I found Q’s Honey Badger extremely photogenic, for some reason, so there are nearly more photos than words in this review. Of course, it doesn’t help that there are fewer words than usual*. That’s because the Honey Badger is precisely as you’d expect and hope it is . . . except where it isn’t.
As we all know, firearms self-identify on a fluid spectrum. But per the government’s insistence on checking binary boxes, we find that Q is satisfying the market with both a “pistol” and multiple “rifle” variants of the infamous Honey Badger. While they look similar and can be had with identical barrel and handguard lengths, there’s one [legally] huge difference.
The rifle has a shoulder stock, while the pistol has an arm brace. It’s an SB Tactical unit made specifically and exclusively for the Honey Badger.
And it’s dang similar to the actual shoulder stock in color and appearance. As you can see above, the actual “pad” part is thicker front-to-back so the “length of pull” is a tad longer on the pistol than the rifle.
The rails, too-short cheek rest, and abbreviated receiver extension are identical between pistol and rifle.
While the recoil pad of the shoulder stock is pinned in place, the plastic and rubber arm brace is molded directly onto the rails. The very early version I borrowed had some wobble to it between brace and rails, but this isn’t expected on this brace nor at all typical of any of SB Tactical’s other designs of similar construction.
Either way — rifle or pistol — I strongly dislike everything happening behind the charging handle.
Fully collapsed, whether stock or brace, the thing is too short to use. At least without a few inches of body armor in the mix.
Which, of course, is in keeping with the intent of the original Honey Badger. We went into much more detail in this article, discussing how 300 AAC Blackout and the Honey Badger, then Advanced Armament Corporation projects (under then-CEO Kevin Brittingham, who’s now CEO at Q), were designed to replace the 9mm HK MP5SD for special operations sorts of use.
So a short stock (check) with a grippy recoil pad (check) made with body armor-equipped Operator types in mind does belong on the Q Honey Badger.
Then again, I haven’t done much operating lately and I don’t often wear body armor, so the stock, when collapsed, is absurdly freaking short.
Yes, naturally, the plus side is that the whole shebang fits in a small case and operates in a tight place. Just throw that shoulder forwards.
The overall length of the collapsed Honey Badger SBR with the official Honey Badger suppressor affixed is 26.5 inches, while the pistol with attached Trash Panda suppressor is 26 inches even. Extended, those measurements jump to 31.5 inches and 30.875 inches, respectively.
With no middle ground. The Honey Badger’s rails are either locked all the way in or all the way out.
And I find all the way out to be too long, considering the only place to place your cheek is nose-to-the-charging-handle (the rear edges of the gray cheek piece are far from comfortable; you want to be fully on the thing). Though I realize plenty of AR operators prefer to shoot with their face all up in the gun’s business, the telescoping stock (or brace), extended, is too long to do this naturally or comfortably unless you shoot highly bladed towards your target rather than more squared up.
So the stock or brace is awkward collapsed, and it’s awkward extended.
At any rate, a button on the left side of the cheek piece releases the stock or brace so it can be extended. If that’s too slow, a sharp pull will pop it off its lock and slam it right to locked at full length. Which, yes, it is designed to do.
Expect the aluminum rails to take some wear at the locking notches whether you’re using that release button or not, though. While I like the use of aluminum for these rails — it’s plenty strong and stiff, yet extremely light weight — it may be a bit soft. Perhaps small, stainless steel pins pressed into either end of the lock notches would sufficiently beef things up?
So there you have it. I love the looks of both the brace and the stock — especially when collapsed! — but I find them annoying to use. It’s the only aspect of the Honey Badger platform that I don’t love, and I’m close to feeling quite the opposite towards it.
Heck, every part of the Honey Badger looks great. The design and the machining is awesome, and I love how everything is clear anodized.
Clear anodizing is the most durable form of anodizing, and it does cool things depending on what’s underneath. Immersion in that electrically-charged acid bath alters the color of the substrate, but each material reacts differently. For instance, the 6061 aluminum handguard darkens whereas the 7075 aluminum receivers take on more of a gold hue.
The result is a bit fifty shades of FDE (plus gray). I like it. I particularly like it in-person where the feel beats Cerakote for me hands-down.
Q figures that special operations group types are going to rattle can their guns anyway, and chose the most durable option without any real regard to appearance. But most seem to like this look a lot.
Great flare on that magazine well.
Upper and lower are uniquely designed to accommodate the stock rails. By starting with billets of aluminum rather than the standard forgings, the sky was the limit for custom touches.
Including the integrated, oversized trigger guard. Everything flows really nicely and the machining and finish is flawless.
Inside that trigger guard is an AR Gold trigger from American Trigger Corporation. It’s a two-stage, approximately 3-lb affair that feels not unlike an extremely nice 1911 trigger. I can’t say it’s what I would have chosen for a PDW (personal defense weapon), but it’s certainly a top shelf option that runs $280 on its own.
Another component that a Honey Badger owner won’t have to upgrade is the Radian Raptor charging handle. Q has gone top-of-the-line for trigger, ambidextrous safety selector, and charging handle. I suppose some owners may still have that itch to tinker with the magazine release button and bolt catch, though.
Holding the barrel in place is a very lightweight and unique looking, 7075 aluminum barrel nut. The handguard clamps onto it with an interesting and effective little QD-ish turnbuckle device. It’s a cool design.
Out near the muzzle, the barrel is threaded just in front of the low-profile gas block. The gas block slides on until it hits a shoulder machined just for it, then a collar engages those threads and is torqued down, clamping the gas block in place. It’s an adjustable gas system, but comes properly tuned from the factory for basically anything you want to shoot.
The official “Honey Badger,” whether for Operators or the commercial market, is the SBR (short barreled rifle) layout seen above with the 12-inch MLOK handguard and the skinnier Honey Badger suppressor (which is not available separately) run underneath it. The 7-inch short barrel of this gun culminates in a 5/8×24 thread pitch muzzle with a tapered shoulder, and the suppressor threads directly onto it.
As you can see in the photo above, there’s no using those M-LOK slots once they cross into the suppressor’s territory. The fit is just too close. In fact, it’s exactly precise with only a hair’s breadth between suppressor and handguard once things are snugged up.
Hitting the range on a cool spring day, the entire Honey Badger normalized to the outside temperature: 88 degrees F.
I performed one magazine dump — 30 rounds — and waited 30 seconds. Don’t even think of holding the handguard anywhere in front of the gas block. It’s so close to the suppressor, made of sufficiently thin aluminum, and the M-LOK slots are so large that the handguard offers practically no protection.
In the slots, the suppressor was upwards of 250 degrees. On the handguard itself, metal temperatures varied from about 180 to over 200 degrees. Do not touch.
Even back behind the gas block, handguard temps will eventually get toasty. About 120 degrees was the peak right above the gas block. All that heat from the front of the handguard migrates down it rearwards.
While you’d have to go a bit nuts and dump magazine after magazine through the Honey Badger to get the first four inches of handguard hot enough to burn a bare hand, it will get warm pretty quickly and in front of the gas block becomes unusable right quick. Even if the handguard itself is okay to touch up there, make the mistake of slipping a finger into one of those M-LOK slots or squeezing the hanguard tightly enough to squish some skin into a slot and you’ll come in full contact with the suppressor.
So it should be no surprise that I greatly prefer the shorty handguard, whether you’re going with a 7-inch barreled Honey Badger in pistol or SBR format. The only exception would be the non-NFA rifle configuration with a 16-inch barrel. On that Honey Badger flavor, yes, the long handguard is perfect.
The short handguard won’t get hot. It won’t entice you to place your hand too far forwards. It allows the use of a large diameter suppressor.
You know, like Q’s Trash Panda. All Honey Badgers other than the actual, as-fielded, official “Honey Badger” format Honey Badger come equipped with a Cherry Bomb muzzle brake. Which I declared one of the six best muzzle device options for the AR-15.
Thanks to its taper mount’s location in front of the threads, the threads remain as clean as new and the suppressor won’t come loose on you. Only five rotations will take the suppressor from removed to fully tight.
This is the right recipe. The shorter, fatter Trash Panda is just as quiet (or so close we couldn’t hear a difference), and with the shorter handguard I’m far less likely to grab it.
Worth mentioning, though, is that due to the Trash Panda’s larger diameter it takes appreciably longer to get dangerously hot. I can hold the thing with a bare hand and dump 30 rounds of subsonic 300 BLK downrange and not get burned unless I continue gripping the suppressor for a while afterwards.
Thanks to Silencer Shop, which carries all of Q’s products including the firearms, I was able to borrow the suppressors and SBR Honey Badger for quite a while and really put them through their paces. Chris did a bunch of shooting with them as well.
I slapped last year’s Christmas present to myself — the absolutely freakin’ fantastic Primary Arms TA44 ACSS ACOG — on the Honey Badgers for most of the testing. This little guy is a genuine TA44 Trijicon ACOG but with Primary Arms’ superlative rangefinder- and ballistic holdover-equipped ACSS reticle. Zeroing with supersonic ammo provides range holds of 200, 300, and 400 yards as well as appropriate holdovers for subsonic ammo out to 200.
While the TA44’s 1.5x zoom is great for any range within the capabilities of 300 Blackout, it isn’t ideal for rested accuracy testing at 100 yards. For that I switched over to the SIG TANGO6 5-30×56, which is an awesome scope but it sure looks ridiculous on the Honey Badger. Even if the gray matches.
First up was the pistol. Groups with Hornady BLACK 110 grain V-MAX were really freakin’ good.
Subsonic 300 BLK isn’t often known for particularly reliable accuracy, but the 1:5 twist rate — that’s right, one in five — found in the 7-inch Honey Badger barrels clearly has no issue stabilizing heavy, slow .30 cal subs. Groups with Hornady BLACK 208 grain A-MAX subsonic ammo were very impressive.
As you’d expect from the Honey Badger SBR, group sizes were very similar. After all, it’s the same barrel and such. Seen above is five rounds with Hornady BLACK 208 grain A-MAX subsonic.
Things also looked pretty dang good with Remington 120 grain OTFB supersonic ammo, which is loaded by Barnes.
A hair over one-minute groups from a 7-inch-barreled gun with a super tight twist in a caliber not known for being particularly accurate. A gun, mind you, that just sought to keep things inside of about three or so MOA.
So the Honey Badger is more than accurate enough, and on the range it excelled in other ways, too.
It’s flawlessly tuned and timed. Whether suppressed or unsuppressed (eww), it smoothly runs supersonic and subsonic ammo.
As you’d hope, the Honey Badger is also extremely quiet. Easily tied for the quietest semi-auto 300 Blackout I’ve shot. No gas to the face, no other annoyance, as minimal of “pop” sound and noise out the ejection port as you’ll find anywhere with a bolt that cycles automatically.
It’s soft-shooting, smooth, and quiet. Very quiet. With subs, it’s MP5SD quiet. The Honey Badger is 300 Blackout done right. Nail on the head etc.
And it’s super light. Like, shockingly, surprisingly lightweight. I can shoot the pistol braced on my forearm as the lord intended, arm outstretched, no problem.
My personal 300 Blackout SBR feels like a tank compared to the Honey Badgers. I only have 1.3 inches more barrel length and am running a relatively short-when-collapsed “PDW” style stock (the short ACE M4 SOCOM), but the thing weighs a dang ton in comparison.
With suppressor, but sans optic or magazine, the Honey Badger in official Honey Badger configuration weighs five pounds, five ounces on my kitchen scale. The Honey Badger pistol weighs five pounds, six and three eighths ounces.
That means four-and-a-half pounds without a suppressor. Not that you’d want that, but any way you slice it this is one extremely light AR-15.
So while I can’t get behind the stock, and the long handguard’s limitations confuse me, I still love the Honey Badger platform. It’s simply the lightest, quietest, best-tuned 300 Blackout AR-pattern gun going. Next level stuff. And it’s a hell of a looker.
Specifications: Honey Badger by Q
Caliber: 300 AAC Blackout (also available in 5.56 NATO with a 16-inch barrel only)
Capacity: 30+1 (works with any standard AR-15 magazine)
Barrel Length: 7 inches for pistol and short barrel rifle, 16 inches for carbine
Twist Rate: 1:5 on 7-inch barrels, 1:6 on 16-inch 300 BLK barrel, and 1:8 on 16-inch 5.56 barrel
Finish: Clear hard coat anodized
Trigger: American Trigger Corp AR Gold
MSRP: $2,299 for SBR without silencer, $2,399 for pistol without silencer, $2,999 for SBR with silencer (official Honey Badger config)
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * * *
I love the detailed machining and the clear coat anodizing. This is a great looking AR-pattern gun. Awesome form factor.
Ergonomics * *
It’s not horrible but it’s worse than your standard AR-15. I don’t like the stock, and the long handguard run over the Honey Badger suppressor is only nice when you aren’t doing much shooting. I’d buy a version with the short handguard and I’d have to figure something out for the stock. Maybe I’d just Dremel new notches into the stock rails so it locked out like two-thirds of the way.
Customization * * * *
A few components are proprietary, but most parts are fully AR-15 compatible. So customize away.
Accuracy * * * *
Quite impressive for a 300 Blackout.
Reliability * * * * *
Flawless. The Honey Badger is perfectly tuned and runs confidently, quietly, and smoothly with any ammo.
Overall * * * *
At the end of the day I don’t like the stock. Beyond that, the Honey Badger by Q represents one of the most flawless executions of a 300 Blackout PDW available anywhere. Its size, weight, and quietness can’t be beat and it runs like a sewing machine. Sounds like one, too. And dang does it look good doing it.
* that part about “fewer words than usual” was a huge lie.