Ruger's All-New LCP® MAX: The 380 Pocket Pistol Redefined

by Boge Quinn

June 30th, 2021

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Front sight is drift-adjustable for windage, featuring a Tritium dot with white surround for dim lighting conditions.



Rear sight is drift-adjustable for windage, angled and serrated, with a wide U-notch and vertical front face.





Ruger's Secure Action™ trigger averaged a smooth 4 pounds, 1.1 ounces of resistance.





Trigger guard is serrated for "finger-forward" hold.



Grip features stippled panels for positive hold.



Twelve-round magazines, available from, are similarly stippled to allow firm grip with the pinky finger.





Magazine release is reversible for left-handed shooters.



Slide features front and rear cocking serrations.



Slide release.



Cocking ears at the rear of the slide aid in slide operation.



When Ruger introduced their LCP (Lightweight Compact Pistol) 380 in 2008, a new era of truly pocket-sized pistols of meaningful power at a reasonable price was ushered in. Ruger did not originate the basic concept, but they did perfect the design, improving on what had come before and applying modern manufacturing techniques to produce their pistols on a large scale. The LCP proved to be a best-seller for Ruger, and remains one of the most popular pocket pistols ever produced.

A few years later, Ruger made a series of improvements to the LCP, culminating in Ruger's introduction of the LCP II. The LCP II features Ruger's Secure Action™ fire-control system that combines a protected internal hammer with a bladed-safety trigger, as well as improved sights. Both the original LCP and the LCP II remain in production, with many different variations available, and continue to be very popular among shooters looking for the best in micro-compact, easily-concealable pistols.

Ruger is now introducing by far the best LCP ever, expanding on the original LCP concept with the all-new LCP MAX. The LCP MAX offers many significant improvements over earlier versions of the LCP, so let's get into them...

The 380 ACP cartridge is a perfectly scaled-down 45 ACP cartridge, and as such it proportionately lacks the 45's ballistic thump. Nothing can substitute for a big ol' bullet moving at significant speed when it comes to taking the bad out of bad guys, and the 380 ACP has long held a reputation as a borderline defensive cartridge at best. This might have been true in decades past, but in recent years the bullet / ammunition manufacturers have come a long way. The 380 will never be a 45, but today's modern bullet designs make today's 380 a viable man-stopper. A few years ago I went to a writer's event at Gunsite Academy where we spent some quality time shooting various calibers and loads into ballistic gelatin and through car windshields and doors. When the shooting was done, a lot of preconceived notions about the efficacy of the 380 ACP were laid to rest, thanks to Mike McNett and Double Tap Ammo

Still, a shooter feels better about the 380 when he has a good quantity of arrows in the quiver, but compact pistols have always been limited in magazine capacity. It is - or rather, WAS - a simple law of physics: one cannot stuff a significant supply of life-saving ammunition into the tiny space afforded by the grip area of such a pistol. The Magic Number for 380 pocket pistol magazine capacity has always been six rounds, or sometimes seven, but magazine capacity has always been a severe limitation. Any defensive pistol represents a compromise between what is effective and what is practical to carry, and many shooters are unable or unwilling to carry a larger, heavier pistol; as the old saying goes, "A 380 in the pocket is better than a 45 in the truck". With the LCP MAX, Ruger has taken the magazine design concept of their new MAX-9 9mm compact pistol and applied it to the tiny LCP. The new magazine design tapers from a double-stack to a single-stack, increasing the standard payload by 40%, from 6+1 rounds to 10+1. This magazine / grip redesign nearly doubles the capacity while not increasing the size of the grip; the LCP MAX is just as small as the LCP, it just holds nearly twice the ammo. As it was with the MAX-9, this increase in capacity takes the LCP MAX to a whole new level. Even better, 12-round magazines are available from, fully doubling the LCP's magazine capacity while barely increasing the pistol's overall height. The grip of the LCP MAX allows for two support fingers, leaving the pinky finger hanging free; this is not really a problem, but many shooters can better control the pistol under fire with all three support fingers on the grip, and to aid in this, Ruger includes a finger-extension magazine floor plate with the LCP MAX that easily replaces the standard floor plate. The 12-round magazine is the same length as the 10-rounder with the finger-extension floor plate installed, so the extra shots do not increase the height of the pistol at all when compared to the 10-rounder with the standard floor plate. Also, the LCP MAX's magazine release is reversible for left-handed shooters, if that is desired; my late brother Jeff was a Southpaw, and he actually preferred to operate the magazine release with his left trigger finger. 

One area where the LCP, and other pocket pistols, has always lacked is the sights. The original LCP sported barely-visible, rudimentary sights which were tiny and cast integrally with the frame; these sights, while usable, were by no means optimal, especially in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. The LCP II featured slightly higher profile sights which were still integral to the slide casting: better, but still not great. With the LCP MAX, Ruger has upped the ante with a real set of sights that are effective, easy to acquire, and designed for use in multiple lighting conditions. The bad guys often prowl by night, and dim light conditions are often where the  shooter finds oneself when the need for armed defense arises. In these situations highly-visible sights are invaluable for accurate shooting, and the LCP MAX features a sighting system that is the equal of those on larger-framed pistols. 

The front sight is excellent, consisting of a dovetail-mounted, windage-adjustable square post with a nearly vertical face and a Tritium dot within a white outline. In bright lighting conditions, the square post reads like a standard target-style front sight. In low-light conditions, the Tritium dot glows while the white outline really makes the Tritium dot stand-out in all but total darkness, in which case the Tritium is still more effective. Superb. 

The rear sight is likewise dovetail-mounted and windage-adjustable. The notch is wide and U-shaped, which allows the round-bead front sight to nestle perfectly within the notch. The rear face is angled to smoothly continue the contour of the slide, and deeply serrated to reduce glare in bright lighting conditions. The front face is vertical, as is often seen on modern defensive pistols, to allow the shooter to rack the slide against a table or corner in case the support hand becomes disabled. The front and rear sights are made of steel, not cheap plastic, and together they comprise a sighting system that should prove effective in almost any situation. Should aftermarket sights be desired, the front and rear sight dovetails are sized to accept Bodyguard-pattern sights.

The sights and slide are dehorned and smoothed for comfortable operation, so when one has to operate the pistol in a hurry, no chunks of skin are left on the pistol. The slide is through-hardened steel finished in black oxide, and features fore and aft cocking serrations for easy grasping. There are slightly raised cocking ears at the rear of the slide on each side, which greatly aids in racking the slide, resulting in a slide that is very easy to operate for those with weak or arthritic hands. The slide also holds open on an empty magazine, which is a useful feature not always seen on compact 380 pistols.

The magazine feed lips, feed ramp, extractor, and barrel cam geometries have been reengineered to improve reliability, and the LCP MAX proved to be 100% reliable with a variety of ammo types tested. There were no failures or bobbles of any kind encountered using everything from cheap remanufactured range loads to premium ammo, in everything from roundnose to flatpoint to hollowpoint loads. 

The LCP MAX features Ruger's Secure Action™ fire-control system as introduced on the LCP II, and it is an excellent system. The trigger pull on my example was smooth over its entire length, averaging 4 pounds, 1.1 ounces of resistance on my Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge. Trigger reach is 2.75 inches, which is a good average and should work well for shooters with small to large hands. There is 0.4 inches of takeup before resistance is met, which includes activation of the trigger safety, and trigger travel from that point until release is 0.13 inch, followed by no wasted motion as the result of overtravel. This is as good a trigger as one could hope for on a pocket pistol: light, crisp, and smooth enough for ease of use, with enough resistance for safety. As an added safety feature, the LCP MAX utilizes a hammer catch to prevent the pistol from firing unless the trigger is pulled, so there are no worries about the pistol firing if dropped. There is no manual safety lever, as its inclusion would be superfluous given the several built-in safety features.

The grip frame is one-piece, high-performance, glass-filled nylon, and features very well-designed textured grip panels across the grip sides, front, and rear. The 10-round magazine finger extension, and the extended portion of the 12-round magazine, are similarly textured. Together, these textured panels make the LCP MAX easy to handle under recoil, and are the answer to the only type of "gun control" which should be under question.

Ruger claims that their patented barrel cam geometry delays unlocking, slows the slide, and ultimately reduces felt recoil compared to other 380 pistols; I am not an engineer, so I can't speak to the veracity of this, but I can state that whatever Ruger's engineers did, it WORKS. The LCP MAX shoots noticeably softer than earlier versions of the LCP, as well as other pocket 380 pistols in my safe; the earlier pocket 380s are known for their snappy recoil, but the LCP MAX was a pleasure to shoot, and thanks to the improved sights, it was easy to shoot well. If you've never been able to regularly hit targets comfortably using a pocket 380, the you are in for some FUN with the LCP MAX.

Specifications - Ruger LCP MAX (Model #13716)

Caliber 380 ACP / 380 Auto
Overall Height 4.12 inches
Overall Length 5.17 inches
Weight, Unloaded 10.6 ounces
Slide Width 0.93 inch
Slide Alloy Steel, Black Oxide Finish
Grip Frame Black, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Barrel 2.80 inches, Alloy Steel, Black Oxide Finish, 6-Groove 1:16" RH Twist
Trigger Pull, Average 4 pounds, 1.1 ounces
Trigger Reach 2.75 inches
Trigger Takeup 0.4 inch
Trigger Travel 0.13 inch
Front Sight Tritium with White Outline, Drift Adjustable
Rear Sight Drift Adjustable
Magazine Capacity 10+1 (12-Round Magazines Available at
Magazines Supplied 1
Magazine Disconnect NO
Accessories Included Box, Manual, Magazine Loader, Pocket Holster
Available in CA / MA NO
MSRP as of June 2021 $449.00 US

The LCP MAX's $449.00 MSRP is marginally more than the LCP II's current MSRP of $409.00, and substantially more than the base-model LCP's current MSRP of $309.00; but given the many improved features of the LCP MAX, and given that the Tritium front sight alone is worth about $50.00, the LCP MAX represents a greater value than the earlier versions, in my opinion. The LCP MAX's price includes one 10-round magazine, a finger-extension floor plate, a magazine loader, and a soft pocket holster. The magazine loader is not absolutely essential, as the magazines are not particularly hard to load, but the loader is very helpful in getting those last couple of rounds into the magazine, especially during long range sessions. Since I prefer to carry my micro-pistols in my pocket, the pocket holster is a very nice accessory; it is Ruger-branded, ambidextrous, made of neoprene (or neoprene-like material), closed at the bottom, soft, and equally useful in the front or rear pocket. The surface of the holster is sticky enough to cling to the pocket, which allows the holster to stay in the pocket during the draw. This is very important, as you don't want to waste a precious second or two plucking the holster off of the pistol, when that second or two may be the last second or two of your life. Inclusion of the pocket holster further increases the value of the LCP MAX as a package.

For those who prefer belt carry, there are many options available. Pretty much any rig made for the LCP or LCP II will fit the LCP MAX, give or take the holster's sight track; the higher-profile sights of the LCP MAX may preclude the use of some holsters made for the earlier versions. I particularly like the holsters made by my friend Rob Leahy at Simply Rugged Holsters, and a custom-made "Cuda" holster he made for me to fit a SIG 938 works just fine for my LCP MAX. This custom holster is based upon his "Cuda" holster for larger-framed pistols, scaled down to fit the compact size, and features two belt slots rather then the Cuda's usual three. This holster features Rob's "Surf and Turf" option, consisting of sharkskin over cowhide for a distinctively beautiful appearance. While these holsters are not cataloged on his web site, Rob will make one for you just like mine, including the Surf and Turf option, for $175.00. This is a good deal on a great holster, but to sweeten the deal for Gunblast readers, if you mention Gunblast when you order, he will include a matching ammo pouch at no additional charge. That makes for an exceptional deal on an exceptional holster.

Ruger has done it again! The LCP MAX has taken the concept of the pocket 380 pistol to new levels in magazine capacity, ease of use, safety, reliability, ergonomics, and practical accuracy. It represents not just an evolution in pocket-pistol design, but a revolution that blows the doors off of the competition.

View the LCP MAX and other Ruger products at:

Buy Magazines and other Genuine Ruger Accessories at ShopRuger:

To find a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at Lipsey's:

To order Ruger products Online, click on the GUN GENIE at Davidson's Gallery of Guns:

Buy Ammo Online at Lucky Gunner:

The American Marksman LLC Ammunition:

Winchester Ammo:

Double Tap Ammo:

Gunsite Academy:

Simply Rugged Holsters:

Lyman Products:

Boge Quinn

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Included with the LCP MAX are box, manual, window decal, one ten-round magazine, magazine loader, and soft pocket holster.



Magazine loader.



Included pocket holster is ambidextrous, and fits in either front or rear pocket.



For belt carry, the Custom "Cuda" holster from Simply Rugged Holsters is hard to beat.



Ten-round magazine.



Ten-round magazine's flat floor plate is easily switched for the included finger-extension floor plate.



Twelve-round magazines are available from



Twelve-round magazine (left) compared to ten-round magazine with flat floor plate (top) and ten-round magazine with finger-extension floor plate (bottom).



Ten-round magazine (top) leaves room for two fingers on the grip, while the twelve-round magazine (bottom) allows all three support fingers purchase.



Some of the loads tested in the LCP MAX: Stryker 95-grain FMJ (top), Winchester 95-grain FMJ (center), Double Tap 95-grain Controlled Expansion™ JHP (bottom).



LCP MAX easily strips to its component parts.