The Ruger EC9s Reviewed: A Compact Powerhouse
Explore the Ruger EC9s, a top choice for concealed carry. We cover its features, performance, and why it stands out in the world of carry guns.
Precision Rifle Expert
Licensed Concealed Carry Holder
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Ruger is a well-known American firearm manufacturer — one of the largest gun manufacturers in the U.S. — and has a rich history of producing guns that Americans love. While the company has made nearly every kind of firearm there is, their handguns continue to be a top seller.
Today we bring you a review of another one of Ruger’s pistols, an ideal everyday carry gun for an economically minded shooter; the Ruger EC9s.
The Ruger EC9s is a close relative to another one of Ruger’s carry guns, the older LC9. For the most part, it’s a simpler design, perhaps to get the price down even further than the already approachable LC9. Ruger’s EC9s features a polymer frame, striker-fired action, and a single-stack magazine that carries seven rounds.
There is also a ten-round option for those who need more pow. Let’s dive in.
In This Article
- Compact Size
- Not Heavy
- Safety for those that want it
- Smoothed edges to prevent snags
- Trigger safety (if you like those)
- Reliable shooting performance
- Great price to value ratio
- Stiff recoil spring
- Stiff slide release
- 8-10 round max capacity
- Non-replaceable sights
- Shooting experience is a bit snappy
- Includes just one magazine
Shooting the EC9s for several months now, I have come to feel quite comfortable with the pistol. With as many of these pistols as there are out there, I must not be the only one who feels that way.
While the Ruger EC9s isn’t as refined as perhaps some other CCW pistol options, it’s both a very reliable gun and one that offers significant value.
The little gun seems to shoot quite reliably, and accurately enough to be useful as a defense weapon. That said, it probably won’t win any prizes for its cutting-edge performance.
I suppose a few things could be improved, but to be honest it does pretty good for its price point. If you are a big Ruger fan, you should probably get one of these if you haven’t already.
How’d the EC9s stack up on our 60-point scale?
Accuracy from the EC9 was exactly what I anticipated. It was easy to keep the shots inside a ten-inch circle at ten yards. It’s certainly not some kind of high performance competition pistol, but at this price point, I think it shot well for close range and home defense work.
The ergonomics were suitable for a CCW pistol. I think that personally, I would like it if the grip edges were rounded off a bit more. And the safety was a little different than I expected.
The only part I could honestly say I disliked was the slide release. Which was quite stiff to release the slide on a fresh magazine.
At this price point, I wasn’t surprised by the EC9’s features. It is a pretty simple and basic pistol. The added length of the ten-round magazine was a plus, but the EC9s does well with its basic features.
Fit & Finish: 8/10
Again, for a pistol of this price, the Ruger EC9s fares pretty well. The metal coatings look nice, and the polymer frame with various colors is a good look. Everything about the pistol fit well and allowed proper function.
In the several hundred rounds we fired through the Ruger EC9s, I have yet to have any malfunctions. I would feel a lot better if the slide release wasn’t so stiff though.
If you are looking for a 9mm pistol for self-defense, the EC9s is hard value to beat. It brings compact and lightweight functions priced under $300.
7+1 & 9+1
Barrel Length:, 3.12"
High Performance Glass-Filled Nylon
Data from Ruger,
Ruger’s family of petite pistols came around in the early 2010s, first as the LC9, which we have a long-term review on. The LC9 included a few features Ruger shunned on the cheaper EC9s, namely adjustable rear sights and a more aggressive grip texture.
The EC9s came afterward, and while it feels a lot like similar guns Ruger produces and it’s roughly the same size, it’s an even more affordable option to further supplant other small handguns from the CCW market.
The simplified manufacturing of the EC9s saw non-adjustable sights milled into the slide and simplified the frame construction. Other cost-savings are found in the fewer slide serrations that help reduce production costs.
The result makes the Ruger EC9s a very small and cost-effective pistol. Almost like a striker-fired American clone of the famous PPK carried by spies and heroes from the 1960’s.
The size of the EC9s makes it an easy choice for a pocket pistol, though I doubt it’s used by many Bond types.
The EC9s uses the traditional recoil-operated autoloading system and the action is fired by a striker vs. the traditional hammer.
The barrel and slide mount to the frame rails, and disengage under recoil pressure. After the spent case is ejected by a stationary pin, the slide scoops the next round from the top of the ramped magazine.
Gripping the EC9s around its polymer frame is aided by texturing molded into the frame. Shooters can release the magazine using the polymer button to drop the magazine from the frame. The magazine release, much like the slide release, takes solid pressure to get consistent performance.
The 7-round magazine has a finger hook on the front of it to aid in controlling the pistol while shooting, and the 10-round extended magazine adds an additional grip area for an even better grasp.
Pulling the trigger on the Ruger EC9s, you will notice the trigger blade safety. This is a secondary safety design to prevent the trigger from being inadvertently pulled.
Besides the integrated trigger safety, there’s a two-position manual thumb safety at the back of the grip area, which is another line of defense if you’re considering pocket carry.
A manual safety isn’t something I look for in a carry pistol, but I know some people certainly do.
At only 3.12 inches, the EC9s barrel is quite compact. It is made from steel and uses the same black oxide finish as the slide. The 9mm barrel features a 1:10 twist rate which is pretty standard.
Simple and trim would be an accurate way to describe the EC9s sights. Since the low-profile sights are fixed in place, there’s little to do other than look down them — and don’t worry about mounting an MRD, there’s no optics-friendly option. You also won’t be replacing them.
The fixed sights feature a basic blacked-out setup, which line up easily but adding a touch of white or other high viz color to the front will help get the front dot aligned with the rear sight more quickly.
Since the EC9 is utilized as a concealed carry pistol, the rounded edges of the front and rear sights help reduce snags on clothing during draws.
Field Testing the Ruger EC9
After several months with this pistol, we have shot it quite a bit; typically on an unimproved range at improvised targets. Most of our shooting has been done in the 5-25 yard range, and for those distances, the pistol shoots well.
We’ve shot a huge variety of ammunition types through the gun, everything from 115-grain up to 147-grain ammunition, and the little EC9s hasn’t had a single issue with any of it.
Shooting with the Family
Letting family members shoot the gun definitely showed me some of its weak spots. My wife and daughter found it challenging to pull the slide properly because the recoil spring is very stiff for a gun of this size.
This isn’t a deal breaker, but something you should know if your EC9s has a petite lady in its future.
The stiff recoil spring is likely the cause of the difficult operation of the slide release. It’s much better when a loaded magazine is installed, but once the mag is empty the slide release becomes annoyingly stiff.
On a positive note, the compact EC9s was a good fit for petite hands. My female testers all felt the pistol was a good fit for their hand size. Though my hands were bigger, I didn’t feel the pistol was too small for my hand size.
Every trigger pull elicits a surprising bark from the EC9. It caught me off-guard at first how snappy the little pistol was. Its concealed-carry-focused size and weight give the EC9 a pretty good recoil snap.
While it is still just 9mm, the small frame hands off more felt recoil than I expected. But even my one-hundred-pound wife described it as manageable.
The EC9s comes with a dummy magazine that is used for disassembly, as the pistol won’t fire with the magazine removed. Disassembly of the EC9s is a little more work than most.
It requires sliding a small cover down on the frame side to expose the hinge pin via the takedown pin gate. The slide is slightly pulled to the rear, where you can push the removable takedown pin out using a small punch tool.
Not exactly a Glock-simple disassembly process.
I took advantage of carrying the little EC9s for several weeks and was very pleased with the weight and compact size of the pistol. I frequently carry full-size pistols so it was very refreshing to have such a small presence on my waist.
With a pistol this small, a good holster is necessary in my opinion. The smaller a pistol is, the easier it can be to lose control of it. I’m not a huge fan of the “pouch” type you see with something like a pocket holster; I prefer something rigid that keeps the pistol very secure, like a Kydex type or something similar.
I definitely preferred the ten-round magazine over the seven-round. The extended magazine gave my bigger hand more purchase on the grip area.
Of course, for maximum concealment, I could easily swap for the seven-round mag to reduce printing of the pistol and stash the 10-rounder in a mag carrier.
Most of the ammunition we’ve shot through the EC9s has been of the 124-grain type. The gun functioned very well with 115-grain ammunition as well, as it did with some of the 147-grain ammo that I’d loaded myself.
We frequently shoot quite a bit of the Federal Brass-cased 115-grain ball ammo. I would strongly recommend it for training in the EC9s. For carry, I would recommend the Hornady Custom 124 Grain XTP ammo. It cycled well through the gun and is well known for terminal performance.
More Features: PSA Dagger
Palmetto State has released the Dagger series of pistols, which are Glock clones.
The Dagger offers quite a few great features like Glock compatibility, aftermarket parts support, and custom slide and barrel options. All this for the same price or often less than the EC9s. We took one for a spin and liked what we saw.
Upgrade Pick: Smith & Wesson M&P Shield+
The M&P Shield Plus brings a great suite of features, such as safety, chamber indicator, fiber optic sights, and more. Not only that, the Shield comes with perhaps a better history of service.
The Shield can also be had for around the same investment or perhaps a little more.
Why is the Ruger EC9 so cheap?
How accurate is the EC9s?
Is the Ruger EC9s a good pocket gun?
Is the Ruger EC9s good for concealed carry?
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