Honor Guard HG9SC 1,000 Round Test

Honor Guard

Early last summer TTAG received a press release regarding the Honor Guard HG9SC‘s approval for officer use as a back-up firearm within a couple police departments. Honor Defense asked if we wanted to do another article on the gun, but Nick had already reviewed it. I suggested a 1,000 round test . . .

Generally speaking, TTAG doesn’t torture test a gun. We don’t perform endless mag dumps or bury guns in a sewage pit. In this case, we simply wanted to run 1,000 rounds through the Honor Guard over the course of a few hours to see if it could fire them all without cleaning or additional lubrication. For much of the consumer market, a baseline of that sort checks off the “sufficiently reliable” box.

Honor Guard agreed with the idea. They sent us a pistol with both a sub-compact and a long slide and 1,000 rounds of Sinterfire 9mm. They were also kind enough to send a couple dozen extra magazines so we wouldn’t be loading two or three non-stop.

Deciding to do the test with the sub-compact slide, as it’s the more popular configuration, Nick and I hit the range. And . . .

We did not have good luck. Two feed issues practically right off the bat, but that cleared up and the gun ran fine for a while. However, around a dozen-or-so magazines into testing the trigger began failing to reset. The HG9 would fire, the slide would cycle, the next round would chamber, but the trigger was dead.

After a few magazines where this happened once or twice, I began cycling the slide manually with an empty gun and encountered the issue at approximately a 50 percent rate. No trigger reset.

Nick field stripped the pistol and everything looked fine internally. We couldn’t identify any parts that were broken or loose or gunked up. No foreign material was in the gun other than some flecks of unburned powder and little flecks of brass from the cases. Normal amounts of normal stuff.

In an attempt to figure out if something was wonky in the trigger and fire control parts inside the frame or if it was something in the slide, we swapped to the long slide. The trigger did, indeed, feel slightly better after the swap. The pull weight dropped a little and it was smoother. We couldn’t reproduce the reset problem by manually racking the slide.

With that resolved, we went back to shooting. Unfortunately, it seemed like the additional mass from the long slide didn’t play well with the ammo and/or the recoil spring that was pre-installed in the long slide.

The HG9 was short-stroking. Ejecting weakly in all cases and failing to feed the next round in some cases. It would either go back into battery without picking up the next round at all, or the slide would catch the round at some point beyond its base and cause a jam as seen in the video thumbnail.

We wanted to give the Honor Guard a second chance before publishing our results. TTAG tries to do this when a single sample of a firearm may be a “lemon.” If the replacement unit would have run flawlessly we would have reported on that while also mentioning, of course, the issues that we encountered with the first one. All in a single article covering the experience with both guns.

Fast forward to today, and the replacement unit that Honor Defense sent was the one we tested for drop/impact safety. A test it did not pass. Given that result we had to return the second gun as well. And it no longer made sense to wait on publishing the initial 1,000 round reliability test findings, as we won’t be getting a third sample.

TTAG takes no pleasure in publishing negative results. It’s particularly sad when the outcome impacts a young, private, veteran-run company. But TTAG publishes its results come what may. Full stop.

comments

  1. avatar kevin says:

    The Truth About Guns.

    1. avatar Tile floor says:

      They straight ripped off the Shield asthetic design, stuck in a chassis and changed the stippling, then arrogantly ran their mouths about every other manufacturer and anyone, customers included, who does not bow to their “greatness.”

      When I first saw the product I was rooting for them, now, not so much.

  2. avatar Jb says:

    Thank you for full transparency. The reason I’m here and not on another site.

    1. avatar ORCON says:

      Same. I was rather dismayed at having to remove TFB from my “Top Sites” banner…but when you do what they did, a guy just doesn’t have much choice.

      1. avatar Keith says:

        What did they do?

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          they formed a caucus consortium.

        2. avatar GD says:

          From what I’ve read, it seems that TFB knew about the honor guard not being drop safe and chose not to disclose that information. The truth about the honor guard only came out because an ex-reviewer/employee for TFB made a video explaining all of this and also showing the guard not being drop safe. If you want to see the video, check out Firearm Rack on youtube and look for the honor guard not being safe.

  3. avatar Steven G Luschen says:

    You said you were not getting a 3rd gun, is that because you didn’t request one, or that honor guard refused to send one? If they refused, do you think it was because you would honestly report issues?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Nothing personal. We’ll be happy to revisit and report any time. If Honor Defense makes changes or does a Gen 2 or comes out with a new model, etc etc, we’d love to check it out. I’d love to report positive results. Which we will, if positive results are the actual results.

    2. avatar BLoving says:

      Remember the Boberg XR9? First one out the gate were lemons, lots of problems. I remember the review TTAG did and I especially remember Boberg’s response: send it back and we’ll fix it. What’s more, he seemed genuinely interested in the customer’s feedback. Lemon or not, I respect that and would root for any company that shows that kind of dedication and I’d likely give them a second chance.
      So far, I’m not seeing that from Honor Guard.
      If they clean up their act and submit a new piece for testing that will tell us a lot more about them than simply blacklisting TTAG for objective reporting.
      🤠

      1. avatar Tile floor says:

        Honor guard will blame it on user error and become overly defensive and hostile. While I have never wished a gun manufacturer to fail before, if they don’t change their act and stop being so abrasive I will laugh when they get crushed like the cockroaches they are.

        1. avatar 16V says:

          The current company ‘response’ was foreshadowed very accurately, 18 months ago, right here on TTAG.

          Several of us made some snide comments, critical of the billboard on the slide, among other things. The responses from the complete idiot president (IIRC), was exactly the same childish, amateur tripe, illustrated by the FB posts Jeremy recently captured.

          I’m not surprised at all by any of this. From the fact that it’s not drop-safe, to their response when people learned it’s not drop-safe, to the fact that they sent you a gun with chosen ammo and it was a crap fest.

          It’s hard to pick winners (for me anyway). But the blatant cons of old GM, Shai Agassi (Better Place). Malcolm Bricklin (chery). Enron, solar powered roadways, soon to include the hypeloop (the “r” is silent) – I knew exactly what they were the moment I heard the principals speak. A con.

          The televangelist railing against drugs and homosexuals on Sunday morning? You know, that’s the one who spent Friday and Saturday with a rentboy, and an 8-ball of crack.

          The name “HONOR” should have told everyone everything…

      2. avatar Freezy says:

        Honor Guard’s response:

        “This is a feature, all guns will fail if tested to the extremes that this test demonstrated. We will continue to make quality products in the future.”

  4. avatar JasonM says:

    Maybe you’re holding it wrong.
    https://youtu.be/xqSLZ1jqhFQ

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Probably. Not sure how I could be expected to, though, without some sort of GRIP ZONE(R) area clearly marked.

      😛

      1. avatar MikeJH121 says:

        Any plans to do a Ruger Security 9 test? Just picked one up last week for 309.00 out the door Not shot it yet. Nice CZ75 grip feel to it, seems well built. Fit and finish are good.

        No “Grip Zone” though so maybe I will be able to hold it right if I think about it real hard.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          We have a Security-9 in for review, but it will get the standard 500 review rounds put through it over the course of a handful of range sessions.

  5. avatar GS650G says:

    Far too many quality guns out there to waste time on a gun with significant issues.
    I have a few cheap guns but they all go bang when they should, load properly, and don’t go off when dropped.

    1. avatar MLee says:

      You drop your guns a lot do you?

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        It only takes once.

        1. avatar Tile floor says:

          I guess he never has been in a situation other than a range or everyday concealed carry for him to make such an asinine comment like that. Because I’ve had guns smack into stuff under extreme stress and had a pistol bang around in the holster collidimg violently with stuff while fighting. I’m sure JWT and other vets can vouch that I’m not the only one who wants a gun to be drop safe.

  6. avatar Mack Bolan says:

    Well the name seems apropos. Most Honor Guards carry non functioning firearms no?

    1. avatar Cubbie says:

      LOL! Good point.

  7. avatar AFGus says:

    What feedback have you received from Honor Guard (if any) concerning your testing results?
    Any feedback from them that shows that they themselves are concerned about the results and may be thinking about ceasing production while they do further testing?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      This gets into a speculative area that I’d rather shy away from and stick to just reporting actual findings, honestly. I’ll say that the direction in which Honor Defense’s public comments have been trending is encouraging.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “I’ll say that the direction in which Honor Defense’s public comments have been trending is encouraging”

        Do you have a link for those encouraging comments?

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          With apologies, I rescind my previous comment. As most of us saw, the official response from HD was initially a deny and “counterattack” sort of strategy, going after the findings and the people who found them and getting very personal. My sense was that once people cooled off after the first few days, responses became much more constructive, such as this one on HD’s Facebook page. However, I haven’t been following it and I assumed they were still on the “we’re working on improving” track. It looks like that isn’t the case. Here are a couple comments from just a few days ago.

          I was also sent a bunch of screen shots from the Honor Guard owners facebook group that showed the initial progression in HD’s comments from deny and attack to stuff that was much more encouraging. That was within the first week or so of the drop safety thing coming to light. No idea what has gone on in that group since then.

          One more comment thread screen grab.
          And another.

          And, hey, I’m only posting this stuff because it’s public and it’s HD’s own words. It would be insane to think they’d have a problem with anyone sharing their official, public messaging. What they told me in private conversations and to other folks in the industry will remain private.

        2. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “http://cdn0.thetruthaboutguns.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/HD-FB-grab1.jpg”

          Wow.

          Just… Wow.

          They deserve everything they have coming to them, in *spades*.

          I look forward to hearing about any feedback from them TTAG gets from this review…

        3. avatar TheSophist says:

          That is one of the best (worst?) examples of What Not to Do on Social Media I have ever seen. My Lord, they need to start firing some people over there….

        4. avatar TJ says:

          I’ve dealt with customer service from a number of gun manufacturers, have always been treated respectfully and came away knowing that they were committed to making the Issue I had right. The comments I just read from Honor Defense are incomprehensible. Being in as competitive of an industry as they’re in, that level of arrogance is amazing. I’ll take the advice they gave their customer in their post and look at other manufacturers.

        5. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “My Lord, they need to start firing some people over there….”

          Unless I’m mistaken, that’s the *owner* of the company.

          It sets a new benchmark for “We can’t possibly make this stuff up”.

          On the upside, those comments are going to live forever in history as an example in business school of what *not* to do concerning customer service…

        6. avatar 16V says:

          “16V says:
          June 4, 2016 at 21:58

          That and the cheesy “HONOR” down the slide is a big red flag.

          “Honor” is earned, and seldom bragged about. Honor is generally understated. Honor is… not some goobers playing an appeal to patriotism/guilt card.

          I wish they would have just built a quality product and differentiated it that way. But sadly, they chose the other way. The sad and pandering way, which involves loudly trumpeting how many Vet orgs they support, and the like. I am a huge supporter of quality made-in-the-usa merch, but I would have to remachine the slide before I would be seen shooting it.

          It seems like an OK gun from most reviews I have read. How that translates at their price point is a different question.

          The reviews I had read back then weren’t quite as truthful as now. Interestingly, I don’t see that charming fellow from HD here to set me straight…

  8. avatar Chris says:

    In case any of you forgot about last month: They’re also not drop-safe. If you drop the gun, there’s a good chance it will fire. The company’s response was that “all guns will do this if mishandled”. Right..

  9. avatar James Earl Hopper says:

    Not only is it not drop safe but it’s also not reliable at all. LOL the truth sometimes hurts.

    1. avatar Defens says:

      If it reliably fires when dropped, does that count?

  10. avatar Jim says:

    Welp, they’re done for as a company. I bet about 3-4 people bought one.

  11. avatar former water walker says:

    Oh well that’s the breaks(sic)…yeah you guys unvarnished truth is why I’m here(even with your horribly functioning site). Not a dandy little pocket pistol😖😟😫

  12. avatar MLee says:

    That is TOTAL HORSE —–!
    A company that puts a hunk of crap on the market like that wouldn’t get another chance EVER. I trust my life that each and every time I pull my P229, it will go bang. It has NEVER failed me nor did my P226 ever fail even once. As I have said in previous comments, my current P229 went into the river with me after I slipped on shore and fell in.t. I got to shore, drained the water out of the barrel, went home and fired all 13 rounds out. Not a single failure. Then I did a major cleaning.

    Having a self-defense weapon that a person doesn’t have 100% confidence in is like having a rock for defense.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I am 100% certain that a rock will function as a rock 100% of the time. 🙂

      1. avatar MLee says:

        Yes, but would a rock be effective in self defense? If your gun doen’t go bang, you have a rock or hammer.
        In a moment of need, I don’t want to ever hear CLICK, CLICK CLICK instead of bang bang ban. If that happens, you stand there with a stupid look and figure out another plan which isn’t good.

        1. avatar Joel says:

          Rocks can be very effective self defense tools. But it would be a shame to pay $500 for one….. (although I hear some rocks are bargains at $500…)

  13. avatar Antonio Jiminez says:

    I like the 9mm it goes well whatever my small pen is.

  14. avatar anonymoose says:

    STOP! HAMMER TIME!

  15. avatar AFGus says:

    I’ve read all the screen grab comments that Jeremy provided that were made by HG on Facebook, and all I can say is WOW….just WOW!

  16. avatar sadtrombone says:

    I’ll chip in with my Honor Guard experience.

    I got an HG because I liked the ability to interchange frames and slide configurations. I figured it was an inexpensive way to be able to try out different setups to see which one I liked the most, and I liked the whole small company that employs veterans aspect. Plus, I got it for a good price on some promotion.

    Here are my experiences:

    Pros:
    – Chassis system. It’s a good idea, and I’m glad to see more manufacturers rolling this out.
    – Stippling is excellent. It’s just a little bit uncomfortable by the end of the day on an all day class, but it works well even with hot, sweaty hands.
    – Overall build quality. The slide, barrel, etc seem beefy and well finished.

    Cons:
    – On one of the slides (the shorter one, but I doubt that’s relevant), the firing pin tip broke off after a few hundred rounds. They sent me a new one. Apparently there was some incorrect heat treating or something like that, but that’s a pretty bad failure since it’s a 100% dead gun.
    – On the other slide, the rear sight broke loose after a few hundred rounds. I applied loctite and tightened the set screw back down. Annoying, and I don’t like seeing that on any gun, but not the end of the world.

    Meh:
    – The trigger. It’s not amazing, but it’s not bad either, and it’s a perfectly reasonable trigger for a defensive pistol.
    – The magazines seem well made, and I’ve had no issues with them. On the other hand, I didn’t manage to train myself out of resting my thumb right near the slide lock, which sometimes prevented it from locking back on empty. Can’t really blame the gun for that though.

    With my preferred long slide configuration, I had a pistol I shot well (probably mostly due to the longer sight radius helping compensate for my lack of expertise — I handed the short slide one to a national pistol champion and he was, of course, extremely accurate), but was still super concealable. So, despite the above issues, I was still carrying the pistol. I ran maybe 500 rounds through it to give me some confidence that everything was working OK after having the issues above, and it was working well.

    Then the whole drop safe thing came out, so now the Honor Guard sits in the safe. Instead, I’m now carrying an old M&P 9mm that’s been so reliable it’s boring. Maybe I’ll try a CZ P-01 next…

  17. avatar dog46golf says:

    Gotta say im not shocked, and I ALMOST was duped into getting one. legit, they have the sale going on with the extra frame and its super cheap, as a veteran I like a veteran owned business, employing veterans to make a slightly ugly, super branded pistol with 100% US materials. I was into it. I knew it wouldn’t take place of my regular carry, but fit a good notch, a backup just in case I cant find my H&K, or misplace my S&W or leave my SIG in the bathroom………… certainly fills a need, and would have been a good purchase.

    THEN I came on here. and I read things (BTW 16V you were spot on brother) and I saw, aside from covering up the drop tests, that when confronted with actual criticism, most of it respectful, much of it spot on, from the same people Honor Defense would like to sell a pistol to, the CEO came on and became a self indulgent weiner with a big attitude. legit, I was half expecting him to sling a “yo Mama” at some of these guys who were being sincere in that it didn’t need the billboard of a branding on the side of the slide, and asking WHAT exactly sets them apart from a SHIELD, or how well the pistol will be supported with aftermarkets etc.

    Gary Ramey came off as a dude I wouldn’t buy a Vacuum from let alone a gun. and for me some of this takes a personal turn, because hes cranking out turds and shooting off at the mouth on the interwebs, but what about the veterans he has to lay off when his business takes a shit because hes handling it like the king of D bags? will this have an impact on another veteran owned veteran labor startup that wants to try this, and make a good product? maybe it will.

    if HD cranked out a turd, took a step back, wiped it up, and made it right, and then cranked out a good product after some of this criticism and actual, in the field findings, I would be much more forgiving, and would have probably even bought the 2.0 version.

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