Small, lightweight pocket guns have been all the rage during the past few years.   Snubby revolvers and small autopistols like the Kel-Tec P-3AT have been carried for years, but this segment of the market really seemed to explode with the introduction of the Ruger LCP.
The LCP is a .380 ACP pistol that many people claim takes heavy influence from the Kel-Tec design.  Regardless of origin, the LCP was the first of a string of small .380 pistols rolled out by various manufacturers.

Now the trend appears to be to increase the power of the guns by moving to the 9mm cartridge, but still maintain a very small size.  This is where the Diamondback DB9 comes in.

Hi! I’m…the DB9.

Introduced at the 2011 SHOT Show, the DB9 looks a lot like the company’s original DB380.  The styling is very similar, and the DB9 is not much larger than the DB380.

The DB9 maintains a very compact size and flat profile making it easy to conceal.  Slipping it into a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster, the Diamondback disappeared in the generous pockets of my cargo shorts.  In jeans, the Diamondback was still well-concealed with less bulk than a J-frame Smith & Wesson revolver.

The width of the DB9 is only 0.8”, and it has no external controls, save the magazine release, for anything to get snagged on during a draw from concealment.

The DB9 is slightly top heavy, which makes sense as it has a polymer frame with a  steel slide and barrel.  Unloaded, the pistol weighs only 11 ounces.

The barrel length is a respectable 3”, and the overall length is only 5.6”.  The magazine holds six rounds, giving the shooter up to seven rounds of 9mm on tap.  The pistol ships with only one magazine.

The sides of the grip are textured with a diamond pattern, but I found that most hand-to-pistol contact was at the rear and forward edges of the grip.  These areas are aggressively textured.

As I previously mentioned, there are no external controls other than the magazine release.  This means that you cannot lock the slide to the rear.  While I like having a slide stop, its absence on this gun does help to make for a very sleek, flat gun.

The magazine release button was difficult to operate quickly.  It is a relatively small button and is slightly recessed into the frame.  This helps prevent an unintentional mag release while being carried.  However, it also prevents fast magazine changes.

The slide has shallow serrations forward and to the rear of the ejection port.  The serrations are a must in the pistol design, otherwise operating the slide would have been a nearly impossible task.

The DB9 slide is both narrow and short, meaning there isn’t a lot to grab onto.  Combined with the understandably strong recoil spring, pulling the slide fully to the rear requires a good bit of strength.  People with reduced upper body strength will likely have problems working the slide of the DB9.

At the Range

Shooting small guns, especially when loaded with high pressure rounds, is rarely fun.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Diamondback DB9 was not overly harsh on the shooter.

Compared with several other small guns, I found the DB9 compared very favorably.  The Diamondback was more comfortable to shoot than both the Ruger LCP and the Taurus 709 “Slim” pistols. 

The trigger pull on the Diamondback is smooth, and while somewhat long, it is not so long as to warrant a coffee break halfway through the pull.  Trigger reach is pretty good considering the small size of the pistol, with not much excess finger hanging outside of the trigger guard.  Large handed people who have shot a Ruger LCP will likely know what I am talking about.

Sights on the DB9 are small, but functional.  Shooting at a target some 30+ feet away, I was able to put all of the rounds on paper.  The rear sight is drift-adjustable.

The DB9 was also much more reliable than either the Ruger or Taurus.  When I previously tested the LCP and 709 pistols, neither were reliable with any load of ammo I tried.  Based on those experiences, I had low expectations for reliability with the DB9.  Fortunately, my expectations were significantly exceeded.

I shot eight different loads through the DB9, including some very stout self defense loads from Speer and Federal, with only a single malfunction.  In the first magazine of Federal American Eagle 115 grain FMJ, the sixth round got caught up on the feed ramp causing a stoppage.  After that single hiccup, the DB9 ran flawlessly the rest of the morning.

Most of the ammo run through the Diamondback was the previously mentioned American Eagle load and Remington “green box” 115 grain JHP – both standard pressure rounds.  I also ran several magazines of Winchester “white box” 115 gr FMJ through the gun.  I’ve had problems with the 9mm Winchester white box running reliably in other handguns, but it was flawless in the DB9.

The self-defense ammo run through the gun included Speer Gold Dot 124 gr +P, Speer Gold Dot 147 gr, Federal HST 124 gr +P, Federal HST 147 gr +P and Federal PBLE 115 gr +P+.  All of the loads functioned in the Diamondback, and none of them added any significant recoil to the shooting.  I suppose at a certain point it all starts to feel the same.

Recoil was manageable, but grew less enjoyable through the morning.  The narrow profile of the DB9 focused the felt recoil into a very small area of the hand.  Shooting a few magazines of ammo is not anything to complain about.  Shooting a few hundred rounds in one outing, though, may be more than most people want to try.

Passing Grade

The Diamondback DB9 performed very well for me.  After a single stoppage, the gun turned in a flawless performance with a wide range of ammunition, including hollow points.
Reloads under fire are not likely to happen, so I would counsel the guns’s best use is as a second, or back up gun.  But if you are comfortable with seven rounds of the potent 9mm, the gun can certainly play the primary gun role.

The recoil was manageable, the sights are useable and it is very concealable.  With a street price around $370, it is affordable for most people.