EAA Witness Mag Problem and Possible Solution


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wally
September 29, 2007, 12:15 PM
I basically like the Tanfoglio/EAA Witness pistols, but EAA's support leaves lots to be desired. I'm having problems with my Witness 10mm which I believe to really be a problem with the magazines.

Here is a photo of the problem:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64331&d=1190420095


Here is a photo of how I believe the magazine "loses control" of the rounds once the mags get four or fewer rounds in them (although its most common on the last shot):
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64763&stc=1&d=1191081285
I'm already using the strongest magazine springs Wolff sells and have a 20lb recoil spring to try and reduce recoil frame impact forces. I've tried a 22lb recoil spring and it didn't cure the issue and I didn't like the way the gun handled, although I'd have stayed with it if had help keep the ejected brass where I could find it. Note how the round pushes thru the feed lips and points nose up, I believe with more than four rounds in the mag the force on the rear of the cartridges keeps the rounds from rotating nose up under recoil.



Shown on the left is the mag I "fixed" which had no failures last time out:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64764&stc=1&d=1191081851
The mag on the right is stock, note the gap beyond the mag release point and how rearward the feedlip maximum contact is.



This next two photos show the tool I used to squeeze the feed lips together a bit (~0.013") and it in action on the magazine:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64765&stc=1&d=1191082090
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64766&stc=1&d=1191082176
Of course once the lips have been squeezed together this much, the follower won't come up enough to lock back on the last shot. I filed the follower's sides to get it to lock back but it wasn't reliable locking back in shooting so I plan to build up the notch with JB weld to get it to lock back. I'll do a couple of more mags and test futher before I do the rest.

I slowly adjusted the amount of squeeze untill the lips remained it the position where I couldn't easily rotate the round up thru the feed lips like shown in the second photo.

Hope this might help someone else get these attractively priced guns running right.

--wally.

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wally
September 30, 2007, 03:28 PM
Here are some photos of how I built up the followers to get them to lock back again on the last shot. It might be possible to thin the sides of the followers to overcome the amount the feed lips squeezed in, but this is actually faster and easier, because its trivial to check if the fit is right or not.

Photo below shows how I used some aluminum tape to make "dams" to hold the epoxy. Not sure if it shows clearly, but I undercut the notch a bit to give the epoxy a bit more to hold on to.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64804&stc=1&d=1191179494



Because the followers are a plastic I wasn't sure JB Weld would adhere to well, I coated the places where the epoxy was to be with a bit of "crazy glue" which does "melt in" to bond.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64805&stc=1&d=1191179688


This photo shows the three stages hardened epoxy, rough shaped, and final shaped in the magazine.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64806&stc=1&d=1191179884



With one round in the mag, must make sure the slide lock lever remains fully down:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64808&stc=1&d=1191180053
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64809&stc=1&d=1191180206


Its really not as hard to do as it might look, letting the JB Weld harden is the most time consuming step, overnight is recommended.

I just wish the magazines were better built to start with :( IMHO they and EAA's lack of service really hold back the guns.

--wally.

hemiram
October 1, 2007, 02:26 AM
I have a .45 WF Witness (fullsized) and have two factory mags, with the red follower, and one aftermarket (meg-gar) and they all work the same, and the only way to tell them apart (except for the red follower on the factory mags) is to look for the logo on the Meg-gar one. I've put about 1100 rounds through the gun, with zero problems, and all the mags have been used about the same amount.

My friend bought a .40 Witness recently, and one of the two factory mags tended to hang up every so often. We took and cleaned the mag out and got some very fine sandpaper, like a matchbook stiker, and just cleaned up the follower, and it seems to have cured the problem completely.

If only my shooting was that easy to fix.

wally
October 1, 2007, 02:43 PM
I don't have any trouble with my Witness .45 or 9mm. Is your friend's .40S&W the the "large" frame (meaning your .45ACP mags will fit and lock in) or the "small" frame (meaing the .45ACP mag is not even close to going into the mag well)? I expect few if any problems with the small frame .40S&W guns, but the short .40S&W round has too much free movement in the long 10mm mags and jam worse than shown in the photo often ejecting loaded rounds and having the nose completely up outside the barrel crushing the case between the slide and barrel hood.

You may think the EAA and Meg-Gar are the same except for the follower color, but you are not looking carefully enough at them -- the stiffing crimp at the transition where the rounds "unstagger" is significantly wider on the Mec-Gars. This, and possibly better steel in the Meg-Gars (the EAA bent way too easily while making my adjustments!) probably accounts for why the 10mm mags have problems. I suspect the extra 1.4mm of the .45 makes it easier to grab and still lets it work in the inferior quality magazine. There are other minor differences in the feed lips too, but as I said other than the original springs having a short service life, my EAA .45 mags have all worked.


Anyways, I'm happy to report that all the "squeezed" magazines fed without issue. I had 7 15-rounders and 3 12-rounders (for the Compact). On two that I'd taken too far so the nose of the rounds were held too low to feed from slide lock, I was able to adjust back out a bit (its not much of a difference but you can see it if you look carefully) and these two then functioned perfectly after the small adjustment.

What was strange, was the compact was giving premature slide lock (slide held open with rounds in the magazine) but not locking back on the last shot or when hand cycled. It looked like maybe the slide lock lever had broken, see the gap at the red arrow in the photo and compare it to the lack of gap in the bottom gun (fullsize) shown by the blue arrow:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=64846&stc=1&d=1191262900

Then for grins I though, will the problem switch if I put the full sized lever into the compact and vice-versa? Whats weird is the gap is gone on both guns when I do this and both lock back solidly when hand cycled. Maybe I confused the levers while doing the final fitting to make sure the raised follower notches wouldn't contact the lever with one round remaining. Weird that thse parts would not interchange.

Next time out will tell the tale, but there may be hope yet! I'll try the .40S&W upper and see if these modified mags solve that issue as well.

I do really like the way these guns shoot and this many rounds with no jams makes me happy!

--wally.

hemiram
October 3, 2007, 09:19 AM
His Witness is the newer one, and my .45 mags do fit in it ok. Since we sanded down the flash and/or parting line, it's been perfect with all his mags.

My .45 has been perfect, except when I first got it, I had to really slam the mags into it, or it would pop out on the first shot. A couple of dozen insertions and the problem was solved.

A friend of mine recently gave me a box of all kinds of .45 ACP ammo, and it went through all of it, except for the obviously bad rounds (about 20) I got them to fire, one at a time, except for the ones that refused to chamber at all(3).

I recently saw an older 1994(?) Witness A friend bought one soon after they appeared, and it seemed much rougher inside than the new ones I've shot or worked on recently. Mine is nearly toolmark free, and the ones that are there are meaningless. My friend's .40 isn't quite as smooth as mine is, but it's close.

wally
October 3, 2007, 09:31 PM
As I've said the quality of the Witness mags is not very good. If you get good mags, I think the guns themselves are very solid. It'll be intresting to see if my .40 Upper works with these modified 10mm mags. I'll report back after my next outing.

--wally.

wally
October 9, 2007, 12:47 PM
Ran five modified mags (75 rounds) thru the full sized 10mm with no issues so I think this mag mod was the cure for the problem.

FIrst two mags thru the 10mm Compact were also 100% and both locked back so it does look like the slide lock levers are not interchangable between guns. But on the third mag this happened :(
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=65217&d=1191869068

Frame cracked, locked up the gun!


So just for grins though I'd try these modifed Compact mags in my .40S&W Witness-P which is so far the only gun to defeat my gun mechanic skills, since the major issue seems the same:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=59586&d=1182190993
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=59587&d=1182191074

Only had to shoot one mag to see that while the mod solved the 10mm issues in both full and compact, didn't do it for the polymer .40 :(
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=65259&stc=1&d=1191947970

EAA customer service is as bad as you've heard. They demand I ship the entire gun back on my dime. Since FedEx and UPS requie a non dealer to use their most expensive overnight service, I may just cut my losses and forget about it.

--wally.

quickcanary
October 9, 2007, 09:11 PM
EAA customer service is as bad as you've heard. They demand I ship the entire gun back on my dime. Since FedEx and UPS requie a non dealer to use their most expensive overnight service, I may just cut may losses and forget about it.

Well I wouldn't just cut my losses and forget about it, I'd ship it back to them and, promptly after receiving the repaired gun, sell and/or trade it. I've heard good things about the EAA Witness pistols but I'll admit reading this about the 10mm model has put me off. I haven't heard of the Glocks having this problem. If the 10mm Glocks don't fit your hands, there's always the Dan Wesson and S&W models. Assuming you have no interest in either of those, I'd still get the gun repaired and go for something up my alley. No use in keeping a broken gun. I know you said you might be able to swap the parts but I'd let this be my last experience with the EAA 10mm models and (if I was dead set on 10mm) buy something more durable in that caliber.

wally
October 10, 2007, 12:23 AM
I'd ship it back to them and, promptly after receiving the repaired gun, sell and/or trade it

I consider this a tad unethical. YMMV. Besides, I am fortunate enough in life to probably have a much easier time eating the loss than the poor sap who might end up with my lemon.

Part of the charm of the Witness pistols are the interchangable uppers, and I kind of like the full sized 10mm upper on the compact frame. With the .45 full sized upper on the full sized frame all are complete guns with plenty of mags. I've spacers to use the full size mags in the compact frame.

--wally.

quickcanary
October 11, 2007, 09:44 AM
Wally, why would you consider it unethical to sell a gun that's been restored to its original operating condition? You could always test it for proper function before passing it off to someone else. If it makes you feel better you could inform the buyer of the failure and the fact that it had been repaired. I wouldn't consider your gun to be a lemon if there are other reports of this happening on the 10mm models; I'd consider it a design flaw and would make the buyer aware of that.

Let's say the engine in my car blew up a year ago and I had it rebuilt, and it's been running great ever since. I wouldn't consider it unethical to sell the car. Not telling them about the fact that the engine blew up and was rebuilt might be unethical, though.

I don't condone unethical activities and didn't want you to take my post the wrong way. If I sold a gun that I knew was having problems to someone, that's one thing. But I think having a gun restored to as-new condition and then selling it is a different story. As you said, YMMV. Good luck with whatever you decide to do with it; sounds like it'll work out for you in any case. :)

wally
October 11, 2007, 10:20 AM
Agreed, I'd have no problems if the gun's real history is fully disclosed. It'd cost me a lot more in ammo than it cost to ship it back to verify its really fixed right. Given many people's attitude (my uncle's Ford was a lemon, I'm only buying Chevys) it could be a tough sell I'd just rather not deal with.

Besides, I like the compact frame and would have been thrilled if the .40 poly upper with the fixed mags had solved the .40 issues as it seems to have solved them with the 10mm, unfortunately, no go. Since I have spare uppers here is a couple of possibilities:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=65328&d=1192050246
If the poly compact frame with the full sized 10mm upper is reliable with .40S&W level loads, I'd be thrilled, would make a great car gun. The .45 compact upper on the compact frame is the config I'd use the most even if the 10mm compact upper didn't break so I'm not really motivated to get rid of the gun.

--wally.

wally
October 11, 2007, 06:14 PM
Ran another 130 rounds thru the modified mags with no failures.

The full sized 10mm upper on the compact frame worked great with both the 12-round compact mags and the full sized mags using a spacer. I could learn to like this configuration. The compact .45 upper on the compact frame really handles nicely, its the configuration I'll shoot the most.

The 10mm full sized upper on the .40S&W poly frame using some 10mm .40S&W level reloads was no go. Rounds wouldn't reliably climb the feed ramp and jammed. The compact 45 upper works perfectly on it.

Hennings site: http://www.henningshootsguns.com/shop/eaa.elite.magazines.html has factory replacement followers and says they are the same for all full sized calibers. I don't see how this can possibly work reliably given that the slide lock lever is in the same place for all calibers and the top mag catch cutout is in the same location relative to the bottom of the mag when I measure .45 and 10mm mags.

While browsing the Hennings forums, saw mention of full sized .40S&W mags with an internal spacer for shooting "standard length" .40S&W. I may have to try and track one of these down as the last hope for my poly .40.

--wally.

brigadier
October 11, 2007, 06:50 PM
Cool. Nice to see that this at least was worked out. Actually, I myself am having some mag problems as my 10mm Beretta takes modified EAA Witness mags and likes to get stuffed up past 11 rounds. Any ideas on what that problem may be?

wally
October 12, 2007, 12:03 AM
10mm Beretta??

If you could post a photo of the problem I or someone else here might have experienced something similar.

Its real hard to get the last round in both the compact (12-rounds) and full sized (15-rounds). It possible the modification has reduced the capacity, if "stuffed up" means you can't load them to what you think is full capacity.

--wally.

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