Table of Contents
I have reviewed many 9mm pistols recently and last month published here my Best 9mm Pistols in 5 Categories. But, some have asked what about my list of recommended and dependable 9mm pistols under $300. that will be reliable and get the personal protection job done. So, I researched, shot, and tried several basic “without frills and extra features” pistols and came up with my list of the Best 9mm Value-Priced Pistols Under $300. These will not “hurt the wallet” and offer basic functions with sufficient firepower for self-defense. There are several 9mms under $300., but I want to recommend only those that I have no doubts whatsoever about their accuracy, reliability, and value for the price paid, considering my 10 criteria. Remember, I am examining VALUE pistols that can be bought for under $300 after shopping around. I did pay attention to what other instructors have told me, what I learned from my research and the comments from military and law enforcement folks whom I respect. Still, of course, my budget list is very subjective and so would your list be biased toward your experiences, subjective opinions, and criteria. One of my finalists was the Ruger Security-9 and here is my evaluation and field test of it.
Hammer-Fired, NOT Striker-Fired Action
Ruger’s Security-9 pistol uses the same dependable “Secure Action” system as Ruger’s successful LCP II with its crisp, short, and soft trigger. The Ruger Security-9 system uses an internal, shrouded hammer, rather than a striker-fired bar, which helps make slide racking easier. It is a pre-cocked, hammer-fired double-action-only action. For safety, the Ruger Security-9 has a trigger safety, manual thumb safety, and a (recessed) hammer catch that prevents the pistol from firing unless the trigger is pressed. It has a Browning-type, tilting-barrel lock-up. This solidly-built value pistol has features normally found on much more expensive pistols and does not feel “cheap.” The hammer, like the striker in striker-fired guns, is cocked part way back by the rearward motion of the slide. Pressing the trigger completes the hammer’s cocking cycle to fire the pistol. This results in a single-action-type trigger feel with a short and crisp reset point while being a double-action pistol.
Similar Dimensions as the Glock 19
Below I give the Ruger Security-9’s dimensions, specifications, and features so that you can see a similarity to the popular, but more expensive, Glock 19‘s size and dimensions, listed here. Then I will give my ten criteria and the results of my field test and evaluation of its performance and characteristics relative to my criteria. You can compare its features and ranking to my Top 21 Concealed Carry guns in my book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.” You can add or subtract from my criteria to meet your needs and preferences. I was very anxious to shoot the budget Security-9 and to compare it factor by factor to my other quality compact 9mms to see if it truly ranked in my top compact concealed carry pistols and if I would recommend it, even as a budget pistol.
Glock 19 Gen 5 VS. Ruger Security-9 Specifications
|Glock 19 Gen 5||Ruger Security-9|
|Suggested Retail Price||$559||$379|
|Weight Unloaded||23.99 oz.||23.75 oz.|
Disclosure and Goals For this Ruger Security-9 Review
Thanks to Ruger for loaning me this pistol for testing and evaluation purposes. Know that I am not on their payroll, have not been paid by them for this article nor influenced to say certain things about the gun. I want to be honest and straight-forward with my opinions and ideas the way I see the pistol to help folks sincerely. Specifically, I wanted to know how accurate it is out of the box, without modifications? How heavy was its trigger press? Is the trigger smooth and crisp? What about the reset distance for follow-up shots? Is it reliable? What are some of its pros, cons, and special features? Are there any issues or concerns that would prevent me from carrying this gun? What would I change about this pistol? Is this a gun I would recommend for concealed carry and home defense?
Ruger Security-9 Review Plan
First, I want to present the specifications and some features for the Ruger Security-9 9mm pistol. Then I will give you my holster suggestion for the Security-9 (with a special Discount Code), followed by 10 Criteria that I use to evaluate all guns. Finally, I present my analysis and how I specifically evaluated the gun against each of my criteria to recommend or not recommend it. As always, set your own criteria and priorities, do your own research and check my data, information, etc. with yours, for your very personal selection process.
Ruger Security-9 Compact 9mm Specifications
|Model Number||Model #3824|
|Sights||Steel; Drift Adjustable Rear Sight with White Outlined Notch; Dovetailed into Slide; Snag Free; No Rear-Sight Ledge; White Dot Front Sight; Night Sights and Fiber Optic Sights Optional|
|Frame||Polymer; High Performance Glass-Filled Nylon; Serialized Chassis|
|Slide||Blued; Through-Hardened Chrome Alloy Moly-Steel; Slide Front and Rear Serrations; Small Slide Lock Lever|
|Trigger||Double Action (Pre-Cocked); Polymer; Has Safety Blade Trigger Stop|
|Trigger Press||To Be Determined- (as measured over 10 trials with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull gauge); Factory Estimated 5.5-6 lb. Press|
|Magazines / Capacity||15 Rounds; 2 Steel Mags; Double StackMags fit in Ruger PC Carbine with Adapter; Mag Lock- So Use Slide Release to Return to Battery; No Sling- Shot Racking|
|Weight||Unloaded: 23.75 oz, Empty Mag|
|Safeties||Manual Thumb Safety: Small size; Left-Side Only-Hinged from Front so Move the Back of Safety Lever to Engage; Bladed Trigger Safety|
|Grips||Textured; Stippling Not Too Rough; Glass-Fiber-Reinforced; Slate-Blue Polymer Grips|
|Other||Lifetime Warranty- from Date of Original New Purchase; No Ambidextrous Controls|
Ruger Security-9 Compact 9mm Features
- Very Nice Ergonomics with Thin, Nicely-Textured Grips
- Low Bore Axis to help Reduce Muzzle Flip
- Short, Light, Crisp Double-Action Trigger with Positive Reset; Similar to Single Action
- Slight Bevel at Upper Edge of Grip for Strong Thumb
- Attractive Two-Tone Slate Blue and Black Color (No Extra Charge)
- Accessory Rail
- Front and Rear Slide Cocking Serrations are Wide Apart and Nicely Scalloped
Kramer Handgun Leather OWB Belt Scabbard Holster
Kramer Handgun Leather makes a beautiful, high-quality OWB Belt Scabbard Horsehide-Leather custom holster for this Ruger Security-9. This classic “pancake” design has great workmanship, is very comfortable, extremely durable, has fine retention, covers the trigger, and conceals well. The Kramer Leather OWB holster has a high-riding FBI forward cant or tilt for easy draw. It is designed for wear on the strong side hip and works well for concealment, for the range, competition, and for home use.
Kramer Holsters wants to offer USA Carry readers a special 20% Discount off all purchases through April 30, 2019, for their high-quality holsters. When ordering, mention Col Ben and use the Discount Code “COLBEN-USAC20.”
Ruger Security-9 Review Criteria and Considerations
Here are just ten of my criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the Ruger Security-9 pistol. In addition to my criteria, other subjective features may be appealing for some. For example:
- Flared mag well
- Front and back fine-line checkering
- Smooth rounded corners
- Mag release location
- Number of mags included
- Type of sights/modifications
- Grip angle
- Bore axis
- Non-porting or porting
- Included extras like a holster and pouch
- Customer service
So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that all gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want all of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of ten points for each of my ten criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria, preferences or subtract any of mine.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.
Range Test Results Special Considerations for Ruger Security-9
Ammo Used for the Ruger Security-9 Review
To determine how well the gun cycled and handled different loads, I used high-quality Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown JHP ammo in 115, 124, and 147 grain weights and some in 115 grain FMJ. And about 50-60 rounds of American Eagle 115-grain FMJ rounds I had bought. I only fired about 200 rounds total to evaluate this gun to decide if it would be a solid, value gun for concealed carry. I wanted to determine if it would get the job done at 10 yards as a budget gun without all the “whistles and bells.” I had the information I needed after shooting it. Below are my evaluations for each of my ten criteria for the Security-9 for my concealed carry purpose. I wanted to test its reliability and accuracy specifically. I put the gun through its paces and checked it thoroughly for malfunctions, stoppages, and performance with JHP ammo and FMJ rounds. I want to thank Sig Sauer for providing 150 rounds of various Elite Performance ammo to test and evaluate the Security-9.
Ruger Security-9 Ergonomics
The Ruger Security-9 in 9mm has excellent ergonomics. The slim grip felt good in my, my wife’s, and two other instructor’s’ hands. It was comfortable, and it had a low bore axis which helped reduce felt recoil and prevent muzzle flip. I was able to grip and operate the gun well with its just-right grip texturing. My pinky finger did not hang below the 15-round magazine when I gripped it – no pinky dangle. The ergonomics of this gun were very nice for a value-priced pistol. And the two, metal 15-round mags included gave me extra rounds and peace of mind. The grip stippling and rounded corners were perfect for me and just right. I could easily reach all the controls. The slide was effortless for my wife and me to rack, and the felt recoil and muzzle rise was very manageable. My wife also liked its ergonomics and shooting it.
Ruger Security-9 Thumb-Safety
One thing I did not like was the small size and stiffness of the manual thumb safety. It was challenging to locate solidly and to engage, but with more use, it will soften some and not be as stiff to operate. But, the small size is another consideration. Some prefer not to use an external safety, even if it is included, so it depends on your preference. You do not have to use the thumb safety even though it is there. So there are pros and cons, a lot related to personal preference, to consider for your use. Below I will get into these factors and my ideas for each of my criteria after my range testing.
I used my standard “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” to test and evaluate the Security-9 after I initially thoroughly cleaned it. You can use my Concealed Carry Drill to test and evaluate your handguns. I like the realistic 5-yard, 7-yard, and 10-yard distances best to match common distances for personal defense.
Download, Print, and Share My Concealed Carry Drill and Target
You can have my Concealed Carry Drill for Free for your practice. Permission to Download, Print, and share “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” is granted when my website address and copyright are included and kept on it.
You can Download and Print “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and targets by clicking on the Link at my website’s Articles Page at www.FloridaHandgunsTraining.com
Also, you can CLICK HERE for a Free Download.
Range Routine with “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and Various Ammo
I used my above standard Concealed Carry Drill but only at 10 yards. I easily and quickly landed all 14 of my 15 rounds on target with this value-priced pistol. I bypassed the 3-5-7 yard trials for more of a challenge. So this old codger missed a hit in his haste but passed at 93%.
After three practice tries slow fire, I fired the Security-9 rapid fire with my preferred self-defense ammo, Sig V-Crown 124 grain JHP, and 14 of 15 rounds hit in the five circle targets. I did three iterations of this, using the different grains and types of ammo, JHP and FMJ rounds, after some practices.
Use my drill at various appropriate distances for yourself, e.g., 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 yards to challenge yourself and assess skill-level improvements, as you progress. At first, do not time yourself but safely practice, until you feel comfortable and safe with the drill. Be careful with your draws from your holster. Hope my drill helps you.
Range Results with Opinions and Evaluations for Each Criterion
Here are my opinions and evaluations for each of my ten criteria.
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 9
The Ruger Security-9s accuracy was excellent for a value-priced pistol. Me, another instructor, and a student did fine at close and medium distances of 5, 7, 10, and 15 yards, typical self-defense distances. Despite my less than average eyesight, colorblindness, and average marksmanship, this senior guy was able to shoot decent groups with the gun right out of the box.
As usual, my hits at 20 yards with this compact were on target and accurate, but I had larger groups at the longer distances. But, no problem out to 15 yards, with the gun’s intrinsic factors helping. All of my groups for my drills of 15 shots each at the various distances were about 2.5 to 3 inches or so, drawing from my Kramer Leather holster and with no mag change for this 15-round pistol. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot various 115 grain FMJ and 115 grain and 124 grain JHP ammo. I had no problems with Sig V-Crown or American Eagle hollow points loading or ejecting. No malfunctions or stoppages whatsoever. And I had no feeding, ejection, or extraction problems with any of the excellent Sig Sauer or American Eagle FMJ rounds. The gun functioned perfectly with all ammo brands and weights.
The press was short, soft, and crisp, and the recoil was very minimal for me. I was impressed with this value-priced gun and its accuracy and reliability. It was not at all finicky for any ammo I used and digested every round. I was not expecting the accuracy and reliability to be so excellent with this less than $300. pistol.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 9
Out-of-the-box the trigger press averaged 5.75 pounds without modification for the Ruger Security-9 compact 9mm, with 10 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. I really wanted it to be a little softer, but this is a value-priced gun and I accept that. For under $300, it was exceptional and almost like the pistols that are twice this price. After more rounds downrange, I think it will smooth out more and the press should lighten some.
3. Trigger – Score: 10
To my surprise, this value-priced, hammer-fired gun had a crisp, smooth, and clean trigger. It was not gritty or mushy. The press was good and not long at all, with minimal takeup, and had a short reset, for quick follow-up shots. It was easy to feel the definite reset and it was solid and very identifiable. This excellent double-action-only trigger had a consistent and very similar press each time. I really enjoyed shooting this smooth, although a little hard, trigger. In the unlikely event that the pistol is dropped and receives a strong physical shock to disengage the partially-cocked hammer from the Sear, the Hammer Catch prevents the hammer from contacting the firing pin, unless the trigger is fully depressed.
4. Barrel Length: Score: 10
The blued 4-inch barrel was Through-Hardened (like Tenifer, Melonite, and salt-bath nitriding) which is a surface-hardening process using heat treatment that creates a very tough “skin” over existing metal. The internal rifling allows you to shoot various types of rounds with their diverse material compositions, even reloaded lead bullets properly lubed. The barrel and slide are both nicely blue-finished, nice quality, look great, and the barrel was machined from alloy steel. The barrel of this value pistol has an integral feed ramp and uses the proven Browning tilt-barrel dynamic to unlock and then re-lock as it cycles. The barrel has traditional land-and-groove rifling with a witness hole located at the top of the barrel hood to confirm if a round is in the chamber.
5. Sights – Score: 9
My old eyes like fiber optic green sights, so wish this budget gun had them, but for the price I understand. Since I am red color blind, if I buy this gun, I would probably change the front sight to a green fiber optic to help. The medium-sized white-colored front dot was certainly of sufficient size for me to pick it up quickly in the rear white U-Notch sight. This is a nice sight system, but my darn old eyes have their demands. Another consideration is night sights for Concealed Carry, so that may be an option to consider and they are available as an option. The pistol comes with the standard white-dot front sight with a white outline rear.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 9
The Ruger Security-9 weighed 23.7 ounces empty, and that is a generally-acceptable weight for concealed carry, but loaded this gun weighs close to over 27 ounces, beyond my ideal weight for carrying. It comes close, and there are tradeoffs. The weight of the frame, barrel, and slide contributed to less felt recoil and stability for me for this solidly-made budget compact.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
The Ruger Security-9 in 9mm caliber was easy and fun to shoot, and my wife and I both managed the recoil very well. Of course, shooting 9mm ammo is much less expensive than most others and modern ammo with improved ballistics like the kind I used here get the job done. I prefer the lessened recoil and reduced movement for improved accuracy with the 9mm caliber.
8. Capacity – Score: 9
I like the 15-round mag capacity of this budget pistol. And the two included mags are steel. Given the likely need to have more ammo to deal with multiple bad guys/gals and the trend toward magazine capacity restrictions, shooters need more than one mag. I prefer at least two and like three mags to be included as standard, but I understand that this adds cost for everyone to this budget package. The mag has helpful round indicator holes.
Note that the mags for the Ruger Security-9 are proprietary for it, so they are not interchangeable with mags from Ruger’s other models because of differences in feed angles. They have polymer followers and baseplates.
The pistol does not have a magazine disconnect safety, so the pistol will fire if the trigger is pressed when the mag is removed. Safety First!
9. Ergonomics – Score: 10
The ergonomics of the Ruger Security-9 gun are excellent. I was easily and comfortably able to reach all controls like the thumb safety, slide lever, and magazine release. The value is there, and this pistol had the quality craftsmanship you expect from Ruger. This gun and its narrow grips seemed as if it were customized for my medium-sized hands and my wife and her small hands. The slide, frame, barrel, and other parts are all nicely fit to enhance accuracy and reliability
I had no slide nor hammer bites, and it felt very good to hold this thin-profile pistol. The slide-to-frame fit was very solid, and it was easy for me to rack the slide. The slide is contoured with big bevels on its top, so the edges are rounded and smooth so they will not be so abrasive. The external top, right side of the slide has a large, efficient extractor. There are nicely-contoured cocking serrations on the front and rear of the slide which are easy to grab for cocking the slide and chamber checks.
There are no extra grip panels or backstraps included, but I did not need them. The slim grip was just right for my medium-sized hands and my wife’s small hands. It was hard for me to get the gun back from her once I let her take a “couple” of shots. The grip is textured just fine, is not too aggressive, and should fit a variety of hands.
One minor note: the bottom of my trigger finger had a small blister on it after shooting my 200 rounds at the end of my range session. I believe the trigger guard should be extended down just a little more to allow the trigger finger not to touch or rub the bottom of the guard. I must admit that I do not always have my trigger finger at a 45-degree angle to the trigger, per the fundamentals. Another NRA instructor with smaller fingers than mine did not have any concerns about her trigger finger touching the guard. The manual safety lever and slide lock lever were too small for me and my medium-sized fingers, but some like the safety lever small, so no accidental engagement.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 10
The Security-9’s frame is made of a specific class of polymer, called Nylon. I remember working in the Nylon Department at the DuPont chemical company in West Virginia as a struggling high school student saving money for college. I learned there that glass-filled Nylon has strong glass fibers added to increase its tensile strength and stiffness over the usual polymers. It is also a very good protectant against solvents and the weather.
The Ruger Security-9 has a “Neutrally-Balanced Sear” which means the sear has significant engagement and can’t get out of the way of the hammer. So your trigger finger has control. It will not shoot unless you make it shoot. There is strong spring tension. Also, the recoil assembly consists of a flat-wire spring captured on a steel guide rod.
The slide lock lever is small, hard to get to, and somewhat hard to push up to hold the slide back, especially in the cold weather. This has advantages (safety to prevent premature bump engagement) and disadvantages (less quick and solid access during encounters.) The thumb safety is also small, but well-located and works fine. Remember that it will only push up to engage to “safe” when the hammer is cocked.
I easily disassembled and re-assembled the Ruger Security-9 before I shot it. Just remove the takedown pin with the tip of a plastic ballpoint pen or use the lip of a fired brass cartridge to pop out the pin. The slide will easily move off the pistol, and you do not have to press the trigger.
A cardboard case is provided rather than a polymer one to save you from forking over extra money upon purchase. Included are two steel mags, a lock, and Instruction Manual. The Ruger Security-9 in the Slate Blue color looks great. This pistol is an accurate and very reliable handgun that is value-priced just right. Never once did it fail to feed, fire, chamber, or eject a round. The front and rear slide serrations are usually not found on a budget pistol. And there are several extra features for this budget gun. The pistol fits most Glock 19 holsters, but the Kramer leather holster is very durable and really dresses up this budget gun. Customer service for this American-made Ruger pistol is very good from this company.
I found the slide lock-release to be very tight for this new gun, so I rarely used it for releasing the slide from a locked-open position. I used an over-the-top racking to release it.
Total Points = 95 out of 100 Possible.
A rugged, reliable, comfortable, and an excellent value-priced pistol that can be bought for under $300. It meets the fundamental personal protection goal for most folks. It also meets the basic needs of a pistol for a new shooter. And so what if it gets dirty, ruffed up, or even misplaced or lost, buy another one for that price and throw it in your truck or trunk. Remember, we are not comparing this pistol to those with extras that usually cost you more, like fine-line checkering on the front and back straps, rounded heel-butt, extended mag well, skeletonized trigger and hammer, G-10 grips, and fiber optic or tritium sights. This gun meets the basic requirements for an accurate and reliable personal defense pistol, in my opinion. It is an excellent budget-priced pistol with some very decent features for the price.
I certainly recommend this pistol and its 4-inch barrel and its single-side manual safety for IDPA competition in the Concealed Carry Pistol Division. The fit, basic function, and nice handling are very evident for this budget gun. Also, I was very impressed with its accuracy, reliability, and its very controllable recoil for a compact 9mm. The basic sights served their purpose and this old codger with aging eyes had no problems shooting it. But, I prefer a green fiber optic front sight, and that costs you. Its many very good and nice features as presented above are there, especially the accuracy, reliability, and ergonomics. After a total of 500 rounds down range demonstrating these same results and characteristics, I would bet my life on this excellent pistol. I probably will buy this fine Ruger Security-9 pistol.
As always, these are my opinions, and you should try it for yourself. Be sure to use the Holster Discount Codes mentioned above for fine Kramer Handgun Leather holsters. I hope this Ruger Security-9 review has helped you gain some information for your decision. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and using about 200 rounds of some premium FMJ and JHP ammo. I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it and have at least 500 rounds break-in range time through it for yourself. Try Before You Buy Any Pistol. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what’s important to you ahead of your range live-fire time. Then critically evaluate the gun yourself per your criteria and purpose, with various ammo types and brands, and over an extended break-in period.
Prescott, AZ 86301
Kramer Handgun Leather Holsters
Tacoma, WA 98411
Sig Sauer Ammo for Elite V-Crown 9mm JHP-FMJ Ammo
Newington, NH 03801
Photos by Author and Ruger.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2019 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.
Col Ben reviews the value-priced Ruger Security-9 9mm pistol, priced less than $300. Is it worth the price? Is it accurate and reliable for concealed carry?
Accuracy and Reliability
Proper Gun Weight