2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

AR or AK?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stoeger Cougar 8000 9mm - Beretta on the Cheap!

Hey Shooters,

Picked up at Stoeger Cougar at Vance's last week. A Stoeger? What's a Stoeger you might ask. Well, a Stoeger Cougar is basically a Beretta Cougar produced in Turkey under by Stoeger Industries using THE EXACT SAME MACHINERY AS THE ORIGINAL PISTOL!! Wow! How'd that happen! Well, let me tell you. Back in the 90's, Beretta developed the Cougar to complement its 92 series 9mm pistols which were being used (and still are) by the US military and many other militaries and police forces. It's goal was to be a smaller, more compact and concealable pistol for undercover and security work. The LAPD issued a variant of the Cougar with a 4" barrel for a time. That's a good collectors piece if you can get your hand on one. This probably would of been a winning design and marketing plan for them except for one thing, GLOCK! About this time (late 90's) Glock was gaining by leaps and bounds inroads into agencies and organizations with its polymer frame goodness that traditionally had only used metal frame pistols. Unable to compete with Glock's momentum, Beretta slowed down and then eventually halted production. A short while later they won a contract with the military of Turkey for the Cougar as Turkey's standard service pistol. They were going full bore on the PX4 next-gen pistol and couldn't really afford to divert manufacturing to the Cougar. What they did next was pure genius. They acquired Stoeger Industries in 2000 and placed them under their joint venture company Benelli USA, where it remains to this day. They then shipped all of the original manufacturing equipment to Turkey where it is now manufactured by cheaper, but highly skilled, Turkish workers. Turkey got a service pistol made in their own country by the original equipment to the original specs; Beretta got to keep its contract with Turkey without having to deal with the day-to-day hassles of operating a manufacturing operation while working on their next new pistol; Stoeger got a stronger parent company (it had been owned by Finnish rifle company Sako) and new overseas markets; and thanks to cheaper Turkish labor you and I get to purchase one of these fine firearms for about half of what they went for under the Beretta name with no loss in quality. Talk about a Win-Win-Win-Win situation!!

I had read about the Cougar in a recent edition of On Target magazine and based on its review had done more research on the world wacky web. I was truly impressed by what I found others had to say about this pistol and decided that it would one day make it into my collection. that day turned out to be last Thursday when I went to Vance's Shooters Supply in Columbus for an R. Lee Ermey meet and greet. A pretty good guy and Glock celebrity spokesman. I went there early to make a return on some ammo for my WASR-10 and was looking at Glocks. I had wanted to look at possibly picking up a decent quality hi-cap 9mm for shooting, as .40 rounds are almost twice as much as 9mm. I kind of had my sights set on either a Glock 19 or 26. There was a "sale of sales" on Glocks with the supposedly lowest prices of the year going on. I found out that the discount price I could get for a Glock due to being retired military was still $50 dollars cheaper than the sale price. I also saw that the Stoeger Cougars were on sale for $379, down from their normal retail of about $450. You can pretty much figure out the rest!

Stoeger's Promotional Vid on the Cougar Series

Enough history, onto the Cougar. The Stoeger Cougar 8000 (Model F, or F action) is unique among most modern semi-automatic pistols in that it does not incorporate the tried and true Browning short recoil, locked-breech action. Instead it utilizes a rotating barrel action in where instead of traveling rearward with the slide during recoil and then unlocking, the barrel stays put while the slide travels backward, rotating approximately 30 degrees by means of a cam pin and tracked milled onto the barrel and frame that unlocks the barrel from the breech once a safe chamber pressure is reached. In theory, this should be more accurate as the barrel stays pointed on target and does not travel to the rear and then slightly tip up at the muzzle as in Browning's design. Also, it uses a all metal lower frame in stark contrast to the polymers used by most other modern defensive semi-auto handguns being sold today. If further incorporates an exposed hammer, Double action and single action (Double action on the first pull of the trigger, singe action for every shot after that), a manual safety/de-cocking lever, a take down lever, a reversible magazine catch, a 3 dot sighting system, and steel 15 round magazines. When purchased you receive the pistol, 2 magazines, a lockable plastic case (mine was broken at the hinges but no big loss, I have others to use), an above average users manual in multiple languages, a cable safety lock, a soft plastic bore brush, a stiff brass bore brush and a cleaning rod with a permanent swab jag for running patches down the barrel. Nice touch with the brushes! I got all of this for $379. Keep in mind that 10 years ago the same pistol from Beretta would of run me about $750 in 1990's money. Can you see bargain built into this pistol yet?

My Cougar new in the box. Note the provided cleaning brushes and rod, nice touches!

My first impressions was "WOW!!" as I pulled it out of its case at home. The fit and finish were much better than the best Beretta 92's I had seen in the military (of course those being beat on by the troops this may not be a fair comparison). The slide action was a bit tight, but that should loosen up after a few hundred rounds. The trigger, while a bit laborious, in double action is long but smooth. In single action it is short and crisp with a nice let off. The manual safety should be familiar to anyone who has ever used a 92, flip up to see the red dot and fire, lower to place the weapon on safe and decock the hammer. The sights are a white 3 dot affair and are easily acquired on target. They are fixed so any aftermarket sights will most likely need to be installed by a qualified gunsmith. At this time I do not believe that night sights are available from the factory. Loading the magazine was very tight, with the last 3 rounds being a royal pain. Inserting fully loaded mags on a closed slide was accomplished with some effort to seat the magazine (I like this option to carry with a full mag on any empty chamber and then racking the slide on the draw ala the Israeli Mosaad - thanks Greg for that tip). Just like the slide, I think that these both will be remedied after a bit of use. Mags dropped out without incident. I did have a bit of trouble getting the mag release to go on first attempts, but I think that this is just me needing to get used to it being smaller and more recessed than on my S&W M&P .40. Disassembly is accomplished by clearing the pistol and locking the slide to the rear, pushing a button on the right side of the frame which moves a corresponding catch on the left side that prevents the disassembly lever from moving, rotating this lever downwards, and slowly releasing the slide off of the frame. Now I guess I have been spoiled lately with Glocks and my S&W that initially disassemble into 2 main groups, upper and lower, and then removing the rocoil spring and barrel from the upper frame group. Not happening here. First time I took the slide off of the frame I was rewarded by the recoil spring and what it called the center block crashing to my basement floor. Doh!! Please read the manual before and during both disassembly and reassembly to avoid this mistake. Once I read the instructions and walked through it a few time, it is a piece of cake. Just a learning cure thing.

Disasembled Cougar, notice the take down lever and the center block beneath the trigger


I found shooting the Cougar to be a breeze. It feels wonderful in my hand. The grip is nothing really remarkable with a straight front, checkered sides and a indented rear up towards the backstrap, but it worked for me. It pointed easily and while I had to do a bit of relearning with the safety, all controls are easily reached. Recoil was a bit different that on other pistols with the locked breach action, it seemed to (logically) come more back into the web of my hand. It was manageable and had a very reduced muzzle flip from what I am used to. I was, however, unable to make any good groups at about 7 - 10 yards. I think I may have been subconsciously compensating for muzzle flip when there was none, or just yanking the trigger. I will have to go back out and put a few more than 40 round through it I guess. Most other reviewers give it raving remarks on accuracy, so I am assuming that it is just me and my astigmatism! Video below!

Stoeger Cougar range video!

Link to the Stoeger Cougar at Stoeger's Official Website


Until next post, Shoot often....SHOOT SAFE!!


***Follow up - June 2008*** It was just me, after getting used to the pistol the Stoeger is giving me great groups!!


i'm done watching this