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EAA Girsan Witness 2311



EAA Girsan Witness 2311 with the included Derry Optic
EAA Girsan Witness 2311 with the included Derry Optic

With the revival of the doublstack 1911 a lot of folks have been re-learning the joy of a single-action trigger and some of the ergonomic magic John Browning put into the 1911 design. This joy, however, has come with a bit of an entrance barrier with the high prices some makers have been demanding. EAA and Girsan are seeking to lower that cost-barrier with the Witness 2311 which can be found (at the time this was written) for under $1,000; less than half the price others are asking for.


Once all the shipping oil is cleaned off the Witness 2311 has a nice matte-black finish.
Once all the shipping oil is cleaned off the Witness 2311 has a nice matte-black finish.

What Is It? Bottom line up front the Witness 2311 reviewed here is a 9mm 4.25" doublestack 1911 that uses an aluminum frame and polymer grip, and has a 17+1 capacity (weight comparisons with the Springfield Prodigy and BUL Armory SAS II TAC below). The pistol is optics-ready, early models include an optic, and it is equipped with an ambidextrous safety.

 Springfield Armory Prodgy 4.25" (left), and just a touch heavier than the BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25
The Witness 2311 is significantly lighter than the Springfield Armory Prodgy 4.25" (left), and just a touch heavier than the BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25(right)

Who's It For? The Witness 2311 offers the doublestack 1911 experience at a much lower cost than the competition. Aside from being more affordable, the choice to use an aluminum frame with a full rail makes the Witness 2311 appropriate for carry or defensive use.

One potential cost-saver of the Witness 2311 is the use of a bushing barrel. The good news is this also means takedown is just like a classic 1911.
One potential cost-saver of the Witness 2311 is the use of a bushing barrel. The good news is this also means takedown is just like a classic 1911.

Why do they cost so much? Hammer-fired guns require more parts than the now ubiquitous polymer-framed, striker-fired handgun. More parts means more raw materials, more machine time, more fitment, and more work-hours to assemble the gun. Let's not forget that just a couple of years ago stripped Glock frames were available from a retailer for $75. That means that both the retailer and Glock were still able to make a profit while selling a frame for just $75. Striker-fired guns are very inexpensive to make, especially when they involve only 34 parts versus a 1911 which typically uses 53 parts.

Beyond the pure manufacturing cost, several companies have a brand premium built into their products, that's the price you're willig to pay for a name on the product. So what happens when we strip away some of that premium and manufacture in a country with lower labor costs? We get the Girsan Withness 2311.

Initially the Witness 2311 action felt a bit rough, trigger heavy, and grip safety hesitant.
Initially the Witness 2311 action felt a bit rough, trigger heavy, and grip safety hesitant.

Is It the Same? No. There are some additional methods used to help keep cost down. For example, the Witness 2311 uses a bushing barrel instead of a bull barrel. To the average end user this equates to a lighter gun that costs less and field strips more like a traditional 1911. A high-end competition shooter may feel the difference in recoil control, but for the average shooter (or one skilled enough to forgo a slight mechanical advantage) this makes little difference aside from lower cost.

Two significant ways the Witness 2311 is the same as models costing twice as much are the magazines and optics readiness.

  • The Witness 2311 is cut for the "micro" red dot footprint of the Shield RMSc, and the first couple thousand models sold will include a free Perry Far Dot like the one shown in this review.

  • The Witness 2311 uses the same "2011" pattern magazines as the fancy guns. This would have been a bad thing as some of those magazines retail for over $100, but fortunately we also have DuraMag and the 1911 DS Magazine they make for the Springfield Prodigy. Springfield lists these magazines for $60, but they can be found for $31.79 HERE.

The Witness 2311 has excellent front strap texture and a generous magwell.
The Witness 2311 has excellent front strap texture and a generous magwell.

Initial Impressions can be seen in the tabletop video below. A couple things struck me when I picked up the gun from my local FFL: The weight, the trigger, and the action. In hand the pistol felt much lighter than expected. The use of an aluminum frame of course saves a lot of weight over steel, but I really think the use of a bushing barrel also cut down on total weight.

The trigger felt very heavy, and even a little rough. That changed with some range use, but I think there are other solutions we'll discuss later.

The action felt very definied with very evident barrel lock and unlock and some sort of catch happening towards the rear of slide travel. At first I feared it may be like the problem early Prodigy pistols had. You'll see in the range video how that turned out.

Below is the tabletop video. WARNING: YouTube has deemed this video inappropriate for some audiences.


In the Box:

  • Witness 2311

  • One 17-round Check-Mate magazine

  • Early models have the Perry/Derry DE1320 red dot

  • Tools for adjusting the dot

  • Slide ocver with rear site

  • Lock

  • Bore Brush

The EAA Girsan Witness 2311 box contents
The EAA Girsan Witness 2311 box contents

EAA Girsan Witness 2311 Specifications:

FINISH: BLUE/BLACK

Caliber: 9MM

Capacity: 17+1

Barrel length: 4.25″

Overall length: 8″

Weight: 1.6 lbs

UPC: 741566906206

MSRP: $999

Prices Online (UPDATED 5FEB24):


Long-time viewers of the channel know I love things that are different, especially when they're affordable. While the price of the Witness 2311 isn't inexpensive on its own, it is compared to guns of similar design. I was eager to get to the range and see where the savings would cost in range performance. Would it be reliable? Would there be teething issues or quirks to overcome? Does this gun let people get into the doublestack 1911 world with a true savings?

Once considered bad, but now en-mode, the Witness 2311 has an ambidextrous safety.
Once considered bad, but now en-mode, the Witness 2311 has an ambidextrous safety.

Of course the journalist in me says it wouldn't be fair to just have a random range session and make judegments from there. The only fair way to evaluate is to measure against a standard, and that's where the GBGuns range protocol comes in. The same general conditions for every gun, filmed from the very first shot. No highlight reels, no selected clips tainting the image of the gun or artificially representing performance.


  • Cold Shots: Truly our first rounds through the gun, on camera, with first thoughts shared. For the Witness 2311 things are a bit different because I needed to verify if the pre-mounted red dot was on target or not.

  • Full Mag +1: Not all guns are happy at full capacity. This is a combination of pistol design, magazine design, and ammunition used. Unloading the pistol rapidly helps me get a feel for recoil and trigger control.

  • Magazine Compatibility: The Witness 2311 only comes with one magazine. That would normally be an irritation if there weren't already plenty of other magazines available. I have DuraMag magazines from the Springfield Prodigy and BUL Armory magazines from the BUL Armory SAS II TAC. A basic test to ensure they work before moving on to the next segment.

  • What's For Dinner™: A test to see what ammunition the gun will eat. Does the gun feed the round from slide lock, will it cycle and feed another round of the same type, does the slide lock to the rear on empty, and is there any notable point of impact change with different loads.



For this gun we used the following ammunition:

90gr 1776 USA Lead-Free Sporting $14.79 / 50 at GrabaGun 

100gr Hornady Critical Defense Lite $23.89 / 20 at Global Ordnance 

100gr S&B Non-Tox

115gr Blazer Aluminum Case $17.59 / 50 at Optics Planet 

130gr Federal Syntech PCC $19.99 / 50 at Target Sports USA 

138gr Federal Syntech Defense $33.99 / 50 at TargetSportsUSA

140gr S&B Subsonic FMJ $19.47 / 50 at Firearms Depot 

147gr Federal Syntech Training Match $19.76 / 50 at Global Ordnance 

158gr PPU Subsonic FMJ $25.70 / 50 at Global Ordnance


  • Sights & Trigger Control: on a 6" spinner target at a distance of 12 yards. We got this from Titan Great Outdoors and use it to gauge how learnable the trigger is and usable the sights are for forced, timed, precise shots.

  • Practical Accuracy: Five shots from a distance of seven yards at a one inch target. This isn't so much about printing a tight group as it is a culmination of our shooting experience and time for us to collect thoughts prior to making a conclusion.

  • After Shots: Final impressions and reflections from the range session.

You can watch the process from first shots to comparison in the Shooting Impressions video below:

Ammunition seen in our Shooting Impressions video was made possible by our Patrons and supporters of our ammunition savings account through Ammo Squared.

Were there issues? Yes, it wasn't flawless out of the box, but I believe I was able to work through most of them. The range experience served as an excellent example as to why I created the 9mm Range Ammo Guide and why I always state which ammunition is being used. The difference in muzzle energy between Fiocchi and Winchester White Box is just 34 ft/lbs and yet that was enough to make a notable difference in performance. When you see a review that doesn't state which ammunition they're using, or even worse is using reloads you have to take that review with a grain of salt as ammunition choice (deliberate or not) does make a difference.

Why did the Witness 2311 have issues? I believe it's a matter of break in. As noted in the tabletop video the recoil spring feels a bit hevier than I've felt on comporable models and the action not as smooth. Adding a bit of oil helped, as did adding round count. We also know from other reviews that Turkish 9mm handguns are sometiems sprung for NATO loads which have 10% higher pressure than American range ammunition. That might be the case here, but we didn't have issues during What's For Dinner so my educated guess is that the gun simply needs to break in.

For a free optic the included Derry Far-Dot isn't bad, but I'd swap to a non auto-adjust for defensive use.
For a free optic the included Derry Far-Dot isn't bad, but I'd swap to a non auto-adjust for defensive use.

Speaking of break in, the trigger improved considerably throughout the range session as did the aciton smoothness. About 200 rounds into the gun and things are significantly better than they were right out of the box. I don't know how much further they will improve at what round count, but as it sits now the Witness 2311 is a much better pistol than it was right out of the box.


Is It Worth It? There are two ways to look at my experience with the Witness 2311:

  • For $1,000 the pistol should be flawless out of the box, especially when there are guns going for half that price that are.

or..

  • At half the price of other guns in the same category a little break in is acceptable. Afterall, at this price you can buy a Witness 2311, case of ammo, and maybe even a trigger job if you're so inclined.

Considering you likely wouldn't be considering the Witness 2311 unless you wanted into the doublestack 1911 world I think the second perspective is the more accurate one. I'd also argue that if you go with option 2 and a friend spends the same total amount on just the gun you're likely to be a lot better with your Witness 2311 and the experience and break-in than your friend with a "fancier" option that he's never shot before.


About the Included Red Dot: This is my second experience with EAA's Far-Dot. Branding looks like it says "Perry", but online sources only show a branding called "Derry" witht he same appearance and part number that was previously available on AliBabaExpress. It's no doubt a budget optic, and the manual warns that it is not meant for recoil exceding 9mm, but I have yet to encounter any problems with it. A nice touch I wish others would do is the included adjustment wheel to help guide adjustments. It's also nice that fiberoptic rear sights are integrated into the dot housing.

At 4moa the dots size is easy to pick up without obscuring the target.

One caution though is I would suggest changing out the dot if you intend to use the Witness 2311 defensively because it uses auto-adjusting brightness. A lesson I learned at Thunder Ranch is that auto-adjusting dots can be detrimental in defensive situations. If you are in a dark area and have bright light (like a weapon-mounted light) the dot will be adjusted to the darkness you are in and so low-powered. In the bright light on your target it will be hard to see the dot. The opposite is true if you are in a brightly-lit area aiming into a dark area. The dot will have adjusted brighter for your area and possibly blow out the dimly-lit target.

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