Diamondback Firearms is still a relatively young manufacturer, having opened its doors in 2009. The company launched its product lines with diminutive striker-fired, polymer-frame pocket pistols, including the DB380 chambered in .380 ACP and the DB9 chambered for 9 mm. Diamondback then expanded its line-up to include AR-15 pattern rifles and pistols, available with proprietary fore-end configurations and unique color options. This year Diamondback is stepping up to the plate with its first full-size pistol, called the DB FS Nine chambered in 9 mm.
The DB FS Nine is a striker-fired, double-action semi-auto that arrives in a rugged hard case with one metallic 15-round magazine fitted with an extended polymer base plate. The square profile stainless-steel slide features a matte-black Melonite finish with front and rear slide serrations. The fixed metallic three-dot sights have a Glock-style profile with generous white dots in both the front and the rear. The state of the chamber can be checked via a notch cut out of the barrel chamber, located on top of the slide. The slide cover plate, located under the rear sight, has a witness hole for the striker. When the striker is cocked, it protrudes from the plate to allow for both visual and tactile verification.
Removing the slide from the frame reveals a set of internal mechanisms that clearly take their cues from the Glock pistol design. The 4.75-inch barrel is cut with traditional land-and-groove rifling. The recoil assembly consists of a single flat-wire spring captured on a polymer recoil rod with a metallic base plate where it contacts the barrel. The slide is supported by two internal 0.85-inch long rails located above the grip and two 1.82-inch rails above the trigger group. The interior of the dust cover is fitted with two thin, low-riding metallic slide supports that run the length of the dust cover. The safeties for the pistol include a firing pin block and a trigger safety, much like those of the Glock.
The black polymer frame features a 2.75-inch Picatinny rail with five notches instead of just one or two. Both the length and cut of the accessory rail allow a wide variety of light and laser modules to be attached. The takedown lever is located just above the trigger guard behind the accessory rail. The pistol’s external controls, including a square-button magazine release and the slide catch, are located on the left side of the frame. The squared-off trigger guard has a flat face to use as a finger rest and it has been undercut at the grip to allow more room for the middle finger of the shooting hand. The smooth-faced polymer bow trigger, with a metal safety lever, is listed as shipping from the factory with approximately a 5-pound, 8-ounce trigger pull. This particular trigger weighed in almost a pound heavier at 6 pounds, 7 ounces.
The grip frame shows a good deal of thought in its design. A short beavertail extension protects the shooter's hand from the slide. Diamondback decided to forgo a removable backstrap system for a fixed backstrap carefully shaped for comfort. The frontstrap is flat with no finger grooves, but it is lightly textured with patches of ovoid indentations that are also found on the backstrap. The sides of the grip have a light texturing as well. The opening of the magazine well has been beveled to assist in quick reloads. Cutouts on the left and right sides at the bottom of the grip allow the magazine base to be gripped so the magazine can be stripped out if needed. Overall, the DB FS Nine makes a good first impression right out of the box.
In regards to ammunition selection, it never hurts to take a moment to review the owner's manual. In the Safety Information section of the booklet provided with the gun, it clearly states that reloaded, +P, and +P+ ammunition are not recommended for use in the DB FS Nine. In fact, use of these types of ammunition will void the warranty. And so, the pistol was tested with standard-pressure factory-loaded 9 mm rounds only.
At the shooting range, the DB FS Nine ran reliably with a variety of full-metal-jacket and hollow-point loads. There were no jams, failures to feed or failures to fire. All of the controls ran properly, with the magazine snapping into place snuggly, the slide locking open on the last shot fired and the sights providing a clear sight picture. The grip shape, low barrel bore axis and standard pressure 9 mm ammunition all worked together to produce a modest level of felt recoil that allows for comfortable extended practice sessions.
Formal accuracy testing was conducted using five, five-shot groups fired from a benchrest at 25 yards. Individual groups ranged from 3.68 inches to 4.67 inches in size, with the best single group produced using Hornady's Critical Duty 135-grain FlexLock ammunition. The Hornady load also produced the best five-group average of 3.88 inches, followed by Remington UMC 115-grain jacketed hollow points at 3.96 inches, and Federal American Eagle 124-grain full-metal-jacket practice loads at 4.38 inches.
Some folks may be rolling their eyes at the release of yet another full-size striker-fired pistol. Don't we have enough black polymer handguns on the market yet? But the American-made Diamondback DB FS Nine deserves a place at the table. The low-bore axis, comfortable grip shape and clear sight picture are a pleasure to work with. The inability to use +P ammunition may count against this pistol for some shooters, but not everyone who's in the market for a full-size 9 mm is interested in increased ammunition pressure levels. With a suggested retail price under $500, it's a pistol that offers a solid set of useful features for the price. As of this writing, Diamondback is offering a free NRA membership with the purchase of this model.