The invention of Smith & Wesson’s Airweight series of revolvers came as metallurgy advanced in the 1930s and the Massachusetts Company produced aircraft grade aluminum alloy experimental lightweights known as the Air Crewman. The Airweight Bodyguard made its debut in 1955, and achieved instant popularity that continues even today. No wonder, then, that a Vietnamese Ranking Air Force Officer carried a bodyguard in 1968 and 1969. By way of morbid history, the most notorious self-contained weapon during the whole Vietnam War was not the B-52, not the M-16, not the AK-47, not the M-60, but one specific Smith & Wesson Bodyguard Revolver . Apart from Napalm, no weapon during the Vietnam War achieved as much notoriety as ARVN General General Nguyen Ngoc Loan’s Smith & Wesson Bodyguard when NBC Reporter Eddie Adams photographed him executing VC Captain Nguyen Van Lem in 1969. Most likely, General Loan’s Bodyguard was manufactured in 1968, and here is one of its mates that was manufactured in the same year from its J3867xx serial number. This is a local revolver from a civilian’s estate in neighboring Madison County, Tennessee. Its career of protecting its owner involved what it was designed for: carrying in the pocket. Numbered model on this one is simply 38, no engineering change suffix. This specimen weighs only 14 ounces empty. The distinctive thing about the Bodyguard series is its hump-backed appearance, but the operator has access to the .240 casehardened serrated hammer so that he or she can manually cock the revolver into single action mode, or simply fire it from a resting hammer position in double action. The shrouded hammer enables easy insertion into, and removal from, one’s pants pocket without fear of snagging when rapid drawing is called for. Caliber is .38 Smith & Wesson Special, and these older Airweights are NOT rated for +P ammunition. Full metal case military ammo is just as effective, or the 158 grain lead round nose variety that General Loan used. There is a good variety of non-plus-P .38 special hollowpoint ammo on the market, and we stock the clean-burning, easy-igniting Aguila 158 grain Hollowpoint since its pricing is so attractive. This particular specimen has moderate shitening on its sharp edges, and etching and scouring on its cylinder surfaces and left side of its steel barrel and .240 serrated face casehardened service trigger. Capacity is 5 rounds, and grips are original Goncalo Magna type service. Barrel is 1 7/8 inch with serrated ramp front sight, and note that the barrel is pinned into place through the frame, Pinned Barrel. We rate this Bodyguard as Good, perhaps Very Good, since about 30 percent of its surfaces are affected by our estimate. Photos, at any rate, should suffice for prospective owners to judge finish grade for themselves. It is Very Good mechanically. Bore, cylinder chambers, and mechanism are all bright, clean, and excellent. Cylinder times correctly in all five positions on a slow double action and single action pull, at the break. Lateral play to the cylinder is moderate, 1.5 to 2mm total both with the cylinder relaxed and with it pulled. We’re offering this serviceable and collectable Vietnam Era Airweight Bodyguard for only $ 439.95. Not Transferable to civilians in California, Chicago, Massachusetts, or New York City. No C&R Eligibility for 10 more years.
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$10 flat fee lower 48 states; $30 to Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico, USPS Priority Mail, insured with Delivery Confirmation.
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