The Extremely Affordable Self-Defense .380 ACP You’ve Never Heard of: Cobra Enterprises Freedom Series

By CTD Suzanne published on in Firearms, Handguns, Pistols, Reviews


I’m willing to try almost any gun I get a chance to shoot. Some I am more excited about than others, so when my friend won a Cobra Firearms Freedom series .380 ACP, I was less than thrilled by yet another .380 ACP. However, it is one of the cheapest handguns Cheaper Than Dirt! sells—Cobra Firearms models CA380 and FS380—so I was eager to find out how it shot.

When I found out my friend won a local raffle, my initial reaction was, “Cobra who?” Cobra Firearms is an American manufacturer of no fuss, no frills derringers, semi-autos and revolvers. Its line up is not huge, but in its offerings is a little something for everyone interested in a handgun for self-defense. Cobra Firearms is located in Salt Lake City, Utah and each gun is 100 percent made in the U.S.A. All of the guns come with a lifetime factory warranty. Cobra Firearms says they have been in the gun-making business for nearly 10 years, building the cheapest pistol you can purchase new on the market today. There is no doubt in my mind any Cobra couldn’t stand up against Smith and Wesson, Ruger, Kel-Tec or Kahr, so I’m not going to fool myself that the Freedom .380 is one of American’s top 10 firearms.

Picture shows a black and purple .380 semi-automatic handgun with a steel magazine beside it.

Cobra Firearms makes the cheapest pistol you can purchase new on the market today.

That said, I knew I would have to review this gun for what it is—a cheap, simple, single-action pistol made from pot metal. Back in the day, guns like this were called Saturday Night Special—a slang word for a cheap and perceivably poor quality handgun.

The model we—the dealer, the winner and the reviewer—shot is the Cobra Firearms Freedom series of single-action, semi-auto handguns. It is an incredibly simple, striker-fired design. Internally is it is similar to a 1911. On the outside, there are two controls: a rectangle-shaped magazine release button located on the left side of the gun, close to the rear of the grip. Not exactly a position I am used to, but not awkward either. There is a left-side mounted thumb safety, as well.

Before retrieving the gun from the dealer, it was field stripped, thoroughly cleaned and well lubed. Nothing jumped out at the dealer while breaking it down that seemed to be extremely flawed. The insides might be a little rough, but I’ve seen the insides of guns at much more expensive price points with just as many machine marks and scratches.

The outside of the Cobra Freedom is flawless and rather um… bright. The version won is finished with a custom “imperial purple” finish. Cobra Firearms has one of the widest varieties of factory finishes I’ve ever seen. When they say finished, they mean finished. The entire gun, except for the controls and grip are purple, including the sights. Despite the wide variety of color choices, grips come in either black or white. The one we shot had black, plastic grips.

Pciture shows the left side of a purple and black handgun.

Notice the location of the magazine release button—bottom of the grip.

When the dealer pulled the gun out of its case, she said, “I can’t wait for you to hold it,” she smiled and then continued, “You aren’t carrying this on your body.” It has an alloy frame, so unloaded the Freedom weighs 1.6 pounds. It is extremely top heavy and I don’t see any of us who were there shooting carrying the Freedom comfortably on our body or in a purse.

I had the honors of shooting the gun first. I loaded the seven-round magazine without incident, even though the mag spring was stiff. I raised the gun and had a bit of difficulty with the purple sights. The sights on the Freedom are basic iron fixed sights. With all the purpleness, everything swam together and it was difficult to get a quick, clear sight picture. However, after a few minutes of getting used to it, the front sight did provide a decent contrast to the white and red of the target. I suggested painting white dots on the sights for a quicker aim.

The plastic grip isn’t soft at all, however not uncomfortable. Ergonomically the Freedom fits in the hand quite well and because of the gun’s size, you get a full-handed, secure grip.

Picture shows the details of basic, fixed purple sights on a purple and black handgun.

The sights on the Freedom are basic iron fixed sights, also coated imperial purple.

The thumb safety is small and unobtrusive, yet easily accessible. It required zero manipulation on my part. I have to say this was the most easily accessible thumb safety I have encountered on a handgun in quite awhile. The safety itself is stiff without being sticky.

Of course, out of the very first seven rounds fired, I had three malfunctions. I didn’t find this frustrating, or surprising. Clearing malfunctions works like any other gun, “tap, rack, bang” and your back. On my second go through, I experienced zero problems. None of us had any problems after those first seven rounds. We were shooting range-provided PMC Bronze 90-grain full metal jacket ammunition.

And what do you know, but hot dang, from five yards that Cobra Freedom shoots point of aim. Every single one of us repeatedly hit bullseye. How’s that for accuracy?

Shooting the gun is very comfortable. All of us were pleasantly surprised at the minimal recoil, but again, the Freedom .380 ACP is a fairly large and heavy gun for its caliber and intended purpose. It has a 3.5-inch barrel and an overall length of 6.4 inches. Even the most recoil-sensitive one out of the three of us smiled and said, “I like my purple gun!”

I like to compare what I’m shooting to give people some sense of what it feels like to shoot. However, I’m not exactly sure under what class the Freedom falls. Not exactly a full-size, but nowhere near a compact or sub-compact sized gun either. We didn’t shoot anything else that day comparable in size. The only other gun shot that day that was just as comfortable to shoot was the Glock 26, which is a 9mm, much smaller and much lighter semi-auto.

No gun comes without its faults, especially one as affordable as the Cobra Firearms Freedom. There is no last round bolt hold open, so you have to pay attention to how many rounds you fired. The trigger isn’t stiff and the pull didn’t feel long; there is absolutely no take up. I found, though, this didn’t matter to the one of us without much experience shooting firearms.

Picture shows the Cobra Freedom .380 pistol field stripped in pieces.

Before retrieving the gun from the dealer, it was field stripped, thoroughly cleaned and well lubed.

In conclusion, it is not a bad gun. It’s accurate, comfortable and easy to shoot. How long it will last and its long-term reliability is yet to be determined. For someone just starting out, I think it’s a fine deal. The dealer who ran the contest said, “Some people will scoff. However, if it is the only gun you can afford, I would rather people have it than nothing at all.” I agree with her.

Pros: price, accuracy, minimal recoil, ease of use

Cons: heavy, not conducive to carrying, questionable reliability

Freedom Series Specifications and Features

Caliber: .380 ACP

Capacity: 7 rounds

Barrel: 3.5”

Action: Single-action

Safety: Thumb, left side mounted

Sights: Fixed sights

Overall length: 6.4”

Weight: 24 ounces (1.5 lbs.) unloaded

Have you fired a cheap gun that exceeded your low expectations? Tell us about it in the comment section.

Suzanne Wiley started shooting at a young age when her older brother bought a Marlin 60 and taught her to shoot. She took to shooting and developed a love for it when she realized she was a natural with a .22 LR rifle at summer camp. Suzanne has been an outdoor adventurer since she can remember-being from the Ozarks, there were bountiful caves, national parks, lakes, and camping spots to explore. From a young age, she has camped, fished, rode horses, went ATV exploring, rappelling, and even dabbled in beginner spelunking.
Suzanne joined the content team with over eight years experience at Cheaperthandirt.com. Starting out as a product description writer, Suzanne has extensive knowledge of the Cheaper Than Dirt! product base and is a good resource for suggestions on which products you need. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Though she prefers plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, Suzanne also loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (26)

  • Tom

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    It used to be a Lorcin, I’ve owned one for probably 25+ years. It has had a lot of rounds through it, and never skipped a beat. It’s a bit clunky, compared to my Ruger, but still not a bad piece to keep in the glove box. Yes I do have a permit.

    Reply

  • VCT

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    Really enjoy reading about bargain .380′s 9MM’s etc. This Cobra .380 certainly has that oh-so-familiar ” Top Heavy ” ‘ Chunky Slide ‘ look to it, as in Hi Point stuff. Good to see an AMERICAN handgun manufacturer cranking out decent ( apparently ) weapons. Still like the hell out of that cute little Sterling .380 I spotted a gun show years ago !! !! Oh well, hindsight is always glorious 20/20 !!!

    Reply

  • James l

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    I am a avid shooter owning several glock and kahr arms I’ve had my share of hi points as well I saw the cobra in the purple finish bad decided to pick it up for my wife. I have to say it was a huge mistake. I tried several different brands of ammo and nothing seemed to make it cycle properly constant jams and ftfs. I tried to contact cobra about their lifetime warranty twice. I never received the first response to my inquiries. All in all don’t trust your life with it and don’t buy it unless you like clearing and racking between shots. It’s about as useful as a paper weight.

    Reply

    • sutit

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      “out of the box field striped cleaned on oiled”??

      Reply

    • James l

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      Yes out of the box striped and cleaned first time to the range I thought I might not have oiled it up enough so I striped cleaned and re-oiled with a heavy hand still no better performance. I also noticed to firing pin was striking low on the primer hitting the case on some I ocassions. Cobras costumer service would not give a response I even emailed pics of the spent brass real bad experience will never buy or recommend these guns again. I would trust my life to a hopping before I did a cobra

      Reply

  • JD

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    Well after reviewing the Hi Point C9 I purchased one at a gun show. I took it straight to the range and out of the box loaded the mag with Blazer 9mm FMJ, set the clay pigons up and from 25 yards started knocking them down. I would consider that gun any time and for me I like the looks, Its all about functioning and it did that. Well done Hi Point.

    Reply

  • Pop-Pop 3

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    For a reliable, well-made in Florida USA compact, try the SCCY CPX-2 9mm. Got it from Cheaper Than Dirt. At $249 including 2 -10 round mags, it is a great deal and a great shooting gun. I ran over 200 rounds through it right out of the box including 3 different loads, both FMJ and JHP in one mag. It shot them all and never even burped. Check out some of the on-line reviews of this gun. Much better than a .380, holds more rounds, is lighter than the Cobra and reliable for carry. My wife loves it and you can get it in pink if you like. Also, much more attractive than the Cobra.

    Reply

    • James l

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      As he said the sccy CPX is a much better I have a CPX-1 with over 600 rounds threw it still accurate and runs like a champ. Only had two hang ups ever and it was from light loaded reman ammo. Didn’t cycle the gun fully. Check em out the guy making them used to work with keltec. Great guns for a great price

      Reply

    • J.

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      I, too, purchased a CPX-1 model 9mm on a whim at a gun show (for around $250 w/2 10-round mags) about 7 years ago now. They’ve since changed the company’s name (branded on the side of my gun as “SKYY” to “sccy” apparently) however my point is I’ve never had a problem with this weapon. Stripped, cleaned and oiled straight out of the box and I’ve yet to have an issue with it. Several hundred rounds downrange, I’m hoping “sccy” proves a reliable company at an affordable price for many years to come! Happy shooting and stay safe!

      Reply

    • Joe Boyer

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      Any .380 is cheaply made. The very same design as a .25
      You will never see one in my collection, you could not give me one for free.

      Reply

    • Wolf Roberts

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      “Any .380 is cheaply made. The very same design as a .25″

      My Makarov .380 begs to differ.

      Reply

  • Gun fan

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    I bought a hi-point 380 from a local farm store for $169.99. I love it I’ve shot over 1000 rounds through it and have had 0 jams or misfires. My future pistol purchases will include quite a few hi-points.

    Reply

  • Joe Boyer

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    I bought a Cobra .380. I didn’t even bother to shoot it. Your hand would slip trying to chamber a round and it’s built just like a cheap .25 auto. I will never touch a .380 again. You could not build a more cheaply made gun. So for all the kids out there that like these guns, hand no idea what a real gun is. Just go back to your violent online video games, let your mommy wipe your entitled ass and don’t shoot people. If you kids have the need to kill others because your girlfriend broke up with you, or your mom won’t give you the car, shoot yourself, not others.

    Reply

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