Range Report: AREX Rex Zero 1 Compact 9mm Pistol

AREX Rex Zero compact

A few weeks ago, I was able to test and evaluate the Arex Rex Zero 9mm handgun. The results were good as the pistol has proven reliable with every load, more accurate than expected, and ergonomically pleasing. The pistol is in some ways based on proven operating principles and the SIG P series handguns but in other ways offers a fresh pistol from a proven manufacturing base.

AREX Rex Zero compact
The Rex Zero compact is an attractive handgun.

The newest Rex Zero pistol and the subject of this review is a compact version. The compact Arex pistol represents a lighter and shorter handgun for concealed carry or service use. This handgun will compete with other compact designs such as the Glock 19, CZ P01 and the SIG P229. After this evaluation, I can state that the Rex Zero compact need take a back seat to no other handgun.

In common with the full-size handgun, the compact is a double action first shot high-capacity pistol. The Rex Zero is fired with a long trigger press that both cocks and drops the hammer—hence the term double action trigger. After firing the hammer is cocked by the recoiling slide for subsequent single-action fire.

The trigger performs one function in single action fire; it drops the hammer. When the hammer is cocked, the hammer may be safely lowered by levering a frame-mounted decock switch downward. This switch, or lever, is spring loaded and springs back after decocking the hammer. However, the Rex Zero decock lever also performs a second function. The lever acts as a slide lock. In common self-loading pistol fashion, the slide locks to the rear after the last shot in the magazine is fired. When the slide is locked to the rear press this lever down to drop the slide.

AREX Rex pistol equipped with a TruGlo TruLite combat light right
With the TruGlo TruLite combat light the Rex Zero 9mm makes an excellent home defense handgun. Note hammer back and safety on.

I was first concerned with a combination decock and slide lock. In testing, I tried to actuate the slide lock after dropping the slide with heavy pressure. It did not work. The slide lock when pressed only drops the magazine. Release pressure and the lever must be pressed again to lower the hammer. I like this spring loaded combination lever a lot. It is a genuine improvement that results in real speed in manipulation.

The finger accomplishes two things with one lever. This leads to better muscle memory. In the original SIG P series design there was a tendency of shooters to ride the thumb on the slide lock. Some shooters would do so and the slide would not lock open on the last shot resulting in the shooter dropping the hammer on an empty chamber when he should have been firing or reloading. Some could train out of this problem others could not.

The Rex Zero offers a viable alternative that is actually an improvement. The Rex Zero also offers an ambidextrous safety. The Rex Zero features a manual safety. This safety is a frame-mounted ambidextrous lever I found positive in operation. This safety allows on safe carry with the hammer down, with the hammer back, and may be applied during tactical movement. If, like most shooters, you elect to carry the Rex Zero hammer down and safety off you will find the safety useful during tactical movement.

Safety lever on the AREX Rex pistol
The safety of the Rex Xero is as desirable feature you may use or not at your choice.

After firing the first shot the hammer is cocked—rather than decock during a critical incident and performing tactical movement and resorting to a long double-action trigger press you may simply place the pistol on safe. Personally, I like a pistol with a safety and will carry the Rex Zero 9mm with the safety applied.

The compact version features .4 inch off of the slide and the butt. The grip frame isn’t just chopped but subtly redesigned. The grips offer excellent adhesion with a pebble grain design. There are relief cuts in each grip slab that allow for a shorter trigger reach. There is a flat area behind the grip on the backstrap where the palm rests that is quite comfortable and allows the palm to ride hard against the gripstrap. The double action trigger is smooth but slightly heavier than the full size Rex Zero. The single action trigger breaks at 5.5 pounds as specified. The sights are the same three dot units used with the full size 9mm and the pistol features a useful rail for mounting combat lights. The pistol exhibits excellent fit and finish.

Accuracy Testing – Braced Barricade, 15 yards

LoadVelocity5-shot Group 15 yards

Federal 115-grain American Eagle 1129 fps 2.5 in.
Federal 124-grain HST 1146 fps 1.8 in.
Hornady 115-grain XTP 1130 fps 2.25 in.
Hornady 115-grain Critical Defense 1138 fps 2.4 in.
Hornady American Gunner 124-grain XTP +P 1167 fps 1.75 in.
Speer 124-grain Gold Dot 1100 fps 2.4 in.

Range Testing

I lubricated the pistol, loaded the two supplied 15-round magazines with Federal American Eagle 115-grain FMJ loads, and proceeded to blaze away at man-sized targets at 5, 7, and 10 yards. The pistol has several good attributes. It is controllable with little felt recoil and a push that is straight to the rear. The sights are good and easily picked up in rapid fire. The sights were properly regulated for 115 grain loads and the six o’ clock hold.

Double Taps on a green paper target
This is a pair of double taps at 7 yards. The first shot, fired double action, is astray from the rest of the group.

The double-action trigger is stiff, but smooth, when properly addressed with a straight to the rear controlled press. The single-action trigger allows excellent control in rapid fire. I fired 50 rounds of the Federal American Eagle 115-grain FMJ, and another magazine of the Federal Syntetch training load. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject.

I had fired the full-size handgun at 15 yards for accuracy and did the same with the Rex Zero compact. I used a number of new loads and also a couple I had used in previous testing of the full size pistol. The results were good to excellent. A compact 9mm that weighs almost 30 ounces loaded doesn’t kick much. A few compact handguns are actually more accurate in practical use than the service size pistol they are based on for many reasons including hand fit, although in offhand the full-size pistol tracked better between targets.

The Rex Zero is very close to the service-size handgun in accuracy, and equal in comfort in firing. I like this compact handgun. For my use, including personal defense and home defense, the compact 9mm is ideal. I like the crisp, single-action trigger of the Rex Zero better than the double action only (DAO) trigger of the polymer striker-fired guns. No need to debate this; you either like one or the other. The Rex Zero is a great handgun that will compete against CZ and SIG in the market. I think it comes on board with a fighting chance. Fit, finish, reliability and accuracy are excellent. The pistol is well worth its modest price.


Caliber: 9mm Luger (9x19mm)
Operating Principle: Short recoil
Action Type: Modified Browning linkless locking system
Trigger System: Single- and Double-action, Hammer fired
Length: 7.3 in / 185 mm
Barrel Length: 3.9 in / 98 mm
Height: 5.3 in / 134 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): 27.5 oz / 780 g
Magazine Capacity: 15
Magazines Included: 2
Trigger Pull SA: 5.5 lb
Trigger Pull DA: 13 lb
Trigger Travel DA: 0.5 in / 13 mm
Reset Travel SA: 0.16 in / 4 mm
Barrel Profile/Twist: 6 grooves, right-hand twist
 Barrel Twist Rate: 9.8 in / 250 mm

Long or short? Which model AREX Rex Zero is your top choice? Share your answer and why in the comment section.


About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
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 (11)

  1. This may well be the FINEST 9mm handgun on the market, at least in the full size variant. I don’t have more than a couple of mags experience with the compact version but have run in excess of 8000 rounds through the full size. It is more accurate than ANY Sig I have ever fired, any HK I have ever fired and other than one VERY highly modified Glock, it simply is the most accurate out of the box handgun I have ever encountered and I purchased it as a cheap alternative to a Sig 226! It FAR exceeds the Sig and is built virtually like Smith and Wesson Performance Center handguns the quality of build is that spectacular! I truly fear writing this review as my LAST intention is to cause any sales boom making the pistols hard to find and or to drive the price up. How on earth ANYONE can build and market a pistol of this quality in this price range is simply beyond me……….think “getting a Les Baer for $500”!!! The weight of the full size pistol makes even the stoutest of 9mm loads feel extremely tame and at 30′ you can, after becoming acquainted with the pistol cut a single ragged hole in paper while standing!! There are so VERY few firearm “sleepers” like this out there and this handgun continues to amaze me. You CANNOT damage the pistol with any kind of use. I am very confident that this pistol could easily digest over 10K rounds of +P+ ammo with no discernable problems. FIME has just introduced night sights for this pistol and I have already placed my order. Aliengear holsters makes both IWB and OWB holsters for the pistol and though I haven tried it I have heard that holsters made for the Sig 2022 of all guns make perfect fits for these pistols. I had Black Hills Gunleather make me a handmade holster for mine, a retention strap paddle design and NOBODY makes better holsters than Rudy Lozanos company operating out of Laredo, TX. Folks, I am not exxagerating when I say this IS the finest handgun of its type available at ANY price. Get one before some new law gets passed preventing the importation of Slovenian pistols for some…..well, political damned reason.

    1. Casey
      I am going to meet the owner of Arex and tour the factory in Slovenia next week. I will be sure to pass along your comment. ~Dave Dolbee

  2. I m in france. I think in europe we have a model you don t have in US.
    It s the rex zero 1 Combat

    Short barrel (in fact the compact size) but full size grip with 18 rounds mags.
    By the way i don t understand why US versions has 17 rounds mags..
    Didn t know there s night sights for the arex. Good !

  3. Highly Impressed the way the AREX REX ZERO 1 performed in elemental
    & gauntlet torture tests on the Military Arms Channel with Tim. If all of your
    Arex pistols come of your production line performing like that, I’ve got to
    have one as soon as I can locate a dealer with them in stock. I want mine in COMPACT. It’ll go nicely with my Walther P 99 AS. Keep Up the EXCELLENT work.

  4. Did I miss it? What is the frame made of, is it polymer or alloy? What coating does it have? And what metal is used for the slide?

  5. It sounds to me lie it’s a very nice pistol which is very similar to my CZ-P07. It has recoil that’s straight back like mine. Empty weight is identical, with a hi-capacity magazine. My CZ-P07 uses 16 round magazine & has the smoothest double action trigger pull I’ve ever experienced with a list w/o modifications. Mine so far has feed everything I’ve put thru it so far, including hand loads with cast, jacketed & plated bullets. Trigger pull is significantly less at 9 lbs DA & 4.25 lbs SA. The Picantinny rail on mine only has 3 grooves compared to 4 grooves on the Arex. I suspect that the Arex will also do well.
    Last March I bought one for $440.00 which included shipping at that time with three 16 round magazines. I was very fortunate to get such a low price.

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