About a six weeks ago a friend gave me a good talk through on the Mantis X system. Following that conversation, I decided to secure one and give it a try. I hadn’t really watched the videos or read up on the device. Upon doing research I didn’t find much besides the marketing ads. That is actually a good thing because I went into my test with a blank slate and no expectations.
First, let’s talk about what the Mantis X is. In the mail, you will receive a simple small Pelican case with a tiny device, which is set up to mount on any 1913 or weaver shaped rail. You use a simple screw with a captured bolt to mount it. That’s all. No special target, no special mount, no CDs. You then must download an app onto your smart device and off you go. The Mantis X doesn’t laze a target nor does it work off some sort of visual sensor. It is built of accelerometers and gyros in the same fashion of a modern smart phone.
The system can be used with IOS or Android device and oh wait “There is an APP for that” Once you have downloaded the app, you will select you weapon and caliber from a very diverse list. This included every type of firearm I own and some I had never heard of. There is also an option to record data from multiple weapons. (AUTHORS NOTE: ALL DRY FIRE SAFETY PROTOCALS MUST BE ENFORCED. CLEAR THE WEAPON, CHOOSE A BACKSTOP, REMOVE ALL LIVE AMMO FROM THE AREA AND CLEAR WEAPON AGAIN) The app is very intuitive to use and has not crashed, although upon one of the updates the history disappeared for about 4 hours.
On my first run, my score averaged about 60 points out of 100. My second run I took a little more time and I improved. I learned very quickly that the Mantis X was honest and unforgiving. When you move the weapon during trigger press or follow through, your points drop. For those of you who dry fire you know how easy it is to call a shot good when maybe it was or maybe it wasn’t. With the Mantis X you receive instant feedback, much to my dismay on those first few runs. Shots I considered good were not and shots that I thought were bad showed higher scores.
The question became not if the Mantis X worked but if it could be used to train a good dry fire shot from a bad shot. For most, we call a shot based on our perception of the movement of the sights on the press. I set about reprogramming my perception of a good shot. AS I continued, the reps racked up. After about 500 or so my shot calls were matching the feedback I got back from the Mantis X. By this time, I was averaging high 80s on 10 shot strings.
Most of you know that I have been shooting for quite a while. Though I am no champion shooter, I am not a bad shot. The current hotness on shooting tests is simple; 25 yards, 10 rounds in 20 seconds from concealment. As a test, I shot this drill cold early in my Mantis X work. I scored 82 which is nothing to brag about. I then shot it with the Mantis X and the target reflected the results on the Mantis X. With a baseline, I set about using the drill as the Mantis X dry fire. I set a B8 into my dry fire area and settled at 15 yards for a hard train up. Over the next few weeks the reps stacked up. 750 and 1000 passed by within two weeks. It is very easy to send 200 trigger presses in one session with the Mantis X chasing the elusive 100 points.
Occasionally, 97 pops up during a string. Then two times. The more often you shoot the more you chase a higher score. Then 98 pops. Next thing you know you have 200 reps in and your fingers and arms are sore. Trust me.
Around that time, I shot another live B8 drill and was in the mid-90s. More importantly, I could call every shot accurately. This was also live on the Mantis X and my average matched exactly the score on the target. I also shot a competition with the Mantis X mounted. The score was abysmal on the Mantis X but I did well in the comp. the reason for this was the comp scoring system was much more forgiving than the Mantis X. With the Mantis X, if you move the weapon during the shot, your score drops.
This revelation lead me to my next phase of working with the Mantis X. I didn’t disregard the accuracy work, but I focused more on pressing good shots during movement. I quickly realized that the scores would be lower during movement but they were consistent.
With this meant it was me and not the Mantis X. One of the Easter Eggs in the app is a real time live screen which shows movement detection. Using a dummy pistol and the tread mill, I began to work simple walking and could smooth out my forward movement into acceptable levels. My scores on a dry fire while movement improved from the 30’s and 40’s into the 70s. This seems insignificant but that means that I was not holding anywhere near center during movement despite pressing a shot when the sights were on target. While utilizing the modern Army shot process, the Mantis X improved my stability and improved my aim. As scores came up, I felt compelled to keep going increasing reps.
As of this writing, I have 2901 reps in 290 sessions total on the Mantis X since the 17th of March. 1178 of those are on a factory Sig Sauer 320. 1040 are on a Glock 19 with a McNally trigger. 408 are on rifles. The remainder are on various weapons used to show off the system.
Quantifiable improvements are ten points on the B8 drill, a 0.33-inch group on the rifle at 100 yards that yielded the high score of 99.7. The Mantis X is one of the highest value tools you can add to your kit. There is no other way to have the feedback on a regular basis in both live and dry fire. Other systems build training scars, only work dry or live or require you to use a different fire arm.
I want to close with the subtle things you can do with a Mantis X. Want to know if a trigger will help you? Toss your Mantis X on an equipped weapon and do some presses. Want to know if the thing the internet guru said in passing will help you? Fire up the Mantis X. One of the leading pro instructors said in a hashtag “don’t forget get the pinky” By focusing on pinky pressure I pick up 2 points and lose 2 points for forgetting. Want to see if you are snatching the trigger to ambush center of the target? Fire shots without looking at the sights. Mantis X allows you to quantify thoughts, techniques and hearsay instantly.
Over all those trigger presses, I only found one thing the Mantis X can’t do. When I am running a speed drill on rifle I am hitting 0.17-0.18 splits. At this speed, the Mantis X only picks up about every 2nd shot. It that a big deal? Not at all. I am also willing to bet that the professionals at Mantis X have a fix for this by the time you all read this.
In short, if you are serious about shooting well the Mantis X should be in your possession. It paid for itself at the 2000 round mark without quantifiable improvements. Having a very strict coach available 24 hours a day is the ultimate benefit. No matter what you try you will get feedback on it all. Just be prepared for those first few days when the Mantis X reminds you that you have plenty of bad habits that need fixed.
More to follow