Accoutrements for training

"Accoutrements" is a fancy word for "stuff."

There is a variety of training equipment out there to assist you in quantifying your skill levels. Each of them cover a different job and have their own good points and bad points. All these I personally own and use regularly. I am not sponsored by anybody, so my reviews and assessments are unbiased. My wish list is at the bottom..

- Laser round (~$40, MantisX link)

You get these included with many target packages. I am mentioning them separately (and first) because they are caliber specific. 9mm, .45ACP, etc. They are rimless so they do not extract when you cycle the slide. You have to knock them out with a dowel or other thing that will not hurt it or your barrel. The downside is you must cycle the action to reset the trigger unless you have a DAO (Double Action Only) pistol. This also comes in revolver calibers like .38 Special that are rimmed for use in a revolver. Get one of the packages below, then get one for each of your other calibers.

- iTarget Pro ($100)

This is an inexpensive place to start. You have a single shot (caliber specific) laser bullet that you drop into the chamber of your weapon. You knock it out with a wood dowel or pencil from the muzzle when you’re done. It has a sled to hold the target and your phone. When you pull the trigger it flashes a laser dot, which, when “fired” at the target that your smart device camera is pointed at, will record where it hit. The only downside of this is you have to rack the slide after every shot. You only get the one target and not a lot of drills. Strikeman is almost identical, and the same price. I don't have a Strikeman. I am including it for reference and option as a choice.

- MantisX Laser Academy ($159)

This has a “laser bullet” (same as the iTarget Pro) and an app. I still use this when practicing with my SIG P365 X-Macro. I don't have the Coolfire for it yet.

The kit includes a couple of smartphone stands, and targets in 5x7” and 8x10”. The basic app is free, however that’s only six drills. The other nineteen drills requires you purchase the full app for $99, OR you get an activation code with this product. There are eleven different targets, plus a “start/stop” target to remotely start and stop the drill (by shooting it) in case your phone/tablet is not close to you. Your device knows what target it is (and where the shots need to land) by the 2D barcode in each corner. While it can handle multiple targets, they must be all the same target. You can’t try to use a B-27 target with an IDPA target. The software has very challenging drills. The most confounding is the Hunt target, where you have 18 targets, numbered 1, 2 or 3, with different shapes (Circle, square, hexagon) and light and dark. The device will call out “one, dark, square” (or “square, one, dark,” etc.) and you are timed to see how fast and accurately you can hit it.

It can be finicky when it comes to detecting the targets. Vary the light levels, keep the device close and you should get it to work.

-MantisX App (Free; requires Mantis X3/X10/BlackbeardX hardware. Works on iOS and Android)

NOTE: You generally will not use this with a laser-emitting device/drill. The purpose of this tool is for analyzing trigger press and muzzle control. Or in the case of the X10, recoil control with live fire. You can, however it will require a second device to catch the laser hits.

This app Bluetooths to one of the MantisX devices that you mount on your weapon. It shows a graph of (relatively) where your weapon is pointing before, during and after the trigger pull. It’s not looking at where you’re firing (i.e., are you on target?), it looks at how you’re firing (grip, trigger press, etc.). It analyzes dry and live fire. This has fourteen base drills, plus a rotation of daily challenges to keep things fresh and interesting. It also has courses in Marksmanship and Combat (Basic, Advanced, Elite) and "Double Action Diligence" I have completed all of the Marksmanship courses and the Basic Combat. The last Combats require the X10. I haven't tried the Double Action Diligence yet.

Each of these courses has 10-12 drills you must complete in sequence. An example is "Shoot ten rounds, support hand only, all shots must be 88 or higher. Twice." When you complete a course, it asks for your name and address, and they send you a Velcro-backed patch FREE.

On top of that, it let's you challenge your buddies as well. It shares your results with individuals or groups.

-Mantis X3 ($169)

This is a 3d inertial sensor you mount on the rail of your weapon. I use this all the time to work on my grip and trigger pull training. You get better using this, because it measures what you do before and after the shot, dry or live.

- Mantis X10 ($250)

I just got this Black Friday 2023. It's the X3 on steroids. You can get a plate for the bottom of your magazine. Mount the X10 on it and you can now get an analysis of your draw. The X10 can also track your recoil management after the shot. Once you get all of the challenges you can with the X3, this will take you to the next level.

-MantisX Blackbeard ($219)

This is a laser and trigger reset for your AR-15. You replace your BCG with this and the battery looks and acts like a magazine. You pull the trigger, the hammer hits the MantisX BCG, pulses the laser, and then a solenoid resets the hammer so you can keep right on going without having to pull the charging handle.

NOTE: You cannot use “Laser Academy” and “MantisX” apps on the same device at the same time. You would have to use separate devices, one to watch the targets, the other to receive the X3 data.

- SIRT (Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger) ($239-$439)

This uses a non-firing replica of Glocks and a couple other pistols. You can pull the trigger and get the laser dot without having to rack the slide every time. When working on accuracy drills, this is the tool I use. It has droppable solid magazines, so you can practice reloading as well. This is my primary training tool and I use it with the Mantis Laser Academy. 

- CoolFire Trainer ($365 and up)

This device looks to combine all of the good stuff without any major disadvantages. This is a kit where you replace your barrel and recoil spring with their product. You then fill it from your choice of several different CO2 fill options (20oz paintball, 14oz “Make your own soda”, or a 90g cylinder; each delivers 300-400 shots) and each cylinder requires a different fill valve. You get ~15-18 laser shots with recoil per fill. I now have this and it is great. There are some drills I can't do with this due to the number of shots, however the kick is at least what a live fire round hits you with. I will analyze with my X10 and let you know.

This is something that they don't tell you until you've bought the system. That CO2 cartridge needs to be warm to deliver a maximum charge to the Coolfire system. They suggest you use a cup warmer and heat the cartridge to 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. NO MORE. Use a temperature sensor on the cartridge to make sure it doesn't get too hot.

This also comes with some TRT’s (Tap Rack Training aid) that suppresses your magazine follower so you can have an empty magazine in your weapon and it won’t cause slide lock during cycling, so you can practice magazine changes as well.

A downside is you only get so many uses per session. The barrel/cylinder gets cold from venting the CO2, which decreases the amount of your next fill. I generally do 2-3 drills with the Coolfire, then 2-3 drills with the SIRT/Laser round. I also have a SIG, but no Coolfire for it (yet).

- DryFireMag ($90-269)

This is a special magazine that resets the trigger of your pistol for you, think a battery-less Mantis Blackbeard for your pistol. You have a 12+ lb pull the first time (you’re pulling on the mag + the actual action), then a pull that’s at the normal poundage. You cannot use it with an iTarget/MantisX laser bullet, because the firing pin isn’t getting engaged. however there is a magazine/laser combo. You can adjust the amount of force on the trigger pull. There is an adjustment (and a spring set) so you can match the trigger pull exactly to your live fire trigger pull. You CAN use this with the Mantis X3, although it might record an extra shot every now and then as you let off the trigger.

- Laser Strike ($90 for two)

This is a totally passive “non-reflecting reflector” target. It lights up when you hit it with a laser. The Laser Strike “captures” the laser light and doesn’t send the laser right back at you like a driveway reflector would and damage your eyes. This also has “doughnuts” to shrink the open area and challenge you to work on your accuracy. The target also has a magnet in the back so they can be mounted on any steel or other magnetic surface, or the included stand.


I don't have these, however I'm looking real hard at them.

- iTarget Cube ($250 for three)

These targets can detect when they are hit by the laser. You can have multiple Cubes (that network over WiFi with each other!) and there are some interesting-looking drills with them. You have drills like “house clearing” or a “random one out of the three will flash” kind of drills.

- LaserLyte Trainer Target ($130 for two)

Kind of like iTarget Cube, goes “Ptang!” when hit. That's it. Not networkable. The reviewer I saw added a resistor to the speaker because it was too loud for him. Electronic version of cans on a fence rail.

-Mantis Blackbeard X ($319)

A combination of the Blackbeard and the X10. You get the laser shots and the trigger pull analytics. You would still need a second device for the laser part of it.
- Mantis Blackbeard upgrade ($175)

This is the just the BlackbeardX magazine, which has the X10 part.

- Interactive Multi-Target Training System ($400) URGENT: This only works with some lasers. I don't know which ones or why some don't. Coolfire guarantees their lasers will work, just not anybody else's. This is three (or more) targets that are networked together by a central controller. It has many drills and it can really challenge you. Ignore what's on the target. It registers hits only, no scoring like for the IDPA/IPSC targets. I bought this a while back, then returned it when I found out that my lasers didn't work with it.

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