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Education / Training Tanfoglio Witness 1911 BB pistol – Part 1

Tanfoglio Witness 1911 BB pistol – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

An announcement before I get to today’s topic. On August 11, I told you about the Pro-Guide Spring Retainer System. They’re now available from Pyramyd AIR.
You can have Pyramyd AIR install one in your gun,
or you can install it yourself. A mainspring compressor is needed for installation. Also, there are no instructions. No phone or email support is provided for installation.

The Tanfoglio 1911 BB pistol is something different in a universe of similar BB guns. When I first saw it, I thought it was an airsoft gun. The model, size and shape of the gun and even the way it works seem very reminiscent of an airsoft pistol. Indeed, Tanfoglio does make the Witness as an airsoft M1911A1, but it’s both a springer and a replica of the M1911A1 single-stack Colt, where this CO2-powered BB pistol appears to be a double-stack variation.


What a 1911 fan sees in this tricked-out pistol is a wide frame, double-action trigger, checkering on both front and rear grip straps, lightened hammer, beavertail grip safety with speed bump, ambidextrous manual safety, target sights, squared triggerguard and a light rail in front of the triggerguard.

What is single-stack and double-stack?
Those are terms that describe how the cartridges align inside the magazine. A single-stack magazine has each cartridge on top of the one below. The magazine can be made thinner and so can the grip of the pistol into which it fits. A double-stack gun has the cartridges almost side-by-side in the magazine. It has a higher capacity, but the grip must be wider to accommodate the wider magazine. In small cartridges such as 9x19mm, it isn’t as noticeable as it is when the cartridges are fat, like the .45 ACP. Then, the grip has to be wide enough for the fatter cartridge to ride almost side-by-side in the mag. A 1911 can be obtained in either caliber, but .45 ACP is by far the more common one.

So, this BB pistol’s grip is thicker than a traditional M1911 grip. It houses the 20-shot stick magazine that drops free from the pistol when the mag-release button is pressed. That button is the only control that actually functions. All other switches, levers and the sights are simply cast in the outer plastic shell, except for a sliding safety switch on the right side of the pistol. That moves forward and back and disconnects the trigger from the rest of the gun when it’s on safe. The grip safety is solid too, as is the 1911 manual safety, which is ambidextrous. You can hook your thumb over the traditional 1911 manual safety to shoot with more control – a hold I have really taken to ever since learning it recently.

This is a 1911 – not a 1911A1
This is an important distinction, because nearly all pistols calling themselves 1911s these days are really based on the A1 variation. Only a purist would know the subtle differences, but it does matter to some. Since the Tanfoglio has been tricked out, we lose the clues of the hammer shape and the short grip safety. But the cutouts for the trigger finger are missing from both sides of the frame, and the backstrap is flat instead of arched. While a backstrap can be replaced (on a firearm, that is), nothing short of machining can make those relief cuts in the frame for the trigger finger.


The Tanfoglio frame follows the 1911 style, not the A1. There are no trigger-finger relief cuts on either side of the frame behind the trigger.


Taurus PT1911, in contrast, has a 1911A1 frame. The relief cuts are on both sides of the frame.

What comes in the package?
You get the pistol, an owner’s manual and a small plastic package of some really fine-looking BBs. From the looks of them, they’re finished as well as ball bearings.

Gassing up
Pull straight back on the grips and the place for the CO2 cartridge is revealed. A drop of Crosman Pellgunoil goes on the tip of the first CO2 cartridge to be pierced, then the winding key at the bottom of the grip shoves the cartridge up until it’s pierced. The key is not visible from the side of the gun, a feature that nearly every BB-gun shooter will like.

Double-action only
You cannot cock the hammer (it doesn’t move) nor does the slide move (no blowback) so this is a double-action-only pistol. While that isn’t in line with many of the recent BB pistols that have come to market, most of them cost more than $45. So, you give up a little function to gain the price break.

Realistic size and weight
At 24 oz., this is a lighter pistol but not unbelievably so. It has good heft and won’t feel toy-like to most shooters. As already noted, the grip is even larger than a conventional single-stack M1911, so it definitely feels real in your hand.

Though they aren’t adjustable, the Tanfoglio sights are crisp and sharp. The front has a white dot, reminiscent of tactical sights, but the rear has nothing to go with it. The front blade is sharp and square and the rear notch is sized right for it.

This is a different BB gun, that’s for sure. With so many Euro-style BB guns around, it’s refreshing to see one take the shape of the familiar M1911. It promises a velocity of 380 f.p.s., which should translate to a number of shots greater than the normal 50 or 60. We’ll see next time.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

19 thoughts on “Tanfoglio Witness 1911 BB pistol – Part 1”

  1. B.B.,

    Remember when I asked you about the Winchester 435/ Diana 35? Well I didn’t get it. I couldn’t bid on it since I am not 18. It sold for $180 WITH BOX! My dad said he could buy a Gamo for less than that.

    I lost a great rifle to some Gamo.


  2. BB,
    Looks like a dollar store item. Will PA get the sig 1911? What is the purpose of an endcap (spring rifle). I went to a local gunshow and picked up a C11. The barrel slides forward when you pull the trigger, chambers a round, then slams back on the seal. The double action trigger is very smooth. From about 20 yards, I can shoot a 2inch group.
    Shadow express dude

  3. Shadow express dude,

    I have no idea whether PA will get a SIG 1911 or not.

    End caps on spring rifles serve multiple purposes, depending on the design of the gun. On an RWS Diana rifle, the end cap is mainly decorative. It houses a few parts, but it doesn’t hold the rifle together. On a Weihrauch the end cap is what restrains the mainspring. On other rifles, the end cap is built into the trigger mechanism..


  4. BB

    I have a Gamo Shadow 1000 with about 14,000 shots on it. I replaced the spring at 9,000 because the factory spring broke. It has recently lost accuracy could it be the piston seal going bad. I am using the pellets it liked the most when I first got it and have tried many others. The scope it good I have used it on another spring gun with good accuracy. The barrel is also clean.

  5. B.B.

    Quick, I just saw a Dasiy 25 bb gun in real great shape… it fires pretty strong… It’s a small gun dealer and he won’t sell it until he finds out what it’s worth.. Can you help with a value? He’s going to a show on Saturday and packing stuff up tomorrow, so I need to act…

    He also has a crossman V-350 slide action bb gun that belonged to his father, it still shoots bbs pretty strong as well… again he doesn’t know what to ask… how much is it really worth?

    He also is selling some WWII rifles that a collector who died wife’s selling… the ones that caught my eye was a FN Mauser 8mm for $225, a India version Ishpor of the 303 Enfield converted to 308 for $175 and a Lee Enfield 303 British for $400, but it’s been modified.. I found another 303 at a pawn shop that has been “sportarized” for $195 also…

    The ones I like best, are three Swiss K-31 7.5 x 55… these are the ones the Swiss people kept in their homes, until they got the new ones.. He wants $225, $225 and $175 or all for $550.. what do you think?


  6. Wayne,

    The 7.5 Swiss K31 is a beautiful rifle, but it;s a kicker. I’m getting rid of mine for that reason.

    The Ishapor Enfield in .308 is also a kicker. It isn’t a conversion. Ishapor made them in .308. It’s an extra-strong Number 4 action.

    Can’t say about the FN Mauser. It sounds commercial.

    You need to tell me something about the 25. Is it wood and steel of plastic and painted?

    A 1936 variation (engraved receiver) 25 in nice shape is worth $100-150 today. A 1914 variation in the same shape is worth $300. The Crosman V350 is worth $75. I just sold one that worked for $40.

    If you want a nice collectible 25, I have a couple I’m getting rid of at Roanoke. We can talk.

    Avoid the modified Enfield. Too much for a gun that sells for $250 all day long – unless, instead of modified he really means Factory Thorough Repair – which is an arsenal overhaul. Then it’s worth it.


  7. B.B.
    If your selling yours, they must not be so good to collect unless your just tired of them…

    I won’t be going to the Roanoke show.. but there is a gun show here in town this weekend.. I’ll see what I find there…

    I can’t buy your K31 by mail can I?

    If I went for one or all three of the K31s and I learn to deal with the kick or just collect them.. was the prices of $175 to $225 a good price..

  8. B.B.

    That last comment sounded like I didn’t want to buy the Daisy 25 or crossman V350 from you personally…that is not the case, just the opposite, since they’ve been though your hands, they are worth more to me..

    I was thinking since you, a long term collector, are selling, maybe the item was not the best to invest in.. but as I think of it, and remember your words about “you only keep them so long and pass them on” or something like that.. so even the item should be a great one..

    Anyway I’m sorry I posted that one without re reading it for content… and besides after I slept on it, I would like to buy them from you, if you still want to sell them…

    I heard we can’t sell firearms by mail, is that true? only to a dealer..


  9. Wayne,

    Okay, so his 25 was made in Plymouth. I currently own 8 Plymouth 25s and no two are duplicates. There are so many variations.

    Is the receiver engraved? That is the most common Plymouth gun.

    If the receiver is not engraved, the gun is older but could be worth less.

    There are a thousand little details that define a Plymouth 25. Maybe I’ll blog it for you.


  10. B.B.

    I just talked with him again… It’s a 1936 with the gold engraving on the receiver of a guy with bird dog… a little of the gold is still in the engraving (it’s not real gold, is it)?… He said he went the daisy 25 site and priced it from there.. he thought it was worth $200 by the looks of it, but would sell it to me for $150

    and the 1961 Crossman V350 for $50

    Unless they are real special, I’d rather have the ones you owned..

    On the K31, I guess you could pay you and you send it to that dealer, and I buy it though him?


    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  11. Wayne,

    As far as I know, no real Daisy ever had gold in the engraving, so that was put on afterward. They used to sell kits to do it and I did a lot of guns.

    Make sure it has at least 80 percent of its blue and it’s worth $150. The rust should be light freckles.

    The V350 is about right.

    Yes, I could send the K31 to a dealer. I would need his signed FFL. They do it all the time. Please contact me offline.

    I’m getting rid of a Daisy 325, which is a 25 in the box with a model 300 telescope sight and a spare cork barrel and a Daisy target trap.


  12. It sounds like you have not released the magazine follower. Here is a link to the second part of the report on this gun:


    Scroll down and you'll see the stick mag. If the follower isn't released, all the BBs will run out the hole when the mag is held vertical. The follower is the spring-loaded button at the bottom of the mag. Push it so it pops out of place and puts pressure on the BB stack.



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