I’ve been intrigued by the Breaking-Bad good looks of the AR style pistols for some time now, so when I had the opportunity to review Diamondback’s latest offering, their all USA Made AR15 dubbed the “DB15 Pistol,” I jumped at it. The one I received is the OD Green model with a 7.5″ barrel, but I understand the 10.5″ barrel variants are now available, giving buyers a choice of both size and colors. A longer barrel variety could be great news for those that tend to shy away from the inherent loud rapport and massive fireball from a 7.5″ barrel. Or so I hear. I haven’t seen anything convincing, as yet, that would lead me to believe the 10.5″ version is going to make a significant difference. However, it should help a little in the ballistics department, and I suppose a little bit here and a little bit there adds up, but would I really want to sacrifice weight and handling for a bit more velocity, a little more accuracy, and perhaps a little less noise? Before you know it, you’re encroaching on the size and weight of a carbine, and so what’s the point, right. The 7.5″ model is small, and I wouldn’t want to go any larger for my purposes. So, is the DB15 Pistol a true candidate as a home or close quarters defense weapon? I’m anxious to find out.
The DB15 7.5″ Pistol is small, light, and easily handled. And it’s fast. Meaning you can get on target quickly, and can physically manipulate the weapon more quickly than any full size rifle. Obviously. Given it’s a 5.56, the felt recoil is as easily manageable as any AR15 rifle, and the weight savings and center balance makes handling a pleasure. It weighs in, bare and empty, at 4lbs 13.8oz. Not bad!
Does the weight make it a realistic off-handed shooter? Sure, right up until you install some sights and other ‘got to haves’, then insert a loaded 30 round magazine. The weight can quickly run up to the 6.5 to 7lb area. Sure, you can handle it like a pistol and get off some single-handed shots, but it will test your strength over extended periods. I’m going stick with the notion that single handed shooting can be accomplished in a pinch, but two hands will be your friend here! And given that, it’s a great handling weapon.
The DB15 Pistol is nicely done. Fit and finish are superb with no disappointments. The OD Green and black duo tone provide a great look and is also available in Flat Dark Earth, and an all black. The lower and upper assemblies fit snugly with no rattles, and the charging handle, and the entire bolt mechanism operates very smoothly as you would expect from a high quality firearm. The hand guard has an open front and is free-floating, with both upper and lower integrated full length accessory rails.
There are no screw-in provisions for side rails, and the flash suppressor is a bit of a walk on the wild side with its very aggressive looks. But I like it! The trigger is pretty much like all the other standard AR15 triggers that I’ve handled, and I don’t particularly like any of them. They are safe and efficient, but at the expense of hook and sear angles that may cause the hammer to cam a bit. The DB15 Pistol trigger on this one is actually pretty decent. It breaks sharply, with little to no creep, at a fairly consistent 5.5lbs. A thumbs up from a trigger fanatic! But, if you like to have the best of everything, there’s always custom triggers like the Wilson Combat TTU or the ATC AR Gold and others out there. Would the DB15 Pistol benefit from a competition grade trigger given its role of what I believe to be a close quarters defensive weapon? Not really, unless you don’t mind parting with another $300 to get that ‘fuzzy’ feeling about it. I found this trigger offers all the “fuzzy” I need. And I have high end triggers! The DB15 Pistol would also make a great weapon for your vehicle or camping or just as a toss about firearm given its diminutive size. Can you hunt with it? Sure, but unless you don’t have a rifle, it most likely wouldn’t be your first choice. I can see the serious prepper stowing one of these in their bug-out bag and could easily be at the top as their firearm of choice.
At the Range:
With great anticipation, it was time to head to the range. It was a hot day in the Carolinas, but that’s ok, somebody has to make these sacrifices to satisfy the curiosity of others. Right? I limited the amount of ammunition I carried with me since I tend to go crazy when shooting any .223, and the next thing you know…wow, that was expensive! The first few shots were just to get acquainted with the noise and recoil, and, whether or not you should cheek that padded buffer tube. Turns out that the recoil is easily manageable, but if you cheek it, you better have a firm grip and keep your nose far enough away from the charging handle. Don’t ask me how I nose!
The recoil was perhaps a bit more than a carbine length AR, but not much. It’s very manageable, but since there’s no stock you need to have a grip on it. I found that I could cheek the padded buffer tube to add some stability for aiming.
As for the noise, the DB15 Pistol also wasn’t much worse than a carbine length barrel, and I couldn’t really judge the flash intensity on such a bright day. I wasn’t brave enough to remove my plugs and muffs to test the pain for this review, so if you need to know, you’re on your own! 🙂 I will, however, go out on a limb here and say it wouldn’t be very pleasant, which brings up….the use of an AR pistol as a home defense weapon. Look, it’s all going to be unpleasant, whether it’s your go-to 9mm handgun or a .223, and the last thing you’ll be noticing if you get into a firefight is how much your ears are ringing. There will be plenty of time for the grimacing afterwards!
So how did it handle and shoot? Excellent! I brought a bipod with a rail attachment to check for supported accuracy at 50 yds using a set of Diamondhead flip-up sights, and was able to stay somewhat consistent. I didn’t fully zero-in the sights, so wasn’t ‘on-center’ so to speak, but the groupings were consistent. I can’t imagine this would be the type of weapon you would over concern yourself with bullseye accuracy as, say, your bolt action ‘varmit’ rifle with a scope. Now that’s when shooting paper at distance becomes fun! For me, the AR platform is much more fun when the targets fall over, spin, move, or better yet blow up!
The DB15 Pistol itself ran flawlessly, and ripping through rounds makes you a believer that the AR pistol would serve nicely in the role of a close quarters combat machine. It could even become your favorite goto weapon, and would be a worthy one at that. The ammunition I used was the PMC X-Tac 55gr 5.56, and the magazine is the standard 30-round Magpul PMag.
AR Pistol and AR Pistol Accessories:
I might as well discuss some accessories while I’m at it. Since a vertical hand-guard support is a felony, and a bipod is legal, you could use a folding style which could double as a somewhat vertical grip. That’s what I used at the range for the accuracy check, and it actually works well in that role. It looks pretty cool when folded back, but overall it’s too much additional weight for the role of this weapon.
A popular option is the Magpul AFG (Angled Fore Grip), which is perfectly legal. I like it in that it has a front stop that butts against your hand to help mitigate recoil. The angled grip places your wrist in a comfortable position, but for me, it’s all about finding something to act as a stop since you’re no longer shouldering a stock. If preferred, you can just add a ‘stop’, which provides a similar function, less the angled grip.
The sights I used are the Diamondhead DIAMOND Integrated Sighting System. It offers several sighting options, from peep to open. For quick target acquisition you would use open sights by laying the peeps horizontally and using the diamond frames to center you target. It works well. Another option is the red dot style such as the popular reflex. For my role using the DB15 Pistol, or any AR pistol, I would select sights that provide the fastest target acquisition since there won’t be much ‘standing still’ involved in actual use.
Then there’s the buffer tube ‘forearm brace.’ I’ve never tried one, and I think many people add them to ‘legally’ add something that could double as a stock, or perhaps just resemble one. Never having tried one, I can’t really comment on the effectiveness.
It was fun shooting the DB15 Pistol as a first timer for me, but have I decided whether the DB15 Pistol is a “Close Quarters Defensive Weapon or Just Plain Ol’ Fun?” It is both of those things! Is it a great paper target weapon? Not so much for me, except to setup new sights, accuracy checks, or any other prepping/tuning before I start shooting things that will drop, spin, roll, or better yet…blow up! I’d say Diamondback has a winner with their AR pistols. A very cool weapon. And yes, plain ol’ fun indeed!!