Honor Defense Honor Guard — Designed for +P 9mm

Bad guy target with bullet holes and Honor Guard Honor Defense pistol

The Honor Defense Honor Guard 9mm handgun is a rule beater. All American, even down to domestic steel, the Honor Guard 9mm isn’t a cheap handgun made to undersell the competition.

It is an affordable handgun that costs a little more than some competitors and a little less than others. The thing to remember though, is that there is no compromise with this handgun.

Honor Defense Honor Guard Left profile angled
The Honor Guard is an accurate and reliable 9mm handgun.

As a reviewer and professional tester of firearms, I most often find little new under the sun. A new finish, or a different set of sights, for an established handgun isn’t particularly interesting. When a group of Americans with true talent channel their energy into a world-class handgun… Now that is intriguing.

Let’s start at the beginning. When I received the pistol from my local FFL, the piece was packaged in a rather nice red, white, and blue box. The box held the pistol, necessary manuals, and the supplied magazines in both 7- and 8-round capacity. The Honor Guard is a polymer-frame, striker-fired, 9mm compact handgun. As such, it will butt heads with the Smith and Wesson Shield and Glock 43.

Honor Defense Honor Guard 9mm
Total Length 6.2 in.
Barrel length 3.2 in.
Weight 22 oz.
Width 96 oz.
Height 4.6 in.

The competitors may come away on the short end of the stick if the performance of my example is consistent with production quality. The pistol may be slightly heavier and stouter overall, but it isn’t noticeable when carrying the Honor Guard. There is a good reason for this sturdy construction.

The pistol was designed to handle +P 9mm Luger loads. These loads stress handguns. Slide velocity may be accelerated to the point that the ability of the magazine to feed is compromised. Often, an otherwise reliable handgun will begin to short cycle with +P ammunition. The Honor Guard doesn’t have this disadvantage. The recoil system and all-steel magazines are designed to handle +P momentum.

The mechanics of the handgun are interesting and user friendly. The pistol field strips easily without pulling the trigger. Be certain the pistol isn’t loaded, lock the slide to the rear with the magazine removed, rotate the disassembly lever and the slide is easily removed.

Cocking serrations on the Honor Defense Honor Guard pistol
The cocking serrations are easily grasped.

The recoil spring is very strong, which is good for a short-slide pistol firing a powerful cartridge. This strong spring helps control slide velocity and recoil. The striker is easily removed for service. The action is enclosed in a modular unit opening the way for offerings of interchangeable frames. The trigger action breaks clean. There is a trigger stop built into the frame which limits over travel. Trigger reset is positive and fast.

The slide features forward and rear cocking serrations, or perhaps they should be called cocking grooves. These grooves extend over the top of the slide forming a continuous path with the rear grooves. The sights, both fore and aft, break up the continuity of the grooves. The rear sight almost looks as if it is a Novak mounted backwards. The flat front of the sight is intended to allow snagging the rear sight on the belt or boot heel to rack the slide or clear a malfunction. The front sight features a bright orange dot for contrast against the rear sights two white dots. There is no better sight picture on a compact pistol. These sights gave excellent results in fast combat firing and in precise shooting. The extractor is a large piece of steel securely pinned into the slide.

The frame contains the take down lever and an ambidextrous slide lock. The slide lock is buried in the frame. I have observed many shooters in my training classes allow the support hand thumb to contact the slide lock in recoil—especially when using a compact pistol. I cannot imagine this happening with the Honor Guard.

Orange front sight on the Honor Guard Honor Defense handgun
The bold front sight is visible in most light conditions.

A trade off is that it is difficult to use the slide lock to release the slide. I used the slingshot method and grasped the rear of the slide and released to load the pistol. I like this slide lock. This is a combat gun feature, not a target gun feature.

The frame is supplied with a cut out on each side that will accept a manual safety to be professionally installed when Honor Defense offers this option. The magazine release is a standard push button-type, positive in operation and securely locking the magazine in place. The magazine release is fully ambidextrous.

The frame treatment is amazing in its efficiency. It is similar to aggressive aftermarket treatment. The abrasion isn’t uncomfortable but adhesion in firing is excellent. Frankly, it doesn’t get any better. The curve of the grip fame is ideal for most hand sizes. The magazines are well made of good steel. There are no weld marks and polish is excellent.

In the case of the 8-round magazine, I simply could not load 8 rounds. The spring is very strong. A strong spring is good for reliability. After firing perhaps 60 cartridges, the spring loosened a bit and I was able to load 8 cartridges, giving the shooter a 9-round pistol. The flush fit 7-round magazine may be preferred for close carry. During firing, the magazines never gave any indication of problems.

Upset Speer Gold Dot 124-grain +P short barrel load on ammunition box
The Speer Gold Dot 124-grain +P short barrel load gave excellent results.

Firing Tests

Initial firing was addressed with Federal Syntech 115-grain ammunition. This load is clean burning and accurate. The bullet itself is covered in a polymer sheath. Overall, a good addition to the 9mm family, and an excellent choice for indoor ranges. This load was comfortable to fire in the Honor Guard.

While a mild load at 1060 fps from the pistol’s short barrel, the Honor Guard remained comfortable to fire with every load tested. Firing quickly at 7 yards, the Honor Guard gave excellent combat groups. The sights are well regulated, the trigger has a fast reset, adhesion to the grip is good, and the pistol handles well. At one point, I was firing double taps and hammers rapidly with two to three bullet holes touching at 7 yards. This is a fast shooting pistol. The slide cycles quickly. The Honor Guard performs in a superior manner in my opinion to any other handgun in the class. That is a strong statement but it is an accurate evaluation.

After the initial evaluation, I have fired a quantity of modern defense loads. These included the Fiocchi 124-grain XTP EXTREMA, Speer Gold Dot 124-grain +P, Hornady 124-grain XTP, Hornady 124-grain XTP +P, Winchester Silvertip and the Winchester 124-grain PDX +P. All functioned normally. Due to the heavy recoil spring of the Honor Guard, the +P loads generated little more felt recoil than standard pressure loads. In short, the pistol is fine with standard loads and recoil is less than any handgun in its class.

With +P loads, the pistol is exceptionally controllable. Firing from the barricade rest at 15 yards, I was able to fire five-shot groups at 15 yards that measured 2 inches for 5 rounds. This is a capable handgun. With good sights, excellent human engineering, a good trigger action and reliability with all loads tested, the Honor Guard is well worth its price.

Have you fired the Honor Guard? What’s your impression of it? Share your response in the comment section.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (26)

  1. I had a problem with a peeping tom and my friends had suggested that I get a handgun that I could handle. I went to our small town’s gun n ammo store. The selection was numerous. I love my 9mms. I was trying out and looking over the selection. I chose this gun because of the size and the easy loading procedure. I really love my gun and can handle it just right. I went to daddy and showed him what I had purchased. So, guess what? Pop is getting one of these also. SWEET!

    Thanks for the easy and smart purchase. I am pleased with my choice.

  2. I bought one of these pistols a few months ago and it is now my favorite pistols.
    Honor Guard has more features than any other pistol and eats everything I put in it.
    Fabulous pistol that is all American and assembled by vets.
    A must-have pistol.

  3. well the HG9 is my EDC its very comfortable and shoots about half in lower than with my other guns. I carry it in a Tuck-this 1 iwb holster with both mags. I describe it as a Shield on steroids and i bought mine for $399 in CT so it must be cheaper else where as arms usually are in comparison to where i am. Shield mags don’t work in the HG9 because the mags in the shield not ambi. the mags catches for the HG is in the middle and the Shield is on the sides.

  4. Ruger is also All-American down to the raw materials–If Honor Guard & Ruger can do it, why can;t all the manufactures do it–Even Savage & Mossberg, which I did like, have too many imported guns

  5. Did I miss the MSRP? From the photos, it looks like a manual safety is offered (or prepped for). It sure looks like a Shield; but with a better trigger, front sight and 2nd backstrap (all a plus). The +P is not a big deal for me. Back to price… that seems to be a bigger question.

  6. I have the Shield 9mm and the Shield 45. The Honor Guard is nearly a duplicate. With the exception of cosmetics, changeable backstop and non-hinged trigger, his is the Honor Guard different from my Shields? Even the magazines appear to be duplicates, and I’d bet they would fit and function in the Shield 9. I’m quite happy with my Shields.

  7. I have owned my Honor Guard FIST model for 2 months. I agree with everything in the article above. There simply can’t be a better polymer-framed handgun for the money.

    What wasn’t mentioned above is the gun comes with 1 additional backstrap that is larger than the one assembled to the gun. I use the large one to get the best grip.

    The gun is boring all-black, so I removed the slide and rear sight and coated the slide and the backstraps coyote tan. Greatly improves the appearance of this gun.

  8. Another competent, carry sized pistol. We are inundated with good choices. All American including the steel. I wish them well in a crowded market.

  9. On that gun, I would like to see a threaded barrel. Also, a feature very rare in a handgun, and that is the ability to mount a small red dot sight, for old codgers as I. Replacing the iron sights with a red dot, makes it possible to plainly see the red dot, and, the target. That’s a feature that overcomes failing eyeballs to simultaneously line up both the open sights, and the target together.

    This would make this firearm stand out above all the multitude of 9mm’s available now offered by the many competitors out there.

    1. Crimson Trace has a set of grips for the Kimber 9. A bit pricy but I am getting them for my .45 UC II… for about the same reason as you. If I must pull, I want the first shot to be as good as it can be. I never have liked giving an opponent the chance to fire back,

    2. By mentioning grips for a hand gun, aren’t you referring to a laser, as opposed to a red dot optics?

      I’ve been that route, and found quite a short-coming. Since a laser is a very accurate light beam, when it is adjusted for a specific distance, basically when the target distance changes, so does the accuracy. There is a point where the beam no longer aligns with the firearm bore.

      That problem is not existent with a red dot optic. The red dot is not an outgoing light beam. It is only projected onto the optic lens. On a rifle, I found it to be accurate up to 100 yards. I would not trust it much beyond that distance.

    3. I think that with a threaded barrel and red dot mounted you are looking for a handgun with a very different mission than this compact personal defense pistol. Choose the best tool for the job and define the mission first.

    4. Surviving solely on a menial Soc. Sec. pension, my actual desires and my realities don’t necessarily blend together. So for me, the firearm that I use must be multi-function-capable, as needed. This requires trade-offs to meet that need. Call it whatever mission you may, the hand gun I mentioned has to serve what I stated. The red dot will stay on, by necessity, and the silencer is removable, as needed.

  10. Keep in mind that MOST 9×19 Parabellum Barrels are Mil-Spec and NOT Mil-Std. And Mil-Spec ISN’T for the Most Part are NOT +P Friendly and Require a Mil-Std. Barrel Replacement…

    1. That is gibberish. All 9mm Luger barrels chamber all 9mm Luger ammunition although some are tighter than others. 9mm +P is not hotter than 9mm NATO, which is a rather hot 9mm after all. The Honor Guard was designed to accept large quantities of 9mm +P. The dual recoil spring insures reliable operation. Mil standard and mil spec not the same?

    2. @ RK.

      Please to be Kind and Point Out the WORD “Luger” in My Comment! Granted that “Luger” Makes Pistols, “Parabellum” Doesn’t…

    3. Despite historical differences in the early 20th century, in modern usage the 9x19mm cartridge is referred to as both “9mm Luger” and “9mm Parabellum” interchangeably. For example – if you look at the pictures accompanying the post, you’ll see that the box of Speer cartridges is labeled “Luger”.

      However, 9mm NATO is a different loading despite also being 9x19mm externally – similar to 5.56 NATO vs 223 Remington.

    4. @ Adam.

      Virtually Every European Handgun, Pistol and/or Rifle is Mil-Std. Few Companies in the US produce Mil-Std., except those of European Origin like Sig Sauer and FNH and US Made Revolvers. Glock is the Only Exception that I’m Aware of that Produce Mil-Spec. Pistols. ‘Parabellum’ ONLY Made TWO Weapons, the MG-14 and the MG-17 in WW1…

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