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Tested: Trailblazer Firearms LifeCard .22

One of the reasons I enjoy participating in the shooting sports is the rich diversity of firearms to choose from on the American market. Nevertheless, we don't often get to see truly new models that are significantly different or innovative. Fine guns are readily available in droves, but fresh ideas, not so much. This is why I was on the phone placing a request for the new American-made Trailblazer Firearms LifeCard .22 within moments of reading the press release that went out in August 2017. I hadn't seen anything quite like it before.

More than seven years in development, the LifeCard .22 is a slim, single-shot rimfire pistol which folds up for easy carry. This gun's folded profile and thickness is comparable to a stack of credit cards. You can almost hide it under a standard 50-round box of .22 ammunition. Consisting of just 27 components, its snag-free design allows it to comfortably slip into a pants or purse pocket like a small wallet or coin purse. It has a listed weight of 7 oz. but the unit I worked with tipped the scale at 6.6 oz.

 

My very first question when I met with Aaron Voigt, Founder of Trailblazer Firearms and designer of the LifeCard, was how the pistol eluded a National Firearms Act (NFA) Any Other Weapon (AOW) classification? AOW weapons include firearms designed to look like ordinary objects such as pens, walking sticks or umbrellas. They require the same kind of paperwork and fees as machine guns and sound suppressors.

The LifeCard does not qualify as an AOW because it cannot fire when the grip is folded. The trigger is captured in a small pocket inside the grip and the trigger in turn captures the hammer to prevent it from being cocked. The pistol must be opened all the way with the barrel locked into the open position with the trigger completely exposed in order to fire. This makes its appearance and operation similar enough to a typical handgun to qualify for sale without the additional tax stamps. 

The .22 Long Rifle barrel liner is milled from billet 4140 steel, button rifled and treated with a matte black Isonite Finish. The hammer, single-action trigger, barrel release and grip release are also 4140 steel. The tilting barrel shroud and frame are composed of milled light-weight 6061 aluminum components which receive a durable hard-coat anodized finish.

The sighting system consists of a rudimentary V-Notch groove that runs the length of the barrel. It preserve's the gun's sleek outline but doesn’t provide much to work with at the shooting range. A small gap between the barrel and the top of the receiver exposes a portion of the cartridge rim so as to act as a loaded chamber indicator.

 

The single-shot barrel is opened by pulling the frame mounted barrel release, located between the barrel and hammer, back towards the hammer. Spent shell casings are extracted from the chamber using a fingernail. The barrel release must be held back in the open position in order for the barrel to close. The barrel can be opened and closed with the grip folded, but it will not open or close if the hammer is cocked.

The hammer has a milled-in firing pin and three positions: forward, half-cocked and fully cocked. It must be manually placed in the fully cocked position for each shot. This is easily accomplished by pulling back on the hammer's square grasping tab. When the pistol is fired, the hammer rests in the forward position with the firing pin pressed against the rim of the cartridge.

 

A gentle tug places the hammer in the half-cocked position which is used for most administrative purposes including loading, unloading, folding the grip, and concealed carry. The grip will not fold completely closed unless the hammer is in the half-cocked position. The extension at the top of the hammer has a hole drilled through it. The hasp of the small padlock provided with the pistol fits though this hole to prevent unauthorized operation of the gun.

The grip release is pressed towards the heel of the grip (away from the hinge) to release it from the folded position. The barrel swings loose until pressed up into the locked position. In the course of testing, I handed the LifeCard to at least a half-dozen other people who all agreed that the grip was surprisingly comfortable to hold and, despite the pistol's diminutive size, the grip provides plenty of room to form a proper three-finger grip.

The grip frame is hollow in order to accommodate the narrow steel trigger. A portion of the grip space has been made into a storage compartment that will hold up to four .22 LR cartridges. The slip cover for the ammo compartment is secured by a tiny, AR-like spring and detent that will go sailing into space if you pull the cover all the way out of the grip. I don't see this design choice as a deal breaker since the cover is not critical to the pistol's reliable operation. However, a no-searching-required means of securing the cover would be an improvement worth considering for future models.

One of the key features of a brand new or unusual gun that will determine its acceptance or rejection by the shooting public is the trigger pull. For some reason a goodly number of pocket pistols leave the factory with so-so or overly heavy triggers. This is not the case with the LifeCard. With a protective polymer snap-cap in place to protect the hammer pin (this gun should not be dry fired without one), the same folks who liked the shape of the grip were surprised by the quality of the single-action trigger. It's smooth with a clean break and a short stroke. It broke with just 3 lbs. 1 oz. of trigger pull according to a Lyman's digital trigger gauge.

The overall fit and finish of the Trailbazer LifeCard was excellent. The gun exudes a sense of quality from top to bottom and it has a solid heft to it. The finishes are evenly applied with the machined components properly joined. All of the controls operated as advertised and the trigger was enjoyable to work with. Recoil was, of course, mild and easy to control.

To test this pistol as an always-on-hand carry piece, I used my jeans watch pocket (the small pocket inside the right front pocket most folks use for spare change). This gave it a dedicated pocket while leaving the other pockets free for other daily carry items. With its slim, flat profile it simply disappeared in there.

 

With a bit of practice, I found that I could draw the pistol from the watch pocket, release the folded grip, lock the barrel into firing position, cock the hammer and fire the single loaded cartridge into a target in just under four seconds. This same drill with a reload, for a total of two shots fired, took just under 10 seconds when I held the second cartridge in my support hand at the start of the drill. These times are relatively slow by conventional self-defense standards. However, the deployment speeds were not nearly as slow as I thought they might be before working with the gun.

The LifeCard proved to be reliable with a variety of .22 Long Rifle loads ranging from bulk-box practice rounds up to premium hunting loads produced by most of the big players including Aguila Ammunition, Browning Ammunition, CCI Ammunition, Federal Premium, Remington and Winchester. I had a single failure to fire with a bulk-box round due to a faulty primer. When I rotated the cartridge and struck it again it went off. Every other shot fed, fired and extracted without a hitch.

This is an ideal gun to have along for close-range pest control, so I loaded it up with CCI .22 Shotshells topped with about 165 pellets of #12 lead birdshot (1/15 oz.) to see how it would pattern. The tiny lead pieces of birdshot spread very quickly to form a 7" pattern at 1.5 yards and a 13" pattern at 3 yards. 

Formal accuracy testing was conducted from a bench rest at 7 yards. I believe the pistol has better accuracy potential than I was able to squeeze out of it using the simple V-Notch groove sight. Group sizes varied significantly during informal and formal testing at this distance (1.25" to 3.5") depending on the brand and bullet weight fired. So you may have to test a few loads to find the best fit.

Aguila Interceptor 40-gr. copper-plated flat points turned in a best single group of 1.31" with an average of 1.38". Browning BPR 37-gr. fragmenting copper-plated hollow points printed a best group of 2.28" with an average of 2.41". Federal Premium 40-gr. Hunter Match lead hollow points yielded a best group of 1.44" with an average of 1.51".

It's a tremendous challenge both technically and bureaucratically to bring a new handgun to the market these days, especially when it's as unique as the Trailblazer LifeCard .22. This folding pistol is precision crafted, fun to shoot and has a cool factor that's off the charts. The company says the LifeCard will be the last gun you’ll leave behind. It’s hard to disagree with that assessment. It's a kit gun that's just too slim, light and easy to pack around to leave it at home. Being able to tuck four extra rounds into the grip makes it a handy, self contained system.

Tuck the LifeCard into a pants pocket, purse, backpack, tackle box, automotive console or bug-out bag. It's an ideal trail and fishing gun to have along in case you run into aggressive poisonous snakes or vermin. Trailblazer Firearms will be offering protective leather holster pouches for the LifeCard soon in black and tan versions (prices and availability have yet to be announced). I’m looking forward to seeing what this company comes up with next.

Specifications:
Manufacturer: Trailblazer Firearms
Model: LifeCard .22
Action: Tilt Barrel Single-Action
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
Barrel: Milled Billet 4140 Steel, Button Rifled, Isonite Finish
Frame: Milled Billet 6061 Aluminum, Hard-Coat Anodized Aluminum
Sights: V Groove
Barrel Length: 2.5”
Folded Dimensions: Length 3.375", Height 2.125", Thickness 0.5"
Weight: 6.6 oz., Unloaded
Trigger Pull: 3 lbs. 1 oz. (As Tested)
Capacity: 1 Round
Ammunition Storage: 4 rounds
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: Lock, Owner's Manual
MSRP: $399

Source: https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2017/9/29/tested-trailblazer-firearms-lifecard-22/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=insider&utm_campaign=1017

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Naples Gun School - 5 starsTook the 3/31 class and loved it! Dave was very informative and his laid back teaching style made the 4 hour class fly by. Would recommend this class to anyone interested in a CWP. Thanks Dave and Ginny! - Kelly Gardner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars I’d like to thank The Naples Gun School for the time and effort they took in order to help me become a more responsible hand gun owner. By taking your CCWP class on 3.31.2018, I’m honestly a better person today than I was yesterday. Your course is not only interesting, but informative as well. The time we had together flew by. Throughout the whole process, they were calm and patient with every student. Especially after everyone seemed to drop their cartridges on the floor during the revolver training portion of the program. I highly recommend Naples Gun School to anyone that’s interested in becoming a CCWP holder. And I definitely will use their services by purchasing all my gun needs through their establishment. David & Ginny, thank you so much. I had a wonderful time!Chris Shaffer

 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars This class kept me very interested, informed and didn’t even realize 4 hours went by! Would recommend everyone to take this class! - Douglas Shaffer

 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars - Lurybella Lora Trejo

 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Used Naples Gun School for a FFL transfer and after talking with David decided to take his CCW class and am glad I did. David is very knowledgeable and his class is small so you receive one on one training in the classroom and the range. I Highly recommend Naples Gun School. You won’t find a better class in Naples. Thank you David for a great experience. - Michael Ferrarelli

 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Thorough, energetic, knowledgeable, PATIENT, and even entertaining at times! As an Educator, I know it can be daunting sometimes to teach the same material over and over, but David certainly didn't show it. You can tell how passionate he is about what he does.
I researched multiple options around town in choosing the provider for my CCW class. David & Ginny as a husband & wife team, provided the BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE in answering all of my questions thoroughly and promptly before even signing up. And somehow, Naples Gun School was also able to provide the LOWEST COST in town!
As a female and brand new to guns, David & Ginny made me feel safe, secure, and comfortable. THANK YOU! A+++ -
Jessica Payne

 

I took the class on 3/10/18 and I was blown away. David and his wife are excellent people and David is an excellent instructor. The class is excellent and exceeded my expectations with information on the laws of Florida, and as well to carry properly, load the weapons as well as placement of holding weapons. If your looking to buy a weapon he is the man to go to. I personally bought my firearm from and he equipped me with great knowledge during my time there. I give this class 100 out of 100 and highly recommended. David is a great guy and instructor with many years of experience!! - Cory Duffy

 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars - Larry Papola

 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Awesome class. Great preparation for firearm handling and concealed carry details. - Jeffrey Alty

 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Very informative. Was made to feel very comfortable. Had some prior gun knowledge, left with a lot more. I highly recommend anyone thinking about getting their permit go there. - Sara Bunker

 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars I attended the conceal carry and gun safety training class on Feb 17th, 2018. David was very knowlegable and provided a lot of information that I think should be part of any gun safety or conceal carry training. He was very professional and took the time after the class and before we met at the gun range to answer several questions I had as well as show me a few different gun options they sell. I highly recommend David and Naples gun shop & school for anyone wanting to seriously learn what they need to before purchasing or using a firearm. Thank you, David! - Amanda Daves

 

Thanks again! Not only was is very informative, but fun as well. So glad we came to y'all for the class. - Sara Bunker

 

I had a great experience and your class was very informative. Thank you - Robby Bunker

 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Great experience, willing to give one on one instruction and very patient for beginners! - Tiffany Baker

 

Had a great experience at the CCW class. Dave explained the information throughly and made it very easy to understand. I would definitely recommend the class to anyone interested.. -Scott Sioma

 

Naples Gun School - 5 starsGreat class!!! David really takes his time to show you how to feel Comfortable with the fire arm. - Alonzo Gonzalez

 

Enjoyed the class very much! It was well taught and all the information was presented professionally and was easy to understand. I was nervous at first but our instructor put our minds at ease. Would definitely recommend! - Tony Aceto

 

Naples Gun School - 5 starsEnjoyed the class, everything well explained. The David(instructor )explain in a way everybody understand and in a dynamic way. I will recommend it without a doubt. Thanks guys! - Joel Davila

 

I had an amazing experience in the CCW class that David teaches! This class was so informative and interesting. The way David presented everything made it extremely fun and easy to retain. The size of the class was 12 people, so we all got one on one training and I feel it was the perfect size of class. I learned so many important things that I never would have even thought about without this class. Ginny was also so wonderful, and so supportive when I was nervous. I had so many questions that were answered, and the amount of knowledge Ginny and Davis shared with the class was astounding. I feel very confident now about gun safety and self defense and I would highly recommend this class!! David and Ginny know their stuff!! -Senae Hughes

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