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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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!