Over the past weeks, I’ve been working with the “Class of 2021” – new guns built to fit the envelope originated with the Kel-Tec P-11 and popularized by the SIG SAUER P365; these guns include the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP, the Taurus GX4, the S&W Shield Plus and – the topic of this feature – the Ruger MAX-9, fitted up with the CTS-1550 micro red dot sight by Crimson Trace.
We looked at the Ruger MAX-9 moderate-capacity micro-9 here and here. A personable little gun, it has the bark of short barrel 9x19mm pistols with little bite. Remarkable for the price point, it’s optics ready.
While the close-range benchmarks are the more likely niche for guns of this size, the question is whether or not one can rely on them to pass a more-or-less traditional police-type qualification course that features a percentage of rounds fired at fifteen and twenty-five yards. That’s what I sought to find out for the Ruger.
Don’t most guns “cut it” at 25 yards? As a rule, it’s expected. There are some guns that just don’t seem to work well for that level of distance and accuracy. With some of the guns tried over the years, it wasn’t an issue of trigger, ergonomics, or ammo – and with one, we were stymied about whether it was the barrel, barrel fit, dwell time in battery before unlocking or some other inconsistency. I’m not sure that was ever sorted out.
That was the test to which I’d put the MAX-9, while revisiting some of the closer and quicker aspects using the gun with the Crimson Trace optic.
The ammunition was provided by Fiocchi, their 9AP load, 115gr FMJ at a nominal 1200 fps – in a new box marked “Training Dynamics” “9mm Luger FMJ.”
On the street, 'gunpoint' tends to be 'aggravated assault.' Better to keep the muzzle off-body until a decision to fire is made. It takes little time to get the hit - seen below - from guard.
I started the course with 6 rounds fired at 25 yards on an IALEFI-Q target. This started with one pair from the holster, followed by two strings of two rounds from ‘guard,’ a legit low ready. Examining the target, I marked one hit just outside the ‘x’ ring, with another just below both rings. The rest were in the center – not bad.
From 15 yards, I shot pairs from guard and singles from guard. I followed that up with singles to the “softball” in the “head.” All were inside – and that was comforting.
The distance well sorted out, I worked closer, passing up the ‘normal’ seven yards and moving in for a bit of speed up close. At 5 yards, I worked pairs and ‘failures to stop.’ One of those 'high value' shots missed the 'softball.' From 3 yards, I fired four singles to head. The starting position was handgun holstered, hand on the gun in a firing grip. The object was to make the hit in a second or less.
From 3 yards, in a legitimate low ready, I shot pairs, each in less than one second.
There were no stoppages, and I wasn’t ‘rattled’ by the little 9mm. As to positions or stances, I shot the ‘Stressfire point’ index (looking over the gun), isosceles, Weaver and Chapman.
From the closest range, I shot the ‘FDLE Stage 2’ -- dedicated pairs -- mostly just looking through the ‘window’ of the CTS-1550. All the hits were inside.
The support gear included the Galco Tac Slide holster and Pitbull Tactical Universal Mag Carrier, Gen 2. Both items worked well to accomplish the tasks. The “universal magazine carrier” really seems to be; I’ve used it with legacy Shield magazines, Gen5 GLOCK 23 magazines, as well as magazines from guns in the Class of 2021.
In a previous outing with the Ruger MAX-9, I noted - “This is where a failure to hit the trigger-blade safety caused problems. I’d press off the safety, pull on a dead trigger, then quickly try to get the trigger moving, moving the gun at ignition.” For my hand and my engagement with the trigger, I found that the crease of the distal joint was over the trigger-blocking blade. That was during the first range trip – but not since.
I’ve not had that problem since the first range trip and this outing was no exception. I’d forgotten about that tendency of mine until rereading the previous notes to prepare this report. In the pair of range outings since the first, it’s been trouble-free.
I guess I fixed myself …
This gun is remarkable. I hope to do more work with it.
-- Rich Grassi