Pocket Bottlerocket. the Diamondback .380 Auto
Anyone who knows anything about defending themselves with a handgun will tell you that it is not the ideal tool as far as stopping power. A handgun is a compromise between stopping power, reliability and size. With the first two being arguably the most important.
You would be better served by a centerfire rifle as a defensive firearm. Except carrying around a rifle is not always a good idea. When it comes to handguns for carry, there are about as many options as there are grains of propellent in a six pound jug of Unique. That is a guesstimate on my part.
When it comes down to choosing a handgun for carry there are many factors that come into play. Those factors also change depending on the time of year, how you will carry/conceal and what you are comfortable with.
Personally I have two favorites for a concealed carry handgun, a Colt M1991A1 in .45 Auto and a Glock 20 in 10mm Auto. Both pistols are extremely reliable (a very important factor), are chambered in rounds that offer a great deal of stopping power as autoloading handguns go. I am familiar with both platforms and am proficient with each. Both are plenty accurate, and I have a great deal of confidence in either.
The problem with both pistols as a concealed carry handgun is they are large. With a good belt, holster, and a little wardrobe planning that is not usually a problem but it can be. There are times when dress will not allow me to carry such a large handgun. At that point you have to either decide to leave your gun behind (a bad idea as long as you are not breaking the law) or choose a small handgun that will conceal much better.
With small guns come a plethora of concerns such as stopping power, more difficult to shoot, less than ideal sights, a loss in accuracy, and your friends may laugh at you. (a more serious problem than you may think). Like I said when I started out, a handgun is all about compromises. Though the very small pocket guns are not the perfect choice for defense, they are much better than harsh words. With the latest advances in bullet design the small cartridges are closing the gap a bit.
Also, many people prefer to carry two pistols. Having a primary gun and back up is not a bad idea at all as far as I am concerned. Having a small easily concealed handgun is a perfect choice for a back up piece.
I picked up a Diamondback chambered in .380 Auto for a deep concealment and/or back up gun. Here it is with my inside the waistband holster made by Next Holster. Which is an excellent holster choice for carry and concealment.
As the rules go you really need to familiarize yourself with the new pistol while being sure it is reliable with which ever ammunition you intend to carry.
You can see the generous trigger guard here as well as the front and rear cocking serrations and the take down lever. The external extractor acts as a loaded chamber indicator. You can see it tipped in close to the barrel showing an empty chamber. When loaded the extractor is flat with the slide. The receiver is made of reinforced polymer and has held up well through out the test.
Raised area on the front strap that did help hang onto the little pistol under recoil.
Front sight with white dot
Rear sight that is drift adjustable. The right dot chipped off a bit during abuse but I was still able to pick it up easily.
You can see the large magazine release here just behind the trigger guard as well at the six shot magazine
The barrel ramp that offered excellent case head support but still fed reliably.
Close up of the steel magazine
The Diamondback field strips just as a Glock, by checking to be sure it is unloaded. Pull the slide just out of battery, depress the take down lever, and pull the trigger. The slide can then be removed by sliding it forward off the receiver. It also detail strips very similar to a Glock by pushing out pins in the receiver and disassembling. Be advised there are a few small parts that could be easily lost if you were not careful. Notice the dual recoil spring assembly. With the inner spring captive and the outer spring slides off the guide rod. You will notice the firing pin safety on the underside of the slide.
The Diamondback .380 as compared to the Glock 17 Gen 4 9mm Luger (see the Glock review here)
Hornady was good enough to send some 90gr Critical Defense, and we picked up some Speer Gold Dot 90gr, Federal Hydra Shok 90gr, and, Winchester FMJ 95gr. Then we went to work.
We started right off with the Hornady and went through the list. Over 3 range trips Jason Lundwall, Tom Foster, and myself put about 350 rounds through the Diamondback without cleaning it.
Accuracy was on par with my Bersa Thunder 380 though the DB is much smaller. I stepped off thirty feet and was able to keep 7 rounds well inside a seven inch circle. Many times getting five inch groups with the Hornady and Speer. Surprisingly good accuracy for what it is, but it would not be my first choice for a NRA Bullseye match. The trigger pull was a smooth six pounds throughout with some take up, reminiscent of a double action revolver. The smooth trigger pull comes from the dual trigger bars.
For the .380 Auto Ballistic results with the Diamondback and Bersa try this link.
The Diamondback is a fine little pistol. The sights were better than on many pocket pistols of that size and worked well. The only thing I really did not like was the little pistol did not lock the slide back on an empty magazine. Though that is not as big of a problem as it would be on a primary pistol. The Diamondback is a deep concealment pistol and also somewhat of a last resort. Within that role it is a fine choice and I am happy with it.
Capacity: 6+1 Rounds
Weight: 8.8 Ounces
Barrel Length: 2.80″
Firing Mechanism: Striker Fire
Jason Lundwall, editor
Tom Foster technical consultant