One of the things I’ve seen folks ask Pro Flight Trainer quite often was the ability to exchange grips. Well, that and, of course, the collective head (cough, cough).
For some time, the company has been thinking about how to do it, and, very recently, the company released its first new cyclic grip, the A-Style Cyclic Grip.
Did I say “first”? Yes, I did. We may have not seen the last of the news coming from Pro Flight Trainer.
But let’s focus on the A-Style right now.
The grip is available in 2 options: the SnapAction and a non-SnapAction, which I will call “regular”, although that’s not the official designation.
Pro Flight Trainer describes the SnapAction model in the following way:
“The SnapAction version is a step up from the Standard and will offer high contact force and short contact bounce which results from the snap-action mechanism, double break switching mechanism with incredibly fast transfer time, reducing arcing and increasing contact life.
The buttons on this version have a mechanical life beyond MIL-PRF-8805 requirements and were designed for real cockpit applications.
These buttons offer dual pressure feedback, pressing once to move the button cap, then having to push through an extra resistance to activate the function, very similar to the real cockpit environment.”
This means that the grip offers more durable, more realistic buttons. But if you are looking into purchasing the grip, which one should you choose? Well, you’d have to try both to be able to decide, right?
Fortunately, I did just that as Pro Flight Trainer (PFT) also sent me a “regular” version.
This was another fun review. And the fun started even before getting the grips, as I got to customize both!
PFT asked me to head out to their website and use their configurator to build my version of the grip, with the buttons (small or big) I wanted, the color I wanted (black or red), the hats I wanted (trim, stadium or castle), switches, indicate which version of the Pro Flight Trainer Puma X I had, etc.
Above: The Pro Flight Trainer A-Style Cyclig Grip configurator
I found this really cool and it got me even more excited. I have not seen such a level of customization, at least recently. That’s a much-welcome feature for me.
I decided to customize both grips a bit differently, so I could appreciate the several kinds of controls PFT offers. Don’t worry, though, the fact that the grips are not configured the same did not hurt the ability to compare both the SnapAction and the “regular” version.
A few days later, I got a box with both grips. In the box, I could find the grip (of course), attached to the grip tube (again, of course), a new board (necessary even if you have the Puma X v5 – don’t worry, that’s included in the price) and a few more parts to help assemble the grip (screws, etc).
The grip looks amazing, and it feels amazing in my hand as well. It’s quite a difference when compared to the B8 replica I’ve been using on the PFT for the last few years. It feels… More modern, I guess. The difference is not in quality, though. It’s just the design.
The build is great, it feels solid, and the resin/fiber of the grip doesn’t feel cheap at all. The tube is metal, of course, so the whole set just feels fantastic.
To assemble the grip, I had to replace the board. Pro tip: make sure all the wires keep their small plastic markers, so you know which one is A, B, C, etc. It’s very annoying to try and get all the wiring back together when you don’t know what’s what.
Once I did that – which consists of opening the housing, unplugging the wires, removing 2 screws, replacing the board, and then doing it all in reverse. I removed the old grip, installed the new one, and attached the cable to the board.
Before closing the housing (another pro tip), I made sure everything worked, using the Windows USB game controller tool and calibrated the joystick.
It was time to take her for a spin.
No surprises here. Everything worked as it should. The hall sensor was the original one from the Puma X, so that worked as usual. The buttons, switches, and hats were the “new kids” and they did their job flawlessly.
Once again, the grip feels very good on my hand. I won’t lie and tell you it felt natural from the start. It didn’t. I am so used to the B8 that this monster of a grip did take me a bit of time to get used to. But now I can’t go back to the B8!
Dang! I guess that’s a good problem to have, right?
On the B8 I had 1 trigger, 3 buttons, and a hat. The A-Style grip gives me the trigger, 6 buttons, 2 4-way hats (+push), and a 3-way switch (off + momentary up/down).
That’s a lot of functions and quite the upgrade from the good old B8.
What’s the SnapAction thing, then?
Ah… What the hell is SnapAction, after all?
That’s not easy to explain, but I’ll do my best. Besides the fact that is more durable (something I can’t comment on yet as I have had the grip for only a few weeks), you do feel the difference as you use the buttons since you feel the pressure as you push the button and then it ‘clicks’. You get a satisfying, solid ‘click’. The buttons not only sound solid they feel solid. These are some of the best buttons I have experienced on a controller and now I want PFT to make them available for the collective as well!
Above: on the left, you can see the "regular" version. On the right, you can see the SnapAction version.
As I said, I was lucky enough to get 1 of each version of the grip: the SnapAction and the “regular” one. PFT wanted me to be able to compare them so I could tell you, the reader what the difference is.
And you may think it’s a small one. But it’s really not.
Here’s the thing: the grips look the same. Feel the same, and work the same. Except for the buttons and how they feel and operate, Everything else is exactly the same. It’s the same (good) quality, both versions are solid, and they work great. Oh, except for a small difference in the color/material as well. The "retular" version has some deep-red shiny-ish hardware.
But the buttons…
Which one would I get?
Those SnapAction buttons do make a difference.
Look, I know it’s kind of crazy to tell you “Hey, spend $150 more to get some nifty buttons”. I know that. I really do. And I can’t say you will be poorly served with the “regular” version. It’s not like you’re going to feel cheated or that the grip is cheap or anything like that. Quite the opposite. Both grips are fantastic.
But the feeling of those buttons just… Different. Better. This is a personal opinion, just like with any other review out there, but if I could afford the extra $150, I would, very probably, pay the extra to get the SnapAction version.
If you are budget-tight, go with the “regular” one. It’s not the “poor man’s version” or anything like that. It’s a good quality, good performance grip. Pro Flight Trainer could have released just that and I would be happy with it. But they released the SnapAction as well and I tried it so… I can’t go back, sorry.
I believe the SnapAction version is worth the difference if you can afford it.
Pro Flight Trainer’s new grip is a very welcome addition to their line of products. PFT delivers a great quality addon to the Puma, which you can use on version 5 and even on version 4 or your kit (you just need to house the card somewhere else and an extra USB port) and it will give you a lot more controls.
Oh and if you don’t have a Pro Flight Trainer kit, you can still use it. Just find a way to attach it to your current kit or build a gimbal with a couple of hall sensors. Or perhaps PFT can think of a base kit? Hint, hint!
Both the “regular” and the SnapAction versions are fantastic and you will be very well served with any of them.
I switched my old, trustworthy B8 grip, which comes with the Pro Flight Trainer Puma X2 with this one – for good – and I will not look back for sure. And I even have the SnapAction one, so I am a very happy puppy.