The Budget Friendly DB FS Nine New Gun Review

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The new DB FS 9 looks like a Diamondback.

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.

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The appeal of a full-sized, fully functional pistol that sells for $340 is easy to see.

Initial Impressions

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.

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Magazines are made by Check-Mate Industries. They appear to be Beretta 92 pattern with an additional slot cut to accommodate the DB FS Nine magazine release. Beretta factory magazine on the left and DB FS Nine magazine on the right.

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.

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Shooting from the bench with a laser sight, this 15 round 25 yard group provides a good look at the accuracy potential of the pistol.

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.

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After adjusting the sights, 15 yard standing slow-fire groups were good with premium defense ammunition.

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.

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The trigger pull weight was a very consistent 7 pounds when new and after 350 rounds.

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.

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Custom fitted holster options are limited at this time. Some Glock 17/22 holsters will work with the DB FS Nine.

Final Thoughts

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.

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The magazine well features a rear guide, flared and beveled entry, and scalloped finger cuts. The large magazine baseplate extends under the magazine well facilitating positive magazine seating. Overall it is very well done.

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The DB FS Nine pre-cocks the striker as the slide cycles. The slide cover plate allows visual and tactile confirmation of the status of the striker.

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The accessory rail on the dust cover is advertised as MIL-STD 1913. It isn’t. 1913 rail keys only fit in the slots over the serial number plate which limits attachment options.

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360 degree grip texture, a high beaver-tail, and the undercut trigger guard make the DB FS Nine very easy to control. The magazine release and slide stop are both within easy reach.

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The grip frame features dual palm swells that felt really good in my hands.

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The captive recoil spring assembly features a unique articulated guide rod and flat wire spring.

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The DB FS Nine has steel rails in the front and polymer rails in the rear to guide the slide.

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The top of the barrel has a tiny viewing port for visual chamber inspection. The rear sight is drift adjustable and locks in place with a hex screw.

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The new DB FS 9 looks like a Diamondback.

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The cartridge pick-up rail is another area that receives the high polish treatment.

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The white three dot sights have a wide rear notch and a thinner front post. This set up worked well at short ranges for quick sight acquisition.

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Field stripping the DB FS Nine is a simple process that requires no tools.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Michael Beavin September 11, 2016, 11:25 am

    I purchased a db9 FS and absolutly love it. I found that after shooting a few hundred rounds and taking care to clean and lubricate the firing pin, the “hang-ups” stopped. The grip fits my hand as if it were taylored specifically for me. The weight of the gun is comfortable and natural. There are not enough advertized holsters available. I have always been on a tight budget and this handgun was very affordable. I cannot give enough praise to DiamondBack for this gun. Their customer service was extrordinary. The only problems I found was I couldn’t buy more!

    • MICHAEL MCLAUGHLIN September 12, 2016, 4:46 pm

      I purchased a standard DB9 from Cabelas about 3 years ago. It jammed up or stove piped from the beginning. I finally got another mag from the factory but it still does it. I have fired about 200 rounds ,cleaned and lubed but to no avail.Can any one help.

      • Bob Gant March 7, 2017, 10:40 pm

        Lock your wrist, when firing. If you let your wrist break with the recoil, the pistol will stovepipe. That was an early lesson I had to teach my students.

  • Bugtussel September 9, 2015, 4:12 pm

    I have yet to have a single problem with mine. I have fired over 500 rounds without a misfeed or hangup. It shoots very tight groups. The only issue I have is the magazine gets hard to load at about 10 rounds otherwise shoots just as good as my S&W mp9.

  • james hackett August 29, 2015, 11:51 pm

    Jus bought this gun and personally I think its horrible catches up every time

    • Michael Beavin September 11, 2016, 11:26 am

      try cleaning the firing pin and lubricating with 3 in 1 oil.

  • Will-bey April 23, 2015, 10:34 pm

    I have a db fs 9mm I need a good holster which one will fit also what laser do I get for it ???

  • Unlicensed Dremel July 28, 2014, 1:55 pm

    If they had made this specifically and explicitly able to take Beretta 92 mags, it’d be interesting. As it stand, meh. Probably a decent value overall, though.

  • Shooter July 28, 2014, 11:36 am

    Between myself and a buddy, we bought three DB9 pistols. We liked the idea of the micro-sized pistol but full-sized round in the form of the 9MM. Again, with this model, Diamondback stressed not to shoot other than standard velocity ammo. I can accept that in a micro-compact, but really? Don’t shoot +P or +P+ rounds in a full-sized pistol? That would be a deal changer for me if I hadn’t had such poor experiences with the first three to begin with. Two of the three guns would not function properly–constantly failing to feed–hanging up on the feed ramp seemed to be the most common problem.
    The third gun, which I got for a lady friend, seemed to work ok–she complained of malfunctions, as did a friend who tested it, but I blamed limp-wristing on both of them–I did not find the gun to give too many problems. But the recoil was fierce in such a small pistol. And it would also occasionally malfunction more than I thought acceptable in a self-defense pistol. But it was spotty, and did not merit sending it back to the factory. I tried to keep it scrupously clean, and feed check her ammo before letting her carry it for self-defense purposes–which she did on a regular basis. The size of the gun made it extremely easy to conceal.
    We sent the other two back, and Diamondback kept the guns between 2-3 months–an outrageously long time to service a pistol for a customer. When we got them back, my buddy was so disgusted, he sold his. I found the corrected model to be working better, but still did not trust it as it would still fail to feed on occasion. Since I had given it to my daughter as a spare gun, I was a little hesitant about it, but she knew how to clear malfunctions, and her main carry is a S&W .38 Special revolver.
    Shortly after we got the guns back, we heard DB had been bought by Taurus. Perhaps Taurus has improved the design, the testing protocol, and reworked customer service so the guns are turned around faster, but even IF the new DiamondBack Full Size would shoot +P ammo, from past experience with their flagship model, the DB-9…I wouldn’t have one.

  • Jeremy July 28, 2014, 10:14 am

    Im sure the glock lovers will say they copied a Glock, or should save up and buy a Glock, good observation geniuses. I havent handled or fired this model yet, but I want the chance. The design is eye-catching, the grip angle looks like it would fit my grip very well. Maybe as well, Beretta 92 mags could possibly be configured to fit both guns? I am not on a small budget, for now, and I own several mid to low-high range pistols, even a few cheap mil-surps. To see a company come out with a pistol that looks decent and is more affordable than established models is a welcome sight. Do wish it was rated for +P at least. But I Rarely shoot it anyway and I’d bet most people buying this gun wont subject it to anything other than standard loads. I like it so far.

  • Redniner July 28, 2014, 9:34 am

    Interesting review. I was not delighted with the Diamondback I tried out. Although the ergonomics were quite all right, the trigger measured 6 1/2 lbs., and was creepy. The sights were not adjustable for elevation and definitely needed to be. At 10 yards, the pistol shot 3-4″ low, except on the first shot, which usually went to point of aim. There were a number of failures to fire on the last round out of the magazine. It ain’t no Glock. I guess you get what you pay for.

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