EAAs Polymer Witness 9mm Makes Comfortable, Fun Blaster
Photos & Story
by Scott Smith
In the world of firearms it seems that we are always discussing the best virtues of handguns, rifles and shotguns. Mainly this discussion revolves around the greatest deerslayer, defensive handgun, or the handiest shotgun for field or duty use. I admit that I am as guilty of these kinds of reviews, too. This past year I was looking for a handgun that was just plain fun to shoot and wouldn't break the bank to feed or purchase.
European American Armory Corp. (EAA, PO Box 1299, Dept. GWK, Sharpes, FL 32959; phone: 321-639-4842; on-line: www.eaacorp.com) has several firearms that will fit that niche. I was intrigued by the polymer-framed Witness. The pistol felt good, pointed well-thanks to the heritage it traces to the CZ75 family-it was a 9mm, and its ported barrel made it an excellent choice for fast shooting with little recoil. One of the other big points of this pistol is that it looks good with a stainless steel slide and black polymer frame; after all, looks are important. All in all it seemed like a good choice as a fun blaster.
Many years ago, I had owned an EAA Witness Silver Team in 9X21. This pistol was utterly reliable and was quite accurate. It was set-up as a full house IPSC Open Class pistol complete with a red dot sight and multi-port compensator-cutting edge for the early nineties. The Silver Team was deadly accurate out to 30 meters, and fit the hand perfectly. Since I did not have time to really practice with the dot sight, the Silver Team was sold for other gear. Oh well, we all do dumb things.
With previous EAA experience, I had no doubt that the polymer Witness would be a winner. Since it was chambered in 9X19, it would not cost an arm and a leg to feed, and it should be an accurate shooting pistol. Best of all, this pistol was polymer-framed and would weigh substantially less than a full-sized, steel-framed pistol.
When I picked up the polymer Witness, the weather was, to say the least, lacking. I think Pittsburgh was having a summer-long monsoon. Unfortunately, this has been a trend and getting out to test fire the new pistol would have to wait until Mother Nature was not pelting me with rain.
After a couple of weeks of no real breaks in the weather-at least when I could get out to the ranges of Elizabeth Sportsman's-a decent day was finally upon us. I bagged up the Witness and several loadings of 9mm. Might as well give the pistol a workout, so I made sure to have a full spectrum of bullet weights, styles, and profiles that are used by shooters. A quick call to my shooting partner, Bill Worthington, to help to test and evaluate the Witness, and we were off to the range.
One of the things that was apparent, was the stiffness of the
new magazine. The first few go-a-rounds, Worthington and I could
only load nine rounds into the government mandated 10-round magazine;
full-capacity for Witnesses is 16 rounds in 9mm. After a half
dozen or so full loadings of the magazine; 10 rounds easily fit.
This gave us 10 in the magazine and one in the chamber, which
is fine for range work.
With the weather not being the most cooperative, we compressed a couple of trips to the range into one. First off we ran several loads of ammunition from the stash I had packed. In the mix were loads from: Remington; PMC; Winchester; Black Hills; Cor-Bon; Triton; International Cartridge; CCI, and Speer, as well as several handloads with 124-grain lead and 147-grain JHPs. This seemed to cover a wide variety of ammunition and bullet styles. If this range of loads wouldn't choke the polymer Witness, nothing would.
The Witness, showed no real preference for manufacturer or bullet type. All rounds fed without so much as the proverbial hiccup. We mixed the ammunition makes and bullet styles in the magazines, ran the pistol dirty and to the point the slide was so hot you could not touch it. Nothing, no problems. Hey, that's pretty good reliability from any pistol.
Since this was to be a fun gun, pinpoint PPC accuracy was really not my concern. It would be nice if the pistol was capable of keeping all rounds under 4 inches at 20 meters, offhand. Surprisingly the polymer Witness did this without trying. The worst group we shot was with a mixed bag of reloads, and this measured at a smidge over 4 inches, something like 4-1/8. Not bad!
With premium ammunition, groups consistently measured 2 to 3 inches. The best group the polymer Witness shot was with the 147-grain Winchester SXTs and 115-grain JHPs from Cor-Bon. This is pretty consistent performance with two loads that are at opposite ends of the velocity and weight spectrums. The SXT cruised over the chrony with a 5-shot average of around 950 feet-per-second (fps) and the Cor-Bon racing down-range at nearly 1,270 fps.
Indeed the polymer Witness could hold its own in the accuracy department, but how could it perform in the run-and-gun mode. Here I was counting on the ported barrel to really shine through. With its ported barrel, the polymer Witness, tracked from target to target, and follow-up shots were as quick as with a .22. Not bad for a pistol using full-power factory loads.
From the holster, it was not a problem to draw and engage targets and keep all the rounds in the 0 zone of an IDPA target at 15 meters; as fast as a flash sight picture was established. If you were to add a red dot sight to this blaster, it could be ready to go in IPSC Modified Class; me, I'll keep it as a range blaster.
Since the EAA Witness has been around for many moons, there were a number of holster choices available. For our range session a Safariland 560 was used. This is one of the best paddle holsters available today, because of the suede-faced paddle. The paddle is large enough to distribute the weight of the handgun and securely position it. Holsters for the EAA polymer Witness can be found from Blade-Tech, Bianchi, Uncle Mikes, etc. Check their websites for the number of holsters that will fit this pistol.
After we shot the hell out of the Witness, it needed to be cleaned. This is accomplished quite easily. First take out the magazine and make sure the chamber is empty. Next retract the slide to the Witness marks on the left side of the frame and pull out the slide stop. Then the slide/barrel assembly will slide right off the frame. That task accomplished, remove the recoil spring and guide rod out of the slide; followed by the barrel, you will have successfully field stripped the polymer Witness. After cleaning with your favorite cleaner and lubricating with your choice of oils, the Witness goes back together in reverse order of field stripping.
For what it's worth, the polymer Witness would make a good pistol for self-defense. Personally I would prefer it to have a non-ported barrel. The ported barrel vents the gases upward and in close quarters it will be loud, and when shooting from a retention position there is a chance of getting flash burns from these gases. Since the polymer Witness is to be a fun pistol for the range, the porting is a plus.
Overall the polymer Witness is a great, light-weight blaster. The ported barrel makes for fast follow-up shots and tames the recoil of the hottest 9mm loads. If you are looking for a good quality, reliable pistol, EAA is worth the look. If you are in the market for a fun blaster, the ported polymer Witness is a must look at. For more information, check out the EAA website at: www.eaacorp.com, or call them at: 321-639-4842. Let EAA know you read about their pistol in Gun Week.