Ruger Offers a Retro Vibe with Its New Four-Inch MAX-9 3507 By:



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New to the Ruger MAX-9 micro compact 9mm line this year is the four-inch barrel, optics ready, Model 3507. At first sight, its thinness, long slide and comparatively short grip hit me with a retro vibe. It is reminiscent of a 21st-century update of America’s first concealed carry autoloader—the immensely popular Colt Pocket Hammerless. Over 700,000 of these pistols were made between 1903 and 1945.

The Ruger MAX-9 3507 by Comparison

Comparing the two pistols, the new Model 3507 is essentially the same length at 6.8 inches long. However, it is actually shorter by more than a half inch (4.52 inches tall) and thinner by about a quarter inch (1.05 inches) than the classic pocket Colt. Thus, making it easier to conceal.

The challenge in concealing a handgun is not so much the length of the barrel as it is the length of the grip and overall thickness of the gun. I doubt most folks will find it any harder to conceal the 4-inch model than the standard 3.2-inch barrel MAX-9. Unless you’re carrying it in a horizontal shoulder holster or have a small body.

A gain in velocity isn’t the main advantage of adding an extra inch to a micro compact 9mm barrel. For example, Hornady Critical Defense 115 grain FTX JHP showed an increase of only 89 feet-per-second between a 3.2 and 4-inch barreled MAX-9.

Nor should one assume that adding an extra inch of rifling will make the gun inherently and noticeably more accurate. It might be more accurate with some loads and less with others. And whatever differences there are may not be significant in a close-range, defensive shooting encounter.

The main benefit the MAX-9 gets from being an inch longer goes to shooters who rely on iron sights. Its sight radius is an inch longer. All other things being equal, a longer sight radius helps you shoot more accurately.

Red Dot Ready Micro Compacts

Red dot reflex sights for pistols have exploded in popularity in the last several years. It’s now common for handgun slides to come cut for one optic footprint or another. Some come from the factory equipped with red dots.

However, most handguns are still aimed the old-fashioned way. Many still have a desire for compact concealed carry autoloaders that can shoot more accurately with iron sights. For this reason, the MAX-9 and Glock G49 suggest that manufacturers have perceived and responded to this.

I’ll be watching to see if other gun makers follow suit.

The MAX-9 In Hand

Ruger’s MAX-9 series of striker-fired polymer frame micro compacts are very thin, only exceeding 0.95 inches across the controls. The slide lock release and manual safety are purposely small and positioned on the left side of the gun. The magazine release is steel, with a well-grooved button face for positive engagement. It can be installed on either side of the grip.

The slide is cut for J-Point and Shield pattern micro red-dot sights and comes with a steel cover plate nicely marked with the Ruger eagle logo. Correspondingly, the factory sights are steel and dovetailed to the slide, so windage corrections must be made by drifting them.

The tall rear sight (0.25 inches) has a 90-degree vertical face, suitable for racking the slide one-handed in an emergency. The front sight post is lower profile and contoured to reduce the possibility of snagging. Its outstanding feature is a high-visibility white-ringed green dot, illuminated day or night with a fiber optic rod backed by a vial of luminous Tritium.

That’s not what I’d expect on a pistol selling for $350. I bet that sight cost a bundle.

A Pistol Built for Concealed Carry

The build quality of my test pistol looked quite good. The front of the tilting barrel locked up tight in the slide when it was in battery. There is very little wiggle where the chamber hood mates with the breech face.

The MAX-9 uses a one-piece aluminum chassis to support the barrel and guide the slide rather than separate front and rear slide guides pinned into the polymer frame. The aluminum is anodized to resist wear from the friction with the steel slide.

This one-piece design simplifies manufacturing and guides the slide at least as well as a comparably long two-part design, without the potential for misalignment. There was quite a bit of side-to-side wiggle room (0.016 inches) between the slide and the chassis rails. Obviously, this is not intended to be a target pistol.

Another interesting manufacturing simplification is the method by which the MAX-9 slide assembly is attached to the frame. Conspicuously missing from this pistol is any conventional means of takedown. There’s no familiar rotating lever or double-sided grasping catch spanning the frame.

Instead of these complex parts, the MAX-9 has a little plastic gate on the left side that snaps down under fingernail pressure to reveal the head of a round pin. Line up the half-circle cut-out on the bottom of the slide with the head of the pin. Then, cup your hand over it, slap the right side of the frame, and out it comes. I didn’t even need a punch.

The pin anchors the slide assembly to the frame and acts as a camming surface to unlock the barrel during recoil. This is minimalist engineering genius. But it is bound to cause problems for users who will surely lose the pin. Ruger should consider throwing in a few replacements.

Shooting the Ruger MAX-9 3507

Shooting the MAX-9 proved to be a little more challenging than I expected, thanks to the thin rectangular grip. It’s thinner than the average guy’s wallet, and basically shaped like a furring strip. The hundred grit sandpaper-like stippling helped. But micro-compacts don’t offer much real estate for my medium-sized man hands to get a solid grip.

It was worse with the flush-fit 10-round magazine but slightly better when I replaced the flush floorplate with the pinky rest floorplate. Likewise, it was almost okay with the extended 12-round magazine inserted.

For me, the best compromise for concealability and control would be the 10-round magazine with the pinky rest. Thus equipped, the pistol still fits easily in my front pants pocket. People with small hands should be good with any floorplate/magazine combination.

Despite being excessively long, my test gun had one of the nicest rolling trigger pulls I’ve felt on a striker-fired pistol. Overall travel measured about 0.58 inches. After depressing the safety shoe, there’s 0.34 inches of free travel to take up before you come to a wall.

It takes 5.5-6 pounds of pull to move the trigger through the next 0.25 inches to a snappy break. This is followed by no more than 0.10 inches of overtravel, which I could measure but did not feel. The trigger’s second stage has what might be best described as a revolver-like quality to it—a nice revolver.

Performance of the MAX-9

I did some standing, two-hand-hold, shooting at seven yards, and then accuracy testing from the bench at 25 yards shooting. In all cases, I shot five-shot strings.

Functionally, the MAX-9 was perfect. I had no malfunctions of any kind. The average of all the groups I shot standing—all ammo types combined—was 2 inches center to center.

At 25 yards from the benchrest, the most accurate load tested was Federal Premium Personal Defense 135-grain Hydra-Shok Deep JHP. It produced average groups of 3.84 inches, which I consider very good for this type of pistol. However, I couldn’t approach that level of accuracy with any of the other three loads tested.

Winchester (white box) 115 JHP averaged 5.02-inch groups. Hornady Critical Defense 115 grain FTX JHP averaged 5.09 inches. Finally, Black Hills 115 grain FMJ averaged 5.39 inches.

Parting Shots

Had I been able to continue testing, I would have explored heavier bullet loads. I could discern no cause for the lackluster performance of the 115-grain loads.

Be that as it may, this MAX-9 Model 3507 shot well with at least one heavy-hitting defensive load. That, along with its feature set and low price point, makes it worth looking at if you are bound to iron sites by preference or budget.

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Ruger MAX-9 Model 3507 Specs

Capacity10 round standard and 12 extended base stainless steel magazine provided
Frameglass reinforced nylon with aluminum chassis pinned inside
Slidesteel, 0.95 inches thick, tapered at muzzle for easier holstering
Barrel4 inches, 6 groove, 1:10 RH twist
Trigger20.9 ounces w/ empty 10-round magazine
Sightssteel, windage adjustable, tritium illuminated, fiber optic enhanced rectangular post front and rectangular notch rear right with border outline. J-Point & Shield pattern optics cut
Weight20.9 ounces w/ empty 10 round magazine
Overall Length6.80 inches
Height4.52 inches flush fit w/ 10 round magazine, 5.97 inches with pinky extension floorplate or 12 round magazine
Width0.95 inches across grip, 1.05 inches at widest point across controls.
Accessoriespinky rest magazine floorplate
MSRP$439 but advertised online at $348


Brand         Bullet Weight & TypeVelocityBest Group
Federal Premium Personal Defense135 Hydra Shok Deep JHP1,0023.79
Hornady Critical Defense115 FTX JHP  1,091 3.81
Winchester (white box)115 JHP1,089  4.20
The Ruger MAX-9 3507 is easy to take down.
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