TESTED: The SilencerCo Maxim 9 Integrally Suppressed Pistol
The SilencerCo Maxim 9’s debut at SHOT Show 2017 turned many heads. After nearly three years of development, the Maxim 9 starting shipping in May of 2017. SilencerCo bills it as the “world’s first integrally suppressed 9mm handgun that is holster-able and hearing safe with all types of 9mm ammunition.”
Yes, multi-purpose suppressors are more versatile, but as with most adaptable products, they are good for many things but perfect for none. Having a dedicated suppressor, or in this case a dedicated suppressed handgun, proves itself to be the best solution of all.
The most striking difference between the Maxim 9 and a traditional handgun with a mounted suppressor is its size and shape. The Maxim 9’s integrated baffle system sits in front of the barrel and the baffle chambers extend downward, below the frame. Rather than the typical round design, the Maxim 9’s baffle chambers are rectangular with most of the baffle below the barrel. Not only is the resulting suppressor length approximately half that of traditional units, but the weight and center of gravity shifts dramatically backward toward the shooter, making the Maxim easier to control in regard to both recoil and over-swing when shooting multiple targets.
Mod To The Max
Bolted to the frame, the Maxim 9’s suppressor is a modular design allowing the shooter to choose between short and long configurations. You can remove or add baffles with an Allen wrench. The baffles interlock together so they’re always properly aligned. The Maxim 9 also ships with rods for both configurations. The primary baffle (baffle one), baffle four and the front cap are utilized in both configurations. Baffles two and three are removed for the short configuration.
In the long configuration with all its baffles, the Maxim 9 measures in at 10.75 inches. That’s a far cry shorter than a handgun with a traditional screw-on suppressor. My Glock 17 measures 14.75 inches with a Shark Hammerhead 9mm suppressor. The 4 inches of reduced length makes navigating doorways, hallways and corners far easier.
Cutting 1.21 inches off the length, the short configuration measures 9.54 inches for even greater weight reduction and maneuverability. Of course, while the gun is lighter and shorter, the suppression level is also reduced as well. The short configuration is ear-safe with subsonic 147-grain or heavier ammunition. SilencerCo rates the short configuration at 139.9 decibels with 147-grain ammo.
Silence Is Golden
With all of its baffles attached, the long configuration is ear-safe for all commercial 9mm ammunition. It is rated at 137.1, 138.3 and 136.3 decibels with 115-, 124- and 147-grain rounds, respectively.
The internationally recognized limit for hearing damage from short impulse sound is 140 decibels. Each 3-decibel reduction is equivalent to a 50-percent reduction in harmful noise, so the difference between the Maxim 9’s configurations is significant. I leave mine in the long configuration so I don’t have to worry about being ear-safe regardless of the ammo I use.
The Maxim 9’s baffles are made from 7075-T6 aluminum and are finished with black Cerakote. Removing them from the firearm, the baffles, front cap and long rods weigh 7.5 ounces. In the short configuration, the baffles, front cap and short rods reduce the weight by approximately 2 ounces.
Rather than using a modified version of an existing pistol, as SilencerCo did with its first prototypes, the company determined that the only way to make the Maxim 9 everything it wanted would be to design it from scratch. The end result is a radical departure from traditional semi-auto pistol designs. Bringing the extremely unique concept to life would be a major achievement for any gun manufacturer, yet this impressive achievement was accomplished by a suppressor company as its first foray into firearm manufacturing.
Like many of today’s popular handguns, the Maxim 9 is striker- fired. And it utilizes traditional Glock magazines. However, that’s where the similarities end. Rather than a full-length slide, the Maxim 9’s is only about half as long as the frame. It starts at the rear of the gun and continues only until the forward portion of the ejection port. The reduced slide length translates to less mass moving during the firing cycling, which helps to reduce felt recoil. Less mass, less movement.
Both sides of the slide are adorned with deep, wide serrations, making it very easy to grasp and rack the slide. If it were up to me, all cocking serrations would be made like this.
Rather than the traditional recoil spring that encompasses the barrel, the Maxim 9’s spring is located within the slide along with the striker and other components. The slide rides along two internal recoil rods within the slide as well as metal rails in the frame.
The construction concept of the Maxim 9 is similar to Sig’s P250 and P320 pistols in that it uses a polymer grip frame that encompasses an internal subchassis. This metal chassis holds the trigger mechanism, sear assembly, disconnector and suppressor baffles among other components.
Get A Grip
When I heard that the Maxim 9 used Glock magazines, I expected an overly large, rectangular grip. But I was quite surprised with well the Maxim 9’s grip turned out. The frontstrap is gently curved on both sides, greatly diminishing the traditional, rectangular shape. The curves create slight finger grooves that feel great in my hand, and I don’t usually like finger grooves. The curves not only reduce the circumference for better a grip, but they’re also remarkably comfortable. So much so that I coined the phrase “A Glock without the block” to describe it.
The texturing on the grip consists of a series of rectangular patterns and lines that offers a good gripping surface without overtaxing the skin.
The magazine ejects easily, and the magazine basepad protrudes slightly from the bottom of the grip frame so it’s easy to grab if the magazine needs to be stripped out in the event of a double feed, for example.
An added benefit of the curved grip shape is that the magazine release is remarkably easy to reach and activate, even for small hands. A left-handed version of the magazine release button is included so it can be swapped out by the end-user.
The Maxim 9 also has an ambidextrous slide catch. While I prefer the gross movement of grasping the slide and pulling it to the rear to release it, pressing the slide catch down with my thumb was quite easy even with a magazine inserted. This is a task achieved by few other designs.
The trigger housing is nicely undercut, providing the shooter with a high grip. Measuring nearly 7 pounds, the trigger is a bit heavier than I traditionally prefer, but its smooth travel keeps it from being a distraction.
Safety features include a trigger safety—much like most other striker- fired guns—a firing pin block to mechanically block the firing pin channel until the trigger is pressed, and a sear that engages the firing pin in order to prevent it from moving forward without pulling the trigger. The Maxim 9 passes both SAAMI and NIJ drop tests.
As I mentioned, the Maxim 9 tips the scales at 39 ounces unloaded in long configuration and 37 ounces in short configuration. This compares to 40.6 ounces unloaded for the Glock 17 with a Shark suppressor mounted.
The Maxim 9’s underside sports KeyMod attachment points to mount an available rail section for mounting lights and/or lasers. The top section of the suppressor sports a removable cover plate to mount increasingly popular reflex sights. SilencerCo currently offers mounts for the Trijicon RMR and Vortex’s Viper and Venom sights.
The barrel length remains the same 4.38 inches regardless of suppressor configuration. The Maxim 9 is rated for +P+ ammunition in the full-length configuration, subsonic only for the short.
The Maxim 9’s sights are set up in a three-dot configuration with tritium for night use. The rear sight can be swapped for any that fit a Glock. However, SilencerCo recommends that the front sight not be changed. It was specifically designed to withstand the high level of heat generated at the suppressor’s end. Aftermarket sights that SilencerCo tested either melted or their inserts fell out.
As you may have surmised, disassembly is like no other pistol. To remove the slide for field-stripping, press and hold in the recoil rod retainer button located at the rear of the slide, then rotate the recoil rod lever located on the top of the slide. This will release the slide, allowing it to slide backwards for removal. The trigger does not need to be pulled for disassembly. In fact, SilencerCo warns against the practice. Reverse the steps for reassembly. It took me a few tries at first, but once I understood the disassembly process, it became quite easy.
The frame can be removed from the subchassis for full cleaning by way of a single roll pin once the slide as been removed. SilencerCo recommends field cleaning after every firing and a full cleaning every 500 to 1,000 rounds.
The Maxim 9 ships with two Magpul 17-round Glock magazines, both sets of suppressor rods, a left-hand magazine release, an Allen wrench and a gun lock.
I started my function test of the Maxim 9 with a few hundred rounds of Winchester and Federal 115-grain FMJ fodder. With perfect results, I then tested it with quality defensive hollow-point ammunition from Black Hills, Hornady, CorBon and Remington that included a mix of 115-, 124- and 135-grain bullet weights in both standard and +P pressures. As with the FMJ stuff, I am happy to report that the Maxim 9 swallowed every round without hesitation.
I used the long configuration throughout the tests. The sound suppression was very good. I had no problems with excessive noise with any of the ammo.
I previously mentioned that the 7-pound trigger was heavier than I prefer, but when shooting at defensive speed, the extra trigger weight wasn’t noticeable. Putting this into perspective, the Maxim 9 is not designed as a precision target gun, and the trigger works well for its intended purpose.
After Action Report
Shooting the Maxim 9 alongside my Glock with its Shark suppressor, my primary practical tests were to compare perceived recoil and controllability. The results were dramatic. While the overall weight of the two guns is comparable, the balance point of the Maxim 9 is far closer to the grip than the Glock, which has the full suppressor mass in front of the gun. Swinging the guns back and forth on multiple target drills showed a distinct advantage to the Maxim 9. I noticed the same with the upward momentum when shooting from a low-ready position.
I received the same results when testing for recoil. The Maxim 9 proved that the closer the weight is to the shooter’s hand, the easier it is to control the gun’s movement.
Another benefit of the Maxim 9 that I didn’t even think about until I hit the range is that, unlike traditional threaded suppressors that have a tendency to loosen under fire, the Maxim 9’s baffles always remain in place.
Tallying the results against a handgun with a traditional suppressor, the Maxim 9, with its integrated baffle system, is easier to maneuver in tight quarters, easier to control due to its center point being closer to the hand, and it offers less felt recoil. This puts the SilencerCo Maxim 9 at the top of my list. To me, it’s a gun that has truly lived up to the hype. I recommend trying one for yourself if you get the opportunity. Watch out, though, you’re going to want one!
SilencerCo Maxim 9 Specs
|Barrel: 4.38 inches|
|OA Length: 9.54/10.75 inches (short/long configurations)|
|Weight: 37/39 ounces (short/long configurations, empty)|
|Sights: Three-dot night|
|Finish: Matte black|
SilencerCo Maxim 9 Performance
|Black Hills 115 TAC-XP +P||1,192||1.40 (average), 0.75 (best)|
|Black Hills 115 FMJ||1,139||1.75 (average), 1.25 (best)|
|Hornady 115 Critical Defense FTX||1,124||1.75 (average), 1.10 (best)|
*Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in fps by chronograph and accuracy in inches for three 5-shot groups at 50 yards.
For more information, visit silencerco.com.
This article was originally published in the May/June 2018 issue of “Combat Handguns.” To order a copy and subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
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