On the day my gun review for the Arex’s Rex Zero 1CP pistol was published, a reader inquired about whether this gun is legal in California. The answer is, not at the moment.
The Arex factory is a multi-function center whose primary manufacturing focus is tools. Influences from the defense industry, and the company’s purchase of high-end CNC machining equipment, evolved into the development of the Rex pistols. Arex is, according to company reps, a household name in eastern Europe, akin to, say, Snap-On Tools in the United States.
The Rex line is imported by FIME Group of Las Vegas, Nevada. The guns bear both Arex and FIME branding.
The multinational 9mm cannon. (Photo: Team HB)
FIME Group may present the pistol, with a reduced-capacity magazine of course, to the California Department of Justice for approval. So the handgun may not be on unapproved status forever.
The Rex Zero 1CP — CP identifies the compact version — is not to be confused with a sub-compact. It’s big enough to show up at the range with the full-size guns and not be at a disadvantage.
Maybe a better comparison is this: think of a Sig P220 carry model (which does offer a CA legal variant). Now think of the Rex Zero 1CP. There. With a few subtle differences, mostly in grip angle and configuration, the Rex (with its 3.85-inch barrel) is a Sig P220 clone — for a lot less money.
Cocked and locked. Note upward-facing safety lever near rear of slide. (Photo: Team HB)
California’s certified handguns list — that is, those approved for sale by dealers within the state — is short in comparison to its 61-page list of handguns removed from approved status. That list dates back to 2001. The first firearm to be banned from sales was the Kimber Poly Stainless II, in 45 ACP with a 5-inch barrel.
Many gun manufacturers have spent significant capital in creating guns for the large but hamstrung Golden State consumer. Low-capacity magazines, loaded chamber indicators, and approved locking devices to be packaged with the firearm are just three requirements. The state has its own safety evaluation standards which includes live fire and drop test measures. Testing of sample firearms, provided to the state’s contracted testing company, NTS, is all done at the manufacturer’s expense.
The safety lever is identical on left and right sides. (Photo: Team HB)
Another gray area (or brick wall, if you’re a pessimist) is microstamping. Since 2013 microstamp requiring legislation has been blamed for keeping any new semi-autos off of CA’s approved handguns list (as has been the case with all 4th generation Glocks). This is because, as far as I know, there is no company that utilizes this technology.
The NSSF is fighting it in the courts, but nothing is likely to occur on that for months and then, as it is a California Supreme Court case, it probably isn’t going to go very far. For the record, I was unable to confirm the status of this microstamping law and, while there is plenty of kvetching about other CA regs and laws, I have never heard microstamping cited as part of the problem by the dozen-plus Californians I shoot with every year. As no company that I know of has embraced microstamping, it seems like pie in the sky stuff to me.
Arex is a company that, in partnership with FIME Group of Las Vegas, is just beginning to spread its wings as a firearm maker and vendor, especially in the US. Arex also offers this gun in 9x21mm, .40 S&W, and .32 Auto, though I’m not sure about availability in the United States. It’s little wonder they’ve not taken steps to become California-legal yet, when big-league players like Ruger and Smith & Wesson pulled out of the market there, years ago, citing nonsensical laws as the reason.
The Glock G45 and S&W M&P are two of the most popular handguns on the market today. There's a reason for this. They’re both fantastic guns. But is one better than the other? Technically, no. But personally, yes. Let's find out.