Building Our Very Own Honor Guard In The Factory

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While we were at Honor Defense taking a tour of their facility, we were offered the chance to not only see how they built the single stack Honor Guard but also have a chance to build our very own! I would be foolish to turn down the chance to build my very own gun in the factory. On top of all of that, I was going to get a first-hand lesson in how different the Honor Guard is from the M&P Shield even though they look very similar on the surface.

I was paired up with Bob, a veteran, and all around cool guy. I watched Bob build a couple of pistols and was pretty impressed with the sense of purpose that he had when putting each one together. I guess it isn’t hard to do when you are building a product that you believe in.

Bob handed me a frame, serial number 24, and got me started. The frame is made from stainless steel and very closely resembles the SIG P320. I can’t be mad about that; the P320 is a great pistol that I enjoy quite a lot. The availability of a single stack gun that is largely the same concept is something that buyers should consider.

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We started with the sear, sear pin, and the necessary springs. Even though the guys on the assembly line make it look easy, working inside that small frame is pretty tough. In the amount of time, I spent fighting one pin and a couple of springs Pete, the guy next to me, had already finished a frameIMG_4681

Next up was the trigger and trigger bar assembly. Before it being installed I had to connect the two parts with a roll pin, then partially insert the trigger pivot pin and hold it in place so that the trigger return spring can be inserted. IMG_4683 IMG_4684 IMG_4686

The only thing left to do was install the pin that keeps the sear springs in the right place, the slide stop, pin, and slide stop plunger. This step was reasonably easy compared to fitting the springs inside the frame. I opted for the non-safety model, so two block off plates were installed to cover the holes where the safety is normally located.  IMG_4689IMG_4694 IMG_4695

With the frame inserted into a grip module for a test fit, I installed the takedown lever to complete the bottom portion of the gun.  IMG_4697 IMG_4698

With the frame completed we moved onto assembling the slide components. Bob told me that they start with a process called “flagging” the striker assembly. A pin is inserted to hold the firing pin block and spring together so that a roll pin may be inserted easily. They use a jig to hold everything steady when driving the roll pin in place making it even easier.  IMG_4703 IMG_4706 IMG_4708

With that done, the next jig came out. This one was designed to make installing the striker, striker spring, striker return spring, and spring cup. Anyone who has installed a Glock spring cup by hand knows that it is a bit of a bear sometimes. The jig allowed me to complete it in just a few seconds. IMG_4709 IMG_4710 IMG_4711 IMG_4713 IMG_4715

As I mentioned in the article covering the tour portion of the day, the rear sights are kept in the break room freezer to contract the metal just a touch. I have been informed that the rear sight has been changed a bit since I built my gun by adding a set screw. IMG_4779

Installation of the rear sight is completed with a press and a piece of cardboard to prevent marring. I messed up the first rear sight when installing it; the second go around was successful. IMG_4719 IMG_4720

Since the sights are just Glock 43 sights, installing the front sight is a snap. Insert the front blade and grab the only power tool used in the assembly process to tighten the front sight post. Job done. IMG_4721

Now that the sights have been installed, it was a matter of inserting the striker assembly, end plate retainer spring, end plate retainer, and endplate to complete the slide. Adding the barrel and recoil spring is no different that putting the gun back together after cleaning, not too interesting.IMG_4740IMG_4742 IMG_4743

With the slide done, I spied an FDE frame that I wanted to use to build the gun. The catch is I needed to install the mag release and spring. The small spring is easy to install; the trick is to position it just right, or the mag release is heavier when pushed to one side than the other. IMG_4728

Now that the small parts had been assembled dropping the frame into the grip, inserting the takedown lever, and dropping the completed slide onto the gun completed the build. IMG_4732IMG_4757 IMG_4758 IMG_4759 IMG_4760

Before Gary let me box it up, I had to proof the pistol with a +p Double Tap proofing load. I set the pistol up in the Ransom Rest, lined the sights up, had Gary verify that it was on target, then pulled the trigger. Testfire1Testfire2Testfire3

With the gun in the box, it looked like a professional had built it. Once I was done I planned on buying the gun; I don’t know if I like the idea of the first Honor Guard I built ending up in someone else’s holster.  Honor Guard #24 is going to make a great addition to my safe. IMG_4832

I rather enjoyed my time working with the guys on the assembly line; it is a far cry from the normal day at the office for me. It must be nice going to work and only glancing at a computer now and again.

I can’t thank Gary, Bob, and the rest of the crew enough for taking the time to walk us through building a gun. Not only did we learn how Honor Defense does things, but it was a great way of showing how much they differ from the M&P Shields.

You can read our review of the Honor Guard HERE, See the factory tour HERE, or visit 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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  • Bob

    Could they make their LOGO larger? I’m sure that buyers would like more labels on their pistols! 😉

  • Zach Haag

    wonder if Ford uses items branded with the Chevy logo?

    • Phillip Cooper

      Only if they want to improve the breed.

  • iksnilol

    *hits blunt*

    Does it guard honor, or is it a guard that is honorful?

    • Hoplopfheil

      Deep bro.

  • Hoplopfheil

    I already know how to make an Honor Guard.
    Step 1: Buy a S&W Shield.
    Step 2: Give it a custom stipple job.
    Step 3: There is no step 3.

    • iksnilol

      Yes there is; slap on a gigantic logo on the side.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Strange. Seems you skipped the part about redesigning the entire gun since it operates nothing like a Shield. Glad I took the time to write the post.

      • DanGoodShot

        I don’t doubt it’s a fantastic gun. And yes, it is much different than a Shield. However, I personally cannot get past those huge letters. When I buy a firearm, I want a firearm. Not a billboard. I do realize that’s just me and that is my opinion. But that’s what we’re here for. Our opinions and to discuss them, right? Don’t sound so butthurt. It was a great article. 🙂

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          While I am a bit butthurt today it has nothing to do with you all.

          • DanGoodShot

            I certainly can understand ya there bro. Hope today is a much better day for you.
            Ps. I’m glad you didn’t take my comment the wrong way. Alot of times tone doesn’t translate well over the interweb.

      • Hoplopfheil

        Settle down gents, it’s just a joke!

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          Didn’t mean to be so snarky. It has been a really rough couple of days.

          • Hoplopfheil

            Ain’t no thing, brother.

        • DanGoodShot

          YipYupYip, Some people just take life way too seriously and you should never take life too seriously, there’s just no way you’re going to make it out alive. Smile a little. 🙂

    • DanGoodShot

      There certainly is a step 3. Huge gaudy letters across the slide!

    • Michael Jones

      I own both guns. The Shield has a better trigger reset. That is the only thing it has that is better. In every other facet of a gun from trigger pull, to ease of shooting, and on and on the Honor Guard is superior. It is the one gun I have that needs nothing right out of the box except more magazines.
      But make no mistake, the Honor Guard is only similar to the Shield on the outside. You would have to do a lot to the Shield to get it to where the Honor Guard is out of the box.

  • Tim

    “Building” firearms. “Building” trucks. “Building” a nice BLT.
    Does anyone “make” anything anymore, or does that not adequately convey your massively powerful awesomeness, torqued with wicked ‘some-assembly-required’ mad skillzzzzzzzzzzz??????????

    • JamesG3

      Well, he could have said “crafted a firearm”, but it would have cost an extra $200 when he finished.

    • A.WChuck

      That really was more assembly vs. building, making, or crafting. We have become (Built!) a hyperbolic culture.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Well some folks build their own suspensions on Jeeps, for example. I’ve got a Jeep the I built, and it didn’t require writing a check for anyone’s kit of parts. I bought steel, a welder, and got to cutting.
      Didn’t build the axles from ore, of course- but what I have is definitely a one-off.

      But yes, this was definitely an assembly job. But we’re cutting a fine hair here. It’s not like he’s a car guy that “built” his hotrod by writing someone a check.

      • Tim

        I know it done for the ‘imagery’ that “building” something evokes: heavy lifting, blood& sweat, hammer swinging, table saws…….

        Putting something together (with directions), just ain’t the same thang….

    • Laserbait

      What are you rambling off about?

  • c4v3man

    The brand name, and the way it’s over-represented bother me enough to not buy the gun, and it’s a shame. If I was going for a small cheap new-brand pistol I’d probably go DiamondBack rather than Honor Guard for this reason alone. Make the font about 4x smaller, or replace it with a logo of some kind (HG in a shield outline or something) and I’d consider it, otherwise this looks as tacky as a C-Note Hi-Point.

    • D

      Diamondback??? Really??? One of the worst handguns on the market

    • rklk

      people have had reliability issues with the DiamondBack guns.

  • DanGoodShot

    It’s just too bad they didn’t let you pick your own slide font… well, at least the size of it.

  • Reazione Catena

    Thank you Patrick R.; I did not realize that Honor Guard uses a FCU like the modular Sig P250/320… a very informative article on an interesting new pistol…

  • Aaron E

    Very cool opportunity Patrick. Thanks for the walk-through on the build, and a closer look and understanding of the differences the Honor Guard bring.

    I am much more impressed with this pistol than I was, and I was already pretty impressed. I would have definitely bought the pistol I built too.

  • DIR911911 .

    remove the front serrations and the billboard from the slide and that would be a gorgeous gun

  • Laserbait

    Cool little guns. I don’t give a rats ass about the lettering on the side, as I can’t see it when shooting them anyway. I’m not one of those that buy a gun to stare and fondle it, I shoot it.

  • JoshCalle

    Jesus, am I the only one that doesn’t care about the branding on the side? It looks like a cool gun, if something happened to my Glock 26 I would take a good look at one of these.

  • Rogue

    This is the first FDE Honor Guard I have seen.
    Any word when we might see them in the wild?

  • Bill Jordan

    No pictures of cow sized Great Dane in the article.
    First rule of blogging. If there is a shop dog, 10% of any article must be about shop dog.