Fans of the double/single action platform looking for a moderately priced but quality pistol for home and self-protection have a new, little known but solid choice — the Rex Zero 1 pistol series.
I have a test copy of the compact version of this pistol in hand for testing. Last fall, I had the chance to fire the full-size Zero 1. Based on these trials, I feel these pistols deserve more awareness in the market.
Rex pistols are made by the Arex (pronounced: ARRR-ex) factory in Slovenia, a modern manufacturing facility that has the latest CNC machining equipment. The brand is popular in Europe, but relatively unknown in the United States.
FIME (pronounced like “fine” with an m) Group of Las Vegas is the sole U.S. importer of Rex pistols, and local dealers can order from them.
For those familiar with traditional DA/SA design, such as the Sig Sauer P220, the Rex offers a couple of differences. First is 9mm chambering. Modern 9mm defense rounds are, of course, smaller than 45 ACP, but their higher velocity and improved bullet design offer undeniable destructive power. Also, you get higher capacity magazines. The standard model holds 17 rounds. The compact packs 15. A newer tactical model holds 20.
In addition to bigger capacity and the reduced recoil of a 9mm, the Rex adds a thumb-operated safety lever. It can thus be carried in the cocked and locked position, allowing the user to avoid the time and effort associated with its 13-pound double-action trigger pull. Of course, a sturdy holster that shields the trigger guard should be part of wearing or storing the gun in this configuration, keeping in mind there is no mechanical substitute for muzzle and finger discipline.
Another reason to choose a sturdy holster for the Rex Zero 1 is to protect the magazine release. It’s not unheard of for ambi safety levers to be disengaged during a struggle, whether with another human or a seatbelt.
Like a traditional DA/SA, Rex Zero 1 pistols feature a de-cocking lever on the left side only. Upon chambering a round or pausing during a string of fire, safe users will de-cock or put the safety on before re-holstering or storing in loaded condition. My own thumb, on my small/medium-size hand, has a struggle reaching and sweeping the decocker from the firing grip position. The decocker doubles as a slide stop.
Beneath the barrel is a Picatinny rail for mounting an auxiliary light. The addition of a light brings into question holster availability. FIME’s sister company, KVar, offers a variety of inside- and outside-waistband rigs.
Lots of survival-minded folks shy away from polymer pistols, preferring something that feels more durable. The lower is made of 7075 aluminum, which isn’t going to rust or go bad in severe elements. The slide is steel, as are the sights.
It’s Dependable, Too
The Mec-Gar metal magazines are equally durable. This company makes magazines for many big-name brands and understands the need for reliability in mags.
These are hefty pistols that fill the hand and deliver very little felt recoil. The full-size Rex Zero 1 weighs 29 ounces without the magazine. Despite the thickness of the grip, I am able to operate the trigger in double action without much effort, thanks to thoughtful sculpting of the grip that makes it thinner right where the trigger finger lies. That’s not true for every DA/SA pistol, including full-size Sigs. A short and light five-pound pull is found in single-action mode. Trigger reset is good, crisp, and what I consider just long enough to be appropriate for a non-competition handgun.
The white, drift-adjustable, three-dot sights are low-profile but highly visible. They are not, however, night sights.
Dependability is excellent — perhaps this should be the first criterion for a self-defense handgun! I fired two inexpensive brands of FMJ and one brand of hollow-point cartridges through the gun with no malfunctions. The ejection port is uniquely shaped, with a bit of extra room at the rear, and this surely enhances clean ejection.
FIME Group and Arex went the extra mile to develop a very detailed, clearly illustrated owner’s manual. In the age of generic manuals in which manufacturers force gun owners to head to YouTube to consult self-appointed experts for advice, The Rex Zero 1 series provides all needed information in the manual. It’s included in the hard case that comes with the gun.
These tank-like handguns are shootable by most adults and make a good choice for home or vehicle defense, as well as recreational shooting. Due to its size, carrying one concealed would require commitment and is best suited for waistband carry under loose covering garments. MSRP on the standard and compact Arex Rex Zero 1 pistols is $670. The tactical model’s suggested price is $200 more. Real market prices are substantially lower.
Have you ever shot an Arex Rex Zero 1? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the section below: