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Ruger American® Ranch Rifle – 350 Legend You don't have to own a ranch to... own one

04/11/2021 – Conjuring a spring snow storm in Maine is fairly easy, especially if employing the most successful techniques. The tractor, set up for mowing, was pulled out of the shed where it spent the winter months. The driveway snow markers were removed until next winter. The first spring barbecue was scheduled based on a…

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Ruger’s AR-556 MPR Part I No, I am not underpaid. I am self-actualized


What follows is not a “Pry from my cold dead hands” commentary. In fact, it is a commentary on the same common sense and self reliance approach that puts spare tires in the trunks of cars and sets aside a supply of food, water and a first aid kit in anticipation of severe weather… or a Coronavirus lock down.

Common sense Vs. common understanding – Maslow

For many people, development in life is; born with not much, working hard to overcome and meet basic needs. Then, once there, they progress on to  meet Physiological Needs. Hard lessons learned produce maximum motivation to never return to the good old days of struggling to meet Basic Needs. Subsequently, contingency plans come into play when government institutions appear to be less reliable and luxuries and necessities fall into short supply.

Other people are born into Physiological Needs, completely skipping over the struggle to meet Basic Needs. These folks have never encountered a problem that cannot be solved with a phone call to a parent, friend or Uber. No hard lessons learned, means little to no motivation to plan avoidance of difficult circumstance they have never experienced. Consequently, they never understand why the first group makes contingency plans. In fact, they often attempt to stop the first group from planning, as contingency planning is an unfamiliar activity that makes them feel… uncomfortable.

Note: Who reaches Self-Fulfillment? Eventually everyone. People either amass great wealth and freedom as the head of a tech company and pursue their love of the Wagner tuba, or they grow old, passively accept that life has crushed their dreams, and settle for a pair of comfy slippers and a nice bowl of oatmeal… Charlie Maslow’s Hierarchy of Reality.

A hybrid approach to preparedness

A third group of people ignore psychobabble’s arts and charts and play the hand they are dealt. Anyone living through a year of Coronavirus idiocy, both public and private sector induced hysteria, knows store shelves can empty, Amazon can stop delivering, police can be overwhelmed and slow answering emergency calls, and lock down isolation can make the most normal people do the strangest things.

As members of Group 3, my wife and I stocked up on necessities including: a variety of healthy foods with a long shelf life, cases of bottled water, first aid supplies, TP, and multiple subscriptions to streaming British TV… Can never get enough DCI mysteries and droll comedy. We also took time to give the family firearm inventory a once over. See previous pyramid, “Basic Needs, Security & Safety”.

Can you see the tree?

An AR-15 makes a great image for illustrating society’s differing perceptions. For those lacking in firearms knowledge, who get their information only from other people lacking in firearm knowledge, the image below is a sinister, black, weapon of war. It has devastating power, carries a virtually unlimited supply of ammunition and is capable of stealthy, whisper silent operation. Which would of course be humorous if if it weren’t so sad.

For folks with a more pragmatic, informed view of firearms, the image is that of a utility firearm, of modest power, with a primitive but effective sight system. The 30 round magazine is as good of a place as any to store ammunition. Perhaps not in this rudimentary form, but an AR has the potential of being the Swiss Army knife of firearms; no more, no less… no drama.

For me, the AR is an essential firearm, if only because many firearm applications can be serviced with a single AR. The 5.56 NATO/223 Remington round can be assembled up or down for anything from deer to rabbit. The effective range for the larger game in that group is probably limited to 200 yards, but this is Maine where the distance between trees is twenty feet. There are other positive attributes like virtually no recoil, reasonable report, inexpensive ammunition, moderate firearm wear and tear and low cost upkeep, many common replacement and upgrade parts.

A safe full of ugly

Building ARs, for me, is a diversion from the norm. While my exposure and experience with firearms originated early in my childhood, and has persisted, my military service was as an Air Force, B-52 Crew Chief. Subsequently, while I did have the opportunity to enjoy mandated vacations in tropical places, I was not issued an M-16 to bond with under dire circumstances. I was not not even given the option of bringing home a 750 pound bomb, or even a smallish nuclear weapon, as a souvenir.

My budgetary control of an AR build is non-existent, which means I have to sell each upon completion to pay the bills for the build and to finance the next project. In the rare cases where and AR can escape that destiny, they are usually too weird and/or too non standard to sell; odd calibers and an economy of parts that may fall short, in some people’s view, of a complete firearm. An AR-15 with High Standard receivers, chambered for the 30 Remington AR does not shout “I’m here when you need me”. Nor does a 300 Blackout that only cycles when it is in the mood, or… another that is caliber marked with less than specificity. As I said, a safe full of ugly.

Above is my new essential AR. Straightforward, it is a Ruger AR-556 with accessories that are well suited to my anticipated applications. Naked, it weighs 6 lbs and change. Suited up as pictured, it weighs 10 lbs.. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Seven days earlier… dramatic lapse dissolve


Ruger AR-556 Multi Purpose Rifle

Manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Point of Manufacture Mayodan, NC
Model# 8514
Caliber 5.56 NATO / 223 Remington
Mag Capacity 30 Round Magpul PMag
Barrel Length 18″, 1/2″-28 Threaded
Rifling 1:8″ RH 5 Groove
Weight 6.8 Lbs
Overall Length 35″ – 38.25″
Stock Collapsible
Receivers 7075-T6 Aluminum Forging
Receiver Finish Type III Hard Coat Anodized
Barrel & Gas Block Matte Black Oxide
Length of Pull 11.1″ – 14.4″
Accessory Mount Picatinny Rail
Trigger Pull 4 Lbs. 11 Oz. Single Stage
Safety Rotating
MSRP $899

The subject AR-556 is a MPR is one of three product types within the Ruger AR-556 product line. It reflects my personal choice, but there are many more configurations available. There are twelve versions of traditional AR-556s, including one lower assembly for folks who want to furnish their own upper. The traditionals feature a rapid deploy rear sight, A2-style F-height front sight and a delta ring secured non-floating handguard. All 5.56 NATO/223 Rem chambered.

There are three versions of the 16.10″ barrel AR-556 with Free-Float Handguard models; all flat tops without factory sights and with 11″ floating handguard. These are available in 5.56 NATO/223 Rem and 300 Blackout chambers.

Ruger offers ten versions of the AR-556 MPR. They are available, depending on configuration, in 5.56 NATO/223 Rem, 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster. Barrel lengths run from a law enforcement only 10.50″, to 16″ and 18″…rounding numbers. Capacity varies from 30 rounds for people living in the United States to 10 rounds for state complaint models where magazine capacity and only citizens are restricted from ownership.

We have reviewed the Ruger AR-556 multiple times. The most comprehensive in mechanical detail and performance, but not in creative titling, is “Ruger’s AR-556 Multi Purpose Rifle” Parts I & II. Yes, those are incredibly tiny link targets, but then marksmanship is always something to work at.

Ruger AR-556 Multi Purpose Rifle – Model No. 8514

So I bought a Ruger AR-556 MPR. Why? As quality of firearm, availability of parts and product support are important, I prefered to place my trust in a company that has been in continuous operation since 1949, publicly traded since 1969, and is staffed wall to wall with gun people. Ruger has not been sold to a European firearms corporation, nor have they been broken down and repackaged by investment bankers with each new business entity stating, “We are not responsible for prior production”.

When I purchase a Ruger firearm, I know who I am dealing with and I know they will be there if and/or when support is needed. The Ruger AR-556 is also a spec gun, so if Maine decides to secede from the union… or, more likely, Raymond sucedes from Cumberland county, I can still secure standard AR-15 parts from many local sources and keep my AR in operation.

The Ruger AR-556 is a complete product with mature, well tested components. Subsequently, few changes were required and few pieces were needed to complete the system for my purposes. The following is not a recommendation, just a share of information, while I walk through configuring my new firearm. No doubt, countless generations of engineers who have refined the AR-15 to near perfection will groan in unison. Not at the Ruger AR-556, but rather at some of my choices in add-ons.

Nice butt

There are more elaborate buttstocks, probably some that have solar powered adjustment of cant, LOP, comb height, and camo patterns. However, the Ruger supplied MOE SL collapsible buttstock and Mil-Spec buffer tube provide all of the function my brain and body can utilize.

Above, shown collapsed, length of pull is adjustable in six locking increments from 11.10″ to 14.40″. The recoil pad has a slight rake and a rolled toe which makes it easier to shoulder the rifle while wearing a t-Shirt or heavy winter gear. The +0.8″ comb provides proper noggin support with the type of sight setups planned. The stock is slotted for sling attachment and it accepts QD sling swivels. All of the features are ambidextrous.

Getting a grip

The factory supplied Magpul MOE grip is basic ,but excellent. Factory grips have the right angle, the right finish and are compatible with Magpul Core Storage inserts that are made to hold everything from gun lube to a spare bolt and firing pin. My AR-556 received a very old ERGO Sure Grip. It has a soft surface, finger orienting grooves and a palm filling back. It does have a free form storage compartment. Why the change? It is my lucky grip. Multiple operational nondisclosure agreements prohibit elaboration… No, of course that is not true. It is just that the grip is hand filling, squishy and it doesn’t stick to a bare hand in sub zero temperatures.

Gas, barrels and handguards that float

The gas block in the Ruger’s rifle length gas system is very compact. An extended barrel nut provides support for the easy on and off 15″ floating handguard. The handguard is lightweight aluminum, front end loaded with M-LOK attachment points and topped with a rail that continues from the rifle’s flat top receiver. The handguard finish is Type III Hard-Coat Anodized.

This is the first time I have dropped the use of an adjustable gas block. Probably because I came to the conclusion that while such systems are fun to play with,  I rarely make adjustments. The 18″ barrel is a medium contour hammer forged 4140 piece with a 1:8″ rate of twist that stabilized bullets 35 to 77 grains in weight. The barrel’s chamber is cut to accept both 5.56 NATO and 223 Rem ammo. No changes necessary.

Yes, I realize there are 0.224″ bullets approaching 100 grains in weight, but weights above 77 grain are typically reserved for non expanding match bullets. Additionally, one of the reasons for selecting a 5.56 NATO firearm is the compact form of cartridges and bullets. Above, a box of 100 ct. 30 caliber bullets along side 400 0.224″ 55 grain bullets. Depending on the bullet weights, 7.62 NATO rounds weight more than twice as much as 5.56 NATO rounds.

Yes, I still think “Roy Rogers” when someone says “trigger”

The Ruger AR-556 MPR gets the two stage Ruger Elite 452 trigger in place of the standard single stage AR-556 trigger. The Elite 452 trigger is clean, has a relatively light pull @ 4 1/2 lbs, and 30% faster lock time. Below, on the single stage side #1, the notch in the hammer is retained by #3, the primary sear. When the trigger is squeezed, the sear is pulled downward and the hammer is released to rotate forward to move the firing pin. If the bolt cycles the hammer before the trigger is reset, the secondary sear #4, engages the #2, the hook at the back of the hammer and prevents it from falling forward.

On the two stage trigger, the latching surface at the rear of the hammer #1, engages the primary sear #3. As the trigger is squeezed, the first part of trigger travel meets a light one pound resistance from the trigger spring and begins moving the sear away from hammer engagement. Then there is an increase in pressure as the backside of the hammer #2 contacts the nose of the secondary sear on the disconnector #4 and compresses the disconnector spring during the second stage of pull. The hammer’s secondary sear contact surface #2 was relocated, but functions the same.

I would run out of ammo first…

The AR-556 bolt is fashioned from mil-spec 9310 steel, machined and shot peened for added strength and durability. Both the bolt carrier and gas key are internally chrome-plated for increased resistance to gas induced erosion/corrosion. The gas key is staked so it won’t shoot loose. Carrier and/or bolt failure is probably not in the cards, however, I do keep a spare as well as a supply of small piece parts.

A mostly inexpensive approach to securing accessories

Installing a bi-pod was done with the lowest level of commitment. I cannot say I ever found myself without a bent arm and supporting elbow to rest a forearm, or a rock or a branch… dried cow patty. I don’t want to be a lazy boy, outfitted with accessories built for a shooting bench. So I am trying to see if they just mean more weight and extra space or if they really serve a purpose.

These are listed as a five position MidTen Bipod 7.5″ – 9″ and were purchased for $35. They are made of mostly anodized aluminum with some black oxide treated steel hardware. The rectangular form is more rigid than round tubular, collapsed or extended.

The bipod halves are secured to the handguard at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions with M-LOK fasteners. The legs can be folded backward or forward when stowed. The possible failure I can predict might be the failure or loss of latch springs, which are trapped, but not contained under the adjustment latch. Obviously produced at one factory, these bipods are sold under numerous brands, differing only in price, labeling and packaging.

The adjustable 550 Paracord 2 Point Rifle Sling with Shoulder Pad is a $25 item. The sling is made of 550 lb Paracord braid strap, 600D nylon webbing and opens to 62″. The sling quick attach/detach is with alloy HK hooks. The JIALITTE QD swivels connect directly to the buttstock and with an M-LOK mount at the handguard. $20 for the set, S-ling swivels were selected because they keep HK hooks centered and rifle’s slung position predictable.

My early exposure to rifle slings came with bolt action rifles and my father’s instruction as to how to shoot with sling support from all basic positions. Subsequently, rifles I take into the field are fitted with either leather military or Latigo slings. I never tried putting a leather sling on an AR, but I might just try doing so, and leaving this elaborate sling and the bi-pod at home. This fabric two point sling, when properly adjusted, shoulder carries well. Cross front carry allows quick shouldering into a steady hold.


$28 covered the cost of a set of sort of hard anodized aluminum Feyachi flip up front and rear sights. They are matched for same plane line of sight, which is fortunate as this matches the Ruger’s full length rail. The flippy apertures are selectively large CQB or small long range and indexed for windage adjustable. The A2 post front sight requires a $10 four prong adjustment tool that is not provided with this set. Mechanically, they are sound and hold adjustment. Aesthetically, I would not count on that anodized finish from staying put for very long. For folks who want something better, the exact same sights are sold on Amazon… including finish, but with a better logo, for $47.

If you find there is nothing on TV to watch, and you don’t want to engage in conversation with anyone, read the comments section under the product listing on Amazon for entertainment. The little push button sticking out of the side of each sight releases the top so the sight can be folded down, where it will remain until called to action. To raise the sight into active position, you must lift each sight, at which point it will lock, like a tray table, in the upright position. No, it will not spring to life if you push the button, or lay down on its own volition. And no, the sights don’t comply with GIJOE 678/2 in fit finish, or operation.

Rapid Transition Sight mounts, Hollywood hold, don’t work for me. Instead, a 1/2″ riser rail was installed to mount a compact reflex sight. Folded, the sights are not in line of sight. Popped up they can be used looking through the reflex sight. This riser is a $15 piece; easy on, easy off. Why would I want to take it off?

In case I get tired of staring at red dots or flipping metallic aperture, or squinting, I have a set up for a moderate power scope. No, this set up does not accommodate other sights, but then the previously indicated sights, and this set up, come off easily with a government issued 25 cent screw driver.

SilencerCo Omega 36M

The SilencerCo Omega 36M is listed as an all purpose silencer. It is a modular design that permits it to be used in compact or full length forms. The Omega 36M is compatible with all SilencerCo Charlie accessories; ASR mount pictured, direct thread mount, piston mount, and three lug mount. With a $1,187 MSRP, it is not a budget component, however, it is a good component and it is used on many firearms, so the overhead cost is spread around.

The Omega 36M is listed for use with cartridges 22 Hornet to 338 Lapua Magnum. I have used it with the 350 Legend, 338 Lapua, 300 WSM, 9mm Luger pistol projects. In terms of minimum barrel length, SilencerCo rates the Omega 36M as 10” barrel for 223 Remington/5.56mm NATO, 16” barrel for 308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO and 20” barrels for 300 Win Mag and 338 Lapua Mag.

The silencer serves three purposes: it protects my hearing, it shows respect for rural neighbors, it minimizes driving wildlife into the next county after a missed opportunity. No, of course I have never missed a shot, but there is always the possibility of a fluke occurrence.

I know… I’m tired too

I’m done for now. Thank you for letting me think through my own decision making process in public. Now, I am going to take my new rifle, shoot it a lot and collect some performance data and drag it through the snow, cold and tangles mess of woods and brush and see if anything falls off.  The result in Part II


Ruger’s New Max-9 Compact, controllable, reliable, high capacity


Ruger Max-9
Manufactured Ruger – Prescott, AZ
Model 3500
Grip Frame Fiber Filled Nylon
Internal Chassis
Hard Anodized Aluminum
Slide/Hardware Black Oxide – Alloy Steel
Type Action Single Strike/Striker
Caliber 9mm
Capacity* 12+1
Trigger Pull 5 Lbs. 2 Oz.
3.20″ Alloy Steel
Rifling 1:10″ RH
Front Sight
Tritium Fiber Optic
Rear Sight
Black – Drift Adjustable
Optic Ready
Overall Length 6.00″
Overall Height 4.52″
Width 0.95″
Weight 18.2 Oz.
Manual Safety*
CA, MA Approved
MSRP $499
 * Model 3501 – 2 10 rd mags, manual safety
   Model 3503 – 1 12 rd + 1 10 rd mag, w/o manual safety.

The Max-9 Model 3500 is one of a trinary product introduction from Ruger. Models differ in magazine capacity supplied and in the absence or presence of a manual safety. The Max-9 is a compact model, falling within a dimensional envelop similar to Ruger’s compact LC9/EC9s products.

The subject Max-9 Model 3500 is supplied with one twelve round magazine, one ten round magazine and it has a manual safety.

The model 3501 is supplied with two ten round magazines and has a manual safety.

The model 3503 is supplied with one twelve round magazine, one ten round magazine and has no manual safety. All other features and function are common to all three model designations.


Ruger defines the Max-9 as a compact, single strike, striker fired, magazine fed, auto loading, recoil operated pistol. A tilting barrel design, it is fired from a locked breech condition.

Notable in the scheme of things, the Max-9’s striker is tensioned by the movement of the pistol’s slide. The trigger pull does not assist in cocking the striker, which gives the Max-9 a short, light trigger pull. Removal of the Max-9’s magazine does not prevent firing a chambered round.

Optic Ready

Above, the Tritium fiber optic front sight, drift adjustable rear sight and, just forward of the rear sight, the optics plate cover. The height of the sights permits co-witnessing with a micro red dot sight installed.

Removing the two screws that secure the optics panel with the supplied Torx wrench shows the direct mount surface for a micro red dot sight. Sights are located with two screws and two dowel pins directly to the slide’s surface. Ruger selected the JPoint – Shield mount standard, which provides a wide selection of quality sights.

Micro red dot sights are used with both eyes open, they are virtually parallax free and they do not require rear-front-target sight aliment.  They do add a little size to a pistol, but not much, and there are many holster selections that accommodate them. In the case of a short barrel auto loader, a red dot sight can definitely extend effective range and boost speed of target acquisition under pressing conditions.

Micro Red Dot sights have found their way onto most of my firearms; rifle, shotgun and handgun. Unfortunately, my collection of micro red dot sights are Docter / Noblex mount standard and a compatible sight was not available before deadline. A Ruger photo illustrates the reflex sight configuration. Ruger always represents its products with exceptional photography… to the extent of humbling my own. As a minimum, the following red dot reflex sights are compatible with the Max-9:

Shield Holosun Swampfox Crimson Trace Sightmark HEX SIG Jpoint
SMS2 RMS RMS2 RMSw SMS SMSc RMSc 507K 407K Sentinel 1500 Series Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Wasp Romeo -0 MRD


The Ruger Max-9 is approved for use with all U.S. industry standard factory ammunition including hollow point with brass or aluminum cases. The Max-9 is also approved for +P ammunition with the suggestion of moderate use to avoid accelerated wear and tear. Within this span of approval there are over two hundred types of ammunition available from a collective of thirty two brands.

Pictured L-R: IMI Systems 115 grain JHP, Remington 115 grain JHP +P, Remington Ultimate Defense 124 grain BJHP, Remington UMC 124 grain FMJ. SAAMI standard ammunition has a MAP assignment of 35,000 psi, SAAMI +P has a MAP assignment of 38,500 psi.

The difference in performance between standard pressure and +P, with a common denominator of a 4″ industry test barrel and universal receiver, ranges from no gain, or lesser rating to 100 to 150 fps gain best case, within a bullet weight range of  115 grain to 147 grains. Mostly, bullet choice is more important than a standard or +P labeled difference.

Ruger does not approve the use of non-standard +P+ ammunition. +P+ ammunition is loaded to pressure levels determined at each producing companies discretion, which means +P+ is no standard at all. Firearm manufacturers design to SAAMI / CIP standard, making the design sufficiently robust to handle spec pressure with specified margin of safety. This assures not only safety for the shooter, but also a long service life and reliable function.

+P+ ammunition generally exceeds SAAMI / CIP maximum pressure specifications, as well as firearm manufacturers design specifications, by an amount known only to the ammunition producer. In doing so, the ammunition cuts into the intended safety margin, shortens firearm service life and reliability. I can think of no firearm manufacturer that approves this product for use with +P+ and for good reason.

Context, contours and optical illusions

My compact carry pistol is an early preset hammer Ruger LC380 with a 9mm conversion kit. It is the same size as the current Ruger EC9s. Shooting the Max-9, I appreciated what I thought were the benefits of its increased size, heft and longer sight radius. The Max-9 was easier to control, it was more hand filling, there was minimal muzzle rise, and it was easier to get sights on target. It came as quite a surprise that, while they are quite different pistols inside and out, they are all essentially the same size.

With 7 round mag in the LC9 and 10 round mag in the Max-9, ignoring the finger extension on the LC9, they are the same height. The Max-9’s slide in only 0.050″ wider, however, the grip frame below the slide is 0.015″ more narrow. The LC9 series slide is more contoured, where as the Max-9’s slide is more angular, both good approaches to weight and form reduction. As a result, the LC9 weighs only 1.2 oz. less than the Max-9.

Pictured below, the 10 and 12 round nickel-Teflon coated magazines included with the Max-9. The 12 round mag provides grip pinky support, as does the 10 round magazine with the finger extension follower in place. The included flat follower can be installed on the 10 round mag to minimize pistol form. All of these configurations are identical to the LC9’s height when similarly configured.

The LC9 has a narrow single stack magazine 3.670″ x 0.477″ that holds 7 rounds. The Max-9 has staggered round magazines that hold either 10 or 12 round dependent upon magazine selection.They are the same length as the LC9 magazine, but 0.790″ wide. However, both the LC9 and Max-9 have the same grip width at the widest part of the back strap.

The difference is that the LC9’s backstrap width diminishes as it approaches the grip bottom and it tapers sharply from backstrap to frontstrap, 0.960″ to 0.800″. The Max-9 stays approximately the same, backstrap to front, at 0.960″. The Max-9 does not feel oversized, but rather it presents a form that is easier to grip, which gives the Max-9 an improved shooting personality.

I shoot the my LC9 enough to be proficient, but not with exceptional enthusiasm for extended range sessions. The Max-9 can be shot a great deal for proficiency training, as well as for recreational enjoyment, without hesitation.

Controls… a need to over-explain

The sights are a good combination. The face of the rear sight is matte black, which offers clear contrast to the green HiViz Tritium/fiber optic front sight. The Tritium light source provides 24/7 illumination, even in a darkened environment and the fiber optic element also gathers ambient light. The Tritium mount is closed at the front end so that its light is not visible from the front. Tritium decays over time, but 12 years is approximately half life, meaning useful illumination for that period of time.

The chamber ports permit a cursory loaded chamber check from top or side. Of course, an actual empty chamber check requires an open slide look into the chamber with the magazine removed. Yes, that is a giant extractor poking out of the slide behind the ejection port. No messing around with making sure empties get out of the way of a fresh round. The ejection port is open at the top to remove any restriction to ejecting brass or cartridge.

The subject model has a manual safety and, as an old 1911 guy, it is a feature I appreciate. This one pivots up at the front and can be thumbed on or off in a manner God and John Browning intended. For folks faced with multiple ninja attackers, who don’t have time to front pistol spin – back pistol spin, dive and roll, AND switch a safety off, there is a manual safety delete option labeled the Pro model. Yes, Ruger did an excellent job with the safety and accommodating customers whose training or environment require a safety or no manual safety.

Inner Sanctum

Disassembly is straight forward; pull the magazine, clear the pistol, push out the takedown pin, and move the slide forward and off the frame rails. The barrel and guide rod assembly lift out. The takedown pin is a light slip fit, so no tools are needed for removal. The pin is securely retained by the takedown pin cover when the pistol is in service.

The guide rod is a captive assembly; rod, small diameter round stock spring inside of a tubular sleeve, flat stock spring wrapped around the sleeve to form a progressive spring rate assembly. The hammer forged barrel is ramped, important in a 9mm, and cammed to control lock and unlock timing.


I did not measure slide resistance, but the Ruger Max-9 seems easier to rack than the LC9. Could just be the change in the aft serration pattern, straight line to chevron. Similar serrations have also been added to the front surface of the slide. Thumb reach to manual safety, mag and slide release and finger reach to trigger are all comfortable and about the same as a larger 9mm pistol.

The Ruger Max-9’s form makes for a comfortable, high grip. The grip provides solid support at the web and palm of the hand. An extended trigger finger aligns mid trigger. The balance and heft of the short barrel and a magazine full of ammo make for a steady sight picture.

Live fire

Brand Type Grains
IMI Systems JHP 115 1150 1114
Remington HTP +P JHP 115 1145 1084
Remington UMC FMJ 124 1100 983
Remington UD Compact JHP 124 1100 1016


The Ruger Max-9 was shot at 10 yards, using playing cards as targets and with the pistol’s metallic sights. All of the ammunition indicated put 5 shots inside of a 1.5″ x 2.5″ inner border from a two hands on a sandbag rest, and inside the 2.5″ x 3.5″ card from a two hand hold.

Where does a Ruger Max-9 fit in?

In comparison to the Ruger EC9, the Max-9 is just a much upgraded product with: 70% increase in capacity, premium sight system, optic accommodation, and improved handling and accuracy. Where budget constraints are the priority, the EC9 can certainly get the job done. For a bit more, the Max-9 can provide solid personal security and serve as a recreational shooter.

In comparison to the Springfield Armory Hellcat, I think the Hellcat tries too hard to carry large pistol features over to a short barrel firearm, with capacity seemingly the biggest feature.  Unfortunately, while 42 states permits high capacity magazines, eight states do not. Where the Max-9 offers a 10 round magazine for state compliance, the small Hellcat minimum magazine is 11 rounds. Where the Ruger high capacity magazine is 12 rounds, the Hellcat holds only 1 more round.

The Ruger has a 0.200″ longer barrel with the same overall length. The Springfield Armory Hellcat is made in Croatia, the Ruger Max-9 is made in the U.S.A. in Arizona. The Springfield Armory Hellcat has a $569 MSRP. The Ruger Max-9 has a $499 MSRP.

The SIG P365 compact offers a 0.2″ shorter barrel for a slightly shorter than the Ruger Max-9. SIG touts the 10 round standard capacity of the P365 as innovatively high… as compared to Ruger’s 12 round capacity.They have added an extended 12 round magazine as an after sale $49.99 option.

The SIG is not optic ready and it does not have a sight system comparable to the Tritium fiber optic system supplied with the Ruger. The SIG’s 10 round P365 MSRP is $699 + $49.99 for a 12 round magazine. The Ruger Max-9 has a $499 MSRP and it is come with both a 10 round and 12 round magazine.

Ruger put a lot of thought into the Max-9. Not only is this apparent in price, features and size, but also in regard to evolutionary improvement over Ruger’s own similar size pistols. The refined shooting personality alone is enough for me.

327 Federal Magnum Handload Data

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity, pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may be excessive in others. All…

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Ruger’s New Model Blackhawk Part 1 The tall cowboy - short horse dilemma

02/14/2021 Evolution is in our nature. Evolution is a part of nature and quite necessary. If not for evolution, as suggested by the illustration of modern horses (left) versus early horses (right), we would have tall cowboys and short horses, with boots dragging across the prairie. It is God’s way of adapting, adjusting and perfecting…

Real Guns is a membership supported publication. Membership offers access to: all current and archived articles, handload data, ballistic calculators, and the Real Guns Image Gallery. Membership is available for $29.95 for twelve months.

Please either Sign inorJoin Real Guns.