By Bruce Flemings
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.
DB15 Pistol Specifications
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
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
I 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
that much fun to shoot.
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.
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.