Gun Review: Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

I’m a sucker for the weird and the odd in the gun world. It doesn’t have to be efficient or effective to draw my attention. I can appreciate artistic quality and craft put in the Bond Arms derringers. I can appreciate the unique quality and designs Kel Tec puts out, and I can most certainly appreciate the LifeCard from Trailblazer.

The LifeCard is a single shot derringer chambered in .22 LR. It’s named for the fact that it folds up to resemble a credit card, although it’s much thicker than a regular credit card. The dimensions of the LifeCard when folded up are 3.375 inches long, 2.125 inches wide, and half an inch thick. That’s makes it small and perfectly pocketable.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

If you are anything like me, you doubt the effectiveness of a single shot .22 LR pistol for concealed carry. Perhaps it could be a good backup gun, though it’s not quick to deploy. Even then, the LifeCard isn’t much smaller than a tiny .380.

It’s just much more comfortable to conceal and it doesn’t look like a gun. I could carry this around openly, and no one would even know what I had.

Its niche is the fact that it’s hard to detect and ultimately incredibly easy to conceal. If you live in a state full of action-demanding moms, the LifeCard is virtually invisible.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

To me, the LifeCard is an oddity in my collection and a weapon I appreciate from a technical aspect. It’s also a gun made with attention to detail. Even if it’s not personally useful, it can still be enjoyed. It certainly has a certain spy vibe in its design, and that contributes to my appreciation of it.

Me, you, and the LifeCard

The LifeCard isn’t for everyone, but I bet everyone could appreciate the fact that it’s well built. The gun is made from billet aluminum and they’ll be releasing a polymer variant later this year.

The polymer variant seems to be replacing the .22 LR variant permanently (there’s a .22 WMR variant as well, and a ton of different colors too. This model is all billet aluminum and one of the first generations of the LifeCard. It existed well before the 22 WMR version.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

The LifeCard is a fully ambidextrous gun and is very simple in design. The handle and barrel both have toggles that have to be pulled to use the weapon. On the handle side, the toggle releases the top portion and allows you to unfold the LifeCard. The second toggle on the barrel side releases the barrel and will enable you to open it and load it or eject an empty cartridge.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

The LifeCard is effortless to fold and unfold. There is nothing complicated about the design, and it can be readied to fire quite fairly quickly from the folded position.

To operate the weapon, you open the tilt-up barrel, insert a round and close it. Then pull the striker to the rear, and you have a single action, ready-to-shoot pistol.

You can stash it in a shirt pocket and retrieve it quite rapidly and have it ready to fire. Is it faster than just drawing a gun and firing it? Nope, but it’s still quick for what it is.

The handle has a small compartment that allows you to store several spare 22 LR rounds. The downside is they make a fair amount of noise bouncing around in there while you are carrying the gun.

Shooting This Thing

Do you know how long it takes to do a 500 round test in a single shot pistol? Neither do I. In all fairness, it takes a long time to just chew through ten rounds with a LifeCard. And it helps if you have fingernails, as you need to pick the empty cases out of the chamber to load a new round. There’s no extractor.

I did 150 rounds of CCI in a day, and I felt like it took all day long. You’re doing all the work to load, extract, and cock the weapon. However, in 150 rounds, I only got three failures to fire. Of those failures, they all fired on the second attempt to do so.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

The ergonomics of this gun aren’t exactly impressive. The grip is ultra-small and it’s all corners. The trigger reach is abysmally short.

From just a standpoint of operating the weapon, the controls are small, but very simple. Nothing is confusing or dangerous about the setup. It’s easy to load, cock, and fire the weapon.

De-cocking is also easy, but be sure to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. You have to grip the striker, pull the trigger and guide the striker forward. The striker has scallops on both sides to ensure a good grip as you allow the striker to move forward.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

Accuracy and No Sights?

The LifeCard’s trigger is fairly impressive. It’s stiff, but super short.

The gun is already hard to shoot accurately — the grip is challenging and it has not sights…just a long notch or trench that runs along the top of gun —  so a good trigger is helpful.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

Accuracy-wise the LifeCard is what you’d expect from a tiny .22 LR derringer with no sights. The grip is better than a traditional derringer, but accuracy is a challenge.

I stood back at 5 yards and was able to put four rounds into the chest of a target. Four rounds represent one in the chamber and three in the grip. The grouping was, well, nonexistent, though, and it looked like a buckshot pattern from a .410.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

My “Group” (Travis Pike for TTAG)

There’s a little recoil, but isn’t tough to deal with. It’s a slight bump and a little rise. Shooting a .22 LR round, it’s soft enough to be very comfortable to fire over and over again.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

To be realistic, the LifeCard would hit someone at very close range, but shot placement is king. Especially with such a small round.

There is lots we can say about .22 LR as a self-defense round. It’s generally not a good penetrator, but that’s a long in-depth subject for another post.

Given its slow deployment and low caliber, it’s difficult to really see the LifeCard 22LR in a self-defense role. The only exception might be for people who work or occupy an area where carrying a firearm is not allowed. Not illegal, just not allowed.

Trailblazer LifeCard .22 LR Pistol

(Travis Pike for TTAG)

Another role is, of course, as a curiosity. It’s a neat little gun, a unique design. It’s very well made and well crafted. The LifeCard makes me feel like a spy or cold war era assassin and it will probably attract some attention at the range.

Specifications: LifeCard 22LR

Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 1
Barrel Length: 2.5 inches
Overall Length: 3.375 inches
Weight: 7 ounces
Trigger Pull Weight: 3 Pounds
Folded Dimensions: Length 3.375″, Height 2.125″, Thickness 0.5″
MSRP:
$299 (new polymer model)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * *
I could hit the vitals of a bad guy at 5 yards. Don’t expect much more from a gun like this. The LifeCard’s lack of sights and short grip make it a hard-to-shoot gun at targets smaller than man sized.

Ergonomics: * * *
The shooting grip sucks. Not to be rude but they are ultra-small and all rectangular. Carrying the small credit card-sized gun is easy. As is the unfolding and fire controls. Simple and easy to activate.

Reliability: * * * * *
It’s basically flawless. Every round fired and was fairly easy to manually eject and extract. Admittedly the .22 LR and rimfire rounds aren’t highly reliable. However, the LifeCard goes bang when you pull the trigger.

Customize This: *
You can buy a leather or Kydex holster, a leather pocket sleeve and a .22 WMR conversion barrel. That’s all.

Concealability: * * * * *
This is by far the easiest gun to conceal I own. It goes anywhere at any time without issue. The gun disappears in the front pocket of a shirt and that’s all it takes.

Overall: * * *
It’s very much a niche gun. It fires one round of .22 LR and is the size of a small .380 when opened. If you want it for the curiosity factor and its interesting design, then it’s a great choice. For serious self-defense, it is severely lacking. The LifeCard is very well made, and Trailblazer did an amazing job in the workmanship department.

 

comments

  1. avatar Hush says:

    A single shot 22 LR for self defense means a person would need be a great shooter, lucky or both! Otherwise a great novelty.

    1. avatar Rad Man says:

      A dubious solution in search of a problem.

      1. avatar SteveO says:

        I could easily see this as a Liberator V2.01. Not there aren’t a bunch of other [similar] single shot -simple designs from DefCad ready for 3D. But, if nothing else, I do appreciate it as an innovative design in packaging and “hiding in plain sight” kinda capability.

    2. avatar arc says:

      Its an alright option for ultra deep conceal and hopefully having a minute to set it up while escaping, or finding escape impossible. One shot in the direction of the enemy might make him shit himself and give up the fight.

  2. avatar Passerby says:

    The LifeCard will cause your attacker to go into an uncontrollable laughing jag. What a total joke.

    1. avatar UpInArms says:

      That should give you just enough time to kick him in the balls and get the hell out of there. Mission accomplished.

    2. avatar Geoff "Run, Bloomie, run!" PR says:

      “What a total joke.”

      So, you’re volunteering to take a round and tell us how stupid it is? 😉

      1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

        Can we retire the “Der, I wouldn’t want to be shot with a .22 therefore it’s totes a good defensive round” stupidity, please?

        1. avatar burley says:

          Only if we also retire the “.22 has no place in a defensive weapon” nonsense as well. You go first.

        2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

          Happy to. I’ve got a number of .22LR and/or .22 Magnum revolvers and semi-autos I have carried and will carry in the future. Most of them are much larger than this and even the little NAA has five times the capacity and is usable with one hand.

          The NAA is a safe queen, though. It’s just not enough gun, but I frequently carry one of my single-action .22s when riding or around the farm. The main purpose in that case isn’t two-legged predators, but in those very safe environs a six-shooter .22 is hopefully at least mildly threatening should I encounter a trespasser (never have).

          In hunting season, if I think someone’s out there, I take a semi-auto rifle — Evey time I have actually confronted a trespasser I have had a semi-auto rifle or pump shotgun.

          For CC, though, there’s just no reason, ever, with the vast number of small pocket autos and snub-nosed revolvers in .38 and .327.

          Now you go.

        3. avatar Someone says:

          Single shot .22 that takes forever to deploy has no place in self defense. There, I said it. This thing is a novelty at best. You can get perfectly concealable lcp that actually works as a defensive pistol for less money.

  3. avatar Blackspike2710 says:

    First I’ve heard of the WMR conversion.

    If I see one at the pawn shop I might be tempted.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Same here. I personally knew a person who was killed by a single .22LR to the head. A .22WMR would do *something*, which is better than nothing.

      1. avatar Special Ed says:

        You can pick up the NAA 5 shot 22mag revolver for less money used. I have one and use it as a BUG occasionally.

        1. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

          I really like the NAA 5 shot .22lr mini-revolver, too. I have the version with the built-in folding safety grip with belt clip. It’s not a rapid deploying sidearm, of course, nor as a tiny single action is it rapid firing, but it is effective and easy to carry. As a deep concealment weapon or BUG, or for situations where you would have even some minimal preparation time, it’s a fine choice.

          For example, it is extremely simple to carry while dressed for the office, where you might want to be armed while walking through the empty parking garage after working late. Or you can keep it in your car’s center console or other small compartment, in case you need to stop for gas in a sketchy location.

      2. avatar Geoff "Run, Bloomie, run!" PR says:

        ShootingThe Bull 410 did a .22lr roundup test, and the winner was pushing 900+ FPS from a 1-inch NAA derringer barrel.

        That’s no bee sting it will give ya, that a hurting…

  4. avatar Hasty Burford says:

    I see this for its novelty aspect and I also see some use as a last ditch, everything else has failed type of situation. Obviously, you wouldn’t want this to be your only choice but if you’re somewhere that you can’t conceal a normal handgun then maybe this could fill that void.

    1. avatar Hasty Burford says:

      Oh, and it would be every antis nightmare!

    2. avatar Napresto says:

      I think if you are in a last ditch, all has failed situation, this gun is unlikely to be the turn of fortune that you are looking for.

      That said, I’m into this as a curiosity. It is a clever and interesting bit of design.

      1. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

        I’d agree. About the only scenario where this might make the difference is in a movie script situation. Perhaps after a small plane crash or some other stranded in the middle of nowhere plot where you needed to take one specific person out by surprise, then maybe.

    3. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      There is absolutely no place I could take this that I couldn’t take a Kel-Tec P32.

  5. avatar WI Patriot says:

    I’d rather have the FP-45 Liberator from WW2…at least it could be deployed in less than 2min…

  6. avatar LifeSavor says:

    I examined the LifeCard at a local gun shop; was surprised they had one in the case. Since my interest is purely in self-defense (I do not hunt, shoot competitively, or collect guns) I passed on it as a novelty gadget. All the same, admirable human ingenuity.

    1. avatar Geoff "Run, Bloomie, run!" PR says:

      “Since my interest is purely in self-defense (I do not hunt, shoot competitively, or collect guns) I passed on it as a novelty gadget.”

      Have you ever tried shooting a .22 lr rifle, say at 100 yards?

      I think you might find it to be a very enjoyable experience honing your skill hitting a bulls-eye at 100 (or more) yards…

  7. avatar Red in CO says:

    Sounds kinda neat, and I always appreciate innovation for its own sake. In practical terms, it’s hard to imagine this being anything less than a tertiary backup gun. Maybe even a step beyond tertiary (which I’m not even sure I’d theres a word for). Compact double stack stack primary, single stack subcompact BUG, NAA mini revolver in a belt buckle holster as a second backup, and then this as a backup to the backup to the backup. And given the short barrel and thus poor accuracy and near nonexistent ballistics you might be better off with a small knife and a bit of training. Still, it’s a nifty concept

    1. avatar Jerms says:

      Quaternary i believe. Not sure what’s after that

      1. avatar ‘liljoe says:

        Useless.

        1. avatar Geoff "Run, Bloomie, run!" PR says:

          “Useless.”

          I doubt the person shot by it would agree, doc… 🙂

          (I still wouldn’t want to have that as a primary carry piece, tho…)

  8. avatar Texican says:

    I’d rather have a tactical pen.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      Or a pen gun, but those need a tax stamp.
      I’d suggest 3 improvements to make it at least a little practical: 1) spring loaded deployment – press a button and it rapidly unfolds itself into proper grip, 2) gutter sight or laser that activates when opened, 3) bigger caliber would be nicer. With 1), you could reach back, hit the button, and be deployed by the time you’re on target.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Anymouse,

        I have to believe that this firearm needs a tax stamp as well. Quoting the reviewer and author of this article:

        … it doesn’t look like a gun. I could carry this around openly, and no one would even know what I had.

        Doesn’t that mean that fedzilla wants us to get a tax stamp before acquiring this thing?

        1. avatar Joel says:

          I am no expert, but I believe the life card doesn’t need a tax stamp because in “ready to fire” mode, it looks (kinda sorta) like a gun? Someone will be swift to correct me if I am wrong I’m sure.

          I would totally buy one if I had some extra money just because It’s different. I’d probably drill a small hole in the aluminum somewhere and hang it on my key chain. 😎

          Which reminds me, I need to pick up one of those “belt buckles” NAA sells too…

  9. avatar GS650G says:

    If it had a shoulder thingy that went up it would qualify as an assault rifle.

    1. avatar Porridgeweasel says:

      I was really hoping there’d be a bayonet option myself. You know, the “two inch blade of death!”.

  10. avatar Specialist38 says:

    May be a better choice than the OMC/AMT 380 Backup from the earlier post.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      Didn’t those things have a 20# trigger pull, or am I thinking of another old backup gun?

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        The DA version did.

        The single action version was around 7 or 8 on mine and others I shot.

        Very often a single shot due to jamming.

  11. avatar Hannibal says:

    A novelty or an assassin’s weapon is all it is. Useless as a defensive carry but exactly the kind of thing you would try to use to conceal into a controlled area and Ford’s Theater someone from at or near contact distance.

  12. avatar Iron Cat Beast says:

    It’s a neat little novelty item, but not for $300. That can get you a nice, reliable, compact .22 pistol that holds 9+1 extra rounds ready to go and even throws out the empty brass for you.

  13. avatar Sam Hill says:

    This got to be a hundred dollar must have toy. I find one for that it goes in my wallet for sure.

  14. avatar jimmy james says:

    $300??? Id rather have the same size knife for a fraction of the money. You are going to have to shoot at contact distance anyway and you dont have to reload the knife.

    1. avatar Broke_It says:

      The price point is in Microtech territory. Save up another hundo and get yourself a banging Troodon!

  15. avatar Cknarf says:

    This thing REALLY got the lefties riled up on Facebook last time I saw it.

    As if people don’t carry pocket guns that are more powerful, hold more, and are easier to shoot lol.

    1. avatar Broke_It says:

      Well shit, now I’m back in. Funny how gun people see it for what it is but of course this is the new Glock 7. Let’s all buy one!

  16. avatar OldDominion says:

    Interesting.

    I’ll stick to my 1911.

  17. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Buy one. Maybe it will be collectable. In a hundred years.

  18. avatar Serpent_Vision says:

    2% failure rate is “flawless” reliability????

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      More likely the ammo than the gun. Rimfire has a certain notoriety for unreliable ignition.

  19. avatar Broke_It says:

    I love me a novelty. So I’m just gonna make my own out in the shop. 3 hundo is way too much for a mass produced zip gun.

  20. avatar Tom n Oregon says:

    I like it. May have to get one just for the novelty of it.

  21. avatar Mark N. says:

    This is a contact gun, and it doesn’t need to be any more accurate than point blank range. Press this against the base of someone’s skull where the spine starts, and a discharge is certain death when it mashes the medulla.(And has so been applied as an execution weapon for years.) An added plus is a fairly quiet discharge and very little blood. A contact shot in the left chest will very likely penetrate the heart. An eyeball shot will likely penetrate the brain, as will a shot under the chin. One shot in the knee, front or back, will disable any attacker. A shot to the groin is a fight stopper.

    Or so I theorize, but I really should test it out. Volunteers?

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      Unless you are the aggressor, little of this is plausible.

      This gun requires multiple steps using two hands to get in firing mode.

      You are planning to use deadly force from within grappling range.

      You are in fear for your life, and an attacker who means to kill you has already gotten you in grappling range.

      Because you are in fear for your life, we can presume that this person is armed or much bigger, stronger or more trained than you.

      Your hands are full keeping your attacker from killing you. You need a weapon that takes one hand to deploy and isn’t rendered useless after one squeeze of its unguarded trigger (assuming you were ever able to get it open and cocked in the first place, which the attacker is definitely going to notice)

      I think I’d rather have a rock in my hand than this thing.

  22. avatar MyName says:

    I’ll take ‘Ways to burn $300’ for $300, Alex.

  23. avatar IdahoBoy says:

    But…do they make a watch gun?

  24. avatar jakee308 says:

    What a waste of time, money and it encourages Police to claim they thought someone had a gun when it turns out to be a wallet or a cell phone.

    This is NOT of any use other than a gimmick.

  25. avatar Randy Hudson says:

    I will wait for the magnum. Something to play with.

  26. avatar Geoff says:

    $300 will get you a nice compact 9mm.

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