The Ruger LCP was a tiny terror when launched in 2008. It disrupted the market by creating demand for small, reliable pistols in .380 ACP and provoked everyone from holster makers to ammunition manufacturers into delivering new products. Shooters who were attracted to the pistol for its easy concealability soon experienced the downside of shooting such a tiny piece with its heavy trigger: miniscule sights and sharp recoil. Even so, Ruger sold a gazillion LCPs.
Ruger improved the LCP in 2016 when it brought out the LCP II with a better trigger and more usable sights. Still tiny, and with a six-round magazine like the original, the LCP II proved to be just as easy to conceal while being slightly easier to shoot accurately.
Still, critics abounded. Some of my old gunwriter friends were highly offended by the LCP. After all, who would set aside their 1911 in favor of a tiny pocket pistol? And everyone knew the .380 ACP was worthless for defense, right?
Some of these myths were dispelled during product-introduction seminars and TV shows Ruger ran at Gunsite and elsewhere. In one episode, for example, I produced two LCPs and emptied both into the head area of a silhouette target in a couple of seconds. We shot newly developed .380 ACP ammunition into ballistic gelatin, and in one noteworthy demonstration, shot up an older Ford pickup truck with DoubleTap’s 90-grain bonded hollow-point load. To the astonishment of all present, it shot through the walls of the truck bed, and in another test, through the windshield and out the back wall of the cab. The load penetrated 11 to 12 inches in ballistic gelatin while expanding perfectly.
Still, the LCP and LCP II suffered from low capacity and really needed a better trigger and sights to keep up with the advances being made in concealed-carry pistols, and that brings us to the new LCP Max.
Using a double- to single-stack magazine design, the Max ships with a flush-fitting, 10-round magazine and a pinkie finger extension that’s easily installed. Ruger offers 12-round extended magazines as well, and these can be purchased from shopruger.com. The pistol ships with the usual padlock, an excellent instruction manual, a magazine-loading tool that helps get the last two or three rounds into the magazine and a pocket holster that fits all the LCP versions.
The slide includes fore and aft cocking serrations, with the rear serrations having a couple of raised surfaces that give good purchase. The sights, set in dovetails, are the best yet on an LCP, the front sight being a green night sight with a white outline, and the rear a plain black U notch serrated in the rear and flat-faced in the front for one-handed racking if you’re a fan of that sort of thing.
The magazine release is reversible following instructions in the manual. If you’re familiar with the LCP, you’ll find the takedown procedure is the same. Happily, pulling the trigger is not part of the procedure, and even happier, there is no magazine disconnect, nor is there a manual thumb safety.
Being wider, the LCP Max feels much better in the hand and that—in combination with what Ruger calls a recoil-reducing cam—makes the Max a lot more comfortable to shoot than the legacy LCP variants. The trigger pull on my sample averaged somewhere between 5.5 and 6 pounds and had a positive reset. I shoot these little blasters with my finger wrapped around the trigger up to the first joint to get more purchase and to avoid my fingertip being bitten by the trigger-safety lever.
Because it’s a pocket pistol and ammo is scarce, I did group testing at 7 yards, standing unsupported and fired three, five shot groups instead of the usual five. Results were good, particularly for such a small handgun.
I used a stunning Criminal Investigator Detective (CID)-type belt holster from Simply Rugged Holsters—a Surf and Turf style, so named because it’s made from leather with an added shark skin overlay—to shoot the Gunsite school drill back to 15 yards and finished up with 25-yard body shots. The mini-Max proved 100 percent reliable during my testing with a variety of both defensive and ball ammunition.
The LCP Max is up to the task of protecting your hide if you can shoot up to the gun. I think Ruger has a winner here and is likely shaking the market to its foundations once again. Is this the final evolution of the LCP? Hard to say, as those clever folks at Ruger are sure to have more tricks up their sleeves.