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Ruger has been making guns since 1949, and they apparently do it very well. From Bill Ruger’s first .22 pistol to Red Label O/U shotguns to No. 1 rifles to the 10/22 to … well, you get it. They make all sorts of guns that historically have been very well received and have grown to be the largest firearms manufacturer in the country. Their semiauto pistols have proven to be popular, starting with that first one in 1949 and continuing through today.
My History With Ruger
I need to throw in a disclaimer of sorts… I like Ruger products. The first centerfire handgun I ever bought was a Ruger Blackhawk .45 Colt with the 7.5” barrel.
I owned that gun for a good while until I handled an original flattop .44 Magnum that family friend and military collector Ray showed me. It had a 6.5” barrel and was a …. 44 MAGNUM! This was back in the mid-1970s when the .44 craze had been kindled, and then fueled, by the Dirty Harry movies made earlier in that decade. I had to have a .44 … Ray tried to tell me that the .45 Colt was an excellent manstopper (and deer load, when loaded properly but my state had no deer handgun hunting at that time – that has since been rectified and venison has been put in the freezer with a .45 Colt). But, I was not to be denied and so I traded my .45 for a .44 Super Blackhawk with the Dragoon trigger guard, which looked a lot like this one…
I believe mine was the transfer-bar-equipped New Model, not the older three-screw gun shown here but this is close enough…that Super Blackhawk was some gun! I took it to some silhouette shoots, where it did a great job. I was loading Elmer Keith’s favorite .44 Magnum load that consisted of a hard-cast 250-grain Lyman 429421 semi-wadcutter over 22.0 grains of 2400 powder… (I show this load only for the purposes of this review – DO NOT try to replicate this load. Newer 2400 powder lots are faster than the older lots of the 2400 powder I had at that time. Today this load would constitute a near-overload. I won’t be responsible for whatever might happen if you try that old load!). After a while, I noticed a small bone just ahead of my shooting-hand wrist was protruding a bit, making its presence known so I backed off the charge weight a bit and loaded rounds to a more sane level. The bone went back into place. I only tell you this to show how strong these Ruger revolvers are…that strength tends to permeate their complete line of firearms. I would not shoot that load at all in my S&W 629. It would handle it, but would shoot it loose fairly quickly. The Ruger single actions are stronger, at least in my experience.
I now own an iron-sighted 5.5” Blackhawk .45 Colt with an extra .45 ACP cylinder. That gun has accounted for deer, with my mid-range .45 Colt loads. The Ruger single actions are made for hunting, at least around here with the shorter ranges we tend to encounter.
I’ve owned other Rugers and have had the occasion to experience their customer service after I had an incident with a Ruger American .45 ACP – they replaced the gun, which they didn’t need to do. They are a first-class operation, to be sure.
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All this leads me to the topic at hand – the Security-9 pistol. These came out not all that long ago (December, 2017) and were popular among shooters right from the start. Ruger took their LCP II action with its enclosed hammer (not really internal, as you can look at the back of the slide and watch it operate as you pull the trigger) and what they call their Secure Action fire control system and put those into a slightly larger gun and chambered it in 9mm. They have since gone on to make a compact version of the Security-9 with a 3.4” barrel and 10+1 capacity. I have been wanting to try one in order to do a review for a while, so I emailed my contact at Ruger and got one in to write about. Ruger has been excellent at providing test guns – a lot of manufacturers are having a tough time keeping up with retail demand which affects their T&E gun pool, but I’ve received everything I’ve asked for from Ruger to date. So, since we have this nice, new Security 9 in front of us, let’s look it over.
What It Is…
The Security-9 is a hammer-fired, compact 9mm. Sporting a 15+1 round capacity, the pistol is aimed at the concealed-carry crowd. (Sorry, couldn’t help the pun…). Essentially the same size as the venerable Glock 19 (see below), the Security-9 is a continuation of the Ruger’s “Security” appellation from the 1970s. What is that, I hear you ask? Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane…
The Security-Six was Ruger’s initial entry into the double-action revolver business and was made from 1972 – 1988. It was produced in both .38 Special (photo below) and .357 Magnum, in different barrel lengths with either a square or round butt frame. You could get one in blue or stainless. Aimed at the various police, military, security agency and civilian markets, the gun was popular and sold decently. The gun utilized a one-piece frame which made it a bit stronger than guns with removable side plates, according to some I’ve talked to. The Security Six was also the basis for the Ruger Redhawk, which came along in 1980. The Security Six was used by several governmental agencies including the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Postal Service, the Border Patrol, and several police agencies.
Civilians bought a bunch of them, as well. The gun was built to be strong and was priced in such a way that law enforcement and other agencies could afford it. After determining that some of the .357-chambered Sixes were being worn out prematurely by steady use of .357 Magnum ammunition, Ruger went the next step and designed the Six’s replacement, the GP-100. The GP-100 was built in such a way that continuous use of .357 Magnum ammo would not shoot it loose prematurely. (Most shooters who own .357 Magnum revolvers practice with the cheaper, less-powerful .38 Special cartridge. This is easier on both the gun and the shooter). The built-like-a-tank GP-100 revolver is in production to this day and is a premium revolver at a premium price.
Now that we know a little bit of the “Security” name backstory, we see that the Security-9 is a semi-automatic update to Ruger’s tough Security-Six .357 Magnum revolver line – a well-built utilitarian gun for the working man or woman that is reliable and won’t break the bank. The Security-9 fills that niche quite well – it updates the “Security” moniker and takes it into the 21st century.
Before we go any deeper with our Security-9, let’s check the specs. I’ve also included some of the Glock 19’s numbers, just for the sake of comparison since both guns are meant to fill the “compact-but-not-too-small” 9mm carry gun role.
|Caliber:||9mm +P (limited use of higher-pressure ammo - see below)|
|Width (Slide):||1.02” (measured)|
|Weight:||24.3 oz. (weight on my digital scale)|
|Capacity:||15+1, 2 alloy steel magazines|
|Action:||Pre-cocked, hammer-fired double-action-only|
|Trigger Pull Weight:||5 lbs., 6 oz. (measured)|
|Safeties:||Trigger blade; manual thumb lever hinged at the front; hammer catch to only allow firing when hammer is pulled|
|Barrel:||4”, alloy steel, blued finish|
|Grip Frame:||High-performance, glass-filled nylon with full-length guide rails; three-slot Picatinny rail|
|Slide:||Through-hardened alloy steel, black oxide finish with forward serrations|
|Sights:||Steel; dovetailed high-visibility interchangeable sights with drift-adjustable, white-outlined U-notch rear; white-dot front; night sights and fiber optic sights available|
|Other:||Viridian® E-Series™ red laser; lifetime warranty; no ambidextrous controls|
|“Real World” Price:||$330 - $400|
And, by way of comparison with the Gen 5 Glock 19:
|Glock 19||Ruger Security-9|
|Weight Unloaded:||23.99 oz.||23.75 oz.|
|Suggested Retail Price:||$559||$379|
In terms of +P ammunition, Ruger doesn’t specifically tell you not to use it in their owner’s manual but they do warn you about some types of ammunition:
This is disclaimer is fairly standard among pistol manufacturers. Just use some common sense and you should be fine.
I shot the pistol at my backyard range, both from a bench and standing. The gun handles like a dream – ergonomically, it’s quite pleasant to hold and shoot. There is one area that I believe could be improved upon, though. Before you shoot a gun, you pick it up. When I first pick up the Security-9 before I shoot it, I find one area that I think might need a little attention: grip texture. The grip is textured, somewhat – I could use more tractability here. If anyone has handled or shot the new Taurus G3c, either full-size or compact, the grip texture on those guns stand out…
Roughly akin to 400-grit sandpaper, your hands don’t move once you’ve locked them onto the gun. Another real-world example of decent grip texturing from the factory is the Sig P365. That little gun has usable texturing without going “over the top.” By way of explanation, I like rough grips. I tend to stipple polymer grips that don’t make the grade in terms of abrasion – I like grips that don’t allow your hand to move once it’s in place. If you could sand a 2×4 with your pistol’s grip, then that grip’s just about right for me. The Ruger could stand to be a little more aggressive in the texture department, to suit my taste.
The Security-9 follows the current pattern of texturing that Ruger has applied to several of its newer-model pistols. The six-panel textured areas on Ruger’s grips are well done, and are placed right. They just need to be a bit “stickier”, in my opinion. At any rate, that is a subjective call – not everybody wants their pistol grip to feel like skateboard tape on steroids. The gun is more than acceptable in its current form; it’s just that I do like a fairly rough grip texture.
If you’ve read many of my 9mm gun reviews, you will recall that I like my home-cast Lee 124-grain powder-coated round-nose bullet over 4.8 grains of Hodgdon’s Long Shot powder (here is a guide on handgun powers). This shotgun powder works very well as as a mid-burning-rate pistol powder, like other powders that originated for shotguns but work as well or better for handguns. That load is of the target or practice variety, in terms of velocity. It pushes the Lee bullet to 1003 f.p.s. out of my Taurus G3c’s 3.26 inch barrel, and gets closer to 1100 f.p.s. out of a longer barrel. It is accurate, and economical to put together. One factory load I shot was from Fiocchi, a 115-grain FMJ load. I am truly pleased with Fiocchi ammo, overall. I learned, when I researched the brand for my review, that they make all sorts of shotgun, handgun and rifle ammo in many calibers – not just rimfire. Plus, everything they make for the American market is made here in the U.S. That is impressive. The third load I tried was the Winchester “white box” 115-grain FMJ, which is usually a decent performer. At any rate, the gun did alright in the accuracy department. Although not a tack-driver, the gun displayed more than enough potential accuracy for its intended role. Also, I admit to not being the best shot…a more-capable pistolero could no doubt improve upon the targets I show here. The gun was not the issue.
Sights & The Laser Effect
I specifically requested a Security-9 with a laser – you can get the gun in one of several variations, so I opted for the laser model. The Viridian laser helps. The older I get, the more my eyes don’t want to focus on the front sight and the target, both at once. The bright red dot sure helps direct your sight to the target and the specific impact point you’re aiming at. It allows your eyes to concentrate on one plane, not two. This one’s red light is bright – usually, a red laser doesn’t show up as well as a green one in daylight but this one wasn’t bad at all. It was visible to around 20 yards in daylight.
The stock sights on the gun aren’t bad. They are patterned after standard Glock sights – the “cup-and-ball”, “football-through-the-goalposts”, or whatever-you-want-to-call them. Here are a couple of shots – Glock sights and then the Security-9’s…
As you can see, the Ruger sights are very similar to the ones on the Glock. They are very usable, but the laser helps older eyes focus quickly on the target’s aiming point. I tried to focus on the Glock front sight and the Ruger rear, for what it’s worth. The sights are nearly identical. The only thing about this type of sights is that the “goal post” is pretty wide – these sights are not made for precision shooting, but for quick sight acquisition and sight picture. On a personal defense weapon, that it what you’d expect to find. So, no harm, no foul.
The Thumb Safety
Ruger’s thumb safety works a bit differently than what you might be used to. It’s hinged at the front, not the rear. (If you don’t want to muck about with a thumb safety at all, buy the Pro model – you get no thumb safety and an extra, 3rd, magazine with it). Here are a couple of shots of the safety. I’ve taken the slide off to make the lever more visible.
As long as you’re clued in to the fact that it works backwards, you’ll be good to go. It did take a law-enforcement-type friend of mine a minute or two to figure it out. When I told him it was hinged at the front he said “that explains a lot.” At any rate, if you’re not a thumb safety fan, order one without it.
Here are some photos I took of the Ruger. I tend to take the same types of photos for each gun I review – I figure that way, if you wanted to compare, say, the underside of the slide of Gun A with that of Gun B, it’s an easy comparison. Here you go…
In terms of how the gun shot, I was generally pleased. I do not have a large stash of factory 9mm ammo lying around during these lean times at the ammo counter, so I had to make do. I could not shoot target after target because I just don’t have the ammo to do that. I do reload, though, so I tried my favorite 9mm load.
Overall, I was happy with the Security-9. There were a couple of areas or characteristics of the gun that I felt could be improved on or changed that become apparent when you shoot it. I’ve already mentioned the grip texturing issue. Also, the wide-open, coarse sights didn’t contribute to fine-point accuracy, but since this is a carry gun (don’t forget to checkout our self-defense insurance guide) that is a moot point. Also, other sighting options are available from the factory.
OK, enough of the this – let’s look at some targets. After all, that’s why we’re here, right… to see if this thing slings lead in an acceptable manner? I’ve never had a Ruger not put lead downrange in a less-than-acceptable way and this gun was no exception. I shot these at 20 yards.
So, we see that I am no Jerry Michulek or_________ ________ (insert your favorite shooter’s name here). One takeaway from this is that if I had more types and brands of ammo to try, I would have undoubtedly found a load that shot a tighter group closer to the point of aim. I didn’t use the laser, as it was way out of adjustment at the distance I shot and I didn’t want to shoot a lot of ammo trying to sight it in. If I had a Ransom Rest or similar, I could lock the gun in and shoot a few shots. I then would be able to “follow the shots”, moving the laser to coincide with the holes in the paper (if I could reach the adjustment screws with the gun secured in the rest). That saves ammo, but I didn’t have a way of locking the gun down. At any rate, the gun would be a shooter with the right ammo. The Rugers I’ve owned have not had a problem in the accuracy department.
After shooting, I took the gun apart to clean it as I do with any gun I shoot. In terms of takedown, this gun and the LC9/EC9/LCP IIs all use a removable takedown pin. You must use a cartridge rim or (preferably) a screwdriver to pry the pin out of the gun, and when it comes out, it really comes out, all the way – it is not captured. The pin is small and would be easy to lose. In my recent review of the Ruger LCP II. 22 LR pistol, I mentioned this issue – you can read about it there. I wish Ruger would do away with the loose pin and install either a swinging takedown lever like Sig uses, or at least use Glock-style takedown tabs. You shouldn’t have to hunt some tool or other to use to take your pistol apart in order to clean it.
Here’s a bit from its owner’s manual…
Not scratching the slide is the key. You may want to invest in that armorer’s tool (or something like a stiff plastic screwdriver) in order to keep your slide in pristine condition. One thing in this gun’s favor… with the Security-9 you don’t have to pull the trigger to separate the slide from the frame. That is one feature that I really like. I put a hole in my bench one time from pulling the trigger on an “empty” gun in order to get the slide off the frame – it can happen. At least this way, you don’t have to worry about that. The take-down process is not hard – I just wish you didn’t have to pull a pin totally out of the gun in order to take it apart. It’s not a deal-breaker…just watch what you’re doing and hang on to that pin.
Speaking of takedown, here’s the drill…
- Remove the magazine and double-check the chamber – make sure it’s empty.
- Pull the slide back a tiny bit – line up the takedown pin with its relief cut in the slide.
- Using your screwdriver, pry the pin loose and then pull it out. (see illustration above)
- Slide the slide forward, separate the barrel and recoil spring. Clean away!
- To reassemble, reverse the process. Just make sure you have the pin lined up properly.
What did I think of the Security-9? Overall, I liked it a lot. Yep, there are a few areas that I think might be improved upon – the grip texturing, takedown pin and sights – but those are totally subjective and in no way take anything away from this gun. Ruger has established a reputation over the years for good, serviceable firearms built like those brick “houses” you sometimes hear about in rural areas…tough indeed. Overbuilt, in my opinion. But, a strong, reliable gun is a good thing. You want to know that, if you accidentally or otherwise drop your pistol in the mud or on concrete, it will still fire, every time you pull the trigger, until the slide locks back after the magazine’s empty. By way of example, I do know (firsthand) that the Ruger American pistol is one tough hombre due to my experiences with one of those guns and I see nothing less in the Security-9.
If you are looking for a 15-or-so round 9mm pistol and are on a budget, you’re in luck these days. There are several guns out there that fill that requirement…this Ruger, the new Stoeger STR-9, Walther’s PPQ, Taurus G3 (or G3c with extended magazine) and others. If you are able to go up a bit in price, that brings in the Glocks, Springfields, S&Ws, etc. We have never had so many really nice guns available for such reasonable prices – this is truly a golden age for pistols. But, I come back to this…if you are on a fairly strict budget and you’re a fan of Ruger’s quality and reputation, then there’s a gun for you that fits those criteria…the Security-9. You could sure do worse. If you have one, please feel free to comment below. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!