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!
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!!