February 09, 2021
I borrowed Ruger’s company slogan for the EC9s for the headline of this report. The company’s wording goes like this: “Everyday Carry, Everyday Affordable.” I tweaked it slightly.
Let’s get the affordable part out of the way right off the bat. The standard EC9s retails for $299. I’m highlighting a version of the pistol that is exclusive to Davidson’s (I’ll get to the details of this special pistol in a few minutes), and it retails for $294. I think just about any serious handgunner will admit that $294 is pretty affordable, especially for a gun that’s manufactured by one of the most reliable gunmakers in the United States.
With the affordability issue out of the way, let’s take a close look at the EC9s.
The EC9s is very similar to Ruger’s earlier single-column LC9, which was originally designed to serve either as a primary citizen-carry tool or as a full-power, full-featured, no-compromise backup for off-duty law enforcement officers. The main difference is the EC9s’s sights are integral to the carbon-steel slide. They are machined right into it. The EC9s is larger and heavier than the company’s LCP pistol, and that gives the EC9s more grasping surface and weight for better controllability when firing stout 9mm ammo. In size, the EC9s is 6.0 inches long, 4.9 inches tall (with the finger-extension magazine baseplate), and 1.07 inches thick at the thumb safety. The slide is 0.9 inch thick and so is the grip. Grip circumference is 5.0 inches. The pistol weighs 17.2 ounces and fits in the hip pocket of my jeans just fine.
Other features of the EC9s include a 3.12-inch-long steel barrel, a manual thumb safety, a slide lock/release, and a magazine release button located 1911 style. The magazine holds seven rounds, and it comes with an extension baseplate installed that allows more finger grasp. With it, I can get all of my fingers on the grip frame, and I have medium-size hands. There is also an extra interchangeable flush-fitting baseplate (it reduces the pistol’s height by a half-inch) along with an operator’s manual, a cable-style gun lock, and a special polymer magazine blank that is used during the takedown process. More about that later.
The pistol features a molded, high-strength glass-filled nylon grip frame and a pinned-in metal locking block insert. The sides, front, and rear of the grip frame (including the front of the finger-extension magazine baseplate) are checkered, and the grooved, contoured magazine release button protrudes just far enough for positive engagement but not so much to catch when drawing the pistol from a holster or a pocket.
All corners and edges are beveled and rounded for non-snag draw and reduced holster wear.
The double-action-only, hammer-forged, locked-breech, recoil-operated pistol has dual recoil springs around a full-length guide rod, a robust external extractor, and a loaded-chamber view port on top of the barrel’s chamber.
The slide is steel, and it has six wide grasping grooves on each side at the rear. There are no forward grasping grooves.
As I said earlier, the low-profile sights are integral to the slide. They are all black, horizontally striated on the faces, and non-adjustable. The front sight is 0.160 inch tall and 0.133 inch thick. The rear sight’s square notch is 0.159 inch wide.
The pistol features a magazine disconnect, which renders it incapable of firing when the magazine is removed, even if there is a round in the chamber. The EC9s also has a trigger safety in the familiar form of a lever within the trigger fingerpiece that has to be depressed in order for the trigger to complete its rearward travel.
Trigger pull weight on my review sample ranged from 5.5 pounds to 6.5 pounds for five measurements with an RCBS trigger pull scale. That averages out to 5.95 pounds. The trigger mechanism does not have repeat-strike capability.
I also used my RCBS trigger pull scale jury-rigged to measure the pull weight required to rack the EC9s’s slide. According to my scale, 20 pounds is needed to pull the slide all the way back. That’s comparable to other compact striker-fired pistols made by other companies.
Special Davidson’s Features
As many regular readers of Shooting Times know, Davidson’s offers many exclusive firearms from several major gunmakers, including Ruger. You can check out all the current exclusives by going to www.galleryofguns.com. Davidson’s has three exclusive EC9s pistols, including the one I used for this report and shown in the photographs. The three exclusive EC9s pistols have special finishes that Ruger does not offer on its standard EC9s.
As you can see from our photos, the model I reviewed has Muddy Girl camo finish on the polymer frame. It’s a combination of pink, purple, gray, brown, and black colors in a woodsy pattern. The pistol’s slide is finished in matte black oxide.
If Muddy Girl doesn’t appeal to you, other Davidson’s exclusive finishes are Davidson’s Dark Earth Cerakote (MSRP: $298) and Battleworn Flag Stripes frame and black oxide slide (MSRP: $324.99).
Earlier I mentioned the polymer magazine blank. Ruger provides it so that users have the utmost in safety when disassembling the pistol. Disassembling the EC9s requires squeezing the trigger, and due to the magazine disconnect, a magazine has to be inserted into the pistol in order to squeeze the trigger. The magazine blank ensures a loaded magazine is not inadvertently inserted into the pistol.
I put the Muddy Girl EC9s through a series of performance drills and an accuracy and ballistic protocol with 10 different varieties of 9mm ammunition loaded with 90- to 150-grain bullet weights. I fired more than 320 rounds, and there were no stoppages of any kind. Velocities ranged from 827 fps to 1,163 fps, measured 12 feet from the gun’s muzzle. Corresponding energies ranged from 228 ft-lbs to 345 ft-lbs.
As for accuracy, the EC9s’s overall average was 3.39 inches for five-shot groups at 25 yards. I consider that to be better than acceptable, especially considering that the sight radius is a fairly short 4.5 inches. At a closer self-defense distance of seven yards, the pistol put full magazines of all loads into groups measuring less than 1.50 inches. Also at seven yards, the pistol shot all loads to point of aim. Rapid-fire recovery between shots was fast and comfortable.
Everyone reading this magazine knows that for personal defense or home defense, proper ammunition can mean the difference between life and death. Many factors must be weighed when choosing one’s self-defense ammo, and I’d like to call attention to four of the factory loads I fired for this review. Two are relatively new, and two are not so new, but they are worthy of notice. The newest 9mm factory loads that I fired in the EC9s are the Active Duty from Winchester and the CarryGun from Speer. The other two are Remington’s Golden Saber Black Belt and Hornady’s Critical Duty.
In 2017 Winchester won a contract to supply 9mm ammo to the U.S. Army Modular Handgun System (MHS) program. Now available to civilians, it’s called Active Duty. It is loaded with a 115-grain flatnose FMJ bullet and military-grade primers, and it is loaded to the same high-performance military ballistics specifications as for the MHS program. Rated muzzle velocity in a duty-size barrel is 1,320 fps with a corresponding muzzle energy of 445 ft-lbs. Out of the EC9s’s shorter 3.12-inch barrel, it averaged 1,163 fps for an energy of 345 ft-lbs. Again, that was measured 12 feet from the gun’s muzzle. It was accurate, averaging 3.75 inches at 25 yards.
Optimized for compact and subcompact pistols, Speer’s Gold Dot CarryGun ammo features the recently developed Gold Dot G2 bullet. The Gold Dot G2 has the bonded UNICOR design of the original Gold Dot but with new skives and a shallow nose cavity filled with elastomer rather than the original hollowpoint. The elastomer prevents barrier materials from filling the nose cavity and provides more consistent performance through tough barriers like wood and steel. The skives promote reliable expansion and effective energy transfer while maintaining straight-line penetration.
The Gold Dot G2 was first developed to perform in full-sized handguns, and then Speer engineers modified and redesigned it specifically for use in shorter-barreled compact pistols and loaded it in the new CarryGun line. The G2 bullet in the CarryGun 9mm ammo is lighter weight than the G2 bullet in the Gold Dot duty ammo; consequently, the CarryGun’s G2 bullet weighs 135 grains so that it will reach optimal velocity out of a short-barreled pistol and produce consistent expansion and exceptional barrier penetration. As you can see from the results listed in the accompanying chart, it is accurate and produces consistent velocities, extreme spreads, and standard deviations.
Remington designed its Golden Saber Black Belt line of handgun ammunition to be “the pinnacle of stopping power.” Engineered in conjunction with law enforcement professionals, the Black Belt ammunition was initially available only to law enforcement, but it’s been offered to civilians for almost three years now. The 9mm offering is loaded with a 124-grain bullet.
The Black Belt ammunition gets its name from the Golden Saber bullet that’s been modified with a black belt in the middle. The hour-glass shape of the bullet allows the Mechani-Lokt black belt, which is made of black nickel-plated brass, to lock the bullet’s brass jacket and lead core together, thereby controlling expansion and providing optimal terminal performance. The hollowpoint bullet also features a driving band at the base and spiral cuts at the nose. The company says the Black Belt bullet provides massive, reliable expansion and consistent penetration.
This ammunition uses flash-suppressed propellant to minimize muzzle flash, it has waterproof seals at the neck and at the primer pocket, and the primer is optimized for consistent ignition. As you can see from the chart, its standard deviation was in the low double digits, indicating the ammo is consistent, and its accuracy in the EC9s was very good.
When Hornady’s Critical Duty ammunition was introduced, it quickly became a game-changer, and in 2018, the .40 S&W 175-grain Critical Duty loading was awarded a “Fixed Price Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity” agreement by the FBI. In the case of the 9mm, Hornady’s Critical Duty load carries a 135-grain FlexLock bullet, and it is designed to provide superior barrier penetration and optimal in-target expansion.
The bullet’s patented Flex Tip eliminates clogging and aids bullet expansion. A large mechanical jacket-to-core InterLock band keeps the bullet and core from separating, which allows maximum weight retention, excellent expansion, and consistent penetration and terminal performance through all FBI test barriers.
Another key feature of Critical Duty ammunition that makes it desirable for critical use is its nickel-plated cases. (The Speer CarryGun and the Remington Black Belt ammo also use nickel-plated cases.) Nickel-plated cases simplify chamber checks in reduced light, and they also feed and extract more reliably because nickel plating doesn’t acquire the patina that can cause drag and failure to feed or extract reliably like traditional brass cases.
Additionally, Critical Duty is powered by low-flash, clean-burning propellants that help preserve night vision in low-light firing. My shooting results indicate it was consistent and accurate in the Davidson’s Muddy Girl EC9s pistol.
Shooters have a lot of choices when it comes to personal-defense 9mm ammo, but no matter which load or loads you choose, the Ruger EC9s is an excellent everyday carry gun. It proved to be 100 percent reliable in my function and shooting tests. It is large enough and heavy enough to shoot comfortably but not so large or heavy to be cumbersome for carrying concealed. It also proved to be more than accurate enough to get the job done—and Davidson’s offers some cool versions of this great little pistol.
EC9s Muddy Girl Specs
MANUFACTURER: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
DISTRIBUTOR: Davidson’s Inc.; galleryofguns.com
TYPE: Striker-fired autoloader
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 7 rounds
BARREL: 3.12 in.
OVERALL LENGTH: 6.0 in.
WIDTH: 1.07 in.
HEIGHT: 4.9 in. (with finger-extension magazine baseplate)
WEIGHT, EMPTY: 17.2 oz.
GRIPS: Integral to polymer frame
FINISH: Black slide, Muddy Girl camo frame
SIGHTS: Integral to slide
TRIGGER: 5.95-lb. pull (as tested)
SAFETY: Manual thumb safety, trigger safety, magazine disconnect