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MantisX Training System [Hands-On Review]

Over the years there has been a slew of products marketed to shooters that claim they will “revolutionize” how we shoot.  

Most fall short of that mark.

MantisX on 1911
MantisX on 1911

I have been shooting for over thirty years and have not found any gadgets which will help you shoot better—at least, I haven’t found anything that replaces proper practice and instruction.

Recently, I got the chance to try out the MantisX, a small device you snug onto your handgun (or rifle) rail, which tells you specifically what you’re doing right and wrong.  

The MantisX mounts up easily to any weapon with a rail though if you mount to top or a side (rifle for instance) you must select that in the settings
MantisX on my Glock 17

The overall goal is to improve your shooting. I’m happy to report that the MantisX did exactly that!

(Editor: Looking for other training?  Check out How to Choose Your First Firearms Class)

Firing Up Robocop

I wondered as I opened the small Pelican Box containing the MantisX, if it would help turn me into some kind of Robocop with hand-eye targeting telemetry, equipping me for amazing shots with my Auto 9.  

Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions
Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions

I soon found the secret to the shooting aid lies in the age-old premise of “practice makes perfect”.

The unit is a battery powered (USB rechargeable) device which measures minute amounts of muzzle wiggle after being mounted to most guns with a rail under the muzzle.

Installation is easy, you simply slide it on then tighten it down with a common screwdriver.  

High-Tech Dry-Firing
at MantisX

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It also affixes to rifles though if you mount to a side rail on a rifle, you need to reflect this in the settings.

Next, install the MantisX app on your phone.  

MantisX Firearms Training System App
MantisX Firearms Training System App

Once the app is up and running, it will direct you how to link the device.  This Bluetooth connection was easily established and then I picked through a few options—which way the unit was facing, whether I was shooting live or dry fire, and whether I was left or right handed.  

I was up and running in no time at all. The whole setup was very easy and intuitive.

The app features a number of options like MantisX Benchmark, Reload, In Battery, and a few others.  I wanted to jump right in to see what this unit would tell me so I selected Open Training.

Check it out in action along with some other training tools:

Roadmap to Success

There, I loaded my Gen 5 G17 and stepped up to the target.  With a smooth presentation and focus, I fired my first shot.  

My fellow firearms instructor was standing next to me, holding my phone with the app running.

 The screen showed a bullseye with crosshairs. The screen also displayed a series of colored lines.  

MantisX & Case
MantisX & Case

There was a blue line hovering around the center of the target.  A yellow line traced a short path, then a red line which originated in the same area before shooting off the screen.

What did these mysterious lines represent?  They are the three stages of your final shot.  Much goes into the presentation, aligning, and shooting of a gun, but this colorful map represents that final piece.  

The blue is the MantisX showing you your pistol’s movement as you line up your sights.  

The yellow represents the movement of your pistol as you squeeze the trigger.  

The red is the immediate aftermath of recoil.  

As a firearms instructor, I could immediately see the value of such a tool!

 Although there are many steps that lead up to this final piece of actual shooting, this device focuses on that magical moment—the final culmination of all your efforts—where you take your shot.

In this shot you can see I was holding sight picture well, then jerked the trigger, causing the muzzle to drop. Red represents the recoil after the shot
I was holding sight picture well (Blue), then jerked the trigger, causing the muzzle to drop (Yellow). Red represents the recoil after the shot

So many things can go wrong in that final space in time.  You can use too much trigger finger and have it pull your shots.  You can jerk the trigger, which typically pulls your muzzle down, causing your shots to be low.  

The anticipation of recoil can cause a lot of issues too. Thankfully, the MantisX is programmed to understand these things and graph them out for you.  

It can also come right out and tell you what it’s interpreting.

the MantisX explains that I was tightening my fingers before the shot, causing my muzzle to pull low and left. This affected my accuracy for the shot
the MantisX explains that I was tightening my fingers before the shot, causing my muzzle to pull low and left. This affected my accuracy for the shot

Drills for Thrills

The MantisX has several different modes, a few of the basic ones are:  

  • Open Training for steady plinking which is later averaged.  
  • MantisX Benchmark where you shoot 10 shots for performance.  
  • A Timed version that sounds a buzzer each time it wants you to shoot.  

Then there are some interesting and more targeted modes:

Compressed Surprise Break is a little daunting as you start on target, then squeeze the trigger as quickly as you can when the buzzer goes off.  This enlightening drill shows you how bad things tend to flub up when you sacrifice accuracy for speed. It also helps you blend the two.

9mm, .45 or .223 the MantisX held up well and delivered valuable feedback
9mm, .45 or .223 the MantisX held up well and delivered valuable feedback

There are several reloading drills, In Battery, Out of Battery, and Tactical.  These begin with a buzzer, then end when you complete a reload and shoot.  

Again, you see how rushing affects your shot when you finish manipulating your weapon and finally squeeze one off.

There are also modes where you shoot Primary Hand Only and Support Hand Only.  These are always challenging because we so often focus on that proper two-handed shooting style, single hand gets neglected.  

After a range trip testing the Support Hand mode, my support hand feels as though it’s willed by someone better left to play with crayons.

All of these drill modes add value to the MantisX and can improve overall skills in the areas they are designed to offer feedback in.

For one Open Training drill, I fired 17 rounds from the Glock 17 at 7 yards.  My goal was marksmanship, taking my time, aiming for the same basic spot on the target.  

With the MantisX’s coaching, I was able to achieve the following group.

One jagged hole with a couple of flyers is not bad!
One jagged hole with a couple of flyers is not bad!

Final Score!

I tested the MantisX on a Glock 17, a Kimber Warrior, and an Armalite M-15 (AR-15) and it worked perfectly on each weapon.

Did the MantisX make me a better shot?  Yes!

My average score improved over the sessions I used the tool.  

I believe the feedback given by the MantisX makes you more mindful of your actions when you are just about to send one downrange.  It points out common errors you’re making and this allows you to fine-tune things accordingly.

That being said, there are some limitations.  A novice shooter cannot purchase this device and hope to become a great shot with it.  

There are too many things an instructor must teach you before you can get started. Critical steps like stance, grip, draw, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press, and breathing are not things an app is going to give you.  

The MantisX measures the tiny little movements your muzzle goes through before and after firing
Safety, grip, stance, and trigger control are the major basics a shooter needs to know before using the MantisX

Once a shooter has a solid understanding of these foundational steps, the feedback from the app will make a lot more sense!  The app and device can take a novice shooter to new levels of accuracy.

Also, shooting solo is a consideration. If you are in a booth at the range, you can place your phone somewhere you can easily read the feedback.

What tends to work best is having another person with you, giving you the feedback directly.

This way you can stay in the moment (stance, grip, etc.) and focus on implementing the corrections.

The MantisX is a wonderful shooting aid, capable of giving you large improvements in your marksmanship.  It was easy to install and easy to use and from my testing seems to be highly durable.

High-Tech Dry-Firing
at MantisX

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

While this isn’t a replacement for training or a magical cure for bad shooting – it does help you make the most of the training that you put in, both at home dry firing and at the range during live fire.

Think of the MantisX as a mini-shooting coach that you can get feedback from any time, anywhere.

Lets hear from you, do you use a MantisX? What about other shooting apps? Let us know in the comments!

Need more help…check out our Ultimate Guide to Shooting a Pistol Accurately or How to Choose Your First Gun Training Class.

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22 Leave a Reply

  • Fitz

    I understand the iTarget mounts inside the chamber and is long enough to not eject when racking the slide. (Am I right?) Great, I like the idea of a snap cap type thingy preventing the hammer from over-extending. (Is that a legit worry?) Now, when using the Mantis, how annoying is it to reset the slide EVERY time you want to pull the trigger? Or if you use snap caps with it, how do you like crawling around finding them after ejection. (In fairness, I spend 1/2 my range time finding all my brass because of this $#[email protected] shortage) I would get one if I could dry fire easily with it. Thanks for replies!

    February 8, 2021 2:43 am
    • Grant

      Rather than using snap caps I suggest pairing the Mantis X10 with a Tap Rack which is similar to a snap cap except it is carved out so that the slide does not lock back, it is not loaded into the chamber (I hate chasing after snap caps all over the room too). Barrel Blok also makes a similar device and has the added feature of an orange "flag" that sticks out the end of your barrel demonstrating that it is unloaded. A laser training cartridge will give the pin something to strike and offer a visual reference to shot placement. I don't mind racking between shots but Mantis will also work with Co2 or Green gas guns if you want blowback and a trigger reset. Or of course it works with double action pistols, and Sirt or Smart Gun style training guns. There are plenty of options. You can even pair it with a BlackBeard trigger reset system for your AR platform rifle.

      February 19, 2021 6:18 am
  • Rob

    Does it work just as well when using the magazine attachment?

    May 24, 2019 12:48 pm
    • logicprobe

      Yes. I use the magazine attachment on a Glock 26, and it seems to work just as well as attaching to the G19 frame.

      June 26, 2019 10:10 pm
    • Steven Simmons

      It does. I use it on a Kimber Pro Carry II 1911 that has no rail. Easy to install on my Wilson Combat mags and does a fantastic job of telling me where I need help. They also now have a laser, app and downloadable targets that for the cost of the laser help improve your aim and trigger pull. Love my Mantis system

      August 27, 2021 9:31 am
  • Terp

    Santa brought me one of these for Xmas. More than 6K dry-fires later, I can put 10 in a row in an eye-socket (sub 3/4" groupings at 7 yards w/ G19). (Stumbled on this as I was looking for an adapter to mount on a magazine, so can draw from holster and continue training with the Mantis...love it).

    March 6, 2019 1:34 pm
  • Richard Hyman

    Another great read. And I'm sold. I'm definitely getting one of these! Thanks for the very informative review and for linking it to your dry fire article.

    December 10, 2018 11:35 am
  • Jim

    I have many Bluetooth devices and none have required Location to be turned on. What's the catch, why do you need to know where I'm shooting in order to gather hand movements during practice? Please explain.

    September 27, 2018 8:54 pm
    • David L

      That does seem odd, likely has to do with needing the same permissions as the location setting so that the app can access the gyroscope of the phone. You would have to contact MantisX directly to find out for sure though.

      September 29, 2018 2:40 am
  • Ron

    Do I understand correctly that you have to use a single hand? That it isn't designed for two-handed grip?

    August 12, 2018 8:23 pm
    • Tyler Massey

      No. It works with a two-handed grip just fine

      August 24, 2018 5:30 pm
  • Debra

    Is there a target you use with the MantisX? I did not see one on any of the videos.

    July 9, 2018 4:30 pm
    • David

      No required target - you can use literally anything to aim at! The system is purely from the gun mounted device and your smartphone so there isn't a need for anything extra. You can even just use a plain wall or any random object around the house.

      Don't aim at people or pets though, safety first!

      July 9, 2018 4:33 pm
  • Gga

    I love my MantisX because of the immediate feedback on the shot. I can now feel a bad shot and MantisX confirms it. My shooting has improved dramatically.

    It will miss some shots occasionally (22 target pistol), and of course it tends to be what I think is one of my better shots :>)

    June 9, 2018 1:25 pm
  • craig

    i bought mantisX because i have always been terrible with a pistol - the opposite with a long gun. a lot of the movement is due to age (71). i set up targets in my office, and dry practice during the work day. i went from the 70 range to 85+, and am happy there. i still shoot low and to the left, clearly much improved, but i know why (trigger), which i continue to work on,. i probably wasted a thousand rounds, and mantisX was all i needed -- i am Extremely Happy.

    June 8, 2018 9:29 am
    • Sean Curtis

      Craig, this is great feedback, thank you for sharing!

      June 8, 2018 10:49 am
  • MattG

    I have a MantisX and there are a couple of things to point out. 1- It no longer comes in a Pelican case. It's a MantisX branded soft sided case. 2- Rapid fire is problematic. Because it tracks before, during, and after a shot for a certain period of time if you fire again within that window the score it gives is very low. 3- Because of that time window I've found you can maximise your score by holding aim for a couple of seconds before pulling the trigger. 4- It does use a gyroscope and an accelerometer. 5- I like it so much I bought a second one for my friend.

    June 7, 2018 10:51 pm
    • Sean Curtis

      Matt, thanks for the update on the case. I'm sure it was a cost-saving measure for them but I was unaware of it. Also, I never really tried rapid-fire but I've no doubt you're right.! I thought of it more as a marksmanship tool, nothing tactical about it.

      June 8, 2018 5:37 am
  • The Parallax Effect

    I noticed that a key information was left out of the article: how does it work? Laser? Gyroscopes?
    Other than that, great analysis.

    June 7, 2018 4:41 pm
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks! Can't find how it works...but my guess is internal accelerometers.

      But still hoping it's magnets. "F*cking magnets...how do they work?!?"

      June 7, 2018 4:57 pm
    • guest

      I looked at some more pictures of it, no lenses or anything. It probably uses an accelerometer, and takes the point of initial trigger pull as when it's aimed at dead center of target, retroactively placing pre-pull movement relative to that point.

      This means that it's not good as a training tool for judging sight picture, but for how to move with regards to stability leading up to trigger pull, problems with the trigger pull itself and recoil management.

      June 7, 2018 5:03 pm
      • Tyler Massey

        I believe it uses the click of the trigger to determine when you pulled the trigger. My evidence for this is that, during dry-fire, clicking off the thumb safety of my 1911 will confuse it into recording a shot a shot.

        August 24, 2018 5:34 pm