Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

Smaller EDC style pistols have dominated the market for a few years now. They’ve been selling well from just about all of the major manufactures, and all that demand has spurred several smaller firearms makers to put out their own version of the popular pistols.

Last year, Diamondback Firearms out of the Gunshine State put out their .380ACP Pocket pistol, the DB380. This year, they’ve upped everything. The size, the caliber, and the capacity, with their DBAM29SL in 9x19mm.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

It’s a blocky, stubby little thing. The SL in the DBAM29SL is their two tone brushed stainless model. You can also purchase an FDE frame with a black slide, their DBAM29FDE model.

It’s nice to see some attention paid to the style of the deep cocking serration cuts in the front and rear of the slide. Simply by connecting the vertical lines with a lower horizontal cut, Diamondback turns the functional into a design feature that visually separates the pistol from the competition.

The magazine well is a little small, or at least it is for the position of the trigger. I get that that Diamondback is made in Florida, but I wasn’t able to get a gloved finger into the trigger guard without getting the trigger pull started. Note that the front of the squared off trigger guard is also deeply textured with horizontal relief cuts.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

All of the necessary gripping surfaces of the Diamondback DBAM29 are well textured. The factory stipple work gives the shooter a solid grip on gun. Most of my shooting of the DBAM29 was done during the unseasonably warm Texas September, and even with sweaty hands in 100+ degree heat. I had no trouble controlling the pistol.

Small-handed shooters should take note that while the pistol itself is small, the grip is not. It fit my size-large hands well, with an appropriate length of pull.  That wasn’t the same for a couple of smaller statured women at the Range at Austin during one of my range session with the double action only DBAM29SL. The grip size put the trigger just beyond the distal crease of their index fingers.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

Both the backstrap and front straps are well textured, too.  There are no alternative backstraps with the DBAM29 to adjust grip size. You get what you get.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

The DBAM29 comes stock with a 3-dot sight set up. In this case, it’s a bright orange front site and two white dot rears. If you would like to upgrade those to a tritium or other set, they’re compatible with the plentiful GLOCK and GLOCK aftermarket sight sets.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

Like a few guns of this size on the market now, the DBAM2 fits a lot of rounds in a fairly small space. The flush fit magazine fits 12 rounds, and the extended magazine holds a full 17.  I also had no problems running the gun with a round chambered and a full magazine with either the 12 or 17 round versions.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

As with most striker-fired polymer framed pistols, the trigger on the DBAM29 is squishy with a bit of creep and stack at the back. Along with a short sight radius, that leads to a real challenge keeping the front sight still during the trigger pull, throwing off accuracy.

Diamondback Firearms advertises these pistols as having a 5-6 lb. trigger pull. My Lyman trigger gauge put this one at 6lbs, 10oz. The trigger shoe includes the common “safety bar.”  Some of these are better than others. The DBAM29’s trigger safety tab stays out of the way and does its job well.

The angle of the trigger is a little weird. Because of the shape of the grip and the fact that the shooter can get a pretty high grip on gun, the trigger finger angles down. For me, that resulted my trigger finger sliding across the bottom interior of the trigger guard with each trigger pull. That created a pinch point which, after a few hundred rounds, left me with a bright red digit. Not ideal, but not a deal killer either.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

With the extended 17-round magazine, and the accompanying grip sleeve, the DBAM29 gives even the most bear-handed shooter plenty of purchase on pistol. Of course, it’s also longer than the grips of most duty guns, and would be very challenging to carry concealed. But for a spare magazine, reload, or on the range, it works great.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

The high capacity of the small-statured DBAM29 is achieved with a fairly wide, long grip. The flush-fit 12-round magazine is a little larger than most truly sub-compact firearms, and all three fingers below the trigger guard is possible.  Given the texturing of the grip, and a slight undercut on the trigger guard, it’s possible for someone with even size-large hands to get a solid single grip on the gun.

The takedown procedure of the Diamondback DBAM29 is just like GLOCK pistols.Exactly like them…which means you will have to pull the trigger to take down the gun. If that’s a challenge for you, perhaps reconsider your choice to handle a firearm at this particular time in your life.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

GLOCK 42 (top), DBAM29 (bottom), (JWT for TTAG)

Much of the DBAM29’s design is like GLOCK pistols. Here’s the slide interior above a GLOCK G42. Other than the size and recoil spring, they appear pretty much identical. The chassis and frame have a few internal differences from the GLOCK, but not much.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

The Diamondback DBAM29 ships in what is becoming the industry standard, a cardboard box. Diamondback provides a soft carrying case in that cardboard box, which is a little more than most companies do, especially at this price point.

On the range, the Diamondback was easy to control. The large, full grip diminished the snappiness that’s common with small polymer 9mm pistols.

At about the 200 round mark, the pistol stopped fully returning to battery, I had to just push it a little with my thumb to complete the cycle. I noted this, and then went to disassemble and lube the gun to see if I could determine the problem.

The problem was that I forgot to lube the gun at all in the first place. Considering I had just shot 200 rounds straight through a compact pistol out of the box without even basic lubrication, I’d say that’s not bad reliability at all.

After a little CLP on the rails, the gun ran like a champ. I had no further issues at all with any kind of round after I lubed the gun. I put a total of 560 rounds through the DB2AM29 over the course of a couple of weeks. I shot multiple brands, weights, and types of bullets through the gun with no problems.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

Accuracy on the subcompact(ish) Diamondback pistol was acceptable for its size. All of my shooting for accuracy was off a bench with bags and were 5-shot groups averaged over four shot strings, for 20 rounds total fired of each type of round.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

Even in slow fire, I really struggled to keep the front sight still during the trigger pull. My first series of groups at the 25 yard line were in the 5-inch range, and I knew the gun could do better than that. I slowed down and focused on pulling the trigger straight back and steady, and was rewarded with 3-inch average groups from the 115gr Speer Lawman round. The inexpensive Armscor 115gr range round scored 3 1/2″ on average. The heavier 147gr Armscor HP did a little poorer, averaging out at 4 1/4″.

It’s much appreciated that Diamondback took the time to work with holster makers to make sure there are options available. A quick look at their website or a web search will show the shooter a wide variety of brands and styles.

Especially considering the gun’s very low price point, you get a good carry pistol in the DBAM29 very affordably. The grip is deceptively large, and I’d recommend anyone with less than size-large hands take a few turns at dry-firing it before they purchase, just to make sure the grip size and trigger aren’t an issue.

Gun Review: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29SL 9mm Pistol

JWT for TTAG

 

Specifications: Diamondback Firearms DBAM29

Caliber: 9mm
Slide: Stainless Steel, Black Nitride Coated
Frame: Black Polymer
Action: Striker Fired, Double Action Only
Height: 12 round mag: 4.6″, 17 round mag: 5.6″
Weight: 22 oz. (Unloaded)
Length: 6.49″
Overall Width: 1.09”
Slide Width: .975”
Sight Radius: 4.97″
Barrel Length: 3.5″ Stainless Steel, 1:10 RH
Sights: 3-Dot, Glock Compatible
MSRP: $340 (about $285 retail)

Style and Appearance * * *
The two-tone models and the styled serrations on the slide are a nice touch.

Customization * *
GLOCK sights are available. That’s about it.

Reliability * * * * * 
Not bad with zero lube at all right out of the box. Perfect with just of few drops of CLP.

Accuracy * * * 
Most groups were just over the 3″ mark at 25 yards. That’s about average for today’s smaller guns shooting today’s great ammunition.

Overall * * *
A good overall budget concealed carry pistol. Because of the full, well textured grip surface, the DBAM29 is easy to control. It’s accurate enough, and the capacity is outstanding for a pistol of its size. The price point is exceptional.

comments

  1. avatar dph says:

    Honest question here. How are so many companies able to build a Glock clone for 1/2 to 2/3 of the price as a Glock branded Glock? I don’t own any Glocks or Glock clones, just curious, is the real deal that much better?
    P.S. I’m not trying to start a fight with anyone over this, just curious.
    P.P.S. Do these companies have to pay to use the Glock design? Once upon a time S&W had to over the Sigma I believe.

    1. avatar Blackspike2710 says:

      Development costs.

      1. avatar dph says:

        I thought about that, but after 40 years and 15 million(?) pistols I’m thinking they’ve recouped that money.

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          The problem with dropping the retail price is that all the department purchases would expect the same discount (even though they are already getting the guns practically at cost.)

    2. avatar pwrserge says:

      There’s a couple reasons to stick with the OG. My personal favorite is after-market parts compatibility. Don’t know if it’s worth the extra costs, but my $600 GLOCK is sporting almost $1300 in lights and optics, so the extra cost, for me, is a wash.

      1. avatar Merle 0 says:

        1300$ in lights and optics on a glock? Competition pistol? Not being sarcastic I’m just intrigued.

    3. avatar jwm says:

      S&W did a patent infringement on the Glock. Maybe the newer guns that are glock like get a break because the patents are expired?

      I have a Glock 19 and an old school S&W Sigma. oddly enough the S&W fits my hand better than the Glock. But the factory Glock trigger is way better. And the Glock is much newer than my old Sigma so I use it mostly, now.

      1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

        S&W thought it could pull a Ruger v Kel-Tec and just straight steal their pistol design. Obviously as things turned out that was a pretty… poor decision (for S&W, Ruger totally got away with it).

        But yeah, the patents on the original safe-action trigger are long expired at this point.

    4. avatar Hannibal says:

      Glock could lower prices- indeed they do offer the firearms at much lower prices in government contracts or even for LEO individual purchases- but they don’t have to, so they don’t.

      Glock is the default handgun. Government agencies like them because they’re well known in terms of maintenance and armorers’ training, have a gazillion accessories available, and hold the same manual of arms across multiple platforms so you can have basically the same gun in multiple configurations for different duties.

      Private customers like them because they’re the handgun everyone knows and have a reputation for reliability. The gazillion accessories also helps. If you’re looking for a particular holster you will have a much easier time getting one you like for your glock 17 than the latest polymer upstart. People who really know their guns can afford to spend time researching a good lower price reliable gun that still has good customer service and enough market share to make finding aftermarket parts and accessories doable… but most people just want a gun.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        It’s the K frame of this era. And like the K frame it is all the gun most folk will ever need.

    5. avatar grumpster says:

      Because they have to if they want to sell any pistols. A new unproven design is not going to be able to command Glock prices.

      With their long track record and winning contracts for special forces, FBI (after very extensive testing). Secret Service, and Border Control have established Glock as a premium brand and they can get premium prices for their pistols.

    6. avatar Will Drider says:

      Difference in costs between Glocks and G-clones? Just read the Glock reviews and clone reviews like this one. Then you can make the call if the clonish gun is as good, good enough or not close enough even at the lower price point. Plenty of Mfrs putting a lot of gun options out there, something “new” every month or two, just don’t confuse price and Value: one is more important than the other.

    7. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Plastic guns are cheap to make with plenty of profit built in.

      If you are willing to take less profit, you can take more of the market.

      LCPs started at around 300 buck. You can new now for less than 200 and often around 160.

      More competition means cheaper prices.

      Glock is still riding a very good reputation and sells on the name and police contracts.

      But notice the new 43X and 48 sell for low 400s to compete with other small 9s, not the Glock 19.

    8. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I’ve been telling you all for the last ‘n’ years that Glock has been ripping you off.

      People have pooh-pooh’ed my rants. Since I know a couple of things about manufacturing, I have a pretty good idea of what Glock’s COGS actually is for their products. It’s low. Very low. That’s the benefit of injecting cheez-whiz into a mold and calling it a gun.

      Now that there are companies shipping firearms that look so much like a Glock that you have to do a double-take to look at rollmarks and serial number sequences to tell that they’re not a Glock, and they’re selling those pistols at $200 (or more) less than Glock is, you’re starting to believe me.

      Glock has been ripping the shooter off for years. Glock fans just don’t seem to want to believe this, but it’s true, folks. Glock has been ripping you off for years. How else is Geezer Gaston going to pay for blondes 30 to 40 years younger than he is, a stable full of expensive horses, the land and forage to feed those horses, pay the alimony to his ex-wife, etc, etc? By charging you a hefty markup on a cheez-whiz pistol, that’s how, folks.

      Look, I have no issues with capitalism or making money. I’ve made a bunch of it myself. But Glock has been taking a huge chunk of meat out of your hip where they’ve bitten down on your wallet for years. The guys who are shipping the above pistol are likely making a nice markup on their product too – they’re just not about to become billionaires in the gun business.

  2. avatar bryan1980 says:

    …which means you will have to pull the trigger to take down the gun. If that’s a challenge for you, perhaps reconsider your choice to handle a firearm at this particular time in your life.

    Thanks for saying this. If you don’t check to see if there’s one in the chamber before disassembling, you’re already screwing up. Anything that happens after that is your fault alone, not a design flaw.

    1. avatar Jr says:

      Except even well trained and intelligent people can screw up sometimes. I prefer to remove as many dangerous variables as possible even if I’m confident in my abilities.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        Not with guns you dont. Clear the gun. Its so simple.

  3. avatar former water walker says:

    Diamondback has a horrible reputation for their pistols. That being said I’d buy a DB AR15. I’ll keep my glock clone Tauruses which run like champs(and cost less).The new Taurus G3 is getting stellar reviews.
    And what’s with 5 stars for reliability? Clean it Taylor…

  4. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    I never trust anything new. It has to be out there at least 10 years. Minimum. Before I’ll trust it. The newest, greatest stuff often is not. No matter what it is. Through review. Street time.

  5. avatar Nam62 says:

    If Glock changed the grip angle I might buy one! I learned to shoot 60 years ago and refuse to change my shooting habits now..

    1. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

      Buy and build a polymer 80. It has glock gen 3 fire control and slide but has a stippled 1911 grip angle. They come with a plastic holder. If you can drill a few holes and use either a knife, Dremel, sandpaper, or a file you’ll be fine.

      I bought mine in Syria? (Knob creek gun range) from a vendor and paid cash even though I already own 2 other Glocks I filed out the 4473 for. About 600 bucks all in, cheaper if you sourced parts online. I can’t say I fired it a lot, maybe a few hundred rounds total, but it ran just fine.

  6. avatar Rokurota says:

    I like this gun and have been eyeing it since it came out. Its size is between a G26 and a G19, like an MP9c but much thinner. I was about to buy one, but went with the P365. Might still try one out.

    Good, fair review, JWT.

  7. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Thanks for the review.

    My personal experience with DB is poor and I would have to see to see and hear a lot of good things to consider buying one.

    My experience was with a DB9 with a catastrophic failure at 160 rounds.

    DB made me spend my money to send it back. They replaced the barrel and sent it back.

    I sold the gun with full disclosure and wont buy another as of yet.

    “Finite element analysis” evidently means – it should work.

  8. avatar enuf says:

    Have not heard good stuff on DB pistols, but I’ve not shot any either so ….

    I miss my S&W 59. I mean, my Ruger SR9 fits me better, bit more capacity too. But I wish I could’ve afforded the guns I have now without having to sell the ones I had then.

  9. avatar Anymouse says:

    The slide pick is mislabeled. The Glock is on the bottom.

  10. avatar Someone says:

    What does the size of the magazine well have to do with the trigger guard?

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