As interest in concealed carry has grown, so have the number of compact handgun models available in the market. Long established firearm manufacturers, with catalogs of full-size models, went back to the drawing board to design smaller, lighter, and more concealable handguns. Some manufacturers executed flawlessly, while other struggled with reliability issues and safety recalls. Diamondback Firearms followed a different path, as is clearly evident in the new DB FS 9.
Diamondback’s early micro-sized 380 and 9mm pistols are still some of the smallest, lightest, and most concealable handguns available today. Leveraging what they’ve learned developing micro-pistols, and seeking to expand their catalog, the latest model is a feature laden full-size polymer framed striker-fired 15 +1 capacity 9mm pistol with a very modest retail price. Budget conscious shoppers now have one more option when making their buying decisions.
I’m not a big fan of comparing one pistol with another during a review. With that said, I will admit that I do recognize many of the features and design elements of the DB FS Nine from other polymer-framed and striker-fired pistols. I’m sure you will too as we progress through the review. I’m not avoiding the similarities, but rather trying to stay focused on the overall combination of features Diamondback chose for the DB FS Nine.
The DB FS Nine is shipped in a lockable Diamondback-branded plastic case. Along with the pistol, you receive one magazine, owner’s manual, warranty card, and a cable lock. If you are a fan of black firearms, you will love this pistol. The stainless steel slide and chrome-molly steel barrel are coated with black Melonite to resist corrosion and wear. All externally visible controls and components are also black with the only exception being the white dots on the sights.
The slide features forward and rear slide serrations that are wide and deep. They provide a very positive gripping surface when manipulating the slide. Sights are of the three dot variety with the rear sight being drift adjustable for windage and locked in place with a hex screw. The ejection port is large, allowing for easy live round ejection.
The slide stop and magazine release are set up for the right-handed shooter. Both controls are textured and positioned for easy activation. I have medium to large hands and didn’t have to shift my grip to activate either control with my thumb. The polymer grip frame has a non-aggressive texture around the entire gripping surface. The dual palm swells, on each side of the grip, felt very good in my hands. The high beaver-tail and undercut trigger guard allow for a high hold on the grip.
At first glance, I wasn’t impressed with the large magazine base plate and shape of the magazine well. After spending more time with the pistol, I came to appreciate the magazine well as one of the best features of the pistol. The magazine well is flared and beveled to aid reloading. The spur at the rear of the well acts as a positioning guide for the incoming magazine. The extended magazine base plate, below the grip, assures the magazine seats fully in the magazine well.
While not called out in the manual, I did notice that vigorously inserting a loaded magazine into the pistol, when the slide is locked back, will automatically disengage the slide lock and allow the top round to be stripped from the magazine and loaded into the chamber. I’ve seen this design feature before with another brand of firearms, but I don’t know if this was intentional with the DB FS Nine.
Reading through the manual, I noticed that Diamondback recommends avoiding reloaded, +P, and +P+ ammunition in the DB FS Nine. Using these ammunition types will void the firearm warranty. Making note of that caution, I grabbed a bunch of standard pressure 9mm ammunition and headed out to the range.
Shooting the DB FS Nine
Arriving on the range I started out with some slow fire targets just to get the feel for the sights and trigger. The one included 15 round magazine wasn’t overly difficult to load to full capacity. I accidentally loaded it with 16 rounds once and only noticed the issue when the magazine wouldn’t lock into the frame. Using a magazine loading tool will make reloading easier, but I didn’t find it to be a requirement.
Diamondback pistols pre-cock the firing pin, or striker, during the firing cycle. As your finger engages the blade in the center of the trigger, it allows the trigger to move to the rear. As the trigger moves back, the trigger bar is pulled forward and raises the firing pin block plunger in the slide. As the trigger reaches the end of travel, the sear is released from the striker and the striker moves forward to strike the primer. What your finger feels is a short light take up followed by a smooth 7 pound trigger pull. I thought the trigger feel was very consistent from shot to shot.
I started out holding the sights at 6 o’clock on the target and found my shots going low and left. Raising my sight picture to covering the target brought my shots up to where they should be, but I was still shooting left. Loosening and drifting the rear sight to the right got me regulated on target. The large rear notch and thin front post sights that come with the DB FS Nine are fine for general shooting, but I didn’t like them for precision shooting at longer distances. Sight systems are a personal preference so that isn’t a fault of the pistol.
Shooting the DB FS Nine was an enjoyable experience. After adjusting the sights and getting comfortable with the trigger, it was time to run some rounds down range at speed. The comfortable ergonomic grip, long 6.25 inch sight radius, and modest recoil all contributed to fast controlled shooting with decent results on target. If you have previous experience behind the trigger of a full-size polymer framed 9mm pistol, shooting the DB FS Nine will be a familiar experience.
I ran some common 115 grain and 124 grain standard pressure personal protection ammunition over the chronograph to see if the longer than typical 4.75 inch barrel would have a significant impact on velocity. 115 grain Remington UMC JHP bulk pack ammunition registered 1197 feet per second. Federal 124 grain Hydra-Shok clocked in at 1099 feet per second. The longer barrel does help wring out the velocity from these standard pressure loads.
I made two trips to the range with the DB FS Nine. During these two trips, I ran over 350 rounds through the pistol with only one recurring problem. I simply couldn’t keep my big fat thumb off the slide stop so half the time the slide would fail to lock back when the magazine was empty. When I remembered to keep my thumb off the slide lock lever, the pistol worked exactly as designed. I didn’t experience any problems with feeding, extraction, or ejection. I used this review as an opportunity to use up partial boxes of standard pressure 9mm ammunition with bullets weighing 115, 124, and 147 grains. The DB FS Nine ate it all.
If I have one gripe with the pistol, it’s the rail system. I’m one of those people that will actually attach a laser or weapon light to a pistol if a rail is available. Diamondback lists the rail as MIL-STD 1913, but it’s not. The rail slots are too narrow, and appear to be Weaver width at their centers. MIL-STD 1913 rail keys will only work in the rail slots directly above the serial number plate. During the duration of my review, I used both a laser and tactical light on the DB FS Nine with no impact on reliability.
The DB FS Nine delivered all the functionality and reliability I would expect from a full-size handgun. While 350 rounds is a poor test of overall life expectancy of a pistol, the review pistol showed no signs of wear aside from some light burnishing on the barrel finish. This pistol appears to be built for the long haul.
At the time of this review, custom holster options and spare magazines are not available. Holsters that work with other full-size pistols may fit the DB FS Nine. Additional magazines will have to be sourced from Diamondback. Replacement sights are available from AmeriGlo. All AmeriGlo sights for Glock pistols can be used on the DB FS Nine.
I’ve alluded to the low price of the DB FS Nine a few times during this review. I’ve seen internet sellers offering the DB FS Nine for as low as $330 to $350 delivered. This is a substantially lower price than many similar pistols available. When you also consider Diamondback’s Limited Lifetime Warranty, the DB FS Nine presents a real value to the consumer. It will be interesting to see if this new model from Diamondback catches on and wins a significant share of the market.