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Trailblazer Firearms Life Card .22LR Pistol: Do They Work?

The Trailblazer Firearms Life Card is a single-shot .22LR pistol that folds discretely for easy concealment. Is it a realistic defensive pistol, though?

Trailblazer Firearms Life Card .22LR Pistol: Do They Work?

Unfolded the LifeCard turns into a thin single-shot .22 LR pistol. It’s seen here with its Kydex holster. 

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Survival tools and guns come in all shapes and sizes and many are “mission specific.” So where does a single-shot .22 pistol fit in the world of riots, floods, blizzards, tornados, economic collapses, and nuclear holocausts? Well, you never know, so it’s better to “have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” What is the “it”? Certainly, a single-shot .22-caliber firearm can’t be as interesting as an AR-15. Or can it be?

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You must manually retract the striker to fire and there is no manual safety beyond a half-cock notch The LifeCard’s barrel tips up for loading and extracting fired cases. Four spare cartridges can be carried inside a storage compartment.

The Trailblazer LifeCard is a disguised firearm that may be that little edge you would need when you can’t have anything else. When we say, “disguised firearm,” we are not talking about an AOW (Any Other Weapon), which requires a five-dollar tax stamp, fingerprints, and federal background check from the BATFE. That type of AOW requires such red tape because they are truly disguised firearms, which will discharge ammunition in their disguised forms. Some examples of disguised AOWs include: flashlight guns, pen guns, lighter guns, wallet guns (Hi-Standard .22 Magnum Derringer), cane guns of yesteryear, or the new cell-phone guns. The LifeCard has the shape and size of a credit card from a straight-on view, and from the side, it resembles a case that holds credit cards or business cards. The reason it is not an AOW is that it will not fire in this form and must be unfolded first, and in that unfolded form, it looks like a small pistol.

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The situation where a LifeCard could be used is one where it may be legal to carry a gun, but there may be some “policy” that prohibits you in doing so, and violation of that policy would either get you fired or get you removed from those premises. For example, if you are a fitness instructor and are wearing a minimum of clothing, then the LifeCard in its Kydex holster can be clipped on shorts or placed in a pocket, and no one would guess what it is. From a distance, it looks like a pager, which are still in use by health professionals. It can also fit in the smallest of survival kits, as shown. Unfolding is easy, with small built-in latches, which release the grip handle as well as the tip-up barrel for loading. Firing is simple, just pull back the bolt/firing-pin assembly to cock it, and pull the trigger.

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“Pager position” of the holster (left) — If you are right-handed and carrying on your right side (four to six inches from your belt buckle), insert the LifeCard with barrel on your left when the gun is in front of you. A leather pouch is also offered for pocket carry. LifeCard handguns come with a trigger lock, .22 “dummy round” in blaze orange, window decal sticker, and manual. Other accessories like the Kydex holster and leather pouch are sold separately.

The barrel, trigger and bolt are made from 4140 steel, and the remainder of the gun is made from aluminum. Weight is relatively light at seven ounces (mine weighed in at 6¾ ounces), and finish is matte black. The trigger pull came in at three pounds, two ounces (average of three pulls) on the .22 LR version. The one issue is that since the LifeCard looks the same on all ends when folded, it is easy to fumble in your hands. Since that is the case and since this can cause you to point a loaded gun at yourself, there is a way to help prevent that. Take a look at the drawing and firing photos, in order, on the previous page with comments.

There are no manual safeties, but there are safety features. First, there is a half-cock position. Second, the LifeCard will not fold unless the bolt is in the half-cock position. Also, the design prevents having a loaded chamber with the firing pin resting on the round as the firing-pin assembly/bolt must be in the half-cock position in order to lock the barrel in the firing position. There is also a way to secure the firearm by using an included padlock which is inserted through a hole in the plunger.

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Pull the LifeCard straight up, as shown top left, with your left hand on the barrel portion of the gun and your right hand on the handle portion of the gun. Then use your right thumb to unlock the pistol grip and unfold. While you do this, you can start to point the LifeCard at the intended target with your support/left hand. Firmly grip the pistol with your right hand and pull the bolt back with your left hand (bottom left). You are now ready to fire. Recoil is light with the .22 LR but there is a bit of muzzle flip with the .22 Magnum as shown in this photo in full recoil taken from video.

A great feature of the LifeCard is a compartment built into the grip which holds four rounds of .22 LR. The LifeCard is very well-made. We tested our sample with three different .22 LR bullet loads as well as one birdshot load. Aiming is a bit difficult, as there are no traditional sights, only a center-lined channel on the top of the pistol, which must be lined up and the top of the pistol perfectly leveled. Firing pin strikes are at the six-o’clock position. Here are our shooting results fired from a sandbag rest:

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Sighting is a bit difficult, but for the “in your face” ranges this piece is intended for accuracy is acceptable. Just remember you only have one shot so make it count!

Bullets tended to land high with the LifeCard, at about four to five inches above the intended targets. If you live in a rural area, you know how coin field mice are and having a small gun in your pocket to get rid of these nasty animals is a good thing. CCI .22 LR shotshells with #12 shot can take out a snake or mouse at 10 feet. The LifeCard fired most shot toward the two-o’clock position in a 10-inch spread. Now, on to LifeCard’s “Big Brother,” in the form of a .22 Magnum. The specifications are the same as the .22 LR except that its trigger pull came in at two pounds, eight ounces (average of three pulls). Actually, there is “one more thing” if I can quote the famous TV detective Colombo. The pistol-grip storage for extra rounds is the same size as on the .22 LR model and, unfortunately, will only hold one extra round of .22 Magnum.  I used the term “Big Brother” for this version because it is chambered in the larger caliber of .22 and because this gun reminded me of some pocket guns that were floating around back in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Small snakes and mice can be dispatched at 10 feet. The LifeCard shot a 27⁄8-inch group at 15 feet.

When I was about seven or eight years old, in the mid-1970s, a boy in his teens showed me a small gun that he had with him. It was about the size of a Zippo lighter and shaped very much like a matchbox made from aluminum or stainless steel. There were two short barrels sticking out of the one end which, when unscrewed, would chamber a .22 rimfire round, and the other barrel chambered either a .25 ACP or .32 Auto. It was such a long time ago that I am not sure, but I do distinctly remember the professional engraving on the gun: “Big Brother.” It was fired by pulling back one of the two spring-loaded knobs, which rode in a cut-out track; releasing them would fire the gun using the internal firing pins. The knobs could also lock back in the track in a similar way as an MP-40 SMG is placed on safe.

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Firing pin strikes are at the six-o’clock position (left). Firing the LifeCard at 15 feet.

Obviously, this was an “illegal” gun and not registered as an AOW. Possibly, these were made as kits and sold to go around the National Firearms Act, but it was definitely a gun that would allow you to look totally unarmed —  a “last ditch” weapon to save yourself when you have the chance to get the drop on the bad guy. That is what I consider the LifeCard to be. It is a backup for your backup that can be un-noticeable to the bad guys. Now on to the accuracy test of the .22 Magnum version.

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LifeCard comes with a Master brand padlock, which is secured through a small hole in the bolt, as shown here in the .22 Magnum version. LifeCard holds four rounds of .22 LR in the grip. The .22 Magnum version of the LifeCard is identical to the .22 LR version with the exception of the chambering and external engraving (bottom left). The .22 Magnum version of the LifeCard shown with barrel disengaged/unlocked for range safety (this is done with bolt in the forward position). Test ammo (top right) shown (left to right): Winchester 40-grain JHP, CCI MAXI-MAG 40-grain TMJ (FMJ), and Hornady 30-grain V-MAX.

I again set targets to 15 feet. Loading is exactly the same as the .22 LR model. The .22 Magnum version seemed to hold better groups than the .22 LR, with the best ones from CCI. The harder kick and muzzle flip of the Hornady V-MAX was noticeable, but nothing serious — I wish I had some ballistic gel for that one! There are some new finishes coming for the Life-Card handguns that include an American flag and many styles of camo so you don’t have to just settle for “Henry Ford” black. The LifeCard can be the backup to your backup. It can also be used to quickly dispatch animals if you are a trapper or to keep in your pocket, loaded with birdshot, for the occasional small snake or mouse around your rural property. Or, if you are in need of a gun that you can tell an “inquiring mind” is nothing but a credit card holder, medical pager, or phone charger, or if you are a James Bond fan that needs to satisfy that inner “secret agent man,” then Trailblazer LifeCard may be for you. (NOTE: This is an expanded article of the one that first appeared in the 2018 edition of Be Ready magazine.)

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Here are some new finishes for 2019, which were announced at the 2018 NASGW show in Pittsburgh, PA, in October.

TrailBlazer LifeCard Specs

  • Caliber: .22LR, .22 Magnum
  • Action: Single Action
  • Length: 3.375 in. (closed) 
  • Height: 2.125 in. (closed) 
  • Thickness: .5 in. 
  • Weight: 7 oz. 
  • Materials: 4140 Pre-hardened steel (barrel, bolt, trigger), Aluminum (frame, handle), 100% machine Billet. 
  • Finish: Corrosion Resistant Isonite Steel/Hardcoat anodized aluminum
  • Safety: no manual safety but safety features, see text above. 
  • MSRP: $349
  • Contact: Trailblazer Firearms

This article was originally published in Be Ready! magazine, and an original copy can be found at OSGnewsstand.com. If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.

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