Reviews

The Diamondback DB9 — The Ultimate Concealed Carry Solution

Boxed 9 mm Ammunition

A few years ago, Diamondback Firearms entered the compact carry market with the successful introduction of the DB380. It followed that up with one of—if not the—smallest 9 mms to hit the market. In fact, about the only difference between the two is the slightly increased size of the DB9 required to accommodate the larger 9 mm cartridge.

Diamondback did not design the DB9 for target shooting, plinking or home defense. The DB9 was designed to be as small and concealable as possible. As a result, the whole package weighs less than 13 ounces unloaded. Top to bottom, it’s a tad under four inches and including the beavertail 5.5 inches in length. Slim? How about a 9 mm that measures only 0.80-inch wide? That makes for a gun that can be carried in a pocket or on an ankle and all but disappear.

Diamondback Firearms DB9 pistol
The uber–concealable DB9 from Diamondback will pack six rounds in the mag and one in the chamber.

The DB9 is striker fired, but more important, it features a striker block to prevent discharge should the weapon be accidentally dropped. Other than that, the DB9 uses the world’s oldest and best safety mechanism—your finger. Keep it away from the trigger until you are ready for it to go bang!

The DB9’s mag holds six plus one in the pipe for a total of seven rounds on tap. The slim design lacks any external controls. This means no slide stop to indicate the gun has run dry, so learn to count your rounds. However, it is unlikely you would ever have to reload in a self-defense situation, but it’s still worth pointing out.

Consumers often get the wrong opinion about a particular product based on an unrealistic expectation. Let’s take a look at what the DB9 is or is not. The DB9 is a highly concealable weapon [period!]. It was never intended to be a weapon you take out every weekend and put a few hundred rounds through at the range. It’s not for plinking, and there are several weapons I would put ahead of it for home defense. A broom is great for sweeping the porch—it’s a lousy tool to clean your dinner dishes.

I would not carry a weapon I wasn’t intimately familiar with. Upon receiving my DB9, a couple of range sessions and several days of dry-fire practice will be necessary before it ever rides my hip in public. This is true of any weapon.

Likewise, you need to do your own ammo testing. Run the rounds you plan to carry through it. It’s a little more expensive than cheap ball ammo, but you are carrying the DB9 to defend your life and the loved ones around you. Isn’t that worth more than $20 bucks of savings?

Diamondback's DB9 pistol
Diamondback’s DB9 measures a scant .80-inch wide making it easy to conceal and comfortable to carry.

What Makes the DB9 an EDC Gun

Features that make the DB9 desirable for every day carry (EDC) include its compact size for concealability. The 3-dot polymer sights are low profile and drift adjustable to account for windage. The DB9’s magazine latch is not only low profile, it is somewhat recessed, eliminating the chance of it hanging up on your holster or pocket when drawn. The steel mag release requires a stout push, ensuring it won’t be accidentally engaged during the draw.

On the Firing Line

The trigger pull on my DB9 was smooth, though a bit long. I did not get a chance to test it on a scale, but believe it to be in the neighborhood of six pounds. This may seem heavy to some, but in a high-stress situation where you are drawing your weapon for self-defense, this is extremely appropriate—and safe.
The recoil on the DB9 can best be described as snappy, which makes perfect sense. If you want small and powerful, you’ll need make a few sacrifices that would be offered in a larger-frame model. However, “snappy” does not mean unshootable or violent recoil likely to rattle the fillings from your teeth. It’s simply a solid pop that is completely manageable. Again, past break in and routine familiarization drills, this is not a plinking gun…

Boxed 9 mm Ammunition
There are several great ammo choices for the DB9, but be careful not to exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Ammo Choices

Like any gun you plan to carry for self-defense, you need to run a minimum of two boxes of the actual ammo you plan to carry. Trying to test the gun with cheap ammo, then loading it with a premium round is a recipe for disaster. When I test a new gun that I plan to carry, I like to run three or four different rounds through it as a minimum. I run one magazine slow and controlled. If it functions properly, I run the next mag hot.

Limp-wrist the DB9 and you’ll probably get a feed issue. This is true of most guns, but you’ll notice it more on small-frame or smaller-caliber weapons. This is not a flaw in the gun; it’s a flaw in the shooter’s form. Don’t worry, if you ever have to pull a weapon for self-defense, you’ll white-knuckle the grip without thinking about it.

Reading through Diamondback’s literature or its website, you’ll see a serious statement about ammo choice for the DB9.

Notice: Diamondback Firearms does not recommend using 9 mm bullets above 124 gr. or any ammunition that is rated NATO, +P, +P+ or anything else higher than SAAMI Standard-pressure 9 mm. The DB9 is the smallest and lightest 9 mm available on the market and was not designed for the abuse and damage these rounds cause.
I talked with Brad Thomas, Diamondback’s founder and CEO—plus he is the guy who designed the DB9—and he had these thoughts on ammo: “For those looking for loads that exceed SAAMI Standards for the 9 mm, think of the DB9 more like a .380 on +P. The DB9 is essentially a .380 that shoots 9 mm.”

When choosing a good self-defense round for the DB9, a couple of quick choices that come to mind are Speer Gold Dot, Hornady TAP FPD, Winchester Silvertip and—a personal favorite—Federal 124-grain Hydra-Shok. I wouldn’t hesitate to check out Remington and Cor-Bon as well. What’s your pick?

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (36)

  1. I had 3 DB9’s before getting a good one but l am happy with it. I have shot a couple hundred rounds of 6 different brands and types of ammo and it shot everything trouble free except it didn’t like the old win silvertips l had but might have been because it was old ammo ?, stay away from the first gen and the early second gen models and they work well, check serial number and verify post July 2018 model and you should be happy with it, the second gen has only been available for a couple years now but have gone through about a 1/2 dozen update and are now a pretty decent gun for the $

  2. I have had my DB 9 for three months and have shot it 3 times each time I start out with Critical defence ammo 20 rounds and the ball Federal 115 about 100 rounds and have had only one ftf and that ws my fault for not racking the first round hard enough. Does not sting like a LC9 and a lot better accuracy. I only have one grip and that is I can’t find extra mags used new or whatever.

  3. I have had a DB9 for a couple of years and it is my favorite pistol. My early problems were resolved when I replaced the mag springs with PF9 springs; no failures since. I shoot it regularly and carry it daily. Again, if I could only keep one of my pistols, this is it — small, light and accurate.

  4. I never knew what a stovepipe jam was until the DB9 ! I’m saving mine as a disposable item when the Obama Brown Shirts come to the door to round up our weapons. They can have it ! I’ll keep the others. 🙂

    1. I like my DB9. Especially now that I’m living in Florida. The problem is, extra magazines apparently don’t exist. So it is relegated to a backup pocket gun. I need more than 6 rounds when I’m out in public (hence the reason in the Army and on duty at the PD we don’t carry revolvers anymore). Mine runs fine on Corbon DPX and Corbon +P 125g JHPs. Still, I’ve always got my Glock or Beretta as my main concealed carry. Too bad, because I do like the DB9.

  5. To John Dsonive

    I have both guns and the Glock is an incomparably better weapon. From the start, the Glock performed flawlessly. It is much more comfortable to fire (though that is to be expected, being larger). For me, the real kicker is the reliability. From the get-go, the Glock performed exactly as it should. The DB jams literally every other round. I have NEVER gotten an entire magazine through without a jam (most often stovepiping). My record is 4 rounds before a fialure. The DB9 has been an incredible disappointment, and i would NOT rely on this weapon for anything other than 1 shot, assuming i had one in the chamber. It mimics the glock design while not giving anything near the same performance, reliability, or quality. Do not buy this weapon.

    1. Which Glock are you referring to? I mean, I know they’re all good, but is the G43 even as small as the DB9?

  6. I payed $452.00 for a 1 shot diamond back 9mm all the rest of the bullets stayed in magazine. Gun still at factory ????? don,t trust your life on it.I should have spent another $100.00 and got a real gun.

  7. I bought the first DB9 I ever saw, have put 200 rounds through it (Hornady Critical Defense), and have yet to have a failure to fire for any reason. I mounted the Crimson Trace front of triggerguard laser for the DB380 on my DB9 with little effort. I have carried it 24/7 for the past 2+ years and have every confidence in it. I would recommend it to anyone.

    1. You are right on gary, i broke mine in with 100 rounds of rem umc hardball and it ran 100%. Then i tried 124 federal hydrashocks and had a couple of ftfs. removed them from mag and went to the 115 hornady critical defense and ran 100 rounds of it and that ran 100%.Found the sd rounds it likes and now it rides in my front pocket in a desantis pocket holster 24/7. My wife and i will be out with friends and my buddies and i will talk carry guns and i hear all about their sigs, colts, and walthers, and when i ask where these fancy firearms are at, they are either in the car or home and i just smile cus my diamondback never leaves home without me.

    2. I have or better wording would be I had a DB9, until about the 150th round was fired and the slide shattered in my hand during firing. The failure resulted in quite a few broken bones in my hand. I am sure this is not a common failure but it was enough to turn me away from them for good. The company is going to do a warranty repair on the firearm, but it will then be set on a shelf and never touched again except to show people what broke my hand when it had a critical failure.

  8. I had one and gave money to trade for a Glock 19. and I also have a G-26. The Glocks shoot anything you put in them. The DB9 is very finiky. I never was able to fire a full magazine. I think the problem is with the magazine followers. I don’t think they feed at the right angle. The DB9 does not have a slide lock so it is real hard to clear a stoppage. If you carry in condition one you are sure to get off at least one round. If you have one that works flawlessly you are lucky. For the same money you can get something more reliable.

  9. I have a DB9 and have put many rounds through it and do not know what all these people are talking about when they say it jams and etc. I have not have a single problem with mine. Not a stove pipe not a nothing. I have shot mine at many different distances and it shoots well. Yea its not as nice as my full size and mid size guns but it is for concealing. Specially in the summer when I wear less clothing. I don’t like that it does not lock open on the last shot but I can live with that. I suspect that if I ever have to use it it’s all going to be over in two or three shots.

  10. I wonder how it compares to the Glock 19?

    To me Glock19 is a perfect package and with Glock reliability and higher capacity. The G19 conceals just fine under a jacket.

    It will be interesting to see how the two compare. Anyone who has both pistols – please post your thoughts.

  11. DB9 reliable? I was a weapons instructor for a major police department as well as a working gunsmith…both together covering over 40 years and in that time, I’ve never seen a pistol factory new that was less reliable than a DB9. I never had a failure to fire a chambered round but every known to man type of feed and eject jam was accomplished by the DB9. This firearm is better used as a training tool for teaching students how to clear a jam than to defend yourself with.
    Did I just get the rare friday afternoon product? I think not! My local Gun shop did all they could to make it right. I took not one but three new DB9’s and made them used DB9’s before I said enough is enough and had my money refunded. The pistols were all sent back to the distributor they came from and I don’t believe the store is going to stock them in the future.
    I’ve read talk about limp wristing and the remarks about that practice causing a jam are sometimes true. When you take the same pistol in put it in the hands of several long time shooters all of whom are large people limp wristing isn’t very likely the cause.
    Do as you wish, but if I were carrying a DB9 instead of going back to my Kahr PM9, for defense of my life, I’d make sure my Will and Funeral Plans were up to date.

  12. I have shoot my DB380 every month for over a year, no less then two box’s every time. The only problem I have found is cheap ammo usally have weak powder or bad primers, at least 1 or two per box and I don’t care who’s name is on the box. You’ll know when you see 2 or 3 different types of primers in the same box. And I have never found a personal defence round that didn’t fired and that’s why I load it in my DB380 when its not being fired at the range. Ammo, Ammo only shoot Personal Defenence rounds when you carrie. It’s made to save your life! shoot straight and stay alive.

  13. My DB9 had to go back to the manufacturer twice for parts failures. Ultimately, I decided I couldn’t trust my life to it and traded it for a Beretta Nano.

  14. The gun is designed for stealth carry and not built like a destroyer tank. Those who have an ounce of common sense, will know it’s limitations and know better than pushing the boundaries. Mine is the YC serial number series and functions flawlessly with 115gr Remington JHP. Some of us don’t know the difference between their, there and they’re (pretty basic stuff really). Everyone’s an expert; or not!

  15. My brother shoots regularly at an indoor range in Central Kentucky and knows the range master. One day while there shooting, the range master brings out one these Diamondbacks chambered in .380 and asks my brother to try it out and see what he thinks about it. The pistol fired the first round, then jammed. My brother pulled the mag and cleared the jam, then attempted to fire it again. It jammed again. He laid it on the bench and called the range master. He comes out to look at it and as he is examining it, it discharged. He nearly lost 2 fingers. Luckily my brother is a reired health care professional and was able to treat the guy for trauma while they waited for the ambulance. The range master, upon returning to the shop, got rid of ALL the Diamondbacks he had and sent them back to the company. I’ll never own one for this reason alone.

  16. I have the .380 version shooting the DRT Tech frangibles in the first two slots and PP loads behind that. Thought being if I land the first shot, it will shock the assailant enough for him to be a poor attacker. I have run about ten kinds of ammo through the gun and have found only one cheapie that would occasionally jam. The best part, is that on a carry weapon, you actually have to carry it. This gun is great as a concealed, fits in a pocket nicely, and is a good personal defense weapon.

  17. Recoil of this pistol is beyond “snappy,” it’s ridiculous. Had multiple people try mine, all agreed it was too much. You get one shot off then the gun jumps so badly in your hand that you have to readjust your grip. That was enough for me to get rid of mine.

  18. The little DB9 works great and as advertised. Use the right ammo and proper shooting form and you’ll be fine. It’s not a range gun or competitive shooting weapon, it’s a CCW that does what it says and nothing more. I’m using one as a backup to my G19. In this role it’s perfect. Would I buy it as a primary weapon for home defense? No, their are weapons better suited for this application. Would I use it as a primary CCW when my Glock is to big to conceal effectively? Yes, it’s so small it is easily concealed in a pocket. Even in the summer while not wearing a shirt the gun is easy to hide. It’s not for new shooters that have poor control and it’s not for those who want to fire high power 9mm loads. It’s for hiding in your pocket when you can’t carry your primary weapon. That’s it and that’s all.

  19. I bought my DB9 about 6 months ago and shot about 24 rounds and have never had a miss fire, stove pipe or jamm. It does hurt, but in an emergency situation who cares, I’m not going to feel it in that situstion. Great gun for the money and what it was designed for.

  20. keltec pf9 holds 1 more round, has a rail under the muzzle and handle’s +P without a problem. it is a smaller weapon and cost me $230 NIB…and is parkerized. not 1 FTF with 100 rds. of 124+P gold dot or rem FMJ non stop. fires to point of aim, has a 5 lb. smooth as glass trigger and invisible with the mag finger extension in a IWB GALCO horsehide holster. DB looks like serious competition but to me un-necessary.

  21. I own & have carried the DB-9 a lot. Watch the YouTube reviews. Having watched many of them, my conclusions are
    1) the DB-9 is reliable out of the box for shooting its first magazine of rounds.
    2) the DB-9 is not reliable for shooting 100 rounds; it may well fall apart or self-destroy.
    3) Do not go & shoot 200 rounds at a range unless you want to destroy the gun.
    4) The DB-9 is essentially a disposable emergency concealed carry tool.
    5) As a concealed carry weapon, it will probably never be used.
    6) If you do use it for emergency defense, you will not wear it out in that situation.
    7) Do not take your IIIA vest and make sure it works by pumping 200 rounds into it & then wear it feeling save.

  22. I had the 380 and it was so bad. Ship it back to tie company 3 times they replaced just about every thing. On the fourth time they would not take it back. I tried 8 different types of Ammo for it and I was lucky to get it to fire more than twice in a row. I do not recommend this to any one.

  23. Really? Don’t worry about limp wristing in an actual gun fight because you will white knuckle it? Horrible advice and a good way to get yourself killed. If anything, find a reliable gun that you CAN limp wrist, because you are more likely to do it in an actual gun fight. My DB9 sucked no matter what ammo I put through it. My Sig 938 never has had a failure of any type, is not ammo sensitive, can be limp wristed, and can handle hotter 9 loads – while still being able to fit in a front jean pocket. Unless the db9 got a whole lot better in the last six months or so, you are taking a chance on an inferior firearm. Spend more for reliable quality when defending your life.

  24. I’ve bought 2 of the DB9, first the all blue one, now the one with stainless slide. Its best feature is the concealability. I carry in my front shirt pocket, or front or rear pants pocket for runs to the store or movies. With no decocker or slide lock, it is very clean to handle and carry.
    It shoots fine, no problems with feeding or cycling. Fill the mag, put in mag, shoot gun. It likes round nose ammo best, which is true of every gun. It will not tolerate limp wrist shooters very well, which again is true of every gun.
    I shoot a 5″ group at 12 yards, very adequate for self defense conceal carry gun.

  25. The DB9 is not for the limp-wristed among us and mine feeds whatever I have handy, but no more than one full load per practice session. Alfred E. Newman said it best: “Pain hurts!” It’s about a 15-yard gun in my hands. It won’t replace my everwhere gun (P3AT) until C/T begins selling lasers to fit it – like they have for the DB380 and so many other pistols. The laser makes trigger control, muscle memory and dry fire practice much more effective than training without the laser. Any factor that can increase hit probability under stress is worth having on your gun.

  26. CTD you guys are giving praise to a pos.Go to the Diamond Back forum and read what the people who own these are saying about this junk. I have owned 3 of them after sending them back multiple times for stove piping and exchanging. EDC yeah if you dont care about dying when you might need to use it to protect you or your family. The whole reason I bought this crap was because of articles like this polishing this turd before the truth came out.If you have one that works great go buy some lotto tickets cause your lucky.

  27. The Diamondback was a gun I didn’t expect to work, and didn’t expect to like it. It is was it is, a very concealable 9mm. The one I tested ran flawlessly on all types of ammo, including steel case cheap stuff. For it’s intended purpose, a gun you can carry all the time, it’s darn near perfect.

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