December 2, 2021

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

MantisX – The days of balancing coins are over

6 min read

Trigger control is one of the fundamentals of marksmanship.  Teaching smooth trigger manipulation while not interrupting the sight picture is difficult.  Firearms instructors have worked out a few different tricks to teach and practice this skill, including balancing a coin on the front sight or barrel of a firearm during dry-practice.   If the shooter can squeeze the trigger without the coin falling, they are on the right track.  Mantis X Systems take a more data-driven approach.  I recently received one of their X3 Shooting Performance Systems.   It only took one trip to the range with it to make a believer out of me.

It was a beautiful Northern New Mexico day in the mountains. This small “wild” range offers a good spot for basic 100 yard shooting with a scenic backstop.

 

The Mantis X3 Shooting Performance System is a compact unit that comes in a padded storage case. It includes a USB charging cable.

 

Mantis X3 In Action:

 

The Mantis X3 attaches to standard Picatinny rails. A variety of other mounts are available including barrel mounts and magazine base plate mounts so the X3 can be used on handguns without the need for a modified holster. The X3 can be attached on the top, bottom, or either side of the firearm. There is a single power button on the outside and spring-loaded lever to lock the unit in place on the rail. Once turned on, it syncs with the phone app via Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy). The app gives options to select whether the unit is mounted on a rifle or pistol, whether live fire or dry practice, the mounting side, shooting hand, and whether the unit is mounted forwards or backwards.

Today was the maiden voyage for this rifle, a home-build using one of the Ballistic Advantage Premium Black Series barrels.  These are a medium-contour stainless, nitrided barrel profiled for Allen Engineering suppressor mounts.  It is equipped with a 1-8X FFP Trijicon Credo optic, a Geissele SSA-E trigger, and old school Daniel Defense M4 Rails free-floating handguard.  It is capable of outstanding accuracy with my 62 grain Hornady boat tail open-tip match handloads at just over 2800 FPS.   After sight-in, I mounted the Mantis X3 and took a supported prone position at 100 yards.   A careful 7 rounds printed a very pretty sub-MOA group. The Mantis X3 measurements indicated an average score of 99.7 based on the direction of barrel movement during trigger pull.

 

Here’s where things got interesting:   the motion of the barrel is tracked before, during, and after each shot.  The app allows the user to zoom in very tight for a detailed analysis.  All 7 shots showed recoil motion left, my natural point of aim was slightly off.  The group on target wouldn’t indicate this, but the Mantis X3 caught it.

The mistakes of the struggling student are often plainly visible to the observant instructor.  When coaching a shooter that already has a high level of performance, the errors can sometimes be more subtle.  A well-trained and practiced shooter may have good downrange results, but the details may get lost in the moment.  The Mantis X3 collects and displays the kind of real,  graphic data that can help speed up timing and improve consistency.

 

But wait, there’s more…

So far, so good, but how does it do on pistols?   Next I mounted the Mantis X3 on my 9mm M&P.  The Mantis unit is an inch wide,  just over an inch long, and 3/4 inch tall.  It is very light-weight and completely wireless.

I started with the “free shooting” option with pistol, engaging a Tac Strike quarter-scale silhouette at 7 yards. Then I experimented around with some of the other options. The Mantis X3 has several guided drills including timed benchmark, compressed surprise break, shot timer, and my personal favorite for recoil and trigger management: cadence drills.

I have to be honest,  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I agreed to review the Mantis X3.  I thought it was just another dry-fire system.  Way wrong.  While it does have a lot of utility in dry practice applications,  it’s ability to measure and diagnose live fire in real time, and guide the user through various drills makes really amplifies its utility.   Ever have issues with a rifle not grouping the way you think it should and wonder if it’s the rifle or you?  The Mantis X3 can help you figure that out.   Ever need to convince a new shooter that they are anticipating recoil or squeezing the whole grip and not just the trigger?   The Mantis X3 has that figured out.  As useful as it is to instructors, it is just as useful to the individual in practice, and records data that can be used to compare performance and improvement from training session to training session.   I feel like one day on the range has just scraped the surface of the Mantis X3.

Ratings:

Size and Weight:  5/5  The folks at MantisX have proven that good things can come in small packages.

Versatility: 5/5  Rifle,  Pistol,  rail or barrel mount, and mounts for magazine base plates…they had their thinking caps on when they designed the mounting system.

Utility: 5/5 The ability to use it to analyze live-fire and dry practice activities, and the types of measurements that are taken, analyzed, and recorded make this product useful for its simply-stated purpose of improving shooters.

Ease of Use: 5/5  Clip the unit on,  download the app,  follow the brief online instructions.  You can be up and running in literally minutes.  Very user-friendly product.

Value: 5/5 For the utility packed into this unit and the data processing and storage capabilities of the app,  the currently advertised price is worth it.

TOTAL 25/25

It is rare for me to give perfect scores, and there is more than one manufacturer out there that probably thinks I smeared their product because I value my reputation as an honest reviewer.  The Mantis X3 is a product that does exactly what it says it’s going to do.  It does it in a user-friendly way without unnecessary complexity.  It is also innovative and versatile.  If you are an instructor,  a competition shooter, or just someone looking to improve their skills with dry practice in the midst of ammo scarcity,  you need one of these.  For the price of a few boxes of pistol ammo, you have a tool that can help you improve your shooting with a data-driven, verifiable approach.   If you are a new gun owner or someone who doesn’t get enough practice,  before you spend money on that laser-sight, or whiz-bang can’t miss ammo – buy one of these instead and watch your speed and accuracy improve.

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*Always follow the 4 rules of firearms safety while handling firearms for live fire and dry-practice:

  1.  Treat all guns as if they are always loaded
  2. Do not allow the muzzle to point at anything you aren’t willing and justified to kill, hurt, destroy, or pay for
  3. Finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
  4. Know your target and backstop

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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