The Max 9, A Maximum Capacity Sub Compact

The Ruger MAX 9 is a well designed and reliable pistol.

Ruger’s Game Changer 

There have been several revolutions in firearms manufacture. The move from iron to steel ushered in the era of high performance smokeless powder.  Aluminum frames allowed powerful handguns to be carried with a minimum of sag on the belt. MIM parts allow- well, cheap guns. No change in firearms manufacture has been as profound as the introduction of polymer frame handguns. Unlike aluminum there seem to be no drawbacks in polymer. The material is light, durable, and easily formed into modern firearms shapes. Glock was the first but took the lead from HK and the rest is history. The recent introduction of sub compact 9mm pistols with high magazine capacity shows just how innovate a designer may be with modern polymer technology.

I am certain after doing a bit of research a little more involved than asking around at the local pawn shops that the polymer frame slim line 9mm is the single most popular carry gun in America. And rightly so. They are easier to use well than a snub nose .38, have decent magazine capacity, and carry light and flat on the hip. When SIG introduced the P365 with its ten round standard magazine the Glock 26 had real competition. But not so fast- we also have the Shield Plus, Taurus GX4, and the Ruger MAX 9. The Ruger is the subject of this report. 

The MAX 9 bears a family resemblance to other Rugers handguns but then perhaps this kinship is a few steps removed. The LC9s isn’t a bad gun at all, reliable and easy enough to use well. The larger Security 9 is one of the best buys in a mid size 9mm. The MAX 9 isnt a larger LC9s or smaller Security 9 but rather a design with some of the same features but a character all its own. The pistol features a polymer frame and a steel slide, no surprises there. The grip frame is larger than the slim LC9s but fits my average size hands well. Trigger reach is good. The grip frame is nicely pebbled and offers a good feel. Not too abrasive with the hotter 9mm loads but offering excellent purchase with sweaty or slippery hands. I wrote this during a 101 degree heat wave and worked up a sweat handling and firing the pistol. I never lost confidence in my grip and the beads of perspiration running off my forehead never caused corrosion on the blue slide. 

Among the best features of the MAX 9 are the sights. Note the fiber optic/tritium front.

The pistol features a modern striker fired action. While there are explanations for the sear engagement that tend to have makers claiming their pistol isn’t a single action- sure it is in my book. The sear design makes for additional safety and the trigger lever is a good safety feature. My example has a manual safety as I prefer. You may use the safety, ignore the safety, or purchase the no manual safety version. The manual safety is frame mounted, easily manipulated, and doesn’t slow you down on the draw and getting a rapid first shot hit. Provided, of course, you don’t forget to take the safety on. The slide is nicely contoured with a bevel at the front of the slide to allow easy holstering. The barrel, surprisingly enough, features a nicely recessed target crown. I demand as much accuracy as possible in a defensive firearm but this is an unexpected touch. The sights are well designed personal defense sights. The front sight features a fiber optic sight that is easily illuminated by any light during waking hours. The center of the sight features a tritium insert. Now we are talking and this is the kind of sight that should be found on a purpose designed personal defense pistol. Point shooting is like driving with the eyes closed except at kissing range and I like a good set of sights on all of my handguns. The sights are good to excellent. The pistol is optics ready with a cut out in the slide for mounting a red dot. The pistol is supplied with two magazines, one a twelve round box and the other a flush fit ten round magazine. The grip frame, interestingly enough, features a magazine guide at the rear of the grip. This guide may be removed if you prefer the more compact flush fit magazine for concealed carry. The trigger features a modest take up, you meet a wall, and the trigger breaks. I have tested two examples and trigger compression runs 5.6 to 5.8 pounds, not as tight as a Glock but controllable. 

Compare the Ruger MAX 9 to the CZ 83 .380 high capacity pistol and you can see we have come a long way in affordable user friendly high capacity handguns.

I have made several trips to the range with the pistol and put a dent in my precious 9mm ammunition supply. I drew and fired as quickly as possible, engaging silhouette targets at 7 yards. The pistol handles well. It is neutral in heft, neither handle heavy nor slide heavy. A short sight radius means you have to concentrate on the sight picture. Recoil is modest, the pistol is quite controllable, but you must address muzzle flip and bring the sights back on target for each shot. The pistol shoots well. It isn’t in the Glock 19 class but it is a good shooter for the size. Moving to ten yards I continued to burn up my Black Hills 9mm FMJ loads and found that I could eat out the X ring on demand. I fired a mix of defense loads including the Black Hills Ammunition 124 grain JHP and the incredible mean looking Black Hills Ammunition Honey Badger. Function isn’t a problem. This is a shooter and on every count a better all around handgun than the Ruger LC9s and quite a few other small guns. The MAX 9 is also more expensive than the LC9s. Shops had the pistol on hand for $450 to $540, depending on how many hands the pistol passed through before the small shops got their hands on it. The LC9s EDC is about two hundred dollars less. If you want high capacity, two magazines, night sights and an optics ready slide the MAX 9 is worth the extra tariff. This is good kit well worth its cost. The pistol seems to be in the pipeline and selling briskly.