I was fortunate enough to be part of a small batch invited to try out the Arex handgun at SHOT show in January 2016. What I saw reminded me a bit of the Zastava handguns in that it was heavily based on the SIG 226/229 design, but unlike the SIG handguns some improvements had been made and unlike the Zastava handguns the manufacturing was top notch. The Arex rexZero 1 is neither a Sig nor Zastava clone, but an inspired evolution and a handgun of its own lineage.
Yhe Rex Zero 1 Standard Model offered is a 17-round, 4.25” barreled 9mm pistol with several unique features:
- Can be operated either “cocked & locked” or safely de-cocked for DA/SA operation. External safety operates in either configuration.
- Ambi- safety and magazine release.
- The slide-stop also serves as the de-cocker.
- Hard anodized T7075 aluminum frame made from solid bar stock with steel locking block insert.
- Nitrocarburized steel slide made from solid bar stock.
- Forward cocking serrations.
- 1 piece cold hammer forged barrel made from solid bar stock and Nitrocarburized.
- Loaded chamber indicator
- Full length slide rails.
- Picatinny railed dust cover.
- Large trigger guard for use with gloves.
- High profile white dot steel sights. Accepts replacement sights
- Approved for all commercial SAAMI specification +P ammunition
Arex is a new name in the US, but has been manufacturing for over 25 years making parts as a subcontractor for other big names in the industry such as FN; the maker of the M249 that I more than once depended on in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Old enough to know what they were doing, but young enough to not be bogged down with centuries of traditions or ancient tooling Arex was able to create a truly modern fighting handgun and able build it entirely in house. Even the barrels and plastic grips are made in house. The magazines are from MecGar in neighboring Italy, but I can’t think of any manufacturer or handgun user that wouldn’t prefer MecGar make their magazines.
Since I know most Americans will look at the rexZero 1 with the Sig P226 in mind I’ll highlight the carefully-thought-out differences. Visually identifiable differences include and ambidextrous safety and magazine release, front cocking serrations, and a loaded chamber indicator. Perhaps the biggest change is the ingenious conversion of the decocking lever to also double as the slide release.
As a shooter the first thing we feel is the how the grip fills the hand. In today’s age of micro guns it feels like a giant, but that broad surface area also distributes recoil making it relatively soft to shoot. Where it really counts the grip is relieved for the thumb to access the magazine release and controls and for the trigger finger to reach the trigger for the initial double-action or single action depending on the shooter’s preference.
That’s right, the shooter gets a preference of the first shot being single or double because the safety can be applied with or without the firearm being cocked. This is an excellent option for law enforcement or military use where policy may dictate. For the civilian shooter it makes for perhaps a steep learning curve for a new shooter, but also gives the option of tiered levels of readiness.
Despite the double-action being an expected long and heavy pull is 13lbs, but very smooth and continuous without any notable stacking, grinding, grit, or other unpleasantness. The single action is crisp and about 5lbs. Trigger reset is longer than a competition gun would have, but at a good length for safe use while under duress. In our testing we experienced no malfunctions of any kind, and even if hard primers had been an issue the double action gives us the chance to pull the trigger again for a second chance at ignition. The only complaint we had about the gun was from Erika in that her smaller hands had a little trouble reaching some of the controls, but that’s a fairly universal challenge when combining smaller hands and a larger gun.
For a more complete view of this amazing handgun see our unboxing and shooting impressions on our channel www.youtube.com/grahambaates
“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel and blog on the side.