Review: LCP Max from Ruger

What could Ruger possibly do to further improve the LCP? Add a higher magazine capacity


Ruger's .380 Auto LCP is a stalwart in the concealed carry and personal defense market. Small, light, affordable and imminently concealable, it has become an industry standard. 

Despite sales success, the pistol immediately drew complaints in two areas. First was the sights. The original LCP had literally nothing more than bumps machined to the front and rear of the slide. While not adjustable and with no means to remove and replace with something else, these sights were still probably fine for the gun's intended purposes. The second complaint was the trigger. Long and heavy, the double action only trigger was – like the sights – fine outside the target range. 

Nonetheless, Ruger took complaints to heart and followed the LCP with the LCP II. As the Roman numeral suggests, the LCP II is essentially a "second-gen" version. The trigger was made lighter and the sights were improved (basically just bigger bumps) and some ergonomic changes were made. The LCP II, as with the original LCP, was a hit with officers and legally armed citizens wanting a small backup gun or daily carry piece. What could Ruger possibly do to further improve the LCP? How about a higher magazine capacity? 

LCP Max

The bigger magazine LCP is out. It is called the LCP Max. It closely follows the lines and overall shape of the LCP II. Really the only significant change is in the length of the grip. Ruger stretched this out by half an inch to accommodate the new longer magazine.

The magazine is really what makes the LCP Max the max. It has been lengthened and widened and now accepts 10 rounds. This is an eye-popping accomplishment considering the overall thickness of the pistol is not significantly increased. The original LCP and later LCP II were capped off at a mag capacity of six. It likely would have been possible that Ruger keep the LCP II's original dimensions while still widening the mag. Would this have been a significant increase? Probably not. My guess is capacity would have gone from six to eight and wouldn't have been worth the overall effort. Slightly lengthening the frame while nearly doubling the capacity seems like a great way to go.

The new LCP Max from Ruger. (Andrew Butts)
The tritium front sight. (Andrew Butts)
The square-edged rear. (Andrew Butts)
The old LCP magazine compared to the higher capacity LCP Max mag. (Andrew Butts)

LCP Max offers more than just a new magazine

There's more to the LCP Max than a new magazine.

Front and rear are now dovetailed into the slide for replacement or adjustment. The front sight includes a tritium insert for visibility in low light. The rear sight is black but serrated for good contrast and is blocky in shape. The blocky shape means the rear sight can serve as a catch point to rack the slide in case of emergency or during "disabled officer" drills.

How does the LCP Max shoot?

To find out, I fed it Wilson Combat ammo loaded using Hornady's 90 grain XTP. Recoil was somewhat stiff but completely manageable. Anyone willing to devote a little time to the gun should become comfortable with its performance characteristics in short order.

For reference, Wilson's XTP load clocked at an average of 870 feet per second and proved acceptably accurate to a distance of 45 feet. Through the first couple of magazines, the gun failed to lock open when empty. This issue quickly resolved itself and the gun had no issues whatsoever afterward. 

From a safety standpoint, the LCP Max has no active firing pin safety and relies on firing pin spring weight to prevent a discharge if dropped. In addition, the pistol’s hammer and sear engagement is very robust and includes a secondary sear engagement point on the hammer. This will catch the hammer in case the sear receives a sufficient shock that might jar the hammer loose. 

Ruger has done a remarkable job of creating, in essence, a third-gen LCP. Original complaints around the sights and trigger should finally be resolved. The magazine capacity has been increased without radically changing the gun or dramatically changing the price. Anyone who isn't happy at this point will likely never be satisfied.

With that being said, one change could be made. Since inception, the LCP has required a small screwdriver or other tool to pry the takedown pin out of the frame. It would be nice to see the pin exposed on the right side of the frame so that it could be pushed out with a punch or pen. 

Ruger once again has set an industry standard with the LCP Max. It will be interesting to see where Ruger takes the design next. 

LCP Max Specs

  • Caliber .380 auto
  • Capacity 10+1
  • Slide material: Alloy steel, black oxide
  • Grip frame: Black glass-filled nylon
  • Front sight: Tritium with white outline
  • Rear sight: Drift sdjustable
  • Barrel length: 2.80"
  • Overall length: 5.17"
  • Width: 0.81"
  • Weight: 10.6 oz.
  • Height: 4.12"
  • Suggested retail: $469.00

Wilson Combat .380 SPECS

  • Bullet: 90 gr. Hornady XTP
  • Velocity: 870 fps
  • Muzzle energy: 151 ft-lbs.
  • Test barrel length: 2.8"
  • Price: 20-round box $28.95

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