Tag Archives: 45ACP

TEST: EAA Witness Elite 1911 Polymer Pistol

If you’re looking for a lightweight full-size 1911, and one with premium features and performance, check out this one…

EAA Witness Elite 1911 Polymer

Courtesy American Rifleman Staff

John Browning’s M1911 pistol has been with us for more than 105 years now, and it is still a viable gun for personal defense, military use and competition. Manufactured by numerous companies, the M1911 pistol’s longevity is a tribute to its sound design. The Italian firm of Tanfoglio has combined the century-old mechanism with modern polymer manufacturing to produce a new take on the classic single-stack M1911. Imported by European American Armory, the polymer-frame Witness Elite 1911 Polymer .45 ACP pistol weighs 25 percent less than a comparable steel-frame M1911, without sacrificing accuracy or controllability.

The keys to the Witness Elite’s frame are the two steel inserts that handle the firing stresses, incorporate the gun’s frame rails and locate critical pins. A simple roll pin is used to retain the forward insert within the synthetic frame. It combines the feed ramp and the bottom barrel lug recess, as well as the hole for the slide stop pin, which captures the barrel’s link. The inserts also have slide rails machined into them to ensure there is no metal-to-plastic contact. To facilitate feeding, the feed ramp has been polished.

EAA Witness Elite 1911 Polymer exlpoded view

The rear insert slides into the back of the polymer frame and is retained by the two upper “stock screws.” It has an integral ejector machined into it. The rear insert also contains the holes that locate the sear and hammer pins. In this way, there is no possibility of the holes becoming elongated or cracking, as would be possible if they were part of the polymer frame. Tanfoglio also laser engraves the gun’s serial number onto the rear block insert. There’s a steel plate inserted along the dustcover’s Picatinny rail section with the same serial number.

Tanfoglio uses standard mil-spec dimensions for the rail, so it will accommodate any number of tactical lights and lasers. Faux stock panels are molded into the frame and are checkered to provide the shooter with a secure grip. The gun’s frontstrap has been left untextured. Tanfoglio solved one of the original weak points of the M1911 by molding an integral plunger tube into the frame, eliminating any chance of the part loosening and disabling the thumb safety.

In addition to the frame, Tanfoglio also makes a number of other parts on the gun from polymer. The arched mainspring housing is polymer, as is the magazine release, recoil spring cap and guide and trigger stirrup.

Tanfoglio outfits the polymer Witness with a steel beavertail grip safety and a standard manual thumb safety, which engages and disengages crisply. A number of our evaluators opined that they would prefer the pistol have an extended thumb safety for more sure manipulation and a shelf on which to rest while firing. Fortunately, most M1911 aftermarket parts, including the thumb safety, will work with the Witness Elite 1911 Polymer pistol — though the safety may require some fitting to its sear.

The EAA Witness Elite 1911 Polymer weighs 25 percent less than a comparable steel-frame M1911. However, the pistol’s components, disassembly and manual of arms all maintain the M1911 tradition, despite the gun’s modern construction.

There’s really nothing different about the pistol’s top end that would differentiate it from a standard M1911’s slide and barrel. In fact, the slide assembly could easily be used on a steel- or aluminum-frame gun without any modifications. Tanfoglio uses a stainless steel, match-grade barrel. It is throated and polished to feed most bullet profiles. The slide itself is machined from a nickel-steel alloy and is finished with a utilitarian, flat, black-oxide treatment. Its ejection port is lowered and flared for positive and unimpeded ejection, and an original-style internal extractor is used. Both sights are dovetailed into the slide and are drift-adjustable for windage. Together they present a bold sight picture.

To test the gun’s accuracy, we set our targets out at 25 yds. and fired all groups from a seated rest utilizing a Millett Benchmaster for support. Five groups were fired with each ammunition, with the results tabulated nearby. The Witness Elite 1911 Polymer exhibited excellent accuracy, with all loads tested averaging near 1.5-inch groups at 25 yds. The clean sight picture of the gun, combined with its crisp, 4-lb. trigger pull, made shooting the Witness Elite a pleasure. Black Hill’s 230-gr. FMJ load produced the best accuracy, averaging under an inch for all five groups and yielding the single best five-shot group, which measured just 0.82 inches.

EAA Witness Elite 1911 Polymer performance

In field shooting, there was no discernible difference in time between shots while performing controlled pairs with the polymer Witness and a steel-frame M1911. Recoil seemed just a tad snappier than the steel-frame gun, but was very manageable. Our sample gun provided excellent reliability with no stoppages or failures of any sort during our 400-round evaluation.

The Witness Elite 1911 Polymer pistol fieldstrips in the same manner as any other M1911. Tanfoglio does not recommend removing the steel inserts from the frame for routine cleaning. There is nothing to be gained with their removal, and the pistol can be thoroughly cleaned with them in place.

EAA Witness Elite 1911 Polymer
European American Armory, importers of the Italian-made Tangfolio Witness line of pistols, has produced the 1911 P, a polymer-frame design that allows for reduced weight while retaining the interchangeability of M1911 parts.

Tanfoglio has done an exemplary job of taking an established design and modernizing the manufacturing process to create a lightweight version of a proven pistol, without changing its operating characteristics. At a suggested retail price of $580, the EAA Witness Elite 1911 Polymer pistol should appeal to those in search of a lightweight M1911 for sport or defense.

EAA Witness Elite 1911 Polymer specifications

See manufacturer-provided information HERE

Smith & Wesson M&P45 Shield Test

If you’re looking for a small, light, and (very) powerful CCW, that’s also manageable to shoot, this one is impressive… Read more!

Source: American Rifleman Staff

Ten years ago, Smith & Wesson introduced a line of defensive-oriented semi-automatic pistols that carried the firm’s long-used “Military & Police” (M&P) model identification. Unlike the familiar Model 10 revolver that armed Americans since the last decade of the 19th century, the new M&Ps were 21st century striker-fired, polymer-frame autoloaders with a full range of today’s essential features. The first models were full-size service pistols with double-column magazines chambered in .40 S&W, although 9mm Luger and .45 ACP followed quickly. Undeniably a successful product line, the M&P has been made in numerous variations — from compacts to long slides and, for a while, even in .357 SIG. But of all the variations that have come from the Springfield, Mass., plant, one that stands out is the M&P45 Shield.

The Shield line is a reflection of the current interest in medium-to-small, single-stack, semi-automatic pistols set up for concealed carry or police backup roles. High-capacity magazines are not essential, but serious terminal performance is. The first gun in the Shield line was a 9 mm, followed closely by a .40 S&W. It took a while longer for S&W engineers to adapt the Shield concept to the .45 ACP cartridge, but that gun is now a reality.

With a steel slide riding a polymer frame, the M&P45 Shield is recoil-operated, locking by way of the barrel’s hood engaging the ejection port and unlocking by way of its underlug camming downward after firing as it comes into contact with a steel block in the frame. A captive, dual recoil spring assembly returns the slide to battery.

S&W M&P45

The gun’s substantial .45 ACP chambering and scant 22oz. weight combine to create a pistol that might be a bit difficult to manage were it not for its superior ergonomic design, which makes the pistol eminently shootable. Most shooters, including those with smaller hands, generally take to the Shield grip shape well. In fact, it is probably the most appealing of the little pistol’s virtues. The frame is angled for natural pointability and has a deep pocket for the web of the shooting hand.

Looking at the gun in profile, the curve of the trigger is well below the curve of the pocket on the backstrap. This means that the pistol is nicely shaped for the “back and up” sweep movement of the trigger. The trigger pull is around 5 lbs., and seemed to vary just a bit, though it may level out with time. There is a minimal take-up before trigger pressure actually begins. Trigger reset distance is reasonably short.

With regard to safety features, the M&P45 Shield has an articulated trigger safety and an internal drop safety. Our sample gun also featured a manual thumb safety mounted on the left side of the frame for use by right-handed shooters, although Smith & Wesson offers a variant without the manual safety.

Shield 45 sights
The M&P45 Shield’s steel, drift-adjustable, three-dot sights consist of a square-notch rear and a post front.

Each pistol comes with one 6-round magazine and one 7-rounder — the only difference is in the height of the baseplates. As is the custom with service pistols, most shooters will load the pistol by retracting the slide, inserting a fully loaded magazine and depressing the slide release to chamber the top round. They then remove the magazine to top it off with a single round and replace it in the pistol. For this reason, pistols are commonly described as having a capacity of “six-plus-one” — the magazine carries only six rounds, but after topping off, the gun has a total of seven cartridges onboard. Yet curiously, both M&P45 Shield magazines feature witness holes marked “3, 4, 5, 6 and +1.” Not only is the “+1” denotation nonsensical, it is frustrating when one unsuccessfully attempts to load the “additional” round into the six-round magazine.

Shield 45 magazines
Two magazines come with the .45 ACP-chambered Shield, one with a seven-round capacity and one that holds six. The longer magazine provides additional gripping area for those who prefer.

Finished in a businesslike black Armornite® (slide is stainless steel), the Shield is an impressive little package. The square-notch rear and post front sights feature a three-dot pattern and are drift-adjustable. At the time of the M&P45 Shield’s introduction, the maker pointed out the improved (over earlier Shields) texturing on the gun’s gripping surfaces. S&W has gone to panels of a slightly more aggressive version of what was once termed a “crackle” finish. It works like a charm, serving to anchor the pistol firmly in the hand. This is a very light little pistol that recoils sharply when firing the larger .45 ACP cartridge.

In range testing with a variety of commercial ammunition, there were no malfunctions of any kind. In the absence of proper Ransom Rest inserts, accuracy shooting was done over sandbags on a solid bench. Results are tabulated above and are surprisingly good. Note the reduced velocities of typical 230gr. ammunition, due to the pistol’s shorter barrel.

S&W M&P45

The Smith & Wesson M&P45 Shield is a good choice as a daily carry gun. At 22.7 ozs., it isn’t particularly heavy, and would be a good choice as a police backup gun, as well; it is flat and could nicely fit into a pocket or seam in body armor. The M&P45 Shield is quick into action, simple to manage and about as powerful as carry guns get.

S&W M&P45

Visit Smith&Wesson to learn more HERE

Review: Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator

If you’re looking for higher-end features in a quality 1911, and you’re on a lower-end budget, look no further than the Range Officer: it’s ready to go!


by Bob Campbell


Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator
Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator

The original Springfield Armory (the very first armory established under authority of General George Washington) started making guns in 1777. Closed by the federal government in 1968, and then privately reopened with a brand new start in 1974 in Geneseo, Illinois, the resurrected Springfield Armory also resurrected its military roots, producing the semi-auto M1A rifles (the first civilian production of the M-14) and soon thereafter the venerable 1911 John-Browning-designed handgun — the “Government Model.”

The 1911 has been produced now by a plethora of different manufacturers, and, holding true to the original design, they all share most things in common. A 1911 is a single-action, magazine-fed autoloader with a sear-blocking safety as well as a grip-actuated safety on the frame backstrap. A well-made 1911 is a hard-hitting, durable, and reliable pistol design (especially hard-hitting in its original .45 ACP chambering). The original 1911 pistol endured a series of rigorous testing trials before being adopted by the U.S. including being dropped in sand, corroded in acid, fired until too hot to handle, and firing through 6,000 rounds without a single malfunction. It was the only design submitted that passed all these tests. (It later passed a 20,000 round endurance test to meet FBI-mandated contract requirements, a contract which was won by Springfield Armory.)

The 1911 safety and firing mechanism is different from most available handguns: its safety can only be applied when the pistol’s hammer is set fully to the rear, ready to fire. Carrying a 1911 in this mode, known as “cocked-and-locked,” makes it very fast getting to the first shot. The single-action trigger helps here too. Unlike the double-action-first-shot, double-action-only, or those using a “trigger-actuated” safety system, all a single-action trigger does is move the sear to drop the hammer. This is an advantage in accuracy and control on the first shot, and for subsequent rounds. The grip safety locks the trigger until the safety is depressed by the shooter’s hand grip.

Springfield Armory offers a wide variety of 1911-style handguns, ranging across frame and slide sizes, weights, calibers, and “levels” of build attention. There is also a wide price range that goes along across that board. The main differences among their various 1911 models are in the attention to details: the component quality, and the level of fitting and tuning, and the finish. At the base level, you can still get an “original” GI-spec .45, and at the upper-end, Springfield Armory can box up a championship-level competition piece ready for you to take to the USPSA Nationals, and win it.

Springfield Range Officer Operator grip
Checkered grips, checkered mainspring housing, a speed thumb safety, and a good beavertail grip safety are desirable features for a 1911. The 1911 is one of the fastest handguns out there coming from the holster to an accurate first shot on a target.

Springfield Armory has used “Range Officer” as a designation for its “value line.” The primary difference between these guns and the higher-end pistols is the finish. The Range Officer line has a parkerized finish (stainless steel is also available). These pistols also have a one-sided thumb safety rather than the more expensive ambidextrous unit. However, the Range Officer lineup still features a match-grade stainless steel barrel and tightly-fitted barrel bushing, two primary keys to good accuracy potential from a 1911.

The Range Officer version tested (the “Operator”) features a light-mounting rail. This rail is compatible with the wide range of available combat lights and lasers. The Operator also has forward cocking serrations on the slide. Its sights are from Novak — a white dot rear and fiber optic front. The contrast is good, and the fiber optic sight provides rapid acquisition. The pistol also features a scalloped ejection port, lightweight hammer, target-style trigger, and a grip-enhancing beavertail grip safety. Trigger compression is factory-set at a clean 6.5 pounds.

Range Testing
Working from an Eclipse Holster, speed was excellent. This holster keeps the pistol secure on the belt and offers a good blend of speed and retention. I loaded the supplied Springfield magazines and backed them up with a good supply of other 7- and 8-round magazines. The pistol was lubricated prior to testing. The magazines were loaded with Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ ammunition.

Springfield Range Officer Operator firing
The author found the Springfield Range Officer Operator a reliable and accurate service pistol. A steel-frame .45 is heavy to carry but the extra weight provides excellent control.

Firing “double-taps” quickly at 5, 7, and 10 yards, the pistol produced excellent results. This is a handgun that responds well for a trained shooter. Moving between targets quickly, and getting the fiber optic sight on the target, gave a solid hit when the trigger was properly compressed. The results simply cannot be faulted. While I often deploy lighter, aluminum-frame handguns because they’re lighter in the holster, the extra weight of its steel frame makes the Range Officer easily controllable.

Accuracy
I also tested with several defense and service loads. Recoil was greater with +P loads and a decision must be made if these loads are worth the extra effort to master. The wound potential of the .45 ACP is proven. I do not let those with a one-safari resume influence my view. I don’t think anyone can argue against the defensive capability of a .45 ACP.

Springfield Range Officer Operator tsrget
The author found the Springfield .45 exhibited excellent practical accuracy. The Operator is factory-sighted for 25 yards and may fire a little low at 7 yards, but this is easily compensated for.

Among the top loads available for the .45 ACP is the Federal 230-grain Hydra-Shok. An intelligently-designed bullet with a proven history, the Hydra-Shok offers excellent wound potential. The American Eagle practice load fires to the same point of impact, making the two a good combination. Firing for accuracy from a solid bench-rest position at 25 yards, the single best group was a 2.0-inch effort for 5 shots with the Speer 230-grain Gold Dot.

Springfield Armory has taken a great handgun design and not only made it better, but, with the Range Officer, Springfield Armory made it affordable. Compared to even minimum custom-done modifications to a standard-style 1911, the package wrapped around the Range Officer is a great value.

Springfield Range Officer Operator accuracy


Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).