Battle of the 10-Round 9mms — Glock 43X vs. Ruger Max-9

Ruger MAx-9 left, Glock 43X, right

I purchased a Glock 43X from my local gun store in the morning. That afternoon, a test & evaluation loaner Ruger Max-9 showed up. Two small-size, 10-round, striker-fired pistols from major manufacturers had come into my possession on the same day. As I handled them, I couldn’t help but notice how alike they were in purpose but how different they were in form and function. This was going to be an interesting evaluation.

I packed a small range bag with an assortment of range and defensive ammo and some PR-BE6 Law Enforcement targets, the kind that have six 6-inch circles on each sheet. I put a little lubrication on the guns and set out to have some fun. Once in my lane at my favorite indoor range, I positioned a target at seven yards and determined the right three circles would be for the Glock and the left three circles would be for the Ruger. Wasn’t I in tall cotton getting to shoot two fine-made handguns just for fun, to see how well they did, and how well I did them?

Ruger Max-9, left and Ruger Security 9, right
The Ruger Max-9 (left) is similar in size to the Ruger Security 9C (right) and feels much the same while shooting.

Range Performance

As I began shooting, the first thing I observed was how both triggers felt very similar. They were not the world’s greatest triggers but certainly not slouches either. Later, when I checked them on my Lyman gauge, the Glock came in very close to the 5.5 pounds that Glock advertises. The Ruger measured just a hair over 6 pounds.

There was not enough difference between them for my “highly-calibrated” trigger finger to notice. The sights, though different, worked well on both guns. I did notice that both guns were optics-ready, but I was shooting them out of the box with the factory iron sights. The Max-9 has a large green dot on the front sight and a squared-off black notch for the back sight. The Glock has the Glock’s standard U-shape white outline on the back sight and white dot up front.

The first two or three rounds from each gun went into the center part of the target, and the next few rounds scattered around the outer edges of the 6-inch circle. I loaded and shot 10 rounds at a time, alternating guns. I kept hoping for a target or two in which all the rounds impacted in the center of the target, but it took me a while to get there. Still, every trigger pull would have resulted in a stopped aggressor. Small guns aren’t necessarily tack drivers, but both guns could put their rounds where they count.

These guns didn’t feel like small guns when I was shooting them, and they didn’t beat me up like some small guns. When examining them closely, I figured out why and I’ll show you in the pictures and describe it as we go through the descriptions. Let’s start with the Glock. I’m not a big Glock fan but only because I don’t follow the crowd. There’s no question that the crowd that loves Glocks, and they are making a good choice in handguns.

Glock 43X

Glocks are well-made and a pleasure to shoot. As a gun guy, it doesn’t make sense for me not to have some nice Glocks in my collection. I bought this one because the gun store owner had given it an attractive DuraCoat Military/LE Camo finish. The G43X is one of those micro-nines that started with the frame of a single-stack nine but was modified slightly to handle a larger magazine with more rounds. The gun ships with two 10-round magazines.

Glock 43X left and Glock 19, right
The reason the G43X feels so comfortable and doesn’t beat the shooter up with recoil is because the action components of the G43X (left) are so close in size to the action components of the G19 (right) that it’s difficult to feel any difference while shooting.

Before adding the G43X, I owned two Glocks — a G19 and the .22 LR G44. The reason the G43X feels so comfortable and doesn’t beat me up with recoil is because the heart of the gun is so close to the heart of my G19 that it’s difficult to feel any difference. What do I mean by “heart of the gun”? It’s the grip and trigger reach. The G43X feels very much like my G19.

The grip circumference is similar, the trigger reach is almost the same, and the sights are identical. The parts of the G19 that are larger extend beyond where I hold either gun. From the back of the grip, where the web of your hand fits to the front of the trigger when it’s cocked is 2.76 inches on both guns. The G19 grip width is 1.18 inches while the grip width on the G43X is 1.05 inches. The grip width — fore to aft — on the G19 is 1.98 inches. The same measurement on the G43X is 1.86 inches. These are such small differences that your hand isn’t going to make a distinction — especially since the grip angle and trigger guard specs are the same for both guns.

Slide serrations on the G43X are vertical — five in the back and three in front. The trigger guard is raised in the back where it joins the grip. That’s to facilitate the high grip we all want. The front strap is mildly checkered as is the back strap. There’s a small ledge on the grip where your thumb rests. My medium-sized hands fit the grip nicely.

Field stripped Glock 43X
The Glock G43X takedown procedure is the same as any other Glock and requires pulling the trigger. Please be careful to ensure your gun is unloaded before beginning the takedown procedure.

Disassembly for cleaning the Glock G43X is standard Glock and involves pulling the trigger. This is not an issue if you practice good gun safety by ensuring the gun is unloaded and no ammunition is in the cleaning location. As on all Glocks, you pull the slide back slightly, then hold down the two takedown levers that are on the frame just ahead of the trigger. Once they’re both down, release the slide, pull the trigger and the slide will come off the front of the frame. Compress the recoil spring and lift it out, and then lift the barrel out.

Ruger Max-9

The Ruger Max-9 and Glock 43X are the same height and thickness. Serrations on the Max-9 are angled — six in the back and three in the front. The grip offers purchase through a sandpaper-like texture all around. The Max-9 also ships with two 10-round magazines. One of them is extended, and I like that extension as it gives me a bit more purchase.

The Ruger in my existing collection that’s closest to the Max-9 is the Security 9 Compact. The reach to trigger on the Max-9 and the Security 9C are the same at 2.81 inches. The grip thickness is a little more at 1.86 inches compared to 1.71 inches on the Max-9. The length, angle, and texturing on both grip frames are identical. Either I’m getting used to shooting smaller guns, or these two offer a better grip than some of the other small guns I’ve shot.

Field stripped Ruger Max-9 semi-automatic 9mm handgun
Takedown for the Ruger Max-9 involves removing a small pin that goes through the frame, then pulling the trigger before removing the slide. Please be careful to ensure your gun is unloaded before beginning the takedown procedure.

The slide on the Max-9 is rounded more than the one on the G43X but very similar to the Security 9C. The slide serrations are similar between the two Rugers. In short, they feel the same in my hands. You may find a difference there, but I’ll stick with being pleased at how comfortable the Max-9 is for me to shoot because of its similarity to other, larger guns in my inventory. The Glock is a Glock. If you’re comfortable with any Glock, especially something like the G26, I predict you’ll shoot the G43X comfortably.

Ruger has a slightly different system for disassembling the Max-9 for cleaning. After a very slight retraction of the slide there is a small pin that must be pushed through from the right side of the frame to the left using a small punch or even a paper clip. Once the pin is removed, and the trigger has been pulled, the slide comes off the front of the frame.

Concealed Carry

Several years ago, I found a Compact Phalanx Defense Systems belt holster that has been lingering around in my holster drawer. Something compelled me to get it out and try it with the G43X and Max-9. It’s a comfortable and secure fit for either gun. I practiced some draw drills from the holster, and I’m pleased with the results. I can keep it on my belt and rotate between the G43X and Max-9 as desired. With either gun, I feel comfortably armed.

It seems we’re in an era of small guns because of the number of people who are electing to carry a pistol on their person every day. I used to preach that you didn’t need a small gun to carry concealed, but I’ve aged 20-something years during the time I’ve been coaching and qualifying people for the concealed carry license in Texas. Now, we don’t even need a license, though one is still available.

Ruger Max-9 and Glock 43X semi-automatic 9mm handguns on yellow bullseye targets showing the performance of each
These targets are examples of some of the best ones the author shot at 7 yards. Both guns are reasonably accurate at typical defensive ranges, but frequent practice is recommended.

I’ve joined the ranks of those who prefer to carry a smaller gun, primarily because there are so many such guns to choose from. With the Ruger Max-9 and the Glock 43X you have two more excellent choices. You’re probably wondering which one I like the best. My answer: Please don’t make me choose!

Plenty of ammo for a self-defense encounter and easy concealability. What’s not to like about the Ruger Max-9 and Glock 43X? About the only question left to answer is one would you would choose? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Ruger Max-9 in a Compact Phalanx Defense Systems Belt Holster
  • Glock 43X in a Compact Phalanx Defense Systems Belt Holster
  • Glock 43X left and Glock 19, right
  • Field stripped Ruger Max-9 semi-automatic 9mm handgun
  • Field stripped Glock 43X
  • Ruger MAx-9 left, Glock 43X, right
  • Ruger Max-9 and Glock 43X semi-automatic 9mm handguns on yellow bullseye targets showing the performance of each
  • Ruger Max-9, left and Ruger Security 9, right

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (6)

  1. The 43X is my carry (I’m LTC) in the summer (live in central Texas – we have 2 seasons: summer and the pause time between summers). I usually carry bigger calibers in that summer pause time. The 43X is extremely dependable and, it’s very accurate at the range (7yds+). Easy to clean & maintain. I use 3 Shield Arms 15 round mags that I rotate every time I carry & I changed the mag release to metal. So, my total comfortable carry is a charged 43X, one mag inserted and 2 extra…total of 46 rounds (Hornaday JHP). You can’t have too much ammo while “out there” in present day. It’s the same as we always maintained while flying fighters, “you can’t have too much fuel unless you’re on fire”.

  2. The Ruger Max 9 is capable of 13 rounds, 12 in the magazine + 1 round in the chamber. I had the mistake of just putting in 10 rounds because of the marker but 2 more can be added. Watched you tube reviews and noted the difference bw the 2 magazines that came with the gun. Great pocket self defence weapon.

  3. I purchased a 43x for my wife a year ago, she absolutely loves it! That and she wanted a lighter carry (she did carry a G23) due to shoulder problems. OK, and it was the only gun my “Glock Girl” ever said was “pretty” (the frame has a teal finish with a black paisley engraving, she liked it, must admit, it does look good).
    After several hundred rounds though the G43x, must admit it had me looking at the G48. And settling for the lighter recoil of a 124gr 9mm, she really likes the way it shoots.
    Also, Shield Arms makes a metal 15 round magazine for the 43x, with a metal replacement mag release we also purchased later (works great). First time I looked at the standard mag, the first thing I thought was why 10 and a single stack, the mag looks to be capable of an hybrid single/double stack, and Shield answered that question (be sure to also get the metal mag release as the steel magazine will wear out the Glock factory plastic release.

  4. I’ve learned something since passing this article along that I think you would all benefit in knowing. The magazines that ship with the Ruger Max 9, though labeled 10-rounds and showing a 10-round viewing hole as the highest number actually hold 12 rounds. Imagine my surprise when I ordered a 12-round magazine from Ruger and when I got it I realized it was identical to the ones I already had. I thought Ruger had ripped me off until I started loading cartridges. All three of the magazines, the two that shipped with the gun and the new one, will hold 12 rounds.

  5. I completely agree that the dimensional difference between the 43X and the 19 makes it much easier to carry, while retaining its shootability. The elongated grip of the 43X does sacrifice some concealability when compared to other popular options like the SIG P365, Ruger Max-9, and Springfield Hellcat, but the pistol is a bit more controllable while firing. Great article.

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