The Florida company goes big with its Diamondback FS Nine striker-fired semi-auto.
My first experience with Diamondback Firearms was when regular Gun Digest contributor Dick Jones reviewed the company’s diminutive DB9 pistol for the magazine. Diamondback had just been purchased by fellow Florida-based firearms manufacturer Taurus and, with the new ownership, was flush with bringing bold, new ideas to market.
We had a DB9 sent to the office for photos and additional range testing, which provided ample trigger time behind the lightweight gun. Being a minimalist when it comes to carry-intended firearms—I can barely stand the size and weight of today’s cell phones in my pocket—I loved the tiny dimensions of the DB9. But as anyone who has fired downsized firearms in heavy or standard-sized calibers, they know these smaller guns, as friendly as they are to carry, aren’t always so friendly to shoot.
I didn’t have any problems with the DB9, but admit it was a handful of recoil with each shot; recoil that could present some accuracy issues with smaller stature or weaker handed shooters. When the company entered the full-size handgun market with the introduction of their DB FS Nine semi-auto in 2014, they came in with an option that sacrificed the compactness, but with it, also made it much more enjoyable in the hand. While concealed carry is certainly a big driver when it comes to sales, virtually every firearm fan still loves to simply shoot and shoot a lot. It’s here that the FS Nine delivers.
The 9mm semi-auto is a double-action-only, striker-fired pistol that combines a black polymer frame with a black stainless steel slide. While some may shake their head at the prospect of another full-size polymer striker gun on store shelves, the overall configuration of the gun is unique in appearance and feel. This is a firearm designed with shooter comfort and tactical ergonomics in mind.
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The gun has an almost space-age appearance with a beefy, cant-forward grip set with the squared-off, narrow, notched slide. Rather than offer replaceable back straps, the FS Nine has a fixed blackstrap design with swells in the grip and tapers behind the trigger for a firm, comfortable hold.
Textured surfaces along the sides and rear of the grip enhance a solid grip, while a beavertail extension aids proper hand placement and protects the hand from the rearward action of the slide. A flared magwell, as well as indents at the base of the grip and just above the extended baseplate of the 15-round magazine (when inserted), promote rapid mag swaps when shooting for time or necessity.
The slide itself boasts bold serrations toward the front and rear sides for a better handhold when racking a load into the chamber. It’s topped with highly visible, Glock-style fixed, white three-dot sights that aid with rapid target acquisition and provide a huge visual boost when aiming in bright, as well as low-light situations, or for some of us, with weaker, aging eyes.
The FS Nine positions itself as a solid home defense gun by allowing the easy mounting of laser sights or a tactical mounted light with a five-groove, 2.75-inch lower Picatinny rail integrated in the dust cover of the slide below the barrel. The flat-fronted trigger guard is smooth with a slight inward curvature to allow for a reliable finger rest depending on your shooting style and preferred grip.
Diamondback also included a trigger safety and firing pin block safety, as well as a visible cocking indicator in the rear of the slide for added safety when carrying or on the range.
At the Range
I first broke the FS Nine out during a range session with a mix of new and experienced shooters. I wanted to get other’s impressions of the gun, which based on visual appearance alone, some liked, some didn’t. The swelled palm combined with the narrow slide threw some folks off when they talked about its looks, but when they held it in their hand, their tones changed a good bit. Everyone agreed it was one of the more comfortable guns to hold that we had available to shoot that day during our informal shoot.
We ran a wide mix of cartridges through the 15-round mag that day, including FMJ loads from American Eagle (approximately 200 rounds of that ammo) both FMJ and hollow-point loads from Winchester’s white box line and high-end hollow-point rounds from HPR Ammunition. The FS Nine loved them all.
Probably running between 400 to 500 rounds through the gun in a single afternoon, we experienced not a single jam. The gun tends to eject spent cases more up over the shooter’s right shoulder than outward like some other semi-auto models we had on hand, which is meant merely as an observation. Whether that is good or bad, I don’t think it makes a difference. The gun fired and fired and fired. The accuracy was decent, delivering just over fist-sized center-of-mass groups at 15 to 20 yards from shooters not using rests.
The FS Nine is an easy-to-shoot, reliable full-size gun. At under $500, it is worthy of consideration for someone looking for a budget-friendly firearm they can take to the range for lengthy target sessions or even keep close at hand in a lockbox at home should a defensive need arise.
Diamondback DB FS Nine
Magazines: One 15-round magazine
Barrel: 4.75-in. chromemoly
Sights: Fixed, three-dot
Frame: Black polymer
Slide: Matte Melonite-coated stainless steel
Trigger: 5.5 lb., double-action only
Length: 7.8 in.
Height: 5.6 in.
Weight: 21.5 oz.
Options: Hard plastic carry case and lock
This article also appeared in the January 1, 2015 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.