Diamondback Firearms out of Cocoa, Florida, was established in 2009 and has the distinction of making some of the smallest striker-fired pocket pistols you can get. I have been carrying different pocket pistols for over 15 years, both revolvers and autos. I decided a few years ago that for me autos are just more concealable and easier to carry in a pants pocket without printing as much (where the silhouette of the gun is clearly visible through the pocket material). I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to test the Diamondback DB380 and DB9 when they first became available, and there may be no slimmer, lighter, smaller or more ergonomic pocket pistols available today.
The DB9 is a 9mm, striker-fired, double-action-only (DAO), locked breech, recoil operated, semi-automatic pistol with 6+1 round capacity. This gun is a slightly beefed-up version of the company’s .380 ACP pistol—and I do mean slightly. The gun is barely more than a third of an inch longer and less than a quarter of an inch taller than its smaller cousin, and adds only 2 ounces in weight. The frame is a glass-reinforced polymer, and the barrel and slide are made from billet 4140 through-hardened steel machined out of a solid block of chrome-moly. The DB9 also uses Diamondback’s patent pending “Zero-Energy” striker firing system, which produces a clean and exceptionally smooth trigger squeeze with no stacking. The steel trigger with dual connecting bars has a 0.5-inch length of pull. The Zero-Energy striker system is one of the built-in safety features of the pistol and bears some explaining. It differs significantly from other striker systems in that the Diamondback does not preload the striker at all, allowing the trigger to do all the work. Other safety features include a firing pin block, which blocks the firing pin from going forward unless the trigger is fully depressed and helps prevents accidental discharges. There is no manual safety on the pistol and no slide lock. Indeed the pistol has extremely clean lines and the only external controls are the trigger, magazine release, and takedown lever.
The magazine catch, trigger and rails are all chrome-moly steel and black oxide coated. The trigger parts and the standard black-colored slide are Melonite coated for extra hardness, durability and corrosion resistance. This is a process that leaves a nitride finish directly on the metal that is much thicker and tougher than other finishes. The black color is applied on top of the Melonite finish. The steel magazine latch is set at a very low profile to prevent accidentally depressing it and ejecting the magazine, something to consider in a pocket gun. This is no drop-free mag however, so don’t look for fast mag changes here. To remove the magazine, I found it was best to push it into the gun and then hit the release button. The magazine itself features a polymer finger extension base pad to help the shooter acquire a secure hold. The sights are tiny but easy to use and feature a low-profile, snag-free design. The white two-dot rear sight is dovetailed into the slide, and it is windage adjustable, while the front sight offers a plainly visible white post and is pinned into the front of the slide. The slide has aggressively scalloped forward and rear grasping grooves in a fish-scale type of pattern, which greatly eases slide manipulation and operation. The DB9’s frame is extremely well designed to give the shooter as high a grip angle as possible. This places the shooter’s hand much more in line with the axis of the barrel and provides far greater control, reducing muzzle flip and perceived recoil. This design also provides more grip to hold onto in a very small package. Even with my largish hands, I was able to place two full fingers on the front strap, and the back of the grip filled most of my palm.
The grip also features a distinctive diamondback-pattern checkering on the sides, aggressive checkering on the front strap and a slightly extended palm swell on the back strap with its own distinct checkering pattern. Slight right and left thumb rests molded into the grip provide good memory pads for the hands, and a beavertail at the top of the grip helps protect the web of the shooter’s hand from slide bite and provides an additional area for Diamondback’s logo. The DB9 is easily one of the smallest 9mm semi-auto pistols you can get, and at 11 ounces one of the lightest. As a result, recoil can be stout. The manufacturer warns not to use +P ammunition or bullets over 124 grains.
The DB380 is a DAO, locked breech, recoil operated, striker-fired gun with 6+1 round capacity. At 8.8 ounces empty, the Diamondback DB380 is one of the lightest self-defense-caliber pocket pistols you can get. It is also one of the slimmest at only 0.75 inches in width. The frame is a glass-reinforced polymer, and the barrel and slide are made from billet 4140 through-hardened steel. Made entirely in the U.S., the DB380 has the same patent pending “Zero-Energy” striker firing system as the DB9. The safety features are also similar between the two pistols, including a firing pin block that blocks the firing pin from going forward unless the trigger is fully depressed. The magazine catch, trigger and rails are all chrome-moly steel and black oxide coated. The trigger parts and the standard black-colored slide are Melonite coated for extra hardness and durability. On such a small pistol it is also very nice to see actual sights on top of the slide, with the rear two-dot sights and solid white post front sight for fast target acquisition.
The DB380 shares many of the ergonomic benefits of the large DB9, but its grip is smaller. The grip provides a very high grip angle, placing the shooter’s hand in line with the axis of the barrel. Recoil from the gun’s .380 payload felt lighter to me than in other pocket pistols in this caliber. Diamondback pistols include a full lifetime warranty and ship with one magazine, a padded plastic case, a user manual and trigger lock. Diamondback also offers several extras such as belt and pocket holsters and spare magazines.
To learn more of the Diamondback DB9 and DB380, call 877-997-6774 or visit diamondbackfirearms.com.