Small, powerful pistols suitable for pocket- or concealed-carry are all the rage these days. While other areas of the firearms market may have softened, the demand for these small, self-defense pistols remains strong. American manufacturer Diamondback Firearms is a maker of compact, concealed-carry pistols, as well as 5.56 NATO and 7.62 NATO AR-pattern rifles. The latest pistol from Diamondback was introduced in January 2019 and is the one I have at hand: the Diamondback DB9 Gen IV.
Retailing for $269 and available at online sites for as little as $212, the DB9 is inexpensive but not cheap. It’s made from quality materials, is well-designed and shares many features with Glock pistols. For example, the metal sights are Glock-compatible, and the slide, barrel and recoil spring are decidedly "Glockish." Differing from the Glock line, the DB9 Gen IV frame internals are unique, and the curved, metal trigger does not have a trigger-safety lever. Also, unlike the Glock, the pistol’s grip angle is similar to a 1911 pistol and, to me anyway, points more naturally rather than high as do Glocks in my hands.
Weighing a scant 13.4 ounces with an empty magazine, the DB9 Gen IV comes in at a carry weight of 16.3 ounces with seven rounds of 115-grain 9 mm ammunition onboard. The pistol is thin, being .89 inch at its widest point. The barrel is 3.1 inches in length and is marked “+P." This is a departure from other Diamondback pistols that are not rated for +P or for bullets weighing more than 124 grains.
The slide has front and rear serrations and the sights are of the three-dot variety, with the rear dots being white and the front dot orange. The frame of the little blaster is undercut at the rear of the trigger guard, a feature I applaud, and the squared trigger guard is serrated in front, a feature I find useless for anyone familiar with good handgun-grip technique.
One highlight of the latest Gen IV DB9 is its ability to handle +P defensive ammunition.
The frame also includes a beavertail and stippled panels to provide a high, secure grip. One magazine is provided; it holds six rounds and has an extension pinky rest. The frame has molded-in fences around the slide lock and magazine release that help prevent accidental activation. However, I find the fences make intentional use rather difficult.
One thing I like to do with handguns is hand them to my wife and other lady shooters and ask them to manipulate the pistol. Can they run the slide, remove and insert the magazine, load the magazine and lock the slide to the rear? Sadly, the stiff springs and difficult controls caused the DB9 Gen IV to fail my test. I can’t recommend it for slight persons or those with limited hand strength.
While the little magazine is said to hold 6 rounds I found it exceedingly difficult to stuff with six. After breaking a fingernail and considerable cursing in two languages, I gave up and determined to test the pistol with only five rounds in the magazine. The trigger feels rather heavy, so I checked it on my Lyman electronic trigger gizmo and discovered it breaks at an average weight of 7.25 pounds. After about a half-inch of slack, the trigger takes up and creeps smoothly until it breaks with no over-travel.
The reset is short and positive and the curved, rounded trigger did not bite my finger when the gun is fired. To be honest, though, the little beastie is not a lot of fun to shoot, as the recoil is sharp and somewhat painful. Maybe it’s me–I don’t enjoy shooting nasty pistols so much these days–but it didn’t take long for me to break out my shooting glove, a motocross glove with padded fingers, while I finished shooting up a 50-round box of 9 mm full metal jacket practice ammo.
To test functioning and accuracy potential, I selected four defensive 9 mm loads and fired five rounds each at the head target of a Gunsite Academy Option target at a reasonable combat distance of 5 yards. Managing to tough it out and get all 20 rounds in the scoring ring, I figured I had all the fun I could take and ended my test.
The DB9 Gen IV came out of the box dry but after liberally lubricating it with Ballistol, it ran flawlessly. While the gun is well-made, compact, easily concealed, reliable, accurate and inexpensive, it is not the pistol you’re going to spend a lot of practice time with. Though it has an attractive, entry-level price, it’s not the pistol I would recommend for a beginner. The Diamondback DB9 Gen IV is better-suited for those who are willing to endure some shooting discomfort in exchange for something comfortable to carry.