Ruger has earned a reputation for producing quality firearms. Their handguns may be low on flash and bling, but they are high on function.A major success for Ruger has been the LC9s, a compact 9mm that has undergone several product upgrades compared to the original LCP.
While the LC9s is affordable, Ruger saw the need for an even-less-expensive 9mm to compete in the sub-$300 range. The company managed to cut a few corners on the LC9s and came up with the EC9s, which retails for less than $245.
The trigger action and striker-fired design are the same as the LC9s, as are the grip, barrel and magazines. The slide differs in that the sights are cast integral to the frame rather than the dovetailed units found on the LC9s.
The fixed sights are typical to the superior sights found on most small pistols a generation ago. They are not high-visibility or adjustable, but they are useful and certainly aren’t going to be knocked out of alignment. Despite this economic move, the rear sight features serrations on the back face to reduce glare and facilitate aiming. The pistol is supplied with one magazine. While this cost-cutting feature may be fine for folks who will pay $250 for a reliable and powerful handgun for home and personal defense but never put more than a dozen rounds through it, the rest of us will have to pop for a spare magazine.
While the MSRP is $299, retail at South Carolina Gun Company was less than $245. You might say that for personal defense at a few yards, the piece is more than adequate, and I’d agree.
Accurate, Safe, Small
The original designs — the LCP and LC9s — earned reputations as little guns that shot like big guns. They are quite accurate for compact pistols, rivaling the accuracy potential of many full-sized service automatics. One might expect the cut-down sight system of the EC9s to affect intrinsic accuracy, but after firing the pistol, I found that to be hardly true. In fact, the sights may be superior to the original LC9s in that they can take a beating and, as mentioned above, not get knocked out of alignment.
The pistol has the same general outline and construction as the LC9s, with a glass-reinforced plastic frame and a steel slide. The trigger is crisp at 5 pounds and offers good control, a clean break and rapid reset. The magazine release is positive in operation, and the slide lock works well.
The EC9s was designed from the outset for concealed carry; it isn’t a short version of a service pistol, so you will find that it conceals well.
I like the manual safety and recommend keeping the pistol on safe when carried on the person or ready at home. The safety locks the slide in place (unlike many modern manual safeties), and there is a magazine safety that renders the action inert if the magazine is not in place. A lever set in the trigger face prevents lateral discharge since the pistol won’t fire unless the lever is pressed flushly to the rear.
The grip’s thin cross-section is good for concealed carry but not the best for recoil control. Still, the pistol isn’t uncomfortable to fire with most loads, thanks in part to grip pebbling. The grip is comfortable for most hand sizes, yet the pistol’s small footprint makes concealment a breeze. The EC9s was designed from the outset for concealed carry; it isn’t a short version of a service pistol, so you will find that it conceals well.
On the Draw
The grip is small and, while adequate, you must master it by executing several hundred draws from concealment. Do not engage in an awkward pantomime of attempting to adjust your grip after you draw the pistol; affirm the grip before the draw (while the pistol is in the holster). Practice hitting the safety quickly during the draw, and keep your finger away from the trigger until you are on target.
When it comes to concealed carry, accuracy and reliability aren’t the only criteria. The feel and balance of the handgun are also important, and the EC9s isn’t difficult to handle. In fact, you can keep a firm grip during movement, which isn’t true of some overly large handguns that may stretch some shooters’ grips to the limits.
As I broke the EC9s out to finish up this report and checked my notebook of test-fires, I was surprised to see that I had fired more than 800 cartridges over the last year — a decent amount for what I consider a last-ditch pistol. I feel that I’ve gotten the measure of the handgun, and it’s never failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject. I have used handloads with lead bullets and jacketed bullets, factory burner-grade FMJ and most of the standard-pressure 9mm loads — all with excellent results.
For the last firing session, I opted for a box of Federal American Eagle 124-grain FMJs. Firing at a man-sized target placed at 7 yards, I emptied the magazine, executed a reload with a spare and fired again. I fired as quickly as I was able to regain the front sight during recoil, and the result was a group of 50 rounds that could be covered with both hands. This little Ruger will do the business.
I set up another target at 15 yards and loaded up some Federal 135-grain Deep Penetrators, a load that gets the 9mm up off its knees and offers a good balance of expansion and penetration. Though it is surprisingly controllable in pistols of 20 ounces and below, I fired slowly, for absolute accuracy, from a solidly braced barricade position; the Ruger cut two seven-round groups of 3 to 4 inches. The Ruger EC9s is clearly accurate enough for personal defense, light enough for daily carry and reliable. It is well worth its modest price.
South Carolina Gun Company: SCGunCo.com