Ruger EC9S

Ruger EC9s review – is it worth it? Read this first.

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The Ruger EC9S is a close cousin of Ruger’s popular LC9S 9mm pistol. 

They do have a couple of differences, which you should know about. You may want to read my Ruger LC9S review – I owned the gun for a good while. 

The LC9S is popular and its MSRP is $529. However, today’s street price is considerably less. The EC9S has an MSRP $369. Again, the street price can be considerably less.

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Ruger EC9s Quick Take

An inexpensive 7-round 9mm striker-fired pistol. Built to Ruger standards and easy to carry, it features a manual left-side safety, striker block and a magazine disconnect safety. Also the gun as a loaded-chamber view port. The gun comes with one 7-round magazine. Another 7-rounder sets you back $29.99 and a 9-rounder, $34.99

As with all Ruger guns, it comes with a lifetime warranty. 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Built to Ruger’s quality standards
  • Lightweight
  • Small height and length – fits in many pockets
  • At least 7 round capacity
  • Trigger
  • Price – good value for a carry gun
Cons
  • Takedown pin can get lost
  • Magazine disconnect safety (doesn’t allow user to fire gun when mag is withdrawn)
  • Grip is very thin without the Hogue HandALL adapter (included)
  • Thumb safety (Ok, this is a stretch but I’m not a fan of manual safeties on striker-fired carry guns)
  • Slide serrations could be more aggressive. My hand sometimes slips when racking the slide.

Ruger EC9s background

Ruger introduced the LC9 at 2011 SHOT Show in Vegas. The LC9 featured hammer-fired action but was not well liked because of a challenging trigger pull. 

Ruger listened to its customers and brought out a striker-fired version of the LC9, the LC9S. Introduced in 2014, it became Ruger’s premier lightweight carry pistol. 

SHOT Show welcomed the Ruger EC9s in 2018. 

Who should buy the Ruger EC9s? 

It is a lightweight, small pocket pistol chambered in 9mm. Experienced shooters will be fine with small 9mm pistols. Small 9mms can be snappy, especially when shooting defense loads. 

Similar guns on the market include the

  • Sig Sauer PS365
  • Sprinfield Armory Hellcat
  • Springfield Armory XD-S
  • Glock 43
  • Taurus GX4

If you’re a first-time buyer, you might want to consider a compact 9mm or larger until you get used to the recoil. 

Ruger EC9s hands-on

First, let’s look at the specs

Caliber:9mm
Capacity:7+1, one magazine included
Slide Material:Through-Hardened Alloy Steel
Barrel Material:Alloy Steel
Barrel:3.12", 6 grooves, 1:10" RH Twist
Grip Frame:Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Sights:Integral
Slide Finish:Black Oxide
Barrel Finish:Black Oxide
Width:1.21"
Weight:18 oz.
Overall Length:6"
Height:4.50"
MSRP:$329.00
"Real-World" Price:~$240-270

Unboxing

For more expensive handguns, Ruger has moved to hard plastic lockable cases. As this is one of their lower priced guns, we have a cardboard box. You can’t blame them for that. 

Ruger EC9s box

What’s inside?

  • Ruger EC9s
  • Hogue HandALL grip adapter (pre-installed on gun)
  • One 7-round magazine
  • Bicycle lock
  • Chamber flag
  • One flat magazine baseplate
  • Owner’s manual
  • Fake plastic magazine to help when field stripping the gun
Ruger EC9s unboxing
Ruger EC9s left

Check out the thumb safety. It is easy to handle and stays put. I’m not a fan of safeties on striker-fired carry guns but that’s just me. 

Ruger EC9s right

You will also notice that I’ve put the Hogue HandALL grip over the original EC9s grip. If ever a gun needed one of these, it’s the Ruger EC9s or LC9s. Both are very thin in the grip area – the gun squirmed a lot when firing. The Hogue HandALL will solve this problem. 

It provides tackiness for your grip but also has a palm swell to make the grip wider. This helps control but does not take anything away from concealment. 

Ruger EC9s controls

Check out the controls up close – you’ll see the takedown pin/gate. Plus, the slide release and thumb safety.

Ruger EC9s engraving right hand side

Close-up shot of the engraving on the slide and frame, taken from the right side. 

Ruger EC9s trigger

Trigger with safety ‘blade’.

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Sights

Ruger EC9s rear sight

Rear sight, integral with the slide – no windage adjustment is possible without a file.

Ruger EC9s front sight

Integrated front post, serrated to break up glare.

Shooting the EC9s

I shot the gun with three 9mm loads in my backyard, at my home range. I do not have targets to show you – they got wet when I  left them out and it rained. That was not good, I admit, and I apologize. Next time I’ll be more careful! 

At any rate, my shooting is not exactly stellar so my targets usually are not anything to write home about. All the guns I’ve reviewed over the years are capable of better accuracy than I was able to deliver. Plus, when I owned the LC9S it was, hands down, the most accurate small 9 I’d ever put my handloads through. It was amazing, and this gun was not too far behind.

The target summary is as follows…

Fiocchi Training Dynamics 115-Grain FMJ: Group was low and left, and placed 5 shots in 4 inches at 15 yards.

Hornady Critical Defense 115-Grain JHP: Group was higher but left and placed 5 shots in 3 inches at 15 yards.

Handload, 126-Grain Lee RN over 4.8 grains of Long Shot powder: Not as good as the Fiocchi. Group was about 5 yards and low-left at 15 yards.

Both factory loads performed well. The Hornady load barely beating the Fiocchi by an inch. Fiocchi makes some great 9mm training ammo, and the Critical Defense is a go-to for carry guns.     

Ruger EC9s recoil

This is a full-blown 9mm that weighs just over a pound. It kicks, but not too much. The Hogue HandALL absorbs a lot of the recoil impulse. That little item is worth whatever Ruger is paying Hogue for it. 

I am impressed that Ruger is including the adapter  in the pistol’s box. I am more impressed that it is already installed when you pull the gun out. This gun has good control. Its design in such a way (with the Hogue adapter) that it stays in the hand and is ready for follow-up shots. 

I had zero problems with it when I shot it. You have to remember that it IS a 9mm and will not recoil like a 380. The 9mm is the preferred round of the two, although today’s .380 ammo is no slouch.

Sights

Rear sight: integral with the slide – no windage adjustment is possible without a file.

Integrated front post: serrated to break up glare.

Maintenance 

There is no trick to maintaining the EC9s. Lube the frame rails and the area of the slide that passes over the barrel hood. More instructions are in the owner’s manual. The trick is to not over-lube the gun – a little dab’ll do ya. 

Handling The EC9s

Thank goodness for the HandALL – without that, handling the EC9s is very “iffy”… it shifts a lot under recoil. 

I put stair tread tape on my LC9S’s grip panels. That is some nasty rough stuff but it sure planted the gun in my hand when I shot it. I almost wanted to remove the HandALL for old-times’ sake… but it sure helps keep the gun in your grasp. 

The gun with the Hogue adapter, is shootable and you will have control with most types of 9mm ammo. 

Field Stripping

Here is where Ruger and I part ways – their method of field-stripping the EC9S uses a removable takedown pin. I am pretty rigid where this is concerned – I don’t think any gun designed to be carried or to be used in a serious manner should have a small takedown pin that could easily be lost. This gun (along with other Rugers) has such a part. 

Another area that we disagree on is the need to place a dummy magazine in the gun in order to pull the trigger in the disassembly process. That’s what that orange magazine-shaped-object in the box above is. 

Ruger EC9s with magazines

Of course, the real mag would work but we need to make sure that the gun is well and truly empty, hence the plastic one. Anyway, here’s the takedown drill. It is explained better than I can explain it in the owner’s manual.

Instructions for Takedown

  1. Remove the (real) mag and make sure the gun is empty. Cock the striker and insert the orange magazine.
  2. Pull the takedown pin gate down and grasp the gun like this:
Ruger EC9s takedown position
  1. Pull the trigger.
  2. Press the slide back until the takedown pin is fully exposed.
  3. From the other side, take a very thin, pointed object like a mini-screwdriver and press against the takedown pin, pushing it out of the gun far enough to grasp it with your fingers or pliers.
  4. Remove the pin and pull the slide off the front of the frame. (You may have to re-insert the orange mag and re-cock the striker in order to pull the trigger again before removing the slide).
  5. Separate the gun into its component parts:
Ruger EC9s field stripped
  1. Clean and lubricate as is customary with semi-auto pistols.

To re-assemble:

  1. Place the barrel and recoil spring in the slide.
  2. Place the slide on the frame rails and move it to the rear.
  3. Assume the hand position shown in the photo above.
  4. Move the slide back enough to expose the takedown pin hole.
  5. Place the takedown pin in its hole and press it all the way in – that screwdriver might come handy again.
  6. After the pin is seated, push the gate up to lock the pin in the frame.
  7. Test for function. That’s all!

Here are some photos of the separated frame, slide, etc. …

Ruger EC9s frame on the left
Ruger EC9s frame on the right

Note the full-length frame rails. That is a really nice touch. Also notice that the magazine release is not reversible.

Ruger EC9s frame top
Ruger EC9s slide on left
Ruger EC9s slide on right

The slide, right and left sides. The only engraving on the left is the model designation, and on the right, where it was built and who built it.

Barrel and recoil spring, double-wound…

Ruger EC9s recoil spring
Ruger EC9s barrel feedramp

Polished feed ramp.

Ruger EC9S Accessories

Holsters?

To carry the gun, any holster made for a single-stack 9mm should work, as will most pocket holsters. These guns have been around long enough that many makers will have something that works for it. A quick search online returned dozens of different makes and models. As I said, any holster for a single-stack 9mm (or .380, for that matter) should work. You can always look at my Best Concealed Carry Holsters review as well.

You might want to try my favorite pocket holster, a DeSantis Super Fly. It is rigid enough to keep the gun upright in your pocket but not too stiff. Whatever you do, do not just stick the gun in your pocket – put it in a holster. 

I have a friend who carries an LC9S in the small of his back. He is right-handed but he bought a left-handed holster to turn the gun the correct way for his grip. He uses a simple IWB nylon holster. He’s a contractor, and we’ve had the talk about what happens to his back if he trips or falls backwards and lands on the gun. 

I’m not thinking so much about the gun going off – the striker block would prevent that. I worry about what would happen to his back and vertebrae if he landed on it. Anyway, that’s something to consider. I carried mine in a pocket holster.

Another Option

Here’s the Clipdraw – a pocket clip for the minimalist approach…

Ruger EC9s clipdraw

For $25, you can do away with a holster altogether!

What About A Laser?

The EC9s does not have a rail, but that doesn’t stop you from mounting a laser on it. I have reviewed several Viridian products. Check out this Viridian laser that attaches to both the rear and front of the trigger guard. I have mounted similar lasers on other pistols and the attachment is secure. So, you don’t have to stick with the stock gun – you can dress it up a bit.

Other Small 9mm Pistols

What else is out there? Well, if we limit ourselves to single-stack 9mms:

Kahr CM-9. This 6+1 9mm boasts an MSRP of $569 and is hardly an inch wide. I owned one – it’s a handy little blaster, to be sure.

Springfield XD-S Mod 2 OSP. The Springfield Armory XD-S Mod 2 OSP is optics-ready and includes a 7- and a 9-round magazine. Prices start at $425. This is an excellent choice. Look for a review of this pistol very soon.

S&W M&P Shield. For an MSRP of $385, you can get the original single-stack Shield with a 7- and an 8-round magazine. You may want to consider the new Shield Plus. Your $553 will buy you extended capacity, with a 10- and a 13-round magazine included. I reviewed two Shields: first, a 1.0 here, and the newer 2.0 here. Check out those reviews.

Those are some of the most popular single-stack guns.. But what about the “newest big idea” in pistol design? A micro-compact 9mm with a “stack-and-a-half” magazine that holds at least 10 round.

The only one close to the EC9s in price would be the new Taurus GX4. This little gun comes with two 11-round magazines and isn’t much larger than our EC9s. Check out my Taurus GX4 review to see what I mean. 

The GX4 has a MSRP of $392 so we would expect to find it at a real-world price a lot closer to that of the EC9s. It’s up to you to decide if the extra rounds in the magazine are worth the money. It is a very well-built and reliable gun and has made an impact on the shooting world.

Ruger EC9s in Conclusion

The single-stack 9mm seems to be on the verge of extinction.  There are many of the “stack-and-a-half” wonders out there, including the the Sig Sauer P365, Springfield Armory Hellcat and the Taurus GX4, to mention a few that are trending to be more popular than single-stack guns. 

If you are looking for a true single-stack gun, you could sure do worse than buying an Ruger EC9s. For a not-very-high price tag, you get a lot of gun for your money. 

Not only that, you also get Ruger’s traditional and respected build quality. 

9mm pistols have come a long way for concealed carry and this Ruger is evidence of that. You have at least seven 9mm cartridges ready in your hand. This will comfort many of you concealed carriers out there. I know it comforts me when I have such armament on my person. 

If you’re in the market for an inexpensive 9mm that packs a punch, why not check out the EC9s? 

You have a built-in upgrade stream within the brand – if you want replaceable sights, get the LC9S. Either way, you’re going to get a reliable gun that puts its bullets where it looks. If you own one, let’s hear from you below. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!  

For Further Reading

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2 comments
  1. Great review Mike. As usual, the Pros and Cons are what I reference others too, when asked “What gun should I buy.” That’s something Sniper Country Reviewers do, that other sites need to follow your lead. Also why I save every Sniper Country I get, just because I’m am often asked about guns I’ve never actually held.
    So far, no EC9’s have showed up at our local range for an opportunity to handle. I agree with you on the Ruger’s takedown pin. A small part that could be easily lost and then you’re dead in the water.
    I agree about the safety as well. It’s unnecessary with a well built and designed striker system. Why I opted for the P365 without the safety.
    Funny you should mention the decline of single stacks, because I feel the same way. With all of the new double stack wizardry, seeing a new gun released as a single stack is a tad perplexing. I can only speculate that Ruger’s attempting a lower price point for shooters on tight budgets.

    Cheers and keep up the excellent work my friend.

  2. Bemused, as usual, I appreciate your comments! We tend to have a lot in common where pistols are concerned. I think, at least where takedown pins and thumb safeties on carry guns are concerned. Thanks for writing!

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