October 12, 2011
By James Tarr
Stoeger 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.
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.
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
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.
- 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.