Are only the rich entitled to self-defense? If you’re on a budget, do you have to settle for an inferior personal protection firearm?
Diamondback Firearms says “no” to both of these questions with its compact AM2 pistol.
Based in the Sunshine State, Diamondback makes a range of firearms that are aimed at fitting into the average budget. The striker-fired AM2 is a prime example of affordability at just a touch over $300. But pricing is only one part of the equation. Reliability, accuracy, and ergonomics are too important to ignore.
In this Diamondback AM2 review, I give the gun a thorough workout to determine if it should be included for your consideration as a defensive pistol.
General AM2 Pistol Information
Once known as the Space Coast, Brevard County seems like the center of Florida’s modern Gun Coast. Diamondback Firearms is one of several firearms manufacturers based in the county – with Kel-Tec, Knight’s Armament and Twisted Industries being a few of the others.
Manufacturing firearms is a good fit for the region. With NASA seemingly uninterested in space exploration, there is a surplus of precision manufacturing capacity and skilled tradesmen in the area. Combined with Florida’s traditional business and gun friendly environment, it should not be a surprise to see many smaller companies in the state bringing new designs and ideas to the market.
Diamondback Firearms is one example.
The company began in 2009 with the DB380 pistol – a subcompact handgun designed around the .380 ACP cartridge. Since then, the company has added the DB9 and a variety of AR pistols and rifles. One of its latest creations is the AM2 pistol.
At its most basic, the AM2 is a compact 9mm pistol that holds 12 rounds with a flush fitting magazine. The frame is large enough for most people to get a complete grip, yet the gun remains fairly flat and thin for concealment purposes. It also has a number of features that are sometimes overlooked on affordable guns – things like an accessory rail, combat sights and an included 17-round extended magazine.
Features & Styling
The AM2 is a compact handgun: larger than the Diamondback DB9, but smaller than the now discontinued FS Nine. Although fitting into the compact category with a 3.5″ barrel, it is definitely not a pocket gun.
Diamondback designed this gun with a grip large enough to wrap your whole hand around it. The overall width of the pistol is about 1.09″. This makes it substantially thicker than the company’s DB9 Gen 4 (0.89″), but thinner than other guns like the Glock 19 Gen4 (1.26″).
An aggressive surface texture really locked the gun into my hand during testing.
I was surprised at how flat the gun is. It lacks weird bulges in the frame or slide. Even so, the gun feels good to me.
A slight undercut behind the trigger guard allows the hand to get a slightly higher grip on the frame. Diamondback compliments this with an ample beavertail to prevent slide bite. I was able to get a solid, high grip on the pistol, and it felt very good.
Diamondback uses a metal chassis inside the polymer shell. It strengthens the gun and provides beefy rails for the slide to move on. Seriously – the rails look much thicker than what I’ve seen on other, more expensive pistols.
This internal chassis is the serial numbered part. It does not appear that the chassis system is designed for user swapping like the SIG P250/P320 lines of handguns. I suspect, however, that the chassis gives the company a great deal of flexibility when it comes to designing new sizes of guns.
Polymer, striker-fired pistols often have mediocre triggers, with the Glock pistol being the exemplar of the type. Personally, I don’t mind the Glock trigger, but I do like the triggers on the H&K VP9 and Walther PPQ better.
On my AM2 pistol, the trigger has a moderate amount of take-up with a fairly short pull. The majority of the movement in the trigger is the initial take up.
The pull was gritty initially, but after a box of ammo, it smoothed out and continued to improve the more I shot. The trigger feels significantly better than some other inexpensive pistols like the Smith & Wesson SD series. (You can read my Smith & Wesson SD40 review for more information on that gun.)
Prior to shooting the AM2, I used a Lyman digital trigger scale to measure the pull weight. A 10 pull average measured 7 pounds, 10.0 ounces. This is a bit more than the 5-6 pound pull stated on the company’s website.
After shooting more than 500 rounds through the gun, I took another 10 pull average of the trigger. This time, I measured exactly 7 pounds, 0.0 ounces. That 10 ounces of pull weight must have been all grit as the feel is much improved.
Diamondback uses a 3-dot sight arrangement that will be familiar to most shooters. However, I think they improve the system by using a wide U-notch in the rear sight rather than a typical square notch.
The U-notch seems wider and deeper than standard a standard rear sight. This should make the front sight easier to find in a violent encounter when the body alarm response has kicked in. Allowing more daylight between the sides of the notch means the eye can spot the front sight and is less likely to be confused by the rear dots.
Third party sight companies like Trijicon, Night Fision and TRUGLO have all developed rear sights with a wide U-notch for this exact reason. I’m unfamiliar with any other guns that ship with a U-notch standard. However, I suspect this will be a more common feature in the coming years.
Diamondback uses Glock pattern sights, so the world is your oyster if you wish to swap out to night sights or fiber optics. The factory sights are made of metal. (Ed. note: I originally stated, incorrectly, that the AM2 shipped with polymer sights. The standard sights are metal. I apologize for the error.)
One of the key components for any self-defense handgun kit is a quality holster. When new guns are introduced, shooters often have to scramble to find a good carry rig.
Diamondback Firearms worked with several manufacturers, such as Crossbreed Holsters and Dara Holsters & Gear, to make sure owners would have a variety of carrying options. For more information on these rigs, take a look at my Diamondback AM2 holsters page. I cover all of these rigs in more detail there.
Diamondback Firearms offers a limited lifetime warranty on all of its pistols. I am not an attorney and suggest you read the warranty for yourself. However, it appears that you would need to have a proof of purchase and service and/or handling charges may be applied to the warranty work. The warranty does not cover damage from work done by yourself or a third party, the improper use of the gun or running the wrong kinds of ammo in the gun. Ordinary wear and tear are not officially covered either.
All in all, the warranty is in line with what I’ve seen from other manufacturers and better than some.
|capacity||12 rounds standard, 17 rounds in extended magazine (included)|
|action||striker-fired with trigger safety and 5-6 lb pull weight|
|weight||22 ounces unloaded|
|height||4.6" (with 12 round magazine)|
|width||1.09" (max), 0.975" (slide)|
|finish||QPQ black nitride|
I’ve said it before and I say it again now: reliability in a self-defense gun is an absolute must. As it turns out, the Diamondback AM2 performed well during my testing.
While I had the gun, I put 750 rounds of ammunition through it. It was a mix of inexpensive practice and top tier defensive loads. During all of that shooting, I had only one hiccup: the slide did not lock back after shooting the very first magazine. After that single incident, I had no more problems at all with the pistol.
All of the loads showed reasonable accuracy. Frankly, the gun is more accurate than I am. Between my aging eyes and increasing arthritis, I still managed a best 5-shot group of 0.96″ unsupported at 7 yards with the Federal HST 124 gr JHP +P load. The rest of the loads fell into the 1″-1.5″ range when I was shooting for groups.
As I previously mentioned, Diamondback uses a rough texture on the grip of the AM2. During shooting, this prevented the gun from wiggling around in my hands as they got sweaty. That, combined with the modest recoil, made follow up shots relatively easy.
The trigger is easy to work and consistent. Once it smoothed out, I was able to develop a roll to it that felt natural. It’s not a fine revolver trigger, but it’s not the “Glock wall” either.
I practiced drawing from the Dara Holsters IWB rig I had with the gun. The draw was smooth and offered no problems.
Carrying the gun was no better or worse than guns of a similar size. However, you will likely want an undershirt between the gun and your skin due to the aggressive texturing on the grip surface.
Diamondback Firearms is in the process of updating its user manual. Currently, it states that +P ammunition should not be used in the AM2. Fortunately, this is incorrect.
According to Adam Walker, the Vice President of Engineering at Diamondback Firearms, the AM2 is designed to be used with any SAAMI spec 9mm ammunition including +P loads.
|Blazer Brass 124 gr FMJ|
|Federal HST 124 gr +P JHP|
|Hornady Critical Defense 115 gr FTX|
|Liberty Ammunition 50 gr JHP +P FMJ|
|Remington UMC 115 gr FMJ|
|Remington UMC 115 gr JHP|
|SIG SAUER Elite 115 gr FMJ|
|SIG SAUER V-Crown 115 gr JHP|
|SIG SAUER V-Crown 124 gr JHP|
|SIG SAUER V-Crown 147 gr JHP|
|Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP|
|Winchester Forged 115 gr FMJ|
Performance measured with a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital Chronograph at an approximate distance of 15' from the muzzle of the pistol. All measurements are an average of five shots.
My AM2 proved to be a reliable handgun, and that is the most important aspect of a self-defense firearm. The gun also demonstrated good accuracy complimented by a set of fast sights. In my hands, the AM2 was a comfortable shooter that I enjoyed spending time with on the firing line.
Is it perfect? Of course not. I’d like the gun to have a slightly more pronounced magazine release button and a shorter extended magazine. But these are all minor things. None of them would stop me from buying this handgun.
Based on my sample firearm, I feel it deserves a look by anyone wanting a defensive 9mm handgun. With a suggested retail price of $339, you can probably pick one up for around $300 at a local gun shop. That makes it a serious bargain.
Ever wonder “what’s in it for this guy?” when reading someone’s review of a gun or other product? That’s a completely legitimate question – and one that everyone should ask. But how many magazines or websites actually pull back the curtain and show you where the products come from and how they make their money?
I don’t know, but I do.
To start with the gun in this review was provided to me by Diamondback Firearms specifically for this purpose. The company also provided a DB9 Gen 4 and previously provided an original model DB9 for review. All of these guns were loaners only.
Diamondback did not offer money or another form of compensation for writing a review, and I was very clear that I would provide an honest review – not a positive one. As it turns out, the gun ran well, so the article reflects that.
Diamondback Firearms is not an advertiser or sponsor of any kind. I do not have a financial interest in Diamondback or any other firearms manufacturer.
GunsHolstersAndGear.com (GHG) is a ‘for profit’ website. That is to say, I earn money by publishing GHG just like you might earn money driving a truck, fixing a well, or serving a warrant. The money I earn on this site helps educate the kids and feed ’em too.
I earn money on GHG by using affiliate links to companies like Brownells and Amazon. If you choose to use one of these links to make a purchase, I earn a small commission (usually between 1-5%). I do not get to see what any individual buys, nor does the link affect your purchase price. If you are going to make a purchase anyway, this gives you an easy way to support my work without opening your wallet a second time.
If you have any questions about any of this or would like to leave your thoughts about my Diamondback AM2 review, please use the comments section below. I try to run a family friendly site, so please be civil.