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

By Suzanne Wiley published on in 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.


Introduced to shooting at young age by her older brother, Suzanne Wiley took to the shooting sports and developed a deep love for it over the years. Today, she enjoys plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. 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 (37)

  • dahne yeager


    With the weight of the Cobra Denali .380 on the Cheaper than Dirt sale site listed at 17 ounces..I have a very hard time thinking that this firearm is too HEAVY to carry comfortably.


  • Amir Fazadh


    I bought a Cobra .380 on a whim once, and it was the most jam-prone piece of crap I have ever owned. Not even useful as a paperweight. I could not get the thing to cycle on any type of ammo, cleaned and lubed it after every range session (sometimes only 1 shot!), ended up using it as an anchor for a saltwater fish keeper. Wasn’t even stellar there. Had a HiPoint C9, it ran OK, but eventually went with a Bersa Thunder for a reliable, accurate gun that always goes bang when you want it to. Had a SCCY CPX-1, hated the “safety” on it, so I removed it. It ran OK after that, but wasn’t the most comfortable piece to shoot. Now have a Sig P238 for my .380 deep cover piece. Glock 19 for my usual carry gun, and several others for variety, depending on what my needs/wants are at that moment. Best advice for this particular gun? Save another couple weeks and get a Bersa Thunder for around $249. Don’t put your life on the line with one these Cobras, it won’t turn out well.


  • Mr.J. Valdez


    I have a Cobra FS 380auto, I’ve had it for just over 2 yrs. now. At first I thought I had made a bad decision, had all the failures you can think of. It is very accurate at 15, & 25 yards, it had to be broken in, in my case it took almost 200, rounds. Just keep it lightly oiled. You shouldn’t have a problem after that.
    Do buy a replacement spring for the retainer, ( disassembly small part ) why?
    Because it is spring loaded, and very stiff. Just be careful when dissembling, get easier after that.
    Very pleased now…thanks Cobra.😎🗽🗽✔ .


  • Ten Cheap Firearms for Sale


    […] comfortably, but as luck would have it, this thing is surprisingly easy to shoot and accurate. I reviewed a friend’s Freedom Series .380 and the pistol shocked the heck out of me how well it shot. Would […]


  • Wade


    We just got back a “repaired” Cobra Denali. This was the third time it had been back for repairs. It fed the first round but then wouldn’t extract. After that it wouldn’t feed. This is the most aggravating company to work with. WIll not answer the phone or return phone calls. The “Lifetime” warranty is meaningless if they don’t/can’t actually repair their products. Spend the extra money and get a firearm that you would actually feel comfortable that it would fire if you needed it.


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