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Gun Review: Ruger LCP MAX… two thumbs up!

October 25, 2021

by John Boch
Gun makers keep setting the bar higher and higher for new product development. After all, everyone wants a small and light carry gun, with a good trigger, good sights and decent capacity. And if it shoots well and comfortably on top of that, that’s just a bonus, right?

Sound familiar? I wrote most of the above about the Sig P365 back in 2018 in a review read by nearly a million people at The Truth About Guns.

I’ve got good news for you, ladies and gents. The good folks over at Ruger have done one even better than the P365 in the LCP Max. If you’re willing to step down to a .380 Auto from the P365’s 9mm, Ruger will give you a gun that weighs 40% less, is 20% thinner and with a half-inch less overall length. And it will cost you about 33% less on the credit card, too.

The bright green, tritium front sight bead looks huge, especially with the white ring around it.

It feels good and shoots even better. I’ve carried mine for over three months now (Edit:  four months now…).  It’s so light, even when loaded, that you completely forget you’re wearing it. Yet if you do think about it, knowing you’ve to 10+1 rounds of ballistic love for bad guys should leave you feeling fuzzier than any 6+1 single-stack .380 that has just been rendered semi-obsolete.

It rides invisibly in everything from jeans to 5.11s to lightweight shorts.  I even carried it on the beach during a week spent in Florida in July.

Yes, the trigger isn’t quite as good as the P365, but it is still as good or better than a stock Glock.  For those wondering how good the trigger is compared to the original LCP, the difference is about as stark as marriage to someone you love vs. marriage to someone you hate (and they reciprocate the ‘love’). 

Speaking of the original LCP…  Did I mention if you have an original LCP, now would be a really fine time to sell it to someone you don’t like who doesn’t know any better?

Meanwhile, the MAX’s front sight blade has a handy tritium glow-in-the-dark insert which makes this a true fighting gun as most criminal attacks happen in less than optimal lighting conditions.

Ruger uses the hybrid double/single-stack magazines pioneered by Sig in their P365 in the new LCP Max. They work flawlessly and give you the 10+1 (or 12+1 for an extra quarter inch in height.)

Interestingly Ruger includes a “free” bonus holster with the gun. I’ll just come right out and say it: you paid for a great, cutting edge piece of hardware, not a cheap, disappointing black holster with a Ruger tag on it. Sorry Ruger: the holster is trash. It collapses after less than two-months’ use and leaves the gun rotated in a very wrong direction in your pocket way too often for my tastes.

Aside from the holster, this gun sets a new standard for deep cover micro pistols. Or for those who want to carry a lot but don’t want to carry a lot of gun, this gives them a capable tool with which to repel a bad actor with bad actions without weighing them down.

Caliber: .380 Auto
Capacity: 10+1 rounds flush fit, 12+1 extended
Barrel Length: 2.80 inches
Overall Length: 5.17 inches
Width: 0.81 inches
Height: 4.12 inches
Weight: 10.6 ounces
Sights: tritium with white outline front sight, black rear sight
Includes: two 10-round magazines and a soft pocket holster.
MSRP: $449. Street: high $300s.

Reliability: * * * * 1/2
Flawless reliability out of the box. It happily ate everything (close to 150 rounds) with only a single hiccup about fifty rounds into it. It almost failed to return to battery while using cheap ball ammo, hesitating for a fraction of a second but it did not require my intervention. The Hornady XTPs and Critical Defense fed flawlessly. At the same time I did not lube it after purchase. Shame on me.  After a clean and lube, I don’t expect another issue.

Ten shots, at twelve feet, with a spent .380 case for scale. I called the top hole as a flier as the shot broke.

Accuracy: * * * *
Yeah, for a tiny, tiny pocket pistol it shot very well. For example: If you have someone holding your mother-in-law hostage at 15 feet (and you like her), you can hit that bad guy in the lower brain housing group with confidence if you do your part on sight alignment and trigger control.

Ease of Use: * * * * *
So easy a caveman could use it. Mild-shooting enough that even recoil-sensitive novices won’t feel beaten up or unable to control it. A comfortable grip texture keeps the diminutive gun securely under control. Big front sight dot is easy to acquire with lots of contrast.

Trigger: * * * *
Life’s too short for crappy triggers. This one doesn’t walk on water, but it beats a stock Glock out of the box.

Value: * * * *
The gun lists for $449. Street price is typically just under $400. I’d characterize it as a fair price on a quite capable gun. Especially considering a tritium-infused, glow-in-the-dark front sight comes standard.

If you’re like me, you’re not accustomed to seeing the cartridge head from the rear of any handgun. One thing’s for sure: it makes it easy to see if the LCP Max is loaded or not.

Overall: * * * * 1/2
The Ruger LCP Max will mark a new generation of improved .380 defensive pistols. It makes the original LCP an obsolete relic (if you have one, I’m sorry. Dump it quickly or wait for the next Decatur gun buyback… they’ll give you $225 for it). It also renders a whole lot of other .380, single-stack pocket guns obsolete. If you’re comfortable with a .380 with a modern hollow-point round for self-defense (I recommend the XTP rounds first and foremost or the Critical Defense hollow points as a good alternative), BUY THIS GUN. You’ll have a gun you’ll forget you’re carrying that will perform well for defensive encounters.

Oh yeah, did I mention you could win this gun (well, not this one I reviewed, but a new one) at the November GSL meeting in Decatur?