The rise of striker-fired, polymer-frame, double-action-only autos in the last several years has somewhat overshadowed earlier DA/SA designs featuring hammer-drop levers.
The robust, service-grade examples of the older breed are still a major force on the market. Stoeger’s Turkish-made Cougar is a pretty good example. And now it’s chambered in .45 ACP and still priced well below the competition.
As far as the nuts and bolts go, the Cougar features a stainless steel slide with a Bruniton finish. The frame is anodized black aluminum alloy. The DA controls–safety, ambidextrous hammer drop–are indistinguishable from those of the ubiquitous Beretta 92.
The Cougar isn’t of your basic tilting-barrel design. It features a rotating-barrel system–camming lugs on the barrel rotate it, working in conjunction with slots in the slide. This is said to produce tighter barrel/slide tolerances and in so doing, enhance inherent accuracy.
As far as items impacting what Jeff Cooper used to refer to as “intrinsic accuracy,” it’s got three-dot drift-adjustable sights that are pretty easy to pick up. The single-action trigger on our test specimen was a slightly spongy six pounds. The surprise? Normally, most double-action pulls are damned with faint praise. This one–long as it is–proved fairly smooth, free of hitches and glitches.
Anyone who’s ever put in much time shooting old double-action Colt revolvers (I plead guilty) won’t have much trouble figuring out how to stage it. But for a service-type auto like the Cougar, staging a double-action pull probably wouldn’t be in the cards in an emergency situation.
The Cougar’s beefy grip, necessitated by the double-stack magazine, helps make it almost–but not quite–deserving of the term “soft shooting.” For a .45, that is. Some will wonder about the benefits of an eight-round double stack, but a thinner single-stack-configured grip would probably be rather unpleasant to shoot.
We chronographed the gun, then grouped it at 25 yards over a sandbag rest. The ammo was Hornady premium defensive stuff in as many weights as we could dig up, along with Winchester USA 230-grain hardball. Despite the Cougar’s 3.6-inch barrel, not much was lost speedwise. And all the loads proved exceptionally uniform.
The best performer from an accuracy standpoint was Hornady 200-grain +P TAP, which averaged 23/4 inches. It clocked 940 fps, incidentally, which is about 100 fps off what Hornady claims for it in a five-inch barrel.
One of our staffers, Richard Venola, who has fairly large hands, had this to say about the Stoeger Cougar .45: “I didn’t care for the tight curve in the trigger, which pinched my finger a bit at the end of the DA squeeze, but the wide surfaces made the Cougar easy to control. I think it’s essentially a hefty belly gun designed for tough work at close range.”