With summer coming, I thought it would be a good chance to check out a new pocket gun. I have owned the Kahr PM9 and Kel-Tec P3AT in the past and both were fine weapons. A new addition to the pocket gun market is DiamondBack Firearms DB9 pistol. The DB9 is the smallest 9mm pistol I have ever fired. There is only one smaller that I know of, the Rohrbaugh R9; however it costs upwards of $1000 dollars.
Let's be clear what a pocket gun is and is not. A pocket gun is something you should be able to carry almost anywhere (where legal) and is a serious compromise when it comes to self defense shooting. Pocket guns are not optimal self defense weapons; their small size, short barrel length and harsh recoil are all drawbacks. Their appeal lies in the fact that it allows you to be armed when clothing or circumstance would otherwise not allow it.
On to the DB9:
"The DB9, a micro-compact 9mm automatic pistol made entirely in the USA. Designed with safety in mind, the DB9 features a "ZERO-Energy" striker firing system with a mechanical firing pin block, a steel magazine catch to secure a sheet metal magazine and real windage-adjustable sights, all in a lightweight pistol. A steel trigger with dual connecting bars allows for a crisp, smooth, five-pound DAO trigger pull. The DB9 features a FEA (Finite Element Analysis) designed slide and barrel that is stronger than any comparable firearm, resulting in durability with less felt recoil, and the absence of removable pins or tools makes field stripping easier than ever. The slide, barrel, and internal parts are coated to resist corrosion, making this pistol a lifetime investment."
Early models of the DB9 were plagued with problems, a search of any internet gun forum will reveal reams of dissatisfied customers. Luckily, Diamondback is a small American owned company that listens to its customers. They worked to resolve the issues, mainly related to pins falling out and a magazine follower that needed redesign. I am happy to say, from my initial experience, they have fixed the issues.
I picked up the DB9 at Bill's Gun Shop & Range in Robbinsdale, MN. They were having their annual shooters show and I was able to get the DB9 for $344 before tax.
Included with the DB9 was one magazine, a trigger lock, manual, ticket for free online safety etc. I tried to buy another magazine for testing, however the shop didn't have any and they seem to be out of stock everywhere online.
The DB9 is THIN, measuring only 0.80" and is almost as small as the Kel-Tec P3AT. For a 9mm pistol I was truly impressed. The slide is well made (some small machine marks visible) and has sharp cocking serrations front and back.
The trigger is rated at 5lbs and has a long smooth revolver like pull.
Sights are high visibility 3 Dot, much better than on any pocket gun other than the Kahr PM9.
Magazine capacity is 6+1 and magazines are made by Act-Mag a very well respected Italian company that specializes in high quality OEM magazines.
The DB9 field strips exactly like a Glock.
1. Remove the Magazine
2. Pull the slide to the rear and make sure chamber is clear
3. Release slide and press trigger with pistol pointed in a safe direction
4. Pull slide just slightly to rear (1/4") with right hand
5. With slide back pull takedown lever down and slide will release
With the gun apart you can see there is a dual spring recoil assembly much like in the Sub-Compact Glocks. One thing to note is the highly polished feed ramp. Diamondback is clearly paying attention to detail.
At the range:
I took the DB9 to the Burnsville Pistol Range today for an initial break in and to get an impression of how it shot. After hearing some of the reports on the internet I was worried it would be plagued with malfunctions, it was not. The DB9 is a snappy little pistol that requires a FIRM grip. Shooting two handed at 21 feet I had no problem keeping all the shots in a tight group and head shots were, um, dare I say, easy? The recoil wasn't unmanageable but it was stout. The most uncomfortable thing about shooting it was the trigger bite in my index finger. If I used the pad of my index finger I got a nasty "bite" under recoil; using more of my finger on the trigger made it considerably better, but made accuracy more difficult.
After about 100 rounds of various hollow point ammunition, I decided to see how this little rocket handled shooting one handed...not well was the resounding answer I got! By no fault of the pistol mind you, I just couldn't hold on to it well enough not to make it fail to extract or fail to feed. I know it wasn't the DB9's fault because as soon as I took a firm two handed grip, it stopped having issues. I put another 50 rounds through it and called it a day. My trigger finger is sore and my grip is weak.
Overall, I am happy with my purchase. I just need to work on a shooting technique that will allow me to shoot this pistol one handed. If I can't it is no good to me as a defensive firearm. I can't risk that it won't work if I am holding my daughter and can't get a solid two handed grip.
I will write part two on my next range session, and keep you updated.