Today we review the new and highly anticipated Ekrin BANTAM from Ekrin Athletics. Their original model, the B37, after three long years, remains our #1 top massage gun recommendation. So as you can imagine, the bar for their all new, super lightweight mini massage gun has already been set pretty high.
Does the Ekrin BANTAM live up to our expectations? The short answer: absolutely and then some.
To say that so-called “mini” massage guns is the next new thing is an understatement. From Theragun to Hypervolt and everyone else in between, the market has been getting swamped with ultra tiny massagers. And while yes mini massage guns certainly come with some trade-offs from their full-sized siblings, they fill a unique niche all their own.
Call us romantics (or not) but laying eyes on the BANTAM was love at first sight. No seriously, it’s fantastic! There’s no question, it has a great look and feel to it. If you’re familiar with Ekrin’s other massage guns, it shares the same unparalleled design, just 50% smaller.
The Ekrin BANTAM has a new black soft touch polycarbonate plastic exterior accentuated by a dark evergreen ring. It’s quite a stunning combination of colors and materials.
To gaze upon it is one thing, but to hold the BANTAM is another. Quite honestly, the diminutive size and build quality shocked us. It fits perfectly in the hand with an amazing grip and it just feels good to hold. Natural even.
With its ergonomic design and 15 degree angled handle, it provides an assuring feeling of confidence in knowing that it isn’t going to slip out of your hand. Afraid it may be too unwieldy for small hands? No worries, the BANTAM will feel like an extension of your body. It’s the perfect size and weight for humans of all shapes and sizes.
What’s in the Box?
Unboxing the BANTAM for the first time, we were immediately taken back by how amazingly thin and lightweight the carrying case is. When it comes to travel bags, this one is simplistic yet durable. Because of its size, we think you’ll be much more prone to taking it with you where ever you may go. Need something tiny to travel with or to stow in a locker at the gym? You won’t think twice with the BANTAM.
Getting to the goods inside the carrying case, you will find the BANTAM, 4 different interchangeable massage heads, a universal USB-C cable for charging, and a manual. Oh, and if your fandom comes out, an Ekrin Athletics sticker for your back windshield is also tossed in there too.
There are a number of key facets that make a great massage gun, the massage head attachments being one of them. If you want to maximize the recovery process, you need the right tools. The Ekrin BANTAM comes with all the essential heads to make that happen. That includes: a Flat, Round, Bullet, and Fork massage heads. Each has a different purpose, and if used correctly, will make all the difference.
- The Flat head is great for massaging the general areas of the body like the legs or chest after a hard workout. It’s fairly safe to use anywhere, but keep it clear of any bony spots!
- The Round head, (aka the Ball) is best for targeting larger muscle groups like the back, legs, pecs, and traps. It too can be used nearly anywhere and because of it being hollowed silicon, it’s perhaps has the lowest impact to the body. Great for sensitive muscles that require a little TLC.
- Next is the Bullet. This is your go to when it comes to getting extra deep into the muscle when the flat or round just isn’t enough. It’s designed to more precisely target difficult trouble spots. Think muscle attachment points, ligaments, muscle folds, etc.
- Finally is the Fork. The fork is also a bit more specialized in its use. You can use the Fork along the cervical spine in the neck or your back. It can effectively be used along the Achilles tendon too. The fork is certainly not limited to those particular areas of the body, but like all the attachments, practice caution where ever you may use it. Not doing so is a recipe for increased pain or swelling.
Now let’s talk about what makes the Ekrin BANTAM tick and help you decided if it’s enough massage gun to fit your needs.
As we previously mentioned, this gun is Ekrin’s first mini massage gun and compared to its older siblings (and other massage guns for that matter) it is much smaller.
The Ekrin B37 for example measures 242 x 188 x 62 mm, while the BANTAM is only 154 x 113 x 48 mm! Meaning the BANTAM is nearly half the size of the B37 or about the size of an Xbox controller if that reference sticks.
Ekrin BANTAM Lightweight Massage Gun
Compared to your average massage gun, it’s pretty dang small. As you could imagine, less size also means less weight. The BANTAM weighs in at a mere 1.1 pounds or about 0.5 kg while your average massage gun weighs anywhere from 2-3 pounds. Let’s just say this gun really is a lightweight massage gun.
Trust us when we say this, a lighter weight massager will really mean something after holding it for 5-10 minutes. A couple pounds may not seem like much initially, but quickly becomes cumbersome to hold onto.
And that’s part of the beauty of the BANTAM is that not only does it shave off a pound or so, but provides a very similar massage experience to a device twice its size.
When it comes to massage guns, total power output and battery life are likely your top concerns. No one wants a wimpy, gutless massage, right?
For the BANTAM there happens to be no downsides in either of those departments.
Powering the BANTAM is a healthy 1600 mAh Samsung Lithium-Ion battery. It’s plenty of juice to keep it going up to 6 hours of total run time. Your miles may vary depending on what speed you’re using it at and how much pressure you’re applying, but regardless, you won’t be running to a charger anytime soon.
Considering the size of this gun, 6 hours is pretty impressive. While you may think that half the size means half the battery, you would actually be mistaken. Many larger massage guns last around 6-8 hours, only slightly more than the BANTAM.
Now for power output, you won’t be disappointed with that either. The BANTAM easily outperforms most other massage guns in the “mini” segment and comes close to competing with many full size massage guns we’ve tested. It’s a scrappy underdog that does a wonderful job vying for your approval.
Given its physical size constraints, however, the amplitude or depth of the massage head travel is limited to an overall stroke length of about 10mm. That’s about 2mm less than the Ekrin B37 models. What that amounts to is a shallower massage and might not “dig in” at much as you would prefer.
Amplitude aside, the Ekrin BANTAM’s motor outputs 35lbs of brute stall force pressure. Stall force refers to the amount of applied pressure it takes to stop (stall) the motor. In other words, if you’re pressing down too hard, it will briefly stop percussing until you ease up on the pressure.
The short: More stall force = a more powerful massage
For reference, that amount of stall force bests the much more expensive Hypervolt GO by a significant margin.
BANTAM (3 Speeds)
Ekrin B37 (5 Speeds)
Ekrin B37S (5 Speeds)
As you can see from the chart, the difference in stall force between the BANTAM and the original B37 are nearly identical. That’s significant given that most people don’t use their massage guns beyond the first 3 speeds anyway.
So again, the amplitude of the BANTAM is the only spec that holds it back from performing like its full-fledged counterpart. Have we overused the adjective “impressive” yet?
Related Reading: Ekrin 365 Review: The Massage Gun, Perfected.
Head-to-head Comparison: Ekrin BANTAM vs Theragun Mini
If you’re deliberating between buying the Ekrin BANTAM and the Theragun Mini, you should go with the BANTAM. Theragun may be the “gold standard” setter in the massage gun realm, but in this case the BANTAM out matches it.
For starters, the BANTAM is much more palpable in the hand. The ergonomics and design are, in our opinion, perfect. The Theragun Mini feels like a brick to hold on to and it’s much more difficult to maneuver if you’re trying to reach your own shoulders, for instance.
Given the bigger size, the Theragun Mini is also heavier than the BANTAM at 1.4lbs vs the BANTAM’s 1.1lb. It’s not a lot, but if you’re looking for something ultra portable and light, the Theragun can seem a bit clunky.
The BANTAM may weigh less than the Theragun Mini, but trumps it with much better battery life. Total runtime for the BANTAM is rated up to 6 hours while the Mini only lasts up to 150 minutes.
Finally we have the power of both mini massage guns. From the start, it’s clear the Ekrin has a big advantage over the Theragun Mini. From the percussions to the stall force (35lbs vs 20lbs for the Mini), the BANTAM has the upper hand and brings a bit more to the table when it comes down to how well it massages.
On its own, the Theragun Mini is a really great mini massage gun, but comparatively, it just comes up short.
If left to decide between the two, you would be much happier with the Ekrin BANTAM. It’s smaller, more powerful, comes with more attachments, and comes in at a much lower price.
Let’s face it, electronics fail all the time. If its battery powered and runs on a circuit, the question isn’t “if” it’s going to break, but “when”, right?
The same is true of massage guns. If you’re going to spend $100 up to $600 dollars, you want to buy the most reliable massage gun possible.
Because the Theragun brand is more popular, you might assume it’s because they’re known for their reliability. But honestly, that’s simply not the case. Like other massage guns, Theraguns fail too and there are plenty of reviews to back that up. So what you should really be concerned with, is the warranty and if it will be upheld.
As of this writing, Theragun offers what they call an “industry-leading warranty”. Which is actually false and very misleading. In reality, their warranty period is only 1 year and there’s a bunch of asterisks and fine print to go along with that.
Ekrin Athletics on the other hand, offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products. Granted, that assumes they stay in business long enough to honor that (they’re doing VERY well at the moment, BTW). But from our experience, their customer service has been top notch and they’ve always been quick to address any small issue we’ve had in the past.
The reliability of a massage gun may not be on your radar when purchasing one, but it absolutely should, because again, electronics will fail eventually. Make sure you’re covered.
The Ekrin BANTAM lived up to our expectations in every way possible, if not more so. Truly, it delivers in every meaningful way that a massage gun should. It has loads of power and feels expectedly great to hold.
For now, we would say it is one of the best mini guns we’ve seen. So if you’re thinking about going the mini route, the BANTAM is the best way to go.
Editor-In-Chief at Recovatech. Dr. Ben has been a Doctor of Chiropractic for over 10 years, specializing in structural and neurological imbalances with an emphasis in functional movement patterns, exercise performance, and muscle recovery. He has been the team chiropractor for professional baseball and soccer organizations, as well as collegiate athletes. In his personal life, he’s always been driven when it comes to athletics and personal performance. His mornings start by lifting something heavy and end spending time with family.