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The subcompact semi-auto handgun market has become considerably more crowded over the last few years. These days every gun manufacturer under the sun has filled out their product lines with small pistols perfect for concealed carry. Despite this crowded marketplace, a new company named Honor Defense thinks their Honor Guard pistol is a sales-winning concealed carry semi-auto 9mm handgun — and they’ve priced it to move. At first blush, the Honor Guard looks like just about any other polymer framed compact 9mm handgun. But there are some distinct differences . . .

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The HG9SC slide boasts cocking serrations both fore and aft — something missing from similar offerings from major competitors. I personally don’t use forward cocking serrations often but I love having the option.

Despite those serrations, the HG9SC’s slide is still on the slick side. Unlike the sharper and chunkier design of the SIG SAUER X38 series of firearms, the Honor Defense handgun feels smooth. It’s less like to catch on your clothing or stick annoyingly into the side of your body. The rest of the gun follows suit, flowing almost seamlessly from one feature to the next.

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A flowing design might be good for everyday carry, but it does have some downsides. The rounded slide release on the side of the frame is designed not to stick out past the body of the gun. It makes the gun streamlined and nice in the hand, but trying to use the slide release under pressure can be a challenge. That said, the majority of firearms instructors these days advise against relying on a slide release to send the slide home, suggesting instead suggesting that you slingshot it back into battery. If you’re only relying on your slide release to lock the gun open, it works great.

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Moving a south on the gun we get to the frame proper, which is made (as is the style these days) from polymer. That makes for a very lightweight yet strong gun. The grip’s got some serious stippling; enabling a secure grip that isn’t aggressive enough to shred your skin.

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Another benefit of the HG9SC’s polymer frame (and their specific implementation): the entire frame can be replaced. The actual serialized firearm is nothing more than a metal chassis, which can be removed and placed in a different frame should you wish to change the geometry. Or replace a broken grip if you accidentally run over it with a tank.

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The HG9SC I tested is the traditional carry style with a rounded nose. Honor Defense also offers a version of the gun with a standoff device built-in below the barrel. You can press the HG9SC’s muzzle directly against the body of an attacker and fire repeatedly without worrying that the gun will jam — something you can’t do with any other semi-auto firearm. The downside: it makes the gun larger and more uncomfortable to carry.

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Honor Defense ships the gun with two magazines: one seven-round flush fit magazine and an eigh- round extended magazine. With the flush fit magazine my little finger hangs off the bottom of the gun. The eight-round extended version allows for a proper full grip on the pistol. Both magazines fed equally well with the cheapest and crappiest ammunition I could find.

Unfortunately, additional magazines are impossible to find. There’s no aftermarket option to acquire new mags. If you want to carry more than the issued two magazines, you will need to order them directly from the factory.

Something that is available immediately is a holster. Options are available from the likes of Galco, Crossbreed, and others to enable you to tote the gun securely on your person. For a gun that launched less than a year ago that’s damn impressive.

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The gun ships with traditional three dot sights installed on the slide, with one difference: the front sight is gigantic and orange. It’s extremely easy to pick up even when shooting under pressure. I like it.

If you don’t like the sights then change them! The dovetail mount is compatible with GLOCK sights, so if you can get them for a G19 then you can put them on your Honor Guard.

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Out on the range the HG9SC performs admirably. I didn’t experience any issues with reliability, no matter which brand of ammunition I fed it or whether the gun was in the hands of a novice or an expert. My only complaint is the same one I have with every compact 9mm semi-auto firearm: that holding onto it can be a challenge when firing quickly. The small frame doesn’t provide a ton of real estate for your hands; the support hand has a tendency to slip off after repeated firings. At least in my experience. Your mileage may vary.

Just like other polymer offerings, the Honor Guard HG9SC uses a striker fired trigger system. The look and feel is eerily similar to the SIG SAUER P320, with a one-piece trigger and a crisp clean break. There’s a bit of take-up before you hit the sear on the trigger pull, though, that spoils some of the fun. Another issue is reset — the trigger has to be released about an inch for it to reset, which is further than most. I’m not that concerned since the reset is very positive, both in a tactile and audible sense. You know when it is ready to fire again.

Accuracy is standard for a compact 9mm. Not outstanding (again due to the compact size) but my target looked remarkably like the targets Dan posted in his GLOCK 43 review.

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Overall, the Honor Guard is a honorable competitor in a crowded field. The trigger is okay, the form factor is comfortable, and the gun has some great features. While that’s all well and good the real killer feature here is the price.

Guns like the (now) venerable GLOCK 43 command an MSRP of $529, while the Honor Guard’s is $499. That might not be a ton of cash, but it’s enough of a difference to make you stop and consider this as a viable option before you plop down the samolians for a GLOCK.

Specifications: Honor Defense Honor Guard HG9SC

Length: 6.2”
Height: 4.6”
Barrel Length: 3.2”
Width: 0.96”
Weight: 22 oz.
Capacity: 7+1 or 8+1
MSRP: $499

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability: * * * * *
Reliable as the day is long – I had no problems.

Ergonomics (carry): * * * * *
I’m a big fan of the rounded edges and the curved design of the gun. It makes concealing the gun very easy, and wearing it around even easier.

Ergonomics (shooting): * * * * 
Keeping the support hand engaged was a bit of a challenge, but I always have that problem with compact handguns.

Customize This: * * * *
Just like the P320, the chassis can be swapped out and the entire frame replaced. That alone is excellent. Add in the already available holsters and replacement sights and you can really make this gun your own.

Overall: * * * *
What we have here is a very good gun at a great price. The trigger needs some work, but I would be perfectly happy carrying this gun around on a daily basis.

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48 Responses to Gun Review: Honor Defense Honor Guard HG9SC

  1. “Reliability: * * * * *
    Reliable as the day is long – I had no problems.”

    About how many total rounds were run through it, Nick?

    (I’m becoming a fan of the ‘fire control group’ chassis copncept, I hope they have plans to offer other calibers, etc eventually…)

    • I, too was wondering how many rounds were sent down range. I’ve read a lot of reviews from a lot of places recently that act like 200-500 rounds is a lot of shooting, including one from either here or TFB about the gruelling, agonizing, bloody torture it was to break in his new competition gun in one afternoon with *gasp* 500 rounds! That’s not torture, guys, that’s a fun day of plinking.

    • As per the testing spec, I put 500 rounds through the gun. Based on experience this is usually enough to suss out any reliability issues. I’d shoot more but the budget is a little tight these days.

  2. That thirty dollar difference means a world of holsters, sights, replacement parts, accessories, and upgrades verses little to nothing of note. A lot of people are going to factor that part in along with name recognition. I don’t see it as a selling point.

    • It’s new though. The first time any new gun gets introduced it doesn’t have much aftermarket support. If this is popular and people want all kinds of parts and upgraded people will come out with them.

  3. What’s the actual length of the front strap from the bottom of the trigger guard to the bottom of the magazine? Nick’s little finger hung off the bottom of the 7-round magazine. For someone with smaller hands than his, there might be enough room for all three fingers. All I need is 2-1/4 inches.

    • 2 1/2 inches (60mm) needed for me. That should be a required statistic. I wonder how many single stack nines match that number? And maybe a palm swell halfway down for better grip. The PPS is in the ballpark.

  4. The name sounds like something for dispatching wayward daughters in more enlightened cultures.

    • I assume you really meant “Less enlightened cultures”?

      If you didn’t, then you are one sick puppy. Please seek professional help.

      • I foolishly assume everyone remembers some of my other posts. The last part was sarcasm. Just the same, I have sought that professional help (for other things) so I am covered both ways;-)

        • I don’t care if it is any good or not, the sad pathetically pandering name across the slide in 1 inch letters is a deal-breaker. Who the eff is gonna be seen with that?

          Honor Guard, Honor Defense, Honor Killing.

          Have these cretins no marketing department?

          Actual honor is something one has and does not flaunt, advertise, or cheaply diminish by advertising it on a slide like a Billy Mays product.

        • I agree with 16V about the billboard on the side. More and more the marketing guys are seemingly aiming directly at the guns and bibles crowd. Walther just came out with the CREED, with a similarly giant font size and appeal to dogma across the slide. So strange. They also got a new VP of marketing for the US. Must be some confused Millennial.

          Honor Guard can be read the other way, as a guard *against* the holy warriors and jihadists! ; )

    • I.O. Hellcat?

      I really hope this pistol makes it, but is very late to the show. Even three years ago would have been far better. Now with every big company making a compact single stack 9mm it’s pretty crowded.

    • I have handled several Shields at gun shows. Every example had a stinking lousy trigger. Therefore, add the price of an Apex trigger kit to your $330. The Performance Center model probably has a better trigger, but it will cost more and I’m not at all sure about the wisdom of ports on a carry gun.

        • The CW9s I have handled had very nice triggers, smooth all the way with a clean break and negligible overtravel. I’ve read and agree that it resembles a fantastic double action revolver trigger. My only objection is that the break point is much closer to the palm of my hand than with other guns. I know they use the long travel as a safety but I would prefer it to start out long rather than end very short. Note that I seem to have average to small sized hands. It would be even more of an issue for someone with big hands.

      • I think for a carry gun the trigger is just fine on the shield, and it’s perfect for the non safety version (the one I tote around).

        Yeah the reset could be a bit better, but overall I think it’s a-ok

  5. I just picked one of these up for $380 + FFL fee. It really feels like they took a p320 and M&P Shield and spliced them together, and I mean that in a good way.

    The gun feels like a blend of all the good features of single stack striker 9MMs into one gun.

    Only negative I have is that the safety release is sometimes hard to activate as its ambidextrous and my other hand covers it every now and then.

  6. How in the world could this review have happened without trying a S&W Shield mag in that gun!? Seems like that was a must in any HONOR GUARD review. But in the end it sounds like it costs $40-50 more than a Shield / CW9 / LC9S just so you can have a removable chassis and a huge billboard on the slide.

    • Looks like the ambi-dextrous controls, better sights, better grip, replaceable backstraps, stainless chassis, made in the USA and tools or trigger pull for dis-assembly aren’t enough for you?
      Or did you stop moving your lips when you were reading?
      I love mine and am going to buy another one as soon as I can dump my Shield.

      • I don’t need ambidextrous controls, I am right handed and can use the controls just fine with my left only if need be. My Shield was 400 bucks and included night sights and three magazines, and it’s also made in the USA. So no, I won’t be selling my Shield anytime soon, especially to buy something from a new company with Smith has been around for well over a century.

  7. Interesting piece- competition is always a good thing in the gun market. I must say though, that I dislike this newish tendency of manufacturers to etch their company name and model big and bold on the frame. I’ll always pick function over form, but we gotta gripe about something trivial every once in awhile.

  8. Why is the chequering (or checkering?) on the frame not extended up onto the side of the frame? Or am i gripping the gun the wrong way all along?

  9. the other half of a good CCW is a great holster. Granted just about anyone can make one for it but who likes waiting?

    • The Honor Defense web site has links to CrossBreed, De Santis and Galco. All three show holsters for the Honor Guard.

  10. “The subcompact semi-auto handgun market has become considerably more crowded over the last few years.”
    Not here in California.

  11. Hegshot87 did a YouTube review of an Honor Guard that had several trigger reset failures during the shooting part of the review:

  12. The Ruger LC9 S Pro is a similar gun offered by a manufacturer sure to be around in 10 years if it needs service.
    (Which SR will do for free)

    The Ruger’s MSRP is also $50 less than the Honor Guard.
    It seems to me that if you are going to come in as a “value” gun. You might want to compete against a Value gun from one of the biggest names in the business.

    But that’s just me.

    Don

  13. Smith & Wesson called, they want their entire design back. This is such a ripoff I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about it. It looks like a video game representation of a Shield – the shape of the gun is completely the same – not even going to talk about the mags. I’m surprised they haven’t been sued.

    • How do you figure? Yes, they have a similar overall size and shape. But then do a number of other guns, like the PPS M2 for instance. There are only so many workable shapes that you can make a 9mm sub compact in. But if you bothered to look beyond exterior resemblance, they are COMPLETELY different guns. The internal actions are as different as you can get. For one, the single piece chassis of the Guard can be removed in seconds WITHOUT TOOLS. There are no pins to drive out. Try that with the Shield. And the ENTIRE trigger action of the Guard, including the trigger itself, is mounted in the chassis. Oh, and the action is a completely different design. It doesn’t resemble the Shield even vaguely. For instance, when you turn the take down lever, it disengages the sear, allowing the slide to be removed without pulling the trigger, or having to stick you finger in the action to push a little lever. And the Guard’s striker block safety is built into the striker assembly, not the frame. Oh, and no annoying trigger safety. The design is so safe, it doesn’t need one. I’m a gunsmith. Trust me. This thing isn’t going bang unless you pull the trigger. Period. To claim they stole the design because of superficial resemblance is just ludicrous.

  14. Hey Nick. I don’t know if you guys see new posts on past articles. I read your review on the honor gourd a couple of months ago and it was excellent. It stuck in my head enough that when I saw one today at my LGS, I bought it. I also found out online that there are now several places selling holsters and mags. I am going to try to get to the range tomorrow to break it in. Thanks for your great reviews man.

  15. I own one of these, and after a thorough shakedown, it has become my standard carry gun. I love everything about the gun. And your review is excellent and spot on. With one exception. “Another issue is reset — the trigger has to be released about an inch for it to reset, which is further than most.” I find this a little puzzling as the entire trigger travel on my gun is about 3/8 of an inch, including take up. Reset on my gun requires about a 1/4 inch let off. This is a little more than some guns, but similar to many others. I don’t find the reset the least bit objectionable and it doesn’t curtail rapid fire in the least.

  16. Excellent and balanced review. Since I own a somewhat chunky, but otherwise excellent Beretta PX4 Storm 9mm Subcompact (Can’t beat 13+1, handling, performance, quality, and reliability. Did I mention 13+1?), I am inclined to give this a serious look if for no other reason, better concealability at 9mm/8+1.

    Sootch00 gave this gun a double-thumbs up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxwG_vfQkhI

    Further, at the above review, sootch00 mentioned that Honor Defense is a veteran-operated company that builds 100-percent American-made pistols and whose pistols are assembled by veterans. And a portion of their proceeds goes to a SEAL foundation and a DEA fund for the widows of deceased agents (Certainly not *a* reason to consider purchasing a firearm; strictly offered FYI.)

    As a veteran of two wars, WIA in one, and a 25 1/2 active duty veteran, I have NO problem with the company making its logo that pronounced.

    For the moron that denounced them for using the term “honor” in their company’s name and in the name of this gun, consider that “honor killing” is not honorable at all. Why should an American firm run by veterans allow a descriptive term like “honor” be hijacked by Islam and others? According that “logic,” the U.S. Military Academy at West Point should drop their motto: ““Duty, Honor, Country.”

  17. As a 3+ yr operator & carrier of a Ruger SR9c I’m looking for an improvement. The 3.8″ Honor Guard sounds interesting. The modular feature & heavy-duty (+P) aspect (similar to a P320) are the right way to go (US military just said so)! Now if they just get the trigger sytem fine tuned a bit more & Need to have a 3rd. mag or more (8-rd.). I understand an FDE frame is out now. Just leave off the coating on the slide & barrel, it’s just going to wear through anyway! Sounds like they’ll get it right soon – Hey it’s just for P.D.W.

  18. I so wanted to like and buy this gun and support this company.

    As a 25 1/2 year active duty veteran, a veteran of two wars (Vietnam War; Persian Gulf War), and a combat wounded veteran, I had a strong desire to see this veteran-friendly company succeed. But I could not in good conscience, and for my own and my family’s safety, purchase this gun. I was very sadden by this.

    Our local Cabela’s store had two Honor Guards for sale. My experience was this:

    -One of the guns already had a broken recoil spring rod. According to the retail gun clerk, it happened simply from customers checking out this new pistol, i. e. racking the slide and pulling the trigger.

    -The look from a distance is great, the feel is not at all great; not even good. It feels cheaply made.

    -Racking the slide was a disappointment. It wasn’t the least bit smooth. Plus doing so gave one the impression of low quality.

    -Looking closely at the Honor Guard, one realizes that the first “distance” look was deceiving. Up close, it is clear the machining of the Guard leaves much to be desired. It could have been manufactured in a high school shop class.

    Sad. Very sad.

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