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EAA Witness ELITE MATCH 10mm: mini review, Kimber ST II-10mm comparison.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by jfh, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. jfh

    jfh Member

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    As noted in another thread, I picked up the Elite Match 10mm last week. I made it to the range last Thursday and I shot it and the Kimber Stainless Target II 10mm I bought last summer.

    The EM-10mm (my own name) is a hard gun to find--Tanfoglio apparently only makes the 10mm Elite Match version in limited amounts, and EAA never knows when they will arrive, or how many. I spotted one on Gun Broker on January 6th--and when I called my LGS on Monday morning to see if he could get one, he already had one in stock! WTH, Christmas bills payoff can be put off a month--and off I went to pick it up.

    I've owned a standard EAA Large Frame SS .45ACP for about fifteen years, and a 'compact' full frame .40 S&W Carry Comp package for nearly the same time. Both have been reliable performers, and the only real complaint I've had centers on the inherent design issue of the 'negative' barrel angle relative to the slide necessitating a high rear sight and / or a very short front sight.

    Last summer, when I started shooting again after some years away, I wanted to shoot another 10mm besides my current guns, so I picked up a EAA 10mm top end for the .45ACP frame. It worked flawlessly, as did the three magazines--but the accuracy was indifferent--perhaps 3+" at 25 yards.

    The Elite Match had features I wanted in my next pistol, so I looked into getting one and found I would simply have to wait until they got into the pipeline again. Meanwhile, I bought a Kimber Stainless Target II in 10mm and broke that in.

    What follows is my 'immediate reactions' to the Elite Match and the first range session with it. Since I have a perspective about 10mm shooting again based on that Kimber, I'm including some comments about that as well.

    Witness Elite Match 10mm--CURRENT FEATURES:

    1. different rear sight, replaceable front sight The current 10mm model as shipped from the factory has a an LPA fully-adjustable, designed somewhat like Novak carry sights. see this picture. I did a quick tweak to move the group upwards while at the range and it appears to be sufficiently adjustable. However, it was disappointing to see it shipped with a 'carry'-type blade--recessed, but all black with no outlines, instead of a match / target blade, which is available from LPA and could have been installed.

    The front sight is the design they've been shipping recently--a front-oriented dovetail, and set in place with a torx screw on top. Plain black, with almost a patridge-type profile. The one shipped on the slide was, for my taste, a bit narrow (IOW, it did not fill up the blade slot as much as I'd like.) If the other widths are readily available, this will be an easy changeout for me to do.

    2. Extended safety, extended mag release. For my size hand, the safety is in a perfect location to ride it while shooting. If that is NOT your shooting style, there's room below the safety to drop your thumb in nicely without impinging on the mag release. The extended mag release does not protrude so far as to make accidental mag ejection likely.

    3. SA-only trigger: Unlike the conventional CZ-type trigger in which there is the option of a double-action pull on the first shot with the hammer down, the trigger on the Elite Match models is SA only, and the hammer must be cocked. It is fitted with a stopscrew. I estimate the pull to be about five lbs, and it has a touch of grit in it--really, only what I would expect to find on a new trigger that a gunsmith had not worked on.

    4. Barrel and slide: The current catalog and specifications call it a match barrel. Mine showed no fitting marks, however. It is better fit to the slide, and the slide to the frame, than the switch-top I bought last summer. In fact, the slide fit is very good for an out-of-the-box guns. However, there is no bushing for a better barrel fit, and there is somewhat noticable 'looseness' at the muzzle in the vertical axis.

    5. Other features: pebble-grained rubber grips; duotone finish--SS frame, beadblasted with sanded / brighter flats; blued release, safety, hammer, and slide. Vertical serrations on front and back straps; mag well bevel cast into frame. NO barrel bushing; heavyweight slide design. Comes in a 'deluxe' Italian-designed carrying case c/w lock, manual and documents, and one large-capacity magazine.

    6. Weight: with magazine, unloaded: 42.2 oz. with magazine, loaded w/15 rounds 200gr: 52.0 oz.

    I paid $479.95 (Plus ST) for it on January 7.

    Witness Elite Match 10mm--RANGE PERFORMANCE:

    1. NO FTFs, FTEs, and no malfunctions at all in approximately 80 rounds fired. This included feeding from the one magazine shipped with the pistol and with the three I got last summer (one with the slide, two purchased from EAA). All mags seated properly, but there is a tendency to not catch. This appears to be a very minor issue of the thickness of the plastic base pad, and can be readily fixed by light filing on the top of the pad if needed. Each magazine held 13 rounds; so I guess we can call this a 13+1 pistol, or large-capacity. I questioned this capacity at this time, as I remembered it fitting 14+1 last summer; this time I didn't try cramming them in. Maybe I miscounted. I do remember 15+1 last summer wasn't worth the effort. All of these are OEM mags--that is, they all have the "T" (tanfoglio) logo stamped in them.

    Update: when I weighed it for the figures above, I had no particular problem inserting 15 rounds into one of the magazines.

    2. Accuracy: "uncertain:" It was an abysmal day at the range for me--old eye syndrome. Since I target shot at our club outdoor range this summer, this time at an indoor range I found the lighting contrast too low, the 'booth' environment inhospitable, and an inadequate setup for attempting 'benchrest' shooting. Here's a link to about rounds 37-44 that were fired from this gun. Note that I was firing eight-round magazines to afford a direct comparison to the Kimber; the #1 round is the left-most. Because of my performance, I see no distinct group or accuracy characteristic yet. The loads shot were the reloads I used to break in the Kimber ST II-10mm--5.2 gr. of 231 under a 180-gr. TMJ. In the Kimber, that load is 2" accurate at 50 yards; I have no idea of what an accurate load of the EM-10 will be.

    As with all EAA and CZ-75 designs, there is that negative slope to the barrel inside the slide. This necessitates a high rear sight, and AFAIK, it has existed from day one. As a result, the as-shipped rear sight (screwed down) shot about 5" low at 15 yards. two quick adjustments brought it up to about 1" low, I think.

    OK, I'm back to finish this up--had an appointment yesterday and I had to stop.


    Kimber Stainless Target II 10mm--CURRENT FEATURES:

    Since no revisions are needed to the factory spec list, I'll simply reference that here.

    The Kimber also has its slide fit to the frame, has a match and ramped barrel, match bushing, a BoMar-type Lo-Mount nicely fit to the slide--and that damned plastic mainspring housing. I fitted the Hogue fingergrip wraparounds immediately--that's the grip I put on all my "range" 1911s. I also will be installing a Barret SS magwell, as soon as I can find one, and I will update the plastic MSH to an Ed Brown one.

    Weight: with Hogue grip and magazine, unloaded: 39 oz. loaded with 8 rounds, 200gr: 44.2 oz.:

    I paid $959.95 (plus ST) for this pistol late last July, and had I been buying from my current / favored LGS, I would have gotten it for another $20-25.00 less.

    After shooting one box of a (brand-unremembered) factory TMJ ammo, I built up a typical TMJ lighter reload (5.0 gr. 231, 200TMJ--new Starline Brass, WLPs and used that for the break-in. The first target shot with those reloads (15 yards, outdoor range, bench rest) is here: The #1 shot is the right-most--so this is a nominal 1.25" group. I was very pleased.

    This pistol was really tight--even slow-but-continuous 'target shooting' would heat it up noticably. So, I resolved to do a complete break-in. There was the odd FTF with my older 10mm reloads with the factory (Kimber-branded) magazine. I also tested and shot from the several STI 10mm mags I own, with mixed results there. (These magazines generally need to be tuned up, BTW).

    Kimber Stainless Target II 10mm--RANGE PERFORMANCE:

    By about round 200, the Kimber was heating up much less and shooting better. At about round 350, we had a club shoot one evening when it was raining--so we shot from the 50 yard line, under our rain & shade canopy, at an assortment of reactive targets. I had never shot at 50 yards before, and after a bit of practice I found I could reliably ring a 12" plate in a measured rapid fire. Further, I could regularly (but intermittently) hit bowling pin "heads" we would set up on one table. The latter was eye-opening, so to speak--I'd never experienced that kind of accuracy from a semiauto pistol before--not even my S&W 52 would do that. By this time, the reload ammo was 5.2 gr. of 231 under a 180-gr. Hornady TMJ, and that recipe is the one I used in the comparison last week.

    At the end of the 500+ rounds of break-in, the Kimber ran much cooler, and noticably smoother--but there does appear to be some minor peening of the slide at the release stop. I plan to look at this more closely and either call Kimber for an RMA or do some minor fitting here.

    Break-in continued uneventfully, and I shot about 550-600 rounds through it before I diverted to my "38+P replica loads" reloading project and put all my time into my j-frames and those rounds.

    Coming back to it "cold" after five months or so away gave me a chance to evaluate it again, both by itself and in comparison to the EAA Elite Match.


    EM-10 and ST II-10 comparisons:

    Here's a link to a simple photo showing the two pistols side-by side. Other than width and thickness of the magazine floor plate, the two pistols are virtually identical in LOA and HOA.

    1. Finish: I consider the ST II to be a bit better-finished that the EM-10. The original factory grips (rubber) had the flash removed; the EM-10 rubber panels did not. The blued slide on the EM-10 appears to be a "thinner" bluing. So, the quality of the finish goes to Kimber--but by very little: A uniform semi-matte beadblast finish on all major components is hardly a time-intensive finish.

    2. Fit: The EM-10 appears to be fit as well as the Kimber, save for one area--the barrel / bushing issue. I also suspect the barrel is not of the quality that the Kimber's ramped barrel is--in fact, there are some bumps in the EM-10's ramp that show up in the soot on it now.

    The SA trigger on the EA-10 is, in its un-'smithed / factory state, actually a bit better than the Kimber trigger. Both pull about the same, and the EA-10 still feels new, but the Kimber has some creep in it that, while it smoothed out in the break-in, shouldn't be there.

    3. Accuracy: As yet undetermined--but I will, because of the fit on the EA-10 muzzle, give the edge to the Kimber.

    4. "Shootability:" Although I am a real 1911 afficiando, in this fresh comparison I will call the EA-10 much more shootable. The double-stack frame width cushions the recoil well; the added weight does the same. I've generally preferred an arched mainspring on my 1911s, and I find the straight mainspring on this Kimber frame without the benefit of that small Barret add-on magwell to have a 'friction point' on my palm under the heavier recoil of the narrower 1911 frame. In summary, the CZ-75 design is every bit the ergonomic "update" to the 1911 design it was intended to be.

    5. Sights: While it's a bit of personal taste, I do prefer the full target blade of the Kimber BoMar, and the appearance of a lo-mount over the EA-10's LPA smaller blade and "high" setting for POI adjustment. Part of this can be fixed by changing the LPA blade--but, overall, the Kimber sight appears to be more durable as well.

    Summary: The Kimber comes out on top, kind of--but mostly because of subjective values on my part about the quality of the components and the total "fit" of the parts. It should have better parts since it cost twice as much. Since the ergonomics are virtually identical, the "feel" in shooting both guns gives the benefit to the Elite Match.

    If Tanfoglio / EAA shipped the Elite Match series with a barrel bushing, I would consider it the functional equal to the Kimber--a pistol that costs twice as much.

    As far as company support goes, Kimber appears to provide better factory service. But even that is debateable, if the "Kimber QC" threads are any indication.

    Because I tend to be a value / cost buyer if other factors are nominally equal, I'd buy the EAA Witness over the Kimber Stainless Target II were I purchasing a 10mm for the first time. The benefits of the CZ-75 design improvements over the traditional 1911 design cannot be overstated.

    Jan. 18: Kimber CS contact re slide stop notch peening: Getting these posts written spurred me on to send a closeup picture of the slide stop notch to Dennis, the "repairs" rep at Kimber. In addition to the picture, I was completely forthcoming about shooting reloads, and I posed several questions about warranty and / or cost of service for this problem.

    Within three hours I received a phone call from Dennis. Speaking to the problem at hand, his opinion was that the pistol did not need to be serviced at the shop, but merely needed to have a 16-lb recoil spring fit. (That had been my assessment, too, but I wanted to see how Kimber would address this.) He further assured me that something like this was / will be handled under warranty. I was completely satisfied with the factory response, and this kind of contact certainly tends to minimize the issues of Kimber QC and CS that bashers love to post.


    Jim H.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2008
  2. Dave P

    Dave P Member

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    What follows is my 'immediate reactions' ...

    More later--


    :confused:
     
  3. wally

    wally Member

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    My Witness 10mm magazines hold 15 rounds, except for the Compact which holds 12.

    I didn't have such good luck with EAA Witness 10mm mags. All off mine needed the feed lips squeezed in a bit (almost 1mm!) to retain the rounds under recoil and prevent jams. Been reliable since I modified the mags.

    Like you I have the Witness Steel Frame with .45ACP, 10mm, .40S&W, & 9mm uppers, the Elite Match 10mm and the steel frame compact 10mm.

    I'll probably get a .38Super upper for it when I get a need to reload for another caliber :)

    --wally.
     
  4. mpmarty

    mpmarty Member

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    My elite match started life as a 40S&W and I called EAA and bought a 10mm barrel for it for about a hundred bucks. It had to be "fitted" (file down the shoulder at the rear above the chamber until barrel just drops into place in the locking rings). The gun is a tack driver and works equally well with the 21lb 10mm spring I got for it or the weaker original using 40S&W ammo. It is reliable, fun, accurate and so heavy it feels like shooting my browning Hi-power in 9mm.
     
  5. jfh

    jfh Member

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    OK, I finished the comparison and review in the opening post. I'll probably edit it at least one more time, but if I do I'll put in a bump. Any other questions or comments, please post--

    Jim H.
     
  6. Markbo

    Markbo member

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    Let me compliment you first on the write up. Extremely well done and professional. I would like to know some more about the accuracy once you have had a chance to work that up in both pistols.

    I would like to know a couple of other things as well... can the EAA be had with a longer barrel in the Elite Match configuration? Do you at all miss any checkering on the front strap? I find I really notice when it is not there on a 1911.

    Since this model is SA only, can it be carried safely cocked and locked? Have you shot any high end loads? I mean rather than the loaded down FBI type loads, have you ever worked up any hot 'hunting' loads for either gun?
     
  7. jfh

    jfh Member

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    Markbo: Thank you for the compliments.

    Regarding your questions:

    1. AFAIK, there is no reason why an EAA "Witness Hunter" top end couldn't be fit. That slide has a 6" bull barrel and apparently uses the same slide as the Elite Match--but it also has a compensator. I'd call EAA and ask to talk to a gunsmith. Then, I'd try to find a 'local smith to do the work--but only if he's familiar with CZ-75 / EAA Witnesses.

    2. I don't miss the front strap checkering--the vertical milling does work to some extent, and it's only disadvantage is aesthetic--i.e., I think it is cheap-looking. When I first started shooting 1911s, I went to the Hogue FG grip as a cost-efficient alternative and to get a slightly "fuller" grip, and that works well on 1911s for me. On a Witness / CZ-75 frame, already larger, I think an aftermarket FG grip would be too much. (I'm 6'1", with a well-proportioned hand for my size--i.e., not unduly small, large, beefy, etc.)

    2. IMO, this SA-trigger version could be safely carried cocked-and-locked, subject to the usual issues and caveats about 1911 "condition one" carry--e.g., a strap that goes between the slide and hammer. The safety is positive and locks nicely on my sample.

    Having said that, I am a proponent of simple, DAO lightweight revolvers and use pocket carry. At 52 oz. loaded, this one would virtually demand a duty belt and holster. Further, the DA action on the standard-trigger versions really eliminates the need for cocked and locked carry. I carried, SOB-style, a Springfield Armory P9C / .40 S&W somewhat intermittently for just that reason. Now I prefer the DAO revolver approach.

    I've shot high-end 10mm loads, but only in my Springfield Armory Omega and S&W 1006. That pistol, with its Peters Stahl top end with dual external extractors and a match barrel, tended to have sticky extraction. The S&W 1006, OTOH, was most accurate at the high-end and worked 100%.

    I did try 5 rounds of the original Lapua 200 gr. load (that's arguably the hottest 10mm factory ammo) through the EAA switch top on the .45ACP frame I have, and it was uneventful. So, it seems to me that the EAA "Hunter" would be a viable high-power option for hunting or for high-power shooting in general.

    Personally, I come from a marksmanship-type background, so I am inclined to look for accuracy first, and my club-competition stuff has focussed around "barely Major" workups for fast recovery. But, the info for high test loads is out there. A guy over on handloads.com has worked up a 1600 fps / 155gr.(?) load he is shooting out of his Glock 20 with an aftermarket barrel in it. I blew up a Glock 20 ten years ago, so I don't really care for plastic gun and big cartridges any more.

    Jim H.
     
  8. 45ACPUSER

    45ACPUSER Member

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    One vendor in the metro twin cities sure seems to sell the 10mm Witness Match as fast as they hit the shelf!
     
  9. sqlbullet

    sqlbullet Member

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    I love my Elite Match 10mm. Got it just before Christmas.

    Couple of additional notes.

    The SA trigger is adjustable for both take-up and over travel. However, while the trigger is good, to really get a great trigger it would need some additional work. When I remove the take up, the trigger will no longer reset completely when the action is cycled by fire. Manually cocking it works fine.

    Also, all four of my existing Witness mags had to have the plastic base sanded on top before they would engage the magazine catch. The magazine that came with the gun worked fine, but it had been altered at the factory based on the marks in the plastic.

    That said, I find it hard to imagine a better gun at the price.
     
  10. R&J

    R&J Member

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    Nicely Done!

    Great read jfh!

    --Ray
     
  11. chihuahuatn

    chihuahuatn Member

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    I loved reading your review, and I love my Kimber Stainless Target II, out of my 3 kimbers its is the most reliable. Also I like Cobra Tripp 9rd mags for mine.

    I have been meaning to do a head to head with my Glock 20 (6in barrel) to the Kimber.
     
  12. jfh

    jfh Member

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    Thanks for the compliments, guys--I just reread this thread, and while there is still some minor editing to do (I once was an English Teacher--heh.), I'm leaving it alone for now.

    45ACPUser: Which shop are you referring to? FWIW, my LGS is The GunStop, but they don't really seek 'internet' sales / transfers for firearms.

    sqlbullet, R&J, and chihuahuatn: Welcome to the forum, and thank you. Pass the word around about this thread to other forums if you want to. And sqlbullet, thanks for the added points about the SA trigger--I haven't explored it yet.

    I'll probably resurrect this thread when I get some more shooting in with these two guns and I can get the EAA to group a bit more. Markbo, if you haven't heard more about accuracy in a few months--e.g., after it warms up and I shoot outside again--drop me an e-mail or PM me.

    Jim H.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2008
  13. Markbo

    Markbo member

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    Dang it... this thread is going to cost me money!:mad:
     
  14. LiquidTension

    LiquidTension Member

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    I looked for about 9 months before I finally got my hands on my Match 10mm. The thing WAS a tack driver. It HAD a great trigger. It lookED good and felt good in the hands.

    On my third range trip, the frame cracked. The crack is on the right side of the frame at the top a little behind the slide stop. It had around 80 rounds through it. 30 rounds of American Eagle and about 50 GA arms. Neither of these loads is anywhere near maximum.

    On 12/14/07 I sent it and my Kimber Pro Carry back to their respective manufacturers. The folks at Kimber called me the next week, explained what some possible problems were, and shipped it back to me before Christmas.

    I still haven't heard the first thing about my Witness. EAA's policy is that if you call them to inquire about your gun, they put it at the bottom of the stack. I knew about their horrid customer service before I bought the gun, but after hearing so many great things about it I bought it anyway. I obviously got one that had some sort of metallurgical flaw - it happens.

    I'm anxiously awaiting the return of my one and only 10mm because it immediately became my favorite pistol. Low recoil, scary accuracy, and it's just plain cool looking :cool: I've been meaning to post pics but I keep forgetting.
     
  15. mightyike

    mightyike Member

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    wow. What a good job! Your efforts and industriousness are commended: you can be proud of doing such strong work.

    Very impressed with you presentation and links!

    Richard in AZ Love my G-20 and my custom 10mm Caspian
     
  16. jfh

    jfh Member

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    OK, I just completed the "final" editing and typos cleanup. The only content added is the result of my Kimber CS contact about the slide stop notch peening.

    Jim H.
     
  17. Markbo

    Markbo member

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    Now that is some BS right there now! Couple that with the fact that I sent EAA an email two days ago with some very basic questions and have yet to receive a reply, they may have made my mind up for me. Life is too short to put up with bad customer service.
     
  18. jfh

    jfh Member

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    UPDATE: Some more accuracy results.

    I got to the (indoor) range again yesterday and shot some more targets to look for the Elite Match 10mm grouping.

    This target was shot at about 10 yards--under the brighter lighting, and my eyes are still an issue.

    link--

    These bullseyes are 4" diameters--so, if you grant one flyer in a group of five, the EM-10 certainly can shoot nominal 1" groups at 10 yards. These bullseyes were shot after about 100 rounds total, and the break in continues to be unevenful: There were no FTFs or other malfunctions when it was shot with four different kinds of reloads with three different bullets.

    FWIW, I have ordered out an LPA target blade (actually, a complete rear sight) to change out to--that may also be of some help. Greater distance targets will have to wait until I shoot outside--e.g., with better contrast.

    Jim H.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2008
  19. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I have an Elite Match in .40 and it is a great shooter.

    I like thin front sights because:

    1 - That is what I grew up shooting and I'm used to it, and have just always liked them.

    2 - They let more light in for my old eyes. With thick blades that almost fill the rear slot I can not tell if there is any gap on both sides (no light)

    You mention your old eyes. I would suggest you try the thin blade next to the thich blade a bit more. See if you see what I meen. You may decide you like it. At least give it a fair shake before buying a new front sight. AC
     
  20. jfh

    jfh Member

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    I think you may be right, Walkalong--at least, I will see what picture I get once I see what the target blade is like, before I worry about a new front sight.

    Now, you should just pick up a 10mm barrel and fit it to that .40 Short & Weak slide--

    Jim H.
     
  21. wally

    wally Member

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    You can order a red fiber optic front sight for your Elite Match. I find them great medicine for "old eye syndrome".

    --wally.
     
    jfh likes this.
  22. Markbo

    Markbo member

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    ARGH!!! The dreaded red X... update that link please!
     
  23. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I ordered the factory fiber optic sight for mine. It's easy to see, but I don't shoot it any better.
     
  24. jfh

    jfh Member

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    Markbo: The Link works--just the "image" link I had put in that post for the target did not.

    Eyes, eyes--I'm gonna get a new optician's workup done and see about new lenses. The guy I go to has been good; he knows how to skew a progressive prescription so I can use it for shooting...it's only been in the last prescription that the inability to get a clear focus anywhere has shown up.
     
  25. Markbo

    Markbo member

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    Well I have been emailing with EAA the last week or so. It seems whoever answers the emails doesn't actually know anything and has to go and ask someone. Then they cannot seem to answer more than one question - even though I number my questions to make it easier. It's like pulling teeth to get information out of them.

    Anyway, I think I have made up my mind on the model, but where are you guys purchasing these guns from? I asked for a local dealer and they gave me a phone number for one in Fort worth - that's almost 300 miles away!
     

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