Just when I thought I had seen everything under the sun that is firearms related, something new gets dropped in my lap. This time it was the LifeCard pistol from Trailblazer firearms.
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- I have to admit, the proof of this concept is brilliant: make a pistol that folds up into a compact package for ultimate concealability and make it a quality firearm. The LifeCard is a single shot compact rimfire pistol which folds up into a design about the size of a pager, stack of playing cards or a small wallet.
Because it needs to be unfolded in order to be fired, it is not considered an NFA (National Firearms Act) item. If it were capable of being fired in this folded up position it would be classed as an AOW (Any Other Weapon) and require a $5 tax stamp. When unfolded it looks enough like a real firearm to satisfy BATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) requirements.
Seven years in the making, the LifeCard is made up of 27 parts and weighs about 7 ounces. Fit and finish on the Trailblazer LifeCard is superb. This little pistol is definitely what you think of when it comes to quality in manufacturing. The way it folds up for carry and unfolds for shooting should satisfy your inner gadget nerd and the Isonite finish might be the next thing people start clamoring for on their larger pistols.
Aside from the build quality, the concealability factor is second to none.
It simply drops in a pocket, purse, cigarette case, or any other small and portable carrier.
The barrel liner is machined from 4140 steel and is button rifled as well as being plated with Isonite. The hammer, trigger and other small parts are made from the same 4140 steel, but the grip, barrel shroud, and larger components are milled from light-weight 6061 hard anodized aluminum.
Shooting the LifeCard takes a bit of getting used to. Not so much the aiming and squeezing the trigger, but deploying the pistol from its folded position.
First, you push the button which allows the barrel to swing up and the trigger to emerge. Next, you pull back on the hammer to cock it. Acquire your sight picture (more on this later) and squeeze the trigger.
The trigger is probably the most satisfying part of this venture. It breaks at about 3 pounds.
We were surprised at how comfortable the grip was on such a compact pistol. Then again, it is just a 22 single shot so harsh recoil was never a concern. It fed every round we crammed into it without a hiccup: Gemtech subsonic, CCI, Aguila, Remington, Winchester, etc.
Extraction is manual and you need to use your fingers to remove the fired brass.
Lastly, the grip stores up to 4 spare rounds of 22 long rifle.
Perhaps the worst part of this compact pistol is the fact that it takes more than a few seconds to get it into action. It does not seem like a particularly long window of time from the comfort of the shooting line at the range, but if you are looking at something like this as a backup carry pistol, you may want to look elsewhere.
In a confrontation, whether you are being shot at, chased or wrestling on the ground with a bad guy; your fine motor skills are not going to be there. That's just science. I would not recommend the LifeCard for this role.
Going back to the shooting aspect, the trigger is fine, but the sights consist of a milled groove on the top of the barrel. Similar to a guttersnipe sight, there is no front sight. I realize the goal was to make this pistol as small and compact as possible, but a better sight should have been designed.
That said, you can get used to the sights on the LifeCard, but we feel it still detracts from the design.
A refreshing new design is always welcome and hopefully, Trailblazer may introduce some other calbers more useful than the 22 long rifle in such a small platform. A fertile mind such as designer Aaron Voigt's could revitalize the compact carry pistol in the next few years.
The LifeCard is an exciting concept from the point of view of those of us who are interested in firearms and their design, to be sure, but what are the practical uses?
We could tell you how it's exactly what you need in a bug-out scenario or if you're a secret agent who gets captured and needs a deep cover firearm or it will rid your duck blind of snakes faster than Saint Patrick could have some 1500 years ago. That's all good marketing hype.
For the same size and an increase in firepower, we have at least a dozen pistols that could fill that role: High Standard derringers, North American Arms Mini revolvers, a Bauer 25 Auto, etc. These pistols may be far from ideal in most cases but they can be drawn and fired in one smooth movement without folding and siding and manually cocking them. More powerful ammunition and more capacity (even if it is just a second round) trump the idea of a single shot 22 pistol.
However, we think this might make a good pistol for people who may need a small handgun that are not necessarily gun people.
Look at the case of a veterinarian or rancher who may not like the idea of a firearm in their home or car, but may need one in case they have to put an animal down on the side of a road after it has been struck by a car. They're not drawing a Glock or a SIG and having to fire it, they merely unfold the LifeCard, load it and euthanize the deer or cow with a single shot. Then they can fold it back up and put it away for a while.
For the rest of us, though, this one is all about the cool factor.
- Manufacturer: Trailblazer Firearms
- Model: LifeCard 22
- Action: Single-Action
- Caliber: 22 Long Rifle
- Barrel Length: 2.5”
- Folded Dimensions: Length 3.375″, Height 2.125″, Thickness 0.5″
- Weight: 7 ounces
- Trigger Pull: 3 lbs.
- Capacity: 1
- MSRP: $399
About Mike Searson:
Mike Searson's career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.