This is a modified version of an older post on the Witness .45

Tanfoglio is an Italian manufacturer of handguns based in the “Valley of the Gun” outside of Brescia (there are several manufactures located there, including Beretta.)  One of their primary products is a copy of the CZ-75, called alternately the Combat or the Witness.  It is imported into the US by European American Armory and is usually called the EAA Witness.  It is available in .22LR, 9mm, .40S&W, 10mm, and .45ACP, and you can swap the barrel/slide between calibers with ease — although if you want to use the heavier rounds (.45 and 10mm), you need to start by buying those heavier frames.

You’ll hear a lot of complaints about EAA’s customer service, but I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them. I had a single warranty issue with an extractor years ago that they fixed quickly, I’ve ordered extra barrel/slide assemblies from them and they were pleasant and fast. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve owned three of these and never had serious issues with any of them. (I’d always sell one for quick cash, then kick myself for it.) I have fired the .22, .45 and 10mm in the full-size steel (there are compacts and polymer frame versions, as well), so we will focus solely on those versions of the gun.

Simply put:  this is one of the best .45s you can buy for sub-$500 (although prices have climbed some with the recent nonsense), and the 10mm is a match for anything else out there with one caveat — you have to go buy a better recoil spring. (More on that later.) I’ve owned a Glock 20 and have fired the Delta Elite several times — the recoil is lighter than the Delta, but the 20 is a bit more mild — mostly because you tend to feel the recoil from the Witness at the trigger.

apollo .45

Witness in .45. This is the original configuration in Wonder Finish.

apollo 10mm 2

My Witness with the 10mm barrel. A better version of the Bren Ten.

The CZ is one of my favorite configurations for a handgun, and these clones of the weapon are highly-controllable, accurate, and reliable.  I originally bought my first Tanfoglio in 1997 because it was the closest thing I could get to the old Bren Ten — a good weapon I would later get a chance to fire, but found flawed in many ways (Rolled pins? Really?) The Witness was, at the time, a $250 gun and worth every penny.  Since then, I have purchased two more of the weapons.  None have been a let down. I did not hesitate to recommend the gun to friends, and one of my colleagues from the University of New Mexico has been delighted with his Witness.

Quality of build and finish is good to excellent.  The Witness comes in a stainless steel frame and slide, what they call their Wonder Finish, as well as a black polymer frame version.  It is low-reflection steel with almost a brushed look to it. Older versions were also available in a black finish that was a bit “gritty” but did not seem to affect operation. (My 10mm slide is in this black finish.)  The fit of the slide to frame is tight and the slide sits inside the frame, unlike most semiautos.  This makes for a more solid feeling weapon, in my opinion.

The only issue with the .45 and 10mm versions of the handgun are light recoil springs — the Witnesses ship with 14 or 16 pound recoil springs, depending on the caliber.  Make sure you order a Wolff spring in at least 18 pounds for the .45, and at least a 20lb for the 10mm.  This not only helps with recoil management, but dramatically lowers the beating the frame takes from hotter +P .45s or the high-velocity 10mms.  Henning Guns also produces a “conefit” guide rod that reduces the impact of operation on the frame, one of the few complaints that people using the nuclear 10mm loads have remarked on.

Speaking of recoil…the Witness .45 has a stout recoil that, like the 1911 series, comes straight back into your hand with a minimum of muzzle flip. The difference between the stock spring and the 20lb. Wolff spring I’m using is immediately noticeable; the heavy spring soaks a considerable amount of the recoil and aids in following shots. In 10mm, I find the original 200 grain, 1250fps ammunition is very comfortable to shoot, the 180gr. 1400fps rounds are stout but not uncomfortable, and the 165 grain, 1600fps rounds I got cheap from a small company that specially loaded it for Texas hog hunts is painful. I prefer HPR or Double Tap’s full power 10mm in the 200 grain JHP.

Operation of the weapon is single/double action.  It can be carried with the hammer down, half-cock, or cocked and locked.  Unlike the CZs, the Tanfoglio can be safed in any hammer position, a feature I very much like and wish CZ would adopt.  The trigger pull is long in single action and about 8-10ish pounds, in single action it’s more like 4-5 lbs. and has a bit of play before engaging.  Some shooters don’t like this, but I don’t mind a bit of slack, personally.

Sights are fairly basic, adjustable on the Wonder finish version (they are fixed on the oler 10mm slide) with an Allen wench in most new models, and the weapon is extremely accurate. The ergonomics are comfortable for most shooters, and even my wife’s arthritic ones found it comfortable.  My ex-wife did have trouble reaching the trigger in SA, but if a person with small mits were carrying a Witness, they could do it Condition One and have little problem. The handle is bigger than the 1911, about on par with the Glock 20, but the grip angle is better (for me.) The .45 gives the shooter 10 rounds in the magazine, the 10mm has 15 (although I’ve never been able to squeeze more than 13. Girly hands, I guess.

On every Witness I’ve owned, I’ve been able to print 2.5″ groups, free-standing with some speed, out to 15 yards, 4″ or so at 25 yards.  Ordinarily, I like to try and practice moving and single handed shooting at cans or something appropriately small.  The Tanfoglio is a solid can-popper out to 10-15 yards, on the move and point shooting.  On an indoor range, the Witness regularly outshoots my friend’s Kimber Pro-Carry (but not another friend’s Yost-Bonitz modified Springfield 1911.)

I’ve never had a malfunction in 2000 rounds with my current Tanfoglio, only had a handful of FTF (usually double feeds) on one that was magnaported.  (It was a bad magazine.) The 10mm regularly choked on the pig rounds mentioned above — the slide was moving to fast for the magazine spring to keep up and I would get failures to feed. (You could hear the slide slapping back and forth over the report of the round.)

My colleague’s .45 came with a .22 barrel and we’ve put 2000 rounds through the latter barrel in the last month. It regularly has failures to feed with lead nosed .22, but with good JHP it runs flawlessly. He’s had no jams on the .45.

It might be a bit hefty for some to carry everyday, but for hiking or duty, the Tanfoglio in 10mm would be a superb weapon against any wildlife that might be encountered.