If you know you’re headed for a gunfight, you bring a rifle. For daily concealed carry, though, we all compromise by carrying a gun that’s small enough to conceal without being too cumbersome or too uncomfortable. For me that’s usually a micro-compact 9mm carried IWB, but for the past week I’ve had the new Ruger LCP MAX in a front pocket and I’m loving it.
Don’t miss the Rumble-hosted video above of the LCP MAX out on the range! Or click here to view it directly on Rumble.
We’re all well familiar with the Ruger LCP, correct? It has been a .380 ACP concealed carry staple for over a decade, with no shortage of TTAG articles revolving around it. Our original LCP review from May 2010 is HERE, and our review of the upgraded and updated LCP II is HERE.
Ruger’s new LCP MAX takes the LCP II and cranks it up to 11. Literally. This bad boy now holds 11 rounds (10+1) with its flush-fitting magazine instead of the LCP II’s (and LCP’s) 7-round (6+1) capacity. While certainly not the only change, the “MAX” capacity is clearly the most noteworthy.
As if that isn’t enough, the LCP MAX has an available 12-round magazine for an onboard capacity of 12+1 (some claim that’s as many as 13). Despite the two extra rounds of .380, the extended mag adds less than half an inch to the height at the rear of the magazine. Direct comparison photos between the LCP II and LCP MAX can be found below, after the end of this review.
It adds a little more than a half inch to the front strap, which provided me and my men’s size L hands enough room for about 3/4 of my pinky finger to be officially on the front of the grip. It’s a small size penalty to pay for an extra two rounds of ammo and one more finger on the gun.
In fact, in the box with the LCP MAX is an extended pinky rest floor plate for the 10-round magazine that’s included with the gun, but you’d have to be suffering presidential-grade cognitive issues to use it when the 12-round magazine is no taller.
The LCP MAX employs a similar “pebbled” or light sandpaper-like texture as the LCP II, arranged similarly in panel-like sections around the grip frame. It’s enough texture to provide secure purchase, but it won’t tear up the inside of your pocket or velcro itself in there. Nor will it shred your tender love handles.
Compared to the LCP II, the LCP MAX is rounder and smoother; less blocky, more svelte. It’s more ergonomic and more comfortable in the hand than the previous generation, and I think it looks nicer.
Despite the switch to a double stack magazine and upping the mag capacity from 6 to 10, the MAX adds only 0.4 inches to the height of the LCP II and only 0.06 inches to the width. Length and weight are exactly the same.
Also improved is the magazine release, which is slightly larger and textured, unlike the completely smooth, incredibly tiny LCP II button.
Trigger design is similar, with a safety blade and a gentle curve to it. There’s a decent amount of smooth, light take-up slack before the trigger stops at a wall. Applying seven pounds of pressure rewards with a fairly clean, fairly crisp break. Reset is quite short and it’s easy to feel.
Overall, though heavy, the LCP MAX’s trigger is fundamentally quite good. Smooth, crisp, not much creep, and a nice reset. It’s a decent trigger for a pocket gun, and considering that likely use and carry style I don’t take issue with the 7-pound trigger pull weight.
Like previous generations, the LCP MAX is an internal hammer-fired mouse gun. It’s single action in that the slide must cycle in order to cock the hammer.
One cool feature on the LCP MAX is a flare in width at the rear of the slide. That last slide serration is wider than the others — little “wings” are machined in. This provides additional purchase when manipulating the slide, but even with those wings the total slide width is a very skinny 0.81 inches.
One perhaps (depending on your feelings on the topic) not-so-cool feature on the LCP MAX is a slide catch that’s truly just a catch. It locks back on empty, it’s easy enough to use for manually locking the slide back, but it does not drop the slide. Due to the angle of the cut in the slide and the design of the slide catch, it was impossible for me to release the slide via downward pressure on the slide catch.
For me, I really don’t care. I use the slingshot method to release the slide and used to carry a gun that didn’t even have an external slide-related control at all. I’d take reliable and secure locking back on empty over a slide catch that’s also a release. Though achieving both of those functions is obviously entirely possible.
Sights on the LCP MAX match my preference. The rear is a serrated black piece of steel.
And the front sight is eye-catching. In this case it’s a green tritium dot inside of a white outline. Very nice.
Not only do I find the black rear and eye-catching front to be the fastest and most accurate configuration for me, I prefer, at least for self-defense purposes, only the front sight to be a tritium night sight.
Construction and take-down is similar to previous LCP generations with a takedown pin that must be removed out of the left side of the slide. No trigger pull is required. A skinny, steel guide rod holds twin, nested recoil springs.
On the range, I found the LCP MAX was a very good shooter. Unsurprisingly, it feels like the previous LCPs but with a more ergonomic grip and better sights. It’s still a teeny little pocket rocket, but it’s easy to control and keep right on target.
The strangest part of shooting the LCP MAX is popping off 10 to 13 shots before having to reload. It’s unexpected and incongruous from a pistol this size.
I fired four different types of .380 ACP through the LCP MAX, including lightweight frangible ammo, some strange cast zinc ammo, and two brands of hollow points and it ate it all. Again, this isn’t surprising as the LCP has earned itself a good reputation for reliable function.
Accuracy was solid, even during rapid fire, and I wasn’t hindered at all by the heavy trigger due to how decently crisp it is.
I recall how impressed we all were when the original wave of 6-round polymer frame micro-compact mouse gun pocket pistols hit the market and they — most of them — proved reliable enough to trust for CCW use. Along with, of course, modern .380 ACP ammo that made the cartridge itself a much more viable self-defense option.
It’s hard to believe that it took so long for a company to up the capacity, especially as we’ve been mumbling about a double-stack .380 pocket pistol for years now! Good on Ruger for being the first into what I’m positive is going to be a huge market.
Though I prefer to carry IWB and I prefer to carry a 9mm, I fully admit there are occasional days where I just don’t feel like it. Whether it’s my chosen attire that day or it’s the weather or the activity, I simply choose possible death over certain discomfort. And I’m good with that.
But the LCP MAX provides another option. Throwing this bad boy into a pocket holster like a Sticky Holster or using the included, Ruger-branded soft pocket holster and carrying it in a front pocket (or the correct kind of side/thigh pocket) is just awesome. It’s so small and so light that it’s barely even noticeable after a few minutes. It feels like a phone and it looks from the outside like a phone.
Sure, it can’t be drawn as quickly as an IWB gun and it isn’t as ballistically impressive as a 9mm, but it beats the heck out of my lazy, fatalistic days where I go unarmed. And 10+1 or 12+1 rounds of modern, self-defense .380 ACP is nothing to sneeze at!
I’m buying this LCP MAX, and as of last week it’s in my regular carry rotation. It’s an awesome little gun.
Specifications: Ruger LCP MAX
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: one, 10-round magazine and a soft pocket holster. 12-round magazines and other accessories available separately.
MSRP: $449 (find it for less at Brownells HERE)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
Improved looks over the previous generations of LCP. Fit and finish are very nice.
Reliability * * * * *
Rock solid even with a mix of strange ammo.
Ergonomics * * * *
For such a tiny little gun, Ruger has done a good job making it feel comfortable and controllable.
Customize This * * *
The LCP MAX truly doesn’t need much in the way of customization, but it also doesn’t have a whole lot of options. It ships with great sights and feels good in the hand with what I think is the correct amount of texture. Holsters are already plentiful, as the LCP MAX will fit in many holsters made for the LCP II (you should verify, though, with Kydex holsters as the tiny — 0.06″ — increase in slide width might make for an overly snug fit).
Overall * * * *
Ruger’s LCP MAX is an absolutely awesome little mouse gun. As much as I hate the term, I’d be remiss not to call this gun a game changer in the pocket pistol market. Who in their right mind would choose 6 rounds when they can get 10 or more in effectively the same footprint? Not me.
LCP MAX vs. LCP II size comparisons:
That’s a photo of the LCP MAX hiding underneath the LCP II. The footprints are nearly identical, with the exception that the LCP MAX’s magazine baseplate goes almost as low as the LCP II’s pinky extension. So instead of just a poky point in the front, the LCP MAX’s baseplate is a flat line all the way across the bottom.
This is some of where the LCP MAX’s additional 0.4 inches of height comes from, but not all of it…
More than I expected is simply a difference in sights. The LCP II’s sights are machined integrally into the slide and they’re only about 2/3 the height of the LCP MAX’s sights.
So, when flipping the guns over to rest ’em on their sights, the full 0.4 inches of additional height can be seen in the MAX and its baseplate suddenly passes the pinky extension on the LCP II. When the trigger guards and slide rails and such are lined up instead, the MAX’s baseplate doesn’t make it as far as the pinky extension on the LCP II, as seen in the first couple of comparison photos above.
Grip and slide width is nearly identical. Baseplate width represents a more obvious difference, with the double stack magazine’s baseplate coming in unsurprisingly close to twice as wide as the single stack’s.
At this point I have alternately carried both guns over the course of a few days and the difference between them is almost entirely academic, with the sole semi-noticeable CCW difference being the magazine baseplate width.
I’ll take the increased capacity, thank you very much.