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Full Review: Ruger Max-9 Pistol



This is America. We don’t choose between chili and cheese for our fries, we glob both on and ask for more, you commie bastard. We feel the same way when it comes to capacity and concealability. A few years back we started seeing the compromise break down and high (for liberals) capacity carry pistols became a thing. As the presidential election put another log on the proverbial dumpster fire that has been the last two years, manufacturers have sought to put their latest and greatest in front of us in their most compact forms yet. Folks I give you the Ruger MAX-9, a 13-shot 9mm Luger subcompact that has everything you want and is small enough to keep in the ole’ prison wallet.

The Ruger MAX-9 is nearly the same size as the company’s top-selling LCP9s, sans .05” of width. It’s amazing to think that Ruger was able to reconfigure a magazine to accept nearly twice the ammunition without drastically adding bulk or length, but that’s precisely what they did. Aside from giving the user more ammo to work with, the MAX-9 comes standard with tritium/fiber optic sights and is even pre-cut for a reflex optic if you wish to add one. The gun comes with a 12-round extended magazine and a flush-fit 10-rounder if you need to pack it extra tight to your body. If you live in a state that doesn’t care about your personal security, Ruger has a SKU that includes an extended magazine that only holds 10-rounds. (It’s sort of like a rubber blow-up doll; it feels good in your hands, but you know you’re living a lie.)

Testing new guns is sort of my jam so I kicked in the door at the Ruger factory, grabbed a half-finished one off the line, and smuggled it back to New York to finish it with a file and a hand drill in my basement.

Ok, that didn’t happen, they’re actually pretty easy to come by in most gun stores…..also, don’t try to rob a gun factory, that’s going to end exactly how you think it will.

Once I had one in my hands and on my pistol license (like a proper subject) I gave the gun a once-over to determine what I liked and what I didn’t before putting a round through it. Right off the bat, I liked being able to get every finger on the gun, although if your glove size is large or above you will likely only be able to do so with the extended magazine in place. While the grip was long enough, it was a little on the narrow side, which I had mixed feelings about.

On the pro side, it makes it easier to conceal; on the con side, it made it a little small for my hand. As a carry pistol I was able to appreciate what they were trying to accomplish and it’ll fit like a glove to those with smaller hands.  Balancing things out were very aggressive skate-tape-style panels that can be found on both sides of the grip as well as the front and back straps. Lastly, before hitting the range I measured and weighed the trigger to determine a breaking weight just shy of 6.5 pounds and a reset at right around one-third of an inch.

At the range, I fired groups for accuracy and practiced drawing and engaging multiple targets. Using Hornady’s 115-grain Critical Defense ammo I was able to punch five-shot groups into my 7-yard target that were in the 1.5” range, with my smallest landing inside of just 1.18”. For a 3.2” barrel this was pretty impressive, and certainly consistent enough for what you’d want from it. I found the trigger to be a little stiff but for a defensive pistol, this is a good feature because when things get tense it could be just a half-pound of resistance between a negligent discharge and merely putting your finger on the trigger by accident.

Judging by my targets, and later my speed drills, I can’t say that it was a hindrance. I tested the gun without an optic because I wanted to get a feel of how good the included sights were and I was thoroughly impressed. The front sight glows like a shining beacon in broad daylight and is still plenty visible in pitch-black conditions. I found it to be so brilliant that I questioned why anybody would consider a red-dot in the first place. The front sight is complemented by an entirely blacked-out rear sight that commands the eye to focus up front, as it should. This sight is also windage adjustable if needed, but mine came from the factory shooting perfectly straight.

After wrapping things up on the range I carried the gun for a few days about my regular business. I have to say that it was very easy to forget that I had it on me in most scenarios. All versions of the MAX-9 have a trigger-blade safety, and you have the option of adding a manual thumb safety if you wish. These features ensure that you don’t wind up with extra holes and that you can get the gun out and rounds on target with minimal effort. Ruger forwent the magazine safety on this model ever since that episode of Tiger King made this feature famous…ok, probably not, but I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. Aside from that, I feel that Ruger did a great job putting together an increased-capacity carry option, and with an MSRP of only $499, that leaves you enough cash to fill the magazine nearly all the way.

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Capacity: 12+1 or 10+1

Slide: Alloy Steel

Grip: Glass-Filled Nylon

Safety Option: Standard Model – With External Manual Safety Lever

Barrel Length: 3.20″

Front Sight: Tritium Fiber Optic

Rear Sight: Drift Adjustable

Overall Length: 6″

Weight: 18.4 oz.

Height: 4.52″

Suggested Retail$499.00





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