I Carry: Ruger EC9s in a StealthGearUSA Holster

posted on March 22, 2019

Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together a potential everyday-carry kit. Today, we have a Ruger EC9s 9 mm in a StealthGearUSA holster. We also have Mission First Tactical OC spray, a Streamlight flashlight and a Bear & Son knife.

Ruger EC9s (MSRP: $299)

When it comes to single-stack, striker-fired subcompact 9 mm handguns, what comes to mind? You know, because we’ve featured them here in “I Carry,” that the Smith & Wesson Shield and Glock G43 are immensely popular, and for good reason: the pistols are sized well for concealed carry, offer a “major” caliber and aren’t horrifically expensive. Here’s another option to consider: The Ruger EC9s.

It’s actually surprising that Ruger’s EC9s isn’t better-known in this group. It’s definitely comparable in size to either the Shield or the G43, lighter than either of those pistol and of equal or superior capacity. About the only significant difference is in the sights: while the other pistols have aftermarket options, the EC9s does not – because the front and rear sights are milled into the slide. It’s rather hard to change sights when they don’t come off. Really, your only option is a dab of paint on the front sight to help it stand out – which is something revolver fans have been doing for decades.

Doubly confusing is the lack of attention paid the EC9s given the popularity of another Ruger option that’s similar, the LCP. If your backup firearm is this popular .380 from Ruger, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to have a primary that was little more than the LCP’s bigger brother? Or, flip things around, the Ruger Security-9 is an affordable, full-size option, and the EC9s could be its backup. With Ruger’s low prices, you can just about get two guns for the price of one.

StealthGearUSA Ventcore Holster (MSRP: $55)

Carrying a small gun like the EC9s is pretty easy given the size, but a quality holster is still quite important. Stealth Gear USA’s Ventcore AIWB appendix-carry rig is a hybrid design, with a proprietary backing that is comfortable against the skin and wicks moisture away from the body. Here’s where another feature of the EC9s comes into play: for those that are concerned about carrying at the appendix position, it has a manual safety. Drawing and reholstering the EC9s from the Ventcore AIWB is simple and safe, and the holster has twin belt clips to keep it securely anchored.

Mission First Tactical OC Spray (MSRP: $12.95)

We’ve featured some of the Mission First Tactical holsters previously, and the company has expanded its product line to include another EDC essential. New for 2019 is a line of OC Pepper spray offerings, and this particular model includes an ultraviolet dye for later identification. It also features an effective range of 10 feet, offers up to 35 applications and comes with a pocket clip for easy carrying.

Carrying a less-than-lethal option such as pepper spray gives another tool in the toolbox for dealing with potential threats—particularly where lethal force might not yet be justified. It can also provide a self-defense option where a firearm may not be allowed. As always, check with your state and local laws, and ideally take a course or two in the care and handling of OC sprays. Know the limitations of the tool you’re using, as well as the most-effective methods to get those tools in action when needed.

Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA (MSRP: $68)

Streamlight’s ProTac 1L-1AA flashlight has an answer to the question often heard about lights that take non-standard batteries: Not only does it run on a single CR123A battery, but it can also run on a single AA alkaline battery. With the CR123A, it puts out 350 lumens on high setting, running for 1.3 hours or 40 lumens on low, 14 hour run time. Using AA batteries, output is reduced to 150 lumens and 1.2 hour run time on high and 40 lumens on low, for seven and a half hours). Available settings are high, low and strobe, with Streamlight’s TEN-TAP programming allowing the user to choose from three different pre-programmed settings.

Bear and Son Cutlery Bear Edge Sideliner (MSRP: $61.99)

Bear and Son Cutlery offers a number of EDC models in its Bear Edge line, and this assisted opening Sideliner is a solid choice. With a three and a half inch long, 440 Stainless steel blade in a 4.3 ounce knife, it’s a great size for carrying and using. Using a thumbstud, the assisted opening mechanism can be deployed with one hand easily, and a liner lock keeps the blade in place and allows the knife to be closed with a single hand as well.


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