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Honor Guard 9 | We Put this Pocket Pistol Through the Paces

It feels like the firearms industry, or at least the handgun-manufacturing portion of it, is trying to drive me to using a cut-and-paste script to open handgun reviews of late. I’m running out of different ways to phrase the following sentences:

“The tidal wave success of Shall Issue and Constitutional Carry laws sweeping the nation over the previous decades has created an unprecedented demand for small, concealable pistols. Perhaps no market segment is hotter right how than [pocket .380s/micro compact nines] and [$_MANUFACTURER] is the latest to jump into this popular niche with their new [$_PISTOL].”

It’s an undeniable market fact, though. It’s a rare handgun maker these days that hasn’t entered the subcompact 9mm wars, from the usual players at Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, and Glock, to less traditional pistol contestants like Mossberg, to startups like the subject of this article.

Honor Defense hit the market a few years ago with a lone offering, the Honor Guard 9, in a limited number of configurations. From the beginning, the company heavily advertised two facts about the pistol: First, it was 100-percent USA-made, all the way down to the component level. Nothing was outsourced from a foreign country. Second, the pistols were assembled by U.S. military veterans. If you bought an Honor Guard 9, you were helping keep a vet employed. The red, white, and blue patriotic shield logo of the company wasn’t just hype.

If you’ve taken apart any pistol produced in the last decade, field stripping the Honor 9 is a snap.

All About Timing

Timing of the pistol’s launch was somewhat jinxed, as it hit the market when the Tiny Nine segment was still roiling in the wake of the successful S&W Shield and Glock 43 launches. Honor Defense persevered, continuing to chug along, only to face another hurdle when the result of massive overproduction in the run up to the 2016 presidential election left wholesalers blowing out overstock of the aforementioned Shield at fire sale prices.

To complete the “Honor Defense Just Can’t Catch A Break” trifecta, the Great P320 Drop Test Brouhaha of Summer 2017 caused the internet to run out and start hitting striker-fired pistols with hammers and flinging them onto concrete. The original version of the Honor Guard 9, which had passed the company’s drop-testing, failed the internet’s.

Honor Defense showed up at SHOT 2018 claiming they’d engineered a fix to the problem, offering a voluntary upgrade program similar to Sigs to bring already-sold guns up to the new spec. That SHOT Show, they also showed off an assortment of new frame colors, slide finishes, and a longer 4-inch barreled (well, 3.8-inch, actually) variant of the gun.

Build Your Own

With all these different options available for the pistol, the Honor Defense website now features a “build-your-own” section, where you can select barrel length, frame configuration and color, slide finish, sights … basically every catalog feature they have can be mixed and matched.

I was hoping to try this feature for the review, but the deadline was tight, and I didn’t want to chance not getting the gun in time to do a reasonable amount of testing. I decided to simulate spec’ing out my ideal Honor Guard 9 by requesting a long, bare stainless slide on a black frame with night sights.

For the rest of this article, subscribe here: Concealment 16

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