Gun Review: Honor Defense’s Honor Guard Pistol

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Early last year we got a glimpse of the 100% American made Honor Guard line of sub-compact pistols from Honor Defense when Nathan S published a press release just before SHOT Show. At the show TFB was able to put hands on the pistols both at the show at Range Day . Honor Defense sent one of the sub-compact 9mm pistols to TFB for review to see how they stack up against the 9mm single stack competition.

When I got the pistol in for review I found the pistol packaged in a cardboard box with some simple open cell foam keeping the pistol in place. The Honor Guard was shipped with a second backstrap slightly larger than the one installed on the pistol, one 7 round magazine, one 8 round magazine and a gun lock.IMG_2031 IMG_2032

The magazines that the Honor Guard uses are almost identical to M&P Shield mags, the only real difference being where the mag catch is located. The mags come in both 7 round flush fitting and an extended 8 round variety.IMG_2033

Takedown of the pistol is a pretty familiar operation if you own a M&P. Rotating the lever down with the slide locked back frees the slide and allows you to break the pistol down without pulling the trigger. In the photo below you also get a good view of the large ambidextrous magazine release as well as the very small slide lock.

When I spoke with Honor Defense they indicated that the two small block off plates are where the manual safety will be located. If you buy a Honor Guard without the safety but would like one they will be offering the safety as a separate part that can be installed by a gunsmith around Thanksgiving time. IMG_2035

Field stripping the Honor Guard is nothing out of the ordinary with the exception of the very stout non-captive recoil spring. Some reviewers have expressed a bit of concern about the possibility of losing grip on the spring and it taking flight, I can agree that that is a very real possibility and would have liked to see a captive arrangement.  Honor Defense has indicated that they are investigating a captive spring arrangement and may make that standard based on consumer feedback. IMG_2037

Taking a look at the striker assembly it appears to be well thought out and robust, I found it interesting that the entire assembly is removable as one piece. Removal of the striker is very easy, by removing the endplate it slides out as a unit.IMG_2040

The Honor Defense was designed to be modular from the ground up is the removable P320 style frame insert, by removing the take down lever the metal chassis lifts out of the frame. Looking the pistol over it is very apparent that the designers hold the P320 in high regard, there are influences all over the gun. Honor Defense has plans to make the F.I.S.T. frame available separately as well as other grip frames, the removable action will allow shooters to switch to other style frames quickly and easily.

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I found the checkering that Honor Defense molded into the frame feels a lot like after market stippling and provides an incredible amount of grip while being smooth enough to not be uncomfortable when carrying the pistol concealed.

The amount that this pistol borrows from other single stack pistols is one of the Honor Guard’s greatest features. Sure the simple takedown, ambi controls and the nice checkering are great but many shooters will be happy to know that sight upgrades are readily available because the Honor Guard uses Glock 43 sights. You might also have noticed that the pistol shares its basic shape with the M&P Shield making holster selection thankfully a snap, there is nothing as annoying as owning a great pistol that you can’t find a proper holster for. IMG_2062

Shooting the Honor Guard was a rather enjoyable experience, apart from some small gripes I have about the gun I am pretty sold on the pistol. Recoil was pleasant and not near as snappy as I expected, I imagine that has a lot to do with that stout recoil spring. IMG_2092

I took some shots from about 25 yards on a 8″ steel plate and was able to connect with most of the shots I took. The factory high viz front sight is a nice touch and not something that you would normally get when buying a new pistol. IMG_2124

A bit of accuracy testing from about 5 yards revealed a pretty accurate little carry gun. The 5 shot groups were pretty consistent at about 2″-3″ in my mediocre hands. The trigger was a bit on the stiff side at about 7 pounds and the reset is almost a full extension but I didn’t  find the trigger pull to be detrimental to accuracy as you can see below. IMG_2310 IMG_2319

So what do I think? I think the Honor Guard is a pretty solid little carry gun and am pretty excited to see what else Honor Defense brings to the market. During my conversation with Honor Defense they indicated that there are other calibers in devolopment with plans to introduce a .45 ACP version next year as well as the possibility of a .380 variant. They also indicated that a threaded barrel is in the works as well as confirming TFB’s suspensions of a long slide variant due this fall. My only grips about the pistol are the finish quality on the controls, the non-captive recoil spring and the long trigger reset. The price is a bit higher than one might imagine with a MSRP of $499, but street prices seem to be much more palatable at about $400.

If you would like to learn more about the Honor Defense Honor Guard you can check out their website here.



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and works in the shooting sports industry. He is an avid recreational shooter and a verified gun nerd. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially handguns and the AR-15 platform. Patrick may be contacted at tfbpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • El Duderino

    A longslide .45? I really think there’s room in the affordable single stack .45 market. Not everyone wants a basic 1911 from the Philippines.

    • Anonymoose

      Really diggin the idea of an American-made striker-fired polymer CCO.

      • El Duderino

        I was thinking of a striker fired full size .45. Not everyone can handle the grip size of the double stack guns, but the simpler operation & disassembly would be a plus. Sorry 1911 fans…it’s a bit intimidating for a new shooter. Full size .45s don’t kick that hard either.

        • Huaba Sepp

          Like a Kahr TP45?

          • Bill

            But at a M&P price point. I’ve never actually seen a TP45 in the wild.

  • OJS

    Only one Shield allowed in Cali, sorry. Please lawsuit for better coverage.

  • michael franklin

    Good thing they put the name of the pistol in giant letters on the slide,(in case you forget)

  • HSR47

    At that MSRP, it’s likely to cost MORE than the M&P shield line of pistols, while at the same time having LESS industry support. I can get a standard Shield for ~$400 (plus or minus) pretty much any day of the week.

    Why the hell would I, as a potential customer, spend the same or MORE money in order to get a pistol with no third party support, and which is made by a company I’ve never heard of?

    • Sean

      My local gunstore had them both on the shelf next to each other. The Honor was $20 more. It just looked and felt like Shield copy. With some nicer features.

      • HSR47

        I work in a gun store; I looked these up yesterday, and I was not impressed by what I found. To say that I’ve seen the S&W sold in stores for LESS than these would cost us to buy from wholesalers.

        MAP on most of the models of this shield knockoff is $449. I doubt we would deviate from that if we were to carry these (which I don’t see happening). In this area, I can find most gun shops selling Shields for ~$389-409 depending on variant.

        Why would ANYONE want to pay a premium of ~$42.4 to ~$63.6 for a knockoff gun with little first-party support and effectively zero third party support, when the gun it’s imitating has best-in-class first and third party support while also being cheaper?

        • Gary Ramey

          This pistol has the following features that the the Shield does not have:
          – ambidextrous slide catch
          – ambidextrous magazine release
          – exchangeable back straps
          – does not require tool or pulling trigger for disassembly
          – stainless steel chassis ( author points out the similarity to a P320)
          – custom serrations over the top
          – custom texture for better grip
          – stainless steel striker housing (not plastic)
          – as for the trigger, the Shield is a long trigger pull compared to the Honor Guard
          Holsters are available from Galco, Crossbreed, DeSantis, StealthGear and others
          Lasers are available from Crimson Trace as well.
          Hope that answers your question.

        • Louis Bethel

          What is first party support?
          You mean promo program that lines our pockets?
          I work in a gun store as well, and the only good thing about S&W and Ruger is we get rewarded (with points and prizes) to sell the guns.
          But that doesn’t make those guns better.
          We have sold a lot of these because they are better than the Shield and a lot more like a Sig P320.
          But we aren’t trying to sell our customers the cheapest pistol.

          • HSR47

            First party support: I can actually find and buy parts for it in stores across the country. I can actually find people trained to work on them.

            Third party support: I can actually find holsters for them in stores. I can actually find third-party sights for them in stores. I can actually find people to install sights on them.

            It’s not about selling customers the cheapest pistol, it’s about selling them a pistol that is well supported by both the original manufacturer and third parties, and will be for decades to come.

          • Louis Bethel

            Come on, who is fooling who .
            You and I both know that our stores don’t carry that many parts for all the different pistols. And frankly the parts that wear out are springs and other items easily obtained.

            Same for holsters, there are so many options, that people order online, unless you guys sell Uncle Mikes and other multi-gun holsters.

            If you have a GunSmith onsite, you know that any sight tool or Torx/GLOCK screwdriver can install sights. And most companies share the same sight dovetail or front opening.

            We certainly don’t sell the cheapest pistol, because “you get what you pay for”.
            That’s what we like selling this pistol, it simply has more features.

        • It really isn’t a knockoff at all. I’ve been kept up to date on this project for a long time.

    • Gary Ramey

      It will cost more than the Shield because it’s a better pistol.
      This pistol has the following features that the the Shield does not have:
      – ambidextrous slide catch
      – ambidextrous magazine release
      – exchangeable back straps
      – does not require tool or pulling trigger for disassembly
      – stainless steel chassis ( author points out the similarity to a P320)
      – custom serrations over the top
      – custom texture for better grip
      – as for the trigger, the Shield is a long trigger pull compared to the Honor Guard
      Holsters are available from Galco, Crossbreed, DeSantis, StealthGear and others
      Lasers are available from Crimson Trace as well.
      Hope that answers your question.

  • DanGoodShot

    Can they write HONOR GAURD across the slide any bigger? I was having a hard time seeing it… ahh sarcasm

    • Billy bob

      No, but they’ll be glad to highlight it in bio hazard yellow or zombie green!

    • Louis Bethel

      LOL.
      They probably could, but then the brand would be mis-spelled.

    • Patrick R. – Staff Writer

      It is a bit big, I really wish they offered a more toned down logo.

  • mlk18

    Thank you TFB for actually mentioning the obvious design “borrowing” while most other reviewers pretends that this is a unique and special design and not just an overprice amalgamation of other guns. As if they didn’t just take a Shield mag and modify it. Still waiting for the lawyers to get involved, maybe they are waiting to see if Honor Defense can put some money in the bank first.

    • Louis Bethel

      Hate to break the news to you but a lot of companies are striker-fired subcompacts.
      What upsets you, is it because they made a subcompact pistol that is better than others?
      And made it with all USA parts?
      Newsflash for you, other gun companies use the exact same magazine as other companies (in example – Diamondback uses a Beretta magazine).
      My guess is you have not seen the fire control system like a Nano or Sig P320. The only thing it shares with a Shield is that it is a subcompact like the Nano, Walther PPQ, Shield, Sig P250, DB9 and a ton of others.
      Oh yeah, they all have a barrel, a grip and a trigger.
      After that, nothing like it.

      • mlk18

        Tell me more about my feeling Dr. Ruth Bethel! What upsets me is when a company pops up talking about their new innovative product yet they can’t produce anything more than another regurgitated slim 9 in an overcrowded market of regurgitated slim 9’s. The gun industry has become the new automotive industry. Stale, boring, and unimaginative. Which gave us 40 years of the same old 15-25 mpg and low crash test scores. My guess is you work for HD or bought one and can’t stand the idea that your guns isn’t the very bestest gun ever made!

        • Louis Bethel

          Nope, work at gun shop. Just get a kick out of online folks that have never seen a pistol in person, then they tell the world that they know what manufacturers should make.
          And they always claim they want something innovative and always under $400.
          Like innovation is cheap.
          Then when nobody buys it, the “experts” tell them they should have made it in a popular caliber or been more mainstream.
          Right now we are selling every 9mm we can get our hands on, whether it is Ruger Smith, Walther or Honor Guard. The world has shifted to single stack 9’s and there are a lot of first time gun owners coming in. Having a quality option to the the old “standard” pistols is a good thing.

          I don’t know if “bestest” is a word LOL, but this is a darned good one

    • Patrick R. – Staff Writer

      I wouldn’t say it is overpriced although there are definitely design features that are heavily influenced by other pistols on the market. I dont see anything wrong with using a proven mag body in a new pistol to help ensure reliability, plenty of manufactures do that.

  • Kelly Jackson

    I’m sure it’s a great gun but I just can’t get over the name or the font, it looks like it should be issued to SS officers.

    • Patrick R. – Staff Writer

      Block lettering means Nazi? Interesting.

  • vwVwwVwv

    just one single stack “glock” more on the market.
    what exactly was wrong on the other firearm systems,
    glocks and governments with some germans in between.
    no ingeneures left, everybody wants to be
    sociologist thees days.

    • Patrick R. – Staff Writer

      I don’t see anything wrong with more options for buyers. In fact this is a good thing, it drives prices down for the consumer and gives plenty of options.

      • vwVwwVwv

        i, may be watch this from to much german perspective.
        we are only allowed a short numbre of guns and the
        byrocratic proces is humiliateing and demotivateing.

        i am quite jalous when i see what kind of ingenuity
        was there in the 1900’s and what we have now.
        how many craftmanschip was invested in a
        gun to make it work than and now.

        its not out of disrespecting the HUMOUR GUARD no,
        its pure jalousy about things you culd have on the
        market, i wuld sell my handguns to get them
        and have fun with them for some
        years. its geting boring
        to see one more
        glock and than one more 1911, than some
        sig sauers and HK’s and one more 1911 folowed by a glock.

        in long guns its AK and AR some exotes and AK or AR
        with some Mausers and remington 12 gauge in between.

        with modern machinery you dont have to know you make guns at all. 🙁

        it’s not that you do something wrong, you are reporting on what is there not produceing…

  • Sasquatch

    Sub compact 45acp that’s not a 1911? I’ll bite.

  • valorius

    At $400, no thanks. For $350, maybe.

    • Patrick R. – Staff Writer

      I think it is a solid gun for $400 given the frames are made available like they are planning. It really is a lot nicer than people give it credit for.

      • valorius

        I do appreciate your T&E.

        • Patrick R. – Staff Writer

          My pleasure! I really like running these products through the ringer, it is always fun to see if I can get it to break!

          • valorius

            I’ll bet you do 🙂

  • bank gunpawn

    i have the sig sauer p226 brand new and also some used ,
    contact via business number 6469262402 ,i also have other pistols like the glock19
    gen 4 ,with the springfield xd45 all registered no stolen gun
    open to good business , no trade

  • Mark Horning

    I like the fact that there is no stupid trigger dingus like on a Glock. Assuming a steel trigger, that’s already major points in this guns favor. Looses points for the stupid finger grove bump on the front strap. Hate those, they simply can’t line up properly with the hands of a majority of users. Much better to be flat like a 1911 or a Gen II Glock.

    The serrations over the top are are stupid looking and an affection. On the other hand, I appreciate the fact that they didn’t put a silly light rail on a small belt gun.