Folding Pistols: The Next Big Thing in Defensive Handguns?

While they aren't designed as primary defensive firearms, these ultra compact, ultra-light pistols could have a place as a last line of self defense.

This modded Glock separates the grip from the upper via a hinge device that becomes the trigger guard.
This modded folding Glock separates the grip from the upper via a hinge device that becomes the trigger guard.photo from Facebook

Are prototype pistols that are hitting the Internet a sign of the impending era of folding handguns?

We reported on the forever-arriving-but-never-on-the-market folding pistol that looks like a smartphone when not deployed and all the fear-mongering it has spawned in the anti-gun world. But more and more people are showing off their ideas about making handguns even more compact with the Transformer treatment.

Most of us have seen photos and video of a Glock that has had the grip cut off. A device is affixed to the trigger guard that holds the magazine in place horizontally. To deploy, the magazine is inserted into the remaining magwell, essentially acting as the pistol's grip. The viability of the design remains...questionable.

However, this vid of a different kind of cut-down Glock may have some promise.

This modified Glock has had it’s trigger guard removed and the grip has been cut fairly high, but instead of being removed, the cut-off section has been hinged just behind the trigger. When folded (see photo above), the magazine sits in the folded section of the grip, parallel with the slide, making the gun essentially a big rectangle.

A latch added to the backstrap locks the pistol in the open position for firing.
A latch added to the backstrap locks the pistol in the open position for firing.photo from Facebook

There's literally no info to go along with the vid, posted on Facebook by badassweaponz, but it looks to be a DIY pistol mod.

To deploy, the grip is opened and a latch added to the backstrap, which locks it into place in the firing position, as a folding aluminum scissor assemble unfolds to form a trigger guard. The magazine is then simply fully inserted into the magwell and chambered.

Since the trigger is enclosed by the grip, the pistol can’t be fired if it’s folded, even if there is a round in the chamber.

That’s still a whole bunch more steps than simply drawing a subcompact semi-auto from a holster, but could folding pistols fill a concealed carry niche?

Just this week, Trailblazer Firearms introduced it's own version of a folding self-defense pistol called the LifeCard. As you may have guessed, when this little pistol folds up it's about the size of a really thick credit card, or a really old cell phone.

The Trailblazer LifeCard is a single-shot, single-action .22LR folding pistol.
The Trailblazer LifeCard is a single-shot, single-action .22LR folding pistol.photo from guns.com

Truly a last-resort self-defense tool, the LifeCard is a single-shot, single-action .22LR derringer that’s machined from a solid billet and features a steel barrel in an aluminum frame and handle. It’s 3.375-inches long with a width of just 0.5-inches and a weight of 7 ounces.

According to guns.com, the LifeCard is also incapable of firing while folded, keeping it from being classified as "any other weapon" by the ATF.

Once the gun is unlatched, a grip folds down and exposes the trigger, which has no guard. If you want to actually aim the little gun, there is a small v-groove cut into the top of the barrel.

The barrel tips up for loading and removal of spent cases and the grip houses four spare .22LR cartridges.
The barrel tips up for loading and removal of spent cases and the grip houses four spare .22LR cartridges.photo from guns.com

To load, the barrel tips up, a lot like a Beretta 950 JetFire. The bolt must be cocked manually to fire and it also has a half-cock position. A storage compartment in the grip holds four spare .22LR rounds and there is a hole through which a lock can run that would secure the LifeCard in the folded position.

When folded, the LifeCard can be carried pretty much anywhere, weighing in at 7 ounces.
When folded, the LifeCard can be carried pretty much anywhere, weighing in at 7 ounces.photo from guns.com

While something like the LifeCard should never be relied upon as a first line of self defense, if a given activity offers the choice between being unarmed or having one of these little .22s on board, the LifeCard is better than nothing, especially when you see the size in relation to every-day objects. This thing would disappear in a pocket, even in a modern-fitting suit, with no need for a holster to carry safely.

Even if you carry a non-Transforming pistol as your EDC, something like the LifeCard could be a decent option for a backup gun (if your state laws allow), especially if it's released in a larger caliber. Even a .22 Magnum version would be more appealing.

Simple pistols like this show the market for folding self-defense handguns might have some legs, but only a thorough range test can tell us for sure.

The LifeCard is only 0.5-inches thick.
The LifeCard is only 0.5-inches thick.photo from guns.com