When Honor Defense released their Honor Guard sub-compact single-stack 9mm handguns a lot of noise was made and attention paid. It was not only a new handgun, but an entirely new manufacturer. The Honor Defense cadre consists of experienced members of the industry. For one reason or another they left their jobs with the big brands and came together to make something better.
“Better”, is a comparative term requiring a base to compare against. For this reason the Honor Guard may not be fully appreciated by first-time buyers or the occasional shooter. What makes the Honor Guard different isn’t so much in the aesthetics as it is in the design.
Upon opening the box owners are greeted with a test cartridge as we have come to expect. What casual viewers may not recognize is that the red paint on the casing means that it was a proof load. Definitive proof loads are available only to manufacturers and are made using the slowest-burning powder and heaviest bullet weight to create a 30% overpressure. This is done to ensure the firearm is safe in the event of unforeseen conditions. In short, most manufacturers show you that your individual firearms was tested to shoot. Honor Defense shows you the gun was tested to shoot and not blow up in your hand.
Slide serrations wrapping over the top of the frame certainly drew attention to the gun. Unless you’ve run so many press-checks that your fingers wore raw in a defensive shooting school, you might have missed the true detail. The serrations running over the top lack any sharp beginning or end. The result is serrations that a “grippy” not “shreddy”.
Looking somewhat backwards of the status quo the rear sights are ramped rearward and flat-faced forward. This shape combined with being made of steel and not plastic means that the user can confidently rack the slide in a one-handed emergency by leveraging the sights off a belt, table, or other hard object. Once again, we can also see the lack of sharp edges on the slide serrations, and even the back of the slide is slightly rounded.
Keeping with the low-profile theme the gun is truly no wider than the frame. Despite having ambidextrous slide and magazine releases.
The back strap, stock, and sides of the frame are textured in a fine basket-weave pattern which proves grippy, but not abrasive. Many gun owners have spent countless hours or dollars modifying their guns to achieve a result that comes standard from Honor Defense.
Lovers of Browning’s 1911 can rejoice. The included flat back strap very accurately recreates the famed 1911 grip angle as well as slims the profile of the stock even more. Note the gentle finger grove along the front strap and teardrop shaped magazine release found on both sides of the gun.
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Any concerns about needing or wanting to immediately buy an aftermarket trigger are put to rest by the use of a metal trigger with a broad and comfortable shoe. The pins holding it in place though tease of easy replacement should the need arise.
Similar to the SIG P320 and Beretta Nano the Honor Guard uses a chassis system. The chassis seen here is the serialized part and easily removed. This permits for easy changes of stocks effectively making one gun that you can change at home to fill various needs. Unlike other options however Honor Defense charges far less than the cost of a new gun if you decided to change frame, slide, or barrel length. This also opens up great possibilities for offerings in different capacities and calibers; geometry permitting.
So how does it shoot?
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