Dry Fire Training Systems Explained

Michael Crites

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Disclosure: Products are selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases from a link. How we select gear.

Firearm training is the most critical aspect of owning a firearm, primarily for self-defense. If you are not confident in your gun handling skills, you endanger everyone around you, including yourself.

However, going to the range and using live fire ammunition is expensive. Some ranges will not allow you to practice drawing from your holster and firing for safety reasons.

So how are we supposed to practice safely?

Dry fire training systems.

Dry fire systems eliminate the need for a gun range or live ammo because they use lasers on specialized targets that can be used virtually anywhere, including inside your home.

To be fair, some systems are better training systems than others; that’s why we made this list of the 11 best dry fire training systems.

In This Article:

Dry Fire Training System Comparison

Below is my list of the best dry fire training systems for 2022. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.

Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of training systems.

NameSelectionRatingPrice
Mantis X10 ELITE SystemBest Pistol Training System
(4.7/5.0)
$249
Mantis Blackbreard AR-15 SystemBest AR Training System
(4.7/5.0)
$219
Mantis Laser Training Academy KitBest Cartridge-Based System
(4.6/5.0)
$149
G-Sight ELMS Training SystemRunner-Up Cartridge-Based System
(4.3/5.0)
$120
G-Sight ELMS Plus CartridgeStandalone-Cartridge Runner Up
(4.2/5.0)
$67.99
LaserLyte LT-PRE Universal TrainerBest Universal Option
(4.4/5.0)
$99.99
LaserLyte Steel Tyme Laser TrainerBest Laser Trainer Pistol
(4.3/5.0)
$131
LaserLyte Score Tyme TrainerLaser Trainer Runner-Up
(4.3/5.0)
$226
LaserHIT Dry Fire Training KitBest SIRT-Compatible System
(4.3/5.0)
$109
Blowback Laser Trainer SystemActive Recoil Option
(4.1/5.0)
$649
ARKSight Dry Fire Training CartridgeBudget Cartridge-Based Option
(4.0/5.0)
$34.99

Why You Should Listen To Us

Dry Fire Training Systems (16)
I find few things as entertaining as snapping around corners in my house with a laser gun.

My father and grandfather introduced me to firearms at an early age, and since then, I’ve only come to appreciate and respect guns on a deeper level. While my grandfather helped me build a private shooting range on his land, the scarcity of ammo and the high prices have caused me to shoot much less than I would prefer.

That’s why I’m thankful for laser training systems. I can still safely get the reps in without using up my precious ammo. I keep my skills sharp with a dry fire system.

Dry Fire Training System Reviews

1. Mantis X10 ELITE Shooting Performance System

Mantis is one of the more popular brands in this space, and produces a variety of training systems. I consider them a leader in the industry because they have some of the most advanced features of any laser dry fire training product and package these systems in a really useful way.

What We Liked:

What We Didn't:

The Mantis X10 Elite is like having a personal firearms instructor attached to your gun. It can be used with live fire, an unloaded firearm, or airsoft replicas. I love the X10 Elite because it’s simple to set up and use, and it works with nearly any gun.

Dry Fire Training Systems (5)
You get the X10 sensor, carrying case, Picatinny rail attachment, charger, and a sticker. Of course all the magic is in the app.

The X10 Elite tracks virtually every aspect of the shooting process and helps you understand if you’re flinching, anticipating recoil, or even slapping the trigger on your shots. 

Download the app to get the data on your hold control, breath control, trigger press, and so much more. The Mantis X10 Elite is the most versatile training system on the market, so if you shoot a wide variety of firearms and even archery, this system is worth its weight in gold (even though it doesn’t weigh much!).

The Mantis X10 Elite is for serious shooters who enjoy shooting a wide variety of weapons but can’t afford to hire a shooting instructor for each one.

Dry Fire Training Systems (7)
Looks simple enough.

The Mantis Laser Academy App

Mantis AppRating
iOS4.7
Android4.7

Another advantage for Mantis Laser Academy is the quality of the app — which scores 4.7 on both the Google Play and Apple App stores. Many reviewers appreciate how well the app works and quality of data it captures. Beyond the features in the application, the experience of using the app is simple, intuitive, and functional — if not breaking any new ground design-wise.

2. Mantis Blackbreard AR-15 Trigger System

Mantis has delivered another outstanding training system with the Blackbeard. Instead of sticking to a dry fire training system that fits a wide variety of firearms, the Blackbeard is specifically designed for the AR-15 platform.

What We Liked:

What We Didn't:

The Blackbeard installs in under a minute so you can immediately get to work on shooting drills. The US Military trusts the Blackbeard to help train our soldiers, so I know I can trust the Mantis Blackbeard to deliver exactly what it promises.

Dry Fire Training Systems (14)
The Blackbeard system contains a replacement BCG/charging handle unit and magazine that serves as the battery.

The Blackbeard resets your hammer after each pull of the trigger so you can shoot semi-auto. Since the bolt-carrier group is replaced, you don’t have to worry about damaging your firing pin or pulling the charging handle after every shot. Three different laser options allow you to choose your favorite and adapt to other conditions. It’s compatible with the Laser Academy, which must be purchased separately.

Dry Fire Training Systems (18)
Swapping your BCG with the included units takes about 10 seconds.
Dry Fire Training Systems (26)
While I could shoot faster than the app would recognize I got the hang of pulling together nice long strings.

The Blackbeard AR-15 Auto-Resetting Trigger System is for every AR-15 owner who needs to keep their shooting skills sharp without going bankrupt because of ammo prices, values tracking progress and wants to use their own rifle for training and drills.

3. Mantis Laser Training Academy Kit

Another reason why Mantis is the leader in at-home firearms training is due to its Laser Academy Training Kit. This kit allows you to use your actual gun for training and gives instant feedback so you can quickly correct your mistakes.

What We Liked:

What We Didn't:

As will other Mantis products, the Laser Academy Training Kit is quick and straightforward to set up. The standard kit includes everything you need to start and works with a wide range of unloaded guns.

You must select the specific caliber of laser training cartridge to fit your firearm. If you want multiple calibers, the laser cartridges are purchased separately.

Dry Fire Training Systems (21)
The Laser Academy System comes with a ton of goodies -- from the laser cartridge & multiple tripods to 20 different targets to use with the various modes in the app.

When you download the app, there are seven free training modes, from Shooting Basics to Open Shooting, Dueling, and a Die Hard simulator, plus ten unlockable training sessions that you can access by using the activation code provided with the training kit.

The kit helps keep practice fun and more like a game than a chore (if shooting can be a chore.) 

The Mantis Laser Academy Training Kit is for every level of shooter who wants to have access to a shooting instructor whenever is most convenient for them.

Dry Fire Training Systems (20)
The cartridge and smaller tripod are self-contained in the carrying case.

One thing I found curious was the larger tripod. Mantis has an excellent brand identity — which is plaster on everything from the boxes to the cases and the stickers the package includes, but the tripod was clearly some Chinese off-brand. You’d think Mantis would want their brand on the tripod as well, given it’s literally what holds the phone & app. 

Also, there were no small target holders included in my shipment, only a note that I could redeem a code to have some shipped to me. 

It’s certainly possible that these oddities are a byproduct of overwhelming demand for their products or challenges sourcing these pieces from suppliers, given the global crunch on everything from toilet paper to SxSs. 

Dry Fire Training Systems (22)
Why Mantis slaps their brand logo on everything then includes a "Yunteng" branded tripod is beyond me.
Dry Fire Training Systems (25)
The laser trainer app has a load of training drills.

4. G-Sight ELMS Dry Fire Cartridge Laser Training System

G-Sight manufactures Expert Laser Marksmen Systems, which are laser ammo that comes in various calibers.

The G-Sight ELMS Plus ProPack helps you practice the fundamentals like sight picture alignment, breath control, and trigger control. I like that this system comes with a free app, extra batteries, extra o-rings, and extra strike pads. However, not all the features are unlocked in the app and require additional purchases.

What We Liked:

What We Didn't:

You have six different pistol calibers to choose from but no rifle calibers. Since it is a laser cartridge, you use your real gun and not an imitation to become more comfortable with your weapon.

The G-Sight ELMS Plus ProPack is for any pistol shooter looking to sharpen their skills at home.

The G-Sight App

G-Sight AppRating
iOS3.0
Android3.4

One area that the G-Sight system doesn’t compare favorably is the app — which has less than stellar ratings on both the App Store and Google play, coming in at 3.4 and 3.0 respectively. Many reviewers were up in arms at both the design quality — “It does what is advertised just barely, the app need a serious overhaul looks like it was made in the early 2000s…” as well as the need to pay for any drills beyond the single option made available with initial purchase.

That said, G-Sight is active on both stores, responding to complaints and criticism, which gives me the sense they’re interested in improving the experience on both fronts. 

Dry Fire Training Systems (27)
The G-Sight app is simple enough.
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Here you can see the single option is the laser training with additional laser training and a shot timer available for purchase.

5. G-Sight ELMS Plus Cartridge

G-Sight also sells the ELMS laser training cartridges separately, so you can purchase multiple calibers if you need them.

This product is best if you’ve already purchased the ProPack or another laser training app. Yes, it is compatible with other laser training apps and laser targets, so if you already have a favorite app, you can still use it with the G-Sight laser cartridge.

The G-Sight customer service team comprises firearms experts who will help you get your laser device working instead of you sending it in and waiting for a replacement. 9MM, 10MM, .40S&W, .45ACP, .380ACP, and .357SIG are all the available calibers, so if you’re a rifle shooter, you’ll need to find a different laser training system.

The G-Sight ELMS Plus Cartridge is for the pistol lover who needs to train at home.

6. LaserLyte LT-PRE Universal Laser Handgun Trainer

LaserLyte sells products to enable laser training dry fire practice for EDC and CCW.

The LaserLyte LT-PRE Universal Laser Trainer is easy to use and fits virtually any handgun using the provided adapters. The laser is the brightest allowed by law, so you will not have trouble seeing where it strikes the target.

The LaserLyte LT-PRE is adjustable for windage and elevation, so you can accurately dial in your sights while using it. This is not a traditional laser cartridge. It’s a sound-activated training device that inserts into the end of your barrel.

I would recommend the LaserLyte LT-PRE Universal Laser Trainer to snub-nosed handgun owners because it seemed to fit snub-nosed revolvers the best.

7. LaserLyte Steel Tyme Laser Trainer Targets With Pistol

LaserLyte manufactures laser targets, guns, and cartridges for dry fire training.

The laser used by the LaserLyte Pistol, similar to the SIRT pistol, is the brightest allowed by law and will easily be picked up by the laser targets. The targets have an on/off switch and a silent mode so that you can practice without annoying everyone in the house.

The laser pistol is great for letting everyone around you know you are not handling a real firearm. However, it is not the same as training with your weapon, no matter how realistic the laser gun is.

The LaserLyte Steel Tyme Laser Trainer Targets with Pistol is for someone looking to practice the basics of shooting in their home and doesn’t require the use of their own pistol, stat tacking, or the other bells and whistles found with app-based trainers. Although, app-based trainers don’t give you that sweet “ping” sound, so you’re not missing out on all the goodies.

8. LaserLyte Score Tyme Trainer Target & Pistols

LaserLyte has made another laser target and training pistols. One pistol is a full-size pistol, while the other is a sub-compact pistol so that you can train with either.

The Score Tyme Target has a timer and will track your score. You can stand the target on a flat surface or hang it on the wall and challenge a friend. The target is compatible with other LaserLyte laser cartridges and universal laser trainers.

The pistols are realistic, mimicking the feel of real handguns, but you miss out on training with your gun when using them.

The LaserLyte Score Tyme Trainer Target with Two Pistols is ideal for beginner shooters to master the basics before moving on to more advanced training.

9. LaserHIT Dry Fire Training Kit

LaserHIT has a free app compatible with this dry fire training kit.

The LaserHIT Dry Fire Training Kit includes a dual-sided target, a tripod for your phone, and a 9x19mm laser cartridge. Everything you need to train with your 9mm at home. I like this training kit because you use your firearm. However, I could only find a 9mm option, which is disappointing.

The augmented reality feature on the app allows you to track where you have shot the target and is compatible with most iPhones and Android phones.

The LaserHIT Dry Fire Training Kit is for 9mm lovers. If all you own are 9x19mm pistols, then this is the training system for you.

The LaserHIT App

LaserHIT AppRating
iOS3.7
Android3.3

Fairing somewhere between Mantis and G-Sight is the LaserHIT app, which is well-liked for working with SIRT pistols and rates in the mid-three stars on both stores.

Dry Fire Training Systems (30)
Interesting the LaserHIT app uses a landscape orientation.

I found it cumbersome, with lots of safety acknowledgments and gates to click through before getting to anything resembling a drill. I’d be willing to go through it a few times but would find it frustrating if I had to fight through this many screens every time I just wanted to get some practice in.

Dry Fire Training Systems (1)
The multiple safety screens gate and slow the experience of actually using the app.
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The Practices section has a number of drills and is nicely designed.

10. Blowback Laser Trainer System

Blowback Laser Trainer sells some of the most realistic dry fire systems on the market.

This kit comes with a carrying case, a laser pistol, charger, and laser target. The pistol is machined to weigh and feel like a real pistol, which is nice, but it’s still not the firearm you will use in a self-defense situation.

What We Liked:

What We Didn't:

What sets the Blowback Laser Trainer apart from other training systems is the recoil the pistol provides with each pull of the trigger thanks to a CO2-powered recoil system. Even when training with your gun, you will miss out on the recoil during laser training. That’s not so with the Blowback Pistol.

The Blowback Laser Trainer System is for the shooter desiring the most realistic dry firing experience.

11. ARKSight Dry Fire Training Cartridge

ARKSight makes laser cartridges, boresight lasers, and gun laser sights.

The ARKSight Dry Fire Training Cartridge works with most dry fire training apps and targets. A built-in protective snap cap triggers the laser when struck by the firing pin.

It comes with three sets of batteries, so you don’t have to worry about the bright red class IIIA laser draining your batteries. There are only four handgun caliber options, so it is limited in calibers.

The ARKSight Dry Fire Training Cartridge is an excellent addition to a laser training system.

What is Dry Fire Training?

Dry fire training is when you are not using live ammo to practice your basic shooting skills. It can be done with laser cartridges, snap-cap rounds, or dummy rounds.

One must be careful when dry fire training because some firearms are not designed to be dry fired, so you must ensure a dummy round or snap-cap is in the chamber to prevent the firing pin from breaking.

Why Use Dry Fire Training Systems?

Dry Fire Training Systems (19)
Lots of variety awaits those who train with a laser system.

There are many advantages to using a dry fire training system. We’ve listed several below for your convenience.

Use Your Gun

Nothing beats training with your weapon and many dry fire training systems allow you to do just that. This builds familiarity and muscle memory with your weapon so you can be confident when you need it, whether that’s at the range or in a self-defense situation.

Safety

No matter how safe you are at the range live-fire training will always create more risk than dry fire. Using a dry fire training system is much safer than live fire training because you’re emitting nearly harmless lasers instead of lethal bullets. Therefore, you can train just about anywhere, including in your living room.

Convenience = More Practice

Practicing at your convenience generally translates into more overall practice, and if you’re using the feedback data these systems provide correctly, your skills will drastically improve in a much shorter amount of time. There’s just something fun and inherently useful about translating feel into data, and using that data to improve your use of your own firearm. 

Instant Feedback

When using a laser training system, you get instant feedback, knowing what to adjust during the next shot to shoot better consistently. The instant feedback allows you to become a better shooter at a faster rate than shooting live ammo during target practice. It’s really straightforward, and without the recoil impulse of live-fire training, I found connecting my movements to the data and adjusting shot-to-shot was like having a trainer by my side.

Save Money on Ammo

There’s a reason I listed this last — it shouldn’t be your primary objective in my opinion. It’s a thing, for sure, but all of the aforementioned benefits are more useful in the long run.

That said, other than the initial cost of these systems and replacing batteries every so often, you won’t spend much money compared to how much you would spend on ammo given these systems essentially provide infinite ammunition to train with. Depending on which you buy, the laser training system will quickly pay for itself if you look at it through the lens of money not spent on ammunition.

Types of Dry Fire Training Systems

Dry Fire Training Systems (10)

Not all dry fire training systems are created equal like everything else in life. There are different types, and each has its place in the training process.

Snap Caps & Training Rounds

Snap caps and training rounds are great for dry fire practice or use during malfunction drills. They protect your firing pin with a rubber cap in the place of the primer. A snap cap usually refers to a round that looks very similar to a live round of ammunition, whereas a training or dummy round is clearly fake.

Plastic Training Guns

Laser training pistols are an excellent way to introduce people to firearms and gun safety. Many plastic guns are similar in shape and weight to real guns to give the shooter a realistic experience. You can get a sense of your shot placement with as little as a paper target and relatively inexpensive training pistol.

Laser Targets

Laser targets either light up where the laser shot them or send a signal to the app on your phone and show you where you struck the target. They come at various prices depending on the functions you want them to perform.

Drop-in Laser Cartridges

Drop-in laser cartridges will help you become more familiar with your firearm. Their biggest downfall is the lack of recoil. However, many can be interchangeable with shooting apps and laser targets, plus they’re relatively inexpensive and you can start practicing once you install them.

Laser Training Systems

Laser training systems often include a laser gun, target, and feedback system. They can be as basic as a plastic laser gun shooting a target, and the target lights up where the laser hit it. Or they can be as sophisticated as the Mantis X10 Elite, which tracks nearly everything from the moment you touch your gun until you reholster it.

Laser training systems are the best way to dry fire train, but they’re also the most expensive.

Important Dry Fire Training System Considerations

When purchasing a dry fire training system, you should consider several factors. This will ensure you make the best possible decision and avoid wasting your money.

Is it Important to You to Use Your Own Gun?

Determine if it’s essential for you to use your gun. If it’s not, then using plastic laser guns will be an excellent option for you. However, if using your firearm is essential to you, you should stick with a laser cartridge or training system that makes using your gun necessary.

I prefer to use my gun. That way, I’m familiar with the trigger pull, weight of the gun, and sight alignment. Although I don’t experience the recoil as I will with live ammo.

Do You Want to Track Progress?

If you want a target that you can shoot at with no special features, then you’ll be looking at less expensive laser targets. If, however, you want a system that will give you feedback and track how well you’ve been doing, then you’ll be looking at a little more expensive models. Those systems are like having access to a shooting instructor whenever you want.

Ease of Set-Up

I prefer to keep things simple. This ensures I will want to use it. If you purchase a dry fire training system that is difficult to set up and use, you probably won’t use it much and will have wasted your money. So even though a product claims to be the most advanced, that doesn’t always make it the best choice.

Built-In Shot Timer

Having a built-in shot timer is nice because you won’t have to purchase a separate one. However, not every shooter needs a shot timer. A shot timer can turn a regular practice into a more exciting event. It’ll help add a little stress to help make practice a little more realistic.

Distance Limitations

Laser training systems are not designed for long-distance shooting. That’s why most only offer pistol calibers. The maximum distance for a dry fire system is typically 100 yards. That’s why only a few training systems offer rifle calibers.

Lighting Limitations

Sometimes a bright light will trigger the laser target instead of the laser from your gun. That’s why training outside is a little more complicated, but it can be done as long as you are conscious of the sun’s location or other bright light sources.

Training From a Holster

Only a few dry fire training systems will give you feedback on your holster training. Most only provide you with feedback on shot time and placement. So if you’re using it to train for your concealed carry, you will want a system like the Mantis X10 Elite.

Price Ranges vs. Features

Dry fire training systems come in a wide variety of price ranges. We will break them down to know what you should expect to pay.

  • Under $75. Most laser cartridges will be around $50, while a few will be closer to $75.
  • $150-$200. If you have a budget of $150, then you will have plenty of money to get multiple laser targets and laser guns. This is the mid-range price point and a great place to begin your search.
  • $200-$400. This price range will get you some of the best systems available on the market. Systems that attach to your accessory rail and track every gun movement so you get the best feedback possible during dry and live-fire training.
  • $500 & Above. Within this range, you will find training pistols that offer a realistic feel with recoil and targets with several feedback features, including a shot timer.

 

How We Selected Our Recommendations

For this article, Mantis provided test products for each of the items listed, which we tested hands-on. They’re also some of the top-selling and most innovative products on the market (and certainly deserve to be in any list of training systems worth it’s salt.) I would love to test out every one of these products, but that’s not financially possible. Instead, in addition to the hands-on product testing with Mantis kits, I leaned on my firearms experience, online reviews, and speaking with experts to choose the best products. So you aren’t wasting your time or money on inadequate dry fire training systems.

If there is a dry fire training system you love or think is worth having us review please let us know. If we think it could make the cut we’ll incorporate that product in our next revision.

FAQs

They are an aftermarket trigger. Binary triggers enable a semi-auto firearm to shoot twice as fast. They fire on the trigger pull and the trigger release.

Federally, binary triggers are legal. However, in some states, they are illegal. Carefully read your state’s firearm laws to keep your gun legal.

A binary trigger for an AR will cost $300 to $650.

If you enjoy a mag dump, yes, a binary trigger is worth it. If, however, you think it will make you a better shooter, it is not worth it.

Check your local hunting regulations, but I don’t see a reason to hunt with a binary trigger unless you switched it to the semi-auto mode instead of binary mode.

Sources

  1. Mantis Tech. (Various Dates) YouTube Channel

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