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In 2018, SIG shocked the shooting community by introducing the P365 — a tiny gun with a generous magazine capacity. The little 9mm was instantly popular and created a new category of pistols called Micro Compacts. About a year later Springfield Armory introduced its Hellcat, billed as the highest-capacity micro compact available with an extended magazine holding 13 rounds. The latest gun to join the “micro compact” club is from Ruger and it’s a dandy: the Ruger MAX-9.

First Look at the Ruger Max-9 Pistol

The new Ruger MAX-9 is a petite gun that possesses a more than adequate magazine capacity, great trigger, an all-light visible front sight and the ability to mount a micro-red dot sight.

The MAX-9 features a textured polymer frame that contributes to its light weight — just 18.4 ounces unloaded. It has an overall length of just 6 inches, is 4.5 inches tall and less than 1-inch wide. Ruger ships the gun (where legal) with a 10-round flush-fit magazine and an extended 12-round magazine. Thirteen rounds of ammunition should be comforting for those using the gun for concealed carry.

Worthy of note is the front sight that comes standard on the MAX-9 and allows the shooter to see it in any lighting conditions. It features a green fiber-optic rod to make the sight glow in daylight. Behind the fiber optic is a piece of tritium that will also make the sight glow during low-light hours.

Optic Options

Carrying an optic on a concealed carry gun is something that more and more shooters are exploring. The MAX-9 features an optics plate, designed for the J-Point and Shield pattern dot sights. I made a quick drive over to Riton Optic’s (ritonoptics.com) Tucson office and borrowed one of its excellent X3 Tactix MPRD (Micro Pistol Red Dot) optics. It took just a minute to install on the Ruger and mounted directly to the gun without the need for an adapter plate. The X3 Tactix MPRD features a 3.5 MOA dot with 10 different brightness levels. It is powered by a common CR2032 battery, and Riton claims one of these cheap and readily available batteries can provide up to 50,000 hours of life! The red dot weighs just 6/10ths of an ounce, uses premium Japanese glass and also boasts a lifetime warranty!

Rounds Downrange

With the MAX-9 quipped with the X3 Tactix, I drove out to Sonoita, Ariz., where there is a piece of BLM land that I like to shoot on. On a blustery day with 25 MPH gusts my biggest concern was my target rocking back and forth in its target stand. Despite this, the little Ruger performed admirably. You can see from my accuracy chart that I used three different range-style loads along with three different defense loads, two of which were +P loads. Everything fed, cycled, fired and ejected fine. While the MAX-9 is rated for use with +P ammo, its manual states that a steady diet of these hot rounds will shorten the life of the gun.

Ruger has built a reputation of building quality guns that will last a lifetime. Backed by great customer service, Ruger’s guns are also affordable. The MAX-9 is no different and has a suggested retail price of just $499. Those looking for a micro-compact capable of using a red dot sight should definitely include the MAX-9 in their research! Watch my entire test in the video about. Also, keep an eye out for my full written review in an upcoming issue of Combat Hanguns magazine, available at OutdoorGroupStore.com. For even more info, please visit ruger.com.

Ruger MAX-9 Performance

AmmoVelocityEnergyGroup
Aguila 124-grain FMJ9852671.40
American Eagle 115-grain FMJ1,0552841.22
Black Hills 115-grain JHP1,0943051.00
DoubleTap Solid Copper 115-grain +P HP1,0782961.27
Federal 150-grain TSJ Syntech Action Pistol8162211.06
Hornady American Gunner 124-grain XTP +P1,0503031.06
Speer Gold Dot G2 135-grain Carry Gun1,0083041.20
Average1.17

Ruger MAX-9 Specs

  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Overall Capacity: 10+1 (flush); 12+1 (extended)
  • Slide Material: Through-hardened ally steel
  • Slide Finish: Black Oxide
  • Safety: Manual
  • Slide Width: 0.95-inch
  • Grip Frame: High-performance, glass-filled nylon
  • Feature: Optics Ready
  • Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
  • Barrel Finish: Black Oxide
  • Overall Barrel Length: 3.20 inches
  • Front Sight: Tritium fiber-optic
  • Rear Sight: Drift adjustable
  • Magazines Included: One, 12-round; one, 10-round
  • Overall Length: 6 inches
  • Overall Weight: 18.4 ounces
  • Height: 4.52 inches
  • Grooves: 6
  • Twist: 1:10″ RH
  • MSRP: $499

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