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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Shooters 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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