Check out the new guns at Honor Defense: http://www.honordefense.com/
Honor Defense. You’ve never heard of Honor Defense? You’re not alone. But I bet you’ll be hearing a lot about the new company.
First, let me set the scene. When the last hurricane was pummeling the east coast and dumping on inland South Carolina, I was standing ankle deep in red clay mud trying my best to keep the rain out of my eyes. There were a hundred of us out on the sodden firing line, shooting everything from vintage WWII era machine guns to modern full autos. There were pumpkin-sized bags of binary explosives going off as fast as the rifle shooters could pick up the modest targets in the mix of smoke and driving rain. Even with my hearing protection, I was having trouble handling the booms. I couldn’t stop flinching.
And then someone handed me a pistol. For a split second, I’d assumed it was a custom mod of something like a GLOCK 43. But no. It was not a custom gun. It was, in fact, the Honor Guard. What appears to be a custom pistol, isn’t. This is how the gun is going to come from the factory. And it certainly isn’t a GLOCK. And my initial assessment is that the gun is nothing short of brilliant.
Why the effusive praise?
After I’d shot the Honor Guard a few weeks ago, I thought about coming right back to the computer and penning a fan letter to the folks at Honor Defense, but I didn’t. I wanted to see the gun again. And I got that chance this week at the annual NASGW show. All of my positive first impressions were backed up to my satisfaction. The Honor Guard is one of the most fully realized designs I’ve ever seen.
And just so no one thinks I have some sort of brand-bias, I’ll say this. I’m not a hater. I often carry a GLOCK 19, and a 42. I have carried the Nano, Ruger’s LCP, 9mm Kahrs, Smith’s venerable Shield, the single stack Bersa…. My XD-S is a .45, but I’ve carried the 9mm version, too. I’ve got a lot of trigger time behind most all of the single stacks on the market, and there are points about each that I find worthy of praise. There are also points on each gun that I’d change, if I could. The Honor Guard is the first stock single stack I’ve seen that has everything I’d want–perfectly executed–out of the box. And the retail price will come in somewhere around $450, depending on the model.
I realize that this is partially opinion based. No denying that. But here’s how I see it. You can buy an almost perfect gun and live with it–that’s what 99% of us do. Or you can buy an almost perfect gun and spend a boatload of cash to make it perfect. Now, you have one more option–100% American made, competitively priced, and exceptionally well designed. They will be hitting stores soon–and should be available all across America well before the end of the year.
So what makes it different?
We’ll start with the frame. The first thing I noticed was the model with the FIST feature. FIST stands for Firearm Integrated STandoff. This frame protrusion functions as a stand off. Theoretically, you can shoot at actual contact distances without running the risk of pushing the slide out of battery when you jam it into a bad guy. We’ll test this with some volunteer bad buys soon, and let you know how well it works.
The second feature of the frame is the excellent texture. The thin frame has a stippled feel, but the texturing wraps all the way around the grip and up the frame (out past the trigger guard). This allows you to find extra grip for a shooting finger that is off the trigger, and for the support hand.
It is a single stack, so it is thin–under an inch. The magazines are steel and resemble those of the Shield. The gun comes with a 7+1 and an 8+1. The controls for the magazine are ambidextrous, too. In fact, all of the controls are ambidextrous.
Sights. The front sight on the Honor Guard is a big fat orange dot. As this is a pistol built for concealed carry, fast sights are a must. There’s nothing subtle about the dot, and it is easy to pick up–even in the driving rain. The rear sight has two features that I like. The first is the shelf that allows for one-handed manipulation. The second is the wing that wraps around the back of the sight. It offers a bit of protection for the dots themselves. They’re aluminum, too–not plastic.
One of the nicest features is the generous texture provided by the slide serrations. They wrap over the top. The slide itself has been milled to remove some of the bulk. The combination provides generous grip surfaces and weight reduction. But they haven’t cut the slide down to a skeleton.
One of the more subtle features has to do with take-down. You don’t have to pull the trigger to take the gun down. While we highly suggest unloading your firearm before you attempt to field strip it, some shooters get a bit lax and try to take down their pistols with a round in the pipe. If you have to pull the trigger to get the slide to release, this presents a serious safety issue. Bonus points for the Honor Guard.
What else is tucked away in there? A short reset on the trigger. Dual recoil springs. The serialized portion is a frame insert, like on the Sig P320s, that would allow you to switch frames and barrels if needed or desired. The back-straps are interchangeable, and the texture pattern is matched well so it still looks like a solid grip.
The guide rod is 416 SS with a FNC (ferritic nitrocarburizing) finish. The barrel is 410 SS with heat-bath PX-5 finish. The slide is 416 SS also with FNC.
There are five different models. Three, really, but two models are available with or without safeties. The main distinction is the length of the frames and barrels. You can go with the subcompact, the compact, or the sub with the FIST. The sub compact has a 3.2″ barrel. The compact is a 3.8″. The FIST combines the two: 3.2″ barrel, on a modified Compact frame.
Right now, the guns are only chambered in 9mm. You have to start somewhere, and the venerable 9mm is as good a place as any. My bet is that other calibers will follow. And with the modularity of the serialized frame insert, we may be able to play with calibers and sizes without the added expense or paperwork of a new gun.
This is the section where, if it were a typical review, I’d wax poetic about the sub-moa groups I shot with the pistol–cause I’m that good. Actually, you’d likely see a target with a bunch of holes in a fist sized group low-and-left. Whenever I start moving fast, I can’t keep enough of my fat finger off the trigger.
I shot the Honor Guard in the hurricane I mentioned earlier. I had a limited number of rounds to run through the gun, and it was a prototype. So I’m not ready to make a full on report at this point. We’ll have that as soon as we get a review gun in-hand. In the meantime, I will say that I have no complaints about how the gun handled. There could hardly have been worse conditions in which we might test a gun. But the grip functioned flawlessly, and the slide was easy to rack–even when it was wet.
We did have one issue with the gun returning to battery. Again, I’d like to point out that it was a prototype gun. The spring in this particular gun was not the production spring. Honor Defense has beefed it up and changed the material composition. Even so, the issue happened only once, and the gun had been running in the rain, almost non-stop, for at least three hours. We saw a lot of guns-that-never-fail lock up, hiccup, burn up, and stop.
We’ll have the full-on review ASAP.
It isn’t everyday that we get a brand-spanking-new gun brand. And of those new guns, I could count the stunning debuts on one hand. This is an impressive debut. Could the Honor Guard end up being the best single stack 9mm of 2015? As this has turned out to be the year of the single-stack, that title might be fairly highly coveted. But I think we have a contender–a late entrant in the 2015 race.