My first handgun - Stoeger/Beretta Cougar 8040 review
Maybe this could be part of the budget gun review series?
I've been shooting a bunch before, and for someone who has never owned a firearm I was a pretty good shot. My shooting abilities are getting worse and worse as my eyesight gets worse and worse, but nevertheless I wanted to own one.
During my search, the things I wanted are as follows:
1. Reliability. Must feed fire eject regardless of how limpwrited you are or what type of ammo you fire.
2. Egronomics. I'm left handed, and if the controls aren't ambi or reversible, I must be able to reach mag and slide release with my left hand.
3. Caliber: my first handgun was going to be anything 9mm and above.
4. Accuracy. It doesn't have to be a match gun, but it needs to surpass my shooting ability.
5. Size. It wasn't going to be my main carry piece but I do need to be able to sometimes have it during short outings and search.
6. Not critical, but I did want at least a grip safety, or a separate external safety.
7. Price. I only had 500 dollars or so to spend. Used was okay. Less the better.
So I've already listed accuracy, price, size and caliber restrictions. These tend to be mutually exclusive, but I did find the right balance in the Stoeger Cougar 8040F. Help I've received includes the guys in my M&P thread, including Lord Skeletor, helping me stay away from certain weapons. On an unrelated note, I did hear the latest version of the M&P has fixed many of its original problems though.
Beretta had been selling the Cougar 8000 series for some years since 1994. This handgun was designed as a more compact alternative to the 92. A few years back, they stopped production, possibly to phase in their new PX4 handgun line. Some people who had been Cougar fans were bummed out.
Recently, they transferred the production and sales of the cougar to Stoeger. Stoeger is a subsidiary of Beretta. They are Turkish firearms manufacturer originally known for their shotguns. I read that Beretta had sent all of their manufacturing equipment to Stoeger, along with a bunch of personnel to train Stoeger employees to manufacture the Cougar.
They must have done a good job, because the cougar worked flawlessly and the fit and finish was superb. I read from people who have owned both the Beretta and Cougar versions of the handgun that the fit and finish were identical, and all of the parts were interchangeable.
This handgun comes in 9mm para, 9mm IMI, .40SW, and .45ACP. The .45 has slightly different dimensions and has an accessory rail. The 9mm has a different looking slide, but otherwise identical. Beretta used to make a .357SIG version of this handgun but I do not know if Stoeger does also. The handguns are referred to as 8000 (9mm), 8040, 8357 and 8045.
The standard handgun has identical controls to the Beretta 92 F / FS (M9). Coincidently, the standard cougar is also called the Cougar 8000 F. This F version is a DA/SA pistol with a decocker lever that also functions as a safety lever. Other versions of the cougar include one that is DA only, and a mini version that comes with a smaller grip. The one I purchased is a 8040F. Apparently this weapon was originally designed for the .40SW round although it seems to be more popular in other calibers.
This is an all-metal handgun. Aluminum frame, steel upper. The frame is andonized and the slide has the same Bruniton finish as all the Berettas. The handgun is also available in silver inox and twotone.
The gun comes with 2 magazines, nylon and brass bore brush, cleaning rod, test brass casing, mystery cup (look it up on google. its probably a parts tray) manual, and a warranty card. The case is pretty cool. Hard plastic with padding. Sweet.
In hand, the pistol feels very similar to the 92. As a left handed shooter, I got very used to using my left middle finger to hit the magazine release. However, I heard this button is reversible. I decided to leave it as is.
The safety lever is located in the same location as the 92. Move it down, and the hammer snaps down and the trigger becomes disconnected. Move it up, and it is ready to fire.
Though I have small hands, I learned from shooting the M9 that this grip size works very well with me. The handgun also points very very naturally. It was not immediately obvious, but my "point shoot" rapid-fire groups were the best I've done with this technique.
Two complaints; I did have trouble reaching the safety lever with my left thumb. I can reach it but it is a bit too far away for me to easily deactivate the safety. However, with practice and use this should become much easier. Secondly, I shoot with "thumbs pointing." and the trigger connecting device is where my right thumb usually rests (once again, I'm a leftie shooter). This is more of an annoyance, because it doesn't affect my shooting or the gun's mechanisms at all.
I was very impressed with this handgun. I haven't fired that many rounds off yet, but out of the box (with just a dab of oil and grease here and there) it fed all of the hollow points and fmjs no problem. I fired limp wristed, firmly gripped, resting against the table, etc. Flawless. It doesn't seem to care what weight ammo I am feeding it.
The sights feel just like the 92. Unfortunately, my dominant left eye is getting worse and worse, so I have touble seeing my target. Consequently my aimed shots take much more concentration. My plan was to fire from a bench rest @ 25 yards and see how close the groupings were, but I could hardly see the target at 15 yards.
Funny thing is, I fired much better standing up. My hands and body aligned with the handgun very naturally, and despite the fact that the gun was stabilized without any solid support, it fired very well. At 10 yards where I can sorta see the target, I was able to get a few shots placed right next to each other.
Now here is the kicker. I've been practicing a lot of "point-n-shoot" method of shooting. This is when you bring the gun up, point it, and firing it. Every time I do this, I fire at a rate of 1 round per second or faster. With this technique, I produced 4-5" groups at center mass at 7 and 10 yards. Very nice.
As you know, .40SW recoil is pretty snappy. Yes, I felt the snappiness of it also but it really feels more like a hot-ish 9mm more than a .40SW. More importantly, the way the handgun recoiled in my hand brought the weapon right back on target. So basically, it kicks but comes right back. Awesome!
This handgun uses a rotating barrel, which contributes to its accuracy and reliability; the barrel does not have to move off-line and stays parallel to the frame the whole time while the action cycles.
This is where it starts to suck. While it is certainly more concealable than a 92, 1911, or another full sized handgun, its still a thick gun with a full grip. The only position I can wear it is IWB, 7-8oclock position, with aggressive cant. Otherwise the grip prints too much. Too much cant and the rest of the gun prints in my pants. Its heavy and thick. Definitely concealable, but I imagine it'd be pretty uncomfortable to wear all day. It probably will be much better with a real gunbelt and a better holster, but that is my review for now.
I've only owned the weapon for a few days, so I don't have any long-term opinions. However, the reviews come out very consistently: low recoil, scary accurate, and beefy. The people who have fired the .45 versions absolutely love it. They say its the softest shooting .45 they've ever fired.
I highly recommend it as the pistol in your car,at home, or as a duty weapon. You can carry it concealed every once in a while, but its a difficult gun to carry all the time.
And one other thing: the accessories for this handgun aren't as common as glocks or
The price point is amazing. This handgun used to be found for 350 new. I bought it for 399 at a local gun shop. When Beretta sold this, this was a 700+ dollar handgun. So imagine a Sig/glock/HK quality handgun. That is exactly what you get with the Stoeger Cougar, except you only pay 350-450. Truly a good budget gun.