Diamondback Firearms DB380 review

While reviewing several guns equipped with Crimson Trace lasers this weekend, I had the opportunity to shoot the Diamondback DB380 for the first time.  I vaguely remember when the gun came out that I thought “oh look, another smallish .380″.  The gun then proceeded to completely fall off my radar until I shot it this weekend.

As far as compact .380s go, the Diamondback is probably the second best looking, with the Sig P238 being the clear winner in the looks department.  The DB380 actually looks like the offspring of a Glock, a S&W Bodyguard, and a LCP and it borrows some of its functions from each of these guns.  The particular specimen I shot was equipped with a Crimson Trace LG-491 LaserGuard, which worked flawlessly as I’ve come to expect from Crimson Trace products.  The laser module integrates with the trigger guard and front of the pistol, and in my opinion actually enhances the lines of the pistol.  At 7 and 10 yards, rapid hits with the laser were ridiculously easy.  Honestly, if you already have a solid foundation of sight picture, body index, and trigger control using a laser is so easy it’s like cheating.  I backed the Diamondback .380 out to 25 yards and was still ringing the still quite handily with it.

Probably the best feature of the Diamondback is the trigger.  I was quite surprised, considering the gun’s pedigree that the trigger was actually pretty decent.  It felt similar to an untuned revolver trigger with a much lighter pull, not the gritty/crunchy triggers we’ve seen on other compact .380 pistols.  That made shooting pretty easy,

and my Bill Drills (six shots at 7 yards) from the pocket were hovering around 2.7-3.00 seconds with the Diamondback .380.  If you get this gun, the LaserGuard is an absolute must buy.  The sights aren’t anything spectacular, and while they are a step up from the sights on the Kel-Tec compact pistols, they are still very small and difficult to acquire at speed.  If you’re carrying one of these, it needs to have a LaserGuard on it.

That being said, I cannot recommend the DB380 as a defensive firearm in any circumstances.  In the course of running the gun (which had already been fired prior to my evaluation) I experienced numerous failures to feed, failures to extract, and most disconcertingly several random failures where the striker wouldn’t reset.  You would let the trigger out all the way and then pull it again and nothing would happen.  A chamber check would show that the gun had cycled and chambered a fresh round, but for whatever reason the striker would not reset.

I really wanted to like this gun.  The form factor on it is great, it’s comfortable to hold, and when it works it’s easy to shoot.  The picture at the left shows one of the double feed malfunctions we had; the round failed to extract and the second round is actually trapped under the partially exposed firing pin as the slide attempts to return to battery.  This malf was so bad that the magazine had to be pried out of the gun using tools before the gun could return to function.  The persistent malfunctions really were disappointing – I think that there is a huge market for easy to shoot and easy to carry pocket guns, and the Diamondback .380 could have filled in nicely in that niche along the other guns out there.  However, a simple google search will show that the issues I had with this gun are not unique to me, several other users have experienced the same problems with the striker not resetting, numerous failures to feed and extract, and even the dreaded double feed.

Bottom line is that I liked the DB380 a lot when it ran.  It was comfortable to shoot, easy to manage, and accurate for self defense – but it didn’t run often enough or consistently enough to be a gun that I’d bet my life on, or that I’d recommend my readers bet their lives on.  The Crimson Trace LaserGuard on the other hand worked just fine – it was pouring rain on the gun and the laser unit, and never once did the laser falter in the foul weather.

13 comments for “Diamondback Firearms DB380 review

  1. JP
    December 13, 2010 at 11:18

    I’ve heard from numerous people who bought this gun that they’ve had to send it back to the factory for the striker problem.

    Which is a shame because at first it seems like a really well made little pistol. I hope they get the problems ironed out in the near future.

  2. Raph84
    December 13, 2010 at 14:59

    There are a lot of mixed reviews on this gun. I know Combat Handguns, and Gunblast both liked it, but no idea how hard they pushed it.

    What ammo were you using, and what is the serial # designation (ZA, ZC, or ZD)? There are quite a few people on diamondbacktalk forum trying to decode why some guns run like tops, and others fall on their face.

    • Tam
      December 15, 2010 at 03:37

      Ralph84,

      I know Combat Handguns … liked it

      CH has never, to my knowledge, not liked a gun.

      • raph84
        December 15, 2010 at 15:56

        I hear you on that. There are some less easily impressed folks who have had better luck with it though. So far mines been a keeper and I’ve had not issues…but if I had it to do over again I prolly would have saved for a Sig 238 or a Khar P380 (just so I don’t have to worry about hearing click instead of bang)

  3. December 14, 2010 at 07:15

    Everytime I look at that little thing I think of a Glock. Yes, its probably the micro .380 that Glock should have made…. and perhaps if they did, there would not be all the problems with them.

  4. Tam
    December 15, 2010 at 03:36

    Somehow the news of the gun’s poor reliability does not leave me feeling all surprised and stuff.

  5. anonymous
    December 15, 2010 at 05:47

    > Yes, its probably the micro .380 that Glock should
    > have made…. and perhaps if they did

    The Glock 25 and Glock 28 are not imported into the U.S.

  6. December 15, 2010 at 06:55

    Bah, if you were a chick, you’d be told the malfs were due to your “weak wrists.”

  7. December 15, 2010 at 08:35

    Hmm, if they’re cheap enough, I might get one to practice malfunction drills with. None of my other handguns malfunction, and it always felt a bit contrived having to “set up” double feeds and FTEs, in order to practice clearing them.

  8. December 15, 2010 at 15:31

    Gunmart,

    Glock already makes a .380 pistol. They’re just not allowed to import it due to the .gov’s incomprehensible “points” system.

    • JRWnTN
      December 15, 2010 at 17:54

      Glock’s .380′s are the same size as the 9mm G19 and G26 (and .40/357 that share the same frames). I understand why they’re sold in some countries, but for the US market, there’s no advantage to downsizing the caliber when you can’t downsize the gun.

  9. Shoeless
    January 5, 2011 at 03:37

    I have almost 1K rounds through mine, and I have had 1 dented primer and 1 FTF(My fault for not racking the slide back).
    With the proper grip, ammunition, and cleaning, this gun has worked perfectly.

  10. BlackMax
    January 5, 2011 at 08:39

    Boxes of ammo through mine, too. Only minor issues that were easy to fix with some very light smoothing. Flawless so far….

    What is really amounts to is being familiar with your firearm and if there is a malfunction, understanding what the problem is.

    Every manufacturer has growing pains and even best firearm will malfunction eventually.

    I would hate to see a US firearm manufacturer fail due to the squealers.

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