Gun Review: AREX Zero 2S 9mm Pistol

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Arex Zero 2s 9mm Pistol DA/SA
The slide lock/release of the AREX Zero 2S also serves as a decocker. (photo by Graham Baates)

In Januray 2016 I had an opportunity to try out a pistol by a little-known Slovenian company called AREX. The AREX Zero 1 appeared to be an improvement of NB Inat’s improvement of Zastava’s improvement of the SIG 226.

Yes, there’s some strange lineage there, but the end result was an impressive all-metal, DA/SA, double-stack 9mm pistol with the decocker level smartly doubling as the slide lock/release.

A short while later the AREX Zero 1 would become popular as a survivor of the Military Arms Channel’s “Gauntlet” test. What I enjoy about the AREX Zero line of guns is that they are TRUE double-action or single-action. You can carry cocked and locked in single action with the safety on, or decocked, with or without the safety.

So what’s new with the AREX Zero 2S? At first glance it appears that only cosmetic changes have been made. I returned the Zero 1 sample gun so long ago I hardly remember it, so a true comparison isn’t possible. What drew my attention immediately to the Zero 2S is the grip texture we’ll affectionately call “giraffe’s neck,” along with some slight changes to the ergonomics.

Arex Zero 2s 9mm Pistol DA/SA
AREX Zero 2S Grip (photo by Graham Baates)

As seen in the photo above, the grip features a gentle bump on the left side. This bump was found to help keep the firing thumb of large-handed shooters from bumping or resting on the controls while firing. Interestingly enough, the same bump helps smaller hands get a full grip with something to press against for more contact.

Additionally, you’ll notice the toe of the grip kicks out a bit. This helps reduce the chances of pinching a finger during reloads and also sort of locks the firing hand in place. Combine that feature with an intelligent grip texture and the AREX Zero 2S parks itself nicely and comfortably in the hand.

For a closer look at the total package see the Tabletop video below . . .


The range is where we learned just how the improved ergonomics worked both for my men’s XXL-glove hands and Teya’s women’s size small hands. To see how AREX did at maintaining the legendary reliability of the Zero line, we hit the range to test the basics including full magazine +1, ten different loads of all case and projectile types and varying weights, trigger control, and practical accuracy.

It’s a longer video because there was a lot to be said about the AREX Zero 2S . . .

What amazed me second-most (behind how well the ergonomics fit two very different hand sizes) was the Zero 2S’s trigger. It’s not an amazing competition trigger with a 1911 break and Walther-like reset. It’s a duty/defensive trigger with ample travel.

What impressed me, though, was how smooth the double-action pull is, and how the slightly longer-than-anticipated reset helped me shoot better. It didn’t help in the accuracy test, but when mag dumping, and in our trigger control test, it forced me to wait until the approximate time when the gun had fully settled after the previous shot…almost like having a voice whispering, “wait for it”.

I’ve reviewed hundreds of pistols over the years. As a result, I can typically find the good in most modern-production guns, but the AREX Zero 2S made me pause and appreciate what is truly is a fine pistol.

Arex Zero 2s 9mm Pistol DA/SA

The features attracted me and the aesthetics drew me in, but it was the shooting that really sold me. The price tag may induce some sticker shock, but this isn’t some plastic gun squirted into a mold. It’s an aluminum frame CNC-machined in a modern European facility. Production costs are higher for that, and in this case the end result is worth it even with a failing dollar.

Specifications: AREX Zero 2S 9mm Pistol

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 18+1
Length: 7.8″
Height: 5.6″
Width: 1.4″
Barrel Length: 4.2″
Weight w/magazine: 32oz
Safety: Ambidextrous
Price: $849.99

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
With 13 loads tested including brass, steel, aluminum, plated brass and steel cases, and various projectile shapes, not one of them malfunction. I fed it rounds with bullets from 65 to 165 grains including personal defense and frangible rounds. Everything chambered and everything went bang.

Ergonomics * * * * *
Initial concerns about the broad grip and reach for a double-action first pull were overcome by two shooters with very different hand sizes. Both enjoying the AREX Zero 2S. How they fit 18 rounds of 9×19 ammunition into the grip without making it a foot long, I do not know.

Accuracy * * * * *
A crisper trigger would make grouping shots easier, but that’s a shooter skill not a mechanical fault. The AREX Zero 2S is capable of stacking rounds in the same hole if the shooter does their part.

Concealability * * * ½
At 1.4″ wide, and with an 18-round (albeit it short) magazine, the AREX Zero 2S is on the larger size of current trends. The breadth will challenge both strong side and appendix carriers.

Overall: * * * * ½
This is a tough conclusion to make. Few guns can serve every role well. The AREX Zero 2S was obviously intended as a duty gun and as such, it may be a challenge for some to carry. That aside, this is an excellent pistol that is very comfortable to shoot and performs really well on the range. Trigger snobs will need to learn to deal with some reset travel, but that same travel will likely serve less-disciplined shooters well. Aside from that, the asking price is a bit stiff, but that’s the case for most nice things. And it’s worth it.

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    • No kidding. That is more than a new CZ SP01/PCR or Beretta 92 Compact.

      I would also take my chances with a nice used/CPO SIG P229 anyday.

      • Do you have any experience with an Arex pistol? Because I’ve owned both Sig P226 and Rex Zero 1 and I’ll have to tell you that you should at a minimum give Arex a look.

      • Like I’ve said many times, don’t buy new design guns right away. Gun manufacturers, because they care about money and there can never be too many losses, choose you, the customer, to debug their gun. After a few years, and a few faces blown off, and a few revisions, that gun is ready for you to buy. And after you get that gun, check your cisgendered heteronormative patriarchy supporting male white self, and give black people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t just draw your weapon and start a DGU. No. Assume the black person isn’t going to hurt you, question your self bias. Check your whiteness, get down on your knees and beg for forgiveness, because you are white, and hand over whatever money you have in your pocket for the sake of reparations. It would help, if you could shine a black man’s shoes while you are on your hands and knees down there. Then STFU and GTFO and stop killing minorities, by NOT buying this gun or any other guns.

        • Did you miss the part of this being an evolution of the NB Inat BB 22 of the Zastava EZ9 of the Zastava CZ999 of the Zastava CZ99 of the Sig 226?

        • @Graham Baates,
          Thanks for the article and videos. Just so you know, you’re replying to a troll’s troll. It’s a long story.

        • Maybe stop giving people a reason to kill minorities with your stupidity and then we can talk. In the meantime, have fun at your BLM mostly peaceful protest.

    • You do know that $849.99 is the MSRP, right? Most pistols will sell for somewhat less… with gun shows being a possible exception. To each his own though.

  1. had not heard of nb inat. serbian, cool. a croatian friend has the zastava version of thee 226, it’s pretty nice.
    other than being medium large this looks competant. all metal, hammer, no need to choose between safety and decock. weighs within an oz of a cz75 compact.

      • avatar Geoff "A day without an obsessed, obviously brain-damaged and mentally-ill demented troll (who deserves to live in New Jersey) PR


        Spoken by the frightened little boy with nothing between his legs, who has vast, extensive personal experience with being lonely…

        Loser! 🤣

    • I think it’s neat. But if it doesn’t function well, it doesn’t matter. I’ll never know myself-out of my budget!

      • It’s all-metal, it’s hammer-fired, it’s European.

        Me like. Nice. 🙂

        But so is CZ, and it’s a bit better known reputation…

        • I’m not against this pistol. I like hammer fired semi-autos.

          I don’t much care about the mass but many people do and this one’s on the high-end, but so’s the mag capacity.

          Personally, I don’t see the price as an issue. It’s about $150-$200 over the MSRP for a Baby Eagle III or a CZ and about on par with a decent deal for a USP. And going back to mass, I’m sure this thing pistol-whips unruly people better than the USP too.

        • Yes and no. Most of the CZ reputation is from when they were a state-run company, not the modern private company.

    • “COST ?”

      See above – “Price: $849.99”.

      Sig, Beretta, and CZ money…

      • And I will take the real deal SIG P226 rather than some overpriced look alike. Plenty of fine used ones out there too. This SEAL gives quite an endorsement for the P226 and has put a whole lot of rounds through his P226s.

        • Sorry, but Sig ain’t all that. Plus who needs to spend double on mags that are as inconsistent as the day is long.

          I’ll take this updated clone any day.

  2. What would make this a “true DA/SA” versus other guns like the CZ75? I can do first shot DA or cock hammer and carry with safety on like he describes in this article. Many guns allow this, so what makes the operation unique in this model?

    • Yes many guns can be decocked, though there are quite a few “SA/DA” that do not decock. The brilliance in this model, like its predecessors is that the slide lock/release lever is also the decocker.

  3. what’s with the posting and comments? People can spam the site/comments with work from home stuff but I ask a question related to the article/review and I only get the ‘waiting for moderation’ and nothing happens?

  4. quote———— It’s not an amazing competition trigger with a 1911 break and Walther-like reset. It’s a duty/defensive trigger with ample travel.———–quote

    Translation: The trigger pull sucks. Notice that there is no mention of the weight of pull in single action or if it has creep. And the author admits to over-travel of the trigger.

    quote————-and how the slightly longer-than-anticipated reset——–quote

    Translation: The reset is too long for rapid fire shooting. In all fairness this is the major fault of the much worshiped FN Grande Puissance Pistol (High Power) Notice I did not call it a Browning because it never was, it was invented by Dieudonné Saive.

    Notice that there is no mention of the accuracy of the pistol at 25 yards. Translation: The accuracy sucks.

    And lastly the $850 price tag is the real deal breaker. No thanks I will pass on this one. At least with the low budget plasticky pistols you expect to put up with all of these problems.

    • Those of us who have been through extensive training, and especially those of us who have been in combat understand that a sweet 1911/Canik-like trigger can be great on the range but a liability in a fight, especially as a civilian when every shot can have a law suit tied to it. I don’t mention trigger pull weight because unless it is absurdly heavy or light it doesn’t matter. I discuss trigger feel and show you exactly how much travel there is in the tabletop video in the chapter labeled, “trigger talk”. Trigger feel is also discussed in the live-fire video. We don’t test accuracy at 25 yards because statistics show civilian defense handgun use tends to be within seven yards. We do, however, shoot the gun at a reduced-sized target from 20 yards but I don’t suppose you paid attention to that either.

  5. Graham, I get the impression you do not like CZ guns, particularly re your comment above. Can you tell me why? Your experience with them? Not my intent to be snarky with you. I would really like to know and I read/watch all your reviews. I have a 75B and really like it, the weight and the fact it’s all metal. Considering a Shadow 2 SA and a Tactical Sport Orange. As well as your review gun and a GP X-Calibur. Appreciate your thoughts. Maybe this is worth a video for you to do? Thanks.

  6. I was able to purchase one a few months ago for $200 less. I think it’s the best shooting 9mm pistol I own, very accurate, very low recoil, a great feel and it’s a beautiful gun. The guys at the gun store where I did the FFL transfer were drooling over it. I already had the Zero 1 and the magazines for the Zero 1 and Zero 2 are interchangable. It’s my EDC.


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