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 2.1 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

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 (2.1 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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Comments (5)

  • johnny joe

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    ive owned high point pistols for years. i have owned 3 45 cal, a 40 cal. 2 9mm cal and yes even a 380 cal. they are not quite as cheap as a cobra but cheap. all made in the usa. all of these guns come with a lifetime warranty. if it breakes no matter how or why, send it to them, they fix it for free…forever! i did have cause to send a 9mm model back to them for repair once. i have shot thousands of rounds through the 380. never broke, is accurate enough to use as a personal house gun. it is as heavy as an anchor and would not be suitable for a carry gun. but overall, the gun, i feel is the best deal on a gun period. because it works and it is cheap. i never take them apart at all, i just spray 2 + 2 on them, blow them off with compressed air and spray them down with wd 40, then wipe up the over lube. i got a pistol cleaning kit and i do brush out the barrel on them, but not very often. well, after saying all this, i do have a 9mm kahr p series for a carry with night sights. and i just purchased a glock model 42 in .380 cal. i havent even fired it. the serial number is pretty low, and i am going to use it also to carry if it turns out to be as reliable as my mod 17 or my model 36. and one last comment. i dont care what gun smith and wesson offers i will never own anything that the company makes. about ten years or so ago, they threw the whole gun industry under the bus and they are the ones that are primarily responsible for a lot of the anti gun leaders going after all of us. if they had never made their deal with the federal govt back then, the whole gun industry would be so much stronger than it is today. i read a similar comment on this site before and i was surprised that anybody but me still remembers that it even happened.

    Reply

  • Denny Bonwell

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    I bought a rossi circut judge in 44mag. to have for a truck gun and was very plesantly suprised, it is as accurate as my hunting 44mag. with a good trigger, what ever I take out to shoot I always take the rossi also, it has turned into my favorite to shoot. Deer or hog hunting, it is hard to take anything else if the range is 100yd. or less.

    Reply

  • Bill from Boomhower, Texas

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    Hey Suzanne, I checked the links you provided, and the price of the gun will probably encourage new shooters. When you mentioned the all purple sort of “washing away” your sighting plane, I thought: well, we’ve lived generations with the same problem with blued, or black finished guns, so no big deal, right? Then, I noticed the sights in the included photo. They look big and blocky, rather like a toy gun. Then, I thought: Hell, this is a .380, a defenseive purposed gun, so if you and the crew were shooting to point of aim, that IS pretty remarkable.
    The part about striker fired single action, and only one side mounted safety, which you say was easy to manipulate, would seem to be a concern, especially in a cheaper price point marketed toward people who may be new to guns and shooting in general, or those who just acquired a license, and haven’t had seasoned experience with auto-loaders. It is very easy to unknowingly knock my 1911 off safe, thank God for the grip safety it has also. That would be my concern, based on the information you provided. You say they offer revolvers as well? That might offer a better alternative for those looking for an inexpensive gun of this purpose. Perhaps there is something about the safety issue I missed, but that’s my take. However, it’s remarkable if they can make an auto-loader that can shoot to point of aim, and reliablly, at that price point.

    Reply

  • Bryan

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    Johnny Joe, you don’t want to use WD40 on a firearm. One of my instructors was adamant on that point because it contains certain chemicals that can affect your ammo, most notably the primer.
    You’ve also apparently got better luck in the HiPoint drawing than most shooters–my 9mm was prone to jamming and threw rounds–my assumption looking back is due to the lack of barrel crowning there may have been some leftover material at the end of the muzzle due to the incredibly poor workmanship of my particular pistol.

    Reply

  • tom hardy

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    I own a little Davis 380 and have never had a problem with it. Made in the USA and looking at the cobra that cobra is almost an identical copy of the davis except davis has mag release on the bottom.

    Reply

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