The Trailblazer Firearms LifeCard 22 LR: A Folding Pistol Review

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In a world where firearms keep getting easier and easier to conceal the LifeCard turns everything on its head. The LifeCard is a new firearm made by a little company called TrailBlazer and is likely one of the oddest firearms I’ve ever seen. This is a folding gun, one that is incredibly compact when it is folded up. It is about the width and length of a credit card and only a half inch thick. The little gun unfolds into something that slightly resembles a conventional firearm. The LifeCard is a single shot 22 LR firearm that’s essentially a folding derringer.

The gun is utterly unique and impressive. It seems like something you’d see in a spy novel. The weapon itself is marketed as a self-defense firearm. They call it the last gun you’d ever leave behind. Without a doubt its the most comfortable carrying firearms ever.

The gun doesn’t even need a holster to be safely carried. While the folding aspect of the gun is unique, it is a very simple firearm. As a gun, it’s nothing more than a single shot, single action pistol with a break open barrel.

Overview

TrailBlazer markets the gun as a self-defense firearm. The phrase “The Last Gun You’d Ever Leave Behind,” certainly seals that deal. In many ways, it is effortless to carry and effortless to conceal the firearm. However, it only fires a single shot of a rather small round. As a concealed carry gun it would never be my primary choice of self-defense firearm. It would make an interesting backup piece. In some very niche roles, it could even function for law enforcement going deep undercover.

In my mind, the purpose of this gun is almost a proof of concept. A look at what we can do. A weapon to open up the doors of possibility and to create something new. It’s a feat of engineering that happens to fire bullets. Why not? Plenty of these guns exist. There are pen guns, watch guns, ring guns, and others that are typically single shot and have more cool factor than a practical consideration.

The problem with many of these is the fact they are considered AOWs because they don’t look like firearms. This means they are subject the NFA and the strenuous regulations that apply to these types of weapons. The LifeCard is not. Because it folds into something that looks like a gun the weapon is not an AOW.  This feature will hopefully make it a little more successful.

Specfications

This is a small gun, especially when folded, but just how little is it?

Closed Specs:

Length – 3.375 inches
Height 2.125 inches
Width .5 inches
Weigh – 7 ounces

That’s tiny, and the shape itself goes beyond size in terms of concealment. The credit shape means the outline is broken and the fact its a gun is a well-hidden secret.

Features

Of course, the biggest feature to this gun is the ability to fold it into a teeny tiny package designed for easy concealed carry. It fits in a front shirt pocket with ease, in a belt mounted cell phone holder, or just in the front pocket. There is no outline, and because the weapon’s trigger is covered when folded, there is no need for an actual holster. That being said TrailBlazer makes a leather and kydex wallet for these guns to protect them for the elements and your sweat. The gun folds up small enough to fit in an Altoids tin, or an empty cigarette pack.  It’s much smaller than other firearms that are also touted as perfect conceal carry calibers.

The gun doesn’t have a set of sights. Instead, it just has a trench along the top that is to be used when aiming. It’s not a great gun beyond 10 feet, but you don’t expect it to be. Once unfolded the portion of the LifeCard that acts as the handle has a small compartment that allows you to squeeze a few extra rounds in easily. Handy, since one round is rarely enough.

The striker can be half-cocked and locked with the provided mini Masterlock in case you need to secure the weapon 100% against others. TrailBlazer has recently released a LifeCard 22 WMR, and you can send your LifeCard in and have it retrofitted with the 22 WMR barrel for under a 150 dollars.

Beyond these few things, the gun doesn’t have a lot of features. It’s ridiculously small and simple, so I’m not sure what else I could even expect.

Fit and Finish

Oh, how I am torn on the Fit and Finish of the LifeCard. I will say from a construction standpoint the gun is built solid. It’s nothing but aluminum and steel. Every piece if precision machined and you can tell. You won’t tool marks anywhere on the gun. It looks smooth and sleek almost. In hand, it feels rock solid and very well made. TrailBlazer certainly put their time and effort into the design. The hard coat anodizing is perfect for the gun and strong enough to withstand years of carrying and shooting.

The striker, the trigger, and the tabs all feel top notch, well made, well put together and well designed. A small viewing window in front of the striker allows you to see if the gun is loaded or not.

Where I get a bit upset is the massive amount of text and information TrailBlazer has decided to shove onto the gun. The barrel has a massive LIFECARD 22LR billboard across it. Beside that on the frame is the TrailBlazer logo with a Spartan helmet with wings and Spartan helmets in the gun industry are a bit played out. Below that is their name, state, and your gun’s serial number. There is too much writing on a gun this small. I don’t like it.

Ergonomics

This should be a short section. The gun is very simple in terms of how it handles and functions, as well as how it feels in hand. The grip is a straight rectangle. No palm swell, no groove, just a piece of metal. It really is fine for this gun and is not an issue with a single shot 22 LR. The grip is long enough to fill the hand, and you can get your hand up super high on it to help with recoil.

The striker has to be manually cocked between every shot, and this takes no great feat of strength to do. The striker itself is textured with a large scalloped square that makes it easy to grab and pull.

How it Works

Consider this a special section for the LifeCard. A lot of people are likely curious what is the process for unfolding and firing the gun. So starting from the folded position we are going to push the sliding latch on the grip forward. This will allow the gun to unfold. You have to unfold it all the way until you feel and hear a slight click.

To open the barrel, you pull the latch right below the barrel rearward. This unlocks the barrel and allows you to open it. Insert a round into the open chamber and close the barrel. Pull the striker rearward, and you are ready to fire. In this position, the gun cannot be folded, and the barrel cannot be opened.

Pull the trigger and the gun fires. Now you may notice the trigger has a small forward portion poking down. The gun can’t fold with the striker completely forward. Pull it back a hair into a pseudo-half-cocked position and the gun can fold, and the barrel can open once more.

On the Range

Oh boy, what can we expect from folding 22 LR with a short barrel and effectively no sights? No a whole lot, at least in the accuracy department. This certainly isn’t a pistol made to be used beyond ten yards, and that’s on a man-sized target. The group I had covered the targets chest as well as his stomach and the occasional pelvis shot with ten rounds.  The gun is minute of bad guy accurate and lets be real do we expect more? It’s designed to be a close quarters, basically last ditch weapon.

Recoil wasn’t much either. 22 LR never is, but my first shot gave me a little thump that was surprising. I mean it is a 22 LR in a 7-ounce platform so you’ll get a little something to contend with. Hardly harsh or painful. I could shoot a hundred rounds and never complain. Speaking of this gun does take forever to shoot. Ejecting the shells is a bit of a hassle. There is barely any room to grip the rim and remove the round. I got tired of trying and just started using a cleaning rod to eject the brass.

The gun is fun to shoot in a novelty kind of way. After the rounds through it, that appeal is lost. Ten rounds take a good chunk of time to get through when it comes to loading, cocking, firing and ejecting every round.

Admittedly the trigger is pretty good. It’s a little heavy, but the pull is short and concise. Its better than it needs to be but is a benefit of the single action design. The best part of this gun is trying to be accurate with it. Like many things, the gun is a lot more fun with a group of friends trying to outdo each other.

Rating Each Category

Looks: 4 out of 5

In the looks category, it gets a four solely for how cool it looks folded and unfolded. The finish is great, and the gun seems futuristic and James Bond-like, but that large logo and writing is a vast ugly mark on such a cool weapon. Scrub those markings and I’d give it a 5 out of 5.

Ergonomics: 4 out of 5

The tabs that release the grip and barrel could be a bit bigger, and that’s my only ergonomic complaint. The gun is never a challenge to handle, and it’s hard to be picky about such a small little gun that’s great for women or beginners. It’s intuitive to unfold and fold, and its well designed.

Accuracy: 1 out of 5

I mean what’s to say? The gun itself isn’t very accurate, and the lack of sights contribute significantly to that. Factor in the fact you are not going to get an excellent isosceles grip, and you have a gun’s who primary mission is concealment, not accuracy.

Reliability: 4 out of 5

As such a simple gun there is no failure to eject or extract. Both of those are on you. The weapon could fail to fire, but that would be an issue with rimfire ammo. Over the hundred and fifty rounds I’ve put through it I’ve had a handful of FTFs. Typically it will fire on the second strike anyway.

Customization: 1 out of 5

You can pay and send the gun away to swap the barrel… and that’s it. No lights, no lasers, no upgrades outside of a 22 WMR barrel and some wallet holster things.

Price: 1 out of 5

This is an expensive little gun. The MSRP is 399, and the cheapest I’ve found them for is 299. Three hundred dollars can buy you a Sccy 9mm with a 10 round magazine. The NAA mini revolvers in 22LR can be found for 199 and offer five shots and the same small profile. You are certainly paying a premium for such a novelty of a gun.

Parting Shots

I’d have a hard time recommending this gun to anyone who isn’t a hardcore gun nerd. If you can appreciate the design and neato folding feature, then this gun isn’t for you. It’s not a good defensive pistol, and if you have just a little discipline and a good holster a bigger gun is easy to carry. It’s a cool gun, a novelty, and one of a kind really.

If that kinda cool appeals to you then buy it. It does what it promises and isn’t a piece of junk with a gimmick. The gun does work and works well for what it is.

By

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd BN 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and works as a firearms writer.

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