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Reviews : Arsenal

Diamondback Firearms DB380 Pistol

This subcompact is exceptionally well-designed for concealment and extremely accurate.

June 17, 2010  |  by Mike Detty - Also by this author

Unusual Safety Features

Like most small guns the DB380 has some idiosyncrasies that require some special attention to safety.

Reptile-like cocking serrations are machined into the pistol's slide fore and aft. And shooters must exercise caution if they use the forward serrations to make sure they place no part of their hand in front of the muzzle.

The DB380 has no manual safeties, instead relying on its relatively long double action trigger pull. The length of pull is approximately a half-inch and my test sample's trigger broke with 5.5 pounds of pressure. There is a mechanical block to the striker that precludes it from making contact with the cartridge's primer unless pressure is placed on the trigger.

Diamondback has also been granted a patent on what it calls the Zero Energy Striker. Most striker-fired guns, like Glocks, use a striker that is under spring tension. Not so with the DB380. The Zero Energy Striker on the DB380 is designed so that if something were to fail there is nothing to drive the striker into the primer. Combined with its mechanical striker block the Zero Energy Striker on the DB380 should make it a very safe gun to carry concealed.

Diamondback designed the DB380 with dual trigger bars and this system is responsible for the gun's unusually smooth trigger pull. But this design also precludes the use of a slide stop on the gun. How important is this design exclusion on a concealed carry or backup gun? For its intended role, I don't see this as a tremendous loss. I'll gladly sacrifice last shot hold-open for this gun's trim dimensions.

The DB380 uses a dual spring recoil system. There is a smaller guide rod with a small diameter spring wrapped around it and a larger diameter cap with a flange upon which a larger diameter spring is wound, in the opposite direction. Though it gives the pistol enough spring mass to handle virtually any .380 round it is still easy to hand cycle and chamber a round manually. There is a large claw-type external extractor used on the DB380.

Shooting the DB380

Normally I test full-size service pistols at 25 yards and smaller compacts at 15 yards for accuracy. But for this deep concealment sub-compact I decided that a different protocol was more appropriate.

Realistically, the DB380 is a gun that probably would never be used at more than an arm's length distance. Because of this I decided to test the gun's accuracy at a more realistic distance of seven yards. The results of this test gave me a healthy respect for this pistol.

The DB380's smooth trigger pull and sights made shooting the gun very easy. Frankly, I would have thought that a 2 1/2-inch group for a gun of this type would be perfectly acceptable. So I was pleasantly surprised when six of the eight different loads that I tried produced five-shot groups under one inch at seven yards.

Cor-Bon's Pow'R Ball 70-grain bullets produced an awesome little group of just .60 inches. Sights on my sample gun shot to a point of impact about two inches low and just left of my point of aim. The rear sight is drift adjustable for windage though I was satisfied that they were close enough for the intended purpose.

I was curious to see just how quickly I could empty all seven rounds from the DB380. So I set up a standard USPSA target at seven yards and used a PACT electronic timer to measure the time from first shot to last.

I ran this exercise 10 times and only counted the runs in which all seven rounds landed in the "A" zone of the target. My average time for all seven shots was just 1.78 seconds; that's a split of .25 seconds. For a lightweight subcompact with a double-action-only trigger, quarter-second splits are impressive.

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Comments (10)

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10

Mike @ 3/26/2011 12:20 PM

The shooting low and to the left is not a design or sight problem. It is a trigger issue which makes you drop your front sight and jerk to the left. With practice this "issue" should go away.
Try shooting it left handed and you'll find your groups well centered.

Just FYI...Mike... Former Firearms and Chemical Weapons Instructor

Greg @ 8/22/2012 6:40 PM

DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THE DIAMONDBACK 380! I have fired over 600 rounds with my DB 380 and it constantly jams. Never had a weapon jam this much. The company stated that I have an older version and they would send me a shipping label so it could be serviced at the factory. 6 weeks later I am still waiting for the label. STAY AWAY FROM DIAMONDBACK, DONT TRUST YOUR LIFE WITH THIS PEICE OF JUNK. THEY SHOULD STICK WITH MAKING AIRBOATS AND GET OUT OF THE GUN BUSINESS.

Roger Fahlen @ 12/20/2012 8:01 AM

I own a DB380 and i am very happy with it. I have shot over 500 rounds out of it and have never had a problem with it. You have to grip the pistol tight in order for it to work properly. Why would you shoot 600 rounds out of something that constantly jams?

Stranger @ 1/9/2013 1:46 PM

i m interesint in Pistol s to buy onee real gunn Stronger shooting
i repeat you Roger Fahlen can you sell one gunn i will pay how much do you wan t it ? tell it to me i need it immediatily case of my own rights !

The real deal @ 5/10/2013 8:01 PM

This new one without the db stamped mags, shoots like a champ. I love it and could use it as a all around duty gun! No bs

Corey @ 7/1/2015 9:55 AM

I have one of the earlier models with machined sights (no longer available). I had multiple jam issues from the start, mainly failure to feed. Upon closer inspection I found the breach face to be poorly machined. I assume it is cast and therefore the breach face was very rough causing the rim of the case to snag the pits and stop dead while attempting to feed the round. A bit of light polishing of the breach face with some 400 grit wet dry to a mirror finish and I no longer have any feed issues. I haven't shot it enough to call it carry reliable yet, but this appears to have solved my jamming issue. YMMV

Dale Hill @ 1/27/2016 9:20 PM

My DB380 jams way too much, too. I have experienced a jam on nearly magazine. What a shame; perfect size, etc. Not dependable when your life is on the line. Don't know what to shop for, now.

Mark @ 2/6/2016 11:18 AM

Appears the problems are confined to the Gen 1 DB380 (two pins over trigger) as opposed to the Gen 2 (three pins). Some good reviews/tests on YouTube.

Dick Gervais @ 3/9/2016 8:47 PM

I have the new gen DB380......jammed every 2 or 3 rounds through the first box of ball ammo...after switching to different ammo...seemed reliable until the front sight went airborne....never did find it. Now looking at the slide to frame fit, there is a gap between the frame and the slide at the front and the rear and the slide rocks back and forth on the frame as though it has become warped and is only making contact with the frame in the center...pushing down on the front and rear sights alternately causes the slide to rock like a rocking chair...not happy with this gun. It feels good, was accurate until the front sight went on vacation....seems reliable enough but not very well built. Going to send it back and see what they say. Also have a Beretta Pico and a S&W Bodyguard...both 380's and both same size but much better than the DB even though they cost quite a bit more...they were trouble free right out of the box.

Jon @ 4/8/2016 7:30 PM

To correct something in the gun info above, I have a Glock 17 and a DB9, and they have the same striker system. The Glock's striker is NOT under spring tension until you pull the trigger, just like the DB9. A S&W M&P 9 on the other hand, does have the striker under tension at all times when the slide is foward, until it is released by pulling the trigger.

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