Arex Rex Zero 9mm With FDE Frame — Honoring Those in the Sandbox

Bob Campbell shooting the Arex REx Zero FDE pistol front

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.

Arex Rex pistol with FDE frame and black slide
The FDE frame is attractive and should resist corrosion well.

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.

Arex Rex Zero pistol top and Sig Sauer P226 pistol bottom
The Rex Zero compares well to the SIG P series.

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.

Arex Rex
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
Magazine Capacity 17

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.

Range Work

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.

Bob Campbell shooting the Arex REx Zero FDE pistol front
The author found the Rex Zero both reliable and accurate.

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

Load Velocity Group
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.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (10)

  1. Mr. Campbell,

    Are you also the ‘R.K. Campbell’ who writes for the USCCA – Concealed Carry Magazine?

    1. Scott,

      That is me and that is one fine magazine. Well worth a subscription!

      Thanks for reading.


  2. Not having handled one in person, just judging from the pictures, I would say that it DIFFERS from the DA/SA Sig guns, in the THUMB SAFETY.

  3. Thanks Bob. That’s quite an assessment and good recommendation. I saw this gun beat a Sig in a torture test. Impressive for a new name.

  4. Have not ran a suppressor. The factory 147 grain would work, that is what it is designed for, Fiocchi also offers a 158 grain FMJ that is very accurate and should work well. the .357’s sonic crack would limit application. I also do not like to marry high pressure and suppressor, I see enough .357 SIG pistols with blown heads as it is.

  5. This looks very much like a pretty well executed clone of a SIG Sauer P229. If I didn’t already own a P228, two P229s, a P220, and a P239…..not to mention the polymer framed SIGs in my collection, I’d likely track one down…..

  6. What is the trigger like Bob? How’s the take up and the break? How much to reset? How does it compare to Sig or a PPQ? All things important to hear from an experienced shooter like yourself.

    1. Doug

      As I mentioned in the article the DA trigger is long and while smooth, heavy. It is heavier than the SIG P Series. Comparable to CZ or stock Beretta. The single action trigger is actually lighter than the SIG and very good. Takeup is short. Reset is slow just like the SIG, no real difference in the reset. There is none of the modest backlash of the CZ. This is a pistol with certain refinements over the SIG I like very much. I will know in a few months how the trigger smooths up after thousands of cartridges, this is going to be a pistol that I keep on hand.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. can you recommend a good holster? polymer, paddle style w/retention. left hand draw. been looking for months

  7. Nice shooting Bob!
    If you make those velosities any faster, you’ll be up there with the 40 S&W and the 357 SIG. The advantage is you can also suppress with the 9mm. where as the higher velosities of the 357 Sig prevents the effective suppression, so I’ve been told ” why try suppression of the 357, just use the 9mm and factory ammo, and stay under the 1000 fps” if I wanted to suppress.
    Do you ever try using a suppressor on any of your handloads?

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