Ruger MAX-9 Pistol: Optics Ready Concealed Carry

The Ruger MAX-9 was one of the new guns of 2021. Designed for both EDC and concealed carry (which, let’s face it, should mostly be synonymous), the newest striker-fired Ruger 9 is optics-ready. 

Read on for some details, updates, and news of accessory options.

Ruger MAX 9 concealed carry handgun
The latest (as of this writing) Ruger 9 concealed carry gun has a capacity of 12 +1.

Ruger 9: MAX-9 OK for EDC?

MAX-9 First Look

Kat Ainsworth, 31 MAR 21

In the world of self-defense, we’re always watching for the perfect answer to concealed carry. For many gun owners, this comes down to capacity. For others, it’s all about being tiny and highly concealable in non-permissive environments. This means when something new hits the market everyone turns an interested yet critical eye to its design and specifications in an attempt to decide whether it’s good for them.

Here’s the thing about  EveryDay Carry (EDC) guns, though: there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all gun. What works ideally for your instructor or for your best range buddy may not work for you (what works for a gun writer might not work for you, either). There’s only one way to find out.

Check out the details of the newest concealed carry “Ruger 9”: the MAX-9.

Ruger Max 9 concealed carry gun
The Ruger Max 9 is the latest concealed carry gun from the manufacturing giant. (Photo: Ruger)


The Ruger Max 9 is a striker-fired micro pistol chambered in 9mm. Its frame is noticeably lighter-weight than the slide thanks to its being made from high-performance, glass-filled nylon. The slide is through-hardened alloy steel with a black oxide finish. Through-hardened means the steel was rapidly quenched to give it consistent hardness from its surface to its core, a process that gives it greater durability and wear-resistance. Slide serrations are located at both the forward and rearward portions of the slide.

Ruger Max 9 concealed carry gun grip texture similar to LCP2.
The Ruger Max 9 has grip texturing similar to that of the LCP2. (Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

Other features include tritium sights, an optic-ready design with a removable plate, and a capacity of either 12 +1 or 10 +1 depending on the model. The Max 9 has an overall length of 6.0 inches, a height of 4.52 inches, and an empty weight of 18.4 ounces. It’s available with or without an external thumb safety.

First Impressions

Out of the box, the gun first appears to be a simple model: small black pistol, 9mm, recognizable Ruger grip texture. Once you take a closer look you realize it comes standard with a tritium fiber front sight and a drift-adjustable, blacked-out rear sight which takes care of our usual desire to change sights on our carry guns. Then there’s the removable plate that makes it optic-ready, something we wish more manufacturers would offer on all handguns, but especially those intended for concealed carry.

Ruger Max 9 concealed carry gun tritium front sight
The Ruger Max 9 ships standard with a tritium front sight. (Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

This gun has promise.

The weight of the slide is evenly distributed so even though the frame is much lighter than the slide it should be reasonably balanced. Then there’s the fact a heavier slide will negate felt recoil, minimize muzzle rise, and create the opportunity for better accuracy.

The texturing on the grip, which is quite similar to the texturing on the LCP2, will certainly give shooters a firm grip even with sweaty hands. And if you do choose the model with the external thumb safety you’ll find the safety is easy to manipulate without adjusting your grip whether your fingers are long or short.

The Ruger Max 9 is small enough to conceal well while remaining larger enough for a greater number of shooters with varying hand sizes to run it effectively. This doesn’t mean it’s the perfect gun for you but simply that it’s worth trying out.

Ruger has a history of producing pistols that become popular for their reliability and usefulness and the Max 9 seems poised to join the trusted ranks of that firearms family. Time and rounds sent down-range will tell.  In the meantime, check out the specifications and images but be sure not to form an opinion without actually putting your hands on the gun for yourself. It has already been shipped to dealers, so go take a closer look. We think you’ll be glad you did.

Ruger MAX 9 concealed carry, stamp stating that gun can be fired without a magazine.
The gun can be fired without a magazine. (Photo: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

Ruger MAX 9 Specifications

  • Capacity: 12 +1 or 10 +1 models
  • Slide Material: Through-Hardened Alloy Steel
  • Slide Finish: Black Oxide
  • Slide Width: 0.95-inches
  • Safety: Standard Model comes with External Thumb Safety; Pro Model comes without External Thumb Safety
  • Grip Frame: High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
  • Feature: Optic-Ready
  • Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
  • Barrel Finish: Black Oxide
  • Barrel Length: 3.20-inches
  • Front Sight: Tritium Fiber Optic
  • Rear Sight: Blacked-Out, Drift-Adjustable
  • Magazines Included: One 12-round, one 10-round (with 12-round model)
  • Overall Length: 6.0-inches
  • Weight: 18.4 ounces, empty
  • Height: 4.52-inches
  • Grooves: 6
  • Twist: 1-in-10 RH
  • MSRP: $499.00 (at the time of this writing)

MAX-9: Ruger’s Optics Ready Pistol for Concealed Carry

Stephanie Kimmell, 16 MAR 2021

Recent developments in the concealed carry handgun market lean toward obtaining higher capacities while maintaining concealability. There’s also been a fairly sweeping movement to get red dot sights on them, so more and more manufacturers are releasing their own Optic-Ready models. Well, Sturm, Ruger & Co. just announced a new handgun that checks all the boxes. The new Ruger MAX-9 steps right up as a higher-capacity, compact, optics-ready handguns for concealed carry.

Here’s how Ruger describes it:

The MAX-9—a pistol with all the features of a full-sized handgun in a size that is comfortable for everyday carry. Chambered in 9mm Luger, the Ruger MAX-9 has an impressive 12+1 capacity. It measures just 6” long, has a slide width of less than 1”, weighs 18.4 ounces, and is equipped with a 3.2” barrel.

Ruger MAX-9 subcompact 9mm handgun. 10+1 and 12+1 capacity
On the left, MAX-9 model 3501 comes with a flush-fitting magazine and has a 10+1 capacity. To the right, model 3500 has an extended 12-round mag that offers more grip area and a 12+1 capacity.
Ruger MZAX-9 IWB concealed carry
This micro-sized pistol fits comfortably in an inside the waistband holster or pocket holster, or conveniently in a concealed carry purse.
Ruger MAX-9 tritium front sight.
The MAX-9 features a tritium fiber optic day/night front sight that adapts to a variety of light conditions and comes optic ready for direct mounting of co-witnessed JPoint and Shield-pattern micro red dot sights.

The 10-round magazines fit into a comfortably sized, medium-textured grip and 12-round magazines not only provide additional capacity, but also increase the surface area of the grip. Standard models are available with an ergonomic and intuitive thumb safety that operates similarly to those found on 1911-style pistols, and Pro models are available without the external manual safety lever. All models feature an integrated trigger safety and a loaded chamber viewport that provides visual indication of a cartridge in the chamber.

“The Ruger MAX-9 is a game changer,” said Ruger President and CEO Chris Killoy. “With industry-leading features at a highly competitive price, this American-made handgun will provide a versatile option for consumers looking for a superior offering in the popular micro-compact market.”

Ruger MAX-9 subcompact 9mm pistol
Like many Ruger pistols, this striker-fired pistol is built on a precision-machined, rigid aluminum fire control chassis and fitted with a durable, through-hardened steel slide and accurate hammer-forged barrel. The MAX-9 ships with two E-Nickel Teflon coated magazines: either one 12- and one 10-round, or two 10-round magazines.

MAX-9 Holsters

Three Comp-TAC holsters for the Ruger MAX-9

Stephanie Kimmell, 22 APR 2021

With the recent release of Ruger’s MAX-9, owners on the lookout for a compatible holster might want to take a look at these. Comp-Tac just added three new Ruger MAX-9 fits for the Sport-TAC, Infidel Max, and Warrior holsters. And yes, they’re optics-compatible. 

Ruger MAX-9 holsters from Comp-TAC
With these three holsters, you can choose from inside-the-waistband (IWB) wear, outside-the-waistband (OWB) wear, or a hybrid IWB holster with a foam backing and Kydex shell.

Comp-Tac general manager Gordon Carrell said, “As new weapons come out, Comp-Tac strives to expand their holster selection to match. The Ruger MAX-9 is the latest weapon released that is built to accommodate a micro red-dot sight. As we design and release new holsters, we make sure to accommodate the newest features. All the holsters for the MAX-9 come with optics compatibility. For concealed carry, range use, or even competition, we want our holsters to work with the most popular gear that is available.”

Here’s a look at the new holsters.


As described by the company, the Sport-TAC Holster is a hybrid, inside-the-waistband holster designed to comfortably carry a 4” handgun at the 4-5 o’clock position. The Sport-TAC features a 600D interlock padded backing that provides cushion and flexibility for extreme comfort, while the Kydex shell holds your handgun securely with adjustable retention.

MAX-9 Sport-Tac holster, front and back
For structure and comfort, the Sport-TAC combines low and high-density foam, molded with channels for ventilation. The Kydex shell minimizes the collapse of the holster after draw, for easier reholstering compared to all-leather or all-nylon IWB holsters. The holster is tuckable, as well as cant- and ride height-adjustable.

Infidel Max

The Infidel Max Holster is an all-Kydex IWB holster designed to be worn behind the hip at the 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock positions. With an easy-on, easy-off single clip, this holster is a favorite for users who want the ability to put on their gun or take it off as their environment changes.


MAX-9 holsters: Comp-Tac infidel Max, front and back.
With an all-Kydex body, Comp-Tac says the Infidel Max Holster is custom fit to each firearm and maintains its shape even when the pistol is un-holstered. Further, the all-Kydex body will not bend or stretch over time and is impervious to sweat and solvents. 

The Warrior

The Warrior Holster is an outside-the-waistband holster that was recently tested and recommended by the National Training Officers Association (NTOA). The all-Kydex, pancake design is excellent for concealed carry or general range use.

Ruger MAX-9 holsters: Comp-Tac Warrior
As Comp-Tac describes it, The Warrior Holster design offers a stealth footprint, outside the waistband carry that is perfect for outside the waistband (OWB) concealment. It’s open-ended and optics ready for threaded barrels and suppressor sights. The company describes it as easily accessible and designed for a smooth, fast draw, with a close-fitting footprint that can easily transition from concealed carry everyday wear to range work or competitive shooting. 
Stephanie Kimmell is the firstborn daughter of Missouri's Pecan King, worthy scion of a Vietnam veteran sailor turned mad engineer-orchardist-inventor-genius. With a BA in technical writing, she freelances as a writer and editor. A Zymurgist greatly interested in the decoction of fermented barley and hops, she is in many ways a modern amalgam of Esther Hobart Morris, Rebecca Boone, and Nellie Bly. She hunts, fishes, butchers, and cooks most anything. When not editing or writing, she makes soaps and salves, spins wool, and occasionally makes cheese from cows she milked herself. Kimmell is a driven epistemophilic who loves live music and all sorts of beer.

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