A few months ago, I learned that the Arex Rex Zero 9mm pistol would soon be offered with a Flat Dark Earth (FDE) finished frame. I placed my order early, and the pistol illustrated arrived a few weeks later. I like the FDE frame for many reasons.
I am not in the sandbox enforcing diplomacy with force, or all my handguns would likely be FDE types.
The appearance is simply attractive, even cool. Two tone with dark black over FDE looks great. For me the FDE frame is a way shooters like myself can show camaraderie with those in the sandbox just as I leave the green light burning on the porch for our soldiers.
Whatever the finish, the Rex Zero is a formidable handgun. I have tested a number of these handguns with excellent results. The Arex service pistol is based on the SIG P series double-action first-shot handgun. There are important differences, but there are also similarities.
The pistol uses the SIG-type lockup in which the barrel hood butts into the slide. Angled camming surfaces unlock the pistol in recoil. The Rex Zero features a double-action first shot. When the trigger is pressed, an internal drawbar transfers energy to the hammer, both cocking and releasing the hammer, hence the term double action. Once the first shot is fired, the slide recoils and cocks the hammer for subsequent single-action shots.
When the trigger is pressed, it does one thing—drops the hammer—hence the term single action. The double-action trigger press is smooth, but heavy, like most double-action first-shot trigger actions. The single-action trigger is clean and crisp at 4.25 pounds.
The sights are good examples of combat sights. The sights are easily picked up quickly in combat shooting but also allow a degree of precision in slow fire. The grips are hard plastic and nicely pebbled for good adhesion. The pistol features a steel slide over an aluminum frame. There is a rail for mounting a combat light. The steel magazines show excellent finish. Each holds 17 rounds of 9mm Luger ammunition.
The Rex Zero differs in detail from the SIG P series. The Rex Zero features a handy frame-mounted decocker that serves to lower the hammer from the cocked position. The manual of arms is simple. With the slide locked to the rear, insert a loaded magazine into the pistol. Press the decocker to lower the slide, and then press again to lower the hammer.
|Caliber||9mm Luger (9x19mm)|
|Operating Principle||Short recoil|
|Action Type||Modified Browning linkless locking system|
|Trigger System||Single- and Double-action, Hammer fired|
|Length||7.7 in / 195 mm|
|Barrel Length||4.3 in / 108 mm|
|Height||5.7 in / 144 mm|
|Width (slide)||0.98 in / 25 mm|
|Width (frame)||1.1 in / 27 mm|
|Width (safety levers)||1.46 in / 37 mm|
|Weight (without magazine)||29 oz / 826 g|
|Weight (empty magazine)||3 oz / 85 g|
The Rex Zero combines the function of the slide lock and decocker into one unit. It works well in practice. Most shooters find this an improvement over the SIG arrangement. The Rex Zero also adds a manual safety. This safety may be applied with the hammer down or the hammer cocked. This brings the Rex Zero into the selective double action category and allows cocked and locked carry. If you prefer to carry the pistol hammer down, and ready for a double action first shot, the safety may be left on or off at your discretion.
Before the firing test, I lubricated the pistol on the long bearing surfaces and the barrel hood. I loaded the magazine with a handload I have used often. It was comprised of the Hornady 115-grain XTP and enough Winchester 231 powder for 1150 fps. This is an accurate and useful combination. Firing at man-sized targets at 5, 7, 10, and 15 yards in a self-designed combat course, I found I could make hits in the X ring quickly and accurately.
In single action fire, the front sight was kept on the target and the target punished with fire. Let’s face it, a 30-ounce 9mm handgun doesn’t kick much, and in trained hands is very controllable. Author’s note: Whether or not you desire a manual safety for carry use, when moving to different firing positions it is simpler to place the safety on than to decock the pistol and have to go through the long, double-action trigger press again. During the initial firing of 100 handloads, there were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Speed loads were carried out easily and the pistol overall gave a good showing.
Compared to the Beretta 92, SIG P Series, or Glock 17, the Rex Zero needs to take a back seat to no handgun. Recoil is straight to the rear and muzzle flip is subdued. I also fired a standard handload I have used for some time. This is a +P pressure handload. Using the Hornady 124-grain XTP loaded to 1220 fps. This load proved reliable and accurate in the Rex Zero.
I fired a number of personal defense loads in the Rex Zero 9mm, firing from a solid bench rest firing position at 15 yards. The results are listed. Clearly the Rex Zero 9mm is an accurate handgun well suited to personal defense.
Groups are five shot groups, measured in inches
|Hornady 124-grain XTP +P||1190 fps||1.6 in.|
|SIG Sauer 124-grain V Crown JHP||1167 fps||1.5 in.|
|Winchester 124-grain PDX +P||1198 fps||1.7 in.|
|Fiocchi 115-grain Extrema||1109 fps||1.45 in.|
|Fiocchi 147-grain Extrema||890 fps||1.6 in.|
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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