc.  Here, we will discuss the various options, calibers, strengths and weaknesses of these firearms.  Why do we sometimes call them a BUG’s or Noisy Cricket?  B.U.G. stands for Back-Up Gun, meaning, a secondary or back-up firearm.  “Noisy Cricket” you should recognize.  It's a term some friends of mine and I began using shortly after this scene from Men in Black.

     Although we will discuss many different pistols, most of you approach me and say, “Sure, all this info is fine, but I just want to know... What do YOU carry, Edward?”  I currently run the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard, 7-shot, .380 pocket pistol with built-in laser. However, I have owned, tested, and carried everything from the Kel-Tec, to the Glock.  At times, it is not an easy decision choice, but I will try to give you the facts and let you make your own decision.


My progression of pocket pistols has been:
Kel-Tec P32 .32 Pistol
Kel-Tec P3AT .380 Pistol
Ruger LCP .380 Pistol
Taurus TCP .380 Pistol
S&W Bodyguard .380 Pistol
Glock 42 .380 Pistol
But now... back to the Bodyguard

S&W Bodyguard -vs- Glock 42

     I finally got a few Glock 42 .380 Pistols in my gun store.  I was eager to compare them to all the other .380 pistols out there including all those I have owned and used as a police officer, bodyguard, instructor, and civilian.  I will be comparing this Glock 42 with the S&W Bodyguard because they seem to be  the two most popular and high-demand pocket pistols on the market right now along with the fact that they are the two that stand out from all others regarding features and ability. Given time, I am sure even that may change.

PRICE: Virtually Equal$350-$400

     The S&W Bodyguard is $400 with the laser, $350 without. The Glock 42 is $400 for civilians, with a $350 discounted price for Military/Law Enforcement Personnel.  Call or visit my shop for those details.  Or, if you find one on the web, I can do the transfer for you here.

SIZE: About The Size of a Men's Small Wallet

     Most .380 pocket pistols are basically the same thickness and grip size.  The Glock is slightly longer than the others and is more difficult to conceal in most pockets... and virtually impossible in jeans.


     Most .380 pocket pistols are a 7-shot pistol meaning 6 in the mag, 1 in the chamber.  There are modifications and/or add-ons that can extend the capacity of the magazine. 


     Most modern pistols are drop safe.  However, none are perfect.  The Ruger LCP did... yes DID... have a factory recall because they were NOT drop safe.  The Taurus TCP can... yes CAN... fire from the half-cock position (if you pull the trigger from half reset instead of full-stroke) which is a little unnerving.  The S&W is a true full-decocking double-action only system and has a thumb safety.  (I do not run the S&W safety on because all it does is keep the trigger from being pulled and my holster does that.  The Glock continued to use their “Safe Action” system, which is, technically, “Self-decocking Double Action Only”.  To utilize their four safety features, namely: Self-decocking, Trigger Safety, Firing Pin Block Safety, and Drop Safety, they needed the gun slightly longer.  Both the S&W and Glock have a firing pin block/safety.  Most others lack that feature. Final Note: Like ANY modern firearm in the "decocked" condition, the only way the round in the chamber will go off without pulling the trigger is by putting the pistol into a furnace and cooking it at ~ 400+ degrees.  I, personally, carry a round in the chamber of my pocket pistol.


     I love Glock pistols.  They are, by far, the most reliable pistols out there.  However, I owned and ran two Glock 42 .380 pistols and both had problems loading and feeding various ammos and loads.  In short, I was not happy enough with the 42 to keep it.  The Bodyguard... for me... seemed better.


     Both the Glock and the S&W are rated for +P ammo.  Most others are not.  The Glock has a more extended and comfortable grip for some.  The S&W Bodyguard, however, has one HUGE advantage over most all others.  It IS a true double action in that if you pull the trigger, and the gun does not fire, you can pull the trigger again and the hammer will cycle again. 


     The Glock 42 is one of the biggest .380 pistols.  Being about the size of the Shield or Bersa, it makes it a little too big for jeans and other pockets.


     Most all of these have standard black three-post sights.  Some are milled on (permanently part of) the slide.  Others are removable  or have three-dot systems.  The S&W has removable sights, but are a very specific type and style and there are not many aftermarket options for change.  The Glock, however, has a standard groove and you can even install the VERY popular Tru-Glo TG131GT1 high visibility green fiber optic and night sight combo set.  The Bodyguard can come with or without a laser.  The first laser models had problems, so S&W switched to Crimson Trace and quality improved greatly.


     Just about every aftermarket company makes parts for Glock & Smith & Wesson.  There are also companies already offering replacement magazine bottoms (plates and the like) that give you a finger grip and/or a +1 round capacity addition.  I am sure that LaserMax, Crimson Trace, and others are all working on various internal and external lasers for the Glock 42. When considering these changes, lots of testing to ensure reliability is crucial!

     I've contacted GLOCK and told them that they have a wonderful opportunity right now to introduce the new “industry standard” for a new rail size and system... something OTHER than the standard 1913 picatinny rail.  We know that if Glock builds it, others WILL follow and it WILL become the new standard.  Imagine a new small rail size and system wherein GLOCK (or others) could then build a single CR123A battery system or other micro-light for simple low-light environments.


       If you ever wanted your children to have or run a Glock, the 42 may be it.  It fits their hands well, it has very little recoil, and is easy to load, rack, handle, aim, and shoot.  My 11YO son and 13YO daughter LOVE shooting this Glock as they can compete in our Action Pistol competitions with ease and comfort while knocking down steel targets and “running with the big guns.”


     Now, I couldn't help but notice that the Glock mag is NOT single stack.  They are somewhat double stack (or stack and a half if you prefer) but they still only hold 6 rounds.  Well, it didn’t take long for me to disassemble the magazine and find the problem.  Their follower is perhaps about two times taller than it “really” needs to be.  So, as you see in the pictures, I shortened the follower (top part) to about 1/2 of its original height ensuring that I kept the angle and sides correct and equal to what they were.  I then drilled a “7” hole and marked it as such.  It was a fast and rather crude modification, but it worked.  If you do this, check for proper loading and function before you rely on it.

Video Here:

-Edward Wilks
Owner, Tradesmen Gun Store
Chief Instructor, Advanced Combat Training

glock 42 .380 pistol review - edward wilks tradesmen gun store

glock 42 .380 pistol review - edward wilks tradesmen gun store
 glock 42 .380 pistol review - edward wilks tradesmen gun store

glock 42 .380 pistol review - edward wilks tradesmen gun store

glock 42 .380 pistol review - edward wilks tradesmen gun store


Regarding ALL smaller "personal protection" pistols...

     Most .380 pocket pistols seem like great options right now.  They are small, fit in your pocket, are thinner than a wallet, and carry (on average) seven rounds.  The cartridge is the respectable .380 or 9mm Kurtz (9mm Short) which is capable of killing any bear, mountain lion, or bad-guy you would find in Colorado.  Many have laser options and their prices seems fair.

     The Glock and S&W have something most other do not? A Black-coated Stainless Steel (or Tenifer or Gas Nitration) slide and barrel on a Polymer lower receiver.  They are rated for the +P high-powered rounds.  (Most .380 pistols are not.)  The S&W actually IS a "true double action trigger" which means you CAN double strike a primer if you have a failure to detonate, (unlike the Glock, Kel-Tec, Ruger, and Taurus.)  The Glock and the S&W are the only two (in this standard class) that have a firing pin block wall safety.  That really is a big deal.  It means that this gun can run a round in the chamber and NEVER go off... period!

     My personal history with pocket pistols: I started with the Kel-Tec P32 in .32 Auto.  I then went to the .380 shortly thereafter.  Now, the .32 held 8 rounds, not 7, and it DID lock open on empty (meaning on your last shot, the slide locked open and you knew you were out of ammo.)  So I wanted something with a little more power. 

     Later, I went to the Ruger LCP.  Now it didn’t lock open on empty, but you could manually do so if needed.  However, after carrying the pistol and using it, I quickly surmised that the gun was NOT drop safe, and NOT stainless.  They made the barrel “stock steel” but did NOT blue it, so mine rusted in 6 days.  I warned them about not being drop-safe, and they blew me off.  One month later, Ruger issued a recall, pulling all LCP’s off the shelf.  Why?  They were not drop safe.  Hmmm...

     Next, I went to the Taurus TCP.  It was in stainless steel, fed most rounds okay, DID lock open on empty, and came with 2 magazines instead of one.  These can be finicky with some ammo and you should break these (and all these) guns in and find what works.  Next, I ran the S&W Bodyguard, and then the Glock.  I have decided to stick with the Bodyguard.

     Holsters are not usually a problem. You can go small of back, clip, pocket, ankle, or even wallet.  I'll try to post some picture when I can.

     I will add my other findings here as I continue to work on this page... which may be forever under construction.

     We will stop with the Glock 27, because although it fits in most front and back pockets, it really does push the limit of size, comfort, and concealable in a pocket.

Guns to Cover in the Future:

The Sig single-action models are not included or recommened as they lack some safety features and options.

Glock 27,     .40 Caliber    Size = Medium, Thick
Glock 26
Kel-Tec P-11
Kel-Tec PF9
Walther PPS
Walther PPK
Glock, Kel-Tec, Ruger, S&W, Sig, and Taurus
1911 or Single action .380 in pocket running “cocked and locked” = BAD!
Women in purse might not chamber round so children cannot shoot it.
They make the “rack” part of their draw.

Talk about CT laser on Taurus in swimming pool = okay.  CT reports what level of depth, etc.

Now, go take S&W bodyguard into pool and see if THAT laser holds up.  Return and report.