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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…