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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).

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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, such…