Though I have been lucky to handle untold quantities of pistols over the years, I’d never consider myself an expert on the subject. I am a gun nut though, and that is the only qualification wherein I can claim expertise. I love a good pistol as much as the next guy, and today I’d like to present another new-to-me pistol: The Ruger EC9s.
My History With Ruger and the EC9s
I owned a Ruger pistol once, way back in the 90s, and the P89 was the first pistol I ever owned. It worked great for what I needed then, and it met my skill level, which was none. Ruger has changed quite a bit since then, as have pistols in general. Entry-level pistols akin to my old P89 are everywhere, and many of them nowadays are polymer-framed, as are many carry pistols.
The Ruger EC9s is one of those striker-fired compact carry-type pistols that use a single-stack magazine to keep it thin and easily concealed. It utilizes a slender steel slide with rounded edges to avoid snagging on clothing. It features both a manual and trigger safety. The trigger safety is a lever that is part of the trigger. You have to press the lever and the trigger simultaneously to deactivate the safety and fire the gun. The standard capacity is a seven-round magazine, but Ruger also offers a 10-round extended magazine with an additional grip area added to the bottom.
Unboxing the Ruger EC9s
Upon receiving the EC9s, I promptly opened the box, eager to see what lay inside. There I found the Cobalt slate blue framed Ruger EC9s, with a magazine, chamber flag, a standard throwaway lock, and a strange orange magazine that appeared to be for training or something. More on that later.
Straight into the palm of my hand went the little pistol to see how it felt. My initial concern about the gun was its size: Would it fit in my hand properly? It did feel a bit small, which was no surprise, but it was certainly serviceable. I gave the pistol a vigorous course of draw and point exercises, which quickly gave me the feel for this gun.
Drawing the slide back, I familiarized myself with the controls of the EC9s. I found it to be a pretty stiff little pistol; the recoil spring is quite stout. The slide release resides in the typical location for the thumb to operate, and behind that is a manual safety. Initial inspection of the gun made it quite apparent that Ruger was aiming for the concealed carry crowd with this model. The trim control surfaces were very subtle to help avoid snags.
The magazine release sits at the front edge of the left grip area, and again it is fairly diminutive to avoid inadvertent release of the magazine. The sights are machined into the slide, making them both robust and un-adjustable. I purchased the extra 10-round magazine to utilize in this pistol review because I figured it would help me hold onto it better.
Goin’ Hot on Initial Range Thoughts
With a bucket of 115-grain FMJ ammo in hand, I headed out to the desert to see how this pistol ran. After loading the magazine, I pointed the pistol downrange at my target and started squeezing. As often happens, we quickly ran through much more ammo than I anticipated. Unfortunately, seven-round magazines cause you to spend a lot of time loading.
My first impression as the little Ruger barked was how much more recoil I could feel compared to my other pistols. This is a 9mm, so I’m not talking about a ton of recoil. One expects this, though, since a smaller pistol will not buck recoil like a heavier full-size pistol.
The trigger pull seemed a smidge longer than I would have liked, but again, this model appeals to concealed carry users. The reset was also longer than I would have liked, requiring a good sweep both fore and aft to keep this little lead pump humming. I’m not a fan of trigger safeties, but I did find that this one was hardly noticeable.
More Rounds and a Fresh Perspective
We continued to bang through more ammo than we should have with the Ruger EC9s, and it didn’t take long for me to start forming a few opinions on it. But before I did, I wanted to get additional hands on the gun, particularly my wife’s hands. She has much more petite hands, and I wanted to see how the pistol met her stature. Just as importantly, I wanted to see how she felt about the gun. Guns are still a bit new to her, but I was interested in her beginner’s perspective.
She took no time getting accustomed to the grip of the EC9s, and she hit targets after some modest instruction. We did discover some challenges for smaller shooters. The grip and pull required to draw the slide was a slight challenge for her; as mentioned above, the gun is quite stiff. But even with her smaller hands, she could grip the pistol properly and run the gun effectively.
What I Like About the Ruger EC9s
I’ll give you my pros first, and I think there are plenty. After shooting a moderate amount of ammunition through this little gun, I was impressed with its reliability. Through all the rounds fired, I don’t think there were more than a few stoppages, all of which I am confident were user induced. The little Ruger seems to shoot well.
I am certainly no pistol marksman, but I found it easy to hit what I was aiming at. The same went for my wife, and hitting what she aimed at was likely what she enjoyed most.
With a price point of around $280 over the counter, this little gun doesn’t break the bank. I was worried its price point would dictate much of the quality, but the handsome collection of color options and other features make it worthwhile. The larger 10-round magazine made the gun much easier for me to shoot, while my better half was happy with either magazine length.
Some Stones to Throw
There are a few cons that I would point out, but I am ready to admit that many of them are rather subjective. First of all, I’d address the stiffness of the pistol. It’s not very big, so there isn’t much to hold onto. The strong pull of the recoil spring also made it very difficult to operate the slide release, so much so that I nearly quit using it entirely and simply pulled the slide to release. Many will say that’s better anyway, so it may be a moot point for you.
I don’t use safeties, especially on carry guns. But this safety actually took a second to figure out since the natural motion for me was to swipe at it with my thumb a la 1911. But the safety pivots from the front, so I had to make a conscious motion to push and pull at the rear of the safety. Not a big deal, and it’s something I could easily learn if necessary.
A Few Small Issues
I spoke about the orange dummy magazine that came with the gun. Its sole purpose is to aid in disassembling the pistol. You use the magazine as part of the safe deactivation and takedown. Again, probably not a huge deal, but something worth mentioning.
I already mentioned I would have liked a shorter and lighter trigger but am also perfectly willing to concede that concealed carry guns are probably better off with longer and even heavier pulls. My last two gripes are perhaps the most subjective and probably due to my hand construction.
I found the mag release slightly awkward to reach with my thumb. It took a very deliberate motion to release the magazine. Again, this may be by design, so you don’t drop your mag in a gunfight or while leaning against the counter at the convenience store.
Lastly, I would prefer to have more than 10 rounds available in a carry pistol, but I also understand there are compromises.
I frequently carry a full-size pistol. Compared to that, this little pistol is a fresh breath of air and a much smaller pain in the waist. The single-stack design of the pistol and its compact size seem to square up the grip area some. This felt a little less comfortable than I would have liked, but these are just one person’s opinions.
Overall, I think the Ruger EC9s is a decent choice. I like the gun more than I expected to. The price point makes it an extremely easy pistol to get into carrying. The various safeties and its small size also make it an easy choice for newcomers to the concealed carry gang. It punches at its price point, but you won’t want to compare it with a pistol like the Sig P239.
Now that you’ve heard my opinion, go check one of these out. If you drive a diesel, it may cost you more to get to the gun shop than to pick up a Ruger EC9s.
By Jeff Wood