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Exclusive: Arex ReX zero 1 CP Compact 9 mm Review

Exclusive: Arex ReX zero 1 CP Compact 9 mm Review

Founded originally as a toolmaking enterprise in Slovenia, Arex has been working in the defense industry for more than 20 years now. In 2005 its in-house manufacturing operations were expanded to include gun components. Within a few years the company was ready to launch its own line of pistols. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with brand new models, the company focused its experience and expertise with state-of-the-art CAD/CAM processes with the intent to improve upon existing designs.

The result of these efforts is the ReX zero 1 semi-automatic 9 mm pistol series. Working in partnership with the FIME Group of Las Vegas, Nev., the full-size Standard model 9 mm was introduced at the 2016 SHOT Show last January. By the time I caught up with the company at the NASGW Expo in October, the Standard had already been the subject of several positive reviews (including a Gun of the Week video). However, the FIME Group was on the verge of releasing a new Compact model and agreed to send me one for testing.



The new ReX zero 1 CP Compact 9 mm pistol (referred to hereafter as the ReX CP), like the Standard model, takes its design cues from the classic Sig Sauer pistol with some interesting modifications. The pistol operates using a modified Browning linkless locking system with a barrel that locks into the slide’s ejection port. The ReX CP, much like the Glock 19, has been trimmed down just a bit to make it more comfortable to carry. The barrel and grip frame are both about half an inch shorter, the magazine holds 15 rounds instead of 17, and the unloaded pistol is about 2 oz. lighter.

 

The flat-nosed chrome-moly steel side is milled from solid bar stock and features front and rear cocking serrations, beveled top edges and a matte black Nitrocarburized finish (which is a variation of the nitriding process). The sight system consists of high-profile 3-dot metallic sights dovetailed into the slide at the front and rear. The 3.85" single-piece barrel is cold hammer-forged from chrome-moly steel and Nitrocarburized like the slide. The traditional lan-and-groove rifling allows for the use of unjacketed bullets. The recoil assembly consists of a full-length guide rod and a single round wire recoil spring. 

The pistol’s controls consist of smooth-faced steel trigger, a left-side takedown lever, a left-side combination slide catch and de-cocking lever, an ambidextrous checkered magazine release button and ambidextrous thumb safety, which disconnects the sear from the trigger when placed in the Safe position. The ReX CP's other safety features include a firing pin drop safety catch that prevents the pistol from firing unless the trigger is depressed, and a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide that provides both visual and tactile confirmation when a round is present. 

The ReX CP employs an old school DA/SA trigger system (double-action to single-action) with an exposed hammer that can be manually cocked and provides a second-strike capability in case of a hard primer. The hammer rebounds away from the firing pin when the de-cocker is used. The thumb safety can be engaged with the hammer in the forward position for a longer, heavier double-action trigger pull on the first shot or the pistol can be carried “cocked and locked” with the hammer cocked and the safety engaged for a shorter, lighter single-action trigger pull when the first shot is fired. Either way the trigger feels nice and smooth and has a short reset for follow-up shots. The double-action trigger pull is listed at 13 lbs., which is one pound heavier than my trusty Lymans digital trigger gauge can measure. The single-action trigger has a quarter-inch of takeup before breaking cleanly with 5 lbs. 5 oz. of trigger pull. 

 

The hard anodized frame is milled from 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum, providing a full-length set of slide rails, and is fitted with a steel locking block insert. The dust cover has an integral 1.50" Picatinny accessory rail for lights and lasers. The trigger guard is squared off to form a finger rest, has plenty of interior room for gloved fingers, and is undercut at the grip frame for a more comfortable shooting-hand fit. The frontstraps and backstraps of the grip frame are serrated for improved purchase. The slim profile black polymer grip panels are molded with an effective raised-dot texturing and held in place by hex head screws. The sturdy, well-made 15-round steel magazines have numbered witness holes and polymer base plates.

Field stripping the ReX CP is a quick and easy process that does not require any contact with the trigger. Start by locking the slide into the open position, remove the magazine and verify the pistol is completely unloaded. Pivot the left-side takedown lever from the 3 o'clock to the 6 o'clock position. Release the slide and move it forward off of the frame. Lift the recoil assembly and barrel from the slide and the pistol is ready to clean.

 

I was impressed by the quality of the craftsmanship, finish and attention to detail revealed during the inspection and bench checks of the ReX CP before taking it to the range. All of the lines, inside and out, are crisp and clean. The pistol was completely free of any dings, scratches or factory grunge that follow some manufacturers’ products out the door. In a meeting with Walker English, director of sales for the FIME Group, he explained that he spent two years working in concert with the Arex team to ensure the pistols were completely ready before introducing them to the American market. That work is clearly evident in how the guns look and operate.

At the shooting range, the ReX CP performed admirably with a variety of ammunition ranging from steel-cased practice loads to premium defensive cartridges. There were no mechanical or ammunition related failures throughout the entire course of testing. All of the controls worked smoothly and correctly with the magazines dropping free of the grip when the magazine release was pressed. The FIME Group sent a Standard model along with the Compact so that I would have a point of reference for their differences in size. It was just as reliable as the smaller version. If you are looking for a holster, the BLACKHAWK! Serpa CQC 08 concealment holster for the Sig Pro 2022 fits both ReX pistols perfectly. 

The felt recoil produced by the ReX CP was a little snappy, which is to be expected from a lightweight pistol like this one. The double-stack grip frame fills the hand but the slim polymer grip panels keep it from feeling fat or blocky. My hands are on the small side so I had just enough room to form a full three-finger grip with the shooting hand. Those folks with bigger mitts will probably be more comfortable working with the Standard size grip frame. 

Although there is not a +P marking on the barrel, all ReX pistols are listed as, “Approved for SAAMI Specification +P Loads." So I went ahead and included some +P loads in the test set. With its 3.85" barrel, the ReX CP technically qualified for formal accuracy testing at just 15 yards. However, the pistol shot so well and handled so nicely off the bench that I went ahead and pushed the targets out to 25 yards for formal benchrested accuracy testing. Hornady TAP 124-gr. +P jacketed hollow points produced a best single group of 2.95" with a 5-group average of 3.10". Sig Sauer V-Crown 124-gr. jacketed hollow points yielded a best group of 2.78" with an average of 2.95". Winchester's USA Forged steel-cased 115-gr. full-metal-jacket round printed a best group of 3.03" with an average of 3.18" 

The new Arex ReX zero 1 CP 9 mm, imported by the FIME Group, is a classy double-stack 9 mm that exudes quality and runs reliably. With its mid-size suggested retail price of $649.99, it’s certainly not the least expensive option on the market. However, it looks, feels and behaves like pistols that often cost two or even three times as much. For a company that has just arrived on the American shooting market, Arex has hit the ground running with this top-notch series of pistols. This model is slated to start shipping by the end of the year.

NRA Specifications
Manufacturer: Arex
U.S. Importer: FIME Group
Model: ReX zero 1 CP Compact
Action: Semi-Automatic, Modified Browning Linkless Locking System
Caliber: 9 mm Luger (9x19 mm), Approved for SAAMI Specification +P Loads
Trigger System: Single- and Double-action, Hammer Fired
Slide: Nitrocarburized Milled Steel Barstock
Barrel: Single-Piece Cold-Hammer-Forged Barstock, Nitrocarburized Finish
Frame: Milled T7075 Aluminum, Hard Anodized with Steel Locking Block
Dust Cover: Full Length with Integral 1.50" Accessory Rail
Grip Panels: Slim Profile Textured Black Polymer
Sights: Dovetailed Metallic 3-Dot, High Profile
Barrel Length: 3.85"
Overall Length: 7.10"
Height: 5.10"
Slide Width: 0.98"
Frame Width: 1.10"
Weight: 30.4 oz. with empty magazine
Single-Action Trigger Pull: Over 12 lbs. (as tested)
Double-Action Trigger Pull: 5 lbs. 5 oz. (as tested)
Capacity: 15+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:9.8” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: Two Magazines, Hard Case, Lock, Owner’s Manual
MSRP: $649.99

Holster: BLACKHAWK! Serpa CQC 08 SIG Pro 2022 (410508BK-R) $50.95

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