Some firearms make you say “gulp” because they are big, powerful and impressive, some because they are the opposite. The .22 LifeCard makes you say “gulp” because it belongs to the latter category.
Produced by Trailblazer Firearms, headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina (USA), the LifeCard is a “folding, single-shot .22LR pistol that's no bigger than a stack of credit cards”, to quote the manufacturer’s words. Indeed, it looks like a Transformers toy - those funny little cars, planes and other small objects that can be manipulated into some menacing tiny robot. Yet this is a real single-shot and single action gun, even if it’s more or less the size of a credit card, .5 inches (13mm) thin and weighing less than 7 ounces (198 g).
To use the LifeCard you have to unfold it: the lower half of the pistol is the handle and includes the latch mechanism for folding and unfolding the pistol. The upper half of the pistol is the frame and barrel assembly and contains the complete firing mechanism. The pistol cannot be cocked or fired when the handle is closed around the trigger, and the handle cannot be closed fully if the pistol is cocked - which reminds you if the pistol is loaded or cocked. Once unfolded, to load the gun you have to slide the barrel release latch fully rearward and lift up on the barrel so that you can insert a .22LR cartridge. While maintaining rearward pressure on the barrel release latch, you must close the barrel firmly and ensure that the barrel release latch slides forward and the barrel is locked into place. Now, you are ready to shoot. There is also a small storage compartment built into the handle that can hold up to four spare cartridges. The cartridges must be nested in alternating directions.
LifeCard safety features
Some safety features are included in the design. The first of these is the half-cocked bolt position (in this position the bolt is captured and the trigger cannot be pulled). The manufacturer recommends that the pistol be kept in this half-cocked position whenever it is not being fired. The pistol must be placed in the half-cocked position for loading and unloading, and you should never attempt to load the pistol with the bolt locked. A second safety feature is the trigger pocket which is built into the handle. Of course, the gun can’t fire when closed (folded). Anyway, the LifeCard must not be carried with a live cartridge in the chamber.
Materials used are 4140 pre-hardened Steel for barrel, bolt and trigger, and aluminum for frame and handle (100% machined billet). The LifeCard is by nature fully ambidextrous since there are no external levers or button releases apart from the latches for the handle and barrel. No disassembly is required to perform routine cleaning.
The manufacturer claims it “will be the last gun you’ll leave behind”. But is the .22 LifeCard a useful gun for self-defense? Well, it’s certainly inconspicuous, sleek and light-weighted. But the .22LR caliber is quite weak for defense purposes, the gun is one-shot only, and above all you’ll have to unfold and load it before firing. Not the ideal situation when you’re attacked. Anyway, if you have enough time there’s no doubt that with your Transformers-like pistol you’ll take any assailant by surprise.
The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the LifeCard pistol in the US is 399.00 USD (some 340 Euro).