You may have no idea who Q is or why in the world you should know about Kevin Brittingham, but I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of the Honey Badger. Maybe you’re thinking of one from National Geographic or just because of that viral YouTube video.
But the Honey Badger SD is a firearm that has earned its name.
The company behind the Honey Badger is Q, LLC and is owned and operated by Kevin Brittingham, a guy whose innovation and spunk has earned him his place in firearms history.
Q, LLC is the Tesla of the Firearms Industry, not politically or because they make electric guns, but because it’s run by a guy who, like the Honey Badger (animal), doesn’t give a shit.
Let me clarify.
Kevin will hilariously trash companies he feels don’t make the cut or copies Q’s designs. Hell, he might hilariously trash this article (Who am I kidding? He’s not gonna read this). But Kevin believes in true innovation and not just making something flashy. Sure, it may be flashy, but it’s not just for show. There’s a calculated rationale behind nearly every aspect of the designs Q comes up with. Or at least that’s what Q claims. There are plenty of nay-sayers but as the old adage goes, if you don’t have haters, you aren’t doing something right.
I wanted to decide what Q and the Honey Badger were all about with first-hand knowledge. I didn’t just want to take the internet’s word for it. Let’s see what I found out about Q and Q’s Honey Badger SD.
Table of contents
History of Q & Kevin Brittingham
You can’t talk about the Honey Badger without going over the history of the firearm and the company and its core team. The gun predates the actual company and was originally developed at a company called Advanced Armament Corp (AAC) to meet the requirements of a military solicitation and to replace and improve on the HK MP5SD.
Photos of the Honey Badger were released around 2009(ish), and since then, it is featured in multiple video games, including the Call of Duty Series, Splinter Cell, and The Division 2. The Honey Badger SD has become a standout amongst its competitors in the crowded AR15 market if, for nothing else, it’s crazy colors.
AAC was founded by a 19-year-old Kevin Brittingham, in the mid to late 90s, when suppressors and NFA items were still taboo. AAC was a big part of the normalization of suppressors and had unique forward-thinking marketing campaigns that created a raving fanbase. They even had one campaign that offered customers a free can if they got a tattoo of the AAC logo.
AAC received many military contracts during the height of the global War on Terror. They’re also responsible for the second most popular AR15 round, the 300 Blackout that was designed as part of the Honey Badger solicitation.
In 2009, Kevin sold AAC to Remington hoping the increased resources would allow them to bring the silencer market to new heights. The new alliance didn’t last long and ended in litigation with Kevin and key members of the original AAC team leaving Remington/AAC to work for Sig. While at both companies, the team pushed bringing the Honey Badger concept to market but there was pushback from corporate. Eventually, Kevin and some of his original team left Sig and started the company we now know as Q when their non-competes expired.
Controversy often surrounds Kevin’s dealings. To many, Kevin is either a hero, villain, or just a guy. But one thing is for certain, the companies he’s been a part of have created products that, in their time, stand out from their peers.
Many of the haters think that the Honey Badger is an overhyped gun with a funny paint scheme to create interest and hype, while people who own the Honey Badger realize that it’s a no-nonsense gun with every aspect designed around the purpose-built mission of creating the lightest and well-built gun in its class.
Q makes unique firearms and silencers you can’t find anywhere else in the industry.
Now let’s dive into The Honey Badger SD.
The Honey Badger SD is a .300 AAC Blackout 7″ SBR with a unique collapsing stock.
Right off the bat, I have to address the weight of this gun. This is, by far, the lightest suppressed centerfire firearm I’ve ever held in my life. It has excellent balance, and the fit and finish are clearly next generation. My only complaint is about the cheekpiece, but more on that later. The Honey Badger SD comes on target quickly and is really easy to swing in and out on transitions.
The grip and overall feel of the gun is a standard AR15 with a Magpul grip. But holding the gun and shouldering it is a different beast entirely. When you pick up the gun, you know you are holding something much more than a mil-spec rifle. At first, it doesn’t hit you. But once you realize it’s a suppressed rifle with a billet lower and collapsing stock, the reality of how impressive the weight and overall feel of the Honey Badger SD really starts to set in.
The safety is extremely crisp, but from the factory, it’s a bit stiff. It’s broken in quite nicely with enough handling. The safety is a Radian Weapons ambidextrous talon safety set to 70 degrees for maximum reliability with the signature Q anodizing that matches the handguard.
Both sides of the talon safety are the same length and height, which provides for very minimal interference with the trigger finger when on fire. For most people, it won’t significantly hit your knuckle like a lot of ambidextrous AR15 safeties.
The grip is a standard Magpul K AR15 grip in a gray, but the color works nicely with the lighter grey on the stock and the silver-gray on the suppressor and handguard. It appears to be a color specially made for Q by Magpul and doesn’t look to be the standard wolf gray. As with almost everything on this gun, if it’s standard on most AR15’s, there will be a little something to make it stand out.
In an episode of the Q podcast, Kevin mentioned that the Reptilia Corp-produced grip Reptilia CQG is very close to the grip they 3D printed when the owner of Reptilia Corp was an AAC employee involved in the Honey Badger Project. They even offer a mid-gray color that is suggested if you plan to add one to your Honey Badger. This Honey Badger might see one in the future although the Magpul grip fits the role of the gun perfectly.
The mag release on the Honey Badger is a standard mil-spec mag release. It’s not an ambidextrous or an oversized mag release that can get in the way. While an ambidextrous magazine release would have been nice to have, I don’t find myself missing it on this gun. With the upgraded charging handle, safety, and trigger standing out, you won’t find yourself desiring an upgraded magazine release. If you’re a left-handed shooter, you’ll definitely want to consider a left-handed magazine release.
One thing that stands out immediately on the Honey Badger SD is the light gold color billet receiver set. All the lines on the receiver are clean and symmetrical making it pleasing on the eyes.
According to Q, the light gold coloration was not spec’d for visual aesthetics but because the clear anodizing they use is the strongest anodizing they could find. Many say that’s a line of marketing BS but personally, I buy it.
Built into the receiver set is the trigger guard similar to most modern billet lowers.
The magazine well is really a thing of beauty. Like most of the rifles in the Honey Badger’s weight class, it has a flared mag well and seats metal mags with ease. It also works well with the lancer 300AAC mags that are designed specifically for shooting the heavier subsonic 300 blackout rounds. But it wasn’t a super noticeable performance difference from the standard Okay Industries metal mag that came with the gun. The 30 round lancers dropped free fine but the 20 rounds you had to make sure the gun was parallel to the ground so gravity had its maximum effect. The Aluminum OKAY magazine it ships with is much lighter than the polymer lancer mags, but it also drops free with ease.
I really like the attention to detail and that the Q logo is embossed onto the left side of the magazine well. On the front of the magazine well, there is a touch of class by adding “Live Free or Die” to the business end of the rifle.
Bolt release/hold open
The bolt release/hold open is a standard AR15 bolt release, but it is mounted to two very beefed-up wings on the lower receiver that gives you a more durable impression than the run of the mill AR15. Much like the magazine release, it just works.
If you’re a lefty, you might disagree but the ergonomics of the AR15 bolt release has always favored a left-handed shooter since they can access it with their left-hand trigger finger in most cases.
The charging handle is a Radian Weapons OEM’d Raptor. The Q logo is etched into the top of the Raptor charging handle and matches the unique color scheme of the Honey Badger. The changing handle even reads “Radian Raptor HB” along the top.
The Raptor is one of my favorite charging handles due to its ambidextrous design and large wings which makes it easy to grab and use. The Honey Badger Raptor’s wings have serrations that allow for a solid grip while all the edges are rounded off.
The stock on the Honey Badger Pistol is a unique PDW style stock that is only on Q and Noveske rifles (Licensed by Q). The stock system is one-of-a-kind. There is a shortened AR buffer system that has a gray polymer cheek rest and a plastic butt pad. The stock is connected to the cheek rest portion with two arms that allow you to fully collapse the stock or fully extend the stock. When you first realize the parts are polymer and then consider the cost of the rifle, you feel a bit let down. Then you immediately remember that the parts don’t look like they’re polymer and the fantastic weight and balance of the Honey Badger SD would most certainly have to be sacrificed to have metal parts.
To deploy the stock you want to make sure you pull it out from the bottom and not from the top, or it won’t come out easily. There is a copper-colored button on the left-hand side of the stock that you must push to be able to pull out the stock and it’s very easy for a right-handed shooter to reach. The stock is something you’ll have to practice employing but from initial testing it’s remained rigid. More testing over time will determine how much wear will affect the fit and lockup of the stock.
There are ambidextrous QD sling mounts at the rear of the gun located under the buffer tube. The sling mounts themselves stand out due to their copper color. That color is a result of using the same highly corrosion-resistant 17-4 heat-treated stainless steel that’s used on the gas block jamb nut, stock push button, and cherry bomb muzzle device. So you have a bomb-proof sling mounting option that when not being used has a nice look from the contrast.
That’s the only QD sling mount on the rifle. If you plan to attach a sling on the rail, you can add an offset QD mount to pic rail or a M-lok QD mount behind the suppressor. You can also use something like the Blue Force Gear Universal Wire Loop or just a piece of paracord. Personally, I’m going to add the Edgar Shermin Designs Sling that is super easy to adjust and really pairs well with a lightweight setup like the Honey Badger SD.
It was originally spec’d for an AR Gold Trigger but ships with a Geissele trigger due to supply issues. According to a kit badger video, Q is currently working on designing their own trigger. Kevin has since confirmed this in several of his Q&A’s on Q’s Instagram stories. Since the Honey Badger Pistol design is similar to an AR, it’s compatible with any aftermarket AR trigger you want.
The Geissele is a crisp trigger with zero take up, an extremely light crisp break, and an incredibly short reset. That said, it’ll likely be replaced with the AR Gold or Q’s new Honey Badger trigger when it’s released. The replacement is just to make the Honey Badger as close to the original intention as possible. Q quit using the AR Gold trigger when AR Gold couldn’t keep up with Q’s demand. Due to that, it would be nice to have the AR Gold or Q Honey Badger trigger made exactly to their specs.
The handguard on the Honey Badger SD is a standard M-Lok handguard that extends well past the end of the barrel and is wide enough to encapsulate the diameter of the suppressor. There isn’t enough room between the suppressor and the rail to mount M-Lok accessories in that area but they can be mounted behind the can. This will narrow down your accessory mounting options but it also makes the handguard more ergonomic.
A valid concern on the Honey Badger SD is the heat absorbed by the Honey Badger SD specific suppressor. If you’re firing more than a few short strings of fire, it is going to quickly get too hot to hold. I would definitely suggest adding some sort of handguard wrap like Burn Proof Gear offers or just wearing a glove on your support hand. More on that later.
The biggest downside of the lack of clearance for accessory mounting if your lights and lasers need to be run off the 1913 rail at the 12 o’clock. I’m still deciding what role this gun will fill for me, so I haven’t decided on a dedicated light. I’m between the Surefire X300 1000 lumen that has a lot of spill with it’s higher lumens and lower candela. The Honey Badger SD with a Surefire X300 seems like it’ll make the ultimate home defense setup, but I’m also considering setting up the gun for use at night in the outdoors where longer distance target identification might be needed. For that a Modlite PLH for intermediate distance or a Modlite OKW for longer distance target identification mounted using their Modbotton should be a perfect match.
If you plan to mount an IR laser plus a separate white light or IR illuminator on the Honey Badger SD there are options out there from companies like Modlite and Unity Tactical but you’ll need to do your homework to make sure they’re compatible.
Underneath the handguard is a proprietary suppressor that was designed just for the Honey Badger. It has a narrower diameter than its Trash Panda and Thunder Chicken Line to fit underneath the Honey Badger handguard. This system makes extensive use of machined tapers. Tapers are common on a lot of machining equipment as they keep things in place. The 7.8 inch Honey Badger barrel has a male taper behind the threads that mates with a female taper in the cherry bomb. The cherry bomb itself has a taper in front of the threads that mates to the Honey Badger SD suppressor and prevents carbon lock. So you won’t have to worry about it loosening while shooting the gun. Both the cherry bomb and the suppressor can be tightened or loosened using standard readily available ratchet sockets so they don’t require special tooling (not that I’d suggest removing them).
Shooting the Honey Badger SD is an experience of its own and it varies drastically when shooting subsonic and supersonic ammo. 300 Blackout subsonic ammo is much slower than supersonic ammo, and you don’t hear the round breaking the sound barrier as you do with supersonic ammo that’s going much faster. In simple terms, 300 blackout subsonic ammo is a very heavy projectile that is moving under the sound barrier. The supersonic ammo is a lighter faster-moving projectile that breaks the sound barrier causing a crack when the sound barrier is going.
When shooting it with subsonic ammo, it’s incredibly quiet, almost like a pellet gun, but you’re shooting a 220-grain projectile out of a 7-inch barrel. While using a red dot or holographic sight, the dot doesn’t move off the bullseye when firing the gun at 25 yards when it vibrates. Soft shooting is the only way to describe the gun when using subsonic ammo. If you have a new shooter that is noise- and recoil-sensitive but you want to shoot something bigger than a 22, this gun with subsonic ammo is going to be incredibly hard to beat. The biggest downside is you want to shoot it all day, and subsonic 300 blackout ammo isn’t cheap!
With supersonic ammo, the lightweight nature of the gun starts to play against itself. The gun isn’t unpleasant to shoot to an average-sized male, but with smaller statured shooters, it could pose an issue. The gun bucks a little bit and the stock and cheek rest design just aren’t as comfortable as a standard AR15 stock when shooting the hotter supersonic loads. If you’re looking for a gun you’re going to feed a steady diet of supersonic ammo and lightweight isn’t a necessary requirement, then you’ll probably be better served with a gun like the Sugar Weasel that has a standard AR15 style stock.
When firing supersonic rounds the dot of the EoTech jumps up instead of vibrates on target! If you’ve got a really solid grasp on the fundamentals of shooting, that’s not an issue. Every choice is a compromise, and with the decreased weight and compactness of the Honey Badger stock, you get increased perceived recoil over a more standard AR15 style variant.
The ejection pattern on the gun was extremely consistent with both super and subsonic ammo, which leads me to believe that this gun is extremely appropriately gassed. I guess the saying on the box, “We did science and this is what we got” is accurate.
This gun will definitely heat up quickly. You’re going to be able to fire most of a 30 round magazine fairly quickly with a 70-degree ambient temperature without the aid of gloves or a rail wrap. But after that, you’ll definitely need some gloves or a rail wrap to keep your hand away from the heat. The handguard fits around the suppressor so closely that your fingers will likely touch the can. A pro of the lightweight materials is that they shed heat really quickly as well. In my experience, 10-15 minutes or so after getting the gun fairly hot, the gun will be cool enough to pack up after a range session. If you always shoot with gloves, great. But most people will heavily benefit from some sort of handguard wrap.
Overall, this gun really shines with subsonic ammo, and if you purchase one make sure you pick up subsonic rounds to go with it.
The Honey Badger SD is a gun that’s not for the faint of heart with it’s $3,200 price tag. It also packs a two NFA stamp minimum; a tax stamp for the SBR portion, and a tax stamp for the suppressor, so the gun becomes $3,600.
It may also be the perfect home defense AR15. If you want a suppressed 300 blackout with a cool backstory that all your friends will notice while also performing in weight, reliability, and durability, you’re going to have a hard time finding better options than the Honey Badger SD.
This review was written in conjunction with Harrison of Harry’s Holsters – if you want one of the best IWB holsters on the market head over to harrysholsters.com.