Reviews

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

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

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.

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 (39)

  1. I bought both a Hi-Point 9mm pistol and a .380 carbine and love them! Yes, they’re heavy and because of that, the 9mm would not be good for EDC, but neither firearm has ever jammed regardless of which type of .380 or 9mm ammunition I use- they are also rated for +P ammo and are deadly accurate with just iron sights. The .380 is a lot of fun to shoot and has very little recoil. I feel they were a good choice.

  2. I bought a Cobra .380 and drilled the front sights for ruby red drop paint. The first 50 rounds I had several jams, but after cleanings and finding a lube that works well, I’m satisfied with the $84 dollar purchase on sale. It hits well.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.????????????✔ .

  6. 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.

  7. I just picked up the CA 380 on a whim the other day. Took it out to the range for the first time yesterday to test it out. Over the past few days, I read a lot of reviews of this pistol. Sure enough….all the expectations came to fruition, and not in a good way. I couldn’t even get through one magazine without a feeder or extraction jam. I was so frustrated.

    I know that this weapon can’t be THAT bad. I can’t be! I’m going to get it another chance and hopefully push a few more rounds through it before it ends up in the dumpster.

  8. I bought a Davis P380 in the early nineties and I’ve had only one, jam in many uses. I found out that the Aluminum cartridge case 380 ammo is too hot for the proper working of the action. I switched to brass cartridge case ammo and I’ve never had a jam since. I have the Chrome model. It does buck and can surprise you. I’ve noticed the later models are not made like the earlier ones. I’ve had good luck with mine, even though its the cheapest handgun in America right now!

  9. I have had a cobra fs 380. For over year now , yes at first I did have all kinds of ftf,fte,stovepipe, but after I broke it in (175) rounds later,,no more problems. Just keep it oiled.will upgrade to a bigger cal.keep it clean.

    1. To all the ignorant people who don’t know what they’re talking about, if you haven’t shot a cobra Fs ( freedom series) 380 Auto, you clearly need to do yourself a favor and go rent one or buy one. They were made to be a defensive pistol, not a range,all day gun. I Love mine now,, but will also use other weapons if need be.Adios Amigos.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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

    2. 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!

    3. 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.

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

      My Makarov .380 begs to differ.

    5. Hey joe why dont you shut your pie hole! You have no idea what youre talking about. I have a browning bda in 380 acp that is over 30 years old and not one ftf or fte. How about a colt mustang in 380? Or a sig p230? Those are not cheaply made firearms dummy

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

    1. 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

  15. 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 !!!

  16. 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.

  17. A cheap pistol ? I carry a Keltec P3AT in .380 ACP as a backup gun, on my ankle and have for about a decade. At the time of purchase, it was the smallest, lightest,.380 made @ about $230.00 + tax. I has a good bit of perceived recoil, due to it’s light weight and small size (two fingered grip w/ pinkie curled up under)

    My favorite .380 is my SS Colt, Government Model in .380. ($500.00 + tax twelve + years ago) True, it’s single action only and heavier, but it has little perceived recoil because of it’s weight and has a light trigger pull. I was ‘weaned’ on a M19111A .45 ACP, so the single action is no bother.

    You asked for it, so I replied.

  18. Wow, 35 oz unloaded for a .380 ACP! That’s quite heavy. That barrel being part of the slide makes it kind of a “throw away” gun, since you can change the barrel after it’s worn out, which I assume would happen quicker than other guns since its a budget gun. Seems like it would appeal to hi-point lovers. Not for me though.

  19. I have a buddy that used WD40 all the time, and it ruined several guns by drying up and gumming up the works, he shot the pistol, and had a ejection jam that damaged one… the other, the firing pin stuck and jammed, broke on the retry.. His 1911 ammo was useless, he wondered why it barely left the barrel. Fresh ammo and no problems.
    No more WD40 for him, he spent many hours with me recleaning all his guns to rid them of the gumming from the WD40.

  20. I have owned a loricen 380 for years. the cobra is a identical copy of the loricen 380 in every way. found to be unreliable the loricen 380 fell out of favor.I found the problem with my 380 was mag spring was not strong enough after replaceing mags works well. Hope cobra got it right this time.

  21. I don’t know anything about this particular gun, but I know that 24 ounces is not 2.1 pounds. 24 Oz is 1.5 pounds. Roughly the same mass as a pint of coffee in a ceramic mug.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

    1. I HAVE A HI-POINT 9MM. IT HAS NEVER MISSED A LICK! IT IS TOO HEAVY, DOSE NOT HOLD ENOUGH AMMO, BUT YOU CAN BEAT THEM TO DEATH IF YOU USE UP YOUR AMMO!
      I WAS AT A GUN SHOP WHEN I BOUGHT IT AND A MAN WAS PICKING UP A BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM 1911! HE SAID HE HAD 3 HI-POINT GUNS. 1 IN HIS TRUCK, 1 IN HIS BOAT AND 1 IN HIS 4 WHEELER! NOT A BIG LOSS IF STOLEN! BUT THY SHOT GOOD.

    2. Hi Point C-9 9mm was my carry weapon for several years. $109.00 new, no adjustments and can hits what I aim at out to 25 meters. Spring is stiff, top is heavy, but it results in near zero felt recoil. Its plenty ugly, but it’s still the one I keep bedside. I replaced it as a carry gun with a Rock Island Arsenal 1911 .45 acp. Which, after break in, is also and inexpensive, really well behaved weapon.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading