Range Report: Diamondback DB15 Rifle

Steel plate target with AR-15 rifle

Purchasing an AR-15 rifle was far simpler when the only choice was Colt, Armalite, and a few others.

Today, I cannot count the makers. Some are genuine manufacturers and others are small operators putting together rifles from outsourced parts.

As long as the parts are high quality, that’s fine. There is a lot of talent in the business. Diamondback’s DB15 exemplifies such talent.

At one time, the AR-15 was a pretty simple GI-type rifle. A basic model would serve well enough and you could add custom stocks, a forend for mounting a light rail, and a pistol grip that suited your hand well.

There have been political shifts, shortages, gluts, and even speculation that have affected the availability and price of the AR-15 rifle. Today, however, we have a buyer’s market.

Standard M4 or GI types are functional but the advantages of aftermarket improvements cannot be ignored. Some of these parts have a prospectus for action that is pretty vague while others exhibit genuine utility.

Today, it isn’t difficult to find a well-appointed rifle at a fair price.

As an example, when you can obtain a Diamondback DB15 rifle from Cheaper Than Dirt! for less than $650 with a proprietary forward rail, it should get your interest.

Diamondback DB15 forend
The author likes the DB15 forend.

I cannot comment on the less expensive or more expensive Diamondback products, but only on the rifle, I own.

The other rifles should be similar in reliability and accuracy, and it is a personal decision on the features you want to have.

The Diamondback DB15 is a rifle with good features at a fair price.

With the Diamondback DB15 rifle you do not start with a GI gun, but a rifle that is ready to go for general use including recreation, hunting, and even 3Gun Competition.

The primary advantage of the DB15 is the aluminum forend.

TruGlo Eminus scope mounted on a Diamondback AR-15 rifle
The TruGlo Eminus scope has provided good results on several rifles.

This tube is a full-length rail. The top rail accepts red dot optics, iron sights or optical sight, so the typical A2 front sight isn’t needed.

The free-floating barrel is an aid in accuracy. The rifle uses a low profile gas block. Most of us will add our own sights of choice, so the lack of iron sights isn’t a deficit.

As for my personal rifle, I selected a judicious improvement, adding the Bravo Company Gunfighter stock and grip and a forward grip on the rail.

These additions set me back just over $100—a bargain for the dividend. You may not need this upgrade or you may choose another.

The rifle is a standard-length carbine with a 16-inch barrel. The bolt carrier is well finished and the bolt carrier keys are properly staked in place.

The fit and finish are good, and the fitting of each part seems sound.

Bravo Company buttstock gray
The Bravo Company buttstock is a good addition.

If there is any shortcoming it is the two-stage-type AR-15 trigger. While typical of modern production, the trigger is heavy at 6.25 pounds.

When firing the rifle from a benchrest, the trigger wasn’t as great a drawback, however, and I was able to obtain excellent results.

The trigger was controllable offhand with excellent results in rapid fire. After all, it isn’t about hosing down the target, but about getting a hit.

The trigger is pressed and the sights properly aligned, the rifle fires and the trigger resets as the sights are re-aligned. I am going to add a HiperFire trigger at a later date but for now, the standard trigger is plenty useful.

Like most AR-15 rifles, the DB15 is supplied with a single magazine. The polymer magazine locked into place properly and feed reliability was never a question.

Of course, I’ll also run this rifle with several Magpul magazines as well.

Winchester 55 garin .223 Rem ammo
I used Winchester .223 55 grain ammo to test out this Diamondback DB15.

The initial evaluation was undertaken with the Winchester USA 55-grain FMJ loading.

I have used several thousand of these rounds over the past decade and found them reliable and accurate enough for general target practice and sighting rifles in.

I fired the rifle with iron sights during the preliminary evaluation.

I really like the forend and while I could control the piece well with the high forward hold, I also used the BCM Gunfighter forward grip with good results.

Diamondback DB15

Caliber: 5.56 NATO / .223 Remington
Finish: Black Anodized Hardcoat
Barrel: 16-inch 4140 Chrome-Moly, M4, Free Float
Barrel Twist Rate: 1×9
Bolt Carrier: Shot-Peened, Magnetic Particle Inspected
Lower Receiver: Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
Upper Receiver: A3 Flattop Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
Handguard: Diamondback Modified Four Rail
Pistol Grip: A2 style
Stock: Tapco
Weight: 6.65 pounds
Overall Length (Stock Collapsed): 32.5 inches
Overall Length (Stock Expanded): 36.25 inches
Flash Hider: A2
Sights: None

The DB15 never stuttered in firing well over 400 rounds of Winchester USA ball. There were no failures to chamber, fire, or eject. I also fired a smaller quantity of the Winchester 55-grain JSP.

This is a load with excellent wound potential for many purposes.

At a later date, I mounted a TruGlo 30mm Red Dot. This Red Dot has good features and a fair price.

I tested a number of loads with the TruGlo Red Dot mounting, including handloads using a combination of the Hornady V Max bullet and Varget powder.

Accuracy was good and function perfect. I also tested an interesting new loading from SIG Sauer. This load uses the 60-grain TSX bullet at 3,000 fps.

This bullet enjoys a good reputation for expansion and penetration while maintaining 100% of its weight in my personal ballistic testing. I enjoyed excellent accuracy.

With the red dot at almost the dimmest setting and firing from a careful bench rest firing position, I was able to fire several groups of less than one inch at a long 50 yards.

Diamondback DB15 rifle left profile
The Diamondback rifle gave good results.

A few weeks into the evaluation, I tested the rifle with the TruGlo Eminus scope mounted. This scope has been mounted on several rifles with excellent results.

The Eminus offers an illuminated reticule and easy adjustment with the large turret knobs.

This time I tried the DB15 at 100 yards. I used the Winchester 55-grain FMJ training load and the SIG Sauer 60-grain load to evaluate the rifle’s accuracy.

The USA loading was more than accurate enough for practice and competition with a string of 2-inch, 3-shot groups. My handloads using the V Max bullet were more accurate.

The SIG Sauer 60-grain load settled into 1.25-inch for three shots. The Diamondback DB15 is accurate enough for most chores and a good buy in the AR-15 world.

dust cover on an AR-15 rifle
The rifle never chocked or tied up.

Do you own a Diamondback DB15? What ammo do you get the best groups with it? What furniture or optic did you put on it? Share your answers in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (16)

  1. Got a diamondback db15 black gold for Christmas from my wife have put about 1000 rounds through it at the range.not one malfunction, very accurate, excellent rifle.couldnt be happier with a gun.i have many guns and this is probably my favorite.i highly recommend this rifle.

  2. To Nick A
    Actually there is every reason to bring politic’s into a gun review since the liberal communistic democrat party our coming for our guns. Biden already said he’s appointing Beto his gun czar. So it does need to be brought up every time one of the guns their talking about banning is talked about.
    You shouldnt be able to buy a gun if the oarty you belong too wants to ban em.

  3. I’ve owned a DB15 with both a 7.62×39 and a 5.56×45 upper (standard DB15 lower) both in the 10″ variety for about a year, and I have absolutely zero complaints. The weapon functions exactly as intended, keeps good grouping, and I run a Holosun red dot on both to great affect.

    The trigger is a little sloppy in the lower, but swapped with a Geissele SD-E, you’ll have a fantastic little shooter for the money.

    10/10, will continue to use DiamondBackFirearms for all my AR upper/lower needs.

    Experience: Sport shooting x20 years, combat veteran 2004-2010, firearms enthusiast x30+ years.

  4. I just bought a diamondback db15yb and it will shoot a .223 once in awhile most of the time it will miss fire with .223 and it will not eject the spent case of a .223 it turns into a bolt action rifle it will shoot 5.56 fine but not .223 very disappointing

  5. After much looking around for a AR style rifle I found a Diamondback Firearms DB-15 at a local firearms dealer and bought it. Rifle and pop up sights cost me $756 with tax. I have replaced the plastic grip with a rubber one and added a vertical grip as well. The biggest change I have made is replacing the Magpul pop up sights with a Bushnell TRS-25 red dot.i have shot about 145 rounds of some inexpensive American eagle 55 grain FMJ. So far the rifle has cycled flawlessly with no problems what so ever. I’m really happy with my DB-15 and would definitely recomend it.

  6. bought one of these and it won’t cycle…I’m lucky if I get two shots off in a row before I have to manually cycle it. I’m pretty pissed I have to work on a brand new rifle just to get it to work

  7. I acquired a db15 with the quad hand guard its like a 10 or 12″ guard it is free floating its sharp in places and huge in circumference like outtsr 2.5″ huge .has a 16″ 1/9 twist nato barrel a2 break/flashguard.. i have noticed a array of groups tring to find a decent cheap ammo for target practice i realised it would not satisfy my son or i using cheap ammo. with tull 55gr&62gr ,pmc bronze55gr fmj-bt,american eagle black and blue white box fmj 55gr,hornady frontier 55gr, that only thing satisfying was trigger/glass time and what looked like the alaskan sky on clear night for groups i wouldnt call it a group more like a gathering some here some there some everywhere i know it is not me i know it is expected with bulk ammo …trigger was decent very heavy but decent off hand rapid was ok on bench it showed its weight i will have to buy some match ammo and see what that shows and then on to working up some loads. i did polish the seer faces it made it alot smoother but still to heavy .its hard to train your finger to shoot heavy triggers again after shooting 2&3lb triggers this rifle has gave me no problems at all it will cycle the sanford and sons of junk ammo without any prob the buttstock is clanky the fit between upper and lower is better then most color match upper and lower to the tee handguard has high gloss,up/low parts are matt no big deal at all bcg is coated and mp stamped and nice. gas key staked properly,low pro gas block not my first ar i have built many of 80% lowwers and uppers alomst alwYs have to weld up upper pin boss and mill out .005 higher to tighten the upper and lower mating i have two very accurate ar15 i built. Diy guns one 6.5grendel one 300hamr the hamr rings steel out to 700 the grendal 1200 i also have a diy in 6.5creed which will ring steel farther then i can send it here in my home state if you are looking to buy a ar15 at what they should cost not pay a hey my name is tax that u do for the snobby brand bandit models this is the entry level gun. Hands down only loaded 10 rounds with a known load of a friends and 100 yards sub moa group all ten rounds with cooling break after ten buy a db15 with thers new handguard unless u like holding a basketball size circumference sizes handguard …

  8. This review still holds true. I just bought my DB-15 with a few smaller upgrades to fit my fancy. I can say they can try to ban a gun. But they won’t take this beautiful piece away from me. Otherwise I’m renewing the bill of sale into a DB-15 pistol. All jokes aside I’ve never received more compliments and questions on the range until I got this one. Then again I found some older gun parts that make it quiet and still shoot fireballs. Also got my marksman bag de from 50yards ace in the hole all 40 shots.

  9. Enjoy your ARs while you still can . After the election in 2020 all AR15s and AK47s will be banned. Voting won’t matter ss both parties have come on board for this action. This is the real reason Wal-Mart is dropping this ammo. There simply won’t be a market for the ammo.

  10. I have one of these. I bought it at a gun show because it was inexpensive and felt good in my hands. I bought a carry handle for it, and a flip-up front sight, and so far, I have had excellent accuracy, zero malfunctions, and in general, a brilliant rifle. There is no reason to spend 2,000 dollars on a rifle like a bunch of these goons will tell you. Diamondback makes rifles that perform better than their cost, and if you know how to shoot, you’ll never need more than that.

  11. The author states “Purchasing an AR-15 rifle was far simpler when the only choice was Colt. Later, we had Armalite and a few others.”
    His timeline is in error. The AR-10 and AR-15 rifles were developed by Eugene Stoner and were submitted by Armalite Corp of Costa Mesa , which was a division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Company. The USAF adopted the AR-15 and became the M16. The Army requested some modifications and the weapon became the M16A1. THEN, Colt obtained the rights to the AR design.
    Reference: “Small Arms of the World” 9th edition, Copywrite 1960, 1962, 1966, & 1969
    The AR stands for Armalite Rifle, not assault rifle as the libs like to say.

    1. “The AR stands for Armalite Rifle, not assault rifle as the libs like to say.”
      nobody says that
      no need to bring politics in a gun review
      nobody cares

  12. One thing I wish I would have done before purchasing my first AR (several years ago), was more research. Knowing what I do now, I would have bypassed the gun I purchased and spent a little more initially, and had a better rifle to start, than the several hundred dollars more I spent upgrading brand “X” entry level rifle to meet specs. Live and learn I suppose, but I would do things different now. I appreciate articles like this, that are honest and give the pros and cons of the product. For those of us late to the AR world, they’re essential reading. Thank You Bob.

  13. After owning several AR rifles in 223/556, I finally settled on the Rock River Arms ATH. The DB15 is certainly a nice rifle..have handled but not shot one, but the ATH is great. I’ve shot probably 20 different rounds thru it and the ammo I’ve found most consistent and most accurate is the Hornady 55 gr SP. Others are good, and more than acceptable, but in this rifle the Hornady is best. If i do my part, 1/4″, 5 shot spreads are common at 100 yrs. Rifle is equipped with Nilon optics, 4-14, and this is my predator and pig gun, #1. Will be interested if others like that Hornady bullet also.

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