USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- I have been a fan of the Arex pistols for quite some time. A few months ago, the FIME Group (Arex’s importer for the US) invited me to tour the Arex factory in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I agreed wholeheartedly and was looking forward to this trip, despite almost a whole day of air travel coming and going.
After flying from Reno, NV to Denver, CO and on to Washington D.C., I left the freedom of the United States behind when the plane touched down at Frankfurt Airport in Germany.
If you have never been to Frankfurt, it is a huge international airport that makes Dulles, Atlanta and any other major airport in the US look like Reno/Tahoe International. All I could think was, “I hope my departing gate for my Croatian flight is not 7 miles the other way.”
I got a little nervous landing in Germany and being told to get on a cattle car to get to the next terminal.
It turned out that my departing gate was only a 1.2-mile walk. When I arrived at the gate, I was told it had been moved to Gate 51. You would think that the gates are in numerical order like the rest of the civilized world, but not so in Germany.
I found myself at a customs desk and asked the fellows behind the counter where Gate 51 was.
“What is going on at Gate 51?”
“That’s where my flight is.”
“Where are you going? Why are you in the EU?”
“I have a flight to Croatia and I’m going to Slovenia from there to tour a few castles.”
Like I was going to tell Herr Custom desk that I was going to tour a gun factory.
They stamped my passport and sent me on my way. The flight to Croatia was uneventful, save for the fact that the airplane’s bathroom looked more like one found in an NYC Times Square subway station in the late 1970s. Do you guys even Lysol, brah?
When I landed in Croatia, I was met by the guys and gals from FIME and a few other firearm writers as we boarded a shuttle bus and drove across the border into Slovenia. It was about a 45-minute drive from the airport to the hotel, which was converted from a medieval castle.
We packed a lot of activities into this trip, touring various castles which were converted into art galleries and what might pass as a tourist trap in Eastern Europe.
Touring the Arex factory was, however, my highlight of this trip.
Although Arex was started in 1994, you would never know it. The factory looks brand new and is immaculate. They have a minimum of 25000 square feet of manufacturing space and put all of it to good use.
The apperence was surprising as when most of us probably think of manufacturing in Eastern Europe; we envision factory workers hammering out parts from questionable materials on ancient machinery probably intended for something else and repurposed to build arms.
I have toured quite a few manufacturing plants in the US and abroad and not only was Arex the cleanest and best organized, but the equipment was state of the art.
When I saw the EDM wire cutter, I practically begged them to start making rifle triggers. Then I saw the CNC machines, milling machines and realized that they made more than just their firearms here. They make the very tools that they use to build those firearms.
I suspect this may have been born out of necessity as specialized tools may be hard to come by in Europe and Slovenia may not be the most accessible country on the planet
A significant portion of the factory is dedicated to QC (quality control) where individual parts and components are inspected and stamped in order to track tolerances.
However, the cold-hammer-forging machine is what impressed me the most.
Watching the barrel-making process is always impressive, and the large sections of steel used are quite a bit bigger than what most handgun manufacturers would use because the barrel, ramp, etc. are all machined from one solid piece.
As a side note, Arex used to manufacture M4 and machinegun barrels under contract for FN (Fabrique Nationale). That alone should give testimony to the quality that Arex is capable of producing.
Another section was dedicated to reloading, as Arex manufactures training ammunition with plastic projectiles and other munitions. The automated presses were not familiar to me like a Camdex or Ammoload machine, but they capably got the job done to the tune of about 2500 rounds in an hour.
Perhaps my most significant learning moment was in the factory range located downstairs.
Each firearm that leaves the factory is test fired. The course of fire begins with two over pressured rounds. After a visual inspection, the pistols are fired with 20 rounds to check functionality, and finally, ten rounds are used to zero the sights.
I was pretty impressed with the deliberate firing of the overpressured rounds. More impressed to learn that this has been the European standard in pistol building for quite some time.
Our factory tour was capped off by a presentation of Arex’s newest pistol, the Arex Rex Delta handgun, (read my review) and we got to speak with the engineering team behind the company’s bold new design.
The final day was spent at the range test-firing the new pistols at a private outdoor range followed by a barbecue dinner at the owner’s country home complete with homemade wine, handmade cheese and some of the best pork I have ever had in my life.
I walked away more impressed with the quality of Arex’s pistols and their attitude as a company than I did going in. I once again recommend you consider a new Arex pistol add to your gun safe.
About Mike Searson
Mike Searson’s career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for many magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.
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