I tend to flinch while firing handguns. I recently tested the Mantis X10 Elite Shooting Performance System to see if it would help. My shooting improved significantly. Here is my story.
On October 22 and 23, 2019, SurvivalBlog was kind enough to publish my article My Continued Handgun Search. In that article I wrote about my search for the ideal handgun for me, and mentioned my struggles with trigger flinch while firing handguns in self-defense calibers.
The next day, Mr. Rawles forwarded an e-mail he’d just received from Mantis to test and evaluate their X10 Elite Shooting Performance System. I accepted the generous offer, and four days later received a package in the mail.
Opening the Box
The system seemed to be very well packed for shipment. A sturdy shipping box snugly encased an even more sturdy product box. The product box contained a zippered case (which was also sturdy) resting in a foam cutout. The case itself contained the various elements of the system resting in still another foam cutout. The odds of the system being damaged in shipment seem extremely low.
The product box has a quick start guide with three simple steps: download the “MantisX” app on your smart phone, attach the sensor to your firearm, then open the app and follow the instructions. To my surprise and delight, I noted that the system is made in the USA.
My “smart” phone is not very smart. It is a first generation Motorola G. It was intended primarily for emerging markets when it was introduced back in 2013. Although it was also sold in developed markets as a low-cost option, it tended to be under-powered even back when it was first introduced. The intervening years did nothing to improve its performance.
Having previously experienced a degree of frustration and heartache while trying to install new apps on my phone, I kept putting off the installing the MantisX app. Finally, after a number of weeks of delay, I ran out of excuses and gave it a try.
The app asked for permission to access my location, media files, camera, and Bluetooth connection information. After receiving that permission, installation began at 6:45 pm.
The installation process stretched on and on. I began reading a novel by C. J. Box. The app was still trying to load at 7:34 pm, so I took the dog for a walk. At 7:48 pm the app was still trying, so I plugged in the power cord to let the phone charge overnight.
Finally at 7:56 pm, I did a Google search on the topic, “My smart phone won’t load MantisX”. The results pointed me to the FAQ page on the Mantis website. There I discovered that I could order a Kindle Fire 7 table from Mantis for $49.99 plus tax. I placed the order.
The next day, I started to wonder what a Kindle Fire 7 table cost on Amazon.com. At that time, a Kindle Fire 7 tablet with twice as much memory as the one I ordered was on sale for $39.99. One with four times as much memory was on sale for $49.99. These units have subsequently returned to their regular prices of $49.99 and $69.99 respectively, but it would have been worth my while to check before ordering.
Four days after I placed my order, my new Kindle Fire arrived.
The Kindle Fire 7
The new Kindle Fire was very user friendly, so I had it up and running in short order. I selected the most restrictive privacy settings. I did not want Alexa to listen in on all of my conversations.
One advantage of using a tablet rather than a smart phone is that someone may not want to own a smart phone for opsec reasons. Another advantage is that even if you own a smart phone, keeping the app on a tablet will isolate it from any data that you might have on your phone.
The app downloaded to the tablet fairly quickly. One feature that I was not thrilled about was that the app saves data in the cloud for cross platform use. I would prefer the option of local use only.
Fringe Benefits of the Kindle Fire
Using the Kindle Fire, I have enjoyed borrowing ebooks from my local library in the comfort of my own home. I especially enjoyed borrowing James Wesley, Rawles How to Survive the End of the World as We Know it, which I have been wanting to read for quite some time. It is an excellent book, but borrowing it was not sufficient. I plan to buy a hard copy for further study.
The app opened quickly, and easily connected with the sensor, which I had already attached to the integrated mounting rail of my handgun. The app offered me a choice of nine different drills. I selected “open training”, which is an un-timed drill allowing any number of shots at any pace. The app can be set for live fire or dry fire, right hand or left hand, and forward and backward mounted sensor. I started out dry-firing five shots with my right hand with the sensor mounted forward. I then did a series of seven more ten shot groups.
The sensor measures movement immediately before, during, and after the trigger is pulled. A perfect shot would register no movement at all during the first two stages of this process. This would give a score of 100 for that shot. A perfect shot could be achieved by a vice, but may not be possible for flesh and blood human beings. I am happy to report that one of my first 583 shots with the Mantis X10 was rated 99.8. My average, on the other hand, was 91.6.
The greatest benefit of the system, in my opinion, is that it makes dry fire practice more interesting. Dry fire practice is very helpful, but it is about as interesting as watching paint dry. By providing immediate feedback on what you are doing well, and what you need to work on, the Mantis X10 system makes dry fire practice much more interesting. The feedback also helps to keep one from developing sloppy habits during dry fire practice.
Another benefit is that its use is not limited by season, weather, or time of day. I was able to stand in the upstairs hallway of my home on a dark evening in December with the wind howling through the trees outside, and comfortably engage in drills designed to improve my marksmanship.
Mantis reports that 95% of those who use the system report noticeable improvement within the first 20 minutes of practice. I guess I am a slow learner. I did not notice any such immediate improvement.
I did a total of seven 20 minutes sessions over the course of the next several weeks. During the second session I noticed that the sensor was sometimes confusing cocking the action with pulling the trigger. It would typically do this about half the time, which did nothing to help my average scores. I could have adjusted the sensitivity of the sensor, but decided to begin shooting double action rather than single action instead. I felt that if I could hold the gun steady during the longer and heavier double action trigger pull, I ought to be able to handle the single action trigger pull just fine.
I initially noticed some fatigue developing over the course of a 20 minute practice session. By the seventh session this was less pronounced. My average score increased slightly from 90.97 during the third session (the first double action session) to 93.35 during the seventh session.
The Mantis X10 sensor comes with a USB cable for charging its battery. Battery life is so good that I have not yet used the cable, but am still using the initial charge that was on the battery when it arrived.
When dry firing, make sure that you really are firing dry. Double check to make sure that the item in your chamber is a snap cap and not a live round. Be aware of what is behind your target just in case that snap cap is a live round after all.
The Rubber Meets the Road
Eventually I was ready to see if the Mantis X10 practice sessions would translate into better marksmanship at the range. I fired a series of nine groups of ten shots each at the range behind my barn. My sights were initially adjusted a bit high and to the right. This was to compensate for the way my flinch previously tended to pull my shots low and to the left. It took several groups to get my sights readjusted for my new, more accurate shooting. Then I fired six groups with the properly adjusted sights, firing offhand from 15 yards.
Prior to training with the Mantis X10 system, I put approximately 30% of my shots within two inches of the center of the target from 15 yards. Following training, I put more than 60% of my shots within two inches of the center of the target. Using the Mantis X10 system resulted in a significant improvement in my marksmanship.
Cost Benefits Analysis
(The Bottom Line) The Mantis X10 Shooting Performance System currently costs $249.99 at mantisx.com. That is roughly the cost of 1,000 rounds of ammo. So the question is, “Do I believe that the Mantis X10 system will provide better training than 1,000 rounds of live ammo?” The answer is that it seems to have helped me more than the last 1,000 rounds of live ammo that I have fired. So I would say that the Mantis X10 Shooting Performance System seems to be a worthwhile investment for someone who wants to improve their handgun marksmanship.
Mantis provided me with a free example of their X10 Shooting Performance System for testing and evaluation. I tried diligently not to allow this to influence the results of my testing. I believe that my testing method was objective, and that the results are accurate.