Sunday, June 5, 2011

Finally - The DB9 Range Report

It was a beautiful day here today so I was able to follow through with my plans to get out to the range and give the DB9 a thorough shake down.  As of this morning, the plan was to take this ammo along and burn through as much as possible for the evaluation.  What  you plan and what you actually end up doing rarely coincides so I didn't get the chance to shoot everything pictured, and I go into detail on why as we progress through the evaluation and range report.  In total, I got through 207 rounds and if I refer to a round number in the rest of this post, it's the number of the round between 1 and 207.

You may me wondering why so much Blazer.  I took the Blazer in quantity because it's been the best performer in the DB380 so why wouldn't it do great in the DB9.  1 plastic box has 100 rounds of Federal 115 grain FMJ and the other plastic box has 100 rounds of Remington UMC 115 grain Value Pack HPs.  I get both at Walmart and immediately just dump them in a bin when I get home to cut down on storage space.  Jeff Quinn over at mentioned that DB9 was a fussy eater in his review.  I wanted to be sure I had plenty of options available if my DB9 turned out to be fussy too.

I had the range to myself again today.  I guess I'm one of the few stupid people willing to go out in 95 degree weather in the afternoon and shoot guns.  Trigger time is happy time regardless of weather conditions so I just grabbed a couple of quarts of Powerade Zero and got down to business.  I had to scramble around last night and get a target holder put together.  I had a design in mind and it took about an hour to get the stuff an put it all together.  I'll post a blog entry on that project in the near future.  I set the target holder out at 7 yards and didn't move it during the testing so everything was done at 7 Yards.

As I mentioned above, the plan was to run a bunch of Blazer through the DB9 and see how it performed.  I ran a mag +1 on each target with the following results.  Not too shabby for my first two mags through a brand new gun.  I'll take it.  The black area is 5 1/2" across on these targets.  I did have a failure to fire on round 9.  The primer was hit, but did not detonate.  I put things back in order and the cartridge did fire on the second strike.

Rounds 15 to 21 were an absolute disaster.  I've never had this happen before, but rounds 17 and 19 actually stuck in the chamber after firing.  17 required me to poke it out from the muzzle end.  Rounds 19 was worse.  It was so stuck in the chamber that I had to grasp slide and frame in different hands and bang the frame hand on my leg in order to free the stuck case.  Please learn from my experience and do not attempt to use Blazer Aluminum in your DB9.  Here's a picture of the ammo to avoid.  As you can see, rounds 20 and 21 went back in the box and Blazer aluminum was DONE! for further testing.

The next ammo up was the Federal Champion 115 grain FMJ that you could get at Walmart for under $10.00 a box before the price increase.  I use this as my IDPA load so I keep a plastic tub of loose rounds and just grab what I need when I need it.  I had brought along 100 of these in case the DB9 was ammo fussy.  I used this for rounds 22 to 77 and every round was perfect.  At round 77, I did notice something that you should see.

That little pin on the right side of the frame turned out to be a walker.  From round 70 forward, I had to push that pin back in at every 20 rounds or so.  I never let it walk much further than the picture so I can't tell if you if it would keep walking and eventually cause the pistol to fail.  I can say that the pin can walk at least that far and the gun will still function.  A quick press of the thumbnail and the pin slides right back into position for another 20 rounds or so.

At this point I started switching up ammos more frequently.  I had a ton of stuff to shoot up so I was really interested in what would work and what would not.  Next up was the Remington UMC bulk pack 115 grain HPs that you can also get at Walmart.  No issues at all with these and they made a nice tight little group.  I used these for rounds 78 to 98 with perfect function.

Rounds 99 to 112 were Fiocchi 124 grain HP.  Rounds 113 to 126 were Winchester White Box 147 grain HPs.  Both ammos worked perfectly and the Fiocchi was really delivering good groups as long as I did my part and didn't shank one as I did with the target in the upper left corner in the picture below.  These targets are 3 inch circles with 1 inch centers.

So at this point, I'm doing the happy dance.  The DB9 is controllable and it's possible to shoot some decent groups at 7 yards as long as you take your time and make sure the sights are lined up at about the center of the target you are shooting at.  By now you can see that I have a low bias on my targets.  I don't think I'm snatching the trigger and dropping the muzzle at the point of firing, but maybe I am.  In reality, I think these groups are close enough to point of aim that I really don't need to worry about it.  Time to try out the super premium ammo.

Next up I wanted to try the Speer Gold Dot 124 grain HP and the Federal 124 grain HST.  I really like the 124 grain Speer Gold Dot and run it in my other pocket 9's.  The Federal HST is new for me after finally being able to get a couple boxes after the ammo shortage of the last couple of years.  I have to say that I was not impressed with the DB9's performance with these rounds.  I think I have a fix for the problem, but it will be up to the good folks at DB to address this or not as they see fit.  The four rounds on the left worked great.  The two on the right wanted to nosedive if you had 6 rounds in the magazine and you racked the slide to load one into the chamber.  When I say nosedive, it's really nose hook where the feed ramp will catch the bullet jacket serrations and lock the gun up.  Clearing a jam like this is quite a challenge since you have to retract the slide, push the top round back into the magazine, then push the mag release to drop the mag while all the while holding the slide back in it's most rearward position. 

I know you're probably thinking that the DB9 won't feed nickel cased ammo, but I think the problem runs deeper than that.  =)  The nickel cases are probably just a coincidence.  See the gap between the bottom of the grip and the magazine base plate in the photo below.  The DB9 is on the left.  At the range I noticed that the magazine would actually move up and down the the range of that gap when you manually load a round from the magazine.  It's advisable to keep upward pressure on the magazine base plate while you retract the slide if you want smooth chambering of the top round.  This problem could be minimized with a change to the location of the magazine catch window on the magazine body.

After a bunch of troubleshooting, I was able to get 2 magazines of Gold Dot and one of HST through the gun.  I tried a bunch of things and loading one in the magazine and cycling that into the chamber before refilling the magazine to 6 will work, but the top round of the magazine does nosedive after the first shot.  Groups with both ammos were just OK.
As mentioned above, the Gold Dot 124 grain is my round of choice in my Kahr PM9.  Just for giggles I ran a magazine of Gold Dot through my PM9 (target upper left) and the DB9 (target lower left) to see how they could compare.  Pretty much the same in my opinion.

I'm feeling hot and disgusting at this point so I'm done with testing new ammos and I go back to finish up the rounds I know will work.  The DB9 round count is now at 135 so I go back to the Federal 115 grain FMJ.  I have one Failure to Feed at round 151 which requires me to drop the mag and bump the rear of the slide to feed the cartridge.  At round 166, I switch over to the Remington UMC 115 grain HP.  At round 172 I go back to the Fiocchi 124 grain HP and run 3 mag dumps +1's through the DB9 with the following results.  The extreme spread across 21 rounds is 3 1/4" inches.  I think I've found my carry load. 

Rounds 194 through 207 are back to the Remington UMC 115 grain JHP and then I decided I'm done.  It's been just about 3 hours now and I've crossed that 190 round hurdle where the DB380 previously let me down.  I've found a load that I'm happy with in the Fiocchi 124 grain so it's time to call it a day.  I've also got documentation on the issues with the walking frame pin and the failure to feed issues that the folks at Diamondback can mull over and let me know if they want to address.  The photo below sums up my range trip.

Back in school you got extra credit if you showed your work.  Here's my work. 

If my experiences are any indication of the overall population of DB9s, then this sure does look like a winner.  I have no issues at all dropping this in my pocket as a concealed carry option with either the Remington 115 grain HPs, Fiocchi 124 grain HPs, or Winchester 147 grain HPs.  Fiocchi also makes a 147 grain loaded with the XTP bullet.  I'll have to try some to those and see how they work.  Overall, the most reasonably priced ammos were the ones that worked best, so the DB9 is nice because you can practice with your carry load and not break the bank.

I took RecoilCam out of my review since the video was so horrible.  I've done a remix and made it quite a bit smaller so I'm bringing it back.  Behold it's RecoilCam.

I did pick up on a couple of issues that Diamondback may address with my specific pistol or the issues may exist with the entire population.  Overall, they are easily worked around and can be minimized by paying attention to your gear and careful ammo selection.  I'll post any updates as feedback comes in.

So with that I am done and I hope you enjoyed reading through my updates this weekend.  I did log some hours pulling this all together, but it was very enjoyable and I would do it all again if given the chance to do so.  Please put any questions down in the comments and I will do my best to answer when I can.


  1. Thank you for this comprehensive and well-documented range report. Much appreciated.

  2. This is the best DB9 review anyone could hope for, and I will post the link at

    Thanks for your service to the gun-totin community!

  3. Fantastic review! How does your DB9 compare to your PM9 when it comes to size?

  4. Scratch that last question... looks like you already went above and beyond with a previous post. Again, thanks so much for your time and effort!

  5. it is strange because i just got my DB9 and the only ammo i can get to feed with out problem is CCI Blazer Aluminum lol... Whats with that? Also is there anything that i can do to help guide the walmart White box Winchester through? Like i said the only ammo that wont FTF is the CCI aluminum, id like to use other ammo like you did but i get a FTF 1 or 2 out of 6 in the mag!

  6. P.S.) Ive only put 200 rounds through it.. Does it get less ammo fussy after its been worn in more?

  7. For mofrackey, if it only feeds 1 ammo brand/variety after 200 rounds you should call Diamondback and request their support. You may have a bad magazine.