May 18, 2022
By Joel J. Hutchcroft
Ruger’s new MAX-9 offers all the features you want in a micro-size personal-protection pistol: high magazine capacity; a slide that’s ready for installing a reflex-type dot sight; light weight; a consistent, smooth trigger pull; and styling that lends itself to easy concealment. On top of all that, it has a great MSRP of $499.
The MAX-9’s barrel is 3.2 inches long, and it’s cold hammer-forged and finished with black oxide. The muzzle is crowned. The hardened alloy-steel slide is also finished in black oxide, and it is contoured for concealed carry on the top of the sides, at the muzzle end, and at the rear, too. It also has angled grasping grooves at the front and the rear.
The polymer frame (Ruger calls it glass-filled nylon) has subtle-but-effective texturing on the sides, frontstrap, and backstrap. The backstrap is shaped for a high handhold, as is the trigger guard. The frame surrounds a one-piece, machined, anodized aluminum fire-control chassis.
The MAX-9 is striker-fired, and it utilizes a safety-lever-type trigger. The trigger pull on our sample pistol averaged 5 pounds, 4 ounces. It has a fair amount of take-up, but it’s smooth and breaks crisply. Reset is short.
The pistol’s mechanism also incorporates an internal striker block safety, and the barrel has a loaded-chamber view port on top of the chamber area. There is no magazine disconnect, so the gun will fire even without a magazine inserted.
Three models are offered. The two standard models feature manual thumb safeties. One comes with one extended 12-round nickel Teflon magazine and one flush-fitting 10-round magazine. The other is a state-compliant version that comes with two 10-round magazines. And there is a Pro model that does not have the thumb safety; it comes with 12- and 10-round magazines. There is not a model with an ambidextrous thumb safety, but the magazine release can be reversed.
The sights consist of a drift-adjustable square-notch rear and a tritium/fiber-optic front that has a bright green center and a white perimeter ring. Both sights are dovetailed into the slide. The rear sight is all black, and it has a tactical ledge that allows it to be used for racking the slide. The sights are tall enough to co-witness with a reflex sight.
Speaking of reflex sights, the rear of the slide just ahead of the rear sight is milled to accept many popular reflex-type dot sights, including JPoint, Shield, Sightmark, and Springfield micro reflex sights. The pistol comes with a plate that covers the milled portion, and it is held in place with two screws.
Empty weight is 18.4 ounces without a reflex sight. The pistol measures 6.0 inches long, 4.5 inches high, and 1.05 inches thick, with the slide being 0.95 inch thick.
Field-stripping is simple. It requires removing the magazine, pressing down on a pin stop on the left side of the receiver with a non-marring tool, squeezing the trigger (making sure the pistol is unloaded first), retracting the slide enough to align the cutout in the slide with the pin, and pressing the transverse takedown pin through the frame from right to left.
Test-firing the MAX-9 with five 9mm factory loads revealed that recoil is pretty snappy but not painful. It also demonstrated how reliable the pistol functions. There was not a single failure to feed, extract, eject, or cycle over the course of firing the full 100 rounds. For the record, three, five-shot groups were fired for accuracy and another five rounds for velocity with each of the five factory loads.
Speaking of accuracy, the MAX-9’s overall average accuracy at 25 yards from a sandbag benchrest was 2.50 inches. The best single five-shot group measured less than 2.0 inches (it was with the Wilson Combat ammunition). Again, reliability was flawless throughout the shooting session, and while the recoil was snappy, the pistol was easy to handle.
Ruger’s new micro-size 9mm MAX-9 offers everything that concealed carry permit holders want: compact size, light weight, high magazine capacity, optics ready, excellent accuracy, infallible functioning, smooth trigger pull, and a very reasonable price. If you haven’t tried the MAX-9, you should. It’s a good choice for a micro-size personal-protection pistol.
- Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co., ruger.com
- Type: Striker-fired autoloader
- Caliber: 9mm
- Magazine Capacity: 12 rounds
- Barrel: 3.2 in.
- Overall Length: 6.0 in.
- Width: 1.05 in.
- Height: 4.5 in.
- Weight, Empty: 18.4 oz.
- Grips: Integral to polymer frame
- Finish: Black oxide
- Sights: Drift-adjustable rear, tritium/fiber-optic front
- Trigger: 5.25-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Manual thumb safety, safety trigger, internal striker block
- MSRP: $499