Mantis Upgrades Training Tool with New X10 Elite Device

When we first heard of the Mantis training aid several years ago, it was easy to see its value for shooters wanting to improve their skills without spending a lot of time or money at the range. And we weren’t let down when we got our hands on it. In our review of the original Mantis X model, we were quite tickled with the immediate feedback with both live fire and dry fire. It was no wonder that the device was awarded Best Accessory of 2018 by NASGW and POMA. We were impressed with the user support and continued growth of the MantisX – from quick responses from the company to frequent updates with new features and any bug fixes.

This is why we were so excited to hear about the new models being released at SHOT Show 2020 earlier this year. The company has continued to pour tons of development effort into the product, which has grown from just the original model into a handful of new models including the $99 X2 dry-fire-only model, the X3 for live-fire of both pistols and rifles, the X7 shotgun trainer, X8 archery model, and the top of the line X10 Elite model, which covers all of the bases for live fire and dry fire for pistols, rifles, and shotguns as well as archery. Yeah, they’ve been keeping busy.

Austin was kind enough to arrange for a Mantis X10 Elite unit to be sent to us to review and we had the chance to put it through its paces. Once again, we were not disappointed in the slightest!  

In case you are not familiar with them, the Mantis units are little gadgets – packed with sensors – that you attach to your firearm. Similar to the sensors in your smartphones and wearables that are used to enable augmented reality, shake-to-whatever features, fall detection and such, the Mantis has accelerators that can track the movement of your firearm as you are gripping and firing it, and sensors that pick up the shot to let you know exactly what you were doing with the weapon at the precise instant that the trigger breaks. It uses all of that data that it collects to give you feedback and suggestions on how to improve.

The new device is significantly smaller than the original one, and is still set up to attach to an accessory rail or MIL-STD-1913 picatinny rail. Don’t fret if your firearm is not equipped with such a rail – Mantis offers a number of accessories to accommodate you, such as barrel clamp adapters (included with the X10 elite) for shotgun barrels, and magazine floor plate adapters.

Nearly all of the models feature the basics. “The Basics” can kind of be summed up as the old venerable Pistol Correction Targets on steroids – and then some. The device provides astoundingly accurate feedback on where you hit the target – based solely on movement sensors, it doesn’t actually “see” the target – as well as input on what you probably did wrong if you didn’t hit the ten ring. But on top of that, it also tells you what you were doing with the firearm before, during, and after your shot – all mapped out and displayed on a target that you can play back as a video to analyze your grip and trigger pull.

If that were all the Mantis did, it would still be pretty impressive. But it doesn’t stop there by a long shot.

All of the models are packed with various subsets of features, but the X10 Elite – which is the one that we got to try out – has the full feature set. That includes historical data to track your improvements, muzzle movement recording, a shot timer, and analysis of your smoothness, consistency, and recoil, and training courses and drills – including weak and strong hand-only drills, hostage taker drills, the Bill Drill, reload drills, and more plus basic and advanced marksmanship courses.

Although not baked into the app yet, Mantis promises a number of new features coming down the pipeline that will make their way into the system through free app updates. Those features include analysis for shooting on the move, rapid fire shooting, shots on multiple targets, and shots on moving targets in shotgun mode. Ready to take your buddy’s money in some friendly trap shooting competition?

At this point, I must admit that I’ve been holding out on you, saving one of my favorite features for last: holster draw analysis.

When I did my first real, practical shooting at a shoot house, we did all sorts of various drills. From #NetflixAndChill-ing on the couch to “bang, crash, somone’s inside, go clear the house” to “you’re in line at the gas station, now someone is robbing the joint.” It was a real eye opener to the vast, vast differences between standing on the firing line in a weaver stance shooting at the stationary target on the 10 yard line and this is why we actually own and carry firearms.

Being able to consistently drill the ten ring at the shooting range is great. It takes a lot of time and effort to get there, and more time and effort to maintain, and the original MantisX really helped out with that. However, it might not do you a whole lot of good when your pistol is in its holster, inside your waistband, under your cover garment, and you need it RFN(!!). Good shooters can shoot bullseyes. Great practical shooters can clear leather, get on target, and shoot bullseyes under stress, and that’s where the new Mantis comes in.

The X10 Elite allows you to, with either dry fire or live fire, have your weapon holstered, gives you a GO signal, and analyzes your reaction time, draw stroke, time to get on target, weapon manipulation to get on target, and grip before, during, and after your shot. And it gives you instant, usable feedback. And it doesn’t charge you fifty bucks an hour to watch you shoot at the range in exchange for all that feedback.

All in all, we were very impressed with the new Mantis line and how far it has come since it was introduced several years ago. The Mantis team is doing a great job of adding new features and improving the sensitivity and accuracy of the sensors on-board the unit.

While it doesn’t come in the slick little Pelican 1010 mini case like the original model did, it comes in a very nice padded semi-rigid zipper case with an embossed Mantis logo. Admittedly, the Pelican case, while cool, was overkill for protecting a miniature device like the Mantis X, weighing all of an ounce or two. Unless you’re running over it with your car, the new case should protect it more than enough while weighing less and looking pretty cool.

Although it does have some quirks with dry fire practice for SA/striker-fired pistols (mainly with regard to it picking up slide resets as shots), that can be overcome with a gentler touch when resetting the action. It can also be corrected with another feature that, if I recall correctly, was absent in the original version – the ability to selectively manage shots, meaning that you can go in and weed out the false-positives that it picked up.

The only other minor nitpick I have with the new units, the same as with the original model, has to do with using it for practical training with my regular EDC holsters. “Train how you fight, fight how you train,” and all that. While it does fit in my G19/TLR-1 combination holster with the X10 elite in place of the light, it does’t fit necessarily well or securely since the holster holds onto the light for retention. It works with, but it doesn’t work great; I wouldn’t go doing any tactical barrel rolls or anything like that. This is mostly rectified with the magazine floorplate adapters, which free up the accessory rail and only add about half an inch to the grip length. Look at it this way – if you can clear your cover garment over the grip adapter, you should definitely be able to clear it over your regular magazine. Mantis does offer a CompTac-made custom OWB holster for Glocks that accomodates the unit but, again, it’s not your exact carry set up (although it could be), and it’s a bit steep at $80.

The new line of Mantis units start at $99 and, while $250 for the top of the line Mantis X10 Elite is not chump change, in reality, if you’re shooting a hundred or two rounds during a range trip, and you’re hitting the range a couple times a month, it isn’t all that much – especially considering what you get out of it. The device can greatly improve the value of what time you do spend at the range, as well as saving you live fire range time by providing more utility than plain-Jane dry fire practice around the house.

If you’re looking for a practical way to step up your training, we definitely give the Mantis two thumbs up. It is really a lot of bang for your buck toward that goal.

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