What happens when you cross Italian engineering with one of the world’s most tested and proven designs? Car fans would say the new Lamborghini Aventador, but savvy competition shooters might say that the answer is the EAA Witness Elite Stock II. Available in 9mm, .40 S&W, .38 Super, .45 ACP or 10mm, the Stock II is the latest Italian import from European American Armory (EAA) that brings the best of Europe’s purpose-built competition pistols to the United States.
The Witness line covers a wide range of pistols, all originally made by Tanfoglio, an Italian firearms manufacturer that specializes in pistols for competition shooters. The Witness design is based on the legendary and proven CZ 75 pistol, but Tanfoglio has taken that design and added their own touches, making it available in a multitude of calibers, as compared to the CZ’s 9mm or .40 chamberings. The Tanfoglio guns are then imported to the U.S. by EAA, which offers the entire rage of pistols under the “Witness” name.
EAA breaks the Witness line under three different categories: Steel, Polymer and Elite. The Steel and Polymer types are subdivided into full-size and compact models, representing their roles primarily as defensive and carry firearms. The Elite series is broken down into several competition designations: Gold Team, for IPSC/USPSA Open; Limited, for USPSA Limited or IPSC Standard; Limited Pro, for IPSC/USPSA Production; Match, for IDPA ESP or CDP; Stock I, with fixed sight and ready for IPSC Production; and Stock II, for IPSC Production. The EAA Witness Elite Stock II closely resembles a hybrid of the Limited Pro and the Limited, keeping the double-action trigger pull of the Limited Pro but adding the full-length steel dust cover of the Limited pistols.
The Stock II comes standard with adjustable Bo-Mar-style sights with a black adjustable rear, a black, fixed front post sight, an ambidextrous thumb safety, a large magazine release, a trigger overtravel stop and a stainless steel finish. The test gun was chambered in .38 Super and came from the factory with one 17-round magazine. The first thing to discuss is the .38 Super chambering. The Tanfoglio designs were initially adapted for .38 Super and other cartridges with longer overall lengths, like .45 ACP or 10mm. These guns feed very reliably with these chamberings. While its popularity has waned in the U.S., the .38 Super cartridge is still tremendously popular in many European countries due to restrictions on owning “military” ammo such as 9mm.
With an MSRP $1,100, the Stock II is closer to a custom gun than many offered at the same price. Along with the aforementioned sights, the pistol comes with hardwood grips that match its satin stainless steel finish—so not only does it shoot well, but it turns heads in the process. One of the best features of the Stock II is something you’d expect on a custom-house 1911: the slide-to-frame fit. Because the Stock II uses full-length rails on the slide and frame, the two parts fit together perfectly. This also increases accuracy, as the slide travels the exact same path with each shot, unlike some polymer pistols, which have a considerable amount of flex in the frame. Because of the tight slide-to-frame fit, the barrel and slide lock-up is exceptionally tight—another high-performance touch.
Competition shooters should also appreciate the large thumb safety. The Stock II is normally shot in DA/SA mode, eliminating the need for a safety from a mechanical standpoint. What the ambidextrous safety does provide is the perfect ergonomic point for the strong-hand thumb to rest when using the thumbs-forward grip favored by competition shooters.
Remember, the Stock II is designed with the IPSC Production division in mind. Unlike the USPSA in America, IPSC rules specify that a gun in the Production division must have an initial trigger pull of over 5.5 pounds. This has led to a rise in DA/SA guns that have a first pull of over 5.5 pounds and subsequent single-action pulls of 2 to 4 pounds. The Stock II tested had an initial trigger pull of 10 pounds with minimal stacking at the end of the pull. The single-action trigger pull was nothing short of amazing, breaking at 3.6 pounds on a digital scale with no creep. The trigger stop makes sure there’s no overtravel in the pull, aiding in fast reset for follow-up shots.