Diamondback DB-15 B Semi-Custom Upgrades-Entry Level Price (Gun Review)

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The Diamondback DB-15 B is an odd mix of entry-level basics and upgraded extras.

Buying your first AR-15 used to be a lot easier, if only because of the lack of options. A good base model would get you only you needed, and then you could add on extras and swap out parts to make the rifle more functional. The various scarcities (and shifts in political power) meant many bought whatever they could get and at artificially inflated prices.  We’re past that now, at least for a while. Deciding which AR to buy is much more complicated now, as there are so many makers making many variations of guns that essentially do the same thing. In this market, you can take your pick of rifles and options. You don’t have to start at the bottom. And some rifles, like the Diamondback DB-15 B, represent a real value. The DB-15 B is an upgraded gun at a base model price, and it is a buyer’s market.

The DB-15 B

The DB-15 line has a wide variety of options. The DB-15 B is a basic AR with one major upgrade. The forend has been replaced with a longer aluminum tube. Because it is has a full length rail, it requires a low-profile gas block. This upgrade makes the gun much more versatile and eliminates the need for the fixed front sight. Here are the rest of the specs:

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I like the red paint in the in the “fire” position (which is present on both sides). It is a good visual indicator.

Caliber:  5.56 NATO / .223 Remington
Finish:  Black Anodized Hardcoat
Barrel:  16″ 4140 Chrome-Moly, M4, Free Float
Barrel Twist Rate:  1 x 9
Bolt Carrier:  Shot-Peened, Magnetic Particle Inspected
Lower Receiver:  Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
Upper Receiver:   A3 Flattop Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
Handguard:  Diamondback  Modified Four Rail
Pistol Grip:  A2 Style
Stock:  Tapco
Weight:  6.65 lbs.
Overall Length (Stock Collapsed):  32.5″
Overall Length (Stock Expanded):  36.25″
Flash Hider:  A2
Sights:  No Sights

The new versions of the DB-15 B ship with an ATI Strikeforce Stock with an aluminum, civilian (commercial) buffer tube assembly. The one we have is an earlier model that came with a Tapco stock. Depending on how long the gun has been around, it might have either. The Tapco stock is solid. It is a basic collapsible stock with a flat strap loop.  There’s not much to add about the stocks. As someone who needs a longer length of pull, the stock is one of the first things I change out. Yet the Tapco and the ATI stocks work fine, as is, and may serve the purpose perfectly.

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The forend is anything but basic. It is long, well textured and has decent options for mounting accessories.

The forend I mentioned earlier is much more noteworthy. The aluminum is milled into an angular tube that provides a great grip. The diamond-shaped holes allow for some heat transfer, but it is free floated, so the rail doesn’t get as hot as it could. Even after prolonged shooting sessions, the DB-15 stays manageable. And the best part is that the gun comes standard this way. Changing out a gas block isn’t an advanced skill, but it isn’t easy. And it is one of the first big changes people make. A longer forend allows you to hold thumb-over-bore. The addition of rail sections on the front allow for a lot of accessory options. Yet the rails at three, six and nine are shorter and milled into the tube, so there isn’t a mess of rail all down the sides to get in the way of a solid grip. It also has a QD sling mount on both sides.

Diamondback hasn’t wasted money on the parts they know will be swapped out by finicky shooters (like the grip or trigger guard), and they’ve not included sights at all (which allows for individuals to put on what ever they want). Instead, they’re bringing an AR to market with a free-float tube milled for maximal efficiency. Though this one is black, the DB 15 comes in other colors and camo patterns. The charging handle, safety and mag release are all typical to the platform. If you intend to use an actual scope, like the Nikon we used on this review gun, an extended charging handle would be a good choice, as the area under the eyepiece can get cramped. Still, it is a lot of rifle for the money, and the additional savings will allow you to add on what you may really want.

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The barrel has a typical M4 profile and no-frills A2 flash hider.

Shooting the DB-15 B

I’ve said it before, but it needs repeating. Talking about the way an AR shoots can be difficult. The platform is designed to work. The basic modularity makes performance predictable. When an AR doesn’t work, that’s easy to describe. The DB-15 B worked fine. We had no failures to feed or extract. We had no issues related to magazines. When we pulled the trigger, the gun fired. And that’s exactly what is supposed to happen.

The longer tube on the forend makes shooting it easier. Some rail-heavy forends are hard to grip comfortably, bot this one. The milled rail is slim enough to hold. The anodized aluminum makes for a really good gripping surface. Even with the basic A2-style flash hider, there is very little muzzle rise. When you are holding it out near the end of the gun, the DB-15 B is easy to hold down and pull in tight. I’ve started to loosen the grip on my shooting hand a bit, but that’s only possible if I’m bracing the rifle well with my support hand.

The trigger is a bit of a concern. I’m getting to be a trigger snob. If you’ve only ever experienced a basic mil-spec trigger, you may not be bothered by a bit of take-up or a touch of creep. I am. It isn’t enough for me that a trigger breaks at five or six pounds. I want it to really snap. I want it to be clean. There is a lot of pressure on gun reviewers to get the most out of the review gun, if only to show what’s possible.  And a sloppy trigger is going to be the first mechanical device I test (usually in the gun store, while making small talk, waiting on paperwork to clear). Trigger pull has a way of shaping a lasting impression of an entire rifle, even though a trigger can be easily replaced. As you might have ascertained by my diatribe, the trigger on the DB is its weakness. This one breaks a bit heavy, close to six pounds. There is a slight take up, which I can forgive, and just a touch of creep. Yet I can’t help feeling that the trigger contributes to the overall shooting results.

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After we had it sighted in, we shot this group at 100 yards.

At 100 yards, I put three rounds in a line that was right at an inch long. I’m fine with that, but I expect better from a free-floated barrel. And I’d like to think that I could thread a needle with the Nikon P-223 AR scope I had on top. At 100 yards, I should have been able to punch out the little circle on the target. I had more than enough magnification and a wide variety of capable ammo. While I could place rounds within an inch of the bulls-eye, I want more from the gun.

Out of the box, the DB-15 B will shoot under an inch at 100 yards, and I can get it to do that with a variety of rounds. Yet if it were my gun and not a review gun, I’d begin with a new trigger, and try to find that load that works perfectly.

 In the end

The MSRP on the DB-15 B is $1,019. That said, the going price is considerably less. Have I mentioned that this is a great time to be in the market for an AR-15? It may be the best market in recent memory. The scarcity we all suffered 18 months back has flipped. It seems like everyone who wanted an AR has one. The shelves at the brick-and-mortar stores are full of black rifles. This means really good prices on brand new guns for those who are still looking.

The DB-15 B is going to serve you well, as is. The rail makes this a logical choice for those who want more versatility from their forends. The basic configuration of the rest of the gun invites a lot of customization. Out of the box, though, the DB-15 will work great. It should get even better as you swap out pieces and parts in that never-ending quest to make the perfect fighting or sporting rifle.

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The long top rail allows for the use of a variety of optics and sights. This Nikon fits well.

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A long scope might interfere with the ability to reach the charging handle.

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The front rail sections are milled into the rail. It provides a nice solidity.

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The DB lower is also basic.It does the job, out of the box, and can be easily upgraded.

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The branding on the DB-15 is prominent.

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Stephen Tanski November 11, 2017, 6:42 pm

    Bought mine one week ago. Straight out of the box it never achieved more than a 30% reliability rate. One week later it blew the gas tube out the front of the gas block. The company never returned one of 3 emails sent and the call line left me in a circle without the ability to leave a message.
    Terrible rifle
    Terrible company
    Terrible experience

  • christine July 4, 2017, 7:21 pm

    I bought mine about 6 months ago no problems at all.

  • Sean Beeson May 9, 2017, 9:06 am

    I brought the fde model for 625 first ar i ever brought under 1000 dollars but money has tight but i will say i put atleast 1500 rounds through and i havnt had one problem yet i brought brand new about 3 mouth ago i run steel case ammo and reloads still not one problem i think ill be doing business with them again

  • superbeau March 6, 2017, 6:28 pm

    I bought my DB15CCB at Rural King for $500 (base model) about 3 months ago. I’ve put 300+ rounds through it and it’s really a great gun for the money. No issues cycling rounds and solid groupings with the right ammo. There’s a good forum for DB owners, if you want to do some additional research / reading – http://www.diamondbackforum.com.

  • Thomas Fullman January 21, 2017, 7:42 pm

    HAD THE 15 raining ☔ on write now see HOW GOING TO SHOOT 🔫 in morning

  • Robert December 16, 2016, 4:06 pm

    I bought my first brand new AR after being skeptical because of my days in the Army with the M-16 A/2…. I purchased an Adams Arms Piston gun and let me say it is bad to the bone…shoots smooth clean and easy to shoot a robinhood multiple times! No jams, malfunction’s but very high quality firearm! Look em up and make your own choice but where in the world have these been all my life!!!!

  • James Webb November 21, 2016, 11:37 pm

    I bought mine 2 weeks ago. Took it out shot one round and casing jammed. Took 2 hours to get it out. It was lodged very nicely. Stripped it, cleaned it, and oiled it. Took it out this weekend, first shot, casing jammed. Had to strip off barrel to get it out. Shooting .223 Remington. The casing are completely gouged where it’s getting stuck. The extractor is trying to pull casings out but it just jams the whole thing up. In other words I bought a $600 paper weight I will have to pay shipping and fml to get back. So a I wouldn’t give or buy this gun for anyone!

  • Gary November 13, 2016, 1:41 pm

    Got my D. B. 15 at ATWOODS for the amazingly low price of $522.00.
    What a deal!

  • regnaD kciN September 3, 2016, 2:03 pm

    Our Atwoods has a flash sale at $500 this weekend.

  • jason August 10, 2016, 6:04 pm

    What grain and caliber 556 vs 223 is best for the db15

    • wesley rushing October 13, 2016, 10:59 am

      .223 REMINGTON HAS LESS “PUNCH” THAN THE .556 NATO. MORE GRAIN BASICALLY.

  • Glen hadley March 6, 2016, 11:42 am

    I love mine but we’re do you get a stock for it that is like a AR15 that you pull button up and it extends it or makes short and I bought the green color one so I would want a stock to match gun any suggestions?

    • KSW April 19, 2016, 4:37 pm

      You can buy them almost anywhere an AR is sold as well as online. Amazon has more than you can imagine.

  • Rex August 29, 2014, 9:44 pm

    What is the Link for the $569.00 DB-15…
    Thanks

  • Cal June 24, 2014, 3:30 pm

    I sell the DB-15 for$569. Free shipping and no sales tax outside of SC. SC tax is .06%.

    • Teri Bolster January 16, 2015, 6:19 pm

      Interested in the db15 for $569. Please contact me if its still available, thanks!

      • Paul May 13, 2016, 9:51 am

        If you have one in your state check out rural king. I just got a DB-15 for $500

      • Miguel June 29, 2016, 2:42 pm

        Yes please I’d love to purchase it because this is exactly what I need. Please get back to me asap. Thank you!

    • Robert Ross November 13, 2015, 11:18 am

      I’m interested in purchasing a DB 15 for $569 if it is still available.

    • Mundy Quinn August 8, 2016, 11:07 am

      Can you provide photos of the DB 15

    • Dai August 28, 2016, 6:10 pm

      I wanna. Buy one db15 contact me for more info. 717746445

    • Korey Cladd December 16, 2016, 12:20 pm

      Can you send me the website or ordering info please?

  • Wesley June 23, 2014, 1:57 pm

    The DB-15 has been excellent for me, the ATI stock bothered me more than the stock trigger, Magpulized everything else. The BCM gunfighter extended charging handle is a nice upgrade to add to it but does pinch my fingers a bit when changing the rifle. My biggest gripe with the DB-15 is the heft of the hand guard and the included ATI stock interferes with charging the rifle unless you remove the riser

  • Walter June 23, 2014, 1:03 pm

    FYI, Picked up a DB-15 last Thursday, 19Jun14, at my shop for 589.36 out the door. My first AR15 as I am a 1911 guy, but I could not pass up the price.

  • john June 23, 2014, 10:03 am

    Dave Who does your proof reading?Bot?Only you needed?

    • Johnsucksdick February 21, 2015, 3:01 pm

      John stop being a shit head and read the fucking article. I think the message was conveyed pretty well despite some grammatical errors.

      But…..

      WHO GIVES A FUCK

  • RapidRabbitt June 23, 2014, 7:12 am

    Dave – I bought my DB-15 about 5 months ago it’s now fully optimized except for the trigger. Like you, that 5.6# pull is NOT acceptable.! In your travels around the country, have you found a good “triggerman” who can suggest ways to get this trigger down to 1.25 – 1.75#s? Or better yet, a replacement AR-15 adjustable trigger?
    RapidRabbitt

    • Bill May 10, 2016, 7:38 pm

      Triggerwork.net
      Bill Springfield
      Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Mark N. June 22, 2014, 9:03 pm

    It seems to me the only upgrade on this basic parts bin rifle is the fore end, which is nice enough, but not worth the premium. Basic M4 barrel, bargain basement A2 muzzle device and grip, pretty stock stuff. The California version (which presumably differs only in that it has a $15 bullet button and a cheaper 10 round magazine) sells on this site for $856 (lowest) to MSRP. Add in shipping, tax (about $75, which dealers here collect), DROS ($25) and transfer fee (running $75 now), this rifle will cost just about MSRP out the door, and it doesn’t even have sights. There are better bargains.

    • Augest June 23, 2014, 9:22 am

      Mark, Just a note. I just received a WINDHAM Model WW15 and it came with a top pic rail about 6 inches and a Diamond rear sight with the two optic flip system and it locks up/down it’s fully adjustable of course and the front sight where the gas tube is also is fully adjustable. It came with one metal 30 round mag. I have added a single point tactical sling with rubberized pull straps and a stainless quick release swivel. The mount for it is also stainless and will last a life time. The other things I added are a 900 lumens light on a 45% angle mount and a green laser with the same type of mount, the only trouble is the laser, being on that 45% angle it’s not zeroing in very well….That’s what I get for trying to get away cheep instead of mounting new front grips. But there are other mounts that will go directly onto the front sight so the laser is under it and strait on target. I bought one on line to find out it was all plastic and did not fit well at all. Any advice to mount the laser without changing out the grips would be helpful. ANY WAY the way it came stock was under 900.00 Well under. The retail is 1,096 but I got a good deal on it. Model R16M4A4T with 16″ chrome lined barrel 1 in 9 R/H twist. I guess I get a bit excited when I talk about this, It’s my first AR and I always had my doubts about them after my time in the ARMY, Constantly Jamming Fouling and just a dangerous weapon when in combat. That was the newer M16A2 in 1982. After leaving the military I was a RUGER man all the way, I had my MINI 14 and it never jammed, Misfired or fouled on me. And I put at least 6,000 round through her. OK I guess I am yapping pretty good here but the WINDHAM COMPANY Formally Bush master is a good firearm and no troubles to speak off yet.

      • Dennis Math April 25, 2016, 2:38 am

        Couldn’t agree more with the kudo’s for the Windham Arms rifles. I have an M4A3 with a heavy barrel and after I installed a Timney Trigger (I was tempted to go with the lightweight trigger that Windhams website offered but went with the old reliable Timney), a 3lb trigger, using an EoTech with a 3x magnifier I can group well within 1MOA at 100 yards and a marksman I am NOT. Just a great gun. Throw in the fact that the company has yet to go with the cheaper Melonite barrel coating and gotten rid of the proven chrome lined bores and chambers and……..well, Windham makes a SUPERB rifle. I also have had a lot of luck with a new FNH that I am building as a gift to have transferred to my Son. They too have so far stuck with chrome lined barrels and they make a gun of similar quality to that of the Windham. No gripes about either gun but have to admit to a bit more fondness for the Windham as it was my first “keeper” AR. I used to HATE the platform and still dislike its constant nagging need for maintenance as I am a long time AK47 nut, but for a rifle that shoots a round only potent enough to reliably kill a racoon at least the AR is a fun rifle to shoot. I sure am glad I am not and have not been in the service and had to rely on such an anemic round to protect myself and my fellow men with but hopefully one of these days the military will forego the perks the lobbyists have provided them and finally go with a battle rifle with enough firepower to reliably kill an enemy with a single round and not outfit our troops with a rifle engineered to wound. I guess there is some case to be made for a round made to wound, it does in effect take 3 people off the battlefield, the wounded soldier and two care givers/transporters but for goodness sake, the idea of shooting a soldier should be to PERMANENTLY put the guy out of the fight. It would also be nice to field our troops with a rifle that will actually function in adverse climates. It seems that everywhere we have fielded the M16 the “conditions” have been problematic to its reliable function. Also the rifles have to always run “wet” so we really need a rifle that doesn’t require constant maintenance and lubrication.
        But for us “fun” shooters, with the current price of .22LR still being out of this world high, why not go ahead and have even more fun and enjoy the heck out of Americas battle varmint rifle, the AR15 and quality ones made by Windham are among the cream of the crop IMHO (as has most of this reply been).

        • Joe August 10, 2016, 9:46 am

          With an eotech and a 3x you should be able to shoot the nuts of a butterfly at 100. Who the hell needs a 2 to 3 thousand dollar 556.

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