Back in 2017, I had an opportunity to evaluate one of the early production models of The LifeCard, which is among the most unusual handguns that I've worked with so far. Manufactured in the United States by Trailblazer Firearms, the LifeCard is a folding, single-shot .22-cal. rimfire pocket pistol of which, when folded, is 3.375" long, 2.125" tall and 0.5" thick, making it the same size as a stack of credit cards.
Early on it wasn't clear if this unusual 'utility pistol' would catch on with the shooting community. However, over the last few years, it has sold well, and the company has continued to grow. Among the more recent additions to the catalog is a threaded .22 LR barrel, which makes the LifeCard one of the smallest suppressor hosts currently available.
The threaded-barrel version of the LifeCard may be the smallest suppressor host currently available. It’s shown here with a Silencer Central Banish .22 suppressor.
Initial versions of the LifeCard pistol left the factory well-made and ready to use. But as a wholly new design, there was some room for a few changes along the way. The original design contained a hinged barrel latch that required the frame-mounted release to be retracted and held in the open while closing the barrel. By the time production reached Serial No. 09700, the latch was modified so that the barrel could be pressed down into the fully closed and locked position without having to manipulate the release at the same time.
The original LifeCard features an all-aluminum construction for the receiver and the folding grips and has a suggested retail price starting at $349. Its unloaded weight comes to 6.4 ozs. What is interesting is that the company has since developed a polymer grip for the .22 LR-only models, which shaves about $50 off the price and reduces the weight by an ounce.
The threaded .22 LR barrel is available installed in factory assembled pistols or as a kit for existing guns.
The gun’s folding grip features a small ammunition storage compartment for three rounds of .22 WMR and .22 LR ammunition or six rounds of .22 Short. The sliding compartment cover was previously located along the interior edge of the grip. It was quite slim and a little tricky to use. It could be pulled out of the frame and lost. The pistols now ship with a wide, solidly installed polymer cover on the right side of the grip that is easy to use and provides better access to the compartment in case it needs to be cleaned.
Color options for this gun were limited to matte black in the beginning. The barrels, hammer and appointments are still black, but customers now have a choice of receiver and grip colors, including the gray, OD green and mixed color Covert options shown here. Holster options have been diversified as well. In addition to the original leather slip covers, Trailblazer offers Kydex belt-clip holsters, along with leather bill folds and notebook covers with storage pockets for the LifeCard.
The updated barrel latch allows the action to be closed without using the barrel release slider.
The pistols in this series were designed to be as slim and small as possible. This made the .22 LR cartridge a good fit as the first chambering option available. The company later included a .22 WMR option, more commonly known as .22 Mag., to boost the performance potential, which brings us to the one-piece threaded .22 LR barrel I've been itching to test drive.
Standard-size, non-threaded barrels are 2.5" long. The integral 1/2″ x 28 TPI threaded muzzle extension and its rounded support increases barrel length to 3.15" and adds 0.7 oz. to the pistol's weight. A textured thread protector is provided. If the barrel is purchased separately ($119), it arrives in a breath mint-sized tin along with a spare hinge pin, a pair of thin polymer hinge shims, a hex wrench and a spent cartridge case to meet shipping requirements for some jurisdictions.
The LifeCard ships with a small padlock which fits the port in the hammer in order to prevent the gun from firing.
I opted to receive the threaded barrel as a conversion kit to be fired using a polymer-gripped Covert (multi-color) version of the .22 LR pistol. It took just a few minutes to install, and here’s how: With the barrel completely unloaded and in the open position, remove the hinge pin, pull out the old barrel, insert the new barrel and replace the hinge pin.
With the threaded barrel in place, the LifeCard will still fit in the existing standard-barrel holsters. However, the muzzle must be pointed up toward the holster's top opening. It's a workable solution, but I would prefer to see a holster option that allows the threaded-barrel pistol to be carried with the muzzle pointed down, like the standard models.
In gearing up for the range, I sought out a suitable rimfire sound suppressor. There are plenty to choose from these days including exceptionally small 'pill box' type suppressors, which are only about 1.5" to 2" long. But readers who have followed my reviews know that I prefer more flexible, multi-purpose shooting options. The tiny suppressors certainly look slick when installed on the equally svelte LifeCard. But considering the effort and expense that goes into obtaining a sound suppressor, due to NFA regulations, I wanted to work with a model that was relatively small and lightweight while still being useful with a variety of guns.
The grip’s storage compartment will accommodate. 22 Short, .22 LR or .22 WMR ammunition.
I opted to try the Silencer Central multi-caliber Banish 22. This suppressor is 5.4" long, has a maximum diameter of 1.05" and features a matte black Cerakote finish over its titanium construction. It tips the scales at just 4.4 ozs. and is rated for full-auto use. Compatible chamebrings include .22 LR, .22 WMR, 5.7x28mm, .22 Hornet and .17HMR. This company also provides support services to help customers with the ATF paperwork, so that once completed, the suppressor will be delivered right to their front door. This supported system makes purchasing a suppressor, and the associated processes, much less intimidating than wading through the process by yourself.
In looking for a convenient way to carry and protect the Banish 22 in the field, I realized that it was just about the same size as an older tactical flashlight I had on hand. Sure enough, that light's belt holster proved to be a perfect fit. I then tucked the threaded barrel LifeCard, with three rounds of .22 LR in the grip, into a Kydex belt clip holster. This simple in-the-field holster and gear-rig weighed in at just 14.2 ozs.
Available holsters include leather slip covers and Kydex IWB belt clip options.
At the shooting range, the slightly longer threaded .22 LR barrel was tested for accuracy at 7 yards by firing five five-shot groups with three different loads of .22 LR ammunition without the suppressor installed. Then a sixth five-shot group was fired at the same distance using the suppressor to see how it affected group sizes. The single-action LifeCard exhibited a smooth trigger pull, which broke cleanly with 3 lbs., 3 ozs. of pressure. The pistol operated flawlessly throughout the course of testing with a variety of ammunition.
The standard, squared-off barrel has a simple V-groove sight, which is a narrow track that runs the length of the barrel. The threaded barrel has no sight system since the rounded extension and a sound suppressor would block it anyway. When testing the standard barrel, group sizes varied from around 1.25" to 3.5" using high-velocity loads and the V-groove sight. This time around it was more of a test of my point-shooting skills than the accuracy potential of a gun. As it turned out, I was able to keep the groups between 2.04" to 3.05" in size with an average extreme spread of 2.37".
The pistol, suppressor, their holsters and few rounds of ammunition weigh just 14 ozs.
In regard to ammunition performance, this evaluation also served as an experiment to see how low-velocity, suppressor-specific rounds would perform from such a short barrel. This specialized type of ammunition can cost more than typical high-velocity loads, so I was curious to see if they would be worth the investment for this short-barrel platform. Loads included the CCI Ammunition Suppressor .45-grain lead hollow point, with a listed rifle velocity of 970 f.p.s., and the unusual Aguila SSS Sniper Subsonic 60-grain lead round nose with a listed velocity of 950 f.p.s. The Aguila's heavy-for-caliber bullet fits due to the use of a .22 Short-sized cartridge case.
The LifeCard proved to be exceptionally quite when fitted with the 4-oz. titanium Banish 22 suppressor.
The third cartridge in the line-up was the general purpose Federal Champion 36-grain copper-plated hollow point listed at 1260 f.p.s. Most high-velocity .22 LR ammunition will drop to subsonic speeds when fired from short pistol barrels. Since this is a more budget-friendly option that has worked well for me in a variety of handguns and long guns, it served as a kind of 'control group' load for this test. Here are the results for the LifeCard without the suppressor installed:
With that work completed, the Banish 22 was twisted onto the LifeCard for formal groups and some casual plinking. Silencer Central describes the suppressor as being capable of producing incredibly quiet sound levels. It certainly did with the LifeCard. The only sounds were the click of the hammer falling and the sneeze-like report with the three loads tested.
This range test pitted suppressor-specific .22 LR ammunition against a typical multi-purpose, high velocity load.
The threaded barrel hand plenty of clearance to swing open easily with the suppressor installed. Since this was a test of a closed-breech, single-shot pistol, there was no unpleasant gas blowback. But it did change the five-shot group sizes.
The CCI load proved to be the most accurate with the suppressor installed by printing a 2.12" group. The relatively fast Federal cartridge knocked out a 2.26" group. But it was the Aguila load's group that opened up significantly to 5.08". My understanding is that suppressors are not supposed to have this much of an effect on accuracy, and I saw no evidence of baffle strikes when the suppressor was inspected after the range test. I don't have a good explanation at this point, but it's clear the LifeCard and Aguila SSS Subsonic 60-grain load don't work well together. But I want to shoot this round through additional handguns and rifles before passing judgment on its performance potential.
From the Left: Aguila’s 60-grain SSS Sniper Subsonic, the CCI Suppressor 45-grain lead round nose and the Federal Champion 36-grain copper-plated hollow point.
The Trailblazer LifeCard has provided a unique and enjoyable shooting experience since it was launched a few years ago, and it’s only gotten better with the addition of .22 WMR-chambered models. And the .22 LR threaded barrel kicks it up another notch from there. The possible applications of this pistol, ammunition and suppressor combination are likely to be debated. But the cool factor of these folding pocket pistols paired with a quality, light-weight sound suppressor like the Banish 22 is hard to beat!
This was my first time at the range with the Banish 22, and I have to say, so far so good! I'm looking forward to seeing how it performs with other handguns and rifles. As for the LifeCard, I've test-fired multiple examples of the gun now, and it's proven to be well made and reliable. Much like the North American Arms Mini revolvers and the Bond Arms double-barrel pistols, Trailblazer relies on the quality of its products to sell them just as much or more than their distinctive features.
Trailblazer Firearms LifeCard .22 LR Polymer Specifications
Manufacturer: Trailblazer Firearms
Action Type: single-shot, tilt-barrel rimfire pistol
Chambering: .22 LR
Frame: 6061 aluminum, Cerakote finish
Grip: molded polymer
Barrel: 2.5” standard, 3.15” threaded
Trigger: 3-lb., 3-oz. pull
Height: 5” (with factory rubber grip)
Weight: 5.4 ozs empty (2.5” barrel)
MSRP: $299 to $309