Review: Ruger MAX-9 Centerfire Pistol


Some pistols are designed for target shooting, hunting or service use. Ruger recently introduced one of the best concealed-carry pistols offered yet.

This pistol will offer real competition to the SIG P365, GLOCK 43X and Springfield Hellcat.

Ruger fans will appreciate the gun and I am certain there will be many new shooters choosing this pistol over stiff competition.

The personal-defense and concealed-carry market is huge, and Ruger’s newest offering is a mix of Security 9 and LC9s features with a few new twists.

The MAX-9 is relatively light at 18.5 ounces, and is fast handling and smooth in operation.

A polymer-frame striker-fired pistol the Ruger builds on proven technology.

The big thing about the pistol is its compact size. Some pistols are just the right size for the mission, some are a little too small or too big.

Balance is important. The pistol builds on the popularity of the slim-line nine.

Pistols, such as the Smith and Wesson Shield, Ruger LC9s and GLOCK 43 are very popular.

They have replaced the snub-nose .38 as the default American carry gun. Some choose a .380 ACP and a few carry larger handguns.

The slim-line nine, however, is a popular carry gun.

If the pistol could be built with an increase in capacity and little if no increase in girth, it would be a big hit in the market.

Ruger realizes there are things that may be done with polymer — or glass-reinforced nylon — that cannot be done with metals.

The primary advantage of single-column magazine pistols is handfit.

The MAX-9 uses modern design to give us a high-capacity pistol that feels good in the hand.

They have worked wonders with a pistol scarcely larger than a slim-line nine.

Ruger MAX-9 Pistol
The Ruger MAX-9 is an attractive handgun.

Concealed Carry Capabilities

If I were looking to move up from a snub-nose .38 or .380 Auto pistol, I would look hard at the Ruger MAX-9 before choosing a slim-line 9mm.

Not that there aren’t good pistols in that product description, but increased capacity isn’t the whole story with the Ruger MAX-9.

The pistol features an extended magazine that holds 12 rounds and a flush-fit magazine that holds 10 rounds.

In this day of many quality pistols more expensive than the MAX-9 supplied with a single magazine, the MAX-9 has two magazines in the hard case.

The pistol also features a smooth and fast-operating trigger action that compliments a trained shooter.

The MAX-9 is delivered with excellent sights. The rear is an easy-to-find notch and the front sight is a fiber-optic with a tritium dot in the center.

This makes for real accuracy in all lighting conditions.

Fiber-Optic Front Sight
A fiber-optic/tritium front sight is an excellent feature.

Features and Specifications

The pistol is light enough, but also compact. It is just shy of an inch wide, and right at six inches long — maybe 5.99 inches. The height is 4.5 inches.

I like the size of the pistol, it not only conceals and balances well, it feels good in the hand. The pistol features a manual safety.

The safety is frame-mounted and easily falls under the thumb as you come on target. It is easily thumbed off.

It is more difficult to move to ON SAFE, as it should be. You don’t want the safety to go on safe when you are firing!

This is a well-designed safety, positive in operation.

If you prefer, you may ignore the safety or purchase the 3503 model option, versus my personal 3505. The 3503 is delivered without a manual safety.

Both share the same action, features and operation.

Ruger MAX-9 with manual thumb safety
A combination of good features, easy accuracy and reliability make for a good choice for concealed carry.

How It Fires

The pistol features a nicely contoured slide that is beveled near the muzzle for easy holstering. A nice surprise is a beveled barrel crown.

This crown helps prevent damage to the muzzle and offers at least a theoretical improvement in accuracy potential.

Prior to firing, I lightly lubricated the long bearing surfaces of the pistol.

I loaded each magazine with Winchester Active Duty full metal jacketed ammunition. The pistol is a joy to fire. Recoil is modest for a pistol this size.

Press the trigger to the rear through a 5.5-pound press until the striker falls and the pistol fires, then control recoil, bring the pistol on target, and fire again, and you have hits in the X-ring.

The Ruger handles well. A combination of a nice-sized firing grip, smooth trigger and good sights make for excellent hit potential.

Most of my shooting was done at seven and 10 yards, but I also fired out to 20 yards. The pistol is clearly accurate enough for personal defense.

An advantage of the Ruger, is that you may carry the MAX-9 for concealed carry and then rely on the pistol for home defense as well.

In short, this is a small gun that shoots like a big gun and offers one of best total packages in the 9mm world.

Ruger MAX-9 in Holster
The Ruger MAX-9 9mm pistol rides in the well-designed, good quality and affordable GALO Stow-N-Go inside-the-waistband holster.

Holster Options

The pistol is easily concealed and light on the hip.

The Galco Stow-N-Go holster is built from quality leather with a reinforced holstering welt, good stitching, and a well-designed belt clip that attaches firmly to the belt.

This holster allows carrying the pistol inside the trousers. A light sport shirt, even a T-shirt, will conceal the pistol.

A belt holster would require a longer covering garment. With part of the handgun inside the trousers, you need only cover the handle.

The Galco Stow-N-Go and the Ruger MAX-9 make a good combination.

What do you think of the Ruger MAX-9? Let us know in the comments section below!

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