The Diamondback Arms FS Nine

‘Everyman’s’ Tactical Handgun

You can take the boys out of the second grade but you’ll never take the second grade out of the boys. Back in the Stone Age when I wore a uniform, the hangar that housed my Army Aviation unit developed a bit of a mouse problem. The obvious solution was a half dozen Wal-Mart mousetraps or perhaps even the acquisition of a unit cat. What my guys devised, however, was markedly more elegant.

I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice to say a couple of pieces of sheet metal, some rubber insulation, a circuit breaker wired to 220 volts, and a gobbet of peanut butter later we never lacked for entertainment. Soldiers came from all over post to pull up a lawn chair and watch our diabolical mousetrap at work. Our mice were some brazen rascals and would venture out as soon as the trap was baited and armed. The resulting electrical arc would throw the little monsters’ lifeless corpses truly remarkable distances amidst copious smoke and the inimitable odor of burned hair and ozone. Even the most ardent animal rights activist would acknowledge the little guys didn’t suffer. There were undoubtedly easier ways to rid ourselves of vermin but that we solved the problem with style was indisputable.

Fortunes have been invested and lives spent in the quest to build the better mousetrap. Catching the mouse is a given. It is simply that some tools are more inspired than others. Now how might that relate to guns, you ponder?

Gaston Glock’s polymer marvel is an indisputably elegant piece of work. His Austrian handguns fill the holsters of 65 percent of the cops in America. While every proper gun maker on the planet produces plastic pistols these days, an adolescent company from Florida makes them just a little bit differently.

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The new FS Nine from Diamondback Arms is a lightweight,
high capacity, polymer-framed handgun with an unusual
slide-forward design. This feature keeps the center of
gravity as far forward as possible to minimize muzzle
flip and facilitate faster follow-up shots.

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The Diamondback Arms FS Nine feeds from a slightly
modified M9 magazine with a 15-round capacity.
Magazines drop free and an oversized mag base
facilitates manhandling if something gets stuck.

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While most everybody ships their guns in plastic
carrying cases these days, the case for the Diamondback
FS Nine is built like a tank. You could eject this case
from the International Space Station and have the gun
arrive on earth intact.

Diamondback Arms

Diamondback Arms cut its teeth on cute little .380 pocket pistols sporting a characteristic slide-forward geometry. I carried one for several years myself and found it to be controllable, reliable and practically weightless. I never found fault with the piece. The grip-to-frame angle most closely approximates that of the revered 1911 but the slide rides just a little bit farther forward on the frame than what we might expect from a more traditional handgun. The new FS Nine mimics this layout, only now in a full-figured, high-capacity 9mm.

This slide arrangement is a bit tough to describe but it’s the first thing you notice when you look at the gun. For a corn-fed American gunman raised on the 1911 and M9 the slide-to-frame relationship on Diamondback pistols just seems a little bit, um … wrong. However, once I invested some effort studying the gun and then launched a few rounds downrange I came to realize what at first seemed aesthetically incongruous is actually pretty darn cool.

The slide-forward design puts the center of gravity of the gun as far forward of the shooter’s grip as practical. It also lowers the line of recoil as low as possible to the user’s arm without snipping skin as the slide cycles. What this equates to is decreased muzzle flip and faster follow-up shots.

Call me a heretic but I’m not an accuracy hound when it comes to combat handguns. If I wanted to shoot Truman out of a dime at 25 meters I would bring a different tool. That said, the FS Nine was completely reliable, surprisingly accurate, and pleasantly comfortable during our testing. It groups as well as or better than any other plastic handgun in my collection and the unique layout gives the gun a legitimate edge in fast tactical drills.

The slide release is a bit bigger than most and the slide pops back into battery more readily than is the case with its competitors. There is a loaded chamber window and the striker protrudes out the back of the slide when cocked. The obligatory railed dust cover is a genuine picatinny design accepting most anything you might hang on your tricked-out AR. The checkering sports a cool snakeskin motif and the grip incorporates the most delightful palm swells that interface perfectly with the human hand.

The drop-free magazine is a slightly-modified M9 mag with an oversized baseplate. The grip includes a pair of dimples to facilitate manhandling the magazine should it ever get stuck, and the magwell is beveled. The gun sometimes dropped empty cases on the top of my head during rapid fire drills but that happens with a lot of handguns.

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While there are no interchangeable backstraps, the
grips on the FS Nine are nicely contoured and well
proportioned. Whether it be my big monkey mitts or
those of a smaller-statured female shooter — like
our sample here — the gun feels good in the hand.

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The grips on the FS Nine (L) are slightly smaller
than those of the Glock and they incorporate some
pleasant palm swells.

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Sights on the Diamondback FS Nine are no-snag
and low profile with three white dots.

Comparisons?

There will be inevitable comparisons. The Glock is a little fatter and the triggers differ in nuance between the two platforms. While both are striker-fired and similar the trigger take-up on the FS Nine is smoother than the Glock while the actual break is just a little bit coarser. The full-length guide rod is metal and that’s a nice touch.

I prefer the classic 1911 grip-to-frame angle embodied in the FS Nine over the Georg Luger-inspired Glock but that is nothing more than a personal taste. I have a passion for Count Chocula breakfast cereal and like a little butter on my hamburger buns as well. Variety is the spice of life.

The slide-forward architecture really grew on me. After living with the gun for a while it gives me a sort of Robocop vibe I now find aesthetically appealing. The action is exceptionally smooth and the details well-reasoned. In this case I saved the best part for the end. The MSRP on the FS Nine is only $483. Considering the shop price will likely be even lower, the FS Nine brings you everything the Big Guys do at a reasonable cost. Is it the better mousetrap? Pick one up, launch a few rounds downrange, and decide for yourself. Compared to other contemporary tactical handguns, it won’t cost you much.

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The slide release is oversized and easily accessed.
The magazine release is not reversible but is sized
just right. The snakeskin checkering feels good and
looks cool.

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Operation is identical to any similar plastic handgun.
The primary safety is a discreet blade incorporated
directly into the trigger.

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The slide-forward geometry of the FS Nine combined with
a very low bore axis make for faster recovery, less
muzzle flip and quick follow-up shots.

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The full-length picatinny rail on the dust cover will
mount any standard accessory. Winchester’s 147-grain
defensive loads make the Diamondback FS Nine an
effective and controllable defensive handgun.

Will Dabbs, MD
Photos: Sarah Dabbs

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