the past twenty five years European American Armory has
weathered the ups and downs of not only business cycles but
restrictive legislation that seemed certain to put a dent in the
market for high capacity semi-auto pistols.
They have managed not only to survive but flourish
marketing full size pistols.
The only explanation is the merits of the gun.
The Italian made Witness pistols have proven good
performers for the money, often
giving good service and providing an entry level center fire
auto for the interested shooter.
The Witness is basically a highly evolved CZ 75 type pistol.
The profile is unmistakable, but the Witness line differs
in several regards. The
Witness may be carried cocked and locked or hammer down, safety
on, while the CZ
offers the option of safety on carry only in the cocked and
locked mode. There
are several versions of the Witness pistol.
The standard model is the 9mm CZ type,
with the distinctive elongated grip frame that forms a
comfortable beavertail. Many
prefer this grip frame to the original CZ.
It is familiar in profile to the many 1911 shooters who
mount custom beavertails on their 1911s. These handguns are available in 9mm and .40 S&W in full
size and compact versions.
The large frame pistols are available in .45 ACP,
10mm and .38
Super. The .38
Super version is fairly rare, but sometimes encountered. It is not a big seller for EAA but this may change with
the sunset of the assault weapons bill.
In its original configuration the .38 Super Witness was
capable of carrying
eighteen rounds of .38 Super in its spacious magazine.
That is much more exciting than an eighteen shot 9mm,
understanding the Super as I do.
offers a complete line of accessories and even gunsmith
services, but best
contact them for information.
I suspect much that is new and interesting is coming your
way in the near future! An
important aspect of the Witness pistol’s
success is that while it works fine as issued,
the pistol can be modified to suit the individual.
It is not exactly the "Mr. Potato Head" that
the 1911 can be, but is quite versatile.
While all offer the choice of single action fire and
cocked and locked carry, there
are quite a few factory versions available that are manufactured
as single action pistols without the double action option. These pistols are designed for competition use and fit that
pistol reviewed is the Witness Limited Class.
This pistol sports a 4.75 inch barrel,
a large squared trigger guard compatible with gloved hand
use, a single
action trigger, an
enlarged safety, a
rather wild frame extension equivalent to a beavertail as found
on 1911 pistols, a
high grade adjustable rear sight,
an enlarged magazine funnel,
and twenty line per inch checkering of the trigger guard
and grip strap. This
is a very decent gun in fit and finish,
with certain notable design features that enhance
accuracy. The slide is enclosed by the frame,
offering a full length interface between the long bearing
surfaces of the pistol. This
is the opposite of the Colt 1911 or Browning High Power design. The
frame mounted safety is far more rapid in manipulation than the
slide mounted safety found on most pistols of the double action
type. The Witness
safety not only locks the hammer,
the sear is frozen when the safety is applied.
The Witness also features a positive firing pin block or
have enjoyed good service with previous Witness pistols, and
expected excellent accuracy and handling from this example.
I would not be disappointed.
A minor difficulty was experienced in finding a holster
to wear at the range. The standard Witness will fit some 1911
holsters, as well
as a number molded for the Beretta 92.
No such luck with the target version.
I was able to make use of the full size
Nylon holster. This
holster was adequate for range use and offered an inexpensive
scabbard for informal range testing.
As for ammunition, I
decided to go for the gold and use ammunition that had proven
accurate in a number of .45 autos.
This included a number of handloads in Starline
is of high quality and very consistent, an important
consideration in working up top accuracy loads.
I often begin with fresh Starline brass in order to
remove all room for error.
The bullet of choice for top accuracy is the Sierra
230 grain FMJ, MATCH. This
bullet has proven gilt edged accurate in several 1911s and good
results were predicted. The
powder used for the most part was Hodgdon Titegroup,
a clean burning powder that has given good results in
practically every pistol caliber in my experience.
I also chose a number of factory loads that had proven
accurate in other pistols,
Black Hills 230 grain RNL.
This is quite an accurate load, even in the bargain ‘blue
I also hand on hand a number of partial boxes of various
jacketed hollow point factory loads left over from previous test
performed well, others did not.
beginning the range tests,
I disassembled the Witness and lubricated the pistol with
Birchwood Casey gun oil. The long bearing surfaces were liberally doused as well as
the barrel where it met the end of the slide,
and the rear of the slide where it cocked the hammer.
Thus prepared, I began range testing. I
always fire the handgun off hand a few times to familiarize
myself with the function, trigger,
and handling of the pistol.
The first few ten round magazines were filled with Black
Hills 230 grain RNL loads. I fired a number of rounds into a silhouette target at
ten yards. With the
weight of the gun, the
well defined front post seemed to hang on the target.
Control was excellent.
In firing five ten round magazines,
I experienced no discomfort at all. The pistol is very
pleasant to fire and use. I did experience a handful of failures to fully close the
unusual in a tightly fitted pistol.
These failures to close disappeared
within the first one hundred rounds.
Many pistols demand a break in period,
and the Witness is no exception.
Witness target configuration is not intended for use as a
defensive handgun but a big burly
.45 with an eleven round capacity certainly could do the
business. This pistol swings
readily between targets and control is excellent.
The grip is a bit larger than the 1911,
but control is enhanced by the pistol’s
excellent 24 lines per inch checkering.
As a control test, I loaded a full magazine with Black Hills 230 grain JHP +P.
This load is usually very
accurate and exits most .45s at around 950 fps.
I was able to
fire an acceptable off hand group at a long twenty five yards.
The pistol simply came back on target quickly each time I
drug the front sight into the rear notch,
and the smooth trigger compression was a joy to use.
Recoil was there, but the Witness could obviously be more
than a target gun. I
did not miss a double action feature when
firing this pistol, and double action shooting at 25
yards is problematical with any handgun.
settled down to perform the obligatory bench rest firing
session. After all,
this is a highly touted target piece and while action shooting
places a premium on handling under speed,
the pistol needs to be accurate. The well defined sight
picture was a definite aid in firing the pistol well.
I loaded the first magazine with five rounds of Black
Hills 230 grain RNL and settled in for the routine.
With due care in sight alignment and maintaining a good
sight picture, I
squeezed off the first round.
Follow-through was not difficult with this weight gun.
I followed with four more rounds.
After making the walk to the target,
I was rewarded with a nicely spaced two and one half inch
group. Four of
these were inside of two inches, common with semi auto handguns- one round was spaced apart from the
Next, I attempted to fire a few rounds of PMC Starfire. A
friend asked me to evaluate these rounds in the Witness. The first round fed as I dropped the slide but the second
refused to feed and tied up on the feed ramp.
Looking closely, it was obvious that the bullet had been
driven into the cartridge case.
This is unacceptable.
Even when the round will not feed,
the bullet should maintain sufficient case mouth fit to
maintain the overall cartridge length. I suffered two failure to feed malfunctions with the
Starfire. The three
rounds I managed to fire settled into about three inches.
Obviously, the Witness does not like some wide mouth JHP
Next, I fired five rounds of Black
Hills 230 grain JHP off the bench. Recoil was brisk, but
not quite as abrupt as the +P version.
Feed was flawless. The
five bullets settled into two
inches - with four of these in an inch and a quarter!
Function was perfect.
While not a +P rated loading,
the Black Hills 230 grain JHP is quite fast at 880 fps.
The +P variant breaks 950 fps.
had on hand a small supply of Quality Cartridge 155 grain
SWC loads. These little bullets are fast and kick little.
I was curious concerning the accuracy potential of a
bullet with such moderate bearing surface.
I should not have been.
Five bullets fed, chambered, fired and ejected perfectly,
falling into two and one quarter inches, about three inches below the point of aim.
This is an interesting loading, sure to please those who
appreciate light recoil.
also fired a magazine of Quality Cartridge 240 grain JHP,
using the Sierra bullet.
This is an overlooked bullet that gives real accuracy at
about 850 fps. This load demonstrated more muzzle flip than any
other, as may be
was in the two inch range.
This load showed a very clean burn,
with little muzzle signature, a sure sign of quality
control. I do not
think we will see much expansion if any in this bullet at it’s
modest velocity as it is designed for the .45 Colt, but whatever
is struck by a 240 grain .45 will be impressed!
final factory load fired was Black Hill’s
230 grain JHP +P. I had set up the Competition Electronics chronograph
and sure enough, this load blasted over the screens at 965 fps-
that is screaming for a 230 grain ‘pumpkin
Moreover, the standard deviation (velocity spread between
shots) between shots was
a mere 23 fps. This is a well put together loading.
Accuracy was just over two inches, again,
but four of the five shots went into 1
13/16 inch. I
am willing to attribute the larger group to shooter error.
took a break, rubbed
my wrists, and broke out the handloads for a final session.
I realized that mixing lead and copper jacketed bullets
in a new bore was not the model for accuracy testing,
as some bullets are more accurate after the ‘groove
Just the same, I
was encouraged by the good results I had enjoyed.
I had on
hand a number of loads
using the 230 grain flat point from National Bullet Company.
This is an economical bullet,
well suited to competition shooting.
It also packs a good slap upon meeting a target.
I had loaded a batch up with my old favorite,
HP 38. Velocity
was 792 fps, about
ideal for this weight bullet.
Five rounds clustered into two and three quarter inches,
more than adequate for most needs—from
a dirt cheap loading!
followed with a loading using the Sierra 230 grain JHP, a bullet
of proven accuracy. The Sierra
is also a good choice for hunting game at moderate range, as it
shows good expansion. This bullet has a good bit of exposed lead and I suffered a
failure to feed in two of the ten rounds I attempted to fire in
the Witness. However,
I had sufficient case mouth tightness that the bullet was not driven into the case,
but only dinged. Obviously,
if the Witness is to be used with a wide range of
exotic bullet styles it will need a feed ramp polish.
feeds the Black Hills JHP loads perfectly, and they are
among the top defense loads in this caliber.
It also feeds the lead flat point bullets,
an economy loading.
In any case, the
Sierra JHP over enough HP 38 to generate 845 fps clustered five
shots into two and one quarter inch.
The need to stop shooting and clear the failures to feed
certainly played hob with our average.
took time to wipe the gun down and inspect the bore before
moving to the final accuracy test.
As expected, there
was little leading, just
a few smudges forward of the chamber.
There was little powder ash as well.
The final load used the Sierra 230 grain FMJ MATCH bullet
over enough Titegroup to generate 820 fps.
I was not disappointed by the performance of the Witness
with this load. The
average of a total of fifteen rounds in three five shot groups
was one and fifteen sixteenths inches.
That is fine performance that could probably be improved
upon with careful experimentation.
the range test program, I
fired the Witness offhand at various targets at known and
unknown ranges. The
pistol gives a high expectation of
man sized targets at one hundred yards were in danger.
The sights and the trigger are probably the gun’s
best features, but
the hand filling grip and fine checkering leave nothing to be
I like the Witness.
Here is a highly developed pistol available at a fraction
of the cost of a full blown custom pistol.
The sights and trigger leave little to be desired.
I would polish the feed ramp with the Dremel tool
if anything other than hardball were to be used.
I would also check and tune the extractor,
making certain the surface that
meets the cartridge rim is square and sharp.
The only real question is longevity in hard competition
but I understand quite a few Witness pistols have been
used in competition for years with good results.
The finish, like
most modern matte finishes,
leaves something to be desired. It was showing wear
before the end of the test
period, but this is not unusual in modern handguns.
True hot blue of the deep, rich type once common is
practically a thing of the past.
If you are in the market for a practical shooting handgun
with many good features, the
Witness version just may be the answer.
My example certainly performs well.
Real Hot Shot Witness -
firing the Target Model, I
could not help but compare the new pistol to two other pistols
in my collection. The
double action first shot Witness is by no means an inferior
performer, simply different. As a general purpose handgun, the original pistol has much to
standard handload for this pistol relies upon a proven recipe,
in a stout does to give 920 fps with the Speer 230 grain
Gold Dot bullet. I
am most careful in loading this combination and it gives
unfailing good results. But the real news in this range trip was the powerful
10mm Witness. The
10mm is a caliber that has a certain following much like the .41
Magnum revolver enthusiast. They don’t
think anyone appreciates their favorite cartridge enough
and they don’t
wish to push it on anyone—they
simply enjoy it themselves!
10mm can be accurate and powerful in the right handgun. I broke out the 10mm Witness to test the wares of a new
ammunition company, Double Tap. Founded by a 10mm
enthusiast, Double Tap
specializes in 10mm ammunition. I
tested two loads in the Witness, a 180 grain FMJ practice load
at 1250 fps and a spectacular performer,
using the 165 grain Gold Dot at 1,400 fps!
The practice load was very accurate as some 10s are,
cutting a ragged two inch 25 yard group.
The 165 grain load was acceptable, producing a three inch
25 yard group, about all this handgun has done with service
ammunition. That is real power, trouncing the .40 S&W and
quite a few other handgun cartridges.
Anyone who owns a 10mm should contact Double Tap
ammunition and examine the interesting developments at their web
my results with the Witness handguns have been good.
The target version is not a new handgun in the line but a
new version in my experience.
I like it very much.
It is accurate, could be more accurate with a little
tweaking, and comes from the factory drilled for a scope mount.
Much of what we add to a pistol at great expense comes as
part and parcel of the Witness.
These handguns are good performers and good buys.
Give them a hard look.
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