The Stoeger Cougar 8000 FT is a product of Stoeger Industries in Turkey, owned by the Beretta Holdings Group. The pistol is not a new design by Stoeger, and diehard Beretta followers may recognise it as a copy of the Beretta Cougar series that appeared in the early 1990s, when the Cougar was Beretta’s smaller alternative to the full-sized Beretta 92, and was designed for security work and civilian self-defence.
At the time, the Beretta Cougar pistol series was unique for its rotating barrel system in an enclosed slide. It seems the series was very popular with police agencies in Europe and the USA, but when Beretta introduced their polymer-framed pistols like the PX4 Storm, the Cougar 8000 faded out. The Cougar also became too expensive to produce in Italy, so Beretta shipped all the Cougar 8000 tooling to their Stoeger Silah Sanayi AS facility in Turkey, which Beretta has owned since 2002. From the 1980s, the former Stoeger company was already building top quality Turkish Stoeger shotguns, and Beretta’s move in 2005 resulted in the Stoeger Cougar 8000 pistol series, only now at a more affordable price.
The Stoeger Cougar 8000 FT pistol Magnum tested is, in almost every aspect, the same high-capacity, compact, semi-auto as the previous Beretta, including the rotating barrel system which is used by few manufacturers other than Beretta. The barrel rotates as part of a short recoil lockup system. On firing, the recoil energy forces the slide and barrel assembly briefly rearwards. A central steel block that fits into a cam track on the barrel has a hexagonal shaped stud which rotates the barrel, turning its locking lugs out of their recesses in the slide. The moment the lugs are free, the barrel stops against the central block, and the slide continues rearwards. In the process, the empty case is ejected and the hammer cocked. The recoil spring pushes the slide forward, scooping a fresh cartridge from the magazine. The central block engages the barrel which rotates back into lock-up, ready for the next shot. This system holds the barrel at the same level all the time. It is believed the rotating barrel system has less muzzle-jump and less felt recoil, affording enhanced practical accuracy compared to the more popular Browning tilt-barrel design.
The Cougar’s barrel is 3.62ꞌꞌlong; overall pistol length is 178mm, height 126mm and width 32mm. The weight, unloaded, is 800g. The frame is aluminium alloy, the slide steel. The frame-to-slide fit is snug – I could feel no play. The test-pistol had already done service as a demonstration model on loan to several security agencies.
Read the full article in the August 2019 issue of Magnum.