Range Report: European American Armory Witness Elite Match

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Range Reports

When it comes to shooting pastimes, they can get expensive, quickly. My handguns are rugged and reliable for the most part, but competition shooting may become expensive in both time and money. It sometimes becomes a race for the best equipment, not taking anything away from the skill involved.

European American Armory Witness Elite Match pistol profile left

Witness Match is a credible choice for many competitions.

A firearm must be accurate and reliable. You must be able to shoot consistently, and you must pay attention to the basics. Quality firearms are not inexpensive. Additionally, there are the various holsters, magazines, and loading components. Unless you have a platinum gold credit card that a rich uncle pays off for you, handloading your ammunition is required to stay in the game.

I have pretty much stayed with the 1911 for decades. I have good quality holsters that have served with many firearms, and magazines I have rebuilt several times. Beginning with Wilson Combat magazines solves a lot of problems. Not to mention bullet molds, Hornady .45 ACP dies sets… Well, you get the picture.

Just the same as a professional, I test and evaluate many firearms and keep an open mind. If your present competition go-anywhere handgun is a 1911 or Glock, then perhaps a stroll down a different avenue would be enlightening. An affordable handgun that meets the criterion for a competition handgun is good to find. The EAA Witness Elite Match is one of these handguns. Let’s look at the specifications first.

Witness Elite Match

List price, CTD around $760
.45 ACP
4.75″ match grade barrel
10 rounds
5″ height
1.4″ width
8.75″ overall length
Interchangeable front sight post
Trigger has over travel stop
Extended magazine release
Fully adjustable rear sight
Extended safety
Two tone finish
Single action
Rubber grips
Steel frame
37.5 oz.

The Witness Elite Match is a well-balanced handgun with good handfit and excellent fit and finish. The pistol features an upswept beavertail tang and a rounded trigger guard. The front and rear grip strap are nicely serrated. There is an extended competition-type magazine release. The grips are nicely checkered for adhesion when firing, and the cocking serrations are well cut both forward and rear.

EAA Witness Elite Match pistol with TruGlo combat light right profile

With the TruGlo combat light installed the Witness Match does double duty as a home defense handgun.

The slide is blue, contrasted with a natural finish stainless steel frame. The frame features a light rail, so the pistol has a design envelope that includes home defense and personal defense use for concealed carry. There is a low rib running between the sights. The rear sight is the LPA adjustable ‘Super Sight’ while the front post is easily changed.

The pistol is similar to CZ 75-type handguns. A good feature is that the slide rail runs inside of the frame rather than on the frame. This means there is more contact between the long bearing surfaces than other designs. The pistol also offers a low bore axis—since the slide rides low inside the frame.

The result is less muzzle flip. There is simply no leverage for the muzzle to rise. The Witness is a large pistol in the .45 ACP chambering, but the human engineering is excellent. This handgun is a single-action-only version. The most common Witness pistols are double-action first-shot handguns. The SAO is intended for competition and for those who prefer the single-action trigger.

As for the Witness handgun, the pistols’ have generally a good reputation. The ones I have fired have been acceptably accurate, some exceptionally accurate. A 10mm version I fired some time ago gave especially good results.

Adjustable rear pistol sight

Handfit and heft are good. With the double-action first-shot gun, it is required that the finger swing down and to the rear to operate the double action mechanism. With the SAO gun, the trigger press is straight to the rear.

EAA touts the handgun as ready for most competition out of the box. There is much truth to this, although an individual may wish to make his or her own choice for pistol sights. A big plus is the crisp and very smooth trigger action. The trigger is tight with little take up and breaks at a clean 3.8 pounds.

This is as good a factory trigger action as I can remember. Reset is rapid. The sights offer a good sight picture and the LPA Supersight is fully adjustable. These sights are not geared toward rapid acquisition as much as precise shooting.

I lubricated the pistol along its long bearing surfaces and then loaded the magazines with good quality ammunition that has proven accurate. The first load up was the Fiocchi 230-grain FMJ. I have used this affordable loading in many handguns to confirm reliability and function. If the pistol doesn’t function with this load, there is a problem with the handgun.

EAA Witness Match pistol on top of a gray hardcase

The Witness Match is supplied with a nice combination locking hard case.

I began firing at man-sized targets at 7, 10, and 12 yards. The Witness came on target quickly, and I was able to deliver good hits. As long as I pressed the trigger correctly, and lined the sights up properly, I had a hit. I ran through 50 rounds without incident. Recoil was light.

Next, I broke open a box of the Fiocchi 230-grain Extrema. This load uses the proven Hornady XTP bullet. Loaded to just over 800 FPS. The Extrema is controllable and offers real accuracy and a balance of expansion and penetration that favors penetration.

I fired this one at man-sized targets at 15 yards and also at steel plates. I homed in on the X ring and also rang the steel gongs more often than not. The Witness Match is one pleasant handgun to fire.

Moving to handloads, I fired a modest quantity of two loads that I have enjoyed excellent results with. A load using the 185-grain Hornady XTP over enough WW231 for 910 fps was tested. This is a pleasant target-grade loading. Results were good. Recoil was the lightest of any load tested. While the gongs were not rocked, they were pushed enough to give a solid clang at 25 yards.

Bob Campbell shooting the EAA Elite Witness handgun

That’s two cases in the air and getting back on target. This is one controllable handgun.

Next, I upped the ante with a heavy general-purpose load I have enjoyed good results with. The Hornady 200-grain XTP is jolted to 1,050 fps. For hunting, defense, or bowling pin matches, this is a hard-hitting load that gives excellent results. The Witness was comfortable to fire with this load, but you knew you were firing something special.

After this outing, I picked up my brass and returned the next day with the Bullshooters rest and a supply of ammunition to test accuracy at a long 25 yards. I also elected to test several defense related loads. Fiocchi offers a 230-grain JHP—an overlooked but potentially very effective combination. This bullet isn’t a bonded core design, but it opens quickly and expands well in ballistic media. In short, it is an ideal defense load for most of us.

I also fired Hornady’s 230-grain XTP +P. If you hunt thin-skinned game at moderate range, this is a good choice. If you have a need to penetrate light cover or may faced heavily bundled threats, the XTP +P is a great choice, and it is a kicker but controllable in the Witness .45.

I also added the classic .45 ACP target load, a 200-grain Magnus cast bullet SWC over enough Titegroup for 890 fps. I fired each for accuracy at a long 25 yards, firing five-shot groups. The results were excellent.

Firing Results Velocity and 25-Yard Groups Five-Shot Group
Fiocchi 230-grain FMJ 830 fps 2.25 inch
Fiocchi 230-grain JHP 855 fps 2.0 inch
Fiocchi 230-grain Extrema 819 fps 1.25 inch
Hornady 230-grain XTP +P 915 fps 1.85 inch
Handloads — Using Either WW 231 or Titegroup Powder
Hornady 185-grain XTP 910 fps 1.5 inch
Hornady 200-grain XTP 1050 fps 2.0 inch
Magnus Cast Bullets 200-grain SWC 890 fps 1.8 inch

The EAA Witness Match .45 is an accurate handgun well worth its price. As for personal defense, a 10-shot .45 with the TruGlo combat light mounted is a terrific home defender. Recoil is modest and follow-up shots are fast, very fast. The safety allows the hammer to be cocked and the safety placed on for carry. However, the slide is not locked by the safety. The handgun may be loaded with the safety on which some see as an advantage. The Witness Match is a winner on the range and in personal defense.

Have you fired EAA’s Witness Match? Did your experience match the author’s? What is your favorite target pistol? Share your answers in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (21)

  • Ken

    |

    I have the Witness Elite in both .40 S&W and .45 ACP. They are both excellent guns for competition but the triggers may be a little lighter than I would normally want. They are far and away the best pistols that I own out of several different brands. Also the most accurate in line with my Beretta PX4 Storms in 9mm and 40 S&W.

    Reply

  • Ray

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    One thing no one has said EAA does not make the pistols they only import them, they are made by the Italian company Tanfoglio. They are great pistols I have 4, 1-9 mm, 1-40 S&W, 1- 10 mm, and the 45. I carry the 10 and it is my favorite.

    Reply

  • Phil Stiger

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    Just a couple of quick notes. The standard DA/SA Witness like the CZ75 can be carried cocked and locked when though it is DA. All Witnesses can easily be converted to SAO or DAO operation if you desire. To the best of my knowledge there are no stainless Witnesses they are all carbon steel with some form of finish. I’ve had a full size .45 for about 20 years and a compact frame full length slide poly 10mm for about 10. I regularly carry the 10mm.

    Reply

    • Greg B

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      My Witness Limited Custom in 10mm is most assuredly stainless steel. I agree these are great guns, just like the CZ75 they pattern after

      Reply

  • David scotto

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    Great article, speaks well to effectiveness of this gun. I own it In 9mm, it’s proved both reliable and very accurate, often providing groups of 1.0-1.75 inches. While reading some comments on review hw stone brings up a valid point on secondary market parts, parts are readily available on several sites I’d simply order some spares if that’s a concern. On other hand if there is an EMP or solar flare, your not going to be able to use the secondary market for ANY gun parts. Don’t have any reservations buying this gun! The slide is the smoothest I’ve ever racked in my life, recoil is non existent and fit and finish are top notch, puts my kimbers, smiths, spring fields and colt to shame in fit and accuracy.

    Reply

    • HW Stone

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      I don’t believe a solar flare or EMP would take us back to a level of communication before 1800, and two hundred eighteen years ago slow printed papers, magazines, and communications worked. What I was trying to put forth was “if it is for sport, here and now, get the support materials you need, but if you view it as a vital self defense item, consider parts availability, and plan accordingly.”

      Reply

  • Mathew

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    I own one in 40 S&W. I love the thing. One item I recommend for high volume shooters is a Hennings guide rod. The factory guiderod didn’t have a large enough bearing surface against the frame and can start to deform the frame with heavy use. The aftermarket guide rod solves this issue.

    I think I’ll get another in 10mm.

    Reply

    • Phil Stiger

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      If your .40 is a newer large frame gun ( and if it is the Match talked about in this article it is) you are only a barrel, recoil spring, and mag change away from a 10mm in the pistol you already have.

      I have a .40 barrel and spring for my 10mm. I’ve been successful so far in running the .40 in my 10mm mags.

      Reply

    • Roberto

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      Right on target Matthew. I have one in .40 S&W and I love it . Definitely my favorite gun. I’m also ordering one in 10mm ASAP. I have the Witness polymer full size small frame in .40 S&W and 9mm and the .40 carry model with the 3in. barrel which is much lighter than the other three. One of the best things about the witness pistols is their compatibility regarding magazines and parts.If you want to change sights then go with the Match or limited versions so you can change out the front sight too. If you have the cash for the Extreme model I don’t think You will be changing many parts.

      Reply

  • Bob Clevenger

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    Added info.
    For you left-handers, EAA offers an ambidextrous safety (both standard length and extended) for the Witness series, including the Witness Match.

    Reply

  • Bob Campbell

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    Excellent point.

    In competition,which seems to be the natural home for this and other handguns of the type, you generally figure on replacing the extractor every 8000 rounds, the magazines springs at about that, and the recoil spring at 3-4000 rounds. I think the 1911 extractor may last longer but otherwise the types are similar.
    Not only spare parts but a tool kit will be needed for long term use if you are going to be firing the piece that often.
    Bob Campbell.

    Reply

  • Damian

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    lOOKS NICE BUT A TAD BIG FOR EVERY DAY CARRY TO ME I LOVE MY SHORT SLIDE COLT OFFICERS but for the right price i could use a big brother for it. recently i been thinking of getting into the 10 MM handgun market like the ruger 1911 10MM they now offer .

    Reply

  • HW Stone

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    The one reservation I have is something the writer did not address, the long term system life. That is the one point the Hi Power and 1911 family have, known secondary sources for parts, Maybe nothing is supposed to break, but somehow some things just don’t get the memo, and a small part needs to be replaced.

    In our doomsday scenarios we can make all sorts of suppositions, guess away, but even in real life “things that go bang” also go “oops– broke.”

    I’m still very tempted to buy one of these. I like the design, the last couple of decades show them to be durable, but there is not a secondary source for parts, so I know it has to be “one choice” of several just in case a stray EMP or a huge solar flare decides to change the world for us.

    If you can afford two copies of it, one to carry and one to stand in reserve, a great pistol. If you can afford one defensive pistol, period, consider what happens thirty or forty years from now is something goes wrong and there are no other choices but fixing it.

    Reply

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