Handgun Review: Ruger EC9s
It is a slim grip, which may be somewhat uncomfortable to those with large hands, but the grip surfaces have a mild ribbing to help ensure a comfortable and reliable purchase while firing even hot loads. The safety is small but easy to access with the thumb (for righties) and the trigger is not too far out, so smaller handed shooters should have little to no issues. Slide and even the fewer but larger serrations allow for easy slide manipulation. The optional finger extension plate included may offer additional shooting comfort but does so at the expense of almost another half an inch in height which may negatively affect concealability.
At seven to ten yards with various types of ammunition the Ruger EC9s may group typically at less than 2”. Some rounds, especially slower ones, will do better. Also, as the gun is broken in and practiced with a particular, well performing cartridge, groups should predictably improve. For defensive purposes, however, out of a sub 4” barrel, this is not terrible. This also underscores the pistol’s real purpose: a personal defense, concealed handgun.
Stress tests are somewhat rare for this model gun, but general use (it is meant as a last ditch, just in case) with respectable practice is something that both the company and the gun have been able to support for the entire run of the parent model, so the Ruger EC9s should have no surprises. The good news is that when an engineering or manufacturing issue pops up, Ruger takes care of it.
Different “skins” are available via distributor exclusives, but there is not much that can be upgraded on such a small package designed for discretion. Lasermax and others offer frame mounted light options that greatly increase the gun’s functionality, and as mentioned [several] times above, make sense for this model since the manufacturer cut costs on basic sights leaving some money left over for the upgrade.
Rounded edges and simplistic, the gun is definitely designed for function rather than form. It is not “ugly” or boxy, with lines that are not displeasing, but a work of art it is arguably not. But that is not the point: though Ruger does have a scroll engraved version, the production model is designed to be close and CONCEALED. If someone is looking at it, there has been a grave tactical mistake.
Rugers, especially the polymer 9mm Rugers, are always affordably priced. By intentionally making a “economy” or “Essentials” model, the company is definitely targeting the cheaper options with a brand name that is well established and respected. Finding one under $250 (not at all impossible) and mounting a dependable light system on it for less than the cost of a baseline Glock or Kimber is quite enticing.
The popularity of the Ruger LC9S (striker fired), and concealed carry pistols in general, encouraged Ruger to offer an “essentials” model that was lower priced yet still offers the same feel and features of the single stack 9mm pistol. With the availability of economically priced “pocket” guns chambered in a full sized 9mm, Ruger – somewhat wisely – determined an economy version of their mainline LC9S was in order, both to cater to those who needed a more affordable option but also a buy in that would help sell the additional features of the original pistol itself.
The LC series began in 2011 as a hammer fired, single action 9mm that had quite a bit in common with a KelTec PF9. While the KelTec is a reliable and affordable gun, it also has the feel of an old time cap gun with a long, arguably heavy, double action only trigger pull. It was not something to write home to mom about, but it was something that would put shots down range in a crisis, and that was what people were paying for: it was not a “target” gun, it was a “get off me” gun.
The LC9s Pro, introduced in 2014, upgraded the firing mechanism to a striker fired: effectively a single action (the slide needed to be racked or cycle to fire), but the trigger pull was shortened to a much crisper break. For shooters trained with Glocks, this was an easier bridge to cross (the Glock 43 was still a year off). The LC9s is still not a target gun either, but the improvement left the shooter not wondering if it would take a day of pulling the trigger before it would fire. It made it more comfortable, but it also meant trigger discipline was more paramount than usual.
The EC9s, introduced in 2018, offers that same platform, but with some cost savings modifications.
Ruger EC9s Review
What it Has
The same frame, magazine and barrel as the LC9s. This means the gun has a 3.5” barrel (1:10 RH twist), is 6” long, 4.5” high (with the flush magazine plate) and .9” wide. Empty it comes in at just over 17 ounces.
Also like the LC the frame is glass filled nylon, but unlike the LC the slide and barrel feature a corrosion resistant, oxide finish instead of the blued steel on the “stepped up” model. It also differs from the LC in its sights: they are molded into the slide and therefor are fixed or non adjustable. There are fewer slide serrations, but those that are there are larger.
For safeties, the Ruger EC9S comes with both the trigger safety and manual safety and a non optional magazine disconnect.
Both the LC9s and EC9s forego a loaded chamber indicator in favor of an inspection port in the top of the slide.
How Does it Compare?
Unsurprisingly, the biggest draw of the Essentials model is the price: it places the gun as a direct competitor to the Kel-tec single stack 9mm concealed pistols but with a company that has a somewhat stronger reputation. That it uses the same magazine (7rd standard, 9rd extended) as the Ruger pistol that has been on the shelves for 8 years is also an attractive bonus. For anyone looking to install a laser or light combination, any of the quality products that fit the LC9 will fit the EC9: and the money saved on the EC can certainly help justify the upgrade without the adjustable 3 dot sights that will end up being ignored anyway.
Night Sight options are non existent: the LC9s is the only option if that is the goal. The fixed sights do not have 3 dots, but again, the point of this gun is affordability. The sights do have cuts, however, to fight glare on sunny days.
To be fair, it is NOT a Glock, the trigger pull is still long, but that is in the take up rather than pulling a heavy double action. When it breaks it breaks at a comparable 5 lbs, but the reset is over half of the way back. In a stress situation this will likely not be of much consequences at the ranges it is intended (point blank to 10 yards), and training will mitigate any real minuses from the difference.
Is it still Dependable?
Dependability and Ruger are close cousins. The company has a long tradition of building products that are designed for use and abuse. Sensible exceptions should be made since this is not an SP101 revolver that is built like a tank: it is a polymer framed, slim lined pistol that offers 40-80% more shots than the 5 shot revolver. While Ruger offers no warranty, the company always stands behind its work and thus far, the LC9 series has suffered from no serious concerns since its introduction.
The one exception is the recoil spring on first generation LC9s models had, on too many models, a penchant to slip the slide out of battery. Upon recognition of the issue Ruger stepped up with an improved recoil assembly that was shipped to customers upon request. This is typical of what the company will do when if/when there is an issue on their end of the gun’s use.
Can it be accessorized?
As mentioned above, the sights are fixed to the slide, however, the same light and/or laser mounts that were made for the LC9 series of pistols will fit the EC9s. And in fact, if that is the intention of the owner, the EC9s makes a much more sensible purchase than the LC9S as the difference in cost can be devoted to a good set up that is meant to side step the iron sets anyway.
Magazine capacities are limited to 7 or 9rds, which for a 9mm pocket gun is pretty sweet, matching if not exceeding most other guns in its class and price point.
Completely up to the tastes of the consumer. The hard corners of the gun are all rounded down for concealability as well as ease of drawing and re-holstering. Of course, Ruger also offers distributor exclusives of its pistols, and the Ruger EC9s is not exception with everything from black to two tone silver and Tiffany blue.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail price for the base model is $299 with the market seeing them for around $50 less from online or show deals.
Ruger is understandably seen as a blue collar company, especially for its service or CCW lines of pistols. This is supported by its price point as well as some of its looks. They are not ugly guns, but they are not flashy either. By offering an economy version of a pistol that is already affordable invites speculation that may be overly critical. This is a mistake.
The Ruger EC9s offers all the security of a pocket pistol that the more expensive version does by sacrificing features that are not really all that critical at all. Sights at the effective range for this gun can be rudimentary. If a laser or light is utilized (not a bad idea at all on a gun that may be used from the hip or fired from less than arms out position), it can be without any loss of utility that is available on the LC9s.
If one wants adjustable sights or night sights, than the LC9s makes sense, but for an affordable mini attitude adjuster capable of shooting seven or more 9mm rounds, one can do a lot worse for the same or more money. What is the sense in that?