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Preview – Diamondback FS Nine

Photography by Kenda Lenseigne

Diamondback’s Full-Sized 9mm is a Value-Priced Alternative to the Big Guys

Imagine you woke up one morning and declared, “You know, what the world needs right now is a full-sized, polymer framed, striker-fired 9mm handgun — because there just aren’t too many of those around.”

Until now, Diamondback Firearms has been making very small concealed carry pistols in .380 ACP and 9mm, like everyone else, and AR-15 style rifles, also like everyone else, so a “me too” double-stack seems pretty much inevitable. As a business model, this has worked for everyone from General Motors to Sony at one time or another, so we’re not going to criticize DB for following this well-trodden path — so long as the resulting product performs. Does it? Read on and find out.

Diamondback-Springfield-S&W-GlockDiamondback-FS9-Internals

Design Origins
Imagine if a Glock 17, a Smith & Wesson M&P, and a Springfield Armory XDm got together, drank a little too much moonshine, and somehow ended up with a kid. The Smith was the first to try to wiggle out of child support payments, but the frame, grip angle, slide catch, loaded chamber indicator, extractor placement, low bore axis, sear, guide rod, and recoil spring made a DNA test redundant. The XDm then figured he might be off the hook, but the trigger and cocking indicator was suspect enough to land him a guest spot on Maury, revealing unmistakable large metal front rails. And the Glock was the mom of this lovechild, donating the takedown mechanism, sights, firing pin block, trigger bar, ejector, and trigger safety. Like most kids at family gatherings, the FS Nine will probably deny that she got any of these characteristics from her parents, while everyone else in the room nods knowingly, “Uh huh, sure honey…”

Apart from the more obvious features from her lineage, the FS Nine has a number of somewhat unique details, some better thought out than others. The nitrided stainless steel slide features serrations that are deep and aggressive, providing enough grip even if wet or slippery. The trigger guard comes stock with an undercut area for the middle finger, right where many shooters remove material from their Glocks so that they can scoot their firing grip a little bit higher. Thankfully, the FS does not come with an active external safety or a magazine safety, so we are spared from having to insert a magazine to drop the striker on an empty chamber. Like the XDm, the Diamondback’s striker is fully cocked when a round is chambered, so a cocking indicator is somewhat beneficial. However, unlike the XDm, the rear of the striker does not protrude outward enough to detect its position by feel, so it’s really only useful with the lights on. The sights are modeled on Glock’s plastic fantastic, though in DB’s case they’re thankfully made of steel and lack the redundant and off-putting rear white outline.

If you find the stock M&P grip comfortable, you’ll be right at home with this blaster. However, the FS is overly confident; therefore adjustable backstraps are not an option — you have to love her for who she is. The frame texture is also not very aggressive. We would have preferred a bit more bite, but this is easily remedied with a soldering iron by the more adventurous. The magazine release button is placed and sized in a common and ergonomic position for most hands — unless those hands are on the left side of your body. Southpaws will have to use their trigger finger to dump the mag, as the button can’t be swapped.

The magazine design struck us as a bit odd. Based on the full-sized Beretta 92 mag, it protrudes from the bottom of the grip and has a plastic floorplate to cover the exposed portion. It seems like Diamondback couldn’t decide whether to make this a compact or full-size gun, and in the end decided to split the difference. The accessory rail under the barrel is a full 2 inches long and has five Picatinny slots, with ample space behind the one closest the trigger guard — more than enough room to fit a light or three. The bang switch has the now-industry-standard “gas pedal” safety, but unlike most of its competitors, Diamondback opted for a metal, rather than plastic, trigger. The slide release is very Glock-ish — unobtrusive, right where you’d expect, and hard to engage unintentionally.

Diamondback-FS9-Profile

Before we went out to the range we needed a baseline for comparison, and herein lay a conundrum. Though the FS Nine was clearly an offspring of Glock, M&P and XD, she didn’t inherit her parents’ price tag. Though she came from a middle-class upbringing, she’s apparently a bit of a rebel and also cheaper. Significantly cheaper. The MSRP is right at $483.34 — an odd number, but she’s an odd girl, so it’s kind of fitting. We found that if we held out on her, she would give it up for $375, at least $200 cheaper than some of her parents’ going rate. So do we compare her to pistols in her price range, or to those who so blatantly influenced her? Let’s do both!

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