With ammo prices these days, getting out to the range and training is much more difficult to do. One way to keep your skills up to snuff is using one of many electronic training systems on the market. Today I got to test out the Strikeman. The way it works is pretty simple. You point your phone at a target using the app. Inside your pistol is a caliber-specific laser cartridge that has a rubber button on the back. When you fire your pistol, the striker hits the button which lights up the laser for a split second, which then gets picked up by your phone camera pointing at the target. Simple enough, right?
When you open the box you get a plastic frame with a target sheet inside of it and a plastic base that the stand slides into. There are also suction cups that can mount it to a window. You also get a phone tripod, with a spring-loaded grip that holds your phone. In a separate box is your caliber-specific laser cartridge, with batteries included. To set up, you have to download their app, slide the frame together, mount the phone looking at the target, and calibrate it per the instructions. When calibrating you can choose different modes, including timers, and shot count. Once you hit start, you dry fire your pistol at the target and the app logs where you hit. You then cycle your gun and repeat the process. When your round is up the app shows all your shots, and some accuracy stats.
My experience with this product was, well, just okay. I used a few different pistols on it, including a 9mm Glock, a 9mm M&P 2.0, and a 9mm Sig P320. The laser seemed to be slightly off in all my guns. I could sort of rotate the laser around and my POI would shift around in a small circle. So as long as you weren’t tracking multiple sessions you can still test your consistency, just not the real-world accuracy of your gun. Unless of course you never took the laser out of that pistol. One nice thing about the cartridge is that when you cycle your gun, it stays in place as there is nowhere for the extractor to grab on to. There are little o-rings that hold it in place so it doesn’t slide down your barrel.
The app had a simple design, and you can use it as a “guest”, which means you don’t have to sign in with any email. The email gives you access to leaderboards and some stats, but generally, everything can be done without creating an account. The way the app works though is where the issues started to come up. Most of the time the laser gets picked up, but occasionally it would not. This is essentially because your camera is looking for changes in light. I was able to “trick” the app into registering shots by flashing my pistol-mounted flashlight. I could duplicate this by flipping light switches on or off also. All of this isn’t a huge deal, although it could be limited to the type of training you are doing. Especially if you have a weapon-mounted laser that you want to practice with.
My main complaint about the Strikeman is price. The unit costs $100. Have multiple calibers to practice with? They will run you anywhere from $60 – $120 depending on if Strikeman has them “on-sale” on their site. That means that roughly 60% of the cost goes towards a laser, and the other 40% goes to a plastic sheet target, and a cheap phone tripod. The app is free, and technically you can use any laser cartridge with it, the app is just looking for a red dot on a target. Use that info as you will…
While $100 is cheap compared to a range session these days, you really aren’t getting much for your money. Personally, I think it’s borderline gimmicky at that price, but not useless. The app is usable. The target can store away while taking up basically no space. It can also be pretty fun to play around with. I would recommend it for someone looking to see how their trigger finger affects shot placement, as long as they understand each time they remove the cartridge their POI will slightly shift. I can also see it being used for someone new to shooting, that might be timid of firing a live round. This type of system is about as noiseless and stress-free as you can get, so a great way to acclimate to handling a weapon.