By Richard Johnson, GunHolstersAndGear.com
Diamondback DB9 Review
Year of the 9mm? Maybe. I’ve seen a lot of new 9mm carry guns introduced this year. This Diamondback DB9 review takes a look at one of them.
The Diamondback DB9 is a polymer-framed, subcompact 9mm handgun. The double-action only pistol is striker fired. The DB9 uses six round magazines, giving the shooter a total of seven rounds on tap.
The DB9 is designed to be a very flat, compact pistol for self-defense. I think it performs admirably in this role.
The 9mm Diamondback weighs only 11 ounces unloaded. It is only 0.80” wide, making it one of the thinnest semi-automatic pistols on the market. The pistol virtually disappears in a pocket or on an ankle.
The DB9 still manages to squeeze a 3” barrel into the package. Overall length of the gun is only 5.6” and the height is 4” with the magazine inserted.
There are no external controls on the DB9, which contributes to the thinness. The lack of external controls means there are less things to foul the draw from concealment. The downside is the DB9 does not have a slide stop.
The DAO trigger pull measured 6 pounds, 9 ounces on an average of 10 pulls. Diamondback lists the trigger pull as five pounds.
I found the trigger pull to be smooth and no longer than a J-frame revolver. The DB9 trigger pull is markedly better than both the Ruger LCP and the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380.
Sights on the Diamondback DB9 are not bad for a pistol this small. The front sight is a hard plastic ramp with a surprisingly visible white square.
The rear sight is also a hard plastic with a wide, shallow notch. On either side of the notch are small white dots. The rear sight is dovetailed and is drift adjustable.
I don’t care for three-dot sights due to the unnecessary visual complexity they present for shooting under high stress. However, with the front sight being a white square, I think the set up is superior to typical three-dot sights.
Though small, the sights are usable. The sights on a small Kahr like the CM9 are better, but the DB9 sights are an infinitely better system than what is on the Ruger LCP
The Diamondback is rated only for standard pressure 9mm ammunition. Firing +P and +P+ ammunition will void the warranty on the DB9. With such a small firearm, sacrifices have to be made. Presumably, to go thin and light the gun will not stand up to the repeated firing of the higher-pressure rounds.
Additionally, Diamondback does not recommend any bullet sizes larger than 124 grain. This is likely due to one of two reasons: heavier bullets tend to be longer and standard pressure, 147 grain bullets tend to have lower slide velocities. With the strong recoil spring and tight tolerances in this small gun, either issue could be a problem.
This limits the Diamondback to a narrower range of ammunition for personal protection, but there are still some very good choices. Speer offers their 115 grain and 124 grain Gold Dot loads in standard pressure. Federal offers 115 grain JHP, 124 grain Hydra-Shok and 124 grain HST bullets in standard pressure loads. Winchester, Remington, Corbon and others all make good self-defense ammo that will work fine in the Diamondback.
Given the choice, I would prefer to carry a +P load in 9mm. However, the standard pressure loads do not lose much velocity compared to the +P loadings.
With the 3” barrel on the Diamondback, I would expect that all of the 115 and 124 grain premium ammos to make at least 1000 fps at the muzzle. Some will likely be close to 1100 fps.
The standard pressure 9mm compares very favorably to the most frequent pocket gun: the snub nose .38 revolver. The .38 Special snubs typically have barrels around 2” and in even +P loadings typically will be 100 fps (or more) slower than the 9mm in a similar bullet weight.
During the DB9 review, I did a moderate amount of dry firing and put several hundred rounds through the gun at the range. Although the gun is very thin, the gun felt pretty good in the hand.
Recoil was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. By way of comparison, I felt recoil was much softer than the Taurus 709 and 740 sub-compact pistols, and slightly more mild than the Ruger LCP. Recoil was sharper than the S&W Bodyguard 380.
The texture on the frame worked well to keep the gun in the hand. The slight extension on the bottom of the magazine worked very well to keep the pinky on the gun.
Reliability was flawless – the DB9 digested every kind of ammo I stuffed in the magazine without any stoppages. I ran both FMJ and JHP style bullets through the gun. Additionally, I ran some standard pressure Federal HST and Speer Gold Dot (both 124 grain bullets). Everything worked as it should.
My chronograph is still not working correctly, so I was not able to provide measured velocities for the ammo.
I really liked the DB9, but did find two drawbacks that annoyed me. The first was the lack of a slide stop. Without a slide stop, it is impossible to lock the slide to the rear. While I would like to have this feature, I also understand that adding one increases the width of the gun. Consider it a compromise.
The second thing I found to be a weak point on the DB9 is the magazine release. I found the recessed button was difficult to access, and releasing the magazine was a slow process. The compromise is that you are not likely to release the magazine accidentally while carrying or shooting the gun.
This was my first experience with a Diamondback pistol. I have not shot the DB380, which is the predecessor to the DB9. I was not sure what to expect when the gun arrived.
I was very pleased with the performance of the Diamondback DB9 during this review. The gun has a smooth double-action trigger pull, feels pretty good in the hand and performed flawlessly.
The DB9 is chambered in a serious caliber, and even though it is restricted to standard pressures, the 9mm is a serious step up from the .380 ACP and .38 Special.
I think the DB9 makes a very good pocket or ankle gun. Personally, I would carry it as a back up gun instead of as a primary concealed carry gun. However, with seven rounds on tap, it is likely to suffice in most armed encounters.
Editor’s note: Welcome to Richard Johnson as a contributing author to The Daily Caller Guns & Gear section. Richard is one of my favorite gun writers because he is tough on gear and tells you straight up what he thinks. Please visit his site GunsHolstersAndGear.com~ Mike P. editor G&G