Honor Guard Pistols at NASGW

Honor Guard pistol

After discovering Honor Defense would be showing the new Honor Guard pistols at the NASGW Expo, I was eager to to arrive and check out the new guns. I have a great deal of appreciation for thin 9mm pistols designed for self defense. A brand new design like the Honor Guard will always catch my attention.

At the Honor Defense booth, I got the chance to spend some time with Adam Walker, the Director of Engineering for the company. Walker was very generous with his time and gave me a lot of insight into the pistols.

I’ll start with the basics. The Honor Defense pistols are 9mm striker-fired handguns with a polymer frame. The model many people are familiar with is the 3.2″ compact version. However, the company is also making a 3.8″ version of the gun that was on hand at the show.

Honor Guard chassis

The pistols use a removable chassis system that is similar to the SIG P320 and Beretta Pico. Walker, in a very polite way, suggested that the Honor Guard design was less complicated than the SIG type chassis, and much stronger than the Beretta.

Walker stated the development of the chassis system was a function of manufacturing convenience, but the company may sell accessory frames for owners in the future if it makes business sense.

Regarding the frames, the Honor Guard pistols have a swappable backstrap to fit small and large hands. The texture on the frame is aggressive, but not uncomfortable at all.

The magazine release is ambidextrous. Versions of the gun will be sold with and without manual safeties.

Honor Defense elected to take the slide serrations over the top of the gun, giving the pistol a semi-custom look. The sights used on the gun are designed specifically for the pistol, but use Glock 42/43 type bases. So, if you dislike the factory sights, just grab any for one of the single stack Glock pistols and get them installed.

front sight on honor guard gun

On the Honor Guard, the standard sights are actually pretty good. The front sight is a bright orange – something that is easy to see and contrasts with the natural environment. For fast sight acquisition, this can help a lot.

honor guard rear sight

The rear sight is sloped on the side that faces the shooter. However, the leading edge has a slight hook to help run the slide with only one hand. I wish all rear sights on defensive handguns did this.

Take down of the pistol is quick and easy. The internal components – excluding the removable chassis – all look similar to what you might find in another modern handgun.

Honor Guard with standoff

One version of the pistol has a standoff frame. This is intended to prevent the gun being pushed out of battery (and not firing) when in a situation where a contact shot is required.

If you take a standard pistol and jam it in an attacker’s ribs, there is a fair chance that the gun will not fire as the slide is slightly pushed back. The stand off prevents this.

Honor Guard pistols with stand off

Honor Defense had the long slide version of the gun on hand. This version sports a 3.8″ barrel but retains the same compact frame. This allows a shooter to maintain a high degree of concealability while adding the benefits of increased bullet velocity and a longer sight radius. In a way, this is like the XD-S 4.0 pistol.

Specifications – 3.2″ Gun

  • caliber – 9mm
  • barrel length – 3.2″
  • magazine capacity – 7, 8 rounds
  • overall length – 6.2″ (6.6″ with stand off)
  • width – 0.96″ at widest point
  • weight – 22 oz (unloaded, with magazine)
  • MSRP – $499

I am slated to receive one of the production pistols once they begin shipping. Make sure you watch for that review coming soon.

I’m not sure, but if I were a betting man, I’d put money on Honor Defense having a few interesting announcements at the 2016 SHOT Show. Maybe something about frames in various colors or other options like a frame with a built in light.

Good friend Paul Carlson also hit the Honor Defense booth at NASGW and put together this video:

Shipping Update

Honor Guard pistols are now shipping to distributors and dealers. You should be able to find them in some gun shops. If your local dealer is not carrying them, he or she should still be able to order one for you. If not, try GunBroker.

Law Enforcement Update

Getting a new pistol on the “approved” list at a law enforcement agency can be extremely difficult. Most departments have a rigorous process that guns have to be put through before being added to the roster.

Honor Defense announced in early May 2016 that the Santa Cruz County (CA) District Attorney’s Office has approved the guns for backup duties. The D.A.’s Office employees sworn investigators that require the carrying of arms. The agency’s Firearms Training Unit (FTU) put the guns through a series of reliability and accuracy tests and determined the guns were ready for duty carry.

Among the positive aspects of the gun cited by the FTU were:

  • impressive ergonomics
  • relatively low felt recoil
  • good construction and components
  • excellent accuracy

It will be interesting to see if additional departments test these guns as well.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

16 replies on “Honor Guard Pistols at NASGW”

Actually very different firearm with little resemblance other than both are sub-compacts.
Key differences include that the Honor Defense pistols have ambidextrous slide catch, ambidextrous, magazine release, ambidextrous safety, snag-free sights and two different size backstraps. The serrations are also what you might see from a custom gun. The trigger pull is a crisp 7.5 lbs, with a very short re-set. In addition, Honor Defense does not require any tools or pulling the trigger for disassembly. Finally, the texture on the Honor Defense is placed where the hands and fingers grip the pistol, even above the trigger guard.

“Actually very different firearm with little resemblance other than both are sub-compacts.”

That and the shape of the slide and frame.

Don’t forget they both have the same inside barrel diameter.
Spitballing here, but there are at least 15 or more pistols with that length barrel and small grip.
Probably why they call it a sub-Compact category……

my first thought is why? Not sure what this provides over my P320, which will have a far greater aftermarket accessories market. Single stack competes directly with the very popular shield (again, huge accessories market) and not much thinner than my Sig.

I can also easily run a larger frame on a shorter slide (i.e. subcompact slide on compact frame) to get the standoff effect if I want. Frames are available in multiple sizes, colors, and are relatively cheap if you want to modify them.

Just not sure how these guys are going to survive on the market?

That’s the great thing about a free market economy – the market will decide. If enough people like the gun, it will be successful. I imagine the MSRP of $499 will be attractive to many people.

I will have one once they go into production, and I plan on really wringing it out to see how it performs. The engineer I spoke with was very confident in the gun’s reliability and durability, so I am looking forward to testing it.

Eddy, thanks for the comments, couple of things worth noting. The Honor Guard has ambidextrous slide catch, ambidextrous magazine release, replaceable backstrap and is considerably lower priced than a 320. Sights, holsters and lasers are already in development and will be ready within 30 days, so there will not be a lack of accessories.
And as you know, the S&W you mentioned is not modular nor does it have any of the above features.
One final point worth mentioning is that our firearm is entirely made by American craftsman, and we don’t source any parts from foreign companies (or foreign-owned companies).
Unfortunately that is not important to others, but it is important to us.
Superior product, competitively priced and American seems like a good way to survive to us.

Eddy, maybe I can shed some light on this for you. For starters, this firearm is ambidextrous. There is also a dramatic size difference! Like a pumpkin is to an apple. The Honor Guard also has 2 different size back straps. Actually, the pistolot the full sized market, there are several pistols in that area, but none with all of these features.
One last nice feature vs your pistol is the Honor Guard will be everyday priced for about $150 less.

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