Updated: Apr 8
Mantis X10 Elite
The recent ammo shortage has left us all unsure how to practice. Those who stocked up don’t want to shoot the ammo you have, and those that don’t have ammo...well...don’t have the ammo to shoot even if they wanted to. It was a talk with Trek from MDFI that prompted me to reach out to a company called Mantis.
After doing some research I found that they were a company that was pushing the envelope on firearms training. Mantis was gracious enough to send me their Mantis X10 Elite system. I found it interesting right out of the box, it is a small compact device that can mount on the rail of a rifle, pistol or any magazine with an adapter that is sold on the website.
I quickly downloaded the app and set up my profile. Syncing the device to the app was quick and I was dry firing soon after. The app is filled with drills, ranging from open practice to hostage. I found myself not only focusing on what I was doing but I was having fun doing it, I found I was so focused on what I was doing that nearly 45 minutes passed. Not only did I text Phil and tell him about this product, I sent an email to the company asking if they wanted to come on the podcast with Phil and I. Austin Allgaier, President of Mantis came on for what I thought was a great discussion about their product and company. You can find that episode HERE.
Let’s break down the different packages:
Pistol or Rifle, dry fire only.
Pistol or Rifle, dry and live fire.
Mantis X10 Elite
Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun and Bow. Dry and live fire.
What is nice about this system is the real time feedback and how accurate it is. Either dry firing or live, the system can accurately tell you what you are possibly doing wrong. It will give you a brief description of what the issue is and how to correct it. I know some people who have picked this up and within 10 minutes have improved their score just by going off what the app is recommending. Nothing will ever replace live fire training, there is no dry fire practice on mitigating recoil. However, if going to the range knowing you have the basics covered at home you can utilize not only your time but your ammo with working on other things such as recoil mitigation, movement drills or just pushing yourself to be faster.
The App is filled with drills, some meant for live fire but pretty much all can be used while dry firing. What’s cool is the ability to see what your friends are doing, if you have a competitive personality this is for you. Completing the Mantis Marksmanship drills forces you to be better, it sets a standard and unless you meet that standard you will not get the neat patch that is sent to you upon completion.
I have yet to find a firearm this will not work with. Paired with the Blackbeard this is one of the best dry fire tools out and Mantis continues to push the envelope with the introduction of Laser Academy.
Phil’s thoughts on the MantisX
Dry fire sucks. Dry fire is boring. Dry fire isn’t any fun. That’s why “gun guys” drag their butts out to gun ranges to inhale the sweet smell of gunsmoke and assault their ears with the glorious report and ride the lightning of recoil, because shooting is fun. But we need to train, ammo costs a kidney and your first born, and at least in my case my local gun range was closed for months on end last year due to it being on public land and Covid lockdowns. So, what is a self respecting firearms owner and self defense advocate to do in order to keep his skills sharp?
Change the game. What the MantisX brings to the table is constant feedback and encouragement. Slap the Mantis on your firearm (there is a way, and Mantis’s support of various attachment methods leaves little to be desired), download the app, set it up, JOIN the mofpodcast shooting group in the app, turn up the volume, and get started. While I won’t advocate that a Mantis is a replacement for live fire training or an experienced instructor...it makes a compelling case for bridging that gap. The feedback is consistent and keeps you honest. Careful trigger work and proper technique is rewarded by higher scores, while sloppy technique earns an auditory hand slap.
With every session, even as little as ten to twenty trigger presses a day, you can see improvement. I’m a fair pistol shooter to begin with, and I wasn’t at all embarrassed to see scores in the low 80’s when I started. Two months later, if I’m shooting anything under low 90’s I’m doubling down chasing the rabbit. I have only touched the elusive 99’s when the Mantis was attached to my bolt action, on a bipod, with me in the prone. For reference, that rifle and shooting style nets me ½” - ¾” groups at 100 yards, yet my best was a 99.8 (I’m told shooting a perfect 100 involves a bench vise, I believe it.)
Mantis started down this path with an innovative idea and interesting technology. What they have arrived at through constant development and tweaking the end product is a device that frankly belongs in the shooting bag of any serious shooter. Whether you’re a weekend plinker, a self defense shooter, or a competition shooter, the cost of a MantisX device that meets your needs will pale in comparison to the time and money spent going to the gun range for an equivalent number of trigger presses. It isn’t a replacement, but Mantis has closed the gap so far I can’t help but recommend them to everyone I talk to.
If I haven’t already made my thoughts well known regarding dry fire training, let me double down: Dry fire training sucks. Add an AR to this equation and we progress quickly from boring to downright frustrating. Following up every trigger press with breaking your cheek off the stock, screwing up your grip, yanking the charging handle, and getting back into position before repeating the whole shenanigan all over again. Dry firing is boring, but dry firing AR’s is absolutely annoying.
Dry firing with a Blackbeard most definitely does not suck. Clear your AR, shotgun it, yank the bolt carrier and charging handle, replace with the Mantis Blackbeard and pop the battery pack into the magwell, and you’ve just turned your AR into a video game. Pulling the trigger is rewarded by a near immediate reset of the trigger accompanied by a little ‘whirring’ noise of the Blackbeard pressing your hammer back down. Mantis claims a “very fast shooter” hasn’t been able to outrun the Blackbeard, and while I’m not the illegitimate son of Jerry Miculek (much to my disappointment) I can work a trigger fairly quickly and I can’t outrun it either.
Mantis claims tens of thousands of trigger presses per charge, and I can report that after 2 solid months of use my battery is showing more than half charge. In 900+ trigger presses (Mantis’s app makes this kind of reporting and history search pretty simple, just filter on firearm type) I have had a single instance in which the device failed, and I had to pull the battery pack, shotgun the AR and reset the hammer, put it back together and it ran fine afterwards. The ability to quickly and easily dry fire your AR with the Mantis makes this a game changer, especially given the use of YOUR trigger group in an unaltered state. That kind of feedback builds familiarity, and I don’t believe any other manufacturer has replicated this ability.
Pair the Blackbeard with a MantisX (X10 Elite in my case), and you’ve reached a new level of dry fire training. Note: make good and sure you go into Settings, under Shot Detection Mode and select Other, then Blackbeard otherwise your MantisX will not read the shots. I have a shot detection delay set for 0.3 seconds to prevent the Mantis from reading the trigger reset as a second shot, and have found these settings to work fairly well. Also, make sure you have the Mount Location set correctly, as I found it defaults back to Bottom every time, while mine is mounted on the Right side of my rifle. Small things add up to successful shot detection, or frustration.
Setup complete, bugs ironed out, the combination of Blackbeard and Mantis gives you the ability to VERY QUICKLY knock out 50-100 shots with the same feedback you’ve come to expect from your Mantis. No pulling the charging handle, no breaking your grip, just a constant stream of trigger presses with predictable resets and good feedback. The cost of entry may be a few hundred dollars for the pair, but in a world of $1/round ammunition the question isn’t can you afford a Blackbeard and Mantis.
The question is, can you afford not to invest in them?