I have always wanted a small compact folding pistol that shoots .22LR. I have been wanting a Braverman Pen Gun but the prices were just too much for what it is. Well just last August, Trailblazer Firearms announced their LifeCard 22 pistol. This would be a great stand in for a pen gun. While it is not shaped like a pen, it is a folding pistol that is rather small. The LifeCard is a single shot pistol chambered in .22LR. It gets its name due to the size it resembles when folded. It is the same size as a credit card. It is of course thicker than a standard credit card. When closed it measures just 3.375″ x 2.125″ x 0.5″. As you can see in the photo above, the LifeCard fits inside an Altoids tin.
I saw some people online had recently acquired LifeCards so I called my local gun store and they had one in stock. They had already sold one and this one was in the stock room. I told them to hold it and I immediately drove down and picked it up.
Here it is next to my Braverman Pen Gun (which I recently acquired as well but it is in .25acp).
The LifeCard comes packaged in a black cardboard box with the Trailblazer Firearms logo printed on the cover. Inside is diecut foam that holds the LifeCard inside along with a small Master brand luggage lock and a spent casing.
The LifeCard is a single shot, single action pistol with a break open barrel.
The LifeCard even comes with a bright orange snap cap.
When looking down on top of the barrel, you can see the rim of the cartridge. When I bought the LifeCard at my local gun store I thought it was loaded but it was the orange snap cap instead.
The barrel, bolt and trigger are steel while the frame and grip are billet aluminum.
In order to open the barrel or the grip, each has their own sliding latch and they work in opposite directions. Pull back on the top latch and the barrel can tilt up. Push forward on the lower latch and the grip can fold out. You need to fold it all the way out until you hear or feel the subtle click of the latch closing and locking the grip in position.
In order to cock the firing pin you simply pull back on the bolt. It will stay cocked in this position seen below until you pull the trigger. Once cocked, the barrel is locked and cannot be opened unless you fire the gun or decock the bolt. With the bolt locked back like this, the small hole above the bolt grip is exposed. This is where you can use the Master luggage lock and lock out the pistol.
The grip cannot fold completely when the bolt is locked back or after the gun has been fired. Below you can see the bolt has been dropped and the trigger has been pulled back. In this condition, the trigger physically cannot fit back into the recess in the grip. You need to pull the bolt back just a little bit to reset the trigger and only then can you close the grip over the trigger.
As I mentioned above, there is a pocket in the grip to accommodate the trigger when the grip is closed. Right beside this pocket is a storage compartment with a sliding door. You can store four rounds of .22LR inside.
Be careful opening this sliding door. There is a spring and detent inside that keeps the door closed and opened. However if you pull the door open too much this will overcome the detent and the door will slide out resulting in a flying detent. I lost mine. I am currently using an AR15 takedown pin detent as a replacement. I called LifeCard and they are sending me a replacement detent and back up springs. Luckily I did not lose my spring but spares are always welcome.
Shooting The LifeCard
The LifeCard ergonomics are surprisingly great for how small this gun is. Especially when you try shooting the pen gun first and then shoot the LifeCard. The grip is square with rounded corners. It is wide enough for positive lateral control in stark contrast to the smooth cylindrical shape of the pen gun. Since there is no trigger guard you can choke up on the LifeCard and bury the bore lower into your grip.
The LifeCard is not that much bigger than my hand.
The top of the barrel has a trench style sight although it is more trench than an actual sight.
The LifeCard is not a very accurate gun but I was able to hit a paper plate 25 ft away. One handed using a flashlight in the other. Ignore the other holes. Those were from something else.
Suppressing The LifeCard
When I saw the LifeCard announced I immediately had plans to suppress it. I even talked with Aaron of Trailblazer Firearms to see if they had any plans to offer a threaded barrel version. At the time I spoke with him, they did not.
So I had my friend mill the steel barrel sleeve shorter and thread the inside of the outer barrel. Then he made a threaded adapter out of titanium 1/2×28 – 3/8×24.
Now I can mount my Spectre II rimfire suppressor onto it.
With a muzzle device it looks like a vape.
Since the LifeCard is a single shot pistol, it is exceptionally quiet and makes for a fantastic suppressor host.
How To Make The LifeCard Better
Obviously I made the LifeCard better by threading it. Trailblazer Firearms should sell threaded barrels and other barrels in different calibers. .22WMR, .17HMR, .25ACP, and if it can handle it 5.7x28mm or .17WSM.
There is one very annoying feature about the LifeCard and that is the barrel locking latch. In order to close the barrel you need to pull back the sliding latch. I wish you could just close the barrel and the sliding latch would slide out of the way and slide back once the barrel is fully closed. It should be an easy modification. Just bevel the steel hook on the barrel and angle the sliding latch so that it moves out of the way when the barrel closes.
Another slightly bothersome aspect is taking the spent casings out. There isn’t much room to grab onto the rim of the brass and pull it out. A small cut out would be nice to make it easier to lift the spent brass and extract it.
The retail price of the LifeCard is $399. I got mine for $388 plus tax and transfer which made it $417 out the door. My friend found one locally for even less at $335. While that sounds better than $400 the problem I have is comparing similarly priced handguns. At just $250 you can get a SCCY pistol. Yes we can always compare the pricing of a Hi-Point. But you can get Glocks at $400 if you know where to look or have discounts. The LifeCard should be $200 at most. It is a very simplistic firearm with a folding gimmick. Just think of single shot break action shotguns that are under $200 and consider how much material and work is involved making them. The LifeCard does not seem to be that much more complicated to necessitate the higher price.
While I do not like the price, the overly complicated barrel closing method or the difficulty in extracting spent brass, it is a lot of fun to shoot suppressed. I understand that may not be an option for some of you but fear not the LifeCard is fun to shoot unsuppressed as well and the folding design is very cool. Hiding it in an Altoids tin is very cool indeed. I often find myself carrying the LifeCard in the small watch pocket in my jeans. And the few people who have shot mine now want one of their own.