Range Report: AREX Rex Zero 1 Compact 9mm Pistol

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.