Honor Guard 9mm–Full Review

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Check out the new guns at Honor Defense: http://www.honordefense.com/

Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=honor%20defense

The Honor Guard from Honor Defense. A new gun from a new company. Made in Gainsville, Georgia.

The Honor Guard from Honor Defense. A new gun from a new company. Made in Gainesville, Georgia.

Most of the time, when we review new guns, a manufacturer will send us one that has only been function tested once, if that. occasionally, we’ll get guns that have been through the testing and evaluation pipeline. These will have higher round counts, but we’re talking 1,000–2,000 rounds. This Honor Guard pistol is one that’s been rung out pretty well already. It showed up with 6,500 + rounds through it. Over the last week, I’ve run it out to the range and hammered away at it, and here’s what we’ve found.

Specifications

There were five models of the Honor Guard on display at the NASGW convention last October. They’re pictured below. The main difference between the models has to do with length and the presence or absence of a manual safety. The one we have is the sub-compact without a safety. It is reasonably short, at 6.2″ overall. The barrel itself is 3.2″.

The guns are all single-stacks. The short mags hold 7 rounds. The extension adds a modest amount of length for an additional round. With one in the pipe, the 9 round capacity is decent for those looking for single-stack thinness. But like most of the other single-stacks on the market, thin is relative. This one comes in under an inch–so the description seems apt.

All five of the models. Guns will be on shelves soon--before the end of the year.

All five of the models. This photo was taken at NASGW, back in October. The guns are in distribution now.

The features of the Honor Guard

The frame of the Honor Guard is unique. The FIST feature is likely to be the first thing you’ll hear about. We haven’t had the chance to try out the FIST model yet. The FIST is a protrusion that functions somewhat like a cattle-pusher on the front of a locomotive.

Looks like a locomotive with a cattle pusher.

The FIST allows the gun to stay in battery, even when pressed into someone or something.

The FIST should make it easy to shoot from contact distances and from inside cover.

The FIST should make it easy to shoot from contact distances and from inside cover.

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.

The texture wraps the frame and extends above the trigger guard.

The texture wraps the frame and extends above the trigger guard.

The shape of the grip is really well executed.

The shape of the grip is really well executed.

The ergonomics are exceptional, and the gun has a much more aggressive texture than many of the others in this class. In fact, after putting 500+ rounds down range today, my hand is hurting. It is not sore from recoil, but just sensitive to touch from holding onto that wire mesh texture. My skin feels chapped–which means that pattern is effective, and I’m getting soft sitting in front of the computer.

I had a harder time dropping the slide with my thumb than I’d remembered. The slide drop is steel, and has a low profile. There’s no texture there, either, so you really have to hit it. It is far from impossible, but I found myself relying on the other hand hitting the slide, or the mag itself (popping the 7 round mag in dropped the slide–but the 8 round didn’t).

The smooth strip both adds a bit of contrast and points the way to the over-sized mag release.

The smooth strip both adds a bit of contrast and points the way to the over-sized mag release. And note the slight finger groove on the grip, and the indention on the base-plate of the magazine (useful for ripping out a stuck mag).

The controls are low profile, but still easily accessed.

The controls are low profile, but still easily accessed.

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.

That big orange front sight is visible on almost everything that isn't orange.

That big orange front sight is visible on almost everything that isn’t orange.

Easy to see between the white dots.

Easy to see between the white dots.

The rear sight is protected by the sight's inset design.

The rear dots are protected by the sight’s inset design, which is cut with the slant in the correct direction to prevent draw snags. Why is this so hard for other sight makers to grasp? The ramp should be on the back, not the front.

And the front edge has a nice flat ledge for one-handed manipulation.

And the front edge has a nice flat ledge for one-handed manipulation.

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.

Front slide serrations wrap all the way over the top.

Front slide serrations wrap all the way over the top.

There's still a small gap in the back-strap.

There’s still a small gap in the back-strap.

While I’m focusing on the end-user, I’ll sing the praises of the Honor Guard’s take-down procedure.  You don’t have to pull the trigger to take the gun down.The benefits of this are obvious. Pulling the trigger when you don’t intend to fire the gun can lead to issues. I know. I had a hard time counting to 7 once when reviewing a 1911, and I assumed the hammer was cocked because the gun had failed to lock back after that 7th round. So I just pulled the trigger to drop the old hammer. It is a miracle I still have all of my toes.

Once you get it apart, you will find 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. After taking this gun down, I’m more convinced of the strength of the design. There’s no discernible issues in a gun that’s been fired more than 7,000 times.

The interchangeable back straps are executed flawlessly, and look good.

The interchangeable back straps are executed flawlessly, and look good.

The slim strap and the curved strap.

The slim strap and the curved strap.

The pin that holds the extractor on is not drilled through, so there's no way it can shoot loose and fall into the action.

The pin that holds the extractor on is not drilled through, so there’s no way it can shoot loose and fall into the action.

And the claw is huge.

And the claw is huge.

This is the serialized part.

This is the serialized part.

It is easy to remove and clean.

It is easy to remove and clean.

Shooting

We’ve shot it now. I mean more than just a handful of rounds. It has lived up to my expectations completely. I’m going to run some photos below of what it can do. These are, of course, more about what I can do with it. Still. I’m pleased.

A full mag form 15 yards.

A full mag form 15 yards.

I ran my typical battery of concealed carry tests. I shot from contact distances. I pulled back to 10 feet, and then to 7 yards. After getting the feel for the sights at that distance, I moved back to 15 and 25 yards. The gun shoots well. I think I would be even more accurate with it if I could shave off a couple of pounds from the trigger. This one is breaking at just over 7 pounds. While that’s not heavy, it isn’t light.

Shooting dots is a great way to dial in the sights. 3 shots from 7 yards.

Shooting dots is a great way to dial in the sights. 3 shots from 7 yards.

3 more shots, drifting high.

3 more shots, drifting high.

The trigger has a short reset. I was able to get ahead of it a couple of times. I’d run two rounds fast, and ride the trigger out after the second and have to move farther out to pick up the third. I think this would disappear with more training. The gun is fast, and the reset is short. As such, I’m inclined to push it. I want it to go even faster, which is a bit absurd, and I screw it up. Still, we’re talking about fractions of a second.

I didn’t have a holster for the gun, so I had to improvise. Rather than go with an elastic nylon one-size-fits-most model, I tried it in my regular Kydex rigs. I found that it fit well enough in the Multi Holsters GLOCK 19 holster (one made for a light). While it was by no means perfect, it was snug and safe and allowed for decent testing.

And what about the speeds? I ran a few rounds through the chronograph, just for averages. The Hornady Critical Duty was popping out at about 1050 FPS. The Critical Defense was about 1125 FPS. Typical 115 brass averaged 1150.

Seven single shots from the holster.

Seven single shots from the holster.

Leaning left, as usual when I run fast. I was dumping here practicing mag changes.

Leaning left, as usual when I run fast. I was dumping here practicing mag changes.

There are holsters available, now. This list is from the Honor Defense website.

The gun handled very well. I’m a huge fan of the texture. The ergonomics are also spot on. There’s no place on the gun that I wanted to alter, the way there is on many of the other polymer pistols.

And, in the end, I only had two malfunctions with the gun. I fired three rounds with no mag in the gun. The first two extracted, but did not clear the chamber. The third fell through the bottom of the mag well. As this is a last ditch method for firing the gun, and there were no available rounds to follow up with, it isn’t a show stopper.

Conclusions?

I’m still of the considered opinion that the Honor Guard is the single best out-of-the-box single-stack 9mm available. I’ve never found one with all of these features, and certainly not at this price. The sights alone would be enough for me. And then there’s the texture. The accuracy is spot on, and the performance is exceptional. This is the gun you’d end up with if you bought some of the others and dropped another $500 getting it upgraded. And the price for this American made pistol? It is still hanging in around $450, but should be a bit lower once supply catches up with demand.

Check out the new guns at Honor Defense: http://www.honordefense.com/

Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=honor%20defense

The 7 and 8 round mags both functioned well.

The 7 and 8 round mags both functioned well.

Easy to service and clean.

Easy to service and clean.

The frame is simply a shell, but it is anything but simple. The feel is very similar to that of custom mods.

The frame is simply a shell, but it is anything but simple. The feel is very similar to that of custom mods.

The box. Though simple, it is well branded and keeps costs down.

The box. Though simple, it is well branded and keeps costs down.

The barrel.

The barrel.

One captured spring inside the more traditional recoil spring.

One captured spring inside the more traditional recoil spring.

The Hornady Critical Duty rounds performed well in the gun.

The Hornady Critical Duty rounds performed well in the gun.

What's in the box?

What’s in the box?

Striker fired.

Striker fired.

The rounds are easy to see in the steel mags.

The rounds are easy to see in the steel mags.

9mm over-pressure test round. Do not reload.

9mm over-pressure test round. Do not reload.

The right side. Ambidextrous controls.

The right side. Ambidextrous controls.

That odd cut-out is where a safety lever would go. That is a plug of sorts.

That odd cut-out is where a safety lever would go. That is a plug of sorts.

Nice crown on the barrel, and note the flared sides, which make holstering easier.

Nice crown on the barrel, and note the flared sides, which make holstering easier.

Trigger pull was very consistent. I'd like to see it closer to 6 pounds, than 7, but this one, even with the high round count, is consistent.

Trigger pull was very consistent. I’d like to see it closer to 6 pounds, than 7, but this one, even with the high round count, is consistent.

The guts come out of the polymer frame.

The guts come out of the polymer frame.

{ 45 comments… add one }
  • JOHN L LUCKEY June 23, 2017, 4:15 pm

    I OWN BOTH, THE SHIELD AND THE HONOR GUARD. ALL THE COMMENTS ABOUT THEM BEING SO MUCH ALIKE CONFUSES ME. I AM HOLDING BOTH OF THEM IN MY HANDS AND SHORT OF THE SHADOW THEY CAST THERE IS NOTHING ALIKE ABOUT THEM. THIS IS NOT A SHIELD CLONE, NOT EVEN A COUSIN.
    I THINK INPUT FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS ACTUALLY TOUCHED BOTH OF THESE WEAPONS WOULD BE HELPFUL . I LIKE THE SHIELD. I REALLY LIKE THE HONOR GUARD. “THE LETTERING IS TOO BIG SO THE SHIELD IS BETTER!” ARE YOU GUYS KIDDING ME. I DON’T THINK ANYBODY WHO KNOWS ME EVEN KNOWS WHAT COLOR GUN I CARRY MUCH LESS HOW BIG THE LOGO IS. SHOOT ONE THEN GIVE AN OPINION .

  • john April 28, 2017, 10:55 am

    If anyone is looking for a holster to fit the Honor Guard, The holster for a M&P Shield 40 cal and 9mm are a perfect fit.

  • Wally December 20, 2016, 7:36 pm

    I bought one for $425.
    Here are my concerns:
    Slide drop, next to impossible to operate.
    Magazines, could not manually (by hand) load 7 or 8 as advertised.
    Accuracy: 7″ groups at 7 yards vs. 3.5 with a. G-43, same ammo hand held.
    The rest is as advertised.

  • Loggie661 October 27, 2016, 10:45 pm

    While shooting through the recommended break rounds through my newly purchased HonorGuard this afternoon, a round failed to fire and failed to eject a round. All the ammo is factory fresh from the same box of 9mm ammo. The problem is that I am now unable to move the slide more than 1/16 of an inch backwards so I’m unable get the suspect round out of the gun. I believe the round is a “Live Round”. The trigger has been pulled and the gun can not be cocked and therefore I feel it is safe.

    If anyone out there has any suggestions on how to get then weapon operational again, I would appreciate the suggestions.

    Thanks!

    • Paul December 30, 2016, 10:31 am

      Did you ever get your gun working again?
      I had a similar issue with one of my student’s guns. (I think it was one of the small S&W’s )
      I solved it by hitting the back of the slide with the palm of my hand, which caused the slide to run forward 1/8 inch. (KEEP THE GUN POINTED DOWN RANGE !!!!)
      We didn’t know if it was a LIVE round or not. It was. We fired it and upon examining the spent shell case, we found it to be deformed.
      The gun ran fine for the next 75 or so rounds. I am convinced it was the defective ammo, not the gun.

    • john April 28, 2017, 11:00 am

      I also had trouble with a Brand New Honor Guard. The gun would jamb / stove pipe . Once a RD was fired it would only partially eject the shell . I took the gun apart, gently used a bore brush on the inside slide rails and then oiled it up. NO ISSUES after that.

  • John April 25, 2016, 1:10 pm

    I have never been in the military and never been in an “honor guard”. I would be embarrassed to own or carry this firearm.

    • Neptune June 22, 2016, 12:41 pm

      Why?

      • Mal October 6, 2016, 5:27 pm

        I’m still waiting for an answer to your question from John as well. Maybe he’s too busy practicing at the range with his new HONOR GUARD.

      • john April 28, 2017, 11:07 am

        I like this gandgun. It’s fun to shoot, easy to carry, feels great in my hand and inexpensive. I paid 366.00 at Hoffmans Gun Shop in CT. It’s very accurate, very nice sights and if you need a holster, the one for a M&P Shield is a perfect fit. This handgun is just as much fun to shoot as some of my 1,200.00 SIG Sauers or my S&W EMP 1911A1

    • Bob Bacon August 9, 2017, 8:10 pm

      It\’s just a brand name.

  • Derek February 24, 2016, 9:50 pm

    I just picked mine up. The trigger is better than average for a striker fired gun. It’s definitely better than a Glock right out of the box. I like the wide profile, and of course it’s, metal, so it feels nice. However, in terms of weight and reset, I must say the Shield Pro has it beat.
    The sights are great considering they are simply contrast dots. The orange front sight is extremely bright. That said, I’d like to get something like the X-Ray night sights the Sig Legion series is sporting.
    I’m loving the texture of both the grip and the slide serrations. This gun feels amazing in the hand.
    A last point is that the “billboard” HONOR GUARD text on the slide is nowhere near as noticeable as it seems from the pictures online. The words aren’t etched very deep in the slide, so they appear quite a bit more subdued. You’ll really have to see it in person to understand what I mean.
    I’m really enjoying my Honor Guard so far. When you handle it a bit, you’ll understand the hype. It’s just an incredibly well-thought out gun.

    • Brian Mumford February 28, 2016, 10:48 am

      Do you notice any sight disruption when you dry practice?

  • RON February 23, 2016, 12:21 pm

    If the Springfield Xds in 9mm is as good as my .45 model, I would stick with that in that price range. Lots of features, very reliable and accurate. Recoil for the .45 is very manageable.

  • Ed February 23, 2016, 12:39 am

    Interesting

  • Johnson February 22, 2016, 10:26 pm

    When fired without a magazine, cartridges did not extract/eject properly. I’m adding that test to my bag of tricks. Rather than dismissing those failures, they suggest that the extractor does not have a sufficient grip on the cartridge rim and proper function was only available when the top cartridge in a magazine provided support to keep the empty case from falling away from the extractor.

  • Reinhard February 22, 2016, 10:13 pm

    This is a function test, not a beauty contest. I concur with all the comments about the “billboard” markings. I have shot shields. If you don’t know it, they are made by Walther and S&W puts their name on it. The question is how do the other guns mentioned measure up in velocity and accuracy. Not one person has addressed this. They would be the only revelant comments to this article. I don’t like polymer striker fired guns to begin with, so I wouldn’t buy it. However, looking at the field and having considered them, I think this is one I would have to seriously consider if I was going to buy one. The proof is in the pudding. the markings on the slide don’t make it any more or less effective. The only valid question is, does it hit the target? and does it put the target down?.

  • Dan February 22, 2016, 5:48 pm

    Hey, I’ve got an idea, lets stamp our obnoxious logo all over it, and then maybe they won’t notice that it’s a Shield – shame on the author!

  • Dan February 22, 2016, 5:44 pm

    If it walks like a Shield, and quacks like a Shield…

    Author of this article really hurt his credibility by not mentioning this.

  • John McDowell February 22, 2016, 3:57 pm

    I like the stippelling (sp) around the gun, and the interchangeable back-strap. I noticed the trigger finger could get some callous marks because the stippling does lead forward some-what. Single Stack – OK, but SCCY 9 has double stack and more rounds.
    The Rear sight is GREAT because of the smoothness as stated. Price could / should be less. Now, how far above the trigger finger / grip is the barrel? Might make a difference…

  • Rocket February 22, 2016, 3:15 pm

    For that $$$ range there are way to many choices, If you retail it in the $325.-350 area, I would be a player
    The HUGE lettering is a bit ugly also, I am a fan of being able to decock , and having one chambered and using my DA/First shot as a safety

  • Oaf February 22, 2016, 2:49 pm

    What does the Honor Guard offer (other than costing more, being larger, and holding less rounds) that the Ruger LC9 /LC9s or SCCY 9mm doesn’t? For the price and size you can get a proven S&W Shield. Lower the price to around $325.00 and they might have a market. $450.00 is way high for a “no name” single stack in a market with lots of proven options out there.

  • Lance February 22, 2016, 2:35 pm

    They look a lot like S&W MP series pistols

  • steve February 22, 2016, 2:18 pm

    The name size has NOTHING to do with anything except what your girlfriend thinks of it….looks and sounds like a great gun….I’ll give one a try for sure..

  • Kivaari February 22, 2016, 1:38 pm

    It looks good. I would change one thing, that is reducing the billboard sized “Honor Guard” slide markings. I hate having billboards on my guns. Like when Colt went from the older Government Model to the “Series ’70 MK 4”, the huge lettering stopped me and others from buying them. It’s like adding gaudy jewelry to an ugly person.

  • Mr.James February 22, 2016, 1:25 pm

    Just from you review, “Thanks” and interview of the sales /company rep’s, I’ll be looking at this nu-be out in the field/shops for a hands on. I like there business plan of putting together a public user re-defined approach bringing to market, more modernize and less expensive arms. This simple defense tool may be the new kid on the Interstate I wish them well. Go strong, this is a U.S. made small business venture.

  • gary February 22, 2016, 11:10 am

    will stay with my ruger lc9s

  • CJ February 22, 2016, 11:09 am

    Why has no one addressed the fact that it looks exactly like a Shield? Is it built on the Shield platform? Why try to hide that?

  • Al Booth February 22, 2016, 10:32 am

    My EDC is a no-safety Shield, so that is what I would compare it to.

    Outside of the cosmetic complaints (which I can take or leave), of greater concern is the one-way installation of the extractor pin. Since it is not drilled all the way through, what are you supposed to do when/if you break the extractor or want to replace the spring ? I have never seen a properly installed and spec’d extractor pin drop through any slide of mine.

  • Dean February 22, 2016, 9:29 am

    Price is too pricey…….

    • Ken February 22, 2016, 2:59 pm

      Yeah, I think I’d just as soon pick up another 9mm Shield if I was going to get that spendy.

  • David C February 22, 2016, 9:09 am

    I like the gun and review but two things I didn’t like were the heavy trigger pull and the large imprinting of the name on the slide (looks terrible)

  • Georgie K February 22, 2016, 8:52 am

    Seems like a well thought out piece. Shame about the goofy name and the even goofier billboarding of it on the piece.

  • cd February 22, 2016, 8:41 am

    a shield performance center comes with a really good trigger, fiber optic sights and a compensated barrel and slide. $479 @ webys last time i checked. And above all a long track record . You be the judge.

  • Adam February 22, 2016, 8:18 am

    So a more expensive Shield? When you bring a new gun to market, then it should be cheaper than its competition. This company doesn’t have a proven track record.

    • Kivaari February 22, 2016, 6:53 pm

      Cheaper OR having addition positive features to justify the price. If it is essentially a copy of an existing pistol, it needs to have a new edge – this doesn’t seem to do so.

    • Honor Defense February 23, 2016, 7:32 am

      Adam,
      You may not have noticed the Stainless Steel Chassis inside the firearm.
      Much like a Beretta Nano or the Sig P320, the operating system is encased.
      And it is ambidextrous with exchangeable backstraps.
      Yes, it is sized like the Sig P250, Shield, LC9 and all other sub-compacts.
      But none have all the features of a full-sized gun, like the Hinor Guard.

  • DanGoodShot February 22, 2016, 6:41 am

    Like the pistol, but.. Did they really need to put their name so big on the slide? IMO, Completely kills it.

  • DanGoodShot February 22, 2016, 6:41 am

    Like the pistol, but.. Did they really need to put their name so big on the slide? IMO, Completely kills it.

    • Devil Dog February 22, 2016, 8:35 am

      Yeah, it looks like a toy gun. I’ll pass.

  • Chief February 22, 2016, 5:28 am

    I like it . From the article I would like to see the trigger be in the 4.5 lb range . Sounds like they got everything right except the trigger.

  • Brandon February 21, 2016, 2:45 pm

    Can’t wait to get my hands on one. I heard they’re making a long slide variant in the future, so I might have to snag that one up.

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