Handguns > Semi-Auto

The Diamondback DB9 Pocket 9 mm Pistol

Diamondback builds a rugged, reliable 9 mm that can actually ride in a pocket!


Just in case you didn't notice the big brass band in your driveway playing this tune, 2011 is the 100 year anniversary of the 1911 pistol! If you drop three digits from this celebrated handgun's designation, you'll find that 2011 is also the year of the "9." Namely the new wave of "Pocket 9" 9 mm concealed-carry pistols. With the recent flash flood of pocket .380s to the market, several companies decided this was a good year to up the ante with a still compact, but more powerful pistol.

If there's a reason to be a little disappointed by these new defensive 9 mm handguns, it's this: Too many of them are not technically pocket pistols. They are sub-compact, even sub-sub compact, but several models are just too large and heavy to drop into a front jeans pocket and walk with all day. One company that did succeed in bringing an actual put-it-in-your-pocket 9 mm to the market is Diamondback Arms.

The DB9 is based on Diamondback's successful DB380 .380 ACP design. This means the polymer-framed DB9 also looks a bit like a Glock that shrunk in the wash. Although the Austrian influences are clear, there are several key differences. The shrinking of the gun's dimensions is the most notable. An unloaded DB9 weighs only 11 ounces, making it one of the lightest striker-fired pistols available. The slide is a slim 0.80 inches, with an overall length of just 5.60 inches. By comparison, the DB9 is only 1.2 ounces heavier and 0.50 inches longer than the DB380. I found that pocket holsters, like the Uncle Mike's Sidekick Size 4, worked perfectly with the DB9.

The DB9's steel double-action-only trigger rides on dual connecting bars for a smooth, crisp 5-pound trigger. It uses steel single-stack magazines for a 6+1 capacity. Diamondback has struck a useful balance with its sights, which are low profile and visible at the same time. The safeties of the DB9 are internal. The pistol features Diamondback's patented "Zero Energy" striker system. Unlike other striker systems, where the striker rides under some degree of spring tension, this system has no tension on the striker until the trigger is pressed. The no-tension striker, combined with a mechanical striker block, keeps the striker away from the cartridge primer until the gun is purposely fired.

At the Range
The DB9 is a pistol that requires a firm grip to operate. This is not to say it's difficult to shoot—far from it. The shape and texture of the grip makes this peppy semi-auto manageable to work with, and the trigger is excellent. However, the heavy dual-recoil spring, unlike the lighter springs of .32s or .380s, requires a full-sized gun's level of pressure to rack back successfully. Although the test gun was not ammunition sensitive—it shot everything I fed it without any problems—it proved to be allergic to limp wrists. All semi-autos will jam if the shooter doesn’t provide the proper grip. I purposefully weakened my stance until I forced a jam, and the malfunction showed up sooner than it would with a .380 or .32 ACP. I conducted this exercise to make a point. A very light frame combined with a high-pressure round like the 9 mm needs the shooter to make up for the loss of frame weight with good, solid shooting technique. In other words, the gun ran without any problems when I was doing my job correctly.

I think it's fair to say that most folks know a pocket pistol is not a target pistol. Compressing the features of a handgun to make it exceptionally portable sacrifices the grip size, sights, weight and barrel length needed for long-range accuracy. With that in mind, I went ahead and tested the DB9 from the bench with five-shot groups at 25 yards. At that range, groups hovered in the 4- to 5-inch range. Not bad for a pocket gun, but not reflective of this pistol's intended close-range defensive role. I pulled the targets up to 7 yards and started again. Winchester 147-grain PDX-1 hollow points produced the best-shot groups with a 1.75-inch average. Hornady 124-grain XTP hollow points produced 2.00-inch groups and Remington/UMC 115 grain hollow points 2.50-inch groups. The pistol provides plenty of accuracy for defensive applications.

Some critics of the "Pocket 9" movement focus on the idea that the small 9 mm pistols have too much recoil to be practical for personal defense. Trying to discuss the level of felt recoil produced by a particular handgun is challenging because the sensation caused by gunfire is subjective. One shooter may enjoy shooting an entire box of .44 Mag. rounds while another shooter may fire a single shot and be done for the day. And, recoil can't be judged on caliber alone. The gun's weight and shape can drastically change recoil levels. So the best option for some level of explanation is a comparative exercise.

To check the recoil level of the DB9, it was shot it side-by-side with a Smith & Wesson J-Frame Airweight, chambered in .38 Spl., and the Diamondback DB380 chambered in .380 ACP. All three guns were loaded with Winchester practice-grade standard pressure full-metal-jacket rounds. Bullet weights included a 115-grain 9 mm for the DB9, a 130-grain bullet for the .38 Airweight and a 95-grain bullet for the .380.

The DB9 was fired first to form a base line impression. In other words, the recoil of every other shot would be comparatively higher, lower or the same as the DB9 loaded with practice ammunition. Next on the firing line was the DB380. This compact .380 produced only about 50 to 60 percent of the felt recoil generated by the DB9. When the DB9 and .38 Airweight went head-to-head, they both yielded the same level of recoil with practice-grade ammunition.

Out of curiosity, I tested the DB9 and the Airweight with defense-grade hollow points. The DB9 was loaded with 124-grain standard pressure loads, while the Airweight was fed 125-grain +P loads. I expected the Airweight to have a bit more kick with the +P loads. But even though the two concealed-carry handguns showed a marked increase in recoil with the defense-grade ammunition, they remained equal in their level of felt recoil. The moral of the story: If you are comfortable with the more energetic defensive-caliber concealment guns, then the DB9 is right up your alley. If your experience with small pistols revolves around smaller calibers, then be prepared for the DB9 to add some excitement to your range time.

Final Thoughts
The Diamondback DB9 is a rugged, reliable little pistol with a fit and finish that shows it was built by serious craftsman for regular carry and use. The DB9 has the right set of dimensions and features to rightfully call it a pocket pistol. It would easily slip into the role of a 24/7 pistol that another pistol chambered for a smaller caliber is currently filling. This doesn't mean you should throw out the guns you already have, but if you are in the market for a pocket pistol, and you like the 9 mm as an option, then the DB9 deserves a serious look. 

Diamondback Firearms
“Zero-Energy” Striker Double-Action-Only
DAO Trigger Pull:
5 pounds
9 mm
Slide Finish:
Melanite, Nickel Boron (EXO models), and Nickel
Frame Colors:
Black, Orange, Pink
Fixed 3-Dot
Barrel Length:
Overall Length:
11 Ozs. Unloaded
6+1 Rounds
1:16” RH 
Rifle Grooves:
Lifetime Warranty
Crimson Trace Laser Sights Available
Suggested Retail:

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22 Responses to The Diamondback DB9 Pocket 9 mm Pistol

Bob wrote:
March 31, 2014

The DB9 is my favorite pistol. I can carry it year round because it is so small. I have an early edition when the reviews weren't so hot but stuck with it. After replacing the mag springs with Keltec's, it has run flawlessly. It is also incredibly accurate to be this small. Again, it's my favorite pistol.

c.lyaskiu wrote:
September 15, 2013

I owned the Db9 for about 7 months.had about 300 rounds through it. Before shooting any called diamondback for a recommendation of what to use. Was Remington umc 115 hp and fmj.and blazer brass 115 fmj.had ftf at 25 75 125 175 .Was told this was normal during break in period.I own numerous pistols and am not foreign to small arms fireing priciples. After 200 round'break in period' had several ftf fte at intermittint times with the previous ammo..on may 3 2013 was shooting last round of mag. Of rem. umc. Slide failed at muzzle point. Metal was fractured. Sent back to Diamondback and they returnred it to me 8 weeks later with new slide was the stainless by the way. Took it to the range and had 2 ftf after 20 rounds. With the prescribed ammo.Gun shoots well but I cannot trust my life on such a piece.traded in for a Kahr pm9 .have over 300 rds. through it .No issues whatsoever.Thanks kahr.The pm9 is a pleasure to shoot and dependable .I tried but the Db9 didn't reciprocate.

Louie F wrote:
July 30, 2013

I think the guys having trouble with there db9s either have arms like a wet noodle or try to shoot the cheapest ammo on the shelf. If this gun ran on the low powered target ammo it would beat it self to death on the good stuff. Break it in with remington umc 115 grain hardball, at least 100 rounds, then go right to critical defense 115 grain made by hornady. Hold on tight this little rattlesnake has a big bite ! ! ! If it still will not run for you maybe you should take up knitting.

James G. wrote:
May 27, 2013

I love my DB9. It required a break-in period of about 50 rounds to become reliable. I replaced the magazine spring with one made for the Kel Tec PF9. I wish I had done that sooner. It now runs flawlessly with pracrice reloads and really loves the 115 Critical Defense load.

Dale T wrote:
March 22, 2013

So far I have run about 100 assorted rounds through my DB9 with no failures! Before firing I stripped it and lubed with Brownell's Action Lube on all rail areas and trigger bar. I use Action lube on all my autos and to say the least it makes a huge difference, and you use very, very little. Only slight concern I have is with the curve of the trigger. The bottom point slightly bites my finger with the recoil. This will be my backup and concealed carry weapon from now on.

Kevin M wrote:
February 26, 2013

I am happy to hear all the positive comments about the DB9! I just bought myself the DB9EX at the local gun show and am excited to take it to the range. Does anyone have any input on ammo that it likes? I read diamondback suggests not using anything higher than 124grain and no +p or +p+..

Ed wrote:
October 25, 2012

I love my DB9 and after a break in period it is very reliable with no problems. I always have it with me around the house and it won't pull down elastic shorts! I rotate my outside the house carry with the DB9, Colt Defender, Colt 1st Gen. Cobra, glock 36 and sometimes others. It is the small DB9 that spends the most time around me.

Montana Rich wrote:
April 03, 2012

WOW, customer service is exclent I got 50 rounds throught my DB9 and I had a fired round lock in chamber, WD40 broke it free. Called BD and they thought the chamber had a very slight taper, they are sending me a new barrle no questions asked, I polished the chamber in old barrle and that seemed to fix the problem, but new barrle is on the way. this gun gets me excited!!!

Mike wrote:
March 23, 2012

I can't believe people are complaining about the DB customer service. They are by far the best company I have ever dealt with. I had an issue with my gun & they were able to assist me over the phone. I love my DB9 & DB customer service.

Randall wrote:
March 07, 2012

I bought mine new. Had FTF issues with all ammo. Sent it to DB, returned with the same issues. Had numerous others shoot it with same the same results. Customer service sucks just like the DB9 that I have does.

bill wrote:
March 02, 2012

Next to Taurus...Worst customer service ive experienced!...Love the DB 380..but if you have issues customer service is non exsistant!

Jerry wrote:
February 26, 2012

Just sealed a deal on a DB9 and excited about it. It will replace current piece. Doesn't sound like she likes to eat reloads though. Will do some research and see what I find on that.

LivelyAC wrote:
January 30, 2012

Ron Johnson- there is no slide lock on the DB9, not even on the last shot fired, takes a little bit of getting used to. Overall I love this gun!

mtr76 wrote:
November 24, 2011

Just bought the db9 after studding the market of small frame pocket guns, have put several rounds through it and I love mine great job Diamond Back .

X wrote:
November 20, 2011

@ John 'Law'...gimme a break, maybe Colt wants to talk with the AZ Diamondbacks Baseball team, too, and tell them they're 'doing it wrong'. The Diamondback DB380 and 9 can stand on their own without taking anything from the jam-o-matic Colt models.

Rick wrote:
November 07, 2011

Yeah. Wouldn't want someone to confuse a pocket auto with a revolver.

John Law wrote:
October 29, 2011

What a cheap shot to sell a gun. There is only one Diamondback and it darn sure isn't a low end pistol from some off the wall, johnny come lately gun maker. Colt needs have a pow wow with these folks and set them straight about what a Diamondback really is.

kirk H. wrote:
October 05, 2011

I also am an owner of a DB380 and love it! I also purchased a DB9 this week and am truly impressed. I am privileged to own several other compact hadguns, and must say the DB9 may prove to be by favorite. Hats off to Diamondback!

Mike B... wrote:
August 20, 2011

Just like some of the other people, I too was a unhappy owner of the DB380, I sent the gun back to the company 4 times. They finally sent a brand new DB380 it ran 100 percent better. This restored my confidence in the company and I decided to take another chance with thier 9mm. To date I have shot 300 rounds with 2 FTF, both my fault, limp wrist. The two malfunctions came within the first 50 rounds. Initially I had my doubts about Diamondback and was frustrated as hell, but with a little patience it all worked out. ITS A KEEPER... We need new companies like this in the market, it keeps the big-boys on thier toes. Also all parts made in USA. Happy Shooting!

Bullethole wrote:
August 19, 2011

I have a .380 DB and had to return it to the factory to get it to fire reliably. DB fixed it and now it is fine. But I think I may replace it with DB9.

S. Good wrote:
August 19, 2011

When I bought mine the co. didn't even have spare mags yet. The recoil is stiff as mentioned but managable. I had some failures to extract in the first 100 rounds but by the end of the session it was running 100%. The lide does not lock back so count your rounds. It appears that it does not have the flaws of it's smaller cousin. All of my shooting buddies have shot it and were impressed with it's accuracy, one using it for a quick pin shoot with impressive results. Overall it is an exceptional pocket nine & has replaced my .380 carry gun. It is selling much lower than the msrp.

Ron Johnson wrote:
August 18, 2011

So does the slide lock back on the last round? It doesn't on the DB380. Also, the first two DB380s that I saw, and fired, had to be returned to the factory for failure to function.