Yes, there are plenty of single-stack, striker-fired subcompact carry guns on the market now. I have reviewed several of them in the last few months; some on this website. But, what if you could start a company and build one combining similar features from some of the top 9mm carry guns out there. Well, that is precisely what this new start-up company Honor Defense is striving to do now. I really admire their innovative and forward-looking ideas. Some have asked me to test, evaluate, and give my opinions about the Honor Guard subcompact carry 9mm pistol. So, I requested one from the Honor Defense Company who sent me one for this Honor Guard 9mm review. They said it had over 8,000 rounds thru it, so it should be fairly-well broken in. I thoroughly analyzed it against my criteria and put it to the test. I was real anxious to hold and examine the Honor Guard, try it out, and learn if it met my needs and preferences. As much as I respect the new company and energy of their CEO, I am not on their payroll, have not been paid to say certain things, bought my own ammo for testing, do not plan to buy the gun and add it to my 6 guns in my carry rotation, and want to be honest and straight-forward with my opinions and ideas the way I see the new pistol to help folks. I wanted to know what factors and features make this gun stand out from the others? Primarily, how accurate is it out of the box? And the big questions– what about the trigger press and the force necessary to make the bang switch do its thing? Is it reliable? Is the trigger smooth and crisp? What about the reset distance for follow-up shots? Since everything has pros and cons, what are they? Is this a gun I might recommend for CC? Is this start-up company going to be there for me with timely customer service support? Are there any initial issues or bugs that need to be worked out now in the short run? Are there holsters available now for the Honor Guard?
First, I want to provide you the Honor Guard’s Specifications and some of its Features. Then I want to give you my 10 criteria that I use to evaluate all guns. When you are evaluating your carry guns, be certain to compare apples with apples and not with oranges, so to speak. Finally, I want to give you my analysis and present how I evaluate the gun against my criteria. You might be interested in how I rate and rank my Top 21 CC guns in my recently-published book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.” It includes guns other than the new Honor Guard. Here I present a brief review and report on the Honor Guard subcompact 9mm and give a very general comparison to just a few guns. As always, do your own research and check my data, information, etc.
Here are my ideas about the Honor Defense Company’s HONOR GUARD 9mm SPECIFICATIONS:
Here are some of the Honor Defense Company’s HONOR GUARD 9mm Key FEATURES:
Many specifically compare the Honor Guard and Shield subcompact 9mms. Below is a chart that compares only the basic specifications for these two guns, not the key features, etc. The features are different. For the optimal comparison between any guns, consider specifications, all features, your goals and your criteria, preferences, and shoot the guns yourself. For example, is modularity important and useful for you? Does a fiber optic front sight best meet your needs? Do you prefer a hard, but crisp trigger press? Note for the trigger presses below, I listed the lower end of the range, which might be different from the actuals measured with a trigger press gauge.
I wondered if there were holsters and accessories available for the Honor Guard? Because of their similarities, would my holsters for my Ported Shield fit the Honor Guard? I discovered mine did. I found this well-made Alabama Holster’s Avenger Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) kydex holster for the Shield fit the Honor Guard fine. Alabama Holster did a nice job constructing it similar to the leather Askins Avenger with the FBI cant or straight drop options, rides high, pulls the gun in tight and securely, and is comfortable. Galco and others also have holsters to fit.
For sure, Honor Defense was aware of some great existing features and specs for guns in the present market. My recently published article in August 2016, compares specifications of the Honor Guard to 13 other current CC pistols, like the Shield, LC9s, Sig 938, XDs, G43, PPS, G2, etc. In the second printing this month of my recent book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials”, I give some detailed comparisons, analysis, and rankings of my top 21 carry guns.
Criteria and Considerations Use for the Honor Guard 9mm Review
Here are just 10 of my Criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for this Honor Guard 9mm review. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. Dreaming? I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine. Here are mine:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in consistent, accurate target hits with a 3″ inch hit group or so at 5-15 yards for concealed carry;
2. Trigger Press maximum of about 5.5-6.5 pounds – lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable (TRAIN to be Trigger Safe);
3. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
4. Barrel length of 3.0″-4.5″ (primarily for concealed carry);
5. Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see–I like Fiber Optic fronts); fast target acquisition; for my purposes– adjustable for windage; Night Sights for low-light situations;
6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer about 25 oz. or less for carry- but there are tradeoffs);
7. Caliber match to my needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference for carry;
8. Capacity – adequate for use & feature tradeoffs- usually prefer at least 8-10 in a 9mm magazine for carry (but can carry a spare mag or 2 sometimes);
9. Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Grip Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; rounded, low-profile;
10. Miscellaneous – Overall Finish, fit, & quality appearance & workmanship; mag release location; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail as required; grip angle; bore axis; competitive market price; excellent customer service with friendly & helpful representatives; ease of disassembly-assembly; Hard Case; Extras (like a third mag, holster, pouch, extended & flush mags); warranty length & extent; etc.
There are several characteristics, pros and cons, and criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, and defined needs and use. This review is for the Honor Guard subcompact 9mm, not the FIST (Firearm Frame Integrated Standoff) model shown just below. Naturally, the FIST is about .4″ longer than the subcompact, but other specifications are the same. Gary the president of Honor Defense told me that within 60 days or so there will be a manual safety version and a long slide version (I believe with a 3.8″ barrel on the compact frame.) He said he would send me the Long Slide version to review then.
Now on to the Honor Guard 9mm Review
Honor Guard 9mm RANGE TEST
I had just a few rounds on hand so shot only about 50 rounds of Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown JHP ammo in 124 grain weight and about 50 rounds of V-Crown 115 grain FMJ thru it, so recognize the gun is not fully broken in by ME. Yes, it gets expensive to shoot nowdays. But, since the company said it had over 8,000 rounds already fired thru it, that should make it definitely “broken in.” It was obvious the test gun that Honor Defense sent me was a very used gun with quite a few rounds tested through it previously, since the exterior of the barrel was a little scratched and worn and the internals seemed very smooth. The finish of the takedown and slide lock levers and slide were worn with some scratch marks. Just cosmetics v. top-priority performance. Maybe I should be concerned about the finish quality and whether or not it is easily scratchable, but I do not have the gun’s history and do not want to get into appearance. I have set about 500 rounds as the number of rounds for me to shoot to evaluate any gun (without having a malfunction or stoppage) to decide if I want to carry the gun or not. Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for my concealed carry purpose. Recognize this old geezer is not a top expert shooter by any means. I wanted to check the gun for malfunctions and performance with quality JHP ammo, as well as FMJ rounds.
Without a doubt, this Honor Guard subcompact 9mm has great ergonomics. It was very comfortable in my hand and the grip texture was not too aggressive and just right. The stippling was good and it extended high up the backstrap to enhance my solid grip. I could easily reach all the controls. For me this nice and comfortable grip was one of the greatest assets of the gun, if not the best feature. The slide was already broken in with a smooth movement and was easy for me to rack. The felt recoil was manageable for me and probably the dual recoil spring had a lot to do with it. I was glad the gun did not have a magazine disconnect and it fired even when the mag was out. Be careful– Safety First Always! Well, below I will present my ideas for each of my criteria after my range testing, but want to mention up front some important things to me. Some factors that concern me initially (for any gun) and which I had to check at the range were:
- if the trigger press was hard,
- if the trigger reset was long when shooting (when dry firing, I noticed a very long trigger reset- almost the full length of travel to the front of the trigger guard),
- what is its accuracy and
- what about its reliability?
Overall after my brief range experience, the Honor Guard single-stack striker gun impressed me as an accurate and reliable (with limited rounds fired by me) carry gun, with a very nice comfortable grip and extra features. I had no malfunctions or stoppages.
At the range shooting the gun for the first time, I shot 16 rounds from 2 mags rapid fire at 10 yards with a tactical mag reload and most hit in the 7 to 10 rings, but four were in the 5 and 6 rings. Since I usually do just a little better, I wondered if it was the gun? But I must admit for this old codger with eye and cataract concerns it was probably me. OK, but not great. I had to slow down to do my part. My subsequent slow-fire shots were mostly in the 8 to 10 rings, so a little redemption. Over different distances, accuracy was acceptable, but my hits are usually better with other comparable guns. You should shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities and proficiency. Below are my rapid-fire hits on my first target at 10 yards with the Honor Guard. I was trying to hold the gun very firmly, not jerk or flinch, and not limp wrist it with a smooth and straight-back press, while shooting rapidly.
Range Test Results for Each of my 10 Criteria:
1. The Accuracy of the Honor Guard was acceptable for me at distances of 7, 10, and 15 yards, given my aging eyesight. My groups at each of the distances were about 3.0-4.0 inches for the first time I ever fired the gun. Not great, but adequate for me. Usually I do better and do not shoot low & left as a newbie. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot Sig Sauer V-Crown 124 grain JHP and 115 grain FMJ rounds… 9.
2. The Trigger Press averaged 7.5 pounds with 10 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. This was above the upper limit for me for my carry guns. The gun had plenty of rounds through it, but I was use to a lighter press which probably contributed to my sub-par hits. I prefer that my carry guns have a max. of 6.5 pounds press or less, so this is not quite there. This is personal preference and a training issue, but I know some of my recommended and actual carry guns have lighter presses. I analyze and compare 21 of them in my recent book. The trigger press was crisp and easily identifiable, but I want to apply less force on the trigger to help control movement… 8.
3. The Trigger had a tactile and very identifiable click and consistent reset. I liked that, but the reset was very long. On reset, the trigger moved almost completely forward to the start of the trigger guard. I could feel it and it felt nice and was pronounced, but I expected it to be short and it was not. My shots were consistent each time and I could easily recognize the reset point. I did enjoy shooting it, but the long reset point was a distraction. But, I know some like a long press and reset… 9.
4. The 3.2-inch Barrel with its dual recoil spring helped control muzzle flip and the recoil. The narrow width and short barrel helped make it concealable… 10.
5. The orange luminescent front sight helped my sight alignment and sight picture acquisition, but didn’t compare to some of my other comparable guns with green fiber optic front sights. The orange front sight did stand out some, but my weak and color blind eyes wanted the bright green fiber optic front sight for a better lock on to the front sight. No problem here, but probably just a green color luminescent front would be more visible to most folks. I would like night sights as an option… 9.
6. The overall 22 ounce unloaded weight was acceptable within my range, but 4 of my 6 guns in my carry rotation have less than that weight unloaded. Just a tad heavier than I prefer, but certainly OK… 9.
7. It was easy and comfortable to shoot the 9mm Caliber. Felt recoil was relatively low and easy for me to control. It digested the various weights of 9mm ammo easily without a single malfunction or stoppage… 10.
8. There were two magazines included one with a 7-round capacity and one with an 8-round capacity. I wanted a third, but there are tradeoffs for the price. The 8-rounder extended is not the best for CC, but felt better in my hand since my pinky finger did not rest below the grip. The 7-rounder flush fit is fine and my medium-sized hands were comfortable and it is the best mag for carry purposes. But I tested the gun with the 8-rounder… 9.
9. The Ergonomics of the Honor Guard were very nice. The grip was outstanding. Its narrow width and overall smallness and contour fit my medium-sized hands great. The grip texture was not too aggressive and was not too smooth, but just right for me to have a firm and solid purchase. I could easily reach all the controls like the over-sized magazine release and slide lock lever, without turning the gun or adjusting my grip… 10.
10. Miscellaneous. As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed and cleaned, and re-assembled the Honor Guard before I shot it. It was not necessary to press the trigger to disassemble it. The slide release was very stiff, even given all the previous rounds fired by other testors through it, but I just oiled it more & muscled it down. The price of the gun is kept reasonable, partly because it ships in a cardboard box (with a lock), not a lockable hard case. Remember, for most guns you can buy them at about $100. or so less than MSRP. This gun is close to the top 7 competiting guns’ average MSRP price, just about $50. more. It does not include accessories like some have, e.g. a holster, mag pouch, third mag, loader or other accessories. But, there are several nice features for the gun. The warranty is a Limited 2-Year Warranty for defects in material & workmanship for the original owner only… 8.
Total Points = 91 out of 100 Possible.
I RECOMMEND this handgun for consideration as one of your concealed carry guns, especially because of its outstanding grip, smooth slide movement, dual recoil springs to help ease felt recoil, modularity, smooth and curved lines for carry, and no mag disconnect. I was impressed with its excellent ergonomics, reduced muzzle flip, and short-term reliability. I do want to further shoot and test its trigger press and reset more, and get a better feel for its accuracy. I was disappointed in the long trigger reset I experienced during rapid fire follow-up shots, especially because of the talk about it being a short reset. Also, I want to see other newer Honor Guards to see if there are any finish issues. Probably not. Understand, overall the pros definitely outweigh the cons and I would consider carrying this gun in my rotation of carry guns. It depends on the features you want. I just want more personal range time and more rounds with it myself. I want to be fair and as objective as I can be to help folks with my personal perspective. These are just my opinions and ideas, so handle and shoot it for yourself. I hope this review of the Honor Guard, single-stack subcompact 9mm has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and shooting myself only about 100 rounds of ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you and you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always.
And that ends my Honor Guard 9mm review. What would you like me to review next? Email me below.
Contact Honor Defense at:
Contact Albama Holsters at:
Daphne, AL 36526
Photos by Author and Honor Defense.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.