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Honor Defense Honor Guard Pistol Review

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Article first appeared at American Rifleman.

Honor Defense, a new American firearm manufacturer, launched its product line last year with the release of the Honor Guard 9 mm Luger pistol, a compact, striker-fired semi-automatic with a lightweight polymer frame that accepts single-stack magazines. This gun successfully borrows and blends several popular design features while offering some unique touches of its own.

The Model HG9SC tested here has a standard frame, a 3.20 barrel and no external thumb safety. The pistol’s frame and magazine base are made of polymer; the rest of the components are made primarily of stainless steel. This makes the Honor Guard somewhat heavier than some competing models on the market, but it does increase the pistol’s durability.

The rounded, 416 stainless steel slide features generous cocking grooves at the front and rear, and has a beveled nose for ease of re-holstering. These grooves wrap up and over the slide to provide plenty of purchase and give the Honor Guard a unique appearance. The metallic sights have a three-dot pattern consisting of a large, bright orange dot in the front and two white dots at the rear. The drift-adjustable rear sight’s back edge is curved for a no-snag profile with a flat front edge that can be used to cock the slide single-handedly against a belt, shoe heel or hard-edged surface.

The 410 stainless steel barrel is cut with traditional land-and-groove rifling and treated with black oxide for increased durability. The dual-spring recoil assembly employs guide rods of 416 stainless steel. Other notable slide features include a stainless steel striker housing (instead of polymer), a CNC-machined striker and a large, external claw extractor.

A removable stainless steel chassis houses the trigger, bilateral slide catch and beefy ejector. Like the SIG Sauer P320, this chassis is the serialized portion of the gun and can be removed for cleaning or transplanted into another frame.

The polymer frame’s aggressive grip texturing is reminiscent of a coarse-weave fabric. This unusual, but effective, texture wraps all the way around the grip and along the sides of the frame. There is a smooth strip on either side of the grip that provides a tactile path to the finely checkered, teardrop-shaped, bilateral magazine release.

The generous use of stainless steel in the Honor Guard’s components increases its durability, but also raises the pistol’s weight.


The narrow grip is dimpled on both sides behind the trigger guard to provide channels for the trigger finger and thumb of the shooting hand. A subtle, single-finger groove is located on the front of the grip, while the backstrap can be exchanged by tapping out a single roll pin. The pistol arrives with two backstraps, including a slightly curved model (installed at the factory) and a straight strap. Both fit tightly in place without any gaps.

The back edge of the grip frame extends down behind the polymer baseplate of the seven-round, flush-fit, blued steel magazine. This prevents the magazine from pinching the shooting hand. The larger eight-round magazine has a grip-extending collar that accommodates a third finger. Both magazine baseplates are grooved along the sides to provide a grasping surface in case the magazine must be pulled out for an emergency reload.

Field stripping the Honor Guard for cleaning is easily accomplished without depressing the trigger. After removing the magazine, lock the slide back into the open position and verify the pistol is unloaded. Next, pivot the takedown lever from the 3 o’clock to the 6 o’clock position. Release the slide and press it forward off the frame. Remove the recoil assembly and barrel from the slide, and the gun is ready to clean.

At the range, the Honor Guard proved to be more comfortable and manageable to shoot than a typical concealed-carry 9 mm. The weight of the stainless steel slide, the recoil spring assembly, the easy-to-see sight system and ergonomic grip make the pistol comfortable to practice with. The low-profile controls all worked properly.


The smooth-faced, aluminum trigger exhibited a 7-lb., 5-oz. pull. The company recommends a 150-round break-in period due to the pistol’s tight tolerances, however, the gun did not exhibit any ammunition-related failures over the entire course of testing.

Honor Defense takes pride in being a veteran-operated company that builds 100 percent American-made pistols. The Honor Guard is a memorable offering in a market flooded with concealed-carry pistols because of its top-notch fit and finish, the generous use of stainless steel components and its shooter-friendly design.

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