Diamondback Firearms DB380SL – New Gun Review

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Photo 1By Bruce Flemings

Diamondback Firearms
http://diamondbackfirearms.com
Recluse Holsters
http://www.recluseholster.com
LaserLyte Laser Sights
http://www.laserlyte.com

In early 2010, Florida-based Diamondback Firearms released its first pistol to the US market. That pistol was the Diamondback DB380 micro-compact .380 Auto. Over the last four years, there have been many additional variations of the DB380 released. Most of the variations featured colored grip frames, different sighting systems or additional finish treatments on the slide. The latest model, the DB380SL, can be considered the second generation of the DB380 and includes several functional and aesthetic improvements to the original design.

Photo 2The fundamental design of the DB380SL remains the same as the original DB380. It’s still a 10-ounce polymer-framed and striker-fired pistol. I noted five significant changes in the new SL model that should improve reliability and enhance ease of operation. The accompanying photo shows a side by side comparison of the previous and new models.

Diamondback introduced a new, and more robust, trigger return spring design with the DB9 9mm micro-pistol. The DB380SL leverages this improvement as noted by the three pins running through the frame directly over the trigger.(1) The grip frame has been treated to a more aggressive and stylish snake skin texturing that wraps around the front strap and back strap of the grip frame allowing for better grip and control of the pistol during firing.(2) All roll pins have been replaced with solid metal knurled pins to reduce the chance of the pins “walking” out of the frame under the stress of firing.(3) The slide now features larger and deeper cocking serrations that facilitate an improved grasp of the slide.(4) The last noted change is the redesigned extractor, which has been lengthened. In addition, it is now pinned through the top of the slide with an opposing spring at the rear of the extractor.(5)

A fully loaded DB380SL weighs in at 12.6 ounces.

A fully loaded DB380SL weighs in at 12.6 ounces.

Initial Impressions:
The Duotone finish on the DB380SL looks really sharp. To create the Duotone finish, the stainless steel side is first coated in corrosion-resistant matte black. The flats of the slide are then buffed and polished to remove the surface finish while leaving behind the black coating in the areas below the surface of the slide. The front and rear cocking serrations on the slide are a welcome change from the previous serrations. Even though the serrated area of the slide is smaller, the larger rectangles provide a greatly improved gripping surface on the slide. The windage-adjustable white dot sights are scaled down in size to match the micro-pistol dimensions, and are suitable for self-defense distances.

Following the diamondback rattlesnake theme, the grip frame has been treated to snake skin texturing around the entire gripping surface. The additional texturing on the back strap is a noticeable improvement over the previous grip frame design. The beavertail extending from the rear of the frame helps protect the shooters hand from slide bite.

The steel trigger travels approximately one half inch during the firing cycle. The trigger has a smooth and even pull throughout the entire trigger stroke and breaks at 6 pounds. 4 ounces. This is slightly heavier than the 5.5 pounds advertised by Diamondback, and I believe it may be due to the heavier trigger return springs used in the DB380SL. The trigger resets as the trigger returns to the start of the trigger stroke.

Diamondback includes one magazine, trigger lock, Owner’s Manual, and Warranty Card with the DB380SL.

Diamondback includes one magazine, trigger lock, Owner’s Manual, and Warranty Card with the DB380SL.

I couldn’t wait to try the DB380SL after I received word from my transfer dealer/range owner that it had arrived. After completing my transfer paperwork, I immediately hit the range and ran 25 trouble-free rounds through the pistol. Though I felt a strong compulsion to keep shooting, I realized I should probably get some pictures of the pistol for the review before putting more wear on the pistol. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my initial positive shooting experience with the DB380SL wouldn’t change much over the next several weeks.

I cleaned and lubricated the pistol, per the instructions in the Diamondback Owner’s Manual, before heading out to the range for the second time. On this trip, I shot the DB380SL for groups from the bench and also ran more rounds down range just for fun. While it’s an incredibly light and small pistol, the low bore axis helps reduce muzzle flip and the unpleasant trigger finger slap that usually accompanies it. By the end of the shooting session, I had two carbon stripes on the back of my hand where the slide was passing over the web between my thumb and trigger finger. Shooters with larger hands may experience slide bite with this pistol.

The DB380SL Owner’s Manual mentions a 50 to 100 round break-in period for the pistol. Since I was well beyond that milestone, I carried the DB380SL in a Recluse Solo pocket holster while I was waiting for delivery of the laser sight I ordered for the pistol. The combined weight of the pistol, ammunition and holster is 15 ounces. It nearly disappears in a front or rear pocket. It should be perfect for summer carry when wearing shorts.

Five-shot groups from a rest at seven yards were all less than 1.5 inches. Fiocchi FMJ grouped under an inch. Sights were positioned directly under the red bulls-eye.

Five-shot groups from a rest at seven yards were all less than 1.5 inches. Fiocchi FMJ grouped under an inch. Sights were positioned directly under the red bulls-eye.

After receiving the LaserLyte UTA-DB laser sight, I made one more trip out to the range to test the laser and also verify the pistol was equally reliable with the laser attached as it was without the laser. After another 100+ round range session, the DB380SL had proven itself to be just as reliable with the laser as without.

Over several range trips, I ran just over 300 rounds through the DB380SL. Digging deep in the ammo stash, I was able to locate a variety of FMJ and JHP ammunition with bullet weights ranging from 90 to 100 grains to test through the pistol. Aside from recurring failure to feed issues with Federal 90 grain Hydra-Shok JHP, the DB380SL ate up and spat out everything else without issue. The pistol does not appear to be fussy about the ammunition it is fed.

Diamondback lists the DB380SL at a retail price of $425.00. Current street prices around the internet are closer to $340.00. Diamondback Firearms backs the DB380 with a Limited Lifetime Warranty to correct any defect in material and/or workmanship for the original purchaser.

As a long-time DB380MS owner, I really appreciate the changes introduced with the new DB380SL model. The cocking serrations and texture-free back strap have always been my pet peeves with the original model. In my opinion, the introduction of changes to enhance these areas makes the DB380 platform even better and one of my favorite choices for discreet pocket carry.

Photo 3The micro-compact DB380SL is a great choice for pocket carry. The light weight and small size allow it to fit comfortably in a wide range of pocket sizes. I wanted a pocket holster that would work for both front and back pocket carry, but wouldn’t add significantly to the size of the pistol. The Solo Holster from Recluse fit my requirements perfectly.

The patented Recluse holster design features a trigger block that is bonded to a high quality leather holster body. The muzzle pouch and trigger block work in tandem to secure the pistol in the holster on the side facing your body. The opposite side of the holster, that everyone else can see, is smooth leather that completely masks the outline of the pistol. Carried in either a front or back pocket, the holster appears to be nothing more than a wallet. To draw the pistol, the fingers are inserted between the pistol and leather holster body. This action releases the trigger from the trigger block and the pistol can be drawn from the pocket leaving the holster behind.

Recluse holsters are available for a wide range of pistols. Additional holster models and leather choices are also available and can be ordered on the Recluse Holsters website. The Recluse Solo Holster has a retail price of $59.95

Photo 4The LaserLyte model UTA-DB is new for 2014. The laser attachment housing secures to the front of the DB380 trigger guard. The laser has activation switches on the left and right side of the housing, so it can be activated by the trigger finger or the support-hand thumb. LaserLyte ships this laser with an additional housing that allows the same laser module to be used with the larger Diamondback DB9 9mm pistol. LaserLyte products are made in the USA and have a three year limited warranty. The retail price of the UTA-DB is $104.95.

The LaserLyte UTA-DB adds nothing to the critical length, width, and height dimensions of the DB380SL. It does add ¾ of an ounce to the weight of the pistol.

The LaserLyte UTA-DB adds nothing to the critical length, width, and height dimensions of the DB380SL. It does add ¾ of an ounce to the weight of the pistol.

As my eyesight worsens with age, lasers have become a valuable training aid. With iron sights, I may not see the small movements of the front sight as I pull through the trigger stroke. With a laser, I get immediate feedback as small wiggles at the pistol cause large swings in the laser dot on the target. Lasers also improve the quality of my dry fire practice time by giving me a visual point of reference where the muzzle is pointing while practicing draw and fire from retention drills.

I really liked this laser for a number of reasons. Since it is mounted on the trigger guard, it doesn’t take up valuable real estate on the very short front strap of the DB380SL. While the laser may always be mounted on the pistol, turning it on is always optional. If the laser is accidentally activated, it will turn itself off after 6 minutes. The laser can also be programmed to emit a constant beam or a battery saving pulse beam. When the time comes to replace the batteries, the battery access door is on the outside of the laser housing, allowing battery replacement without removing the laser from the pistol.

As part of my range testing, I fired over 100 rounds through the DB380SL with the laser attached. Even shooting in high sun, I was able to see the laser dot at seven yards when it was shining on a glossy black target paster. The laser housing mounting screws remained tight, and the laser did not shift point of aim after repeating firing.

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • joe September 12, 2016, 7:55 pm

    Got a db380sl great right out of the box. And even using extrs Promags with several brands of ammo worked perfectly !! Its a Gen2. Also

  • Simba April 28, 2016, 5:35 pm

    It is defenitly the biggest piece of junk that I have bought in a 60 year lifetime. Double feed. failure to eject, failure to feed loosing the pins and yes it is the new one with 3 pins on the trigger. Not a single mag that have no problems. Sent it back on 4/3/16 and never heared ever since from it. I have bought a jennings 380 to but even the Jennings had less trouble than this junk. If you buy it don’t say I didn’t tell you.

    • Wayne July 17, 2016, 11:52 pm

      I just took my new db380 out yesterday and ran 50 rounds through it and did not have a single issue. Blazer FMJ and critical defence rounds… Both ran perfectly. Are you gripping the pistol firmly? Have you run 50 to 100 rounds through it like DB states in the manual? Did you clean and lube the pistol before you fired it?

  • John March 24, 2016, 12:02 pm

    I bought a new DB 380 yesterday and after 250 rds today there was not a single malfunction. I even used 50 rds of the cheap tula Russian crap and it worked flawlessly.

  • Robert March 9, 2016, 2:21 pm

    I bought the db380 and it misfed numerous times and jammed multiple times also. This was on the day I picked this and the s&w bodyguard 380 up. The smith &wesson worked flawlessly, no misfeeds or jamming. I now have to send this to a gun smith to see if he can do something with it. Feels great in your hand and is accurate, but completely unreliable, I shouldn’t have to send a brand new gun in to get it to function properly, not sure how diamondback stays in business.

  • Johny R December 22, 2015, 5:23 pm

    DB380.. 10 days old. Constant malfunction issues. Failure to eject, failure to feed. Cleaned,lubed,and tried again,same result over and over. Field strip to clean and Rear Frame Rail broken in half. Sending back to factory.

  • michael dedio October 19, 2015, 2:27 pm

    Purchased 380 in 2012 and it has been nothing but trouble. Stove pipes to jams I have shot over 200 rounds with different ammo and it is garbage. I am sending it back for repair to what i don’t have a clue just rework the gun for starters.

  • Jimmy-m October 1, 2015, 6:49 pm

    Have a DB380. It is a ZG serial # and seems to have all the updates. Had the common FTF & stove pipe issues out of the gate even after 100 rounds. Took it home and polished the feed ramp to a mirror finish, cleaned it up & lubed it. Worked the trigger reset manually about 300 times. Spent a good amount of time dry firing as well. Went back to the range, bought 150 rounds of my old trusty PMC bronze FMJ ammo and the gun loved it. 14 mags slow fire and rapid fire and not one hickup!
    Love this little bugger. It is my perfect CCW. Can anyone recommend an JHP ammo which has been proven to work flawlessly with this gun which I call my “micro Glock?” Thanks.

  • Greg June 3, 2015, 1:06 am

    I just purchased the DB380, used from a local gun store. Having read many reviews about this gun, I purchased it anyway on the recommendation of the gun store owner. Last Friday I fired 100 rounds through it without a single problem, using bullets from two different manufacturers. I would not be afraid to use this as an everyday carry/

  • charlie May 1, 2015, 1:37 am

    Bad weapon. Do not bet your life on a Diamond Back .380. Feed ramp is too steep, the weapon Stovepipes after almost ever round. Promag extended magazine is all but worthless,and they build good magazines…this will be the worst .380 you could buy…do not do it.

    • michael dedio October 20, 2015, 9:10 am

      Your right,the Diamondback firearm company just puts out garbage, one piece after another.

    • I filed mine this time last night. February 4, 2016, 8:32 pm

      I don’t think I could trust a reviewer that trusts promag,and well, nvm…

    • Tyie.blume May 20, 2016, 2:37 pm

      Most of your stovepipes come from not keeping your wrist locked so your taking the recoil away from the spring

  • michael February 4, 2015, 11:48 pm

    I bought one of these when they first came out several years ago . I was a great example of everything you DON’T want in an auto…failure to feed, failure to fire, failure to eject. Sent it back to the factory twice…even talked to the FACTORY tech who said “it checked out fine”. The dealer I bought from replaced the piece of junk for anothrt one. EXACT SAME ISSUES. Rather than get the customer service run around again my dealer with whom I’ve done a lot of business credited the sales price towards a new heavier, larger and more way more expensive Sig P238.This pistol has never so much as hicupped in over 1000 rounds of anything I run through it. I hope Diamond got it right this time…great concept but I need a gun that will save my life, not a few bucks.

  • Dan McAuliffe January 5, 2015, 3:22 pm

    I purchased a DB380 back in August. After firing around 200 rounds and having a jam almost every clip, I returned it to DB for inspection and was received by them on November 20, 2014. It was manufactured in March ’14 so I assume it IS a Gen2. I fired
    FMJ Winchester, HPR TMJ, Hornady FTX the later seemed to have the least failures. The main problem was cartridge jamming The internal trigger never cocked sometimes, also. I have called DB three times and after waiting on hold all three
    times for almost 1 hour (once for 1-1/2 hours) they still can’t give me an answer. Their customer service is terrible. I just called again today 1/5 and still no report. I would never recommend purchasing from this company, especially the DB380. I have dealt with some gun Mfg.’s and have never experienced such bad customer service. When I get it back some time this year (I hope) I will be getting rid of it pronto!

    • michael dedio October 19, 2015, 2:35 pm

      The gun is garbage,trade it in. I was going to send it back but i can see they don’t have good track record of responding.

      • Rich Alderson December 21, 2015, 11:31 pm

        They have changed it and are awesome to deal with once they got away from Taurus’s Marketing and warranty contract. I was a dummy and loaded 124 NATO ball and the higher pressure broke my 2nd Gen’s Rear frame rail/striker sear and they’re sending me one right away. No muss, no fuss. This is my 2nd DB9 as I had a 1st gen that’s had 400 rounds without a hiccup that I gave to a buddy for a steal since he wanted one and works for him. I also bought a FS9 and that sucker is a Hoss and I let it reside in infamy with my Glocks.

  • Dave December 14, 2014, 11:18 am

    I have both the DB9 and the DB380 first generation. Both fire flawlessly right out of the box. I think most FTF incidents are caused by using a limp wrist. The short actions and heavy recoil springs in the light weight guns do make them more susceptible to limp wrist problems in not just Diamond Back guns but all mouse guns. Use a tighter grip and I don’t think you will have FTF problems.

    • Administrator December 14, 2014, 11:50 am

      No. There are broken pieces inside the gun. These new guns are supposedly much better though.

  • Gary Hackle October 30, 2014, 3:33 pm

    I really REALLY wanted to like the Gen2 DB380 – I bought it for my wife as she has a Bersa Thunder that she loves (I do too) but rarely carries – The size, weight, and look of the DB380 seemed perfect so I purchased and took to my range to start the break in period.
    The first 3-4 magazines experienced several FTF’s and jams but I figured it’s a new gun so I took it home and disassembled, cleaned and lubed.
    Next time at the range same thing – numerous FTF’s and jams……Now I have approximately 100 rounds through it. Back home for clean and lube.
    Next visit – same. This is with all types of ammo – RNFP, FMJ, HP – most disturbing is the guns inability to reliably cycle standard FMJ ammo from various manufacturers. But I wanted to like this little pistol so back and forth I went hoping that it would break in and perform correctly.
    After 350 rounds of various ammo I traded it in on a Duo-Tone Ruger LCP – Right out of the box I have put anything and everything thru the LCP without so much as a hiccup.
    My wife will be carrying this gun for protection as she has to meet many different people that she does not know during the course of a day being a Realtor and I will not trust her safety to a weapon that will not reliably function.

    Sorry Diamondback. Maybe Gen 3 will be the charm??

    • Jacob November 5, 2014, 8:54 am

      I ran into similar issues with my DB380. I don’t know what gen it was or even what gen they’re on. It was a ZF… serial number. They claim a 150 round break in period. Mine did stop having issues and I’ve now put just under 500 flawless rounds through it, but I put at least 150 down range with at least 1 failure if not 2 or 3 per mag. I also would sit and rack the slide, as I was told that would help break it in. I probably racked the slide in the neighborhood of 2000 times. It was a frustrating experience. I normally only buy guns with raving reviews that claim to fire everything right out of the box, but I took a chance on this one. I’m glad now though, that I spent the time with it, because now it’s awesome, and my favorite gun to pocket carry. I’m going to pick up a DB9 today!

    • leonard December 24, 2014, 1:33 pm

      i had a db9 and love the design and consider it the best small pistol design ever, however if you want it to function correctly it will take more patience than you have. Many failure to feed and stove pipes, I changed the recoil spring as it collapsed and had to alter the mag spring finally i gave up and sold it for half of what i paid for it, will NEVER BUY ANOTHER ONE, possibly the worst performance hand gun ever made cool design , lousy performance.

    • michael dedio October 19, 2015, 2:32 pm

      Same issues and the gun is just a garbage.

  • Louie T May 22, 2014, 8:37 pm

    I wonder how long it will be before db does the same to the db9 ? My brother been bugging me to sell my db9, that would give me a reason to pick up one with all the upgrades. Not that i really need one.lol

    • Bruce Flemings May 29, 2014, 9:50 am

      Diamondback isn’t sharing that information Louie, but we keep asking. DB9LL models with the new longer extractor and slide serrations have been sighted out in the stores. We just don’t know what the new DB9 grip frame will look like.

      Maybe after the release of the new DB9FS (full size) dies down a bit we will see another update from Diamondback.

  • James Tombs May 20, 2014, 8:37 am

    All guns are dangerous. I agree with 3G. You want to get something you are comfortable with but almost all of the compacts don’t have safeties. You might want to try a KelTec P-11. Its what I carry and although it doesn’t have a safety, it has a 9 lb. trigger pull so its near impossible to accidentally pull the trigger. I feel better with it and I checked out 8 different pistols including the Diamond back. Do yourself a favor and read up on everything you can about these type of pistols and then check them out at a reputable gun dealer. You cant ever have to much information when it comes to guns!!

  • Ike Luna May 19, 2014, 3:13 pm

    I recently purchased a Diamond Back 380 ,now I am trying too get my money back. There I no safety,no slide lock. This gun is dangerous.

    • 3Gun Shooter May 19, 2014, 10:56 pm

      The gun is not meant to have a safety or slide lock. Look around and you will see that other guns like Glock and Kahr don’t have these either. This is DA only pistol. I have a small Seecamp that I carry as my backup weapon and it also has no safety. Honestly your comment that the gun is dangerous is just not the case. Typicaly, the gun itself is not the problem but instead catch a lot of blame from inexperienced shooter / gun owner.
      Good to hear that you are returning the gun, especially if you are not comfortable holding, shooting or concealing it. Any gun you choose to carry needs to be a gun that you are confident with and requires little thought if you have to pull it out anywhere but the range. Those few seconds of reaching for the gun in a safe many (without you finger on the trigger) can be very critical seconds !

    • Randy July 21, 2014, 2:21 pm

      You didn’t know this before you bought it? Do your homework. It’s no more dangerous than any other firearm.

      • Randy July 21, 2014, 8:23 pm

        Sorry. Above comment was meant for Ike.

    • Adam January 10, 2015, 10:34 am

      How do you buy a gun not knowing if it has a safety, slide lock, etc? And its not dangerous. Most of US Police a officers carry the Glock, like myself. No safety. And out of the 700,000 police officers, only a few had accidental discharges and that was during training exercises.

      Know the gun before you buy it. Never just buy it because it looks cool.

  • Bill Sims May 19, 2014, 12:16 pm

    I have two of the original ‘machined-sight’ models. My only complaint has been the extremely light trigger pull, which means, during range sessions, I frequently ‘double;’ that is, I pull the trigger, intending to fire one round, but end up shooting the gun twice. This action does not inspire confidence. Perhaps with repeated use, the doubling will go away. But I have other guns with stiffer triggers or double action only, so it is difficult to get used to a pistol like the Diamondback with such a light trigger. Light triggers often result in accidental discharges, hence, people shooting themselves in the leg or foot. I’d rather carry a KelTec or S&W 642, both of which are DAO, and that trigger DOES NOT get pulled unless you MEAN IT.

  • Jesse Burns May 19, 2014, 6:55 am

    Now if Diamondback would take back the pistols that they have already sold to customers who like myself find the pistol wanting that would really say something about their customer service. I bought one when they first came out and was not pleased. Sure wouldn’t bet my life on it. Now it rest in the safe with other guns that did not make the cut. I carry another companies mouse gun as a back up..

  • Karl Erich Martell May 12, 2014, 1:37 pm

    Thanks for another great review – this article really did a fine job at explaining the upgrades that Diamondback has engineered into this pistol. Great and informative writing. I’m sharing the article with my brother, who’s in the market for such a gun – and the Recluse holster will likely interest him as well! Again, thanks!

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