Diamondback DB9—9mm for Conceal Carry

DB9 Every Day Carry

The Diamondback DB9 appeared at the 2011 SHOT Show, and I finally decided to give one a try in my quest for a lightweight, but full power conceal carry pistol.

Not wanting to be set back too much if I didn’t like it, I opted for the base version without night sights, chrome slide, or colored frame. I bought this one outright, so it’s not a factory tuned gun. It came in a small, sturdy plastic box that included one 6 round magazine, gun lock, owner’s manual, warranty registration card, and a sheet informing me that I also get a free NRA 1 year membership. According to the sheet, the offer ended on 12/31/2014, but I plan to send it in just in case this offer has been extended.

Diamondback case Diamondback case inside

What it is:

The DB9 is a subcompact, single stack 9mm, polymer frame, semi-automatic pistol. The DB9 is a striker-fire design with a firing pin block for added safety. Key features include a very thin profile at .80”, light weight at 11 ounces, and simple design. It has decent 3 dot sights. Other than the recessed magazine release, it has a smooth and snag-free design, making it ideal for conceal carry. It’s important to note that there is not a slide stop; there’s no way to lock the slide back, so it will not lock back on an empty magazine.

DB9 Left side DB9 slide

DB9 Magazine catch

What it’s not:

This is not a pistol for those with weak hands or for those who are sensitive to recoil. It’s not going to be pleasant to shoot, so don’t expect it to be a handgun that you take out for a fun day at the range. As handguns go, it sits at the bottom of the price range for small compact firearms. It is not rated for +P or +P+ ammunition, and Diamondback warns against the use of any bullets over 124 grain weight.

DB9 backstrap

The Competition

Size-wise, it’s about a quarter inch larger in length and height of a Kimber Solo. It’s lighter than a Kahr CM9. I wouldn’t put the GLOCK 26 in the same category because of the width and weight when loaded.

For most shooters, price is usually an issue. Defender Outdoors offers the DB9 online for $320, and the Kahr CW9 runs $340. The GLOCK 42 is nearly the same size, but is chambered in anemic .380 ACP. We don’t carry the Kimber Solo online, but Kimber lists the MSRP at $815 and not in the same price level.

DB9 Size Comparison

How it’s made

The slide is machined very well inside and out. I did not see any tooling marks inside or outside of the slide. The finish is evenly applied and is a dull matte black. The front and rear cocking serrations are deep enough to get a good purchase for racking the slide. With a double recoil spring system, pulling the slide does require some effort. The front cocking serrations are more for appearances’ sake as using them to pull the slide back in hard to do.

DB9 Beavertail

The recoil spring assembly uses two springs and a full length guide rod. As with most subcompact 9mm pistols, the springs have a strong compression weight.

DB9 Spring Assembly

The barrel is 3” long and thin as possibly can be and still handle 9mm. On my sample, the feed ramp is polished mirror bright. The inside of the barrel is dirty, and I’m okay with that since it’s obvious it was test fired and I would hope that it would have been serviced if there were any issues.

DB9 Barrel

The frame is light as expected. There’s a very small seam under the trigger guard, but no other issues. The trigger and transfer bars are steel. Steel guide rails are present in the rear and just in front of the trigger assembly. The magazine catch is a polymer and steel piece. The actual catch is steel so there’s a steel on steel lockup of the magazine to the gun. It also has a small beavertail to protect the top portion of your hand, but if your ham fisted, you still may get a bit of slide marks on the top of your hands.

DB9 Feed ramp

Field Stripping

Taking the Diamondback DB9 apart for cleaning and inspection is easy. As always, safety is the most important factor when dealing with any firearm. Remove the magazine from the handgun. Pull the slide back and visually inspect the chamber to determine that it is empty. I’ll go as far as say do it again, it never hurts to double or triple check. With the DB9 pointed in a safe direction, pull the trigger to release the tension on the striker. Pull the slide back about a quarter of an inch while pulling down on both sides of the assembly catch. Gently release the slide and pull it off from the front of the frame. Tightly grab the spring assembly and pull up, removing the assembly from the frame and barrel. Lift up the barrel by the lug and slide it out of the frame.

Putting the DB9 back together is just as simple. Place the barrel into the slide, and make sure it’s fully flush with the breech. Holding tightly to the spring assembly, compress the spring into the front of the slide and push the guide rod assembly back into place. Take the complete barrel/slide assembly and guide it onto the frame and pull all the way back to reset the assembly catch.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we take the DB9 out to the range…

8 Comments On This Article

  1. William M Butler MSG USA ret

    I own one as my edc firearm. If you limpwrist this pistol, expect failures, but if you lock that wrist, it will do what it is intended to do. another hint, keep it clean and carry in a holster. I use Hornady 124 grain FTX in the winter and 124 grain XTP in the summer. Order a few extra magazines from the factory and expect to wait a while. They are honorable folks aand the magazines will arrive in time. Practice practice practice and the firearm will not fail you. Also LazerMax makes a fine lazer for this pistol. They are not terribly expensive and work well, out to a reasonable distance. I am confident in mine.

  2. i own a DB9 shooting 115 fmj 100 rounds so for no failers . really like the gun would get a laser also and going to 115 PD amo. its a yf serial no new gun . Bob

  3. I purchased one about three weeks ago. I found that after firing several different types of ammo, that this little beast loves Blaze 115 FMJ and for my defensive rounds, it ate Hornady critical defense 115 gr like a champ. Before my first trip to the range, I polished the feed ramp, which I do with all my new pistols, and gave it a good cleaning. Oiled the slide. It was pretty accurate other than shooting just a little low left at 10 yards. I was able to keep my groupings around 3 inches. I figure this is good enough for a self defense pistol. Right now I use this as my backup to my S&W J-Frame revolver. If it keeps firing with no problems, it may become my primary EDC due to its size and weight. Thanks for the write up.

    • I’ve owned a DB9 for years and have fired thousands of rounds through it. Absolutely no issues at all. It is my carry pistol.

  4. I usually don’t knock anyone’s choice of firearm but my experience with this gun was less than desirable. I sent it back to the factory and they sent back the grip with everything else new. Still did not function reliably. Worst issue was trigger would not reset consistently both before and after trip to the factory. . Do not, I repeat, do not use this as your primary self defense tool .

  5. I had a DB9 that I traded a perfectly good S&W body quard .380 for . Wish I had the .380 . No way am I sensitive to recoil . And I got slide bite everytime I fired the DB9 . I now have a Glock 43 with nite sights and love it !

  6. I started to say no way am I sensitive to recoil . But found firing the DB9 and calling an unpleasant experience an understatement . And besides got slide bite everytime I fired the pistol.

  7. I’ve owned my DB9 for 4 years, i have the YC serial with three pins. I have had a few issues, the rear slides broke off the frame at the rear pin, sent it in got it back a month later, then the recoil spring popped over the guide rod, I fixed that by taking a pair of pliers and bent the ends back over, then the rear pin at the trigger bar came out and was jamming on the frame, I fixed that by pushing the pin back in and filing down just touch off the ends, next came the trigger itself broke at the pin, sent that in to get a new trigger. Upon getting it back i also got a new Gen2 slide upper and a new magazine. Since then about a year ago I havent had any problems and I like shooting it. I find it to be snappy but fun as I have strong hands. Other people who shoot it experience failure to feeds on a regular basis due to grip. I regularly use 115gr white box FMJ for fun and 115gr Hornady critical defense. It doesnt feed Speed gold dots or anything with a large hollow points… all other JHP seem to feed fine. I rate it as 90%