100 Yards… And A Surprise

By Roy Huntington

We featured EAA’s Tanfoglio Witness Gold .45 ACP as the cover gun in our Sept/Oct 2013 Handgunner. This is a full-scale “race” gun with options like their V-12 comp, custom grip scales and a host of other options custom tailored to make this gun shoot straight and fast. And it did just that — especially the straight part. With a red-dot sight on it, it easily delivered ragged 1-hole groups at 25 yards, and 1.5″ at 50. I wondered out loud in the article what it might do at 100 with a crosshair optic-type sight on it. EAA said I could keep it a while for further testing.

I found some time recently and after digging around a bit, found a scope fitting on the mounts on the Witness Gold. A Minox ZA-3 set into a pair of Trijicon mounts slipped onto the rail mount neatly. The scope is a 3×9 rifle scope, and has the European-style focus on the eyepiece, which I really like. While you need to get your eye relatively close to get a decent field of view, I found by keeping it at 3 or 4 power, I was safe from being bumped by the scope during recoil.

I set-up a couple of targets at 25 yards and was surprised to find the scope well zeroed right from the get-go. Groups with just about everything I tried were essentially ragged holes. It was amazing to put the crosshairs on a small spot on the target and hit it every time. You could easily take head shots on squirrels at 25 or 35 yards with this set-up.

I moved the target back to 50 and was surprised at how high the rounds struck. The scope is held at quite an acute angle on top, tipped down toward the muzzle. If you think about it, what’s happening makes sense. Zeroed for 25, if you hold the same hold at 50, with the muzzle essentially pointing “up” in relation to the scope, the rounds struck higher. They were still on-target though, so I shot a few groups. At 50, ammo preferences were beginning to show up, and Federal and Black Hills 230-gr. ball seemed to win, with solid 1” groups easily managed. Had I adjusted the point of impact down, I could have easily cut out the X-ring time after time.


The Witness Gold delivered a tidy 1.5″ 3-round group
at 100. Adding in that fourth shot upped it to about 2.75″.


The muzzle blast from the top ports on the Witness Gold really made a
mess of the underside of the scoope. It didn’t cause any mechanical
damage, but if you shot hundreds of rounds you’d likely discolor
and erode the finish and might even “cut” into the aluminum eventually.

Out of curiosity I left the 25 yard zero setting and moved the target to 100 yards. I set up two long targets, one above the other, as I wasn’t sure where the bullets were going to go. My first shots, aiming at the center between both tall targets, showed no holes on the target. I aimed at the bottom of the lower target and still saw no hits. Hmmm …

I sighted onto my 100 yard gong and took a shot. Bingo, the bullet strike was about 10 feet above the gong. Yikes. That scope/muzzle angle really set those rounds high at that distance. I cranked some down elevation adjustment in, lowering things and tried the target again. With a center hold, I hit the top edge. I cranked more “down” into the scope and got hits near the center of the target. That was good enough to shoot groups.

After experimenting with loads from different makers, I found ASYM’s 230-gr. FMJ at 750 fps — Major PF, yielded the best group. Taking my time (after some practice), I got a 1.5″ 3-shot group, with a fourth spreading things to about 2.75″. There was a fifth, but I pulled it terribly so didn’t count it. That 3-shot group (the first three rounds) was the best of the day at 100 yards. I think when I saw those first three hits, I lost my mind, hence the last two shots straying. Simply amazing accuracy from a semi-auto .45 ACP at 100 yards.

For fun, I took a 5″ 1911 I had built at a Cylinder & Slide class here at my house, and tried it at 100. I listened to Bill Laughridge and did exactly what he told me to make a target-grade gun. It’s built on a Capian frame and slide I’m about finished with the cosmetics on the gun and will send it for hard chroming soon, for a nice retro look. Nonetheless, I was amazed — and surprised — to see the gun deliver a best group of four shots into 4″, with a fifth opening things up to a tad more than 5″. I’ll confess I used my “good” glasses when I shot it. The ammo was, interestingly enough, ASYM’s 185-gr. Barnes TAC-XP HP, which did not shoot well at all in the Witness Gold. I know some custom makers will actually make 1911’s shooting into 3″ reliably at 100 yards — if you’re willing to pay for it.

What’d I learn? While gun and ammo quality is important at these sorts of ranges, trigger control is paramount. A consistent sight picture, matched with an equally consistent “perfect” trigger press, is what makes the magic. If you’re tired of banging away at 25 yards, push things out to 50 or even 100 to really hone your understanding of just how important a perfect trigger press is in the real world.

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