For years I think many women have doubted the legitimacy of our professors’ lessons on supply and demand and competitive strategy…especially as it relates to our presence in the shooting and hunting industries. We have sat silently (yes, silently) on the sidelines waiting for the “Manufacturer Enlightenment Period” to begin. We have waited, and waited, and waited for products that that would fit our bodies and allow us to start new hobbies, or simply enjoy the old ones with comfort and confidence.

“With the modifications made to the recoil spring, I had anticipated malfunctions. I was very happy, however, with the pistol’s functionality and reliability.”

European American Armory’s (EAA) (Click here to watch Witness Pavona Pistol from European American Armory (EAA) – New for 2014 Video) recognition of women’s presence in the market was the catalyst behind the EAA Witness Pavona, a new firearm aimed at both experienced and first-time female shooters alike. The Pavona is EAA’s first attempt to personalize a firearm for women. They consider the Pavona to be an “evolutionary project,” meaning they intend to make continuous improvements to the firearm based on the feedback they receive from women. According to Sharon Lacy of EAA, “We understand that there is much to learn and grow from. What we offer today will evolve as we learn more about what women want and need.” Considering that almost one-third of current firearm sales are by or for women, it’s astonishing that many manufacturers have been seemingly slow to respond. I had come to the conclusion that I must be an anomaly that didn’t command a response. Secretly, I wondered: Do men really know how much (not to mention how fast) women like me can spend money for products they like? When I transitioned from training law enforcement officers to training civilians in firearms, I immediately realized I was not an anomaly. I have witnessed a growing group of female students who remind me of a group of hesitant women sitting on the edge of a swimming pool dipping their legs in just to test the waters. Their demeanor and facial expressions communicate their dilemma—should I stay on the edge or take the plunge? To these women, EAA’s Pavona hopes to say, “Jump in! The water’s great!”

EAA’s Witness Pavona is a redesign of Tanfoglio’s compact 9mm Witness polymer model. Sharon Lacy of EAA was brought into the redesign effort to assist the Tanfoglio engineers. One of her roles was to gather information during the development phase of the project. Her research included canvasing women’s forums and fielding calls from new and experienced female shooters. Sharon states, “I spoke with women young and old. What were their concerns? What are their needs? The fact is, women have needs so very different from men.”

Sharon explained that, based on her interactions, the questions posed by female shooters centered on the relationship of the firearm to their stature, physical strength and lifestyles. In addition to conducting research, Sharon also played a significant role in the aesthetics and marketing of the Pavona. Sharon explained, “I had a great deal to do with the cosmetics of the firearm, logo and branding…It was the geniuses at Tanfoglio who designed the guns.” There’s no mistaking that a woman’s touch has been added to the Pavona. It comes in a variety of distinctive colors such as sapphire (royal blue), fandango (light purple), imperial (dark purple) and charcoal (black frame with silver slide). Each color variation features silver glitter within the polymer. The Pavona also comes in black polymer with gold glitter.

Besides the color scheme, the main internal change made to the Pavona was the fine-tuning of the hammer and recoil springs. Tanfoglio opted to keep the external hammer intact. The intent behind this is to allow the user to cock the hammer while keeping the safety engaged. Cocking the hammer depresses the spring, which allows for greater ease in manipulating the slide. This improvement will appeal to beginning shooters who have yet to develop hand strength, or to shooters who struggle with hand strength due to arthritis. On the Witness Pavona that I received, there was less real estate than I would have liked for grasping the slide, making manipulations difficult. It’s a problem EAA recognized and set about correcting, and the latest version of the Witness Pavona, which, because of timing issues, was made available to our photographer but not to me, has significantly wider serrations for easier slide manipulation. I haven’t yet had the chance to test it, but I expect the serration changes, along with the Pavona’s lighter slide, will make the gun an easy one to charge. An ambidextrous magazine release is an important characteristic. I rarely purchase a handgun that doesn’t incorporate that feature. The ability to place the magazine release to the strong side so that the trigger finger can drop the magazine without the need to reposition the entire firearm is a huge feature for people with smaller hands and shorter reach. Once out of the holster, any and all adjustments affect accuracy; not to mention it is common for some new shooters to unintentionally muzzle other students while looking for the magazine release. A shooter’s ability to change their magazines without changing the direction of the muzzle is something I’m sure we can all appreciate. The Witness Pavona is also available in .380 ACP and .40 S&W. Like the 9mm, the .380 version holds 13+1 rounds. The .40-caliber model holds 9+1.

It’s ironic how forgiving a shooter becomes after a fun and accurate day on the range! My minor discomfort with the lack of material on the slide was all but forgiven and forgotten when I began shooting the Witness Pavona. I’m personally not a big fan of double-action/single-action (DA/SA) firearms, but I prefer them to double-action-only (DAO) models. The Pavona trigger falls between 9-10 pounds on the DA trigger pull and 5-6 pounds on SA. It is in a range that I would consider safe yet efficient. For me, the trigger is one of the key selling points in any firearm. The trigger on the Pavona is very smooth and the reset is distinct. I really appreciate a trigger that has a consistent take-up, a crisp break and an unmistakable reset. I shot over 200 rounds on the EAA Pavona and did not short stroke it once. I test fired my EAA 9mm Pavona test sample standing and unsupported from 15 yards with three different loads. My best result was courtesy of Fiocchi’s 124-grain XTP, which produced my best group size of 0.9 inches.

In addition to test firing the Pavona, I fired about 200 more rounds of practice ammunition. During this extended shooting session, I experienced two malfunctions. Both malfunctions occurred while I was shooting from standing, and both were failure-to-feed malfunctions. They occurred in the middle of firing a full magazine of factory practice ammunition. Based on the cycle of operation of the firearm (and my perception that the slide speed substantially decreased), I believe the malfunctions were related to faulty ammunition, not the firearm. With the modification Tanfoglio made to the recoil spring, I had anticipated malfunctions. I was very happy, however, with the Witness Pavona’s smooth functionality, consistency and reliability.

I am a huge proponent of personalizing firearms. Through gun personalization, firearm manufacturers can appeal to specific segments of a population, be it men, women, hunters, safety-concerned citizens, etc. My hope is that the aesthetic changes inaugurated by companies like EAA will be the first step in enticing new, responsible firearm owners—both men and women alike—to jump into the pool. Through increased gun ownership, we will all be able to enjoy our constitutional right to remain armed. I would be remiss not to identify the potential concerns that can result from firearms that, based on their aesthetics, could be mistaken for toys or training guns.

For more information on the EAA Witness Pavona 9mm, visit: or call 321-639-4842.

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