I was excited when I was invited to do an evaluation of the MantisX (www.mantisx.com) training system. I think that one of the best things that an instructor can do during living fire is to literally stand behind the shooter while they shoot and watch their front sight. Once you gauge what the shooter is doing you can then examine what is contributing to any movement. It is something very hard, if not impossible, for a new shooter to do on their own.
In a nutshell, the MantisX is an "accelerometer" that tracks vertical and horizontal motion of the device. The shooter attaches the Mantis to their pistol rail. It is partnered with its shooting app that compiles the results. All from the convenience of your iOS or Android phone! You can view the results per shot or after a string of shots, sucha as a grouping, mag, target, etc.
The Mantis allows a shooter to practice without the need of having an additional person “spot!” I feel, and hope, that this will encourage people to shoot more. I know that for at least me, it would could potentially allow for a more productive range session – especially since I seem time limited. I got my Mantis and after quickly skimming the instructions I attached it to a Glock.
Attaching the Mantis is simple as it is designed for railed pistols. The unit separates in half and clamps on the rail. There is a screw that goes through the device and locks in place going through a rail notch. I was pleased to see that it came with not only a flat-head screw but also one that has knurled knob so that you can finger tighten it. Why two? I am not sure, but I tried both and didn't see a difference. To be fair it was a while before I noticed the knurled and found myself using at first a bottle opener to take it on and off and then later a screwdriver. The knurled knob is tool-less and much easier to use.
I wanted to try the Mantis in dry-fire mode before hitting the range. This is something that anyone can do anywhere or anytime to get used to a trigger. I downloaded the app to my iPhone via the AppStore. I assume the Android version is in the Google Play.
When you run the app it asks you turn on Bluetooth if it is not on. What is interesting is that it does not require traditional Bluetooth pairing, it just finds the device. This is nice and time saving if you have ever had to re-sync and setup a device. It then asks you leave the device on a non-moving table for a few seconds while it calibrates. It is then ready to use!
You do have to start/stop your shot groupings for the results (especially averages). I usually do shot groups of 5 and then check the target. I found that sometimes I forgot to stop and then start for the next batch.
I was impressed at how well the app worked, especially its presentation – it looks and behaves very professionally. This is no app that somebody threw together.
My favorite screen is a bulls-eye that onscreen shows where impact would be and the actual travel of the pistol. The tracing is very interesting. I have some detail shots later where you can see the pistols I know are very steady and those I don’t, well, are all over the place. More on that later.
During dry-firing I was pleased that it did not register any false shots even though I had to rack the slide every shot (there is an argument for second strike capability). I was also surprised at how accurate it said I was – of course, dry fire and live fire are two different things! And now to the range with a few Glocks (19c, 23, 32, 30s).
Unfortunately, I made a mistake that basically wasted this entire session. I neglected to change the app from “Dry Fire” to “Live Fire.”
The result? On average only 1 out of every 6 shots was picked up. It picked up even less with the 30s while the 19c did the best. I originally thought that it wasn’t working because I took the Mantis to the range straight out of the box without charging it. What it was able to register shots it did it well. Again, completely my fault.
I was a lot smarter this time and remembered to switch the Mantis into “live fire” mode. I even remembered to charge it the night before. I was time constrained however and only brought the 23, 32, and a 17 (hey, I like Glocks and they had rails).
I found that when switching the Mantis in between pistols or from dry-fire into live-fire mode it was best to turn the Mantis on/off. When I switched to live-fire, for some reason it still wasn’t picking up the shots. A quick reboot and all was well.
Cycling the power is done by holding the power button for a few seconds to turn off and then a quick click to turn it back on. The button is located on bottom of the device and accessible mounted. The button is a bit small. I found that I could kind of use my finger-nail but that a ball-point pen was perfect, especially when needing to hold the button in.
With any change (pistols, modes, etc.) I also found that you need to cycle the app so that it re-syncs with the device.
The session results? They were perfect. The Mantis ran without a hitch on all 3 pistols and very similar to the dry-fire testing. To be fair, the midsize Glock is my CCW and I am very familiar with them.
When I dipped the muzzle or pulled a bit to the left firing (on purpose…yeah, that’s it!) the app clearly showed it with a graphical representation on the bulls-eye screen and even sometimes with helpful accompanying commentary. Example pictures of the app follow later.
The targets mirrored the app. And that gave me pause. If an experienced shooter already knows what they did wrong by the time the bullet is in the air, and then can visually validate it on the target does the Mantis have limited value to them? Aside from its statistics is the Mantis something that should primarily geared towards only new shooters? Before you decide, read Session 3.
Thankfully, I had a lot more time this session.
Feeling confident that I am a decent (no means an expert) shooter I deliberately set out to try it with firearms that I do not normally shoot (I.E., not very good with) – traditional double-actions. I brought an FNX9 and a SIG P226 from the range (unfortunately no rails on my SIGs). I shot them exclusively in DA mode.
The P226 was great! I was off a little and the Mantis showed me that I was pulling the trigger to the left. A few mags later I was able to correct it so that the groupings were at at least tolerable.
The FNX? Wow. I am absolutely terrible with it. It is LNIB and my lack of shooting it showed. I feel confident that more range sessions and practice – with the Mantis definitely will help. But, I kind of want to trade my FNX in for a P226.
I also tried the Mantis with a Beretta APX and a CZ P10c (range pistols). It performed flawlessly. Both those pistols shoot straight, even in my hands. Unrelated, I have become a big fan of the CZ P10c.
The surprise of the shooting session came at the end. I had decided that since I still had little more time to retry the Glock 30s which was still in my range bag. It is a very recent acquisition and to be fair it has been about a decade since I have actively shot 45ACP (gasp). I am “normally” pretty good with it but not on this day. I was not as bad as with my FNX in DA mode but definitely not the nice grouping I was hoping for.
The surprise? The app indicated results completely contrary to what I saw on the target! (Pics follow) Shots that were high showed low were actually high! I am not quite sure what to make of it, but I am curious to what I was doing. I trust that the software is correct and I definitely will be taking it back to the range to figure out.
The Mantis is definitely not solely good for beginners. I don't claim by any means to be an expert but I am normally (except with the FNX) a fair shot. I am impressed with the device and will be using it more.
The product is top notch and professional. The packaging is quite eye-catching (not that it is important) and suitable for dropping into a range bag and bouncing around – a number of people at the range commented on the Pelican case that it comes in. More important is that the software and hardware clearly works with multiple pistol platforms and calibers without any problem. A bonus is that it works at home as a dry-fire training device. I think that they have a great product here and I look forward to running it some more. I will report back anything of interest.
And the obligatory pics!
Opening the box to reveal the MantisX box inside lol
The cool little Pelican Case that the Mantis comes in.
So, what's in the box? Missing from the pic is the little instruction booklet it came with.
The Mantis app settings page
I like Glocks. The Mantis worked with Gen3 and Gen4 Glocks once I set it to "live fire" mode and rebooted the device.
Mid-sized Glocks like me.
A little more information
The APX (top) and FNX (bottom)
The FNX does not love me. Note the "possible causes" that it lists.
My double-action "pull" LOL. Not good.
A few more informational "shots." These can be helpful. I did actually try to generate a few common ones.
Mantis on the CZ P10c.
Mantis on the 30s. Notice that a flat head screwdriver is needed if not using the knurled screw.
Mantis showed that my shots were low and to the left
To the left, but not actually low. Interesting.
Overall stats page
hmm...I am not exactly sure what this is telling me
The Mantis app also has a training mode. Find yourself consistently shooting in one area? Just click on the pie segment
And the app gives you some good advice
I am not sure how I got this, but I included it because the graph was so dramatic
For additional information on this MantisX product please visit: http://mantisx.com
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Someone may notice that I didn't include a pic of the SIG P226. Apparently, I neglected to take one.