When it comes to choosing a handgun, bigger doesn’t always equal better, especially when you’re choosing a handgun for concealed carry.
The ability to conceal a weapon is almost as important as the weapon’s ability to eliminate a threat.
It’s all about balance.
That might sound like a cheesy New Age phrase for people wearing yoga pants and sipping soy lattes, but I swear it’s totally true when it comes to concealed carry weapons–whether you like soy lattes or not.
Ultimately, you need a handgun big enough to effectively eliminate a threat but small enough to tuck up under your shirt. While that might seem like a tall order, there are plenty of options on the market, although some work better than others.
Keep reading to find out if the Ruger LC9s fits the bill for you.
Table of Contents
Meet the Ruger LC9s
The Ruger LC9s is a recoil-operated, locked-breech, striker-fired, semi-automatic pistol.
If you like small guns, you’re going to love the Ruger LC9s. LC9s stands for “lightweight compact 9mm striker-fired.” While it certainly lacks creative pizzazz, this is a no-nonsense designation that perfectly sums up this no-nonsense firearm.
The LC9s is a pretty small handgun, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s only 6 inches long and 4.5 inches tall, with a barrel length of 3.12 inches. Even better, it’s .9 inches wide and weighs 17.1 ounces unloaded.
Truth be told, it’s a great little CCW, though the removable single-stack magazine means that it only offers a capacity of 7+1. Capacity is a trade-off most CCWs make for a smaller size, so it’s not really surprising.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
The pistol comes with standard 3-dot fixed sights, which are perfectly adequate for a CCW that will likely be used at close ranges.
As for the trigger, it measures in at 5.2 pounds.
The LC9s’s Backstory
Sturm, Ruger & Co. was founded in 1949. Today, Ruger (I wonder if Sturm is pissed that his partner gets all the fame and glory) is one of the largest manufacturers of civilian firearms in the United States.
The company nudged its way into the exploding compact handgun market in 2008 with the release of the popular Ruger LCP, which stands for “Lightweight Compact Pistol.” There’s an obvious no-nonsense trend here.
Although inarguably lightweight and compact, the LCP has one major flaw: it’s chambered for .380 ACP. While any gun is better than no gun at all, .380 ACP isn’t exactly known for its stopping power.
Thankfully for us, Ruger isn’t stupid. Building on the LCP platform, Ruger developed the LC9 as a means of getting the larger, faster, more popular 9mm Luger into a lightweight compact format.
However, the LC9 had a few issues. Most notably, the super long DAO trigger pull.
How long? Think Lord of the Rings. But the extended edition with all the director’s cuts.
Ruger addressed this epically long trigger pull with the updated LC9s, which has a pull only about ¼ that of the original LC9.
They achieved this by swapping out the original LC9 hammer for the new striker design, which provides a shorter, lighter, and more consistent trigger press.
Who Is It For?
The Ruger LC9s has a soft spot in my heart. It is what my daughter chose for her EDC handgun when she was old enough to carry.
Just like I once entrusted her safety to a car seat, I now entrust it to a Ruger LC9s.
My daughter is no stranger to shooting. However, she wanted something more than just a firearm she could shoot confidently.
She also wanted a weapon she could secretly slip into a stylish waistband without her gun-snubbing friends catching on. Why she has gun-snubbing friends, I don’t know.
Besides my daughter, who else needs a Ruger LC9s?
- People who get turned on by deep spy-level concealment.
- Shooters who appreciate sophisticated style in an EDC.
- People who want something practical and easy to conceal.
- Someone looking for a reliable backup gun.
- Less confident shooters who appreciate a ton of extra safety features.
Secret Agent Style
In the aesthetics department, the LC9s scores big. With its slim profile, sculpted nose, and elongated trigger guard, it really is easy on the eyes.
Looking like something a James Bond spy would smoothly slide out of an ankle holster, the LC9s screams sophistication. And it comes in suave black, which goes with literally everything.
Okay, so it looks pretty spiffy. But how does it work in the real world?
Fit & Feel
Although relatively meager, the Ruger LC9s fits nicely in the hand. I admit to having fairly tiny girl hands, and even for me, the extended magazine base is a godsend.
The thing almost disappears in my husband’s larger-than-average man-hands, but he claims it is easy to hold onto when shooting. That being said, this is a gun you want to get your hands on before you buy.
The way a small gun like this fits in your hands should be one of the most important things to explore before you commit.
Ruger was kind enough to round the lines and smooth the edges of this compact handgun, which helps prevent the gun from cutting up your hand when you’re shooting.
Those smooth lines also make the gun more comfortable when you’re wearing it pressed against your body.
However, the grip does feature some deep checkering. Although designed to help prevent the weapon from slipping around in sweaty hands, the checkering is pretty aggressive and sometimes feels like 40-grit sandpaper on your palms.
I’ve definitely shot more comfortable handguns. However, I’ve also definitely shot worse.
Is this a gun I want to spend all day shooting? Nope.
Is this a gun I can go through a box or two of practice ammunition to maintain proficiency? Yes, that’s totally doable.
Thankfully, most people don’t have to do a lot of high-volume shooting with their self-defense weapon. The aggressive checkering should be a non-issue in a defensive situation.
From my experience on the range, the LC9s is as reliable as they come.
I’ve fed it a variety of rounds, including Hornady, Winchester white box, Sellier & Bellot, and even economy Blazer aluminum-cased ammo. It feasts on them all with zero problems.
I’ve never had a single failure to feed or failure to extract with our LC9s, and we’ve sent at least 1000 rounds through it. The LC9s definitely isn’t a finicky eater.
The tiny size of the Ruger LC9s lends itself to some potential complications, especially when held in inexperienced hands.
The lightweight frame provides minimal mass for recoil absorption. As a result, this little pocket pistol produces some pretty snappy recoil.
The recoil is definitely enough to get your attention. It can also cause some serious muzzle rise, especially for shooters with feeble wrists or weak grip strength.
Getting the LC9s to keep her nose down for accurate, rapid-fire follow-up shots takes some work. You’re going to need a good stance, a steady hand, and a firm grip to keep her in line.
Despite the snappy recoil, the LC9s is an accurate little gun. Get it on target, and it’s going to hit right where you want, especially at standard defensive shooting distances.
This is a good thing since you only get 7 plus 1 chances to stop a dangerous threat. Every shot needs to be center mass.
Where the LC9s really shines is in its concealability. This gun BEGS to be carried. Since a gun on your person makes a better personal protection weapon than one left at home, this should be a major selling point for CCW permit holders.
For those with deep pockets, this little gem is the perfect size for pocket carry. Less than an inch thick and short enough to keep from peeking out, this thing virtually disappears in your pocket. Just be sure to use a proper holster.
Until ladies fashion catches up with our desire for deep pockets, the LC9s also tucks easily into an IWB holster. The slender profile of the LC9s helps prevent imprinting, even when your wardrobe includes gauzy fabrics and fitted tailoring.
The LC9s also makes a great back-up pistol and is perfectly sized for alternate carry options. Consider an ankle or garter holster.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
(For some inspiration, check out our recommendations for the Best Concealed Carry Holsters.)
Is It Too Safe?
Ruger has incorporated just about every safety device known to man into this little pocket pistol. In fact, it’s surprising you don’t need a note from home before the LC9s lets you pull the trigger.
LC9s Safety features include:
- A traditional thumb safety.
- A magazine safety.
- An internal lock that disables the weapon for storage.
- A loaded chamber indicator.
Ruger implemented this long list of safety features in response to customer demand.
If you aren’t super confident with firearms, but still want to carry one for personal protection, you might find comfort in this long list of safety features.
However, if you have some shooting experience under your belt, all those features probably seem like overkill.
The manual safety really just complicates things. It only works for right-handed shooters and can be difficult to disengage (and even harder to re-engage), especially when your fingers turn to jello during a massive adrenaline dump.
My guess is Ruger expects most LC9s owners will permanently switch the safety off and leave it there. This could explain why they made the safety so persnickety, to prevent an accidental “safety on” situation during a violent encounter.
By The Numbers
I’ve had zero problems with the LC9s’s reliability. I did some digging on some internet forums, and plenty of shooters confirm my personal experience.
Once you get the LC9s on target, it doesn’t disappoint. However, that snappy recoil and ample muzzle rise can make accurate follow-up shots problematic.
I have mentioned several times this is a small pistol. As such, it fits better in smaller hands. Someone with large hands will probably want something more substantial to hold on to.
Unfortunately, people with small hands also tend to lack wrist and grip strength (Sorry, ladies. Blame Mother Nature, not me). Add that to the snappy recoil, and the LC9s can be difficult to control.
However, it isn’t fair to expect this sub-compact to perform like a larger firearm. When you compare it to other similarly sized handguns, it actually performs quite well.
Yes, it’s small enough to conceal, but you’re going to want to show it off.
Plenty of options here, including lasers, sights, grips, and custom triggers. And yes, you will definitely want to upgrade those factory sights.
Bang for the Buck 4/5
The LC9s is not an economy-priced weapon. It definitely isn’t the cheapest subcompact single-stack 9mm on the market. However, if you want a reliable and attractive concealed carry pocket pistol, this one is well worth the slightly larger investment.
Overall Rating 4.3/5
The Ruger LC9s is designed to be a pocket pistol and when it comes to concealment, the LC9s is a superstar, slipping easily into a pocket or waistband without much concern for imprinting. Reliability and accuracy are good but ergonomics could be a little bit better.
It’s currently discontinued but you can still find it used!
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
When compared to other subcompact pistols, the Ruger LC9s definitely holds its own. It is actually a fine example of just how shootable a pocket pistol can be.
What do you think of the Ruger LC9s? How about pocket pistols in general? Let us know in the comments below. Want more options? Check out our Best CCW Pistols By Caliber article and our picks for the 6 Best Sub-Compact Single-Stack 9mm for CCW!
32 Leave a Reply
An LC9s being shootable is debatable. It's a micro 9mm. It's snatchy. But if you can manage it the thing is accurate. I wouldn't consider this a beginner pistol. I carry one. I personally like it a lot. You can conceal it in board shorts. But my wife is scared of it from the recoil. It's a micro 9. I bought it for her but after shooting it, I knew she'd hate shooting it so I got her a larger pistol to manage recoil. But I like the LC9s. Especially after a new trigger. That thing is fun.
I have carried an LC9s Pro for years and have never had any issues with it. While i have several other CCW weapons, the LC9s Pro, with the extended mag, is my go to pistol.
Like others, I have never understood Rugers decision to stop production. I would assume it was an accountants decision.
I would gladly additional LC9s Pro's just to have them.
I have had the LC9s Pro (no trigger safety) since 2016. I added a pachmyer rubber handle grip, a belt clip for IWB carry, and I use the extended 10 round magazine. The firearm is so slender, which makes it excellent for EDC, but yes can be a bit hard to hold onto. Which is where the handle grip comes in, and then the 10 round extended magazine has an additional handle portion, which gives you the space for the pinky finger that was missing initially. With that set up, it has solved the hard to hold issue for me. Mine is chambered in 9mm, but Ruger does make a .380 barrel and slide option. I think the gun actually deserves 5/5 in every category. The reason I chose 9mm rather than a 40mm, is because of the lighter recoil and ability to hit the follow up shots. So if you consider that, it's a great gun but the extended magazine is a must! Its kind of strange to me that this gun was discontinued, but hey maybe that will make mine even more valuable. Go Ruger, go USA.
Great write up! My 2 carry guns are a subcompact XDS 9mm and a Taurus PT-738 .380... I'd love to carry the XDS more, it's just SO much bigger and heavier than the Taurus. Is the Ruger EC9s (I actually prefer the LC9s PRO without the safety features) about as small as I'm going to find in 9mm?
I have a Ruger lc9s and it is an excellent gun for cc, use it ocasionally for shooting at ipsc ranges(not for competition) just for shooting; I considet it a great gun, never had a malfunction.
You state the EC9S is discontinued, ruger website says the EC9s is in production
Hey Joe, the article references the LC9s as discontinued. The EC9s is definitely still in production and we have a review of it coming out soon.
LC9S is not an EC9S.
They are similar though.
I own a LC9S... Is what it is.... Shoots well, recoil is not bad at all, Factory Sights are very good, Mag Extention fits my little finger perfectly, PURE PERFECTION for CCW... I installed a Short Travel Trigger and a 2.7 lbs Spring Kit...
Remember, this is a PPE as far as I am concerned. ONLY.
It is NOT a Competition Pistol.
Best litte Pistol I have ever owned.
I would have to say, being I have STRONG WRIST, I have no issues acquiring my target after a shot... I understand some may. But it works for me..
So with my Personal experiences I would have to also rate The Ruger LC9S, REGARDLESS of the Thumb Safety, 5/5 in All categories.
I bought an LC9s specifically to carry in my motorcycle jacket pocket on cross country rides. I have large hands but find it still grips well in my hands. I was pleasantly surprised at the trigger quality...better than I expected at the price range. Sorry to hear it was discontinued.
I do not own the LC9s but in terms of aggressive cross hatching it is a simple matter on a plastic gun to file it down a bit. Easy to do. Reminder do it slowly a little at a time. You can take it off but, not put it back.
Hello my name is Casie and I've carried my Ruger LC9S for 3 years now, as with anyone I get to the range when I can but with the recent ammo shortage not so much. I'm having trouble hitting my target, my husband says I'm trying to hard, I have found that I drop my head significantly right before firing, any advice would be greatly appreciated on becoming more accurate on target, thank you, and have a good day.
Hey Casie! The ammo shortage definitely makes training tricky at times! But that's why I suggest dry fire. It's something you can do at home to work out the kinks. Check out our article here for more details: https://www.pewpewtactical.com/dry-fire-guide-training-home/ -- also, it sounds like you might be struggling with stance. We have some great suggestions on how to shoot more accurately and work out some of this issues at this link: https://www.pewpewtactical.com/ultimate-guide-shoot-pistol-accurately/
Hope that helps!
It is not just an ammo shortage but the price is out of sight. Does it carry over. I'm not sure. There are pellet guns made similar to many pistols. Perhaps time to put a range in your garage, basement. Do not shoot bbs into a trap as they ricochet however, a cardboard box stuffed with newspaper should stop them and you can recover the bbs with a magnet.
I have the LC9s Pro (no safety or mag disconnect), with a pocket clip on the starboard side and a Crimson Trace laser. I live in NY (with Governor gollum), and the 7+1 capacity ensures I won't get in trouble with the unsafe act. The gun disappears in my pocket until I go for it. It's been flawless and accurate through several thousand rounds. It couldn't be any better. It's too bad they discontinued it, although the EDC that replaced it seems to give similar levels of performance (you don't really need adjustable sights on a gun this size), and it's cheaper.
Thanks Mark, I read your review and decided to keep my new LC9s pro. I recently took the concealed carry permit and the instructor told me that this weapon is unreliable.
I've been carrying this pistol for about 5 yrs. It does everything you reasonably could ask it to do, and reliably. It will truly accept any 9mm ammo in any weight or configuration without problem. Nice small handgun that still delivers a serious punch.
I let a friend use my lc9s for his cc’d class, when he went up to shoot, nothing. The firing pin had fallen out. Has anyone else experienced this? I haven’t run 100 rounds through this gun.
I carry my LC9s everyday in a BBF Make Kydex IWB Holster. It’s amazing. It was pre owned and I picked it up in a trade. I’ve put nearly 3000 rounds through it without even one failure. It is small, easily concealed, easy to shoot (albeit it snappy), and extremely accurate. Admittedly it’s not for everyone, but for me, for a concealed carry it wins out over my Glock 26 Gen 3.
This is really a poorly done article. The photos are all of a different gun than the author is reporting on. All the photos are of the LC9S PRO. The pro lacks the manual safety.
Of course you would think the regular LC9S didn't have a safety unless you read the specs part of the article.
So the pro is what most of you/us want. Especially since that little vestigial sliver of a trigger is damn near useless.
One photo shows the LC9S with safety. Other photos are obviously the Pro, but the author explained the LC9S accurately. The trigger is excellent. I find the gun surprisingly accurate and easy to hold through multiple shots with any weight ammo. Easily qualified CCW out of the box with no practice. Was fortunate to buy one of the last with high viz sights. Added Trujicon green laser and Talon overgrip. Sticky Holster Mod. 2. I have large hands so use the grip extension on genuine Ruger magazines to contain the little finger. I like this melted, compact gun so much, don't believe I'll need another "pocket pistol." Which means there are other guns to buy!
You've got it backwards.
That's Bill Ruger on the left and Alexander Sturm on the right.
I'm confused. I still see the LC9s on the Ruger site, along with the almost (Cerakote vs. blued) EC9s. What is gone in the LCC9s Pro (which what your first pistol is).
I think that Ruger Co. did a great mistake discontinuing LC9s pistol.
I do like so much this excellent concealed pistol that I bought a second one.
If the people of Ruger think that Security 9 is going to take LC9s pistol place, they are totally wrong.
I do not like Security 9 at all.
And between Ruger LC9s and Sig 365, my preferences go for Ruger LC9s,and I have both.
Ec9s basically same gun.
Except you can't get it without a safety.
Also EC9S both front and rear sight are integral to the slide and can not be replaced.
Could you please review similar size pistols? I used to carry a pirated Soviet version of the PPK, the Radom P-64 in 9x18mm and it had a recoil I would describe as harsh. But I actually have little experience with compact pistols apart from that.
I have a number of handguns, some fairly expensive, and this gun is one of the better ones, and also among the smallest and cheapest.
The best model to get is the LCPs Pro in 9mm with 9-round magazines and no manual safety, If you can find one.
The Ruger is very reliable and has no problems with many types of hollow points. It is far more reliable than my Kimber Micro 9, a beautiful stainless steel gun that chokes one some types of ammo, is the same size as the LCPs Pro, holds only a 6-round magazine and costs about 3 times as much.
It probably is being discontinued because the EC9s, same gun but less expensive finish and fixed sights, outsells it. I don't think Sturm minds much; he passed away 2 years after they formed the company. Ruger kept the the name Sturm, Ruger and company out of respect for his late partner. According to the Wikipedia article on Sturm, which uses the same photo, he's the one with the beard.
I really like my LC9, I was not happy when Ruger discontinued it for the LC9s. I was planning on getting a second one, as a spare. So now I better act quickly to at least get the LC9S.
yes too soon! I had a LC9S pro. No manual safety. I loved it up until it was stolen:-(
Can not find one that does not sell for more than I am willing to pay.