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Dropping the Honor Guard 9mm: What We Discovered [VIDEO]

Honor-Guard-Drop-Test-Fail

Over the past few days there's been a lot of talk about the drop safety of Honor Defense's Honor Guard 9mm pistol. It has become quite the popular little gem for a gun manufactured by a company that's been around for barely 2 years.

We've been impressed with Honor Defense since the get-go because of their great pride in making quality guns in America by American craftsmen, and not just ANY craftsmen–these are U.S. Military veterans. It is a company that exudes patriotism.

Enter into the crowded single-stack 9mm compact market the Honor Guard pistol. It is a sort of cross between a S&W M&P Shield in its shape and looks and the SIG P320 in its engineering and design. It is a striker-fired, semi-auto with completely ambidextrous controls and a trigger that is sans-trigger safety. And therein lies one of its potential problems with being a drop-safe pistol. It would seem that the trigger and some of the other internals have enough mass to them that when dropped on the rear of the slide at a negative 30-degree angle (similar to the P320 with its own drop safety issues) it is capable of tripping the trigger and causing the gun to be fired.

The news was broken by Patrick Roberts, formerly of The Firearm Blog, currently striking out on his own with TheFirearmRack.com. He was prompted to take out all his guns from his safe and start striking them on the rear of the slide with a mallet to determine if there were any other firearms that might suffer from the same drop safety issue as the P320. It was discovered that the Honor Guard, with some similarly designed internal components, was also susceptible. This was demonstrated with both a drop on the ground and with the mallet strikes.

After contacting Honor Defense to inform them of his discovery, Patrick states that The Firearm Blog suppressed the story, threatening to fire him if he did anything to publish it. He has since left TFB and started The Firearm Rack and thus was able to get the story out. Since then others have corroborated the results with tests coming in from Sootch00 and Jeremy over at TheTruthAboutGuns.com.

The Test

We decided we wanted to perform our own independent test to see what sort of results we could come up with. [Video Down Below]

First we needed to acquire an Honor Guard pistol since we didn't already have one on hand. We were able to find one in stock with a local dealer, and ConcealedCarry.com President, Jacob Paulsen, was able to make the purchase. We wanted to purchase it ourselves from a random dealer so as not to have any reason to suspect the gun was altered or modified in any way.

Next we put it through a fairly rapid 200-round test to check function and reliability. We found the gun to be quite reliable. However, it did have a couple of issues. First of all, it struggled to positively extract fired casings when the magazine was removed from gun. This is not entirely alarming as there are a number of other guns that also struggle with this same issue including many Glocks. Secondly, it did have one failure-to-feed malfunction which ironically occurred on exactly the 200th round–our last round as part of the initial function check and testing.

Then we moved right into the drop test. We procured some empty, primed shell casings. We proceeded to drop it. I don't know what I was expecting, but I guess after the videos I had seen I expected it to fire when dropped. It did not. Ultimately it took 22 drops before it finally did fire. And this was when dropping from about 7 or 8 feet high as opposed to the 4 or 5 feet high we started with. After we got that result, we tried to duplicate it but were unsuccessful.

We then tried striking the rear of the slide with a mallet. I started with fairly light taps and progressively got stronger. It took 4 strikes before it fired. I then tried a second time once again progressively striking harder each time. This time it fired after 3 hits. By this point I was convinced that if I simply whacked it good and firm on the first strike it would fire with no trouble. This proved true. I gave it one good solid smack and BANG! I think you could do this reliably all day long until you either tired of it or you broke the handgun.

Ultimately that is what we ended up doing. We were going to keep dropping it, but eventually a good-sized piece of the back cover plate of the slide broke off. Also at that point I noticed the rear left portion of the rail of the slide was cracked and bent inward. The gun still seemed it would function, but it is now impossible to disassemble the gun without first somehow bending back or breaking off the cracked portion of the rail.

After the mallet strikes, we did fire a few rounds through the gun to make sure it was still functioning as it should. It had no problems firing whatsoever.

So what did we discover?

It would seem that the metal trigger has enough mass for it to move rearward during a drop on the rear of the gun. Also the sear of the Honor Guard is quite large and heavy compared to other similarly manufactured compact pistols. As the sear is connected to the trigger via the trigger bar, this likely facilitates even easier unintended movement of the trigger when dropped or struck.

We found that with our Long Slide Compact version of the Honor Guard line, which is what we purchased, was more prone to malfunction when the striking force was more in line with the barrel as opposed to the negative 30-degree angle made famous with the SIG P320 debacle. All drops at that angle did not cause the gun to fire.

From looking at some of the other bloggers and Youtubers that have drop tested the Honor Guard 9mm, it seems that the Subcompact model is much more likely to fail the test than the Long Slide version. Our test would seem to agree with that as far as the actual drop test is concerned. We did have to drop it nearly two dozen times before it finally discharged.

Takeaways

Is even one unintended discharge from the Honor Guard 9mm from dropping or striking it too much? Perhaps, but at the very least it makes it difficult to have confidence in your weapon and the feeling is uncomfortable. I can't tell you what to do, but you should be able to make your own decision on the matter based on these simple tests.

Also is it possible there are other guns out there that are also not “drop-safe?” It's possible, and if given the opportunity we will endeavor to test more of them. But this whole situation with the P320 and Honor Guard handguns does bring this to the front of our minds, and that is a good thing. Hopefully if there are other guns out there with safety deficiencies, we can discover them.

Where do we go from here?

After completing our own test on Friday, I called and spoke with Gary Ramey, the President of Honor Defense and shared with him our findings. What was apparent to me is that they are taking this all very seriously and are actively looking into it and working to find a solution as quickly as possible. I invited Gary to come onto the Concealed Carry Podcast sometime next week to discuss and share with us what he has discovered.

Here is a briefly edited video showing some of the testing we performed. A longer, more-detailed video is in the works, so stay tuned for it:

 

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12 Responses to Dropping the Honor Guard 9mm: What We Discovered [VIDEO]

  1. Joseoh Gordon December 27, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Very interesting, thanks for the information. I’m a NRA Pistol and Shotgun Instructor as well as a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Certified Concealed Weapons Permit Instructor and any information like this is Great to pass along in my classes. A few months back I bought a Taurus 9mm Millennium G20, great price and nice 12+1 capacity. When I teach a class I take about 20 different pistols in so attendees can see and feel the differences and actually operate all the safety’s. I do an update on everything that’s going on legislatively, new products, etc. and anything else affecting concealed carry and the 2nd amendment about once a month to everyone that’s ever taken my class or asked to be added to our distribution list. Once again thank you great info.

  2. Mel Strickland December 27, 2017 at 11:27 am #

    I have Ruger .38 Revolver that I have dropped several times striking the hammer. Is there a danger that it may go off?

    • Thomas Gray December 28, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

      No. Ruger installed a pawl on all their revolvers that only raises up between the hammer and the firing pin when the hammer is cocked either by single or double action. The pawl is hit by the hammer and transfers the strike to the firing pin. Ruger did this in the mid-70’s as they too had drop firing problems. Its not to fun when you drop a Redhawk .44 magnum or a Security Six .357 magnum revolver and it goes off. Ruger’s solution was brilliant and their revolvers are safe even if you drop it from forty story building.

  3. David Arnold December 27, 2017 at 11:30 am #

    Thank you for your information . People like you make it safer for people like me that do own firearms . I’m sure the Honor Guard pistol will be made safe for all. Again thx.

  4. Rob December 27, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

    Thank you for bringing this to your reader’s attention. It is my opinion that even 1 discharge from a drop test taking place on a line and model of handguns is unacceptable, period. It would be my opinion that if I owned this make and model of handgun I would NEVER carry this handgun and that I would send it back to the factory for them to correct this very dangerous problem.

    • Mark December 27, 2017 at 1:42 pm #

      I agree with you Rob 100%

  5. James Pearce December 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

    I can appreciate your efforts at testing the gun, but what are the odds of any semiauto pistol firing under repeated calculated attempts to cause a discharge? It is most unlikely that a person will drop their pistol, or whack it at the rear of the slide with a mallet. I have a Khar CW40 and on ocaution had it fall from my holster while changing, but after one mishap I alwasy make sure to unholster and put my pistol down first. I think I would be more concerned with a unintensional discharge while holding the gun. I believe that with a DAO pistol racking back the slide may only partially cock the pistol and the triger depression is required to further move the striker pin back toward release of the sear. I was under the impression that the much harder trigger pull in pounds was partly involving the movement of the striker pin backward to further promote the final release of the striker pin. If this is not the case it would be a good design as there should not be enough trigger mass to further compress the striker pin causing a discharge. This would also prevent the striker pin from being close or in contact with the primer to begin with. If memory serbre me right my father’s old S&W 38 special had a hammer safety that you could set by pulling back on the hammer until you felt the first click and before it began to engage to turn the cyclinder.

  6. Mark December 27, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks for the information, however, for me, I only want a gun that will go off when I pull the trigger. ANY gun that will discharge just from a drop, could cost someone their life and is not worth having.
    I’ve been looking at different 9mm, 45, 40, 357 and a few 38’s. I have a question for conceal carry, which gun and brands do you suggest that are easy to conceal, yet if ever needed, are accurate and will get the job done (hopefully, that never happens) But at the same time DO NOT have this type of issue to worry about.

    • Jacob Paulsen December 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

      Mark, that is a very hard question to answer. To our knowledge the Honor Guard is the only firearm on the market today with this issue and I’m confident the company will address it fairly soon. As to brands for what can be concealed and is still accurate I think that varies a lot by the user. Might sound like I’ve dodged your question but I recommend getting to a gun range and trying as many different guns as you can.

  7. Howard December 30, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    I actually own the Honor Guard 9mm, however mine has the optional manual thumb safety. I wonder if the test would have the same result if the safety were engaged, since the safety ‘seems’ to lock the trigger in place. That would help determine if I felt it necessary to send it back to the mfg. before carrying the weapon regularly.

  8. Jack December 31, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

    I too wonder about the manual safety models. I don’t own one yet to know how the safety works but had considered purchasing one soon….

  9. Greyghost1962 March 27, 2018 at 3:47 pm #

    I too own an Honor Guard compact 9mm. I’ll start by saying I truly want this gun to work as it’s manufactured in the US by Veterans. I typically shoot Glock Handguns and have come to expect the same reliable performance with every other gun I shoot. Out of the box, the back sight on my Honor Guard was loose so I had to go hunt a tool to tighten as no allen wrench came with the gun. Honor Defense then sent me a new barrel as I would experience about one misfeed every other magazine. I was using Lawman range rounds! Once the barrel was replaced, I could focus on the gun and it would not always rack forward, and the slide would never stay retracted after the last round was shot from the magazine. Honor Defense asked me to send in the gun, and they replaced the striker block spring, sear spring and the striker. It then operated correctly at their shop. I then learned about the drop safety issue and inquired. I learned about a “Voluntary Upgrade” that Honor Defense issued to address the drop safety issue. Honor Defense still maintains that their original design exceeds the National Institute of Justice, and SAAMI/ANSI standards. The “Voluntary Upgrade” was performed while my gun was in the shop but I was not made aware of this until I inquired. The “Voluntary Upgrade” was the striker block spring and sear spring. I’d love to hear any thoughts about all of this.

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