We are all on a quest for that elusive high-quality low-cost handgun. Unfortunately, while there are a lot of cheap handguns chambered for 9mm, they are often sub-par when it comes to quality.
However, Sturm Ruger’s new Ruger Security 9 offers shooters an opportunity for a real bargain. For under $400, you can get a full-featured 9mm pistol with features usually reserved for much more expensive guns.
Ruger has a long reputation for designing and building very good and reliable handguns that remain reasonably priced. The Security 9 is the latest example and comes from the LCP line of semi-automatic pistols produced by Sturm Ruger. This pistol is a hammer-fired gun unlike the many other striker-fired pistols of this size. This gives the Ruger Security 9 some distinct advantages.
We will examine the Ruger Security 9 in detail in this review as well as give out opinion on some of the pros and cons that we found during our review. Hopefully, this will give you a better picture of the benefits of looking at the Ruger Security 9 as a possible budget option for a concealed carry handgun.
Lineage and Heritage
Ruger has a well-established reputation for designing and marketing handguns. In the category of semi-automatic pistols, Ruger has a tradition that dates back many years. The Ruger LCP came to the market as an ultra-light self-defense gun. The design proved very popular with customers.
In 2016, Ruger introduced an upgrade and slightly larger version of the LCP under the model name LCP ii. One of the major improvements of the LCP ii over the original LCP was the slide lock when the magazine was empty.
The Ruger Security 9 came to market in 2017. Ruger announced that the Security 9 would eventually replace both the Ruger SR-Series and LCP ii pistols. However, despite the intentions, both the SR-Series and the LCP ii are still being manufactured by Ruger.
Versions and Variants
If you are familiar at all with Ruger pistols of any kind, you already know that Ruger offers a wide array of variations of their pistol models as well as variants available only from selected dealers. The Security 9 is no exception and I will attempt to touch on as many of these variants as possible in this Ruger Security 9 review.
The basic, from the factory, version of the Ruger Security 9 is offered in either a 15-round or 10-round version (to comply with California restrictions). In its original form, the specifications of the Ruger Security 9 included the following:
- Magazine capacity – 15+1
- Manual safety – yes
- Barrel Material – Alloy steel
- Barrel Finish – blued
- Barrel Length – 4 inches
- Overall Length – 7.24 inches
- Sights – Drift Adjustable Rear Sight
- Weight – 23.8 ounces
- Grip Frame – High-Performance Glass-Filled Nylon
- Slide Material – Through-hardened alloy steel
- Slide Finish – Black Oxide
- Slide Width – 1.02 inches
- Height overall – 5 inches
- Lands and grooves – 6
- Twist rate – 1:10 right hand
- Includes 2 15-round magazines
This version of the Ruger Security 9 is not available in Massachusetts or in California. A 10-round capacity version is available in these states.
The Variations on the Theme
Both the compact and standard basic models are available with several variations from the factory. The variations on the basic model include one or more of these options.
If you prefer a laser sight mounted on your personal defense pistol, Ruger offers the Security 9 basic model with a Veridian E-Series Red Laser factory mounted. This option is available on either the compact or standard size models.
Many people find the grips size of the Ruger Security 9 to be a bit small for larger hands.
Ruger has partnered with Hogue grips to offer an upgraded grip featuring a Hogue Grip Sleeve to make the pistol easier to grip and hold. You can get a compact model or a standard model with this upgraded grip option.
Dealer Only Models
Ruger partners with a number of wholesale and retail distributors to offer the Ruger Security 9 in special editions. Among the dealers and retailers that offer special options are the following:
Davidson’s Distributor Exclusives
Davidson chose to offer a different take on the Ruger Security 9 by offering the basic pistol with a Cerakote finish in Dark Earth. The dark earth Cerakote finished pistols are available in either standard or compact sizes.
Another Davidson exclusive is titled the Battleworn Flag Cerakote finish. This is an extremely striking pistol and as a presentation gun, this is an excellent choice.
Talo Distributor Exclusives
Talo offers two models of the compact version of the Security 9 pistol with a decidedly different take on fashion. These two Talo models have frames and grips finished in turquoise. You can specify a black slide or a silver Cerakote slide finish. The full-sized Security 9 is also available with the turquoise frame and grip, but only the black finish is available on the slide.
Lipsey’s Distribution Exclusives
Lipsey Wholesale has its own variation on the Security 9 themes. You can get a Security 9 with a flat dark earth grip and frame and black-oxide finished slide. This variation is available in both compact and full-size models.
Sports South Distribution Exclusives
Sports South offers the basic full-sized Ruger Security 9 with the black grip and frame and a silver Cerakote slide finish. Currently, this variation is only available in the full-sized model.
RSR Group Distribution Exclusives
The RSR Groups’ take on the Ruger Security 9 gives this pistol a striking look. The grip and frame are finished in what RSR calls Cobalt Kinetic Cerakote. The bluish-gray finish with a black slide is visually stunning.
Big Rock Sports Distribution Exclusives
If you are into coyote brown for your gear and other accessories, Big Rock Sports offers a Ruger Security 9 with a coyote brown Cerakote finish to complement the rest of your kit.
Bill Hicks Distribution Exclusives
To round out the distributor variations is Bill Hicks who offers a Security 9 finishes in Jungle Green Cerakote. Not a true OD green and a long way from a Kelly green, the subdued green finish makes a statement about this pistol.
The Pro Series Security 9 by Ruger
In addition to the standard factory versions of the Security 9, Ruger has made available a Pro series variations of these pistols. There are some significant differences between the Pro version and the standard models of these semi-automatic pistols. The Pro series pistols are available in both compact and standard sizes
No Manual Safety
The biggest difference between the Pro version of the Security 9 and the Standard version is the lack of a manual safety on the Pro version. Many people don’t like the need to manipulate a manual safety, especially on self-defense concealed carry pistols. The Pro version continues to use the Ruger Secure Action trigger system.
One other improvement to the Pro series variants of the Security 9 is the factory-installed all-steel tritium night sights. Steel sights with tritium inserts are a welcome addition to a pistol that may be carried as a concealed duty pistol or a backup pistol.
Looking At The Security 9 In Detail
Let’s take the Ruger Security 9 apart and look at the individual components and see how they stack up. Since this is what I consider a budget gun, a detailed look at the operating parts is in order, especially if you intend to concealed carry this semi-automatic pistol.
Frames and Grips
One place that many budget gun manufacturers skimp is on the design and implementation of the grip texture and frame of their pistols. All too often the grip angle is wrong, which leads to more felt recoil and increased muzzle flip for some shooters. I am a big fan of the way Ruger sets up its pistols for comfortable shooting.
The controls on the Security 9 are well thought out and placed so that almost any hand size puts them in a convenient position. The ergonomics of this pistol are excellent. Ruger even provides a short piece of Picatinny rail on the forward frame for mounting a light or laser. The trigger guard is more than adequate if you shoot wearing gloves.
Despite the strong spring tension, the Ruger Security 9 is an easy gun to operate even for smaller shooters.
The dovetail at the rear of the frame is adequate to protect your hand from slide or hammer bite during shooting. One Ruger accessory I recommend for the compact version of the Security 9 is the magazine extension that fits on the 15-round magazine. This provides a better grip on the compact pistol frame and allows you more magazine capacity.
There is no problem with slide racking on the Security 9. The rear serrations are generous and the serrations on the front give good purchase on the slide. The stiff recoil springs are not a problem to overcome when loading this pistol or clearing a jam.
The slide rides on full-length guide rails to ensure smooth and efficient operations. Some may prefer steel rails but the hardened aluminum rails are more than adequate for this gun. Unless you intend to use this as a range gun that will be shot multiple thousands of times, the guide rails should outlast the gun.
As I have already mentioned, these pistols’ controls are placed so that almost anyone can manipulate them with ease. There are a lot of controls on this gun but they are placed for intuitive and ergonomic use. Many shooters are unfamiliar with a semi-automatic pistol that has a manual thumb safety. My only complaint about the thumb safety is its size.
The external manual safety is smaller than I would prefer and can be hard to locate. The small size makes the safety hard to operate, especially on a new gun. Some shooters with smaller hands may find this problematic.
The other controls such as the slide release, the magazine release, and the slide lock all performed as expected. The locations of these controls were well placed for easy operation without having to look at the pistol to find the correct location.
It is important to remember that this is not a striker-fired gun. The Security 9 has a shrouded hammer that affects the way the trigger functions and performs. The trigger on the Security 9 is not a true double-action nor is it a traditional single-action. It is, in effect, a hybrid. The hammer is moved to a half-cock position by the slide and then the trigger finishes the job when pulled.
I halfway expected the trigger to have a strange feel. However, to my surprise, the trigger pull and break are excellent. Out of the box, the trigger pull measures about 5.5 pounds with my improvised luggage scale trigger pull analyzer. The takeup was rather short with a crisp and clean break. I experienced no trigger creep and, for a semi-double action hammer-fired trigger, the reset was very short.
The trigger safety didn’t hinder the operation of the trigger and didn’t affect my feel on the trigger at all. The trigger safety system also includes a hammer catch that prevents the hammer from contacting the firing pin in case of an inadvertent shock such as dropping the pistol.
Ruger uses a Through-Hardened barrel heat treatment on the alloy steel barrel. This process surface-hardens the barrel steel creating a hard and durable surface. The barrel has 1:10 right-hand rifling and an integrated feed ramp all of which are blue finished. The mechanism of the Ruger Security 9 uses the proven Browning barrel tilt process to facilitate loading, locking and unlocking during the firing process.
A window on the barrel hood makes checking the loaded or unloaded condition of the chamber easy. All in all, the barrel length is what you would expect in a semi-automatic pistol designed for concealed carry and personal defense. The steel guide rod also serves to enhance the reliability of the Ruger Security 9.
The stock sights that come with the standard and compact version of the Ruger Security 9 are really quite well done. The front sight post has a white dot and the u-notch rear sight is outlined in white for easy sight acquisition. Some shooters may have to do a little practice to appreciate u-notch rear sights, but I found it quite easy to align the front sight in the U.
The rear factory sight is drift adjustable allowing you to fine-tune the way the pistol shoots in your hand. If you shoot competitively and don’t want to invest in expensive after-market sights, this is a great feature on a good gun for this purpose.
On the Range – The True Test
The true test of a budget pistol often comes on the range. I performed my usual tests at the range shooting 300 rounds of various types of ammunition to test functionality, reliability, and accuracy. The shooting was done at 25, 15 and 7 yards. I believe that these are the best ranges at which to test a self-defense pistol.
I shot approximately 200 rounds of 115-grain ball 9mm ammunition during this test. The balance of the test used a variety of self-defense cartridges that are popular among those who carry a pistol on a regular basis. I always try to test these high-expansion hollow point rounds. Some budget pistols refuse to feed or cycle some of this type of ammunition.
The Ruger Security 9 proved to be remarkably reliable. I did not suffer a single stoppage or failure to feed during my testing. I did manage to get one stove pipe casing when I limp wristed the pistol to the degree that it almost slipped from my hand when it was shot.
Using the high-performance self-defense rounds proved equally as reliable. The last magazine I shot during this part of the test was loaded with a variety of these rounds. The Ruger Security 9 chewed through the mixed load without a problem.
I found the Ruger Security 9 to be easy and comfortable to shoot. The low bore axis makes this pistol easy to control even when shooting controlled pairs of shots for the record. The positive reset on the trigger and the neutrally balanced sear all work to allow quick and accurate follow-up shots.
I am not a big fan of external safety mechanisms on self-defense guns. However, I found that the external manual safety on the Ruger Security 9 was easy to operate and was easy to manipulate with my right thumb. All in all, I found the Ruger Security 9 a pleasant gun to shoot.
My mantra it seems is that most guns shoot much better than I am capable of shooting them. Modern manufacturing and machining practices all but eliminate many of the variables that can affect the accuracy of a gun from the factory.
However, throughout my testing, I was happy with the results of my shooting. At 25 yards, any pistol with a 4-inch barrel is a challenge. I managed to keep the entire 100 rounds of ball ammunition that I shot at 25-yards in the black on a standard silhouette target. The balance of the ball ammo and all of the self-defense ammunition was shot at the shorter ranges.
I am happy to say that at 15 and 7 yards, the gun and I kept all of the rounds fired within the 8 ring of the target. I think this is a testament to the design of the pistol that keeps recoil and muzzle movement to a minimum.
My Likes and Dislikes about the Ruger Security 9
There is a lot to like and not very much to dislike about this gun. All in all, for what this gun costs you will be hard-pressed to find a better value for a concealed carry gun. These are the things that stand out for me about the Ruger Security 9.
The Gun Feels Good in the Hand
It may seem like a strange thing to say in a review of a pistol, but I stand by my opinion. This is a gun that just feels right when I pick it up.
How a gun feels in your hand goes a long way toward how well you can shoot and the results you will see downrange on the target. The grip angle, the low barrel profile on the frame, and the way the sights work make this a gun that fits.
A Gun that Provides Confidence
After testing the Ruger Security 9 on the range, I am convinced that this is a gun that can serve as a personal defense pistol. The placement of the thumb safety is sensible. Even though I am not a fan of external safety mechanisms, I found the Security 9 easy to get on and off safe.
The magazine release was a bit small for my liking but it is functional and released cleanly with the factory magazines. A concealed carry firearm should inspire confidence in its operation and its reliability. I feel like Ruger has accomplished these priorities in the Security 9.
Sights and Accuracy
I like the U-notch sight picture. I typically carry a Glock and have become accustomed to the three-dot sight picture.
It took a few practice shots to find the best sight picture using the dot and U Notch sights. In practice, if I were to carry the Security 9 on a regular basis, I would probably opt for a tritium night sights.
The Manual Thumb Safety
This is where I would make a different choice. If I were going to make the Ruger Security 9 my everyday carry choice, I would spend the extra dollars and purchase the Pro model without the external manual safety.
In my mind, a safety is just one more thing to do when a significant engagement is facing me.
I would like the grip texture to be a bit more aggressive. On a hot sunny day at the range, the grips became just a bit hard to keep from slipping in my hand.
The size of the grip frame on this gun contributes to this problem. The model of Ruger Security 9 with Hogue grip sleeves might be the answer to this minor shortcoming.
My Final Thoughts about the Ruger Security 9
Considering the price point of this pistol and the obvious quality that goes into the manufacture, I have to give the Ruger Security 9 a thumbs up.
If you want a rugged and reliable pistol for your everyday carry, I can recommend the Ruger Security 9 without hesitation.