The Best Bargain in CCW: Honor Defense’s Honor Guard 9mm

The CCW market is one of the fastest growing segments of the firearms world and has held that position for years. It should come as no surprise then, that a good chunk of it is snake oil and hyped up nonsense. Sadly, grifters naturally gravitate to any segment of the market based loosely on fear, and that is a motivation of CCW. Between mass shootings, Antifa attacking people with the wrong haircut or bumper stickers, and good old regular crime, it makes sense. None of us carry an extra 4 pounds of steel on our hips because we think we live in rainbow fairyland. Start-ups in the industry are rare, given the dominance of major players with a vested interest in retaining the market. Hence, most of what we see that is new is actually hot garbage. Fortunately, this week we found an exception.

Enter Honor Defense.

Honor Guard Long Slide with Compact Frame


  • Type: Striker-fired; double action only semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: 9mm
  • Capacity: 7+1 rds.; 8+1 rds. (extended)
  • Trigger Pull: 7 lbs.
  • Weight: 25 oz.
  • Barrel Length: 3.8 in.
  • Overall Length: 6.8 in.
  • MSRP: $499
  • Manufacturer: Honor Defense

I am a bit of a gun snob, and I didn’t think I would like this pistol. I don’t reside in the high-dollar 1911 for CCW camp, but I take potential combat tools very seriously. I also have a hard time trusting new firearm manufacturers, there is too much at stake. How was a tiny company from Gainsville, Georgia, going to win me over? Turns out, by building a fantastic product at a very attractive price.

Honor Defense is a small company that focuses on producing high-quality products. They also have a policy that they only employ veterans to work on the firearms, operations and assembly lines. All parts are made and assembled in the United States. Not one piece is outsourced, sans the Clinton gun lock. The box itself is red white and blue, while the company logo is best described in their own words.

History of the Honor Defense logo

The China-Burma-India Theater (CBI) has been referred to as “The Forgotten Theater of World War II.”  Flying over the Himalayas was also known as “The Skyway to Hell” and “The Aluminum Trail.”  Many pilots would also call it “Operation Vomit”.

Our logo is designed after the shoulder patch worn by American soldiers based there.  This patch helped MP’s identify American personnel during the frequent ‘issues’ with British personnel.  Although morale was low and the challenges were difficult, these American heroes served with bravery and honor.

Our logo pays homage to these brave Americans and all those that serve our country.

We thank them for their service, and we will never forget or take their service for granted.”

That is all well and good, but irrelevant to the discussion of how well their pistols run. If Carlos Hathcock owned Payless shoes, I still wouldn’t recommend them for hiking boots.

Range Time

Before my first trip to the range with the Honor Guard pistol, I was still skeptical. I was sent the Honor Guard Long Slide with a compact frame that features a 3.8-inch barrel. The gun feels a little bit top heavy unloaded, and I wasn’t sure about the grip size. Shooting it, however, changed my opinion rapidly. The trigger is slightly heavy but very crisp. That translates to easy hits. The extra 5 ounces of weight over most in its class alleviates recoil as does its double-spring recoil system. The pistol remains flat, points naturally, and runs like a sewing machine. I hammered targets faster with this pistol than I would have believed. I came away very impressed. And at a price tag of $499 MSRP, this is an easy win. The best way I can describe what they built here, a single stack Glock 19. Basically everything the 43 should have been, at a price anyone can afford. I can’t think of higher praise than that.

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The grip has a unique style of texture, which is a good look. Functionally, it offers better grip than most factory pistols, but it’s not too aggressive for a CCW weapon. The texturing goes all the way to the front of the trigger guard. Backstraps are interchangeable with a small punch, offering two sizes. I preferred the large grip. I also liked the included 8-round extended magazines. The extension allowed me a full fingered grip on the gun.

The magazine release and slide release are fully ambidextrous, which is great in a modern pistol. Unlike a major player earlier this year, both sides work on the Honor Defense. The mag release is a teardrop shape, offering plenty of real estate for your thumb, but doesn’t protrude so far as to cause accidental drops. In all my shooting, I had no problems with it. The grip offers some very subtle finger grooves, and the gun feels great. Every contour has a purpose, and not just to avoid the blocky feel of other weapons. This is a gun you have to hold to appreciate.

The slide is rounded almost to the point of being a tri-cut. Cocking serrations are on the front of the pistol and wrap all the way around the top of the slide. This is pretty unique and prevents any sharp edges from being present. The sights are rear white dot and a front orange bead, standard post, and notch. The factory sights are fine but did show the only bit of fit and finish flaws. The black coating on mine already shows wear through to the metal below, which is rather odd. The good news, anything sight that fits a Glock 43 also fits these, so options are available.

A look inside the gun shows some unique thoughts on a firearm system. The barrel is very thick with a nicely machined angled crown. This is not something you see everyday on a pistol at the price point. The recoil system is a double spring, which helps to cut down on felt recoil tremendously. This gun shoots very flat, and this is part of the reason. Most curiously, the trigger group is modular. A $499 chassis gun? You betcha. Other frames and slides aren’t available yet, but Honor Defense is clearly looking to the future.

Lasting Impressions

I don’t often give new gun companies an endorsement like this, but you need to shoot one. Dollar for dollar, this is probably the best deal going in CCW. We still need to field this one longer to be sure of durability, but that is coming up. Given the attention to detail and initial quality, I don’t think that will be a problem. Look for a thousand round check upcoming soon.

For more information about Honor Defense, click here.

For more information about SIG Sauer ammo, click here.

To purchase an Honor Guard pistol on GunsAmerica, click here.

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • leon March 1, 2020, 2:38 pm

    i’m impressed and is AMERICAN MADE I’M GOING TO GET ME ONE

  • Dan Ulman March 6, 2018, 6:49 pm

    I’m in my 60’s and owned firearms since Christmas 1965 (thanks Dad).

    Tommy Thornton is unfortunately a living example that not EVERYONE should be allowed to own a firearm… The word CLUELESS keeps running through my head……

    My Shield Performance Center 9mm has a better trigger but I find the pistols to be remarkably similar.

  • Dannie Wingo October 26, 2017, 6:47 am

    Have you even tried the SCCY CPX-2? This is an excellent CCW pistol, made in America, completely inhouse. Comes with 2 10 rd mags and the most awesome warranty ever. I’ve had mine for about 10 months and other than a mag malfuntion ( which they quickly replaced) I have not had any problems and the price point at most places is between $199 and $239. I would give mine up for 2 Glocks and a Honor Guard.

  • Noel P. October 23, 2017, 10:35 pm

    @David J: you are about half right. While Obama did not place them on the list himself. The FBI and related departments did. The police here in Charleston checked and the are on the watch list as terrorists. Out in that alt country we call California they just did not have the guts to do anything about them

  • Noel P. October 23, 2017, 5:19 pm

    Pretty sure that President Obama declared the ANTIFA crowd as Terrorists. If he thinks they are dangerous then we better believe they are ! They certainly remind me of the 1932-33 Briwnshirts tuning around. The difference is they are more dangerous. In haroeston we have blocked their activities as being of danger to the discourse of common life. Don’t give them a chance to get started. Probably why when things go south that we don’t have riots. It’s based on citizens helping one another; and by the way we are weapon friendly so long s social manners are provided for.

    I’m one more vote for my FDE Shield in 9mm. For many years I carried several different varieties of .380s while serving in Europe. At that time they were one step up from the .32acp common carry by the various other plainclothes of the period. That PPK in .380 that the gentleman barks about never bit me but it did have the most hellacious doubleaction trigger pull that I was won’t to run into. The SIG P320 and the d/s Browning were two of the better of that caliber’s crowd. When a real weapon was called for we’d break out the Colt Commanders.

    • DAVID J BLANCETT October 23, 2017, 8:28 pm

      I don’t think obama was willing to label any group as terrorists, least of all the antifa assholes. they were right up his leftist alley, and were going after any conservative or republican. Yes, they are dangerous…but certainly not because obama said so. cuz he didn’t.

  • Russ H. October 23, 2017, 5:12 pm

    $310 to $400 multiple places online depending on which one you want.

  • Russ H. October 23, 2017, 5:05 pm

    I too am a gun snob but it appears to be an overall nice pistol but let\’s see what is said a year from now. After going to their website I would likely have chosen the sub-compact without the manual safety (if I wanted one) – it\’s more in line with my Glock 43 Talo that I adore and I\’m not a Glock guy (or a striker fired guy for that matter, with one exception). Give me a Sig P series anyday. What I don\’t like about this pistol: I don\’t like ambidextrous everything, the added controls always get in my way (to include AR15\’s) and it\’s a little heavy for MY standards. It\’s a minor bitch but I\’d really prefer a pistol with \”Honor Guard\” in smaller tasteful lettering on the slide than \”HONOR GUARD\” IN HUGE LETTERING. It just looks a little tacky to me. It\’s made by \”Honor Defense\” why is it called \”Honor Guard?\” Maybe they\’re going to make other models… What I do like: It\’s made by veterans, I found it multiple places for $310 online, it comes with two mags (7 & 8 rd) and it will take standard sights for a G43. Not bad. What about aftermarket parts, is there anything compatible? With such parts my G43 now has a 4.4 lb trigger, no slack, holds 7+1 and is reliable (even if I\’m in the $550 price range now). Regardless, if I\’m ever on the market for another CCW pistol like this I\’ll take a look.

  • Dan October 23, 2017, 4:57 pm

    It’s great to see another option for CCW, and glad it’s American made, but the author’s statement that it’s, “Basically everything the 43 should have been, at a price anyone can afford.” doesn’t really make sense. The Glock 43 has a 4.25″ grip height, which makes it easier to conceal, and is almost a half pound lighter. Are we talking about the “perfect” concealed range gun, or the “perfect” concealed carry gun?

  • Oaf October 23, 2017, 12:56 pm

    Picked up a S&W Shield in 9mm with an extra mag (3 total) for $250.00 when they had their $75.00 rebate program. I fail to see what the HD does, at twice the price, that the S&W won’t! Not bashing the HD, but it does seem a bit pricey considering the other good quality compacts out there for hundreds less. I’m retired LE with over 30 years of carrying one hunk of iron or another both on and off duty. I own Glock, Ruger, S&W, Taurus, Beretta, SCCY, and Colt compacts and sub compacts in everything from .22 LR to .45 ACP to pick and choose from for concealed carry. You know what my everyday carry choice is? Yep, the SCCY in 9mm! Why? Because it has never failed to shoot, it’s accurate, easily concealable, and the DA only trigger makes me actually think before the hammer drops. Also at around 200 bucks I won’t be too sad when it’s confiscated if, God forbid, I ever need to use it.

  • Rob October 23, 2017, 12:15 pm

    Initial review looks promising. I won’t buy until it’s been run through the ringer. Be nice to see some dirt, mud etc… tests too. Thx Clay.

  • RGE October 23, 2017, 11:59 am

    A little over 20 years ago I had a need to carry and was dissatisfied withe a Walther PPK style .380. Great gun, stainless steel, weighed a ton. The 380 is a hand biter in that configuration, so I started looking. Found the Taurus Millenium. Bought one. Most people I spoke to said there were better guns out there but the price point was right, the feel was right and it was a nice and light compact package. Its worked flawlessly and accurately for 20 plus years. And at that time the gun I bought was new to the market. I got some power and the web of my hand thanked me for it. You can’t judge a book by its cover. And don’t mock those GA boys. They love their guns and wouldn’t make one that’s junk unless its a throwaway piece.

  • Benny Teague October 23, 2017, 11:13 am

    I found the Ruger LC9S Pro to be just about the best bang for the Buck and very accurate.

  • Bob Nagy October 23, 2017, 8:35 am

    I’ll stick with my time proven S&W M&P Shield Performance Center 9mm, the non-PC version can be had for cheaper than the Honor Guard.

  • Miles Mueller October 23, 2017, 8:16 am

    Thanks so much for letting us know about this gun, Clay.

    My late Grandfather was a hump pilot in WWII and flew hundreds of missions through the himalayan mountains……

    I will be buying one of these!

  • Keith Brockmiller October 23, 2017, 8:11 am

    Tommy Thornton WTH are you talking about? Skinheads? NAZIs? Do you live under a rock, or maybe you get your news from CNN and NBC? Antifa ARE the NAZIs of today. They just call themselves that. Pretty sure the author has nothing to do with any of those groups, but if you want to project on him, take it elsewhere.

    • srsquidizen October 23, 2017, 9:46 am

      Exactly. Antifa tactics are disturbingly similar to Ernst Rhom’s brown-shirt goons who helped bring Hitler to power.

  • Injnray October 23, 2017, 7:58 am

    Trus Clay’s opinion of this gun. He tells it like it is, and he shows no mercy for junk guns.

    Clay said you have to hold it then shoot it to fully understand the value and performance of this low cost gun. I agree, having bought the FIST model. The gun feels like it was made from a mold of my strongside hand. Then my son, a southpaw, picks it up and says the same thing. Amazing!

    I have many handguns and not a one at any price point bundles all the necessary CCW features that the Honor Guard does.

    The made 100% in USA by veterans only adds even more value to an aalready incredible value for a CCW tool.

    Go shoot this gun, but be prepared to add it to your collections if you do.

  • Tommy Thornton October 23, 2017, 6:20 am

    I don’t know much about the antifa folks, but I assume it’s abbreviated (anti fascist). I am pretty sure the folks you describe with the funny haircuts are skin heads (NAZIs). It’s ironic that you mentioned WWII where our dads fought and many thousands killed by. those sons of bitches while you seem to support the bastards. I won’t be buying anything else from Classic if you are nazi/fascist folks. Good day!

    • James October 23, 2017, 7:39 am

      No, the writer is referring to the Richard Spencer incident. Not Skin Heads. Richard Spencer got sucker punched because of who he is, then other people across the country were getting attacked because they shared the same haircut as Richard Spencer. ANTIFA goons were behind the whole thing. It’s not about supporting Nazis anymore than ANTIFA is about being against Fascism….because they ARE Fascists and promote widespread Fascism among their supporters. ANTIFA is quickly becoming America’s version of ISIS. They are radicals claiming to be doing the right thing, then milquetoast radicals (from the Liberal side) quietly support ANTIFA’s actions until eventually some of those people decide to get off the couch and become terrorists themselves. Get with the times Tommy Thornton, go research some current events.

      ANTIFA is slowly becoming an even worse threat than mere flagpoles and stones, November 4th is coming… safe.

    • JoeThePimpernel October 23, 2017, 8:09 am

      Reading comprehension is your friend.

    • Russ H. October 23, 2017, 5:07 pm

      Mr Thornton… You need to get out more and READ! You clearly have little reading comprehension and ZERO knowledge of current events.

  • Gary youngers October 23, 2017, 5:15 am

    KAHR CM9, in my opinion, is the best bargain in CCW and $200 cheaper.

    • Will October 23, 2017, 8:07 am

      The Kahr is actually only $40 less MSRP. For that extra $40 in price it looks like you get a better trigger, a more finely designed grip, and a +1 or +2 magazine capacity. Seems like a deal to me.

      • Brian October 23, 2017, 11:16 am

        This also ships with 3 magazines which is really impressive and makes the price difference a wash. I have a K9, great guns, but this one looks to be the better value, certainly in the running.

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