Dry or Live Fire Training System
Shooting a pistol accurately is one of the more difficult firearms disciplines. I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended a few firearms training courses taught by very high-level instructors. More than one professional shooting instructor has told me (and the rest of the class) that accurate pistol shooting is simple: get the front sight on the target, align your sights appropriately, hold the gun perfectly still, and pull the trigger without moving the gun. Accurate rifle shooting is similar. That all sounds simple enough, and it is in concept, but it proves to be elusive to many of us.
Essentially all professional or semi-pro competitive shooters will tell you that dry firing is one of the best ways to become a better shooter. Trigger control is enhanced by repetition after repetition of dry firing. It’s free and all you have to invest is time and effort. However, lots of dry firing can become monotonous, enough so that many of us just skip it from time to time. The other thing about dry firing is it is difficult to know if you are developing good habits or just smashing the trigger. There is no feedback loop. One way to get feedback is to balance a small object such as a spent cartridge on the front of the slide during dry fire. If the brass stays put when you pull the trigger you are probably doing it right.
If only there was an easy way to get better feedback during dry firing. Well, now there is such a way. MantisX has developed what they call a “dry fire and live fire training system.” At first glance, I thought this description was inflating the capabilities of this little device. It is, after all, smaller than a 10/22 rotary magazine. How could this be a “system”? Boy was I wrong. A system is exactly what it is – a versatile, multi-faceted system. It provides instant feedback on the minute movements you are making right before the trigger pull for either dry or live fire. These movements determine shot accuracy. The MantisX app links to your phone, aggregates data from your sessions, and expresses that data in easy to understand charts and graphs.
The Mantis X10 Elite, which I tested, is very compact and lightweight. It attaches to the rail space under the slide that exists on most pistols as well as on a picatinny rail of a rifle. The unit quickly charges via the included USB type cord. The instructions are remarkably simple: attach the device, connect to phone, and collect the data. In practice, it really is that easy. If there is one thing about apps in general that peeves me is a clunky user interface. The MantisX user interface is intuitive and easy to use. After charging the unit you can be collecting data in less than a minute and you will immediately understand what it is telling you. Battery life is excellent at about 20 hours on a one hour charge. There are several settings to fine tune the MantisX Pro to the type of practice: dry/ live/CO2 fire, rifle/pistol, top/bottom/left/right mount, forward/backward orientation, and more. You can select a particular firearm, e.g., Glock G19 9x19mm, and it stores the results for your training sessions for that gun. You can review all of your shot history, all of your pistols, all of your rifles, or any individual gun.
There are a few graphs that the app shows you after a shot string. For example, one graph shows where the gun moved right before the shot – up, down, left, right, etc. If you shot five shots and pushed the gun down it would stack five bars at the six o’clock position. Another graph shows a line that squiggles around just like your gun did just prior to the shot. Movement before the shot is shown in blue and after the shot in yellow. So what about its performance? To test whether it was really doing some analysis or just giving me random feedback I did the following: 10 shots with the best slow dry fire I could muster and then 10 shots where I deliberately pushed the trigger from right to left. The results matched what I was doing, i.e., a higher score registered when I was doing my best, and a lower score that showed movement to the left on the second set of shots. Each shot gets a score on a 100 point scale. Anything in the 90’s is pretty good.
I’ve been using this thing for a few months and I’m still finding new things it does. You can just dry fire and see the results, or you can link up with other users and do group activities. The app has a user guide with FAQs and detailed instructions in case you forget something. There are shooting drills that focus on precision, speed, reloads, and more. The Elite model has a holster drawing drill, but your holster will need to be one that would normally accommodate a mounted light. The MantisX is indeed a training system, but it looks like nothing more than a key fob for my truck.
As reported in our GunsAmerica 2019 SHOT Show issue, MantisX has used this with an unnamed branch of our military with good results. According to the company, “the unit conducted a study which concluded the group of recruits that had use of the MantisX qualified more quickly and with better scores than the group without the system.” The company also states that their products are used by law enforcement in all 50 states, by special forces units, and by shooters in over 60 countries. MantisX is a small, quiet company of gear-head-data-wonk shooters. And just like their people, their products are small, quiet, and full of data. The Mantis X10 is a great product.
MantisX offers four models ranging from $149.99 for the base model, the X, to $249.99 for the Elite which was tested herein. The higher-end models have more features, and the Elite includes a barrel attachment for shotguns.