Image by Boch.
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Gun makers keep setting the bar higher and higher for new product development. 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 ultra-popular SIG P365 back in 2018 in a review here.

Image by Boch.

I’ve got good news for you, ladies and gents. The good folks at Ruger have done one even better than the P365 in the LCP MAX. If you need a smaller, lighter-shooting round than the P365’s 9mm, the Ruger LCP MAX gives you a gun that weighs 40% less, is 20% thinner and with a half-inch less in overall length. 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. Image by Boch.

It feels good in the hand and shoots even better. I’ve carried mine for over three months now, including while on vacation in Florida’s summer heat and humidity. 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 got 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.

I’ve carried both the 10+1 mag and the 12+1.  At the end of the day, I couldn’t tell the difference in weight.  However, the 12-rounder sometimes hung up just wee little bit when pulling the gun out of the pocket at the end of the day.  Something to consider for those practicing pocket carry.

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.

Yes, the trigger isn’t quite as good as the P365, but it is still as good or better than a stock GLOCK. The front sight blade has a handy tritium glow-in-the-dark insert  (with a bright white circle around it) which makes this a true fighting gun as most criminal attacks happen in less than optimal lighting conditions.

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

Ruger uses the hybrid double/single-stack magazines first 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.)

With the 12+1 round magazine inserted. Image by Boch.

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 collapsed after a few weeks’ use and left my gun rotated in a very wrong direction after only a few hours.  Repeatedly.  Way too often for my tastes.  A DeSantis rig solved that issue.

The Ruger LCP MAX. Image by Boch.

Aside from the holster, this gun sets a new standard for deep cover micro pistols. Or put another way, 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.

Specifications: Ruger LCP MAX .380 Pistol

Caliber: .380 Auto
Capacity: 10+1 rounds flush fit, 12+1 extended
Barrel Length: 2.80 inches
Overall Length: 5.17 inches
Width: .81 inches
Height: 4.12 inches
Weight: 10.6 ounces
Sights: tritium with white outline front sight, black rear sight
MSRP: $449 (street about $390)

Ratings (out of five stars):

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

Accuracy: * * * *
For a tiny pocket pistol it shoots 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 melon 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 even when wet or sweaty. That big front sight dot is easy to acquire with lots of contrast.

Trigger: * * * * 1/2
Life’s too short for crappy triggers. This one breaks at or a little over five pounds, give or take, according to my scientific trigger finger. This trigger doesn’t walk on water, but it beats a stock GLOCK out of the box. In my book, that makes it respectable for an untuned gun.

Value: * * * *
Street price is typically just under $400. That’s a fair price on a quite capable gun, especially considering a tritium-infused, glow-in-the-dark front sight comes standard.

Overall: * * * * 1/2
The Ruger LCP MAX marks a new generation of improved .380 defensive pistols. It makes the original LCP an obsolete relic (if you have one, I’m sorry). It also pushes a whole lot of other .380, single-stack pocket guns towards obsolescence. If you’re comfortable carrying a .380 with a modern hollow-point round for self-defense, BUY THIS GUN. You’ll have a pistol you’ll forget you’re carrying that will perform well in defensive encounters.

This was a regular production gun purchased from a dealer here in Illinois. Ruger did not send me a copy for testing and evaluation.

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238 COMMENTS

    • Shoot some 380+P out of a LCP, i think you’ll come away very impressed with the violence of the endeavor.

  1. A .308 is a foolish choice for a hand gun. The .308 is little more than a bee sting. You might as well get a .22 and call that a self defense firearm. If you can’t handle at least a 9 MM then you have no business buying a handgun.

    • Bruh a 308 is a rifle round.
      If you don’t know the difference between 308 and 380, you have no business using the internet.

    • Hey Walter come on over. My wife just got one. She’d like to use you for target practice since it’s such an ineffective round.

      • Well, my fine feathered friend, if you recommended that she buy the 380, you are the stupid one. She just doesn’t understand of know firearms. You should know better.

        • “WORKS” is a qualifier of operates/functional. EFFECTIVE is something else entirely.

          380Auto is, at best, marginally effective against the most dangerous “game”. “Better than nothing” is idiotic drivel.

        • neiowa, Sorry, but in a gun fight or for any fight for that matter, “marginally effective” just doesn’t cut it. I agree, “better than nothing” is pure unadulterated poppy cock.

        • Kyle, you are right. And its folks like you that I would block first. For you it’s ok if someone insults me, but God forbid that I retaliate. You have a pretty good idea of what you can do with your block.

        • What exactly are the units for “stopping power?” You say .380 isn’t enough, but others say 9 mm is puny. Why not just use the logic that all small handguns are insufficient and carry a .44 magnum or .50 AE? If you can’t handle that you shouldn’t even carry a gun, right?

          If you can’t quantify it other than “this one has enough” and “this one doesn’t” you might want to reconsider your argument.

        • J.P. Peterson, stopping power is the combination of the speed of the bullet and the expansion of the bullet mass. It is “measured” by shooting a round into ballistic gel.
          A 9mm is considered punny compared to a .40 Cal or a .45, but with today’s ammunition (manufactured) it is sufficient. The biggest problem with the 380 is that is has no real mass. Depending on the grain of the bullet, (usually either 90 or 96) the muzzle velocity is 1200 pfs or 930 fps. While the speed is comparable to the 9 or the 40, its bullet mass is ONLY half of the 40. What gives the 40 or the 9 mm the penetration power is not just the speed but the BULLET MASS.

        • As a paramedic of over 45 years in the great metro area known as Memphis Tenn . A city that had on average of Nearly 50 gun shot victims a day . Getting shot my a defensive round of 3.80 is a very painful often mortal round to be shot with . Yes bigger more powerful rounds out there . But as a caregiver I can say . 3.80 ain’t no toy round

      • I wish people would stop using this rebuttal if they aren’t going to at least acknowledge how unoriginal and profoundly unclever it is. I wouldn’t volunteer to get shot with a Daisy BB gun, either, but only an idiot would insist that this makes the BB gun an effective self-defense weapon.

        How about “if .380/.38/.32/.22/whatever is the largest round you can comfortably chamber and fire, then practice all you can with it and make your shots count”? It’s advice that’s every bit as witty as “betcha wouldn’t stand in front of it herp a derp”, except it’s actually, y’know, helpful.

        • Well, Garth, I hear what you are saying, but if all you can handle is a 380, 232, 32 or a 22, you might not want to bother as those rounds have NO stopping power except maybe for small varmint. Just for your information, most gun fights occur within 3 yds. It doesn’t take but a second to cover that distance for the aggressor. It might be better if you just turned tail and ran trying to get away. A round that small with so little stopping power will just piss the aggressor off?

        • Swiggie, If stopping power isn’t your criteria, then what is the use in carrying to begin with?

    • Dyslexia? I [under stnad] understand. I see the correct spelling in my mind. But sometimes my fingers push the keys out of order. I also right the letters out of order as well. Kids can be tested for this and teachers, can teach ways to compensate for it. But those improvements all happened long after I graduated HS in 1979.

      • Not so much Dyslexia for me as thinking faster than My hands can type. Happens to me a lot. I’ve learned to proofread before hitting send or post and I still mess up occasionally.

    • The mere brandishing of any firearm has probably saved more lives than actual use. I doubt that many people have actually been hurt or killed because their carry gun shot too small a caliber. Sure once in in a great while someone seems to shrug off gunshot wounds but that is pretty rare. Most people don’t want to fight after being shot.

      Standard defensive pistol calibers are all pretty weak compared to rifles and shotguns anyway. I bet they’re all pretty similar in effect. There’s not really much power to brag about with easily concealed and controllable pistol calibers.

      • For your edification, your position is unsupported by facts. One has to wonder what you define “standard defensive pistol calibers” For your further edification, most gun fights occur within 3 to 7 feet. It might be a bit cumbersome for you to try to use a rifle at those distances. Don’t you think? I’ve carried a handgun all of my adult life and would never carry a “pocket rocket” such as a 380 or a 22.

    • 7.62X25, why yes there is a .30 caliber pistol round, and oh look it’s even bottle necked.
      Bzzzzzzzzz

    • If you can’t handle a 9mm then you have no business buying a handgun to protect yourself and your loved ones? Sure ok…

    • .380’s (and .308’s) have their place. A modern .380 round consistently penetrates near the 12″ minimum standard in ballistics gel. It is no where near as good as some of the bigger handgun rounds, (and pales in comparison to the .308 or any other rifle round) but it is an effective stopper if placed properly. .380’s (and .22’s) aren’t bee stings. They allow the average person to walk around better prepared, and will cause the vast majority of bad guys to cease and desist post haste without a single shot fired.

      Besides, i know a LOT of people who are scared silly when a bee buzzes by, and more than a few who are deathly allergic to them. :- )

      rule 1: have a gun.
      rule 2: train with it.

      I think i will follow John Bosh’s advice on this one. Time for a new handgun.

      • I did a typo and it should have read 380. However my position still stands. As I’ve said, it is about penetration and shot placement. Personally I usually carry a .40S&W Glock. And I train quite regularly.

        • Walter, your position is bunk. You want to cherry pick which numbers you think are important and pronounce all other opinions irrelevant. Got news Tackleberry. Too many of us here have carried every day for a job. And off duty as well. I’ma gonna bet they think they have a good bead of what they want. Run along and smirk yourself to sleep knowing the .40 (essentially a useless antique no one has bothered with in a decade. Heck Sparky, the Seals are carrying 9’s! if someone wants to carry a .22 more power to them.

        • Not hardly RATliff, I’m not “cherry picking” anything. For your edification the .40S&W cal is carried by a large majority of the police agencies in the country. Second is the 9mm. Speaking of Tackleberry, he must b your patron saint. With all those PD’s carrying the 40 cal the round must be pretty effective. Try shooting a round or two into ballistic gel v your 22. I want something that has stopping and penetration power. If you want to fool around with a .22 or a 380, knock yourself out. I just hope you don’t ever get into a gun fight. SEALS carry whatever round they want to carry. I have a RED HOT NEWS FLASH FOR YOU.

        • Walther, I too like the merits of the .40S&W (own a G22 with 9mm conversion barrel, as well as HKVP40) because you can choose the range of power and bullet weight. This gives one the choice of shooting something similar to a heavy bulleted or +P powered 9mm up to low powered .357magnum, and all with larger bullet diameter and decent ammo capacity. If you are outside and around automobiles (who ain’t) the round can deal with barriers (car doors, windows, etc…) far better than 9mm, but still not as good as .45. You might have ruffled a few feathers with the “.380 equals bee sting” comment. Some are still comfortable enough carrying a .380 even though it falls short of the greater rounds, and it REALLY is more than a bee sting. Funny thing is I actually passed out and went into shock last Summer after being stung while doing yardwork, ambulance, the works. Now, I think .380acp is the bare minimum for mouse guns, and you REALLY have to do your homework on picking the best ammo, needing to meet whatever your minimal penetration level is (10-12 inches for me). No way would I pick 22, 25, 32 when you can pick .380, but the key environment is MOUSE GUN. I think a man would be nuts to defend ones home with a short barreled mouse gun, heck, better a carbine or shotgun. I do get your theory about just packing a larger gun and ditching the mouse gun concept, and I’ve heard it from others as well…edc the same gun for everything, because you have familiarity above all.

        • What is important is the AMOUNT of lead that you sling at the bad guy. .380 just doesn’t cut it. 90 v 168?

    • a 22 is deadly if you hit what you’re aiming at, and i guarantee i can draw, aim and shoot a small 380 faster than most dudes can draw and swipe the safety off of their 1911. so its pretty subjective about what’s an appropriate round and what isn’t. even if your argument was up for debate, and its not, modern bullet technology has made 380 a well performing round with similar ballistics to 9mm in the short distance that a defense gun is designed for.

      you carry a glock in 40SW where do you get off judging lol

      • I get off “judging” due to the fact that a .22 unless you hit a vital organ (rare) is little more than a bee sting. I guarantee that while you are drawing and shooting your little 380 I’ll put two in the center of mass and one in the head (also known as the Mozambique technique) and be able to call the police afterwards while you are in the hospital either on your death bed or getting set to go in the operating room for reconstructive surgery. The ballistics of the 380 v even a 9 mm show the 9 to be far superior in penetration and stopping power even when using standard ammo. You keep carrying your pea shooter, while I’ll carry my 40 cal.

        • Oh boy, another self-annointed bloviating gun expert. Just what we all need.

          My summer carry is a Walther PK380. Large for a .380, but smaller than the P99 I lug around in the winter. The PK380 is much more suited to my summer wardrobe. I have every confidence that it will do the job if I ever have the misfortune of having to do a job.

          So, go ahead, expert, and tell me I’m an idiot and give me a big lecture about stopping power, like I never took the time to look in to that sort of stuff. I’m all ears.

          (yawn)

        • UpInArms,
          Well, I’m not an “expert” but I sure as heck know far more about ballistics, bullet penetration and firearms clearly than you do. Maybe instead of using your fingers on the keyboard you should pay close attention to what I have said and try to attack my premises rather than me personally.
          You keep carrying your little PK380. I’ll stick with my Glock Mod 22 in .40 S&W cal. I just hope you don’t eve get into a gun fight and have to use that pea shooter.
          As far as penetration you have the same ability that I have; use Google. You seem to have found this cite.