A Comfortable Micro Pistol With High Capacity

Ruger’s LCP Max delivers notable upgrades over previous iterations, and the competition.

A Comfortable Micro Pistol With High Capacity

When Ruger introduced the Ruger LCP, I was impressed with the accuracy and tiny form factor. Compared to what was on the market, it’s a tiny little gun that can still drill 1-inch groups at 21-feet all while slipping easily into a front pocket. 

The reliability of the second generation of the little Ruger LCP has been well proven and has become one of Ruger’s best selling defensive pistols. Ruger quickly evolved the LCP platform from the LCP I to the redesigned and updated LCP II format with many upgrades including last-round hold-open, improved serrations, slide charging ears for better manipulation, improved reliability, and a completely redesigned trigger. Notably only the 22LR Lite Rack actually carries the LCP II name. 

Now we have the 10+1 round .380 ACP-chambered LCP MAX, which is essentially a Gen 2 LCP with a wider grip profile, but there are few extra features. Considering the new LCP Max has a marginally thicker grip and the same slide width, it should be no surprise the LCP II .380 has been discontinued due to the demand and impressive features of the LCP Max.

Disappearing Act

The LCP platform has been a fantastically popular firearm for Ruger at an affordable price point, but many people wanted extra ammo capacity and a bit more grip to hold onto. Someone at Ruger heard those voices and asked, why not just make a marginally longer and wider grip that can hold more ammo and give a bit more to hold onto? The Ruger LCP Max is about the same grip width as the Hogue rubber-gripped LCP model and increases ammo capacity to an impressive 10+1 rounds. To put that into perspective, the LCP Max is .75 inches shorter and holds four more rounds than the tiny Glock 42. That’s pretty impressive for a micro pistol that still disappears in the front pocket.

The LCP Max is 1/8-inch taller than the LCP II and the grip is somehow just wider at the bottom, but otherwise the same dimensions. Admittedly the 6+1 round LCP II does hide slightly better in the pocket of skinny jeans, but the LCP Max is still very much a pocket gun. Like the LCP, the LCP Max includes a nice sticky-style pocket holster that works equally well inside the waistband. In either carry mode the LCP Max disappears nicely while still being small enough for many other creative non-traditional carry methods. 

Though I prefer a holster carry, the LCP Max carries extremely well over the summer as a simple and quick carry gun in shorts with just a 3M Adhesive ClipDraw attached to the lower frame. This gun will likely be attractive for those that just want to be able to drop a small EDC gun in their pocket and go versus having to worry about wardrobe decisions to facilitate concealment. For runners and those who wear a lot of workout apparel, this is a very nice form factor. Notably, my wife also found the LCP Max slipped securely into an accessory pocket in her running leggings and noted the increased capacity over her Glock 42 negated the need for carrying a second magazine. Mission First Tactical’s new one-size-fits-all Belly Band was a fantastic option for the Ruger LCP Max and offered trigger coverage plus spare magazine and tactical light pockets.

Ruger upgraded the sights to real dovetailed sights with some windage adjustability. Sight dovetails are sized to accept aftermarket Bodyguard-pattern sights which opens the little LCP Max up for later sight upgrades and replacements as needed. The combination of drift-adjustable sights for a perfect zero and the addition of a front Tritium sight delivers a much more confidence-inspiring gun that has the feel and features typically found on a larger sub-compact size. The little Ruger Max can deliver shockingly good accuracy and the drift-adjustable sight helps put the rounds where they need to go. With just a tiny tune to the rear sight my pistol was dead on all the way to 40-yards where I was able to flip a 6-inch hostage steel swinger target back and forth with shocking ease. 

Clean Sailing

Testing was done with Hornady’s American Gunner 90-grain XTP, Black Handgun 90-grain XTP and Critical Defense 90-grain FTX ammo, which all functioned perfectly and delivered several very tidy little unsupported 3/4-inch 7-yard groups and many 1-inch groups. Groups would certainly improve off of a sandbag, but that’s not really the purpose of this little pistol. The LCP Max did not show any preference across the Hornady ammunition tested, however the Sig FMJ practice rounds did not group quite as well as the Hornady HP varieties. 

The second generation LCP trigger is used and delivers a short, smooth pull, clean break and positive reset that contributes significantly to the accuracy. Though the bottom of the LCP Max grip is only 1/8-inch thicker than the LCP, it feels a world larger and confidence inspiring especially when trying to shoot tiny groups or find the grip during the draw and fire cycle. Not that it would be my preferred rabbit hunting gun, but it could certainly do the job as a pocketable trail gun with good accuracy.

Generally I recommend tearing down a brand new defensive gun and doing a detailed cleaning. In this case, my silver Cerakoted slide model felt a little tight and gritty out of the box. After a brief field stripping and inspection was done, I found an overlooked steel shaving was jamming up the slide action. Once it was cleaned, hand cycled a few times and slightly oiled, the LCP Max sailed through 200-rounds of various cone and round-nose HP and FMJ Hornady and Sig ammunition without a bobble and locked back on empty. 

A few weeks later after the LCP Max was covered in pocket lint, another range session confirmed the pistol was perfectly reliable after being covered in the usual crud of a pocket carry gun. Ruger did correct a slide tolerance issue reported on the first product run of the LCP Max which prevented proper slide operation. None of the previously reported cycling was experienced during my testing of this recently produced model.

Fun to Shoot

As noted, 200 rounds is a lot of shooting for a very small gun, however the LCP Max is far more fun and comfortable to shoot than the LCP and it’s easy to enjoy at least half of the day at the range shooting this little pistol. Comparing the internals of my LCP II vs LCP Max, there are no apparent mechanical differences, but the recoil feels substantially lighter and much more comfortable with the larger and wider grip of the LCP Max. In many ways the recoil of the LCP Max feels more like the recoil of a Glock 42 rather than the harsh recoil of typical micro guns.

The magazine is a bit of a hybrid with a double-stacked lower portion and the last 3/4-inch of the top of the magazine a single-stack style. Ruger has clearly done a great job engineering as the magazine was 100% trouble-free through all testing regardless of the cone or round-tipped FMJ or HP ammo used. A simple magazine reloader, one magazine, and flush and finger extension floor-plates are included. Ruger is offering an optional extended 12-round magazine with extended base plate, but that was not available at the time of testing. I could see the aftermarket offering many different magazine extensions for a very-high-capacity LCP Max. 

Ruger has added just a bit of ambidextrous control with the ability to reverse the magazine release for left- or right-side positioning. The Ruger LCP Max also carries forward the second generation LCP features including raised cocking ears and functional serrations for easy manipulation, improved magazine feed lips, feed ramp, extractor, and barrel cam geometry improvements. The patented barrel cam geometry is purported to reduce felt recoil via the delayed unlocking. Ruger’s proven Secure Action fire-control system regates the need for other external safeties, combines a protected internal hammer with a bladed safety trigger and should be more than adequate for the demands of pocket carry. Since the LCP Max design really is only changing the grip size, the LCP Max will fit most existing LCP second generation and LCP II holsters. 

The LCP Max is an exceptional little high capacity gun for concealed carry without the harsh recoil often associated with micro-pistols. Ruger likely has another hot selling handgun in their catalog that dealers should consider as must have firearms on the shelf.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.