by Michael Humphries - Thursday, October 28, 2010
The Witness series of pistols from European American Armory (EAA) has always been unique. While the core design of the pistol could be viewed as relatively traditional by today's standards, the Witness—which is manufactured in Italy by Tanfoglio and inspired by the Czech CZ 75— is home to numerous innovations and adaptations.
Like the CZ 75, the Witness is a traditional double-action pistol, meaning the first shot with the hammer at rest requires a long, relatively heavy trigger pull that cocks and releases the hammer. Subsequent shots are lighter in single-action mode since the cycling of the slide cocks the hammer.
However, Witness pistols are not merely carbon copies of their source of inspiration. EAA and Tanfoglio have made subtle, yet significant mechanical and ergonomic changes to the design, along with modifications as radical as the development of a polymer-framed version of the pistol in the early 1990s. The Witness series also stands apart from many of its contemporaries through various unique configurations and chamberings offered, with popular but relatively uncommon cartridges like .38 Super and 10 mm rounding out the choices.
From a configuration standpoint, one of the most interesting variants of the Witness line is the P Carry, a pistol designed from the ground up for concealed carry that combines a full-size polymer frame with a compact slide assembly. Offered in 9 mm, .40 S&W, 10 mm and .45 ACP, the P Carry combines good handling characteristics and the extended capacity of a full-size pistol with the concealable dimensions of a compact.
I received a .45 ACP variant of the P Carry for testing and evaluation. Its slide featured what EAA refers to as a "Wonder Finish," which is matte-gray Tenifer over carbon steel, and was topped with a set of three-dot sights. The blued-steel rear sight with two white dots sat in a dovetailed slot, while the front sight was integral to the slide and contained a red dot.
Upon inspecting the pistol, I immediately noticed another extremely interesting element: a coned barrel. This specialized locking system utilizes a barrel with an oversized muzzle diameter that requires both the forward face of the P Carry's slide and the recoil spring assembly to be modified from the standard Witness configuration.
Since the coned barrel's enlarged muzzle diameter prevents it from being lifted out of the slide when disassembling the pistol, the P Carry features a removable bushing that fits around the forward portion of the recoil spring assembly. Removing the bushing provides clearance for the barrel's underlug and allows the barrel to be pulled straight out of the front of the slide during disassembly. Also of note is the fact the barrel contains an integral feed ramp.
The polymer frame of the P Carry possesses an integral beavertail to prevent hammer bite, along with a strip of Picatinny rail molded into its dustcover area for attaching accessories. It also features generous amounts of uniquely patterned, molded-in texturing on the frontstrap, backstrap and side panels. The P Carry's frame offers a thinner and slimmer grip than that of its steel counterparts, but the pistol still accepts a standard double-column, 10-round magazine. Steel slide-rail inserts contained within the frame provide durability to the design.
As with the CZ 75 that inspired it, the Witness P Carry's frame wraps up and around the slide for an extremely low bore axis. The design also results in a slide with a very minimal profile height. This, in addition to a frame running the full length of the compact slide, provides a great deal of stability and control under recoil and during cycling.
Like the CZ 75, the P Carry features a frame-mounted safety lever similar in location and operation to a 1911, allowing the safety to be engaged with the hammer down or fully cocked. There is no decocking system built into the pistol. Although the P Carry comes standard with only a right-hand safety lever, EAA offers an ambidextrous safety lever as an option. The test sample I received came with this additional feature installed.
In addition to the manual safety, the pistol employs an internal firing pin block. This spring-loaded, plunger-style, passive safety prevents forward movement of the firing pin unless the pistol's trigger is pulled fully to the rear, with sear movement allowing the plunger to move down and clear the firing pin.
I took the Witness P Carry out for testing with a selection of Federal, Remington and Winchester ammunition. There were no malfunctions, and the pistol proved quite pleasant to shoot. The P Carry also demonstrated good accuracy despite its short barrel and compact slide assembly. At 25 yards, most five-shot groups measured less than 31⁄2 inches.
Combining the strengths of a solid, CZ 75-inspired design with Tanfoglio's own enhancements, the EAA Witness
P Carry is a powerful, reliable and handy pistol for self-defense. Its compact slide and relatively light weight make it even more suitable for concealment, which is exactly what the pistol's designers had in mind.
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