Today I’m going to tell you about a firearm that is near and dear to my heart, the Beretta Cougar my first handgun. This Particular handgun was brought to the market in 1994 and received a slightly less than stellar reception. This can be attributed to two things in my opinion, Beretta‘s famously understated advertising and the Glock craze that was going on at the time and still continues today. Don’t get me wrong, the Glock is a fine firearm, but it is far from the only game in town.
The Beretta Cougar was brought to market with several different models (F, G, and D) and calibers (9mm, .40S&W, .357Sig and .45ACP). Those of you familiar with Beretta’s more commonly available models the 92/96/M9 the Cougar will have a very familiar form factor and controls. The profile from the operator perspective of the handgun is identical to the 92 making it a very comfortable pistol choice for prior military personnel like myself. The cougar operates on a rotating barrel locking system where the barrel does not tilt up like on most other pistols. The barrel instead rotates to unlock the barrel from the slide when it recoils then extracts the spent cartridge and loads the next into the chamber. This method, in theory, is more accurate than the other more common system that is used in most other handguns. It keeps the barrel on the same plane throughout the entire operation cycle. Personally I’m not aware of any other firearms that use this same system other than the successor to the Cougar, Beretta’s PX4.
I purchased the .40S&W model from a fellow police officer friend of mine quite a few years ago who had bought it and never shot it. I have put several thousand rounds through it since, without much issue other than replacing the extractor and extractor spring as they had worn out after a significant period of time where I was shooting hundreds of rounds on a weekly basis. When you shoot a lot, parts tend to wear out. This is true of any firearm even the precious Glock. This pistol conceals as well as any other large frame semi-auto with the correct holster selection and is as reliable and rugged as its bigger brother the 92FS/96FS/M9. Shortly after returning from my second tour to Iraq I signed up for a class from a local training group. The class was a one day defensive handgun class with a 600 round count for the day. My Beretta was pitted against Glocks, Springfield XD’s, S&W M&P’s, and of course the expensive and very awesome Sig. My Beretta did not experience any malfunctions other than the ones we purposely induced for training purposes. I definitely had the most different handgun on the line that day and it performed flawlessly. Later on I wound up using my Cougar as a duty weapon while working a private security job with the NCDOC, I shot a perfect 100 on both day and night qualification and later as a police officer I qualified with it again as an off-duty gun and shot 100 day and night. This pistol in my hands is far more comfortable and accurate than the Glock 23 I was issued as my duty weapon as a police officer.
Several things are important to consider with this particular pistol. It is a little lacking in the accessory department. Holsters are available but usually require special order, the choice of sights are a little limited but both Trijicon and Meprolight night-sights are available. Grips are available from Hogue in the aluminum and wood variety and of course you have the option of using the universal grip sleeve from Hogue as well. Another important note is that Beretta is no longer manufacturing this pistol, it is now being made by their subsidiary Stoeger. Stoeger is based out of Turkey and makes mainly shotguns similar to the models already made by Beretta and Benelli. Stoeger does not manufacture the .357Sig model, but I personally don’t really see this as a great loss. The .357Sig cartridge is an expensive and difficult to find round and as far as I’m concerned the merits of it’s ballistics don’t outweigh it’s cost and difficulty to procure. It is also important to note that the .45ACP model is actually a larger pistol than the .40S&W and the 9MM models so holster selection is made a bit more difficult for that particular model. The offering from Beretta did not have an accessory rail available on this pistol. I don’t see this as a shortcoming personally. Adding a light/laser on a handgun makes it bigger and harder to conceal. I carry a Flashlight with me all the time anyway and I have trained using my support hand to use a flashlight in low-light shooting situations. There are Stoeger models that do have an accessory rail on them if that is a necessity for you. The best part about this pistol? you might ask, well it’s very budget friendly. My father and brother both just bought Stoeger Cougars in .40S&W and 9MM respectively. The total bill for both handguns came in at under $900 out the door from a local dealer here in NC, and that is during the current buying frenzy going on. I’ve given you quite a few things to consider here, take the knowledge and run with it. As always stay safe, train and have a good ‘un.