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Diamondback Firearms DB15 Pistol – New Gun Review

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Diamondback Firearms offers the DB15 Pistol in three finish options and two barrel lengths. The review pistol, model DB15PFDE7, has a Flat Dark Earth finish and 7.5” barrel. MSRP $914. Current street prices will often be less than MSRP.

Diamondback Firearms offers the DB15 Pistol in three finish options and two barrel lengths. The review pistol, model DB15PFDE7, has a Flat Dark Earth finish and 7.5” barrel. MSRP $914. Current street prices will often be less than MSRP.

By Bruce Flemings
http://www.diamondbackfirearms.com/DB15Pistols/

Diamondback Firearms is a relative newcomer to the firearms market. The business, based in Cocoa, Florida, launched in 2009 as an off-shoot of the successful Diamondback Airboats business. Diamondback Firearms initially established its brand with the DB380 and DB9 micro-compact pocket pistols in .380 Auto and 9mm Luger. The company next introduced a series of AR-style rifles in 2012. The DB15 rifle is made entirely in the USA, with all the machining work done in-house by Diamondback. Diamondback recently added a series of AR-style pistols to its product line and provided one for evaluation and review.

The Diamondback DB15P arrived in a Diamondback branded hard plastic rifle-length case. The case can be padlocked at each corner and is suitable for storage and transportation to and from the range. The case also contained a cable safety lock, 30-round Magpul PMag magazine, red plastic chamber flag and the DB15 Rifle Owner’s Manual. While the manual has not been customized for the pistol, it provided all the information necessary to prepare, operate, and maintain the pistol.

Diamondback currently ships the DB15 pistols in a rifle-length case with plenty of room for spare magazines and other range gear.

Diamondback currently ships the DB15 pistols in a rifle-length case with plenty of room for spare magazines and other range gear.

DB15 Pistol Specifications
Caliber: .223/5.56
Upper: Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum with full-length top-mounting rail
Lower: Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
Barrel: 7.5” or 10.5” 4140 chrome-moly melonite coated (7.5” Reviewed)
Muzzle Device: Diamondback Proprietary Flash Hider
Trigger: Two-Stage (Single-stage reviewed)
Pistol Grip: Magpul MOE+™
Handguard: Lightweight ventilated aluminum
Weight: 5 lbs (4 lbs. 13.2 oz as reviewed)
Overall Length: 7.5” barrel is 23.25”
10.5” barrel is 25.75”
Finish: Durable Cerakote in Black, Flat Dark Earth or OD Green (Flat Dark Earth reviewed)
Includes: 1 – 30 round PMag (where state/local laws allow) and safety lock

For those familiar with AR platform rifles, there are no surprises with the DB15 pistol. Diamondback chose to use the same forged aluminum upper and lower as its A3 Flattop Rifle but shortened the barrel, handguard and buffer tube to give the pistol better balance. You will need to add an optic or sights. An Aimpoint PRO (pictured) was used during the review.

For those familiar with AR platform rifles, there are no surprises with the DB15 pistol. Diamondback chose to use the same forged aluminum upper and lower as its A3 Flattop Rifle but shortened the barrel, handguard and buffer tube to give the pistol better balance. You will need to add an optic or sights. An Aimpoint PRO (pictured) was used during the review.

Pre-shoot Impressions:
The DB15P, in Flat Dark Earth Cerakote, looks fantastic. The Cerakote finish is smooth and evenly applied to the receiver and handguard. The contrasting black barrel, buffer tube, Magpul MOE+ pistol grip and controls all have a similar matte finish. The shortened buffer tube gives the pistol a nice visual balance with the shortened barrel and handguard, but the pistol is unquestionably muzzle heavy. The fit of the upper and lower receiver was tight and required a brass punch to drive out the takedown and pivot pins for disassembly and cleaning.

You’ll need to add your own optic before heading out to the range, since the DB15P does not include any sights. The full-length upper rail and handguard bottom rail provide plenty of space for experimenting with different sight set ups. I used an Aimpoint PRO and a variety of laser/light combinations during the review. I resisted the urge to add more accessories to the pistol for the duration of the review, but the possibilities for customization are limited only by your budget and imagination. You can add most AR-style modifications and accessories to the pistol.

After cleaning and preparing the DB15P for a trip to the range, I weighed and measured the pistol. I was surprised to see that it was actually a little shorter and lighter than what is listed on the specification sheet. Another deviation from the spec sheet is the trigger. Instead of a two-stage trigger, the pistol had a single-stage trigger with a pull weight of approximately 7lbs. 8oz as measured with a Lyman digital trigger pull gauge. The trigger broke cleanly with no pre-travel or creep.

Shooting a rifle cartridge in a pistol-length barrel means muzzle flash and blast are significant. This is particularly evident when shooting 5.56 NATO loads. Doubling up on hearing protection is a good idea.

Shooting a rifle cartridge in a pistol-length barrel means muzzle flash and blast are significant. This is particularly evident when shooting 5.56 NATO loads. Doubling up on hearing protection is a good idea.

 As is true with all AR-style firearms, there are a multitude of accessories you can add. I tried several configurations of optics, lights and lasers on the full-length top and bottom rails.)

As is true with all AR-style firearms, there are a multitude of accessories you can add. I tried several configurations of optics, lights and lasers on the full-length top and bottom rails.)

On the Range:

Arriving at the range, I set up the shooting bench and rest. It didn’t take long to get the red dot sighted in at 25 yards. I used this time to get a feel for the trigger and felt that I was ready to start shooting for groups. I set up the chronograph at 10 feet and the targets at 25 yards. About 30 minutes later, I had a much better understanding of the ballistic and accuracy potential of the pistol.

Photo 7 Velocity Testing DataThe accompanying chart shows the chronograph data and calculated energy of the six different loads tested. As I expected, the short 7.5-inch barrel had a significant impact on the velocity each load generated. I was really pleased to see the velocity drop-off was much less than originally anticipated. As a rough generalization on velocity potential , the pistol-length barrel was a third of the length of SAAMI .223 Remington test barrel, but the barrel still generated two-thirds of rifle barrel velocity. With a barrel this short, I believe ammunition selection will be important. You can see this with the Fiocchi velocity results. Fiocchi must be using a faster burn-rate powder than the other manufacturers that allows the bullet to generate more velocity in the short barrel.

– I used magazines from Magpul, FN Herstal, BCM and E-Lander during the course of the review. I fired 350+ rounds of a variety of .223 and 5.56 ammunition in various bullet weights.)

– I used magazines from Magpul, FN Herstal, BCM and E-Lander during the course of the review. I fired 350+ rounds of a variety of .223 and 5.56 ammunition in various bullet weights.)

Reviewing the 25-yard targets provided good insight into the accuracy potential of the pistol. Hornady’s TAP GMX Barrier ammunition delivered the smallest five-shot group; it could easily be covered with a quarter. I have little doubt that these groups would have been smaller if I had used an optic with magnification instead of the red dot. The 1-in-9 twist rate barrel should work well with 55 and 62 grain bullets, but from this limited testing the 62 grain load really opened up the group size.

Photo 8I thoroughly enjoyed several range outings with the DB15P, a fun pistol to shoot. Even though it’s chambered for a rifle cartridge, recoil is negligible due to the overall weight, comfortable Magpul MOE+ pistol grip and recoil buffer. If the AR pistol platform has a drawback, it is the blast and flash generated when you shoot a rifle cartridge in such a short barrel. Even when shooting outdoors, the noise is significant. Doubling up on the hearing protection (ear plugs and muffs) makes extended shooting sessions much more comfortable. Bring more ammo than you think you will need, because once you start shooting you may not want to stop. It really is

Equipped with a red dot sight and combination tactical light/laser, the DB15P could be a formidable short-range personal defense weapon.

Equipped with a red dot sight and combination tactical light/laser, the DB15P could be a formidable short-range personal defense weapon.

that much fun to shoot.

Equipped with a red dot sight and combination tactical light/laser, the DB15P could be a formidable short-range personal defense weapon.)

Equipped with a red dot sight and combination tactical light/laser, the DB15P could be a formidable short-range personal defense weapon.)

Over the course of several range sessions, I put over 350 rounds through the DB15P with no failures or faults of any kind. The only odd thing I noticed was difficult extraction of a live round when using the Fiocchi FMJ ammunition. A gentle tug on the charging handle was enough to extract the round. It was the one exception to an otherwise flawless performance.

The AR-style pistol platform offers a multitude of shooting options. It can be held in one hand, with two hands in a traditional thumbs-forward grip, or two hands with one on the pistol grip and the other on the handguard. I tried all three variations and ultimately decided the grip that offered the best balance of accuracy and speed was with one hand on the pistol grip and the other on the handguard. Low gun shooting from the hip with a laser aiming device was also very fast and accurate with the buffer tube braced against the hip.

A favored shooting configuration was a Crimson Trace Rail Master laser mounted on the lower rail. Holding the pistol grip and handguard, and bracing the buffer tube on the hip, fast fire groups like this were easy and fun to shoot. 30 rounds went down range way too fast.

A favored shooting configuration was a Crimson Trace Rail Master laser mounted on the lower rail. Holding the pistol grip and handguard, and bracing the buffer tube on the hip, fast fire groups like this were easy and fun to shoot. 30 rounds went down range way too fast.

It appears that Diamondback has successfully downsized its AR rifle platform with the DB15P pistol. The pistol may be very appealing to people looking for a compact alternative to a full-size AR rifle that they can stash in their grab and go kit, or keep in their vehicle for emergency need. During the course of my testing, the pistol demonstrated the accuracy and reliability required of a firearm filling either of those roles. From a less practical point of view, I thoroughly enjoyed the fun-factor of trying different shooting styles and aiming devices out on the range. The DB15P certainly had me grinning ear to ear many times on the range.

{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Charlie November 15, 2015, 11:12 pm

    First let me state that I am a retired law enforcement officer with 20+years as a police firearms instructor and armorer.
    I bought a DB 9 about a year ago and have only experienced one minor problem with it which was immediately fixed by the Diamond Back folks. I carry mine every day.

    I just bought a DB 15 P and all I can say is, Wow! This is a really accurate, fun gun. I have not wrung it out completely yet but, the hundred or so rounds that I have put down the pipe functioned flawlessly. I will have it back on the range tomorrow and plan on giving it a real workout.

  • mike burkhart May 23, 2015, 8:24 pm

    I’ll be buying the DB 15 SOON as I get my money saved up can’t beat the price can’t say how good it is till I get my

  • Ken May 7, 2015, 9:11 am

    I bought a db15 AR pistol with sig sauer forearm brace, eotech holographic/night vision sight and crimson green laser combo…..in love all over again, the best handguns are heckler and koch hands down

  • George D Hammann January 20, 2015, 12:39 am

    I’ve tested my new DB AR15 pistol with arm brace technology by Sig Saur for over a month now. Firing 4 types of ammo for a total of 750 rounds. Not one jam as of this writing. I shot it in the rain and upside down, no feed problems, no misfires.
    the DB is easy to carry and light. I chose the 7.5 barrel and find it very easy to conceal in a vehicle or on person w/sling. The fit & finish are above average with no paint runs. Easy to use and field strip, cleaning is quick. I chose the army green with a black forearm assist. I added a truglo sight and surefire light with a one point sling. Paid 930.00 for it and find its worth every penny.

    • Jason August 16, 2016, 2:08 pm

      Why would shooting the rifle upside down cause any potential problems? I think you’ve played too many video games man.

  • Steven R December 29, 2014, 12:37 pm

    hi, I am guessing most here have never fired the DB-15… yes I got one 60 days ago (7.5″) and when I first got it, out of 500 rounds (federal) i did have one fail to fire. took the pistol home and cleaned it from top to bottom, then put 1000 rounds through it with no issues. have not had an issue since then…does it match up with an 3k AR pistol…NO, nor did I pay 3k (i paid $750.00) in the price range i think it is a great value. btw this is my first and only DB, so I cannot talk about their other guns. Steve

  • Tom December 29, 2014, 9:23 am

    Nope, that gas tube is pure ugly. I have a PLR16. Better design, more compact and accurate.

  • G September 26, 2014, 7:12 am

    This forum was for the Db15 AR Pistol
    Not the Db 9 pistol

    So all you Db9 haters go some where else

    • cb December 12, 2014, 11:16 am

      I agree!! I read this article and comments to make a choice on purchasing the DB AR pistol. anyone have any comments about the article and what they paid for one?

      • Tony January 30, 2015, 9:49 pm

        I’ve had one for over a year over 3000 rounds no problems thing is people buy them and just go shooting db leaves a lot of grit in there process if you don’t clean it before shooting of course gas seals will go bad overall never fail has been awesome AR for 800 dollars

  • Jimmy February 24, 2014, 6:05 pm

    The problems with the DB9 have been well documented online and in forums for years. That in mind, I believe the review should have had some prejudice against Diamondback and perhaps addressed/commented on those problems within his article. I own a DB15 and but wouldn’t have purchased it had I heard about the issues with the DB9.

    That said, I have thrown >1000 rounds through the DB15 (non pistol) in both 50 and 52 gr. handloads, as well as 55 and 62 gr. Federal. Never a FTF or FTE. I can confirm that the 50-55 gr rounds shoot much better out of the 1/9 barrel… much much better.

    While I would hesitate to recommend the DB15 to anyone looking for an AR in the 750-850$ price range, I would still recommend it (with prejudice based on the company’s history). Based on my *extremely* limited knowledge of AR’s, this one seems to be put together ‘fine’. As a laymen, outside of weight, I cannot tell much of a difference between it and more expensive AR’s in the 1K-1.4K price range. I am a laymen and I did purchase a DB15 after all…. so my recommendations carry little weight. I enjoy shooting the gun. It’s a fine range toy and for me, that is all it’ll be used for. If you need it for something else, I couldn’t comment.

    I wonder about the claim that it is American made, American parts, American machining? Anyone know if that is accurate?

  • D Lornezo February 24, 2014, 5:33 pm

    I purchased the DB15P AR pistol recently and love it. I have roughly 400 rounds through it already, and hasn’t had an issue. I understand a lot of folks replying to this thread are upset about their DB pistols from the past, but this weapon deserves a look. It feels great considering its dimensions. I use my DB15P with the SIG SB15 brace. I have friends who have sent a few rounds downrange with it, adding this to their wish list. Hopefully I don’t have any issues with this weapon, but if I do, I will let you all know how the customer service is. Check one out before you criticize the company.

  • David Sloan February 16, 2014, 5:05 pm

    My neice bought one of their db9 pistols and it exploded after 40 rounds of ammo on an indoor range in Orlando, FL. I wouldn’t buy any of their products for any reason. Certainly not as a firearm for use or protection. They are worse than century arms

  • Wallace February 11, 2014, 7:12 am

    I wouldn’t buy anything Diamondback produces ever again. I bought a DB9 over a year ago and can’t even get through to the manufacture for any support. The pistol came with only one mag. I’ve tried ever since my purchase from Academy Sports, to locate and purchase other magazines with complete frustrations. What good is a personal defense weapon you can’t reload in a gun fight? If a weapons company or any company, wants to produce and market a product, they must be there for the customer. As a retired career law enforcement officer and range officer, I can’t recommend buying a weapon from a company that doesn’t support the customer. Diamondback certainly failed me.

    • Russ Z December 29, 2014, 9:26 pm

      DB9 magazines were hard to find, but they are more available now. I have bought them at gun shows and on
      diamondback website. I love the size, reliability and accuracy of my DB9.

  • JLA February 11, 2014, 3:00 am

    I wouldn’t mind one of these in .300 Blackout with the arm brace from Sig. I’m not much interested in 7″ .223 though.

  • BoLo February 10, 2014, 2:07 pm

    Design with a 5.7 platform I think would be great. This gun is lighter and shorter than a PS90 with the drawback of a shorter barrel. Would drop noise and flash, and honestly, nobody gonna use these thing for past 150 yds even with the .223 as accuracy becomes an issue past 2-300 yds with a 7.5″ barrel.

  • Bill February 10, 2014, 1:45 pm
  • Muhjesbude February 10, 2014, 11:27 am

    Yeah, AR pistols are fun. Even had a .44 mag desert eagle shooter prefer to fire it instead!
    But what a lot of us don’t realize that in an ’emergency’ when ‘rules’ don’t apply because they don’t exist anymore, an AR .223 pistol is able to lose all its ‘fun’ appeal and turn into an extremely efficient CQB–and even a little further out– PDW, that would hold its own with any strictly designated compact combat PDW, with a relatively quick, no gunsmithing transition.

    An AR pistol’s buffer tube does not need to be a fancy shmancy padded tube like the one pictured herein. Last we checked a legal AR pistol can legally use a regular standard buffer tube. With no specific length requirements. Because the tube itself is an integral part of the pistol action and as long as it doesn’t have a shoulder stock attached to it, it’s not an SBR which would require a stamp.

    So, if you take your other AR rifle and hold it between your knees or somehow so that you can tightly pinch the stock extension detent lever between thumb and index finger knuckle of one hand and pull it out to the maximum extension and hold it out while you pull the stock outward simultaneously with your other hand as if extending by normal lever press, the entire stock should slip right off because holding it all the way out, instead of using just the lever for extension increments, allows it to flip over the last extension position detent.

    And it goes back on the same way.

    So any pistol using a standard tube can be quickly made into a nice handy SBR/PDF. Of course this is just a theoretical scenario because it is wholly illegal to do that. And we must always abide by government regulations and prohibitions otherwise we are not good citizens.

    Then, As someone said above, add a small compact suppressor for flash and bang mitigation, maybe change it to a piston rod ejection with one of those new Sharps non jamming bolts–and don’t forget a better extractor spring, and I’ll put that up against just about anything out there of equal weight and size but of pistol caliber which virtually all compact PDF’s are.

    • Tom December 29, 2014, 9:30 am

      KelTec PLR16 has NO FUGLY GAS TUBE, thus is more compact, simple AK type function, and quite accurate.
      The AR platform is superior to the AK as far as a rifle goes but not so in a pistol.

  • R.P. Temple February 10, 2014, 11:19 am

    Bought a used 2nd generation Diamondback 9mm a year ago. After some initial problems, that the factory corrected free of charge, it shoots great and straight! Factory states that using ammo larger than 124gr. will frequently cause jamming. I only use 115 and 124 gr hollow point. Recoil not a problem, but the slide has a very heavy pull and without a slide stop can be difficult for cleaning and such. Hoping the next generation will have resolved this issue. As it compact and only weights 11 oz. it’s invisible in concealed carry. It’s a great pistol!

  • R.P. Temple February 10, 2014, 11:18 am

    Bought a used 2nd generation Diamondback 9mm a year ago. After some initial problems, that the factory corrected free of charge, it shoots great and straight! Factory states that using ammo larger than 124gr. will frequently cause jamming. I only use 115 and 124 gr hollow point. Recoil not a problem, but the slide has a very heavy pull and without a slide stop can be difficult for cleaning and such. Hoping the next generation will have resolved this issue. As it compact and only weights 11 oz. it’s invisible in concealed carry. It’s a great pistol!

  • Scott February 10, 2014, 9:52 am

    AR pistols are awesome firearms. I prefer the 10.5″ barrel to reduce the muzzle blast and improve the velocity. The buffer tube with a Chair leg end cap can be placed in the shoulder and shot SBR style. Get a little training and you will really appreciate these guns. They are great for working out of a car or in a building. Add a suppressor and they about the same length as a M4

  • E.D. February 10, 2014, 8:02 am

    Make the Firearm as a pistol caliber carbine 9 m m i.e. 16.25″ barrel 30″ a r stock Then the will have an item

  • G February 10, 2014, 7:33 am

    I have the Od Green DB15 AR Pistol and I have shot around 250 rounds threw it with no issues at all
    The muzzy flash is Very big and it is loud but it is a good gun
    Everyone at the range loves it

  • HILDING GUSTAFSON February 10, 2014, 7:19 am

    WHAT DOES THIS WEAPON COST AND WHERE CAN YOU PURCHASE SAID WEAPON? 402-490-9458

    • Chris February 12, 2014, 2:04 pm

      I bought mine in Atlanta, ga at a pawn shop BNIB. 850, i think I paid… I love it, and also found a lot of extras for it too, I can send some pics, I am very proud of it… Great gun!

  • Diego February 10, 2014, 7:06 am

    I don’t think this is legal in JERSEY The land of anything we say goes. Ten round magazines only. HA! I don’t know where these politicians went to school but ten X ten is 100. And so on. So you have a vest that carry’s 8 30 round mags, plus pistol plus extra pockets what is that difference? Now you have at least 400 rounds of 223/5.56 and 40 or more of 45. Not only that but when are they going to learn that guns save lives. they did a survey at Virginia Tech. Most of the students agreed that if someone, A student or teacher had a firearm that day that dirt bag sicko would not have been able to kill as many people maybe none. Just the other day at another school students heard gun fire and ran out to their cars and got their guns and that was that. I think they held the guy.

  • matt February 10, 2014, 3:50 am

    I bought a pair of diamond back 380 handguns last year , never again. I’m warning they are just like century arms. I sent mine 3 times, seemed like they got worse every time I got them back. I never got a offer from db to replace them, and they refused when i asked. Now they sit in the safe waiting on a gun buy back program from a anti gun retailer

    • Steve February 10, 2014, 10:23 am

      Matt, I have a Diamondback DB9 and love mine! It digests all ammo that I’ve fed it and at typical self defense ranges, is quite accurate. I carry it daily as my carry pistol because I know it will go BANG if/when I need it. I personally know a couple other guys that have bought them based on my recommendation and theirs are as durable and dependable as mine is.

      I’m saving to buy one for my wife now.

      • GTD February 13, 2014, 7:21 pm

        Schill. You sound more like an advertisement than a response, I’m betting you have an interest in repairing the reputation of Diamondback.

      • Tom December 29, 2014, 9:19 am

        Same here. I bought a DB 380 and when the firing pin broke, they replaced the gun with a new improved version. When the DB9 came out, I traded for a new one and could not be happier. My DB9 is the only carry gun I use. I would stake my life on it. Folks at the range are constantly amazed at how well it shoots and they attribute it to my skill as they are literally afraid to shoot it because it is so small.

    • Pops February 10, 2014, 4:34 pm

      Matt, I had the same issue with my DB .380s. I bought my pair when they first came out. Sent back once, same FTF. Would occasionally not strip rounds out of the mag. Looong trigger pull, but light. Sometimes I thought I had pulled the trigger back far enough, and had a misfire, but no, I just had to pull it back more.I swear this varied from shot to shot. The dealer was nice enough to take them back in trade, lost a little money but not much. My Kahr CW 9 has a similar trigger mechanism, but not as long, and very repeatable performance, breaks at the same point every time.
      Perhaps mine were early guns, and they worked out the bugs since then. Early on, I heard several people who have said they had the same problems I did, but as the years past, not so much. Never heard anything bad about the DB9.

    • shane February 11, 2014, 12:26 am

      I had the DB9 and it went back twice for repairs before I traded it for a Beretta Nano. Once because the recoil assembly had THREE different issues – crack in the guide rod shroud, battering of the internal polymer stop inside the frame (it was just shredding it) and also the tip of the guide rod shroud that fits into the slide at the front was being chamfered off by the recoil action. Got it back and then the trigger just quit working one day, the trigger was moving the transfer bar but nothing beyond that, couldn’t disassemble it or fire it at that point. My experiences were the norm from reading the Diamondback forums. I know Taurus made a large investment into them so maybe their products will benefit from that but to my knowledge, the DB9 hasn’t undergone any significant redesign to address all the issues with it.

    • Anton February 12, 2014, 7:14 pm

      You Get What You Pay For ! ! ! !

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