Compactness when stored or transported is an important consideration for a defensive firearm that has to be kept out of sight until needed. It is not necessarily concealed, but certainly not on display. Folding stocks, takedown designs—the creativity of designers knows no limits. But, the Trailblazer Pivot is something new: It rotates.
When folded, the Pivot is just shy of 21 inches long. To unfold it, press the locking latch on the end and rotate the upper half, arcing the muzzle from pointing back past the buttstock, to forward. This is something that takes but a few seconds, and, with practice, you can get it down to even quicker.
Being compact in storage does not mean other details have to be compromised. The barrel is 16 inches long, so it is a carbine, not an SBR or pistol. Chambered in 9 mm, it uses Glock magazines, and this means you have your choice of capacity (depending on where you live) of the full gamut from 10 rounds to 50, or more if you use a magazine with an extension on it.
The controls are ambidextrous. The ambi magazine release is where you expect it to be, since it is compatible with Glock magazines. The safety is a rotating lever above and forward of the trigger, and you can easily reach it with your trigger finger. Those with long thumbs could use it on either side. The top of the receiver has a rail that extends from the rear of the upper to the cutout where the cocking lever is found. Forward of that, there is another rail segment. So, you have many options. You can mount an optic of some kind (given the chambering and compactness, a small-size MRDS would be perfect) or as an alternative or back-up, you could mount iron sights. A set of folding sights, to use in case the battery dies on your red-dot, would make this an “all occasions” defensive tool, not to mention a great plinker.
The stock has tricks of its own. First, it is adjustable for length-of-pull. When collapsed, it is flush with the upper-receiver handguard when closed, and this keeps the Pivot as compact as possible. It has three settings for its extension, so when you have the Pivot open, the stock lengths offer you overall lengths from 26.7 to 29.7 inches. As one with long arms, I greatly appreciate a compact firearm that gives me the opportunity to alter it to fit me.
Another trick up the sleeve of the stock is that it holds a spare magazine. Now, given the relatively limited space between the stock when collapsed and the pistol grip, you are going to find that the extended-length magazines are a no-go here. Still, having a spare magazine onboard is always a good thing.
The upper is aluminum, and the lower is aluminum with polymer assemblies as well, with M-Lok slots in the sides and bottom of the lower. With a flush-fit magazine in the pistol grip, the Pivot is slightly less than 6 inches tall. If you were to add on a red-dot optic, you would be making the Pivot a bit bulkier. However, if you mount a light in one of the slots on the bottom of the lower you wouldn’t really increase the footprint of the Pivot, even if a red-dot optic on top does.
After a few moments of looking it over, most everyone asks “Isn’t the muzzle pointed back at you when it is closed?” Yes, it is, which is why Trailblazer made the Pivot pivotable only when the bolt is locked rearward and the magazine is out.
In use, the Pivot is simple, even if it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it. With the gun closed, hold the pistol grip and press the release button on the (then) forward end. The upper rotates in either direction, so whichever way you slap it, it goes. It will lock in place once it has rotated 180 degrees. Then, pull the magazine out of the stock or off of your belt, insert it, work the charging handle and you are good to go. You have to store it with the bolt locked back, so you only have to give the charging handle an HK-style slap to close the action. You also have to have the magazine out in order to close it. This is both a safety measure and a mechanical one. A lot of jurisdictions feel that a firearm with a magazine inserted—even if there isn’t a round chambered—is loaded. So, that hazard is avoided here. Plus, the rotating upper rotates flush across the top deck of the lower, and if there was a magazine in place, its feed lips would prevent the upper from moving across. Even so, getting the Pivot in action once you have snatched it out of storage only takes a matter of seconds.
The straight-blowback action is all steel, and the barrel, being 16 inches long, will give you the full benefit of 9 mm velocity a given load can generate. The muzzle is threaded ½x28 tpi, the standard 9 mm thread pitch, so if you want to mount a direct-thread suppressor, you have that option. Or, you can mount a muzzle brake to take some of the steam out of the felt recoil. Rotating the Pivot was easy. To unlock the two halves, cup the lower receiver with the palm of your hand, and use your thumb to press the unlocking latch. Then, a quick flip/pull of your hand toward you will briskly snap the rotating upper around, and latch it in place. Then grab a magazine and shove it into place. The last step is to press the bolt hold-open. In shooting, the bolt is a big piece of steel, and its cycling back and forth creates some recoil, but nothing untoward. I wouldn’t be surprised if experimenters quickly come up with an internal rubber buffer, or spring-loaded something, to dampen the bump.
All this goodness for $1,795, which, when compared with 9 mm AR-15s on the market these days, isn’t bad. And given the unique compactness, a bargain.