No one is going to give you much of an argumentif you say action shooting has taken a bite out of bullseye shooting. Obviously, the appeal of knocking down steel plates in rapid succession exceeds that of merely punching holes in paper. If you have any interest in joining the fun, you dont have to invest heavy bucks to do it.
The three pistols included here are among many you could buy that meet the criteria of the U.S. Limited Division of I.P.S.C. competition. They are production guns available to the general public. More than 1000 of each has been manufactured in the last 12 months. Out of the box, they have no optical, electronic or custom sights; no compensators or ported barrels. They are all .40 caliber, the minimum caliber in the Limited Division that can be scored as major. Their magazines hold more than seven rounds apiece, meaning fewer reloads and less time required in getting off a series of shots during a course of fire.
Of course, the subjects of this test – the Uzi Eagle, the European American Armory Witness and the Daewoo DH-40 Mk II – are primarily intended for personal protection. These imported .40 S&W pistols are mid-priced models that sell for under $550 each. They utilize double-column magazines.
Here is what we found when we evaluated the three pistols head to head:
In the past, this pistol has been imported by KBI of Pennsylvania as the Jerico and by Magnum Research of Minnesota as the Baby Eagle. Today, several companies are involved in bringing the Uzi Eagle to U.S. consumers. It is made by Tanfoglio of Italy to the specifications set by Israel Military Industries (IMI) and is imported into this country by Uzi America, Inc., which is a subsidiary of O.F. Mossberg and Sons of Connecticut.
Actually, the name Uzi Eagle isnt applied to just one gun. It is the designation for a line of compact and full-size pistols available in three calibers from 9mm to .45 ACP. The version in this test is a full-size .40 S&W model with a steel frame. This $535 double action pistol features a 4 3/8-inch barrel and a 10-round magazine. Night sights are standard equipment, instead of an extra-cost option.
Our Eagles metal work was average. Most of its steel parts had a uniform matte black finish. The barrel was left in the white. When locked into battery, there was a moderate amount of play in the slide and the barrel. Both of the 10-round magazines provided had matte black double-column bodies, red plastic followers and removable black plastic floorplates. No sharp edges were found.
The grip panels were made of black rubber with partially textured finish. The panels covered the sides of the frame, leaving the grooved frontstrap and backstrap exposed. Each panel was securely fastened with one slotted screw. Grip-to-metal mating was good.
At the range, the Eagle didnt malfunction with the three kinds of ammunition we tried. However, grasping the slide securely enough to retract it wasnt what we would call easy. The slides low profile, a result of its inverted rail design, provided less than the normal amount of surface area to hold onto. Furthermore, the safety levers covered about half of the gripping serrations on the back of the slide.
The manual safety consisted of dual two-position levers mounted on the slide. When either lever was moved downward, the safety blocked the firing pin, decocked the hammer and disengaged the trigger. Right- and left-handed shooters could manipulate this control with their shooting thumb.
Right-handed shooters could also easily reach this pistols other controls with their shooting thumb. The slide catch was an extended lever on the left side of the frame. Unlike some extended catches, it didnt come into contact with the shooters thumb during firing. When depressed, the magazine release at the left rear of the trigger guard unlocked and allowed the magazine to drop freely from the gun.
All of our shooters liked the Eagles handling qualities. It balanced well in the hand and was a very good pointer. The shape of the grip and the tang on the back of the frame was quite comfortable. Even shooters with smaller hands liked this pistols human engineering. The hard rubber grips afforded a non-slip grasp. Felt recoil was a little milder than the average .40 S&W pistol.
We thought both pulls of the ungrooved 5/16-inch-wide trigger were about a pound too heavy. The 4 3/4-pound single action stage had 1/4 inch of takeup, some noticeable creep and a moderate amount of overtravel. In the double action mode, the long, reasonably smooth pull released at 12 1/2 pounds.
The Eagles fixed sights were equipped with white-outlined Tritium inserts. The front was a 1/4-inch-wide blade with one insert on its slightly angled face. The rear was a tall blade with two inserts and a 1/4-inch-square notch. Both were dovetailed to the slide, making them drift-adjustable for windage only. The Tritium inserts glowed well in low light, and their white outlines were visible in normal light. This sighting system was easy to find and align. But, the pistol shot 2 inches to the left and 4 inches higher than the point of aim at 15 yards.
Although this .40 S&W produced the smallest groups of the test, we considered its accuracy to be only average for a full-size pistol. At 15 yards, five-shot groups averaged from 1.93 inches with Remington 180-grain jacketed hollow points to 2.93 inches with Winchester 155-grain Silvertip hollow points.
Firearms with polygonal rifling usually generate higher velocities than similar guns with standard rifling, and this one was no exception. Its muzzle velocities, which measured from 1,035 to 1,218 feet per second, were at least 31 to 79 feet per second faster than the other pistols tested.
A number of companies have marketed CZ-75-type pistols in the past, but the Italian-made European American Armory Witness is one of the few that has, so far, withstood the test of time. This line of double action pistols contains numerous models of differing sizes, calibers and features. A $359 full-size .40 S&W variant with a steel frame and the importers Wonder finish is the subject of this test. This finish is the result of a heat treating process, not a plating.
In our opinion, the Witness was a good-looking pistol. But, overall, we thought its workmanship was slightly below average. The slide and frame had a matte silver/gray finish, while the controls and sights were dull blue. The barrel locked up snugly, but most other parts had a moderate amount of play. The blued double-column magazine, which had a black plastic follower and removable floorplate, needed more work.
This pistols black rubber grip panels were almost completely textured and covered the sides of the frame. They were held securely in place by one slotted screw apiece. No gaps were noted in the grip-to-metal fit, but most edges of the panels werent tapered to provide a gradual transition from the rubber to the guns frame.
Using hollow point and ball ammunition, this EAA fed, fired and ejected without a hitch. However, we encountered a significant problem with the magazine. Although it was supposed to hold 10 rounds, we werent able to load more than 9 rounds into the magazine. Furthermore, it frequently would only accept 7 rounds. The follower spring was very stiff, which is not unusual for a new magazine, but its varying capacity suggested that the spring was binding inside the magazine body.
Like the Uzi Eagle, this pistol had a low profile slide with a reduced amount of surface area to grasp. Gripping serrations on the front and back of the slide made holding onto it somewhat easier. But, none of our shooters felt the two sets of serrations completely eliminated the problem.
All of the controls were located on the left side of the frame, so only right-handed shooters could manipulate them with the thumb of their shooting hand. The manual safety was a two-position lever at the rear of the frame. When pushed upward to the engaged position, it locked the sear to prevent firing. Since the pistol didnt have a decocker, safely lowering the hammer had to be done manually. The slide catch and the magazine release worked positively.
We felt the Witness handling was the best of the test. It balanced very well in the hand and was the most natural pointer. The frames curved backstrap and long tang fit the shooters hand like a glove. The grip was slimmer at the top than the bottom, affording a comfortable and secure grasp for all hand sizes. Of the .40 S&Ws evaluated, this one seemed to recoil the least.
In our opinion, movement of the ungrooved 5/16-inch-wide trigger was below average. After 1/4 inch of slack and a noticeable amount of creep, the heavy single action pull released at 6 pounds. The long double action pull let off at 12 3/4 pounds. Both modes had a minor amount of overtravel.
We didnt care for the fixed sights on this pistol. The front, a silver 1/4-inch-wide blade with a red dot on its face, was integral with the front of the slide. The rear, a blued blade with a 1/4-inch-square notch and two red dots, was dovetailed to the back of the slide. In all lighting conditions, the light-colored front sight was very difficult to acquire and see clearly because it didnt stand out from the rest of the slide. At 15 yards, the Witness shot about 3 inches high and to the left of the sighting systems point of aim.
Pistols that sell for under $400 usually arent very accurate, and this one was no exception. None of our shooters were satisfied with its performance at 15 yards. Five-shot average groups measured from 2.48 inches with CCI Lawman 180-grain ball ammunition to 3.20 inches with Winchester 155-grain Silvertip hollow points.
The Witness muzzle velocities werent as fast as those of the Uzi Eagle, but they were typical of what can be expected from a .40 S&W pistol with a 4 3/8-inch barrel and standard rifling. Average velocities ranged from 961 feet per second with the CCI 180-grain load to 1,187 feet per second with the Winchester 155-grain load.
Daewoo DH-40 Mk II
This Korean manufacturer is probably best known in this country for its semiautomatic rifles, but Daewoo also makes a couple of handguns. One such firearm is the DH-40 Mark II, imported by Kimber of America. This .40 S&W pistols most unique feature is its Fast-Fire tri-action firing mechanism, which has three different firing modes. Other features of this $450 model include an alloy frame, a 4-inch barrel and a 10-round magazine.
Physical DescriptionOur DH-40 wasnt a handsome gun, but we considered its fit and finish to be satisfactory. The steel slide had a polished blue finish, while the aluminum alloy frame had a non-reflective dark gray finish. There was a slight amount of slide movement when in battery, but barrel lockup was very good. The double-column magazine provided, which had an extended and removable black plastic floorplate, was well constructed.
Both of the grip panels were made of black plastic with molded checkering. They covered the sides of the frame and the rear portion of the external trigger bar on the right side of the gun. Each panel was secured with two slotted screws. Grip-to-metal mating was faultless.
As we mentioned earlier, this Daewoo had three firing modes. The first two, single action and double action, worked in the usual manner. The third mode, tri-action, was set up by cocking the external hammer and then pushing it all the way forward, without pulling the trigger. The hammers unusual operation was a result of its two-piece design. When firing tri-action, the triggers long travel recocked and released the hammer, but its pull weight was lighter than in the single action mode.
Shooters found the operation of the DH-40s Fast-Fire trigger to be interesting, though some felt the tri-action pull was a little too easy for novice gun handlers. In this mode, the trigger released with only 4 1/2 pounds of rearward pressure. The long, smooth double action pull let off at 12 1/4 pounds. After about 1/4 inch of slack, the single action pull released at 6 1/2 pounds.
Functionally, this Daewoo reliably digested all of the commercial ammunition we fed it. The traditionally-styled slide had more readily-available surface area than the others in this test, so it was the easiest to grasp and retract. The internal safety, a passive firing pin block, worked positively.
The manual safety, which consisted of dual two-position levers at the rear of the frame, was ambidextrous. Right- and left-handed shooters could depress either lever, disengaging the safety, with their firing thumb. However, pushing them upward in the same manner was difficult due to the limited access permitted by the grip panels.
Southpaws liked the magazine release, which was installed on the left rear of the trigger guard at the factory, because it could be reversed for their use. The slide catch was a slightly extended lever on the left side of the frame. Both of these controls and the manual safety worked smoothly.
Of the pistols in this test, the DH-40 was the lightest and most evenly balanced. So, pointing and target acquisition were the fastest. Muzzle stability was satisfactory. Most shooters found the comfortably-shaped grip long enough to accommodate all fingers of their firing hand. Only those with very big hands needed to use the finger extension on the bottom of the magazine. The tang on the back of the frame prevented slide and hammer bite. Felt recoil was the heaviest of the test, but not unusually so for a .40 S&W pistol of this size and weight.
Daewoo equipped this pistol with a good set of blued, fixed sights. The front was an integral 1/4-inch-wide blade with a white dot on its straight face, while the rear was a dovetailed low-profile blade with two white dots and a 1/4-inch-square notch. This arrangement afforded a sight picture that was easy to see and align. Nevertheless, the gun shot 4 inches high and 3 inches to the left of the point of aim.
In our opinion, this Daewoos accuracy was below average for a full-size pistol. We obtained the smallest five-shot average groups, 2.38 inches at 15 yards, using Winchester 155-grain Silvertip hollow points. The largest groups, averaging 2.60 inches, were produced with CCI Lawman 180-grain ball ammunition.
Chronograph testing showed that the DH-40 yielded muzzle velocities of 958 to 1,178 feet per second. These average velocities were from 6 feet per second faster to 9 feet per second slower than those of the European American Armory Witness in this test, which had a 3/8 inch longer barrel. We considered this level of performance to be satisfactory for defensive work.