Trusted Review™ Scorecard
Average Score: 4.0 out of 5.0
Each product or service is rated on Quality, Reliability, Price/Value, and Referability. Each area has an individual score, and creates an overall Trusted Review™.
As a concealed carry instructor, I am often asked about the best carry gun. I tend to favor revolvers, they almost never malfunction and they are simple to use under pressure. They can also be quite small for the amount of power they can deliver. The balance of power versus size is the whole deal in concealed carry guns. For those of us who live active lives and carry every day, a big, heavy gun simply doesn’t work. Small frame .38 Special revolvers offer the best compromise in power to weight in my opinion.
Revolvers do have a serious downfall in that they are thick through the middle and don’t hide as well as a small semi-auto. This year at SHOT Show, I spotted the Diamondback DB9. Chambered for the 9mm Luger (9x19mm) cartridge, this pistol is only slightly bigger and heavier than the company’s .380. It has a Glock-like look, though the resemblance is more in appearance than operation. The DB9’s slide doesn’t lock back on the last shot, the trigger doesn’t have the safety blade, but the gun disassembles like a Glock and has the familiar polymer frame. The six shot single stack magazine’s release is in the same place.
What attracted me was the small, slim shape and the eleven ounce weight. This pistol is small enough to put in a pair of shorts’ pocket and carried all day without being a burden. I’ve been carrying and shooting the DB9 for two weeks and I like it just as well as I did in the beginning. It represents an easier carry option than my Charter Arms or Smith & Wesson revolvers and has the same amount of horsepower. Horsepower in a small package carries a penalty, though, and the penalty comes in the form of recoil. Personally, I don’t find the DB9 uncomfortable but others who’ve shot it instantly remarked that it has a bite. Well, it is a Diamondback.
My wife isn’t intimidated by recoil in a pistol and she noticed the recoil. Others have reported early reliability issues with these guns, but mine has run flawlessly for me when I hold it normally. I say this because a friend, Ray Owens, has one and he remarked it stove-piped when he shot it weak-hand. In fact, it stove-piped once when Cherie shot it. I told her to grip it tighter and she had no more problems. She also noticed the recoil seemed less. To replicate Ray’s issue, I intentionally held the DB9 loosely and fired a magazine. On the last shot, I got a stove-pipe of an unfired round. I remembered Cherie’s stove-pipe came on the last round as well.
This is a common problem with lightweight, powerful pistols. The engineers balance the weight of the gun and the shooter’s hand against the strength of the recoil spring. Hold the gun too loose and you have problems. If they make the spring too weak, the slide pounds the frame and beats the gun apart. While there’s little to be done to correct it, the gun is prone to malfunction if not held tight. Take this into consideration and train yourself to really grip the pistol. A good grip will only help your shooting.
I found the DB9 to be accurate for a small gun. I shot a couple of groups at ten yards, really focusing on the small sights and came up with groups in the 2.5” range. This is really quite good for an 11 ounce 9mm pistol with tiny sights. Overall, I think this is a gun with real merit. It’s a good compromise when size really matters. There is enough power to do the job and the gun fits in a small pocket without a profile. Great job guys, this one’s a winner in my opinion.
Workmanship on the Diamondback DB9 is good. The polymer frame is well cast, the finish is good and the design is sound. There are features I’d have liked but every feature you add to a pistol adds to cost, weight, and bulk. The DB9 is a great compromise and the lightest 9mm around.
While I didn’t experience any malfunctions during normal shooting conditions, loose holds did produce smoke stacks. I suspect this would happen with any semi auto this powerful and this light but a malfunction is a malfunction.
The DB9 is selling for about $330. It's a good price compared to other offerings in its class.
For the person who needs a powerful and easily concealed carry pistol, (and who doesn’t?) I recommend this gun. It’s not perfect but it’s as great a compromise of size and power as anything made except perhaps the Scandium framed J framed .357. True, recoil is heavy but high power and light weight mean recoil. The grip could be bigger and allow the recoil to be more tolerable, but then conceal-ability suffers.
First image courtesy Diamondback Firearms, second and third images copyright Dick Jones