Ruger LCP Max Problems: What You Need to Know

Ruger LCP Max Problems

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According to a lot of buyers, the new Ruger LCP Max has some problems. Some of these problems are easy to fix for anyone, and some may need a gunsmith’s attention.

Some Ruger LCP Max problems are obvious. Some require investigation to find out what is wrong. All of the problems are fixable.

If you pay attention, you can pick up one of these .380s at a bargain price. With a little attention to detail, you will have an excellent concealed-carry gun.

Let’s dive right in.

Problems with the Ruger LCP Max

1. Cleaning

One of the biggest problems with the Ruger LCP Max also has the simplest solution, which is keeping the gun clean. A dirty autoloader will have all kinds of problems.

This problem and solution are applicable to every gun. Autos are more subject to fouling than most other guns because they have so many parts that have to work exactly right.

Some common dirt issues are:

  • Failure to eject (FOE)

FOE has a few causes. A buildup of lint, dirt or even carbon just from shooting. 

  • Ejector 
clean the ejector

If spent brass will not eject or get hung up, clean the ejector. It may not have enough room because of buildup. The spring may be so dirty it cannot push the ejector properly. 

This may be more than some gun owners want to tackle because of the very small parts. A gunsmith can do this cleaning quickly.

  • Rails

Dirty rails will keep the slide from going back far enough. Keeping the rails clean is normal maintenance and every gun owner should be able to do this. You need to clean the slide and rails after every trip to the range.

  • Barrel buildup

Carbon, copper and lead can build up in a barrel. Copper and lead mostly affect accuracy. While not common, carbon in the breech will make brass try to hang up. Clean the barrel with a good solvent and some brushes. This is also regular maintenance every gun owner should do.

  • Extractor

In addition to dirt, extractors can have mechanical problems.

A broken extractor is the most common problem after dirt buildup. Replacing it means dealing with some very small parts. I suggest a gunsmith for this work unless you are experienced at working on guns.

A broken or missing extractor spring is less common. It is 3rd on the list of extractor problems.

They wear out. While this is rare, it happens To wear out an extractor, you need to run many thousands of rounds through the gun. 100,000 rounds might be enough to do it.

2. Limp Wristing

Limp Wristing

Limp wristing is a shooter issue, not the fault of the gun. It means you are not controlling the gun enough. The gun recoils and moves in your hand too much.

In a semi-auto handgun, the self-loading function relies on the gun’s action. Recoil drives the slide back. The slide recoiling backward needs something to push against that being your hand.

If you do not hold the gun firmly enough, the slide will not go back far enough to eject the spent brass. 

Practice will cure this problem. This is a problem common to all slide-action semi-auto handguns. It is more common in bigger guns with more recoil.

3. Failure to Feed (FTF)

Failure to feed means the gun will not chamber a fresh round. It can be combined with a failure to eject. We are considering this a different problem.

For instance, if the spent brass came out perfectly, but the gun jammed when trying to load, then several problems will cause this, like dirt in the gun and limp wristing as mentioned above.

Additionally, dirty ammo will cause a jam. Believe it or not, some people will literally take ammo they drop in the mud and try to load it without cleaning it off, but this one is clearly a shooter-created issue!

4. Wrong ammo

cartridges look similar to the .380

The Ruger LCPMax is a .380. Some cartridges look similar to the .380, but they are not. Make sure you are shooting .380 ammo or you will get an FTF.

5. Finicky ammo

Autoloaders are notorious for being finicky eaters. They will cycle some brands and bullet weights perfectly and jam with others. Try a few different ammo brands to see if your FTF is keyed to a specific brand or bullet weight.

6. Bad ammo

If you hand load, you know that sometimes a brass will bulge or deform, so it’s best to toss it. 

Every now and then, though, one will slip past. The round partly chambers, but a defect in the brass or the projectile causes it to not chamber.

Pull the bullet and set it aside. See if the gun will cycle other ammo. If so, pull the bullet and powder and resize the brass without punching the primer out.

Do not just throw the bullet away. It is a live round. If you cannot do anything with it, take it to a gun store, a gunsmith or someone who reloads ammo to get rid of it.

7. Magazine damage

A magazine with bent or warped lips is a main cause of an FTF. This is also easy to test. Try another magazine.

If the gun works with other mags, you know the problem. Can you adjust the non-working magazine to make it function? Yes. Some needle nose pliers will bend metal lips into shape.

It just takes patience and range time to test the mag after each adjustment.

I recommend getting rid of that magazine. They are cheap enough. You do not want something that will let you down when you need it most.

If it is a polymer mag, it is probably worn out. Toss it and get another one.

Another magazine problem is when it falls out. You are not ejecting it. It simply drops out.

This is either a faulty mag or a bad mag release inside the gun. Test several mags. If they all fall out, the problem is the mag release. Get that replaced.

If only one mag falls out, then toss that one and get a replacement.

8. Feed ramp

If you get an FTF, no matter the magazine or ammo and you can manually load rounds, you likely have a feed ramp issue.

This is a factory issue. A good gunsmith can fix it if you bought the gun used.

Unless you know exactly what you are doing, leave this fix to an expert. It is too easy to make the problem worse and the gun unrepairable.

9. Firing Pin

Some users are reporting broken firing pins. Replace the pin and you are good to go. If you are not comfortable replacing the pin, find a gunsmith. 

I recommend that you avoid dry firing your gun. Use snap caps if you have to test the gun without ammo. The pin is designed to strike a primer. If the primer is not there, the firing pin slams all the way forward and this can make it snap.

10. Light Strike

A light strike means the firing pin did not hit the primer hard enough to make it go off.  You can check a light strike by looking at the bullet that did not fire. If the firing pin dent is barely there, it is a light strike. Compare the unfired round’s primer to some that did shoot properly.

Light strikes can have several issues.

  • Limp wristing: See above for details. In this case, the slide does not move all the way forward. A tiny fraction of an inch may be enough to engage the firing mechanism. There may be too much space for the firing pin to strike the primer adequately.
  • Dirt: If the firing pin has to move through a dirty pin chamber, it will give a light strike.
  • Weak spring: The firing pin spring may be too weak. This could be a factory issue or just a worn-out firing pin spring. Replacing a spring is fairly easy. A gunsmith can also do it.
  • Bad firing pin: This could be a factory issue. It could be a pin that is worn out or someone tried to fix and made it worse.

11. Rust

Ruger LCP Max

Guns have 2 enemies: politicians and rust. If your gun is rusting, then it is not being cleaned and oiled properly.

A Ruger LCP Max with all the bluing stripped off will not rust if it is oiled and cleaned properly. If the factory bluing was a bit off, the gun is more likely to get rust than a gun with proper bluing. 

You can recoat your gun once you remove the rust. If it is surface or scale rust, it will come off with steel wool. Use plain steel wool without embedded soap.

If the rust is deeper, it is called pitted rust. You need naval jelly to remove the rust.

Both processes also remove any coating on the metal. You should recoat the metal.

You can reblue a gun with cold blue kits. This is not as good protection as a hot blue. If you do not want to tackle this, it is gunsmith time. Not all gunsmiths offer rebluing services. I do not.

Bluing only works on steel. It does not work on stainless steel or aluminum.

You do not have to reblue. You can get the gun covered with Ceracote, Duracote or some other metal protection. These alternate metal coverings offer the advantage of colors. You can even combine colors.

Powder coating is a different process and it works on aluminum and steels. You can do powder coating at home.

Another solution, especially popular within the AR 15 community, is using spray paint. The rattle can puts a coating on the metal that will protect it. The paint is not durable and wears off quickly.


Is the Ruger LCP Max a good gun?

The Ruger LCP Max is a fair gun as it comes from the factory. You need to spend some time shooting it and possibly tuning it to get the best possible performance.

What is the most common problem with the Ruger LCP Max?

Jams are the most common problem with the Ruger LCP Max. Jams can be caused by several different things.

How do I know if my Ruger LCP Max has problems?

To know if your Ruger Mac LCP has problems when you shoot it, go to a range and shoot. Shoot several hundred rounds if possible.

How do I fix the problems with my Ruger LCP Max?

Fixing the problems with your Ruger LCP ax first means finding out what the problem is. A good gunsmith can help you with this.


The Ruger LCP Max is a fairly good gun. It is not as good as other Ruger products. Certainly, do not trust your life to one until you have thoroughly tested it.

I would only trust one after I ran at least 500 rounds through it and then thoroughly inspected it. I’d also shoot several brands of ammo to see which worked the best.

Once tested and adjusted as needed, the Ruger LCP Max makes a very good deep carry or backup to your primary carry. While the .380 is considered a lightweight round, it does pack enough punch to stop threats at close range.

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