September 2013

Turkish Pistol Shootout, Round Two: TriStar Versus Stoeger

Both the T-100 and Cougar 8000F had good performance and were affordable. But one handgun stumbled in a crucial area.

When comparing handguns for Gun Tests, there is a bottom line. That bottom line is reliability and acceptable accuracy. If the pistol isnít accurate enough for personal defense, or if the piece isnít reliable, then it doesnít earn a passing grade. That is the baseline. Next, we look for above-average accuracy as a tie breaker. The next consideration is handling. When it comes to a personal-defense handgun then, the heft, balance, feel, and how these factors interact to allow the handgun to come to target quickly are very important. Anyone can make a handle feel like a 2-by-4, but only true craftsmen understand the subtleties of grip design and how to make a gun feel right. But with a bit of careful design and a study of ergonomics, you might just find a shape that fits most hands well. The rub is, this may be difficult when the shooter also demands a magazine capacity of 13 rounds or more. This makes designing a handgun with comfortable hand size more difficult.

We say all this as an introduction to a second test of handguns from Turkish companies to follow up on our July match up. TriStar Sporting Arms imports the Canik 55Ėmade T-100 No. 85110 9mm Luger, which sells for $439. Stoeger itself makes the Cougar 8000F No. 31700 9mm Luger, $449, in Turkey. The companies did not design either of these handguns, but they are producing them, and the pistols are built upon proven patterns. Just the same, there is much to recommend in either handgun and much that differs as well.

The differences in opinions among the raters were interesting as well, and in some cases profound. Our rater with the most military experience is a military intelligence officer who often sees the big picture. According to him, the pistols are tactically equal. There isnít anything that could be done with one compact high-capacity 9mm that couldnít be done with the other pistol. There is some merit in that supposition. Just the same, he came to lean toward the Cougar because it was most like his issue Beretta. Another rater who prefers the 1911 handgun for most uses found the CZ 75 system in the T-100 favorable. He felt that the Cougar was more technical than tactical. And so it went. One pistol is possibly better suited to all around service or as a belt pistol, while another may be better suited for concealed carry.

Another question might be how each compares to the original they are copied from. How does the Stoeger Cougar compare to the Beretta Cougar, now out of production? Well, if you like the Cougar, it is either the used market or the Stoeger. If you like the CZ 75, there is the original and many clones or copies. So, we had many questions to answer. And with all due respect to our military rater, though the pistols are tactically equal, the differences in handling and favored features are substantial. The opinions of experienced raters are particularly valuable in this case. This isnít simply a comparison of two Turkish-produced pistols, but rather a significant look into double-action and selective double-action pistols.

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