Optic Included: Ruger MAX-9 with ReadyDot By:

Optic mounted and 12+1 capacity: Ruger’s MAX-9 mated with Ruger’s own red dot optic is a solid self-defense choice.

With so many new and updated handguns on the market, a first-rate pistol can receive a media blurb or two and then disappear from the larger discussion. One such pistol? The Ruger MAX-9, Model# 3515, sold with a Ruger® ReadyDot™ Micro Reflex Sight already mounted.

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The original MAX-9 was introduced a few years ago and became a popular carry choice. This new model launched in April 2023, and for whatever reason didn’t make much of an impact in the concealed carry and self-defense communities. Which is unfortunate.  

Table of contents

  • Carry Sized and Ready
  • Big Red
  • Functional vs. Precise
  • Range Ammo For The MAX-9
  • Getting Defensive With The MAX-9
  • Solid Features
  • SPECS: Ruger MAX-9 w/ReadyDot

Recently, I ran this version of the MAX-9 and was impressed with the accuracy and functionality of this compact 9MM semi-automatic. The ReadyDot also performed very well. Anyone in search of a concealed carry or home defense pistol who wants to red dot already in place should take a long look at this MAX-9.

The MAX-9 pistol I was sent for evaluation came with two magazines, which is standard, a 10+1 and a  12+1 steel magazine. Both load easily by hand.   

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The MAX-9 also features a reversable mag release, slide serrations and a manual safety. 

The MAX-9 sported a 3.2-inch alloy steel barrel and came it at just six-inches in overall length. Weight without a magazine was just 18 ounces. All in all, a handy pistol. Not super small, it possessed ample grips and a nice balance, but in a size and weight that very much suggested a comfortable concealed carry option.

The slide was made of through-hardened alloy steel, with a black oxide finish. The grip and frame were also black and made from glass-filled nylon. The grips, front strap, and back strap had a sandpaper-like finish that held my hand nicely. The magazine release was reversible for lefties.

The pistol comes with both a 10-round (l) and a 12 round (r ) Teflon coated steel mag.

Also, a manual safety is standard with the pistol and was located on the left side and to the rear of the slide.

In addition to the Ruger ReadyDot, the MAX-9 comes equipped with a tritium front sight and a drift adjustable rear sight. I could easily co-witness these sights through the optic, too.

The sandpaper-like grips engaged McCombie’s hand nicely.

This was my first experience with the Ruger ReadyDot, and while it took me a few magazines’ worth of ammunition to get used to it, the ReadyDot worked very well. The 1X reflex sight is fixed in both elevation and windage and the large dot, 15 MOA, facilitated fast target acquisition.

The Ruger ReadyDot requires no battery, elevation, and windage are fixed and the red dot itself pops big at 15 MOA.

I used the ReadyDot throughout my shooting. Though I could co-witness the open sights, I figured anyone buying this specific model would be doing so to have the red dot. So, my evaluation focused on the optic, not the sights.   

Looking at the optic from the top, the Ready Dot appeared to have a battery located between the lens and the mounting screws. But it didn’t! That circular disk was actually a light-gathering fiber optic unit which automatically adjusted the illumination level of the red dot to current lighting conditions.

The ReadyDot can also be purchased separately from Ruger and retailers and fits onto the RMSc footprint. Waterproof and shock resistant, it sells for under $100. 

However, the ReadyDot is not what I consider a precision red dot. The dot itself is too large for that.

A battery? Nope! Fiber optic disk which illuminates the red dot optic.

Also, the fixed nature of the unit aligns the dot with the front sight and that creates a potential issue. Depending on the 9MM ammunition used, actual point of impact can vary an inch or two from ammo to ammo. One could argue that an inch or two isn’t an issue at close range, self-defense distances. And the MAX-9 with ReadyDot is made for closer-range self-defense.

If this was my carry gun, I’d try several brands of self-defense ammunition to find which ones were the most accurate given the reflex sight, and then run one of those brands in my pistol. In my limited time with the pistol, my ammo choice pointed to the Terminal Shock 9MM made by Dynamic Research Technologies or DRT.  

Range Day with the MAX-9.

I began my shooting at my outdoor range from a rest at 12 yards, using Browning 9MM Training & Practice rounds launching a 115-grain full-metal jacket (FMJ), round nosed bullet.

Once I figured out the dot placement and the point of impact (which in this case was about an inch to the right of the bullseye), I was able to shoot some good five-shot groups. My best came in at 1.2 inches, while a four-shot, end of the mag cluster came in at .80 inches.

Browning 9MM range ammo did well shooting from 12 yards and a rest.

I switched to Remington UMC range 9MM with a 124-grain round-nosed, FMJ load. These I shot offhand at seven yards. My best group with five shots came in right at 1.0-inches, while I also placed two groups at 1.3-inches.

Offhand at seven yards, Remington UMC pegged this 1.0” group.

For my self-defense load testing, I started with Hornady Critical Defense and the 115-grain FXT bullet designed with a red poly tip. My shooting here was at five yards offhand. The best five shot groups were 1.1-, 1.3- and 1.5-inches.

Next up was the afore-mentioned DRT round, which fired an 85-grain frangible hollow point at approximately 1,300 feet per second. This round actually pegged slightly low using ReadyDot, but once I adjusted for that? Dead on.

DRT’s Terminal Shock self-defense ammo shot this SUB-1.0” group at five yards, offhand.

Top group with the DRT came in at a very nice .60-inches, with two groups at 1.0-inches.

Round-nosed, hollow-point, or poly-tipped Hornady, all ammunition cycled flawlessly though the MAX-9.

The striker-fired trigger had an average trigger pull of 2 pounds, 12 ounces. There was about one-third of an inch of take-up before the trigger came up against the striker assembly, and from there, the pull was just a bit stiff but broke cleanly.

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The manual safety engaged easily and positively with an upward push of my shooting thumb and snapped back into place just as effortlessly. The trigger also featured a bladed safety.

The oversized trigger guard has a nice touch; the striker-fired trigger features a bladed safety.

The oversized trigger guard was a help, providing ample room for gloved fingers and a very solid anchor for the side of my non-shooting hand’s index finger.

The MAX-9 with ReadyDot is a nifty little pistol, well-suited for self and home defense. The ergonomics of the optic also work well for concealed carry. I would carry this pistol daily and feel secure and ready.

Model#: 3515

Caliber: 9MM

Action: Semi-Auto

Capacity: 12+1

Barrel: 3.2”, 1:10 RH Twist

Barrel Material: Alloy Steel, Black Oxide Finish

Slide: Through-Hardened Alloy Steel, Black Oxide Finish

Frame/Grip: Glass-Filled Nylon, Black

Trigger: Striker-Fired

Safety: Manual Lever, Bladed Trigger

Optic: Ruger ReadyDot Reflex, Factory Mounted

Open Sights: Front Tritium Fiber Optic, Rear Drift Adj.

Overall Length: 6”

Width: 1.1”

Height: 5.2” *

Weight: 18 Oz. Unloaded

Magazines: Two, Steel, 10 and 12 Rounds

MSRP: $489.00


*Measured from top of optic to bottom of 10-Round Magazine

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