UPDATE 2020: This original article was written in 2008. The Beretta Cougar 8000 has not been in production in quite a few years. The gun production was taken up by Stoeger, producing essentially the same gun in the Stoeger Cougar line.
Today, Beretta's upgrade and popular choice among many shooters is the Beretta PX4 Storm, a polymer frame, hammer fired gun that retains the unique rotating barrel operation.
The Beretta Cougar 8000 9mm pistol is one of the guns that I have owned and sold, but wish I had back. The gun is a dependable, concealable powerhouse that should be included in my "special carry needs" arsenal, but alas, somebody else owns it. Everybody should own one GLOCK for general carry and one hammer fired pistol with a de-cocker for carry when a holster is not practical.
The "full size" Beretta Cougar that I owned was actually quite compact with a 3.7 inch barrel and single stack ten round magazine which made the gun quite comfortably concealable.
My shooting accuracy with the Cougar was as expected per point of aim. I have a couple of friends that shot it, and in their hands it was dead on target.
That's something that every shooter hates to admit, that somebody else can shoot their guns as well as them, but.....that's the way it was with the Cougar. Anybody who picked it up and pointed it towards the target seemed to be top notch shooters.
The gun was utterly dependable with hundreds of rounds of several different brands of cheap target ammo and hollow points in a couple of brands. There was never any doubt that the gun would perform when the trigger was pulled.
I actually have one friend who hardly ever picks up a handgun who took the thing and put shot after shot in 3" groups shooting off hand from 40 feet. The gun has a unique locking/rotating-barrel design that supposedly enhances consistency in shots by the barrel twisting and locking in place with each shot.
The Beretta Cougar 8000 9mm pistol is hammer and firing pin fired with a safety and de-cocker for safe handling and carry. It is a standard double/single action handgun. You can rack the slide to chamber the first cartridge, then de-cock the gun to carry safely. In this position you can also apply the safety but it is not necessary.
When de-cocked, the gun can be drawn and the first shot fired in double action, automatically chambering the next shell and making subsequent shots single action.
As far as feel, the gun will fit a wide range of hand sizes. It should be comfortable in any man's and most womens' hands. Even though the gun was not large or heavy the 9mm Beretta Cougar recoil was very mild.
The gun's shape, length, and profile makes it easy to conceal and comfortable to carry in a wide range of situations and holsters.
The SA/DA design, with decocker and safety makes it an all around versatile gun for concealed carry, car carry, or home defense.
It also goes well in a tackle box in ready-to-fire condition, decocked, and safe to stow.
SUMMARY: The Beretta Cougar 8000, 9mm pistol is a dependable, accurate, easily concealable pistol that is fun to shoot. It is a worthy consideration when choosing a handgun to be your primary or secondary carry firearm. The retail price of mine new at Academy Sports was about $500. Not a bad buy for a gun that boasts a tested firing life of 30,000 rounds.