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If it looks like a SIG, shoots like a SIG, and sounds like a SIG…it might actually be a REX zero 1. Which, incidentally, is not a bad thing to be at all. In fact, it might just be a swan . . .

A company by the name of Arex is responsible for what is “the first pistol ever to be produced entirely in Slovenia,” and it’s being imported into the U.S. by FIME Group, the company responsible for loaning me this T&E sample. Back in September, we posted a First Look piece on the REX, and I’d still recommend jumping over there for the awesome Arex factory tour video that Polenar Tactical created. Serious machinist eye candy there. Well, CNC machinist, at least.

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Jumping right to the swan, duck, or elephant in the room — metaphors aren’t my cup of bourbon — the REX offers a few things you won’t find on a SIG P226. What’s a slide stop on a SIG is actually a manual safety on the REX.

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It’s ambidextrous — mirrored on both sides of the gun.

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Whether the hammer is cocked or at rest, the safety can be engaged. Additionally, the slide can be racked even with the safety on. When off, the lever nestles up rather flush with the top of the grip, making accidental engagement highly unlikely. Conversely, sweeping it off is natural and requires less of a concerted effort than engaging it. There’s a clean detent and satisfying “click” at both ends of its travel.

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Ahead of the manual safety is a control lever that appears basically identical to the decocker on many SIG pistols. In this case, the duck really is a duck and that lever really is a decocker. But it has a trick up its sleeve — “wing” if I were more committed to this duck crap — and it doubles as the slide stop. Whether using it to lock the slide back or to release the slide, it feels just like a slide stop should. As a decocker, it feels just like a SIG’s but maybe with a slightly shorter travel.

Of note, when used to release the slide from lock, it comes to a hard stop and will not also decock the REX. In order to put it through its full travel and decock the hammer, you’d have to let back off of it and then depress it again. Nice touch.

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Eagle-eyed readers (no more swans or ducks, I promise) probably noticed one more difference in the REX zero 1’s controls as compared to its SIG progenitor: an ambidextrous magazine release. Push the button from either side, and the 17-round magazine drops free.

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Mags appear to be very high quality — I’m guessing they’re Mec-Gar units. For the record, magazines aren’t interchangeable between REX and SIG, due at least to the difference in how the magazine catch engages the body.

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A handful of P226 variants have front cocking serrations, but the majority are unadorned. It looks like all of the REX versions — this is the “S,” or Standard, which is the only one currently available in the U.S., but Arex also makes a Combat and a Compact (no idea how they’re going to handle the single-letter designation on those ones) — offer a grip surface both front and rear.

The Picatinny accessory rail extends farther than a P226’s, adding one additional slot and ending flush with the muzzle. Slide rails are extended forwards to match.

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A blade-style loaded chamber indicator adorns the top of the slide. The rim of a chambered round lifts it up just slightly. Not really enough to stand out visually, but it’s readily apparent to the touch.

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The REX zero 1’s frame is 7075 aluminum, hard anodized, with a steel locking block. Machining and finish are fantastic.

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The frontstrap and backstrap are serrated vertically.

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The slide and barrel are made from bar stock — machined and cold hammer forged, respectively — and nitrocarburized. The steel guide rod is hollow, which is kind of cool in a retro way.

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Again, barrel and slide machining and finish are excellent.

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Sights are steel, 3-dot affairs dovetailed into the slide. There was some conflicting info as to whether or not they used standard SIG dovetail cuts, but the final verdict on that is “not.”

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I like the serrations and recessed dot on the front sight. The sights seem a little short, especially when compared to the amount of gun that stands tall above the web of your hand, but they were fast and easy to acquire and worked well for slow, precise shooting as well.

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From 92.5 grains to 147 grains, the REX zero 1 S shot everything accurately. Above are 5-shot groups at 15 yards with four brands and three weights of 9×19 ammo.

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With a nice curve radius and rounded edges, the REX’s trigger shoe is comfortable. I definitely prefer the feel of metal here to plastic. Double action is long and heavy — 11.7 lbs — but fairly smooth. It stacks a bit before the break, which is good but not creep-free. The trigger then comes to a hard stop a few millimeters short of touching the frame.

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Single action is short and crisp, weighing in at about 4.5 lbs. If you’re engaging the single action trigger for the first time, there’s slack to take up — maybe a centimeter of it — before it stops against the sear. The break is clean with barely any perceptible creep. After that, a pronounced reset isn’t too far away and only about half of that initial slack has to be repeated.

REX zero 1 S Single Action

Running the REX in single action was great, and I was able to shoot it rapidly and accurately thanks in a big part to the very nice trigger pull. Here’s a graph showing both the double action and single action on the same scale. Again, all of this awesome information is thanks to the Dvorak TriggerScan system.

REX zero 1 S Double and Single Action

As much as I hate to say it — and this won’t be the last time — it’s very much just like a SIG here. As DA/SA triggers go, that makes it better than average. The REX’s trigger is just as smooth, consistent, and crisp as a P226’s.

On The Range

The short version is, you guessed it: it shoots just like a SIG. Blind taste test shooting the REX and a P226 back-to-back, I’m not sure you could tell which is which. For those not familiar with a P226/P229, the REX shoots smoothly and confidently. The grip is fat and fills up a dude-sized hand. Recoil impulse is soft and controllable, but the muzzle does want to flip a bit more than on most of your popular, striker-fired guns with a low bore axis. Grip angle is natural — a bit more on the upright end of the popular pistol grip angle spectrum — and the shape is pleasingly ergonomic.

This loaner REX came straight out of the box and I put 500 rounds through it without cleaning or lubing. About half of those rounds were shot at an indoor range, and about half out in below-freezing temperatures in the N’Idaho woods. Again, with ammo ranging in bullet weight from 92.5 grains to 147 grains, bullet profiles from FMJ round nose to flat nose to flying ashtray hollow points, from +P pressures to weak, cheap reloads, the REX ate it all. Not one single hiccup or stutter whatsoever, or any indication that it was even close (no weak ejection, no slight hangups on feeding, etc).

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It may be that the REX is slightly soft-sprung. TTAG reader, Arthur from Michigan, e-mailed to let us know that Wolff springs for the P226 fit the REX properly and that he’s very much enjoying the 16-lb replacement (part number 46016). It still runs plinking ammo just fine, but there’s noticeably less slide impact at its full rearward travel. While that slide impact is not a mistake and Arex says the REX zero 1 is designed to exceed a 30,000-round service life and is fully +P rated, if I owned this pistol I’d probably give a 15- and 16-lb recoil spring some range time. Arthur says it smooths the gun out and softens felt recoil even further, and I believe it. I’d likely stick with the standard one for defensive use, though.

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My only on-the-range complaint about the REX here is the magazine release. A closer look at the photo above tells part of the story — the mag release button is actually recessed below the level of the grip panel, and curves inwards from there. Obviously this is to prevent accidental activation on what is billed as a duty pistol, but it also hinders purposeful activation. With the girth of the grip on this gun, I really can’t reach far enough with my thumb to get the clean, perpendicular press inwards on the mag release button that’s necessary to clear the grip panel’s interference unless I shift my grip.

photo from FIME Group
FIME Group photo of the REX in three frame colors

The rest of the REX’s controls were definitely to my liking. The slide stop is out of the way of my thumbs so the slide locked back on empty without fail. That said, and again thanks in a large part to the girth of the frame, it’s hard for me to use it as a thumb-activated slide release without slightly shifting my grip. But I tend to slingshot the slide anyway. The safety is where it should be — maybe a touch high — and disengages naturally. When swiping it off before firing, I found I’d just continue to ride that control with my thumb while shooting. It isn’t quite as nice as a 1911’s safety lever for that purpose, but it works.

Conclusions

MSRP on the REX zero 1 S is $599. The P226 series starts at $1,015. In every way it appears to be at least equivalent in quality of materials, machining, and finish. It adds the option of using a manual safety to carry cocked and locked, an ambi mag release, and two additional rounds of capacity. Actually, okay, the cheap feeling, plastic grip panels are a quality let-down compared to the stellar rest of the gun.

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Full circle back to “the duck test,” and it turns out the REX isn’t a SIG even if it quacks like one. However, if you’re a fan of SIG’s P226/P229 I’m entirely confident you’re going to be a fan of this pistol. It’s highly accurate, runs like a top, seems to eat every type of ammo out there, and cuts the actual duck’s MSRP nearly in half while adding a few more bells and whistles. What’s not to like?

Specifications (Arex REX zero 1 S):

Caliber:  9x19mm
Action:  DA/SA, hammer-fired, semi-automatic
Trigger Pull Weight: 11.8 lbs DA, 4.5 lbs SA
Barrel Length:  4.3″
Overall Length:  7.7″
Height:  5.7″
Width: 1.1″ frame width, 1.46″ across safety levers
Weight: 29 oz (empty magazine is an additional 3 oz)
Capacity:  17+1
MSRP:  $599

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * * * *
High mechanical accuracy. Sharp sights and a good trigger lead to solid practical accuracy, too.

Ergonomics: * * *
As a dude with dude-sized hands, the gun is still fairly thick. It’s comfortable, don’t get me wrong, but the magazine release and slide stop are hard or impossible for me to reach with my thumb without breaking my grip.

Reliability: * * * * *
It runs, and it runs well. Materials quality, fit, and finish are very high.

Customize This: * * 
K-VAR has a handful of holsters available, plus spare mags (just $25). They apparently have some tritium night sights in the works. That’s about the extent of the aftermarket for the REX at this point.

Concealed Carry: * * 
It’s actually a fairly lightweight gun for its size, but it’s a duty-size pistol. Likely too tall to conceal easily, and on the thick side as well. More of an OWB, home defense, or otherwise not concealed gun.

Overall: * * * *
I’m not the biggest fan of SIG ergos, aesthetics, or the large amount of gun they put up above the web of your hand, and all of this colors my ultimate opinion of the REX. I can’t give it five stars because I like other modern pistols more and I shoot them better. However, if you’re a fan of the P226/P229 — and a fan of the guns rather than married to the SIG brand itself — you’re going to love this thing. The REX zero 1 S checks all of the SIG boxes, adds a few more of its own (ambi safety, ambi mag release, etc), and does so at just over half the SIG MSRP.

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63 Responses to Gun Review: Arex REX zero 1 S

  1. Too bad about the mags. If they were compatible, this would be a good “beater Sig” to drive in the mud, so to speak.

      • True, but they aren’t offering a 10 rounder, so no go for me.

        Also, I just feel like I am drowning in mags these days. Most of which are made by Mec-Gar and are very similar, but not quite similar enough to be cross-compatible (like the BUL M-5 Mags which will lock in to a PPQ .45 but will only feed sometimes). Since I already have lots of 10-round p226 mags, it would be nice to have a second gun to use them with.

        • If you can cut that sort of D-shaped hole in the front of them (that’s where it catches on the mag release), I bet they’d work 😛

        • Do what I did. Leave CT and bring your guns South, then you can have plenty of 17, 20, 30, 40 round magazines, and but evil black rifles.

        • Maybe one day – my wife would love for us to be in Texas.

          As I learned with my M-9/Canik mags, cutting holes for mag catches (or at least doing it well and effectively) is harder than it looks. At least for me.

    • I purchased the Rex Zero 1 and was looking for some 10rd mags. After some quick checking, it appears that the Rex mags are based in the Beretta 92. I modified a 10rd factory Beretta mag to work with the Rex. Very easy and works 100%. mag bodies are exact same dimensions. Just had to drill a small hole for mag release/catch.

      • Apparently because it’s not a revolver. Dude went out of his way to let everybody know that it’s not a revolver.

      • read it wrong, thought the safety was the large throw lever that is the decocker like on a sig. oops. Still not a REVOLVER! lol. I got confused too many levers,switches,mags and buttons for my Alabama brain. K.I.S.S.

        • Your obsession with revolvers is puzzling and absurd. A revolver is an antiquated and weapon who’s use in combat has been rendered obsolete by superior modern designs. There is a reason why those people who’s lives depend on their firearms to function at a high level on a daily basis (like me) don’t use revolvers.

          A Glock semi-auto has a slide stop and magazine release.
          Your revolver likely has a cylinder release, an extractor plunger, and a hammer. Where is the advantage for the simple minded between the two?

          The superior reliability of the revolver is a myth, and one often perpetuated by those who lack combat perspective and a true understanding of how complex a revolver really is. (And usually those who HAVEN’T seen one malfunction catastrophically on more than one occasion.)
          Additionally, your revolver is slower firing, less accurate than a semi-auto of similar size, has less firepower, reloads more slowly, and requires greater amounts of training and practice to help the shooter compensate for it’s innate design deficiencies.

          I understand some people have trouble letting go of the past. No doubt, there were many men back in the day who decried the advent of the “new fangled” revolver and refused to give up their flintlock and percussion cap muskets, and many in England who clung to the use of the longbow in combat long after the gun had supplanted it as a superior weapon. If you are one of those hide-bound traditionalists who would rather drive around in a Ford Model T while (or perhaps a horse and buggy) scoffing at the complicated technology of a Mercedes S65, I wish you the best, but shake my head in disappointed amusement.

    • Eh, I’m a lefty and had no real trouble with my issued P226. Decocking is a little bit of a PITA, but you’re only doing it once, or not at all with a manual safety. I much prefer dropping the mag with my trigger finger anyway as well.

      • Yeah at first I thought it was a little odd that they didn’t try to mirror the decocker and slide stop to the right side of the gun (some other guns in this family have done it, e.g. cz zastava 999), but then I thought about when you’d actually use a decocker. Basically, prior to holstering the gun and never else. And we’re never in a rush to holster.

      • You tilt the gun to the right (with your left) and use your (right) support hand to decock with your thumb then holster. Safest way I found to do it and keep it pointed down range. Its just an issue of training.

        • Werd! That’s what I found to work best as well. Left this in a comment on the YouTube video last week:

          If I were shooting it left-handed and wanted to use that control as a decocker or to release the slide, it’s much faster and easier for me to keep a full firing grip with my strong hand (left hand in this case) and reach over the top with my right thumb to press down on that control. I’d probably just slingshot the slide to release it from lock instead, which is my normal practice anyway, and which requires removing one’s support hand from the grip regardless. So that process is just as fast whether shooting left or right, but decocking is more of a pain. Of course, decocking isn’t something you would ever have to do in any sort of hurry anyway. It’s something you do before holstering.

  2. I liked some of the Sigs I shot, but the price on them is a tad scary. I may look into this instead, thank you.

  3. Would a P226 barrel fit? I have a threaded P226 barrel that I’d love to see in an Arex…

    Then again, the lug looks a little funky.

  4. Looks interesting. I’d like to know more about its internal safety mechanism. Any details on that end of it?

    • Well there’s definitely a firing pin block plunger (firing pin is physically blocked from moving forwards unless the trigger is pulled to the rear to move the plunger out of the way) and the manual safety itself completely disengages the trigger mechanism (seen in the video). Other than that, I’m not sure if there are further safety things built into the gun. It definitely does not have a magazine safety (it can be fired with no magazine in the gun).

      • Thanks for the response. Does the hammer float when it’s down ala P22X series or does it rest against the firing pin? It’s certainly a nifty looking unit, I’d just like to know a little more about it before I go and get one ordered up!

  5. FYI I’ve finally moved back into my house since that wind storm in November put a tree through my kitchen. Had to live in a rental since then. Anyway, now that I’m home I’ve been reunited with my Dvorak TriggerScan, so I just put the REX through that system and added the results to the review above.

    I hope these charts are helpful and can provide a visual indication of what the trigger pull actually feels like on a firearm.

    Cheers,

    Jeremy

  6. This looks very nice. Certainly better than the new Ruger American 9mm for a (probably) similar actual selling price.

    • They’re pretty darn different pistols. I’d guess the Ruger will be less expensive on the market by a decent margin, actually. Rugers tend to sell by a fairly large amount under their MSRP and the costs are likely lower vs. the REX since Rugers aren’t imported. I know made-in-the-U.S. often means more expensive, but I think in the case of firearms there are additional excise/import taxes and more entities taking a cut when it comes from abroad.

      …RAP’s are on GunBroker already for as low as $400 buy-it-now (most $425 to $455)…

  7. I like the manual safety. The de-cocker plus slide release all in the same lever is nothing new as the Walther P5 has this and I like this arraignment but the Walther P5 did not have MIM cast parts like this gun has. Notice the hammer its definitely MIM cast. Still the price is right and if it really does go 30,000 rounds I would not mind having one. I am leery of the MIM cast hammer though. The 17 round capacity is definitely another selling point.

    I will wait until I see a review on the 25 yard accuracy though. For me it would have to shoot below 2 1/2 inches at 25 yards.

    I wonder if the finish is rust resistant or just plain gun blue?

    • I think it’s fully capable of that sort of accuracy or better.

      It’s buried in the review text, but the slide and barrel finish is nitrocarburizing. That’s what Glock’s Tenifer is. It’s a form of nitriding. A quality treatment. As the frame is aluminum, it’s hard coat anodized.

    • K-VAR for sure. There’s a couple on gunbroker. All still at full MSRP right now though. I’m sure REXs will be hitting gun shops soon but I don’t think they’re solidly out in distribution quite yet. The FFL who does most of my transfers (Best Buy Surplus at 509.535.5375) is starting the process to carry them and should have some in stock shortly. If you have an LGS you like, they can probably purchase via FIME Group or K-VAR although I’m not sure if there’s a minimum or what creating a wholesale account looks like in this case, etc…

  8. I have an Astra A 100 9 mm which is based on the Sig 226. I like it although the trigger isn’t great and it’s a bit heavy.

    • Actually your gun was and is better than the “original” Sig 226. Your gun does not have a delicate aluminum frame or a junk stamped sheet metal slide. I owned one of the Astra 100’s once and if I remember correctly it also had solid steel pins holding in the parts not the junk stamped sheet metal roll pins Sigs have. Also the Astra did not have powdered metal parts (sintered metal) either rather it had parts made from bar stock. Hang on to your gun you have a very good gun, far better than you night have formerly thought.

  9. Wow, it’s as if this is what the 226 should have become.
    We have a 226 among our class training fleet and it’s pretty much the only 9mm gun I shoot (voluntarily), mostly because it’s the only metal one we have (apart from my Colt .38 Supers, which shoot 9×19 just fine).
    But rationalizing the decocker, adding a manual safety lock (which I strongly prefer for non-range guns, to inhibit unauthorized use), and going almost completely ambidextrous (I’m rightie but not everyone is) makes a much better gun.
    Seeing and hearing that the machining is of high quality appeals to my former-cabinetmaker’s heart.
    The price point is a winner.
    If I wasn’t committed to teaching people to shoot the gun they have to shoot, such as the 226, this gun would be ahead of the list on a purchase.
    One question for the author: How is the trigger reach? That problem is a significant one for many short-fingered folks. I see where you say the grip is large, and that’s to be expected. But many who would like to shoot the 226 just can’t get to the trigger in DA. How about the Arex?
    But, lose the dopey name, please.

    • Same. Same as the normal P226, that is, rather than the smaller E2 grip ones. Reach to the trigger in DA is pretty far. It’s comfortable for me but one of the guys at my FFL commented that it was a stretch for him. Really, other than the fact that the decocker serves as the slide stop and the rear control is a safety instead of the slide stop, for all practical purposes everything P226 applies to this. Trigger, grip, appearance from behind while shooting, feel while shooting, dimensions, etc, are all basically identical.

  10. bought one of these and ran it in a steal plate competition. did great i just dont like the sights. the dimpals for the white donts are to deep so the white just turned to gray and it was hard to line up. other than that the gun ran flawlessly. i will look into the heavier spring as it did have a little muzzle flip

  11. Ok, so i got one of these last week and dropped ~400 rds through it on the weekend and maintained <1" grouping from 7-15yds. I will say I am more than impressed by it's overall performance and machining. If you ever get to get your hands on one, you'll notice that they took influences from acroos the market, SIG, CZ. SA's XD and S&W's 5906, there's little bits of them all in this thing. Digging a little more into the background of the company you'll find that they are literally machine machinists. They produce the machines required to do machining, who better to know precision? from a financial and carry standpoint, everyone knows if you use a gun defensively, you're gonna give it up for a little while. Would you rather hand over a $1k Sig or something that performs equally if not arguably better that costs just over half that? I gotta admit, the REXzero1 is my current carry, and I look forward to more models making it across the blue

  12. Based on this review as well as some more on-line research, I ordered an Arex Rex Zero 1S. I am looking forward to breaking it in, as my last SA/DA pistol I used for daily carry is a Browning BDM. Black Arch Holsters just added the Ace Gen 2 holster for the Arex Rex Zero 1S as well. I just ordered mine as I’ve really liked the one I have for my Glock 19 Gen 4.

  13. This pistil shoots like a dream. Each to his own , mostly grip style & size but some follow trends. Again this pistol shoots like dream. Machine work is quality most only start with , sloppy at end of run. This is superb machine fit & finish. Accuracy is better than many I have shot even though grip is almost to large for my hand. 5 rounds in 2inch or less @ 15 yards.

  14. I own a P226 stainless elite and it’s shoots like a dream! If this Rex is as good as the author claims for half the price then it’s a winner for me. Specially for those who can’t afford Sig prices.

  15. You sir, are a very good shot!! I wish I had known about them b4 I purchased my Sig P220 Equinox. Which I sold last year because I wasn’t that thrilled with it. This gun, however appears to be much better. Don’t know why you, and most everyone else, doesn’t like 3 dot sights!! I, on the other hand, love them, and absolutely hate night sights. Reason, they’re very hard to see in the daytime. Anyway it’s a mute point. Are those guns available on Gunbroker? I’ll just look now. Great video, thanks. Jay Andre

  16. I have a Rex for abouts 4months now, just love it. The controls are more pronounced than a Sig but not protrusive; very easy to use even with gloves on. A gloved trigger finger has plenty of room in the trigger guard. It operates just as well left handed as right handed. Groups stay pretty tight out to 60′, haven’t tried beyond that however.

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