The Picatinny rail-equipped Witness pistol from EAA is capable of employing lights and accessories, such as this SureFire X400 combo light/laser.

By any measure, the CZ-75-style pistol is a truly revolutionary design. In fact, this initially somewhat obscure pistol developed in the mid-1970s in what was then Czechoslovakia was to go on to influence future military, combat and self-defense pistol designs around the world. What made the CZ-75 so special was not simply its features, but how creatively it combined them.

Specifically, it amalgamated features from several previously established platforms into a new, exciting and genre-redefining handgun design. This 9mm pistol combined the double-action system of trigger operation pioneered by pistols such as the Walther P.38 with the double-column, high-capacity magazine popularized by the ever-present Hi-Power pistol.

eaa-witness-steel-10mm-bThe Witness is shown here fitted out with the .38 Super conversion slide, with the swapped out 10mm slide assembly and magazine flanking it.

However, the CZ-75 was for the large part unavailable here in the United States during the Cold War era due to a trade embargo with nations such as Czechoslovakia that were part of the Warsaw Pact. As a result, a manufacturer in Italy decided to develop its own variant of the design that combined the original’s appealing characteristics with further enhanced ergonomics and a very reasonable price point. That manufacturer was Tanfoglio, and the pistol would become the “Witness” series imported into this country by European American Armory (EAA).

Unique Opportunity
So why was the design so popular? One of the earliest advocates of the CZ-75 design was something of a surprising ally—Jeff Cooper. Although an unabashed fan and devotee of the single-action M1911 pistol in .45 ACP, Cooper nonetheless early on stated that the CZ-75-style pistol was the best-designed double-action autoloader—likely due in no small part to its excellent ergonomics and frame-mounted safety that allowed the CZ-75 to be carried in a manner quite similar to “cocked and locked.”

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The Picatinny rail-equipped Witness pistol from EAA is capable of employing lights and accessories,…