Cobra CA380 Review
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The natural human right of armed self-defense has no minimum income requirement. Nor does the natural, civil, and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Few things bother me on such a deep level as laws and measures intended at doing nothing more than make gun ownership more expensive and, therefore, price it out of the grasp of certain classes of citizens. It’s racist, classist disenfranchisement, pure and simple.

Worse, the very same politicians who tell us that requiring an ID to vote is somehow a “poll tax” and an infringement on peoples’ rights are the same people who then push for new transfer fees, annual registration renewals, mandatory safety classes, special taxes, insurance and safe storage requirements for firearms.

Laws and regulations banning firearms based on their (low) price – so-called “Saturday night specials” – are nothing new. It is due to my intense disgust at these sorts of regulations that I spent an hour browsing all of the firearms retailers and auction sites I could think of to find the cheapest handgun you can buy new in the U.S. today…and found the Cobra Firearms .380.

The result of my search was that Cobra’s CA380 and FS380 were the least expensive handguns available from any retailer. And yes, I looked at derringers and revolvers, too. The absolute lowest price on the Cobra was found at Lanbo’s Armory, where the full-sized and compact versions were the same price — $103.95. I chose the compact.


In The Box

Your Cobra will come in a cardboard box, nestled in a nicely-cut piece of foam. In that box you will find an owner’s manual, warranty card and one magazine (and probably a cable-style gun lock). The warranty is for life, regardless of whether you are the original owner or not.

Typically I like to have a few magazines for each gun and it looks like these 5-rounders are available on Cobra’s site for just $16 each. Taking the surprisingly-heavy-for-its-size pistol out of the package for initial inspection and to snap the first photos you see in this post, I get the first hints of what I’m in for:


From what I can tell, the barrel is press-fit into the frame. After it’s in, the feed ramp is milled. This makes great sense because it will mean perfect continuity of the ramp up the frame and into the barrel every time. But…is it too much to ask for a hit of compressed air afterwards to get rid of the metal shavings? For a little more than a Benjamin, it apparently is.

I’m not sure my example would have cycled well had I not noticed this and cleaned the gun before shooting it. Also note the little dents in the frame to the left and right of the extractor notch (top of chamber). These were caused by the slide contacting the frame there, despite the fact that this gun had not yet been fired. My final gripe on fit and finish is also visible in the same photo above — what’s up with the left side of the barrel being flush with the frame and the right side having a lip? Not really confidence-inspiring.

Look, I didn’t have high expectations for fit and finish. No love lost on the dents and the tolerance on barrel/frame fit there. I really didn’t care. But leaving the swarf behind is just lazy. My second point of concern came when I looked at the slide:


Are those hairline cracks? I have no idea. I just decided to operate on the assumption that those are “features.” Well…relics of an inexpensive casting or machining process at least. You see what I’m talking about. I added a red arrow in the video above in case the YouTube audience doesn’t have the same eye as members of the AI do here. [EDIT: it struck me later that the slide is made by casting the zinc alloy around a steel breech block, and the ‘cracks’ are actually just where the two meet. If you look closely enough at the photo above, you can see the rear of the insert as well. See torture test video #1 for more details on this and the “magnet test.”]

As much as I didn’t want to start this review off on a negative foot — because it’s not exactly a negative review — the above were my first impressions of the pistol when it came out of the box. With that out of the way…

A manual thumb safety graces the left side of the CA380 at the top of the grip panel. Up for “safe,” down for “fire.” No surprises here, and from the feel of it the safety lever physically blocks the trigger mechanism somewhere and also locks the slide.


The Cobra uses a heel magazine release lever which is something we aren’t really accustomed to here in the U.S. of A. While a lot of folks would immediately complain, I actually don’t mind a heel release and I have become fairly used to them and proficient with them thanks to my Kel-Tec PMR-30 and H&K P7.

Unfortunately, the CA380’s version isn’t quite as user-friendly, requiring significantly more effort to release. It also tends to get in the way of new mag insertion. You have to come at it from an angle and use the back of the magazine to push the release out of the way and then rock the mag up and into the frame. Mags do not drop free, so removing one means pushing back on the mag release while simultaneously stripping out the magazine by the small baseplate lip that sticks out the front. I can do these things somewhat quickly in practice, but under stress? Oy.

There are no other external controls. There’s no slide lock, either manual or on empty.

Field stripping is accomplished by pushing the “thingie” in on the back of the slide. This striker spring retention cup, which feels like aluminum, is also what keeps the slide down on the frame, and you’ll want the striker to be forward (fired) to take it down. If you have a narrow enough finger you can do it by hand, but I found it easier to use a pen or something similar (.303 Brit bullet in the video). Anyway, push that in a few millimeters and then you can lift the back of the slide up and pull the slide forwards off of the frame.


From this angle it looks a bit similar to a lot of fixed-barrel, straight-blowback designs with the barrel doing double duty as the guide rod for the recoil spring.


When the slide comes back, the “thingie” stays behind, of course, and the striker spring is compressed against it. The post-like striker catch (sear) in the frame clicks over the rear ring on the striker and keeps it cocked until a trigger pull drops that catch and the striker shoots forwards. It seems simple enough to be reliable.


Also worth noting, there are no slide rails. The tall skirts on either side of the slide keep it centered, the barrel keeps the front of the slide in check and the “thingie” keeps the back attached to the frame. Overall, it’s an efficient and simple design. I felt confident enough that the slide wouldn’t leave the frame and embed itself into my face.

Overall machining and finish quality are pretty much what I expected. Seems fair for my $104 outlay. In my professional estimation, the gun is spray painted black.

On the Range

This may be the first gun I have ever handled where I wished the beaver tail area was lower. Those slide skirts go so low that if you take a proper grip, you’re going to get some nasty slide bite. I had to consciously hold my hand a bit farther down on the frame than I wanted to.

I’m sure this also contributed to more felt recoil than I was expecting. Maybe the 23.5 oz weight (unloaded) had me thinking it was going to shoot softly compared to my 10.2 oz Taurus TCP, which is perfectly comfortable to shoot all day. This wasn’t the case, though – the little Cobra bucks hard.

It’s a blowback design, which will almost always have more felt recoil than a locked breech arrangement, but what actually bothered me a bit was the trigger rather than the recoil of the frame. You see, it’s a rather simple, thin piece of metal with only slightly rounded edges. With the required ~10.5 lbs. of pull followed up immediately by a solid buck of the gun upon firing, the trigger applies some mild abuse to my finger. I still shot 100 rounds in one sitting so I don’t mean to imply that it’s all that bad, I just found it surprising so it stuck in my head.

Also surprising, the little Cobra shot pretty straight:


That’s a 5-shot group on the top two chickens from about seven yards (between 21 and 23 feet). I was pretty happy with that considering the heavy trigger – which does have a bit of creep – and the sharp recoil plus my general fear of the slide escaping the frame and ruining my male model good looks. Also, while the sights are actually kind of large, they aren’t especially easy to see.


Both the front and the rear sights are black — the same black as the frame — and have no dots. This makes it awfully hard to focus on the front sight and just to pick up in general. The front sight is also fairly wide, so you don’t see light on either side of it inside of the rear notch. Which, by the way, is oddly shallow considering how tall the sights are. They’re like little towers sticking up on top of the slide. I really can’t explain why that is, since they could be much sleeker and flusher without reducing their visibility at all.

Anyway, this isn’t a bullseye pistol and I was fully happy with its accuracy.

Getting back to that trigger, it really isn’t bad. There’s almost no slack (pretravel/takeup) at all. Pull on it and it’s rock solid until you get up to the 10.5 lbs of pressure range. Then it creeps for, I’d say, a 2-3 millimeters and breaks cleanly. Short travel and short reset. If the creep were reduced or the weight was lower, which would make the creep smoother in this case, I’d go so far as to say I definitely like the trigger. As-is, no complaints other than the physical feel of it (thin with somewhat abrupt edges).

Now for the pressing question… does a $100 gun work? Is it reliable? Can you actually defend yourself or your home with it? In 106 rounds I had about 6 stoppages (and zero breakages). They’re all shown in the shooting review video above. The extractor and ejection port on the top led to some brass to the head, as it tends to eject more or less straight up and back. I mention this because I think all of my stoppages were failures to eject. These jams are also harder to clear since the ejection port is on top, as it requires more than just a slight tilt to one side to put gravity in your favor.

It appears as though the striker also acts as the ejector when it’s forced back through the breech face when the slide moves fully rearward. I think my failures were due to the striker popping the case out of the extractor’s grasp too early, and I now see a common “mod” is to grind off the rear point of the striker since it’s believed to catch on the spring and cause premature ejection. I do believe that modification and some feed ramp and chamber polishing could turn this into a more reliable gat. Speaking of gats, it was 100% reliable when held sideways gansta style. Just FYI.



I think my opening paragraphs should make it fairly obvious that I wanted to like this gun. The truth is, I don’t hate it. It isn’t my cup of tea but I actually enjoyed shooting it more than I thought I would. If I had to attribute that to something, it would be that I was actually hitting what I was aiming at with no special effort, and I didn’t come into this expecting the thing to shoot straight. I’m very happy to report that it is a viable option for someone on a tight budget who specifically wants a pistol to protect home and family. It does work. I would trust it to scare off most ne’er-do-wells. I would trust it to fire the first shot every time. I would trust it to run through all 5+1 rounds most of the time. Most.

Yes, in conclusion I’m very happy to be able to say that the cheapest handgun in America does function, does shoot straight, and didn’t explode in my hand. When I asked one of the employees at my local shooting range if he would buy this, the cheapest gun in America, I think he summed it up perfectly when he said, “if I had to.”


The Taurus PT 738 TCP (<<< click for review) can be had for $199. I actually think it’s the best .380 mouse gun on the market at any price. It’s less than half the weight of the Cobra and it’s 2/3 the thickness. Yet it holds one more round. It has an amazing trigger, has a slide lock and a standard mag release. It’s a great shooter and is as reliable as it gets — both in terms of cycling just about any ammo there is and in long-term durability. Watch the tabletop review video above for my full thoughts on the comparison, but the bottom line is that I think it’s ten times the gun for less than twice the price. If you can scrape up the extra dough to make up the difference, it’s money very well spent. If not, the Cobra works, too.

Specifications: Cobra CA380 Pistol

Caliber: .380 ACP
Length:  5.4”
Barrel Length:  2.8″
Height:  4.0”
Width:  1.05”
Weight:  22 oz. 23.5 oz with empty magazine
Capacity: 5 rounds of .380 ACP
Trigger Pull Weight: 10.5 lbs
MSRP: $129 to $139.

Ratings (out of 5 stars):

Accuracy: * * * 
Totally acceptable, but not above average. With easier-to-see sights I’m sure I would have fared better.

Ergonomics: * * 
Nothing is particularly ergonomic about this gun. The shape and thickness of the grip is pleasant enough. Otherwise, the low slide skirts and poor trigger design knock it down a couple notches. The mag release knocks it down still more.

Reliability: * * *
I was afraid it would be a total mess. Six stoppages in 106 rounds ain’t so horrible, all things considered. I’ll try a couple other brands of ammo just to be totally fair.

Customize This: * 
As far as I can tell, there’s no aftermarket support for the gun at all and there are no factory options. Just replacement parts.

Fun Factor: * * 1/2
It’s a gun and I like shooting guns, so it’s fun almost no matter what. Compared to other guns, though, I have to dock the Cobra due to somewhat hard-to-clear jams and for it being just a bit unpleasant to shoot in terms of comfort/recoil and ergos. But this thing is for close-up personal defense, not fun at the range.

Overall: * * 1/2
I have my doubts about long-term reliability. But the lifetime warranty could make up for that. Loss of stars here due to jams, overall quality, magazine release, sights, ergos, shooting experience. Brownie points for extremely low price point and the fact that you do actually get a functional gun for your $105.


This article was originally published in 2013.

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    • I had a J-22. Don’t know what I did with it. I might have thrown it away, actually. This looks like its big brother, and, adjusted for inflation, I think the Cobra might be cheaper.

      • My Jennings .22 I donated to the Ohio river. Couldn’t get a full mag through that gun without some type of malfunction.

        Having said that. At the time I bought it it was the only handgun I could afford. I worked nights a lot and I wanted some kind of gun in the house for my wife home alone with our baby son.

        One night she heard a noise at our back door and there was a large fellow rattling that door. She was in the habit of keeping that pistol in her pocket. Bringing it out was enough to send him away.

        When my uncle heard what happened he ‘loaned’ me an H&R break top .38 and some ammo. She was better armed after that.

        • I’m really cheap, but even I still have some standards.

          I once bought a used hi-point C9 for $90. It would be light years ahead of this. I’ve also seen Rough Ryder revolvers occasionally drop to $99-129. Sure it is a single action .22 revolver, and it isn’t very concealable, but at least they are totally functional and reliable. I also once picked up a used NEF R92 (9 shot DA .22 revolver) for $115. I could see myself defending the house with that.

          I also picked up a “like new” used Gen1(b) Ruger LCP for $165 just about four years ago. It is a perfectly acceptable pocket gun (in my pocket right now). A year ago, you could get new Taurus G2C pistols for about $199. That is a great gun. Used Rossi .38’s also occasionally pop up around $150.

          But if I really had to run a sub $100 home defense gun, it would be my $99 Rossi RS22 rifle (or a pawn shop Marlin 60/795). Great little cheap plinker

        • I was thinking about some of the other cheap but totally functional guns I’ve bought over the years. There was the Stevens 320 pump action 12 Guage for $149, and the 7+1 pump action Mossberg Maverick 12 Guage for $199, and finally the $79 Mosin M44 complete with built in bayonet. Any of those would also likely scare off a thug.

          Good luck finding a $79 Mosin these days. Or the 8¢ a round ammo I use to buy for it back fifteen years ago. 😄

    • I don’t have a cobra but do have quite the collection of zamak pot metal pistols. Raven mp-25, Jennings J22, Jimenez JA 380, and a Hi point C9 (all are safe queens).
      My experiences with the Raven are always usually pretty terrible. Like most you come across today the magazines are 30+ years old with a weak spring leading to a certain stove pipe or failure to feed. I used to shoot it maybe once every year but have now retired it altogether. Its just old and worn out.

      I picked up the Jennings J22 for a whooping 40 dollars not even 2 years ago. When I first took it out I was shooting some kind of Federal bulk pack ammo. No lie, it jammed 95 percent of the time. typical cycle was bang, bang, jam, bang, jam, click, rack, bang. I did a little research online and found that for the most part the J22 only likes CCI or Remington gold. I had some bulk pack Remington at the time. After a complete fluff and buff on the J22 and if you keep it soaked with oil its actually pretty reliable now. last time out I put 48 rounds through it with only one stove pipe jam.

      No complaints far as reliability with the Hi point. The accuracy is also pretty respectable. You can also adjust the sights and the mag release in my opinion is far better than a heel release. My only complaint is that its bulky. Its an all around good pistol for a utility purpose.

      If all your looking for is an affordable home defense gun and your really on a tight budget. I’d just go with an old used 12 gauge 3 inch mod thumb buster. Can be found at almost any pawnshop for around 70 bucks. I just like buying cheap pistols to tinker with. Parts are common and cheap. Gunsmithing is just a hobby of mine.

      • I’m wondering if these cheap, and VERY unreliable, guns are the cause of the gun grabber’s favorite myth that if you try to defend yourself with a gun it will be taken from you and used against you.

        Also would the Cobra CA380 benefit from a few hundred rounds of break-in as well as testing other ammo types?

        • Would it be broken in after a few hundred rounds, or just plain broken? A lifetime warranty on a substandard product still means a round trip to the factory and all the hassles that entails.

          Buy once, cry once.

    • Please do not purchase a gun from cobra.
      They are making guns that come apart when shoting them.
      I bought a 380 the came apart a the gun range.
      Sent the gun back.
      I tell it’s almost 2 months now.
      When I call they me all kinds of lies. We looking at the gun for repair.
      I will have some one call you.
      The president bill going to call.
      They don’t care anything about there customers.
      The don’t cost that much.
      That does mean it should fall apart on you

    • i noticed i commented to this thread in ’16. and that was three years necro at that time.
      sometimes they mention re- post; sometimes they even leave the original post date intact.
      not this time.

      • I actually came here to say I thought the TCP had been discontinued. Which is a shame, because it really is one of the best micro .380s in spite of being a Taurus.

        But it’s a repost. Sad. I had got my hopes up on finding a TCP….

  1. Looks like a reincarnation of the Jennings J-22, but I think the Jennings was made better than this POS.

    • I believe that Jennings became Jimenez then became Cobra. Maybe even a few more changes of hand in there I’m not sure of. I have a small collection of these things dating back to my very first handgun purchase in 94 of a $55 Jennings J-22. Whcih I still shoot at least once a week and is dead-balls realiable with the right ammo. Too bad good 22lr is so damned hard to find right now.

      • The Phoenix Arms .22 is a very inexpensive gun and was usually the runner-up to the Cobra. I would have bought that or whatever else if it were cheaper. But, alas, in terms of brand new, current production handguns you can buy today, the Cobra is consistently the least expensive.

        • thank the g-o-d that my EX wanted the phoenix POS !! I bought her ,By Very far the most inaccurate pistol i have shot , Ya want the diaphram? ..aim for the head . wouldn’t yas know,fixed position sights as well I think thats what all the bad guys in the movies shoot !!!!!

      • Jennings became Calwestco, then Bryco. When Bryco got sued out of business, the shop foreman named Paul Jimenez bought the company and called it Jimenez Arms. Cobra is a completely separate company. Cobra went around and bought up Republic Arms, Talon, Lorcin, and Davis designs. Similar guns, very different companies.

        • and… there’s the d word. i had no problems with mine; it was all i could afford then. mexicarried it walking around the neighborhood. picked up the p380 for 85, sold to a kid we called buckethead for fitty.
          good riddance. it opened my eyes (pot metal) to what i don’t want, although i’ll give hipoints an exemption.

      • Am I the only one left that still has the Sedco knockoff of the J22, which IMO is far higher quality gun than the J22, but still a POS! Only reason I still own it is because I don’t know if I want to make it look pretty and then put it in a case, sell it to a rare gun collector looking for laughably bad guns, or take it to a gun buy back program and get more money back than I paid for the thing.

    • The last time I shot a Cobra pistol I ended up with slide shards in my hand. The thing blew up after 2 magazines.

      • This company don’t give a shit about there customers I’ve been calling them day in and day out the president don’t call the managers don’t call back. they do not pick up the phone and do not call back and do not terrible storm if somebody hurt their self with the weapon they will not replace my weapon or anything whatsoever please do not purchase anything from them my lawyer is looking at this as a right now

        • You got a lawyer involved over a Cobra pistol.

          That’s where you screwed up.

          Your first phone call cost you twice what the pistol was worth.

          Get over it. Throw it away and buy a serviceable gun.

  2. I have heard that these particular pistols malfunction less when exposed to specific noise patterns from the operator. Next time, try shouting ‘BREAK YOSELF, FOOL!’ repeatedly as you fire it.

    • I think also the use of the tactical phrase “BRRAAAP!” while flinging the non-shooting hand forward at an angle has been found to decrease grouping sizes.

      • I think the ejection port is on top because you’re supposed to hold the gun sideways, thereby putting the port on the side where it belongs. No joke, it ran like a clock when held sideways. If I was shooting in the woods, as usual, where there are no concerns for shooting walls or ceiling baffles I would have added a punching motion every time I pulled the trigger hahaha. No joke, though, it LIKES being fired one-handed and sideways.

        • Hilarious! And fun.

          I wonder if its because it has a weak ejector/extractor and the lesser gravity working against the casing is better?

          Also, BRRRAP!

  3. Guns are pretty durable products. If that’s all someone had to spend, and he/she couldn’t save some more for a Taurus TCP, wouldn’t a used gun be a better option?

    • Yes anybody who has been around guns for a long time will almost certainly recommend getting a quality, used gun instead of a cheap gun if you only have $X to spend. Many will also say that a pistol of any sort and especially a sub-compact one is a poor HD choice, and you’d be better off with a $105 used shotgun. No arguments on any of this from me! IF you want a pistol and you want or need to buy a new one for whatever reason, and you want to spend as little as possible, this is the cheapest handgun on the market. I really don’t think you could find a quality used gun for $105 anyway. Firearms in good working condition just don’t depreciate that much!

      …or if you want something to bury in the backyard with a couple boxes of ammo, throw in a tackle box, keep in a glove compartment, or otherwise abuse then this may be an option.

    • Here in Florida a lot of dealers will price a used gun in the case almost the same price, if not the same price, as a new version of the gun. They do it because the transfer fees are getting out of sight, so the used gun at a new gun price is cheaper than a new gun with the transfer fee attached.

  4. Too bad Makarovs are not a hundred bucks any more. (Are they even being imported?) They are, so far as I know, utterly reliable and were available both in .380 and 9×18 (which isn’t much more powerful–it is certainly not halfway between the .380 and the 9×19 as was claimed at the time.

    • you missed the boat on the $180-200 CZ-82 9×18 last year. I bought two and love ’em, great carry guns, and they will handle without issue +P 9×18 (e.g. Buffalo Bore or your own handloads) with similar characteristics to 9×19 – the Czech 9×18 was a slightly hotter load than other combloc 9×18 and thus they are just fine with it.

      plus they are balls-on accurate at pretty respectable ranges.

      only downside is my wife can’t handle the heavy slide spring, and thus the second one that I intended to be for her is now a spare. wait, is that a downside? I’m not sure.

      • Yep, I sure did miss the boat on that. I saw two of them, well used and for a much higher price than that, at the gun show this last weekend. And not a *single* retail CZ handgun of any model. (Is it really a gun show without a CZ in it?) I’ve been thinking about a CZ-75 compact to go with my full size; a nearby LGS has one but they want *well* over MSRP for it.

        • this is 75c time of year/ attire, the p938 gets sock drawered ’til spring.
          the 82s are nice. i’ve made do with the pa-63 (?) from feg… haven’t cracked the alloy frame yet, not sure about +p.

    • Yep, Makarovs do seem to be still being imported. Whenever I look on GUNBROKER, there’s a half-dozen or more, seems like. They seem to be in the $300-$350 range. Some have looked really clean, nearly new-looking. The .380s seem to outnumber the nines, though. I’m still thinking about getting one.

    • My Mak is as reliable as any Glock I’ve seen.. And during the ammo drought I was able to get ammo for the Mak. I had to sideline my 9×19 for a time as I got to my minimum ammo level that I didn’t want to go below for it.

      The only real downside to the Mak is the mag availibility. I only have 7 for mine. The good news is that the mags are near as murphy proof as the gun.

  5. It’s identical to the Jennings/Bryco model.

    My advice is to STOP SHOOTING IT NOW! I owned the Jennings variant which broke (almost catastrophically!) and have seen a friends Bryco variant break in the exact same place. The barrel band will crack and the barrel will come loose while shooting. If you’re lucky it will jam up or fail to fire like the Jennings did. The loose barrel slid forward just enough that when the trigger was pulled the striker barely scuffed the primer and the barrel rattled. The Bryco my buddy owned had a crack in the exact same place that I caught before he fired it anymore.

    If I had to guess I’d say that I had around 300-400 rounds downrange with mine over a period of at least 5 years. I bought it as a truck gun and played with it at the range, it was NEVER abused in any way and I never used high power loads.

    The .22 versions seem to hold up fine but .380 is a bad idea for that design IMO. I still have the frame/parts somewhere in a ziplock bag(I never throw stuff away).

  6. Jennings, Raven, Lorcin all are the same and used the identical design for function and operation. I had a Lorcin I used as a door stop for years was not good for much else. The same poor quality made of mostly “pot Metal” and poorly fit/finish. I know some of these actually work but I would never want to depend on one for my life or lively-hood.

      • I agree. I’m starting to understand hoplophobes a bit better now, because the thought of holding that thing and firing it terrifies me…

        • Please do not buy this gun.
          The company want pick up the phone to replace the gun.
          The gun came apart.
          Never experience anything like that before in life .
          Please don’t by that 380.

        • bought a cobra denali 380 new and it would not fire, sent back to factory 3 months ago.If you call to check on gun you are given the runaround. These pistols need to be recalled and pulled of the shelf.worst peice of junk i ever bought. I look for someone to be hurt bad by these guns because people say they are blowing up in their hands.

          • American guns never sell to other people or country.they did check licence .according to my official serch every American gun sellers keeping the royal federal laws

  7. A Lorcin is the only gun I’ve ever actually destroyed; it was so scary to shoot (in an “oh god is it going to blow up/falll apart way) that I didn’t feel like it’d be ethical to sell it.

    • I thought about selling mine after the review. Just putting it up on the local forum for $50 and getting rid of it. Then I realized that, while I obviously have strong feelings about everybody having the right to own a firearm, if I’m honest with myself I do not want to meet the person who wants to buy a $50 gun in a parking lot somewhere to do a private sale. I think I’ll either try to blow it up by [remotely] shooting super hot +P through it, do some other form of torture testing (drag it behind the truck on the road into the woods, deep fry it in batter, shoot it underwater, etc), or just give it to my local gunshop to sell on consignment for me haha

      • I had a friend with a torch cut mine into 3-4 pieces.

        It was seriously scary. It’d double feed, it’d somehow reverse rounds while feeding (so the bullet was facing backwards), it slam fired during racking once or twice, etc. Just terrifying. And the times it did shoot…well, if minutes of angle are the normal method of measuring accuracy, this one would be *hours* of angle it was so bad. I did one box and in hindsight I was relieved to not have it blow up in my hands

        • at about 10 feet the groups were over 6″ for five shots.

          I’m not a great pistol shot but I’m not that crappy.

  8. Worked at Cobra Enterprises of Utah for over a year. Saw two derringers explode (the barrel assemblies are pot metal cast around a barrel insert, which aren’t inspected before or after casting), and dozens of CA380s and FS380s disassemble themselves, and a couple of them run off and empty the whole mag when the sear didn’t re-engage. I stayed the hell away from the test firing room when I could. And one last note: though are not actually ALL test fired as they claim, it depends how busy they are.

    I didn’t buy one when I could get them for dealer price, and I certainly wouldn’t now or ever. If you have only a hundred bucks and a need to defend yourself, go buy a knife or sharpen a stick if you can’t find a surplus Russian or Czech pistol.

    • Hahaha. Good to know. I think it’s pretty clear that mine was not test fired, as I don’t think you could do that and still leave all of the metal filings behind on the feed ramp and in the chamber and such.

  9. the “cracks” you see on the slide are likely casting flashes. the slide is probably a zinc alloy, and I doubt it’s that strong. don’t drop it on pavement.

  10. SAFETY TIP: For those who might be reviewing doubtful firearms in the future, I would strongly recommend a full-face shield such as those used by machinists and loggers. You can get them with solid shatter-resistant plastic or screen mesh, with or without a hard hat and hearing protection.

    They might not completely stop a slide that blows back into your face, but they will certainly slow it down. and they cover a lot more of your face/neck than a pair of safety glasses.

    • I actually have one (lexan shield kind), and have used it for similar purposes. For the first 10 or so shots with this gun I literally held my head off to the side. I sighted through the sights and then held the gun as still as possible while moving my head away, then pulled the trigger 😉

  11. You know what’s funny, I’ve personally seen a friend of mine bitch and moan about dropping $325, out the door, on a brand new XD 9mm.

    This friend has a new truck every couple yrs, boat, jeep, motorcycle, big, awesome home- name the toy, he probably has it. But, thought it was absolutely absurd to spend more than $300 on a pistol, carry pistol no less. In turn, I’ve never owned a brand new truck and see boats as a huge waste of money, but consider $300 on a defensive pistol, pretty much, chump change.

    I tell you this story to point out the differences in personal priorities, if all you can afford is a Cobra, or Hi- Point, good on yah and vaya con dios.

    But, if you’re rockin ‘ all the newest toys, keep in mind there ‘s a big difference between just cheapin’ out and actually being broke.

        • My dad is one of them, grew up hitting the lake with him. I will never own boat, but I’m happy to ride along and to provide the beer.

        • You know what they say: a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money. Or… do you know what boat stands for? Break Out Another Thousand.

        • Never invest in anything that eats or needs painting.

          Horses are also a pit that eats money like crazy. Better to hire one when needed.

        • That would pretty much eliminate all women, would it not? The vast majority eat, the ones who don’t eat are not much fun to have around as they start to smell after a couple of days, and very many require painting on a regular basis, especially as they weather.

      • That old saying: If if flies, floats, or fornicates, rent it.

        I don’t really believe in that last one, having spent over thirty years with the same girl. But the saying doesn’t really have that zing without it.

    • The HiPoint is a much better gun than the Cobra. While is is made from cheap parts, it is larger and stronger. If you are worried about its strength, buy a .380, instead of a 9mm. They go bang, they are guaranteed and I have never seen one blow up.
      This is a great gun to keep in the house for protection, if you are on a budget and not a gun perfectionist.
      This is the VW bug of handguns.

  12. Great review, Jeremy! I am surprised by the accuracy, but the effort it takes to rack the slide (and the false “stop” that occurs during said rack) is worrying. That sounds like a deathtrap for any owner who doesn’t train on it or is older or weaker — in other words, probably the intended target market.

    My dad had a Raven which was nigh impossible to rack. If that didn’t kill you during a home invasion, the ultrastiff trigger would prevent you from firing the stupid thing. If you did manage to shoot a round, it would probably miss anyhow and hit your dog, which is okay since it shot a .25.

  13. If all I had to defend my home with was 125 bucks I’d buy a used shotgun, .22 or Mosin. No way would I trust one of these pot metal pistols with my life.

    • Agreed. Jamamatics. The price you pay for this cheap garbage – with those dollars better spent on a used rifle or shotgun. They have a tremendously heavy trigger pull and are completely unreliable. They serve their purpose well I guess (convenience store throw away gun used for intimidation during robbery).

      The bitter taste of poor quality remains long after the sweet taste of low price is forgotten.
      John David Stanhope

  14. I agree in principle, guns (and gun owneship) should not be deliberately made more expensive. The second amendment is for everyone or it’s for no one.

    That having been said: Based on a lot of the comments I am reading here, it sounds like you might be better off without one of these things. You take your life into your hands firing one. Still, if I were alone in a locked room with a knife or club wielding assailant and one of these was on the table, I’d pick it up and hope it hurts him more than it hurts me. But to buy one new? There are better options out there.

  15. The saga of these dreadful guns could easily be an entire post all by itself, and it all starts with the passage of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968. When GCA ’68 cut off the importation of .32 European snubnose revolvers and zinc-framed $25 pocket automatics (usually in .22 or .25 caliber), California machinist George Jennings started designing and selling miserable-quality blowback pistols to fill that market niche.

    Jennings founded Raven Arms, and his family or associates also founded the Jennings, Bryco, Lorcin, Davis and Phoenix, Jimenez and Cobra arms companies. They all used the Jennings/Raven design, and they all feature zinc-alloy frames, horrible triggers, useless sights and cheap stamped magazines. Accuracy from these guns is poor; reliability is worse. The fact that your Cobra can manage to fire an entire magazine without failure *slightly more than half the time* is better than average for these guns.

    The Cobra is an enlarged version of the Raven MP-25 which Jennings designed in 1970. It can’t be sold in any state with any kind of handgun safety requirements, because it’s just a 1970′s Saturday Night Special. I owned a .22 predecessor once, a Jennings J-22 which worked perfectly for all of 50 rounds before giving up any pretense of functionality. Luckily I got all my money back from the $45 POS by selling it to the San Diego Police Department in a 1992 ‘Gun Buyback.’

    Most firearms which become more reliable as they break in, with a failure rate that may start out high but which usually trends asymptotically toward a very low rate of predictable FTFs and FTEs. Unless they’re Glocks, which start at about zero and stay at about zero for tens of thousands of rounds.

    I digress, but Jennings blowbacks have a U-shaped failure graph. They start out miserable like this one or even worse, and sometimes they barely work at all. Firing a few magazines through them usually blows out the metal shavings and laps the soft steel of the barrel against the even softer Zamak zinc alloy of the slide and frame. Reliability quickly improves and the failure curve dips, sometimes to an almost-acceptable level where you might even fire several magazines through the gun without a malfunction.

    But then, almost always within 200 rounds (and usually much less) the soft metal wears itself out of engagement. The failure curve rises steeply through the last few frustrating magazines, and then goes vertical when the gun completely ceases to function. Extraction and ejection is usually the first thing to fail, although .22 rimfire Jennings sometimes die from soft primer strikes first.

    High-Point actually uses a similar basic design for their blowback centerfire pistols, but they seem to do a much better job of it. A Hi-Point 9mm is only about $50 more than a Cobra .380, and (as has been mentioned here in the comments) a CZ or Makarov .380 or 9×19 is a more refined and 100% reliable alternative for less than $250.

    • I do not doubt a word you said. But, my particular example really does not have that bad of a trigger, and it has been significantly more reliable than ‘slightly more than half the time.’ Not all rounds I fired were on video, but all of the failures were. It was like 6 or so stoppages in 106 rounds. It didn’t exactly start out ‘miserable,’ either, with a ‘few frustrating magazines’ to begin with. The first round didn’t eject but it ran right through the rest of the first mag and then through a couple magazines after that before having another stovepipe and then running through a few mags w/out issue again, which is basically how it continued functioning the whole time.

      Unfortunately .380 is too dang expensive right now for me to put another 100+ rounds through it and see when it starts to break down. Maybe I’ll shoot some hot loaded (buffalo bore, etc) +P through it and try to test its limits.

      • If you do decide to put some hot 380 loads through it, for the love of Odin please use some form of bench rest and pull the trigger with a cord from at least 5-6 feet away. And don’t stand in a direct line behind the slide.

        I really enjoyed this review, BTW. It was an interesting read and I learned more than a few things reading it.

        • Haha yes, I will definitely be standing to the side and firing the gun remotely somehow.

          I was a bit afraid that nobody would care about a Cobra review whatsoever, as I’m sure many TTAG’ers have no actual interest in it past, present, or future and wouldn’t put one on their shopping list no matter what, so I’m happy to see your positive comments!

        • I am really no Taurus fan and you certainly get no cachet for being seen with one. BUT… the 738 is best of breed in the micro compact / sub-compact / mouse gun .380 category. No question.

    • RE your comment about Glocks, I recent had the chance to fire a brand new Glock 19…and it had 4 FTE stovepipes in the first 3 mags. Three were for the owner, who is a petite 5’1″ and at most 110, but one of them happened when I tried shooting it, and I’m 5’11” and 250 and I’m sure I didn’t limpwrist it. However, after the first 3 mags, not a one occured through the next 200 rounds. I thought it was strange, I don’t own a Glock but I had never seen an FTE ever in one.

    • Unless they’re Glocks, which start at about zero and stay at about zero for tens of thousands of rounds.

      Actually, no. The recent Glock issues with extractors and ejectors show up after the gun has fired 1000-1500 rounds. M&Ps have issues with ejection and 25yd accuracy, but those show up right away. Consensus among the subject-matter experts is that the only sure bet right now is HK, though SIG seems to be getting their recent quality issues under control.

  16. The ejection port is on the top because they expect the operator to hold it sideways. Might help with the FTE problem.

  17. You know the frightening thing? This cheapo guns (Raven Arms, Phoenix, etc etc) were at least originally all manufactured around Los Angeles and were the impetus that started the damn roster here.

    Yet Cobra, Phoenix, and Hi-Point handguns are on the roster in California. SO THEY MUST BE SAFE! Much safer than those Glock Gen4’s….

    • Yeah, the reliability requirement (going a certain number of rounds with less than a certain number of malfunctions), mainly, was intended to weed out cheap guns and “Saturday Night Specials” in general. Most of the Cobras on the roster are derringers and revolvers. The CA380 and FS380 are not on the roster. They probably were incapable of meeting the reliability req. I’m surprised the Phoenix .22’s did. Hi-Point doesn’t surprise me.

      None of them would have made it onto the roster after a few years ago when the magazine disconnect safety and loaded chamber indicator both became mandatory. No gun can make it on now that microstamping is a requirement. Anything already on can renew without meeting the new requirements, though, which is why Gen 3 Glocks remain a-okay despite not having a magazine disconnect or LCI but Gen 4’s could not get on. And that’s how the Phoenix, Cobra, Hi-Point, various 1911’s, etc got on there (were added before subsequent restrictions and were grandfathered).

  18. My first gun five years ago was a Hi-Point C9 for around $125 (a little more expensive now). It was ugly and heavy but at least it was safe and reliable, and somewhat accurate. It’s single-action so a decent trigger. Very sensitive to limp-wristing. I sold it but now I regret that. A few friends have owned them and been satisfied for the value. Bonus points that they’re made in my home state. You should review one of those next.

    If I see a Hi-Point 45 for less than $175 I’ll probably pick it up and keep it in the back of my Jeep as a kind of SHTF last resort.

    I had a friend who bought a Jennings JA-NINE for $100 that looked kinda similar to this piece, except it was a dark, gunmetal grey. Holding it in my hand felt like what I always expected a pistol to feel like as a child. Kinda cool actually. The rear sight popped off on the first round and then it started jamming in weird ways…. we put it away and stopped firing it out of concern for safety.

    • There’s a Hi-Point review on TTAG already:

      Besides, it’s way too rich for my blood! …nah, seriously, the idea here was just to find the absolute cheapest handgun possible and see if it functioned, if it’s a doorstop, or if it’s a hand grenade. I did NO research into the Cobra since I didn’t want to approach it with biases or preconceived notions of the company’s reputation, etc. This is simply an honest review of the specific gun that I received.

      Although the TTAG review didn’t go very well, most accounts of the Hi-Point make it out to be surprisingly reliable.

  19. I bought a Pheonix Arms .22 only because the guy who owns the gun shop gave it to me at his cost just to get rid of it. It pretty much sucks in every respect. Odd thing was that the only reason he had it was some joker asked him to order it and never came back. It’s the long barreled “target” version so it’s got a kind of cool look to it, but thats about the only good thing I can think to say about this waste of low quality metal. It has 3 safties, 1 of which seems to have ceased to function in any way, but had no effect on the funtioning of the pistol. It was strictly an impulse buy, kinda like when I bought a wrist rocket slingshot. Yeah at least the slingshot is reliable. In fairness, almost every malfunction was with crappy wallyworld Federal ammo, but there were a few with CCI’s too. I shoulda known better but I thought maybe I’d luck out and get a decent shooter on the cheap. Guess not.

  20. End consumers in the target market you describe won’t pay that full price because of the government subsidy. Just like food stamps, Section 8 housing, school lunches, and health insurance.

  21. As someone who works in precision manufacturing, I cringed many times reading this. However, you get what you pay for, and I’m kind of happy that this is available.

  22. Back in the early 90s when this was the Davis P380 I actually bought one.
    I used to call it my duck gun.
    It shot well, weighed a ton for zinc,
    When you shot it if you didn’t duck.
    The spent case would hit you smack in the forehead.
    I think I paid 65$ for it.

  23. The cobras are just continuations of two gun designs that were driven from commiefornia. I’ve fired the smaller Jimenez guns and found them to be more comfortable. The larger Jiminez gun is a heavy but reliable gun. Everyone needs a super cheap gun that works, that they can give as gifts. DON’T give ANY of these cheap semis to women, give them a comfortable gun that isn’t a heavy brick.

  24. I’ve long had somewhat mixed opinions on el cheapo handguns. Like most of us, I think that there’s a bit of a certain snooty factor at work when it comes to so-called “Saturday Night Special” legislation. (Snootiness from higher-end gun owners/dealers, but IMO just plain old hatefulness on the part of the statists). But – I also absolutely believe that there should be an unfettered free market in these handguns. My recommendation is to only buy one of these if you need one NOW (for lawful self-defense and provided you have nothing else at hand. Even at minimum wage it’s possible to get a used scattergun or milsurp rifle for scarcely 20 bucks more, and what’s better is to put a TCP on layaway somewhere. Or, if you need a handgun for home defense instead of CC, then consider something like the Ruger P95 or S&W Sigma – both can be had for low 300’s, which would translate to 3 payments of a little over $100. The Ruger used to be even more affordable 10 years ago.

    I liked the review and found it to be kinda interesting. But the moral of the whole thing is simply this – think and plan ahead of time so that you can invest in something of better quality as much as reasonably possible.


  25. I appreciate that you review other than gold plated firearms, but the premature ejection was too much. The life time warranty is a strong point, but, the gun or yours? Having choices is wonderful.

  26. Thanks to the Post-Dispatch( I never read unless I look at over a buds shoulder) I just discovered TTAG today. The Cobra looks a lot like my Lorcin L380-especially on the inside-springs and the thing that come out the back of the slide.
    Of course I bought my Lorcin for $99 back in 1995. It still works fine (well maybe it does) haven’t been to the range since ’96. Today I wouldn’t buy it knowing more about guns then back then. Single action without being able to have one in the chamber is not the way to go. Now if I just had that .22 H&;R 6 inch 9 shot I sold. Not a great carry gun,but did tight groups.

  27. A couple of comments to add to your review. The Cobra is hardly reviewed by anyone online so it was good to see an honest review.

    1. The “crack” that you noted in the underside of the slide assembly is just a casting flaw where the zamak was molded around the steel breech face block. They have a steel insert at the breech face to increase longevity and to make them safer by putting a little steel between your face and the round when it fires. Some of the other small parts are steel as well. Zamak is a pretty soft metal with a relatively short lifespan so the steel insert is necessary.

    2. The safety blocks the sear and in turn stops the trigger from being pulled. Despite this, it is not incredibly safe to carry with a round chambered because if the sear were to fail, the gun would simply fire automatically, whereas more modern striker fired designs will prevent this.

    • Thanks. I don’t know why the breech face insert didn’t occur to me right away! I realized it later when I did torture test #1 and mentioned it in this video: A definite face palm instance, since inserts like that are fairly common and I actually just mentioned it in a previous review of the Walther PPK/S 22. I’m going to edit this review here to reflect why those lines are there.

  28. I just bought this gun the other day the only thing i dont like is the weight how hard it is to pull back the slide but tomorrow i go out to shoot it so i guess we will see how it does

  29. Thanks for the nice review. I noticed that your gun seemed to require less resistance to chamber than mine. Do you have a lighter spring ? My wife can’t chamber it at all and it takes all I’ve got to chamber it.

  30. I bought one for my wife last year. Never put a round through it. Picked it up unfired from a pawn shop. $130 (deep in the gun ban scare) we tried to rack the slide in the store; very difficult. Oh well, the gun fit her hand, so lets take it home and I’ll clean and lube it. it’ll loosen up. Wrong. It got worse somehow. To chamber a round required the slide to be held to the rear for a moment, then released. ? She has right arm nerve damage and simply couldn’t operate it. The pawn shop took it back, because apparently they were selling like hotcakes.
    At least one a week according to the employee. I don’t miss it.

    • Yeah, My wife couldn’t chamber a round in it also. The store wouldn’t take it back but I did manage to trade it for a Bursa with a little boot. I love the Bursa, if it was 9 mm mac I’d keep it for my self.

  31. I bought a Davis P380 about 20 Years ago, i have put 50 rounds through it with no problems. but im scared of it now because of the problems with the slide cracking or breaking, is the cobra ca380 slide any better and will it fits on the davis P380. i love the little thing for a cheapo, and i also have a taurus pt780 witch i really like,

  32. this is the old davis industries p380 i just bought one & from what i been reading its junk cobra bought the company after davis was sued because 1 p380 exploded on someone when he fired it

  33. I just got mine yesterday and took it to the range for the first time and found this gun to be a decent little pistol. I shot 50 rounds and had one jam and it was on the last round in the magazine. Other than that I had no problems with it. It has some recoil but nothing too bad. I found it easy to grip and hold. You do have to hold it a little low on the back or it can get you. Got a little cut on the first shot but I lowered my grip a bit and had no more problems with that. I used target ammo and have yet to use hollow points. I will try them next. I’m still breaking it in but have no complaints so far. For barely $100 It’s not a bad deal. I would definitely recommend this for someone on a tight budget.

    • I went to the range this past weekend and tried some hollow points. They did pretty well considering the reputation and all I have heard. I shot 50 rounds, 10 mags and had 3, I believe it was, jams all on the last round. Not perfect but not terrible. Just keep it well cleaned and oiled an it should do pretty well.

      Only problems I have had at all with any kind of ammo is in the final round of the magazine but still fairly reliable on the final round. This seems to be a little worse with hollow points.

  34. This thing is almost an exact replica of the Davis .380. There is a bumpstop on the bottom of the slide, which cobra modified, aside from that, it seems that all the parts are interchangeable, as I have a davis with a cracked slide. My Davis is difficult to cock, but the Cobra version is “really” stiff, and I don’t think my wife could charge the weapon. My Cobra, out of the box, won’t feed ammo worth a darn, but when I put my old Davis magazine into it, it feeds just fine… All the other parts seem to interchange as well, so I’m piece-mealing the parts, to find the ones that make everything work correctly….

  35. Well I had to trade back, I felt guilty the guy I traded it to had nothing but trouble with it. Anyway he said it quit chambering and ejecting. I checked it out and the problem was the cheap mag. Seems the follower is cocking to the rear causing the bullet to ride too high up and it hits the top of the chamber.After being extra careful loading bullets and not letting the follower cock back I had no problem chambering or ejecting.
    Think I’ll see if I can find an after market mag for it.

  36. So my local fun store has a cobra 380 in there “as is” section. Don’t know if it is used or new. But they are only asking $75 so if I had to send it back to the manufacturer (say spending less than $20 on shipping) I could get a 380 for less than $100.

  37. What a bunch of morons! Of all of these professional reviews, there isn’t one that knows anything about this line of pistols. I doubt if anyone knows anything about any type of gun. You’re a menace to society and a danger to yourselves.

  38. …heh-heh…I bought the exact same, “tool/fishin’-box” gun (American Handgunner) way back in ~’88-’89…for ~$70.bucks… All I could afford at the time.
    As back then. This li’l popper was manufactured by Davis Industries of Achtungifornia (California) …the NAtional soCIalist’s (all-states implementation) pogrom-testing center/public-duping, Naci/communist propaganda/illusion capitol. Achtungifornia…had run Davis Industries 1st, out-of-business. Then, out-of-town… Davis made ’em in .22; .25; .32 & .380. Plus, a whole line of inexpensive, though rather good, Derringers. I bought the P-380. Mine had done pret’ much the same thing. Apparently, Cobra bought the whole Davis line, plans, dies, milling & lathe equipment and what-not…this is great! I need to buy a few parts…Utah, eh? Nice move. As for my P-380…stripped ‘er down to parts & frame. Then… I performed some CAREFUL, Dremel-majiks upon that venerable, ol’ crabby .380 of mine. …w/some jeweler’s rouge & green lapping comp…cotton & rubber wheels…some 2,000 grit oil-paper…lotsa patience…diamond tip drum-bits…emery wheels & good ol’-fashion’d crocus cloth and a lot of…um-m, not “elbow” grease…no, wait! Better I leave it at the “elbow” level…this particular adage may possibly get a tad ribald… So, I widened the ejection port a li’l…’tightened’ the ejector and put a stiffer spring under it…smoothed out every moving, contact point…chamfered the magazine-well mouth…refinished & very slightly indented the slide FOR x-tra grip…super-orange fluoresced the front sight w/some One-Shot sign paint and blacked-out the rear sight & green fluoresced the ‘posts’…for a more “front-sight” method of shooting… Nary a jam. Nor e’er a stove-pipe and or double feed. (I only shoot FMJ). However, cheapo and expensive FMJ’s cycle through just fine… Later, ~’94… I bought an Interarms, Walther PPk…y’know…the one’s that the Clint-anus’s Idiotadministration had shitted-up w/their ass-in-nine weight-regulations (unbeknownst to I, at the time)… Needless to say, I…HAD…to give the whole pistole the… “Davis Treatment”. Muzzle to grip-comb. And ejection-port to chamfered magazine-well…made a couple of custom, hand-molded grips w/thumb rest…presently use the one I carved into a bird’s head grip…BOTH…shoot very, very nicely.

  39. We recently purchased the FS380 in black which looks slightly different in design than the CA380. This gun was for my wife. 4 foot 11 and small hands made this an easy gun for her to hold and use not to mention the price was affordable at 122 bucks.
    Reading the above review about the CA380 slide bite, the metal shavings or stove pipe stopage didnt seem to experiance with the 50 rounds of first use in our FS380.
    Upon unpackaging which i might add was nicely done up for an inexpensive gun, the FS380 was a little stiff on slide action at first. But after the first 10 or 20 rounds the slide action became a lot more smooth to my suprise and made it easy for the wife to operate. It probably could use a little oiling up before first use. Other than this simple complaint which fixed itself the trigger was a little hard too. Probably no mod to fix this right away. The FS380 fed well and shot well with no problems and much less kick back than a Glock. No ejection problems as the brass spit out to the right side quite well. The safety is simple to use too.

    I have big hands so this gun isnt quite my cup of tea either but it was fun to shoot and i would recomend it for someone with smaller hands and i can see this gun for home protection too which is what we wanted it for. A simple to use economical gun which does function pretty well and its made in the USA.

  40. I have the Raven .25 and have mixed emotions about it. I found it at my fathers place after he died still in the original box. I’m sure it was purchased not by him, but by my stepmother who proceeded him in death. I never felt like the safety lever was locked into place well enough to carry it chambered. I did however learn to work the slide with one hand while in my pocket. I could also completely disassemble and reassemble the thing in my pocket with one hand. I fabricated my own laser / flashlight grip for it. I think I was observing the “U” curve of reliability when I decided to quit carrying it in favor of a new Ruger LCP .380. It needs to be destroyed.

    • DON’T destroy it ! It might be a collectors item one day. I once owned a Baby Browning 25acp. I paid $25.00 dollars for it. It was a piece of crap,that couldn’t hit a barn at 20 feet ! I gave it away. The going price for one, in the condition of mine is about $1000.00 bucks ! Go figure !

    • That’s a different gun. The design of your Lorcin is similar, but definitely not identical (the entire recoil spring system is different, at the least), and it’s manufactured by another company. I’m not saying the Cobra is a nice gun or anything, but a broken Lorcin just has no bearing on whether or not the Cobra might break.

      I have now torture tested the freaking hell out of this Cobra and I’m shocked — SHOCKED — at what it has survived thus far.

  41. I have a JA22 I have run at least 10,000 rounds through it. The recoil spring and striker spring are hand cut from spring stock. If one orders a new recoil spring and striker spring and takes a little time the JA22 can be made reliable. There is only one way to fit the springs on one of these bargain basement beauties, trial and error. Once you get the pistol shooting well they are as accurate as any similar sized 22lr on the market, bar none. Right now I have a tiny 380 in my pocket that everyone complains they cannot shoot. I have no problems hitting a target at 5 yards in the dark with the little 380 thanks to the JA22. In fact, I can shoot any pocket pistol accurately thanks to the JA22.

  42. I have a 20ish year old Lorcin L25 that looks exactly like that cobra (albeit smaller). Same design, same take down release around the striker, same heel mag release. I don’t even plink with it. More of a conversation piece than a firearm.

  43. So given how much you now know about this gun from experience, would you trust it for a backup or last ditch defensive gun?

    You mentioned that you’ve fired it more now and torture tested it with surprising results, what else did you do to it?

    Would you say that you have been pleasantly surprised by this piece?

  44. The Cobra .380 is nothing more nor nothing less than a Jennings pistol. That being said out of the box I wouldn’t trust it to protect my pet cockroach. But, with just a little TLC I have carried one for my backup and deep carry weapon for about 12 years. All it needed was some smoothing of the breech block channel, the feed ramp needed a little polishing and the extractor needed to be given just a bit of sharpening to strip and release the spent brass. We used to jokingly call it the jamming Jennie because it was rough out of the box but my wife came around when I handed it to her about 2 weeks later and she put 2 mags through it all in the X at 8 yds with a smooth pul each time, just remember not every pos is that way because it is worthless, it doesn’t matter the price of the pistol, what matters is will it go boom when you need it and will it hit the target to do the most damage.

    • The Jennings design is different than the Cobra design. For one, the Jennings does not use a steel breech insert. The only thing similar about them is the blowback design and zamak construction.

      I wish people would do a Google search about things before proclaiming knowledge about things they’re uninformed about.

  45. Only good styles are DESERT EAGLE, Either in the 50 cal or the 45 ACP style. Going to get hit hard by this but then TRUTH HURTS!!!!

    • As I was reading Jeremy’s report and all of the comments I was thinking of the occurrence that you’ve mentioned. I’m about 15 miles from Decatur and I distinctly remember the news report on this tragedy and that the pistol had subsequently failed the drop test. So sad.

  46. This looks exactly like the old David Industries 380. Not sure if Cobra is or was affiliated with them in any way but this is pretty much identical. The breakdown is exactly the same. I have one my dad picked up somewhere back in the day. The slide will absolutely tear up your hand and when you break it down you have to be careful not to let the punch or bullet slide off that “button” when you’re disassembling other wise that piece can shoot off across the room and you might not find it

    • I have always had good luck with Hornady Critical Defense in 380acp. It feeds reliably with 2″ groups at 15 yards.

  47. Bought one last month. The first 3 clips jammed 13 of 15 shells right out of the box. Called Show Me Tactical in Festus, Missouri, 3 to 4 hours after I bought it and they told me it was a warranty issue and not their problem. What a bunch of jerks. Next day, after I cleaned the gun and lubricated the action it fired 2 clips of 5 shots without jamming. WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER GUN FROM SHOW ME TACITAL in Festus, Missouri.

  48. I have a Davis P380 exact same Gun as this Cobra
    Bought it in the early 90’s and never shot it.
    Took it out a couple weeks ago when went to test my new S&W SD9 VE, which I LOVE
    The Davis P380 jammed on almost every round using Tulammo ammo
    Cleaned the gun and never jammed again using Winchester white box target ammo.
    Tried the Tulammo again and jammed every round.
    Found the problem is the Tulammo shell is not champhered at the bottom and the Winchester ammo is.
    I believe this champhered shell helps in feeding the chamber.
    It’s fairly accurate at 8-10 feet but not any more than that


  49. not sure what led me here, but i’m gonna necrotize this post.
    i bought a davis p380 25yrs ago for $85 (wanted a mustang but couldn’t swing all that). mexican carried that lump with an empty chamber- didn’t trust the safety. it shot well and was close to point of aim. it is the only gun i ever sold. it went to the bartender who turned me onto cocktail onions. we called him bucket head. i was glad to get fifty.
    when resources improved i learned that sig had released a mustang of their own. when i called my guy he said he’d have them in 9mm in a few weeks. so the p238 i never owned became a p938 and satisfaction was served.

  50. just purchased a new cobra yesterday took it out to the range loaded it found out the trigger would not set when racked fireing pin was set no trigger…

  51. Most disgusting piece of junk I’ve ever bought since owning it has been problems from day one from jamming every five shots, parts falling off, and most recently the slide has cracked almost in half I’m going on more then2 1/2 months for parts to be ordered

  52. I’ve had four or five of these going back forty years to the old Davis precursor to Cobra. The design goes back to the early 50s, if I remember correctly. Couple times, I had one in my pocket and could laugh at trouble, which means that I trust it to shoot when needed. The accuracy has always been very good. You learn to avoid the slide pinch when target shooting and won’t care if you’re not. I’ll want a gun around when I go back to the states in a few months. Think that I’ll pick up the newer Denali version. A hundred and fifty bucks for peace of mind and that thousand for a hunting rifle seems a lot more bearable.

  53. I toured the Cobra factory in July 2013. I found a bunch of unhappy employees, (long hours, small pay, etc.). The Cobra guns are complete junk. Wouldn’t own one and will never recommend one.
    Don’t even waste your time with this garbage.


  54. So this leaves me with a question. What is the cheapest handgun you can get that actually has drop-free magazines, and a standard magazine release mechanism, and doesn’t leave metal shavings in it from the factory?

  55. Well you gave it 2.5 stars. That’s INSANE! Yeah I just noticed this after years of being on TTAG. Buy a Hipont if you got no dough…

  56. if you un load it you have to shoot it and take a pencil and shove it down the barrel to get brass out milling down the reciver to put a laser on it so i can hold it out away from me when i shoot it

  57. The Cobra CA 380 is a piece of junk the company needs to be put out of business for manufacturing defective handguns. Mine has had problems twice with 1 part that has come out of the back of the pistol, the 1st time it was sent back they fixed the problem. A few days ago the same part came out along with the firing pin spring & the firing pin. I damaged my glasses this piece of garbage company will not return my calls or answer my email complaint. It’s time to put cobra industries of utah out of business before 1 of these defective guns severely injures or kills someone . I have no second thoughts about this, they won’t answer my calls or return my calls or answer my email. It’s time to blacklist this company & put them out of business !

  58. I have been through headaches with the pathetic company made my cobra 380 acp, the company is a total failure. Being as there are no laws to protect people from defective manufactured handguns, I think it’s time for the worthless company cobra industries of utah. To be banned from manufacturing & selling handguns, as the part that came out of my cobra 380 acp diamaged the lens in my glasses. This pathetic company won’t answer or return my calls & ignored my emails, they are a 5 star failure. I’m just putting this on here to alert people about this company before 1 of their handguns severly injures or kills some innocent person.

  59. I have purchased a Cobra model CA-380. The over all feel of the gun in my hand is great. However I can not fire a clip of 5 shots before it jams. No mater how well I clean it, it still jams. It will not push the next round into the firing chamber. It has done this from day one. Now I know I am no expert on fire arms and I know this is a cheap gun in regard to price. It may not be designed to hold up under a lot of use. But I expect it should at least work in the beginning. Yes it may wear out sooner than some of the more expensive guns but again it should work when it is new. From this experience I am not impressed and will not buy anther gun from this company.

    • I would suggest filing a complaint with the Utah State Attorney Generals office over this matter. As I have already done so with issues from my cobra 380 acp pistol. These pistols are defective the company won’t answer phone calls of reply to emails. The pistols need to be taken off the market as there are defects & some like mine come apart & parts come out of them as in the case of mine.

  60. I have had my Cobra CA380 for quite a while and haven’t fired it yet. When I received it found that after being told it was brand- new- in- the- box found it had indeed had some modifications made to it. Firing pin cut in half and spring shortened, rear button slide keeper removed and frame drilled to receive a post with notched side to accept pin to hold it in place. Hole in both sides of slide was only way to field strip by knocking out pin. I found all this out because I always field strip a new gun before firing it. I had to ask for the instructions to perform strip from the seller even though I had already made the assumption I would have to remove a pin to strip down the pistol. Figured someone was trying to experiment with making the slide stop permanent until pin was removed. Same pin serves as stop for original part but with being drilled right behind it appears that spot is now even weaker than originally manufactured to be. Thought about firing it with modifications intact but opted to buy new parts and refurbish back to original. After much though it shall remain unfired and put back as a SHTF weapon that hopefully will at least fire a few times.

  61. Never had one of these, and now I never will. I was thinking about it, because they are on sale this weekend, quite cheap. Got a Taurus instead. Incidentally, decades ago, I had a classic Raven in .25 ACP. I actually liked the gun, but I should mention that when field stripping it one day, the retainer, which is the “thingee” you were writing about that needs to be pushed into field strip, had its hook break off. When I looked at it closely, I saw that the metal was crystallized – typical pot metal. Looking at your photos, it appears that the design of the Cobra is exactly the same, just scaled up a bit for 380. Oh well
    Great site, by the way. I tried to do something similar, but do not have the time or energy to update as often as you do. Maybe after I retire.

  62. I have a similar gun, a Bryco Model 48 that was purchased for $70 on auction ($122 after shipping and FFL). I just took it out for 50 rounds of Magtech 95 grain and it ran perfectly without a single malfunction. It also shot exactly to the point of aim, so you could even hit the target if you could see the sights and deal with the 15-pound trigger!

    Other than the crappy sights and trigger, my once serious complaint is that the nickel (or fake nickel) slide is extremely slick and hard to grasp, especially with sweaty or wet hands, and the recoil spring is unusually strong. The only way I can reliably rack the slide is grabbing overhand at the front and pulling as hard as I can so it goes all the way back before my hand slips off.

  63. I have a number of Cobra Ent. pistols. Yes, they are cheap – but I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are dangerous. If the owner keeps his weapon clean and looks it over after every time at the range – it will perform (misfires are usually caused by the feed ramp requiring polishing with fine grit sandpaper). Other problems can usually be resolved the same way.

    I have a dozen or so pistols of many manufacturers. When you buy and premium car – you expect to pay more and likewise, guns are no different. The “secret” is cleaning after use and having a careful eye for “cracks’, filings or other potential problems.

  64. I sent a .380 in to have it fix the first week in may and still haven’t received my pistol back. Tried calling several times with no answer nor has anyone called me about it. Never again will I buy another gun from cobra

  65. In this day and age, if it’s a gun and it goes bang, it’s worth keeping. Any port in a storm as they say.

  66. Handgun prices yield diminishing returns. But while that means the functional difference between a $600 and $900 pistol usually isn’t that great, there’s a lot to be gained going from the lowest to something like a hi-point. With a hi-point, for all it’s flaws, you don’t really have to wonder if it’ll get through a magazine without failures.

    There might be someone out there who both needs a gun right now but simply can’t afford the extra $100… but I think that segment is relatively rare.

  67. More crap I’d only offer to my enemy…..@ 7 yrds I can get a decent group with my sling shot!

  68. Knew some bangers that rocked these and a couple that got popped by one. Cobra’s a ghetto blaster but I promise you, they’ll kill people dead. Well… technically the bullets do that but… whatever.

    If you want a cheapo burner you… get a cheapo burner if you buy a Cobra!

  69. Their motto is “When you need a gun really bad, we’ve go a really bad gun.’
    That being said, I’ve ballistically matched .25 bullet from one of these that was pulled from a dead banger’s brain, so they can occasionally get the job done.

  70. The identification and background checks requirements for voting should be just as onerous as the identification and background checks for buying a gun. Impose such a linkage, and a lot of problems will be resolved.

  71. Wayyyyy toooo mucccchhhh BS to read about a cheap gun,,,
    Plus the comments are to many to read without a timeout… gimme a brake.
    I got zipp guns better than this stuff. I like to call em throw aways… 😏

  72. Interesting read in that I recently purchased a Phoenix HP22A because I wanted a very inexpensive.22 handgun as a plinker during this ammo drought. My main carry gun is a Sig 238 with a Taurus 738 when I need something super small and a Ruger SR9C when I want something larger. The Phoenix has that oddball manual of arms, the sights are not great although white paint helped, but at moderate distances mine is very accurate, has a nice trigger, and fits my hand perfectly. I’ve only run 50 rounds or so and it will be interesting to see how it runs after a full break in. So far so good and I have to say not bad for the low price. I also bought a Rossi RS22 for $99 a couple of years ago as a .22 plinker. Second the favorable comments about this little rifle. Bought the Mossberg 702 Plinkster magazines that also fit and am very happy with the little rifle. These inexpensive .22’s and the stash of ammo I got just before the insanity began will hopefully get me through the ammo drought without breaking the bank.

    • TTAG doesn’t like the Phoenix pistols (or just writer Dan Zimmerman doesn’t) and TTAG has a vendetta against pistols that cost under $200. They don’t take into account the price, they just review the gun, so every gun that’s $1000 gets an automatic 5 stars for everything, especially if it’s a manufacturer like CMMG who comes out with new stuff a lot and gives the website some juicy info in a “you scratch my back, I scratch yours.”

      The Phoenix is a good pistol and I think for the size the sights are excellent, trigger too. You never have to use the firing pin safety (of course Danny boy raised a big stink about that without ever mentioning it isn’t necessary to use in his .25 review) and the mag disconnect safety and removal issue can easily be removed.

      As for a Cobra, not my cup of tea, the Taurus G2’s and G3’s are far better for not much more money.

  73. Fun Factor: * * 1/2??

    Sounds like “fun factor zero”… How can you ENJOY shooting a gun that you expect to come apart and take out your aiming eye EVERY time you pull the trigger? Inexpensive does not necessarily need to mean CHEAP… Pass.. not a .380 fan anyway…

  74. the $79 Mosin M44 complete with built in bayonet.

    Yeah I got two of those brand new in the box with cleaning kit, pouches and bayonet.. 3 cans of ammo 660 rounds each for $99.00 each…

  75. Just for curiosity I took a look on for the cheapest “Buy It Now” handguns.

    Heritage Rough Rider 22LR 6.5 BL SA – Factory New SALE @ $129.
    Rossi RS22L1811 RS22 22 LR 10+1 18″ Fiber Optic Sights @ $139.99.
    Cobra CA32 Pistol Semi Auto w/ Box Used @ $149.

    Now that’s sticking only to repeaters of more than one or two shots. You can get down to $99 for a single shot.

    Of course any of those add a shipping and FFL fee and the price goes up a significant percentage of the selling price.

    Still, interesting to see these cheapies marked as “SALE!” items during these unpleasant times.

    Meself, I’ve never paid less than $5 for a firearm. Had that single shot .22 for fifty years I think, still works like a champ. Fond memories of whacking cottontails with my Garcia Bronco .22 rifle 🙂

    Less than fond memories on the truly awful trigger of my AccuTek .380 from early in my adult handgun buying years! That sucker was a trigger finger pincher something fierce!

  76. Myself, I’d pass on anything Cobra (now “Bearman Industries”, IIRC). Aside from being a bottom of the ladder firearm, they have an atrocious reputation when it comes customer service and the BBB.

    I won’t knock anyone’s choice of firearm, especially when they’re on a super-tight budget. But $50 more gets one into Hi-Point territory. Hi Points aren’t great guns, but they work. And if they ever don’t work, the company will take care of it without ducking your phone calls.

  77. I thought for a second this was a Hop review on TFB.

    Welcome to the 70s and 80s.

    The revolver equivalents were Clerk, Arminus, and RG. The clerk was in 38s&w and chromed…….lol.

    I saw these as lot as tacklebox guns among my childhood friends.

    A lot of my friend in college owned Ravens which went for 49 bucks at the army navy store. Always a piece of shit. Lots of broken firing pins from dry firing.

    I did own a Jennings (69 bucks) hoping for a pocket gun. Another POS. I traded it for a Smith and Wesson 38 made around 1905. That became my carry gun as there was no CCW in Mississippi at that time

    A single action striker gun like the Cobra is one of the few I would use Israeli carry to pack.. and I would, only carry one if I had to. For home defense, I’d rather have an H&R Topper.

    I do question Jeremy’s statements about the Taurus TCP. I have shot five or six of them and have never seen one that was reliable. Plus they had that club-footed magazine.

    When the LCP came out, I said it was the gun we wanted in the 70s and 80s. A reliable gun the size of most 25s. There are too many good options to buy a Cobra. They make the H&R revolvers look fancy.

    • In ‘92 or ‘93 (I forget) I had purchased a new in the box 1911 45 ACP. As I was paying for it the salesman mentioned that for an additional $25 I could get a NIB Raven .25. I thought WTF so I said ok. I think I got a Mag and 1/2 through it before it started misfeeding. Put it up and haven’t tried to fire it again. Before that, when I was discharged from the Army and went back to college I was browsing in a gun/pawn shop and an RG revolver in .22 LR with a .22 Mag cylinder included caught my eye. It was styled like a Colt SAA and also was NIB. This was in 1972, I bought it for $49 and still have it. It is surprisingly robust and accurate. What’s interesting about this, at least to me, is that I had fairly recently prior to this turned 21 and before turning 21 I couldn’t have bought the revolver. Yet, Uncle Sam had no issue with carrying an M-16 or, if it was my turn, an M-60 in Vietnam. It’s funny how things turn out.



  79. I’ve had several “ring of fire” pistols…. all performed normally….. as expected from such an inexpensive pistol.
    The comments bad- mouthing these firearms are obviously by a bunch of “gun snob/fudds”….
    That said, these ARE NOT the right choice for the inexperienced…
    If you’re a white collar moron, don’t purchase this working man’s pistol…. it requires the skills of someone who knows how to do some light gunsmithing to make them run right….

  80. I had this exact style / design of pistol 31 years ago as my first pistol purchase. It was possibly not this brand name, but it was just as inexpensive. It was totally reliable and the finish appeared to be better than the example here. Had it for maybe a year or two in addition to my primary, a S&W Model 19 (Nickel finish .357). I was not impressed with it but I wasn’t disgusted either. Sold it and got an off-brand 9mm 1911 that was much better made.

  81. This does not look like it’s made from ‘pot-metal’.

    Many things have changed over the last 40-50 years. Among them have been updated manufacturing techniques and materials. Semi-automatic rifles (like the AR15) have been modernized. Well, so have saturday night specials. The sub $100 gun of the 70’s is now the $200-$300 gun now. The way I see it, Taurus is the maker of the modern saturday night special. Between their Millenium/G3 and Spectrum, there is plenty here to attract the cheapest most crow-bar-to-open-wallet gun buyer. The difference is that what Taurus makes is much more reliable. But that is more about what defines ‘modern’. Gun Makers have done a much better job then they used to. Then there is the Chiappa .22lr revolver that really is made from pot-metal. My first read through of this article left me wondering about .22 handguns.

    Truthfully, The label of ‘saturday night special’ is just like everything else in the gun world…made up bs names that really don’t mean anything. Assault Rifle….LMFAO, oh please

  82. “Worse, the very same politicians who tell us that requiring an ID to vote is somehow a “poll tax” and an infringement on peoples’ rights are the same people who then push for…”

    That’s because they aren’t sincere people trying to do what’s best for America. They will, however, say or do anything to help themselves. They’ll say it with a straight face, no matter how dumb it is. What does that say about their opinion of their own voters?

  83. In the late 80s I traded a Simpson 260 VOM (I had a couple so trading one wasn’t a great loss) to a guy for a Davis D32.It came with two magazines and half a box of .32acp. I bought another box of ammo and put 30 rounds or so through the pistol. As I remember it was surprisingly heavy and clunky but fed, went bang, and ejected with no problems. It went into the back of my safe and I “discovered” it a few months ago. I’ll probably hang on to it until somebody in my area does a gun buy back – not really likely in Oklahoma – or until somebody needs a Liberator style pistol with a serial number that’s three or four generations removed from the original owner.

    • Demolition Ranch showed that Hi Points are actually tough guns that take a lot of abuse and still work, with multiple videos, where they try to embarrass Hi Point but fail. So, yeah, if you have a little more money, the Hi Point is the way to go for bargain guns.

  84. Good luck to anyone depending on this “gun” or a Taurus, or a Kel Tec to save their lives. Eat Ramen and PBJ’s and save up for a real gun

    • 1st rule of gunfighting: have a gun.

      everything else is secondary or tertiary.

      some good, honest single mom in the ghetto might save her family from thugs with a cheap gun.

  85. Hi-point is about the bare minimum I’d trust for home defense. From what I’ve seen, they aren’t all that bad, and can be had for as little as $140 new on sale.

    Jennings/Bryco/Jiminez/Lorcin/Cobra/WHATEVER are just awful— although my J22 is a fun meme gun. Malfunctions are part of the experience.

  86. As attractive as the Cobra .380 might be, I already have even two cheaper handguns in my safe: a Nagant 1895 revolver (which could be bought for a bottle of vodka a few years ago), and a Sundance Industries .25. I wager $1 that both of them are even crappier than the Cobra .380.

    Prove me wrong!

  87. Cobra is technically out of business. Whichever extended Jennings family member that’s running the show did their traditional bankruptcy two step and reformed the company as Bearman industries.
    As far as I have seen the only guns Bearman currently makes are the derringers Cobra and Davis used to make.
    As for the guns themselves, they are obviously limited by the materials and quality control. They can be made to work, but unless you’re broke or doing it out of curiosity it’s not the most productive endeavor.

  88. This conversation seems to have stretched out for YEARS! As a police officer in NYC in the 1970’s and 1980’s when the murder rate was approaching over two THOUSAND people a year, I went to several street shootings where Ravens were used. YES, they are crappy guns, but they will kill you! The average doper high on PCP will walk up to a rival drug dealer on the corner and blast him at point blank range in the head with a .25cal Raven. Dead is dead, but you guys have been talking about buying these POS guns and arming FAMILY MEMBERS to protect themselves with… Have you lost your collective minds? None of these were EVER good, reliable or safe guns… Period, end of story!

  89. My Hi Point 45acp hand gun was $145 new. My Heritage Rough Rider cowboy gun, was $99 used. Both are great guns for any home defense.
    Any gun is better than no gun at all. And the 2A is for poor people. Not just the rich.

    Always train with what ever gun you have.

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  92. The Buffer Spring is to short. That’s the reason the front busts out of the slide. Also will bust the frame around the barrel because it’s getting hammered by the slide. I bought this thing for $10.00. I’m going to try and Heliarc the busted parts and extend the buffer spring. If you manage to get one that still functions. I Recommend that you extend the Buffer spring about 1/16″ to 3/32″ but it will require re-tempering the spring for it to stay. There is the possibility that the frame is to long around the barrel. This so called weapon is better suited for a Trot line weight. But I’m going to try and resurrect this P>O>S. Do not bet your life on this paper weight. Peace Out and Buy Quality. Your Life and Safety depend upon it.

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