Honor Defense manufactures excellent-quality defensive handguns. The Honor Guard in several versions has earned a good reputation for reliability and fight-stopping accuracy. The pistol is an innovative design. It is neither the largest nor the smallest single-column-magazine 9mm, but it was designed from the outset for use with +P+ ammunition. I have used my Honor Defense 9mm in a number of tests of 9mm ammunition with good results.
Recently, we did a feature on steel plates. At the same time, frangible ammunition came up in discussion. Steel plates are popular for both training and competition. They offer rapid feedback from a hit or miss and sometimes a loud gong as well. If properly set up, they will deflect bullets into the ground. Paper just doesn’t compare. Once you have the pistol sighted in for the carry load, steel plates are great training aids.
A concern with steel plates is splashback. Copper-jacketed and lead bullets, even hollowpoints, will break off shards that may bounce up to 50 feet. Hardwood is a terrible offender, so we try not to use that with low-velocity bullets. The angle of incidence means something, and so does the target, but steel targets will bounce a bullet. If you have never been hit by a splashback, you have not trained hard enough.
Distance is the best safety feature. However, Federal Law Enforcement needed a safety training round for firing into and around vehicles using actual vehicles in the training scenario. My experience includes firing at door glass with a 230-grain .45 and having the bullet, contacting the vehicle glass at a severe angle, bounce off to my left. I was firing from approximately the interview position to the left of the driver and back a foot or so.
In another instance, a .41 Magnum 210-grain bullet fully penetrated a car door but struck the heavy metal backing of an old Dodge seat and ended up flying through the roof nearly straight up. In another scene, I examined after the fact that a number of .22-caliber bullets had struck the driver’s door, struck the window regulator mechanism, and bounced off almost completely straight back toward the shooter.
Sintered bullets using a mixture of tin and copper glued together were developed. These bullets are to common projectiles what press board is to solid wood. They come apart easily. Some designs use a mix that includes polymer or even frangible cores in a standard jacket. If you are firing at a range that allows only lead-free ammunition, the Honor Defense loads are lead free and they are affordable.
These loads have been tested extensively and meet FBI penetration requirements—a neat trick—but they are also frangible. The bullet may penetrate wallboard and sheet steel if need be, but it also disintegrates when hitting solid steel.
The bullets are accurate enough for difficult training or personal defense. If the bore is old and corroded, accuracy will degrade, but this is true of any bullet. When testing the Honor Defense loads in 9mm, .40, 10mm, and .45, I found the loads were more than accurate enough for serious training. At 15 yards, the 10mm cut a 1.25-inch five-shot group fired in the Kimber Custom II. Firing the 9mm load in a Glock 45 9mm provided a 2-inch group, and the Remington R1 .45 provided a group less than 2 inches. The frangible loads are lighter and may strike to a different point of impact than service loads, but they may not, depending on the handgun. At distances inside 15 yards, there is little to no difference in the point of impact.
The difference between the Honor Defense loads and most frangible bullets is that they are hollowpoint. This means they should use fluid dynamics to break apart quickly. I elected to test this for myself.
I used simple water jugs. They overstate penetration slightly but are useful for comparing one load with another in comparison with gelatin. Water is much less expensive and easier to prepare.
While gelatin results differ, my results were spot-on as far as fragmentation. The bullet struck the first water jug, which is 6 inches wide, then the second water jug was found full of fragments. The base of the bullet continued into the third water jug and struck the outside wall. This is a total of 18 inches penetration.
The three calibers I tested—.40, .45, and 10mm—were similar to an extent. The .40 broke 1,260 fps from the short-barrel SIG P224 I used in testing. Results were very uniform, with a total of 18 inches penetration and the bullet base found in the final jug.
The .45 ACP was very similar at 1,080 fps from the Remington R1. The 10mm, however, at 1,350 fps, was most impressive. The first jug was penetrated, and the outside walls of the second water jug was peppered with fragments. The bullet base traveled into the fourth jug and came to rest at the bottom with 20 inches of penetration.
These loads offer excellent performance. They are accurate, reliable as far as tested, and offer a safety measure in limiting penetration. They are worth your time and study.