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Compacts Concealed Carry Handgun Reviews Pistols Semiauto

Review: Stoeger Cougar Compact

by James Tarr   |  October 12th, 2011 16

firing the stoeger cougar compactStoeger has enjoyed some success with its Cougar, offering it in both 9mm, .40 S&W and, more recently, .45 ACP. The company has now introduced a compact version. Currently offered only in 9mm, it’s a traditional DA/SA semiauto that holds 13+1 rounds.

The Cougar Compact is a medium-size pistol, roughly the size of a Glock 19, with an aluminum alloy frame and a slide coated with the durable matte black Bruniton finish. Weighing in at 32 ounces, the pistol is chunky but feels good in the hand. The grip is just long enough for me to get my entire hand on it comfortably. The pistol has an ambidextrous safety/decocker that was harder to put on than to disengage and simple three-dot sights.

Stoeger cougar compact right side

Stoeger's Cougar Compact is a medium size pistol, roughly the size of a Glock 19. Built on a Bruniton-finished aluminum alloy frame, the pistol weighs 32 ounces.

The safety can be left on (it isn’t spring loaded) and drops the hammer all the way down. The hammer has a half-cock notch, which does shorten the trigger pull slightly. The trigger pull was smooth with no stacking and felt lighter than it was, possibly because of the wide, smooth trigger.

The pistol is provided with two 13-round magazines with aluminum base pads with modest finger extensions on them. I like aluminum magazine base plates better than plastic, as it’s a lot harder to break them when you drop them on concrete during mag changes. While I can get my full hand on the pistol, the frame is just short enough that if I wasn’t careful I could pinch my hand with the base pad when seating a new magazine.

Cougars feature rotary barrels that turn about 30 degrees counterclockwise to unlock. Between the frame and the barrel is a block with a tab, and that tab indexes in a curved slot in the underside of the barrel. As the barrel moves back under recoil the tab forces the barrel to rotate. It’s just that simple.

stoeger cougar compact controls

The Cougar Compact is a traditional DA/SA with a safety that drops the hammer. The hammer has a half-cock notch that slightly shortens the trigger pull.

The front and back of the frame are vertically serrated to aid in gripping, and while the serrations are better than nothing (but not as good as checkering), I really think horizontal serrations would be more functional. Shooters have issues keeping a pistol in their hand during recoil, when it wants to pull up, and vertical serrations don’t prevent that. The front of the Cougar’s trigger guard is horizontally serrated for just that reason.

My only other complaint is that due to its profile the slide is a little hard to rack except by using the gripping both sides of the safety, which thankfully had smooth edges.

I took a couple volunteers with me to the range, and I brought along the Cougar and an expensive custom 1911. While my buddies marveled at the 1911, they spent much more time shooting the Cougar Compact. So did I. Why? Because it was fun.

The double-action trigger pull was smooth and felt relatively light, the pistol feels good in the hand, and even with full-power factory ammo the felt recoil and muzzle rise were surprisingly mild. With some of the soft

Stoeger cougar compact 4 grip

The Cougar Compact's backstrap features vertical serrations; the author thinks horizontal serrations would be more functional.

handloaded match ammo we had on hand (150-grain plated Berry bullets at 875 fps) the Cougar felt like shooting a .22, and it was the gun everybody was waiting in line to hammer the falling steel plates with, not the custom 1911. That says it all.

Fast Specs

  • Type: DA/SA semiauto
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 13+1
  • Barrel: 3.6 in.
  • OAL/Width/Height: 7.0/1.5/4.9 in.
  • Weight: 32 oz.
  • Finish: matte black
  • Sights: 3-dot
  • Trigger: 10 lb. DA, 6 lb. SA
  • Price: $449



  • Smallest group: 2.4 in.
  • Largest group: 3.0 in.
  • Avg. of all ammo tested: 2.7 in.
  • Accuracy results are the averages of four five-shot groups at 25 yards from a sandbag rest.



  • Charlie Jones

    Thanks for the review, have heard it was a fun gun to shoot. Would it be a good choice for conceal carry. Is it to bulky ? and seems like it should have had a picanny rail on it for a laser or flashlight.

  • steve

    isn't this pistol a beretta…or am i lost somewhere in my gun knowledge?

  • Meleliko

    The old Beretta 8000 model – tooling sold to Turkey where it's made now.

    • Chad Wilson

      Actually the tooling wasn't sold. Stoeger is a subsiderry(misspelled) of Beretta. Beretta Bought Stoeger and moved all of there Cougar Manufacturing to their new turkey Facility. Same with a bunch of their bernelli shotgun line. So Basically you are getting a Beretta cougar for half the price (679 MSRP in the 90's).

      I am buying two in a few days so looking forward to shooting them

  • BIll

    I'll stick with my Sig 239.

  • William

    I own the full size 9, and will be buying this as well. I cannot say enough good about the gun. And the price cannot be beat.

  • Keith

    I have the Bersa UC 9 . Does it compare favorably to the vompact Cougar? The uc9 is extrenely reliable and accurate for a compact 9 But also a little "chunky' .

    • jason867

      I value my bersa uc9 more than these cougars (not to bash the cougars).

      The bersa has a more traditional tilting barrel design (which has been perfected for a long time now). The rotating barrel design of the cougars would seem like unneeded complications that aren't as time tested as browning tilting barrel design.

      The decocker/safety is mounted on the frame instead of the slide, allowing for easier slide manipulation, it's also more similar to a 1911s thumb safety in that regard. It's intuitive to click on and off.

      I find most if not all of bersa's guns to be a great and often over-looked value in guns. I love mine.

      • MPO R. FRANK

        The rotating barrel design was designed by John Browing and is almost as old a design as the 1911…Read a book once in a while.

  • joe

    i'll stick with my taurus pt 145 pro….. .45 cal wicked conceal carry weapon. 10 +1 2 mags very accurate under 30 oz. less then $400.00

  • j.b.

    i agree also………my Taurus pt 145 pro is wicked perfect!..!..!…. Spot on at 40 ft. blowing out the center of targets. oh and it is 22 oz $365.00 and my pt 140 pro …………. .40 is lovely at 18 oz. also with 2 10 +1 magizines. It too is Spot on Target. @ $ 325.00

  • greg

    great value..a beretta for less than full price.

  • Shawn P.

    I have a few pistols such as my Springfield XD (40. Cal), Smith & Wesson Sigma Series (9mm), P250SC Sig (9mm) Rocky Island 1911 (45), Bersa (380), Walther (380) and my Ruger Alaskan 454 Casull. My best shooting gun overall and the one everybody wants to buy off me is my Stoger Cougar (9mm), it is just a all around great gun. If your looking for a great gun that is on point and will not let you down but a little less on price its the Cougar.

  • Big Al

    I love my Cougar( The most acurate pistol I have ever fired.

  • tdawg900

    I love my Couger (9mm). I have shot 1500+ rounds , high in brass, low in steel ammo. It will eat anything you feed it. NEVER a hiccup. Great gun.

  • Rimshoes

    Have a few Beretta 40 F and would be very willing to purchase the Stoeger. If stoeger would make a REAL compact version (shorter barrel length) and/or offer a 357 sig caliber I would be sending off my pennies. The rotating barrel design (John Browning designed this also) simply makes the gun a fun shooter. I almost feel cheated when I go through a box of 40 S&W and feel like I just shot off a bunch of 22 shells !
    If Stoeger would make the grip a bit less chunky they would have a winner.
    I am guessing retooling and engineering gets expensive, but dang what a gun
    this design could be !!

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