9mm micro-compact pistols have been front and center within the pistol world for quite some time now. During the midst of some of the biggest brand names releasing their own version of the 9mm micro compact to the industry, Ruger somewhat sneakily released the LCP MAX 380 pistol which took the super tiny LCP 380 semi-auto pistol with a standard magazine capacity of 6-rounds and bumped that number up to 10 rounds. James Reeves reviewed the LCP MAX 380 over on TFBTV during its initial release but we’ve yet to do that here on the blog side of things. Sometime shortly after the release of the LCP MAX 380, XS Sights came out with dedicated night sights for the pocket-sized 380 and they were gracious enough to send me a copy of their own LCP MAX 380 equipped with their DXT2 Big Dot sights. Today we’ll take a look at both the LCP MAX 380 as well as the XS Sights DXT2 Big Dot sight for it and see if this might be a sensible option for when you’re looking to be as discreet as possible.
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TFB Review: Ruger LCP MAX 380 Pistol with XS DXT2 Big Dot Sights
Much like its larger cousin the LCP MAX-9, the MAX 380 takes a traditionally single-stack sized 380 pistol and manages to convert it into a double-stack pistol capable of giving you an extra 4 rounds of capacity with a flush fit magazine. In stark contrast to many of the 9mm micro compact options on the market, this gives you true pocket carry capability without having to wear parachute pants to conceal properly.
The LCP MAX 380 typically comes with a rear drift-adjustable U-notch style sight paired with a single tritium dot front sight. My LCP MAX 380 loaned to me by XS Sights of course came with their XS DXT2 Big Dot sight pair which features a large proprietary photoluminescent glow dot that absorbs ambient light during the day to create results similar to a green or red dot sight in terms of visibility. At night, the glowing dot uses a tritium insert in both the rear and front sights to give you a simple sight picture that lends itself well to rapid target acquisition but does sacrifice a little bit on the precision side of things when compared to traditional notch and post sights.
Going back to the pistol itself, the MAX 380 comes standard with one 10-round magazine, a pocket holster, and a magazine loader. The gun weighs only 10 ounces and can typically be found for an average street price of around $450.
The LCP MAX 380 pistol is by all accounts virtually the same as its standard capacity LCP II variant. To that end, I’m happy to report that I encountered no malfunctions of any kind during my testing using a combination of hollow points from Federal, some ball ammunition from Ammo Inc, and of course some random .380 ACP I had leftover that has probably sat on the shelf for almost a decade.
The tiny 380 pistol features some great improvements to the general design of the LCP series by including small raised cocking ears at the rear of the slide which is great for sweaty hands or those with weaker grip strength. The slide lock is a bit difficult to use as a thumb-activated slide release, so I found myself simply slingshotting the slide during reloads – this is largely due to the size of the pistol, and your mileage may vary based on your style of training and the size of your hands.
While the MAX 380 isn’t quite a double action or quite a striker-fired design, the trigger isn’t all that bad and I was pleased to find that I could stay on target fairly easily with its roughly 4-lb trigger pull. You definitely won’t be doing any precise target shooting with it but at typical self-defense distances (10-yards) it won’t work against you. However, I did notice that when using a first-crease-of-finger trigger pull as I’m accustomed to for pistols of this side, I’d occasionally get the side of my trigger finger pinched in between the trigger and the small gap that exists where the trigger and frame meet. A minor annoyance but a painful one.
I found the DXT2 Big Dot sights to be a great asset to have when firing from the draw. In contrast to having to line up essentially 3 planes for an accurate shot, the XS Sights DXT2 Big Dot sight pair only requires that you line up the rear notch with the big dot up front. This makes it much easier to get off that first shot in a timely manner without sacrificing too much in the accuracy department at close range. Suffice it to say I think the DXT2 Big Dot sights might be a great alternative to those who want something closer in performance to a red dot sight without all the added weight, expense, and bulk.
I didn’t find the included pocket holster to be all that great to use as it sticks to the gun rather than your pocket when attempting to rapidly draw from the pocket. My recommendation would be to carry the LCP MAX 380 either in a belly band or a DeSantis Gunhide Nemesis pocket holster which actually does not move out of your pocket when you go to draw the pistol.
Although I will 100% admit I personally do not carry .380 ACP firearms, I think I am now at least tolerant of the idea for when concealability is paramount and your options in terms of clothing or concealment are limited. Combined with good ammunition, and the XS Sights DXT2 Big Dot sights that give you a quick and easy sight picture in a broad array of lighting settings, you have all the makings for a very practical pocket pistol. I’d certainly recommend both for someone who is looking for a dedicated pocket-sized pistol, or someone who has weaker hand strength or is recoil sensitive and needs something that is easy to rack, handle, and control while firing.
As always we’d like to hear your thoughts on the Ruger LCP MAX 380. Now that the pistol has had time to get into the hands of anyone who wanted one after launch, I’m confident a couple of you out there have had your own experiences with the pistol. Please share your thoughts with us down in the comments below!
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