Tactical

Review: EAA/Girsan Witness2311

One of the main criticisms of the 1911 platform is the (comparatively) low ammunition capacity compared to polymer-frame, striker-fired semi-automatic pistols. This criticism has some validity, of course. Traditional 1911’s use seven- or eight-round magazines, usually in .45 ACP, while the polymer handguns boast 9mm magazines often holding twice that number.

Today, though, the high-capacity, double-stack 1911 in 9 mm is gaining ground, fast, and proving that the 1911 is far from an “old school” option. The new Witness 2311, made by Girsan of Turkey and imported by the European American Armory (EAA), is among the recent doubles to hit the market. It proved itself a formidable pistol to this reviewer, accurate and extremely functional, at a price several hundred dollars less than many similar double stack pistols.

Witness2311 Options and Models

The Girsan Witness2311 is available in barrel lengths of 4.25, 5, and 6 inches and can be chambered in 9mm, 10mm and .45 ACP. Magazine/ammunition capacities range from 17 rounds in 9mm, 15 in 10mm and 11 when chambered in 45 ACP.

My evaluation 2311 was chambered in 9mm and sported a 4.25-inch barrel. The pistol was single action, of course, with a skeletonized trigger, extended beavertail, beveled magazine well and an ambidextrous manual safety to compliment the standard 1911-style grip safety. The pistol arrived with one 17-round Check-Mate steel magazine.

At first glance, the frame appeared to be steel, but actually, it was polymer, including the trigger guard, front and back straps, grips and accessory rail. However, the frame rails where the slide rides were made of alloy steel; various parts in the trigger housing were alloy steel, too. Slide and barrel were crafted from 4140 steel, and the barrel featured a barrel bushing.

My 2311 weighed 25.6 ounces, unloaded. That’s rather svelte for a 1911-style pistol, and credit the polymer frame for that. Adding in a full 17-round magazine, brings the total rig to more than 30 ounces.

Far-Dot Optic

Standard 2311’s are equipped with a fiber-optic front post and an adjustable rear sight.  The slide is also cut for the RMS/RMSc optic footprint.

EAA included a Far-Dot optic with the first 3,000 of these pistols purchased, including my evaluation model. The Far-Dot features a 4-MOA red dot, plus standard elevation and windage adjustments. Always on, the optic runs on a single CR2032 battery.

Given the groups I shot, the Far-Dot was certainly adequate. I prefer a red dot where I  can manually adjust the illumination, though, and this optic was built with automatic brightness settings. There were times when I wanted a touch less bright given the conditions, but, obviously, I couldn’t adjust that.

Range Time

MuzzleAt my outdoor shooting range in north-central Wisconsin, I first ran the pistol at 10 yards from a rest to get a feel for the firearm and to zero the Far-Dot optic. The optic was off by a good bit, but the elevation and windage controls worked well and I was soon on target.

At this distance, I ran the pistol with Remington UMC range 9mm with its 115-grain full-metal jacket (FMJ) bullet and Winchester USA Ready, also a range round but with a flat nose compared the UMC’s rounded version.   

I also used two self-defense loads: DRT’s Terminal Shock, loaded with an 85-grain frangible hollow point; and, Remington’s Golden Saber Bonded with its 147-grain jacketed hollow point. Accuracy was outstanding. My absolute best group at this distance was five rounds of Remington UMC that measured just .62 inches. Winchester USA Ready scored a .90-inch group, while both self-defense loads pegged in top groups right at 1.0 inches.

Going Further

For my longer-range testing, I stayed with the Remington Golden Saber for my self-defense load. But for the range round, I switched to Winchester’s Active Duty and its 115-grain flat-nosed FMJ bullet.

I shot these loads at 25 yards from a rest. The conditions were basic Wisconsin, early January: overcast, flurries and 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

In four, five-shot groups, both rounds did well, with the Winchester scoring the best group overall group at 1.1-inches. Remington Bonded’s best was 1.5-inches. (See chart below.)

Other Considerations

The pistol’s trigger pull averaged a crisp 2 pounds, 7 ounces. The serrated front face of the trigger provided a very tactile interface with my finger pad. The ambidextrous manual safety snapped into place easily with a push of my shooting hand’s thumb, while the magazine release button dropped out the mag very smoothly.  

In over 200 rounds, the pistol experienced zero malfunctions using round-nose, flat-nose and hollowpoint 9mm. This brings up a second common 1911 criticism: frequent jamming.  Obviously, if a shooter is going to limp wrist a 1911 and does not possess enough hand strength to work the trigger and the pistol grip safety consistently, yes, the pistol will jam. Translation: 1911’s are not for these shooters. Simple.

For those who like a single-action trigger, superior accuracy and higher capacity in a mid-sized 1911 that can do the job for concealed carry and home defense? EAA and Girsan have the double stack they’d do well to consider.  

Specifications: Girsan/EAA Witness2311

  • Manufacturer: Girsan, of Giresun, Turkey
  • Importer: European American Armory, Corp.
  • Model: Witness2311
  • Action Type: Single action, semi-automatic
  • Caliber: 9mm (as tested)
  • Barrel Length: 4.25 inches
  • Trigger: Skeletonized, serrated front, 2 pounds, 7 ounces pull
  • Sights: Far-Dot optic (as tested), white dot front post
  • Finish: Blue-black matte
  • Height: 5.5 inches
  • Width: 1.35 inches
  • Length: 8 inches
  • Weight: 26.6 ounces (unloaded)
  • Magazines Included: One steel 17-round 9mm magazine
  • Accessories: Accessory rail, extended beaver, ambidextrous manual safety, grip safety
  • MSRP: $999.00 (As tested)

Witness2311 Shooting Results

Ammunition Group Size: Smallest/Largest/Average

Remington Golden Saber Bonded, 147-grain hollow point: 1.1 / 3.0 / 1.9

Winchester Active Duty, 115-grain flat nosed: 1.5 /2.8 / 2.2

Accuracy measured in inches based on four, five shot groups shot at 25 yards from a rest. Temperature: 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

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