Aaaargh, what be the best AR dry firing tool of the seven seas? The Mantis X Blackbeard answers the call!
Mantis Tech has been sailing through the industry headlines with their innovative dry-firing devices, and for good reason. Ammo shortages and price hikes have made the already important practice of at-home training with your defensive firearm all the more vital. Filling the void has been the Mantis X series. These devices directly attach to your firearm and offer precise shooting accuracy and technique diagnostics.
Honing in on your shots is the first important step for developing yourself as a competitive shooter. What about consistent follow-up shot training? For obvious reasons, this presents a technical barrier. The natural mechanics of your typical AR platform prevents you from doing so without physically resetting the trigger each time. At which point, you might as well be using a bolt gun.
That’s where the Mantis Blackbeard comes in. The Blackbeard uses a unique design that allows the user to conduct realistic and consistent dry firing sessions.
Following Up on Your Shots
If there’s one thing gun owners like, it’s simplicity. Luckily, the Mantis X Blackbeard is idiot-proof, being as simple to install as it is to operate. The system is a dedicated AR-15 dry firing solution. It replaces your bolt carrier group and charging handle with a solid, drop-in electronic device that emits a laser at the end of the barrel. The red color indicates that the device is a non-ballistic, dry firing tool. This can be seen easily from the ejection port side.
You can make adjustments using the included Allen key to give yourself some semblance of a zero. Make sure to get as close to your sighting system as possible. Keep in mind there is no such thing as an exact zero to your reticle or sights from a laser bore alone due to the fact you’re matching up a laser from the barrel end and not actual ballistic trajectory from a live round.
The Battery Pack
The separate magazine is a rechargeable battery pack, allowing 100,000 shots per full charge. So you can safely “mag” dump to your heart’s content. With every pull of the trigger, the device’s piston will automatically reset it. The product comes in four different variations: red laser, green laser (what I use since I was feeling festive), infrared laser, or no laser. The visible lasers are great for general use as you’ll clearly indicate shot placement with just your naked eyes. The no laser model is fine for those looking only to get the trigger reset function. The infrared is for the Gucci operator Bois with NODs (jealous).
The package includes the Blackbeard laser device, the magazine battery pack, instructions, and a charging cable in a sleek case.
Zeroing in on Your Training with the Mantis X Blackbeard
So what does the Mantis X Blackbeard actually add to your training routine? As mentioned before, my fellow AR shooters will be delighted to know their trigger will now automatically reset at every pull. Gone are the days of awkwardly breaking your shooting form to rack the charging handle just to make another shot happen. Instead, the user is able to make rapid follow-up shots without any alterations to their technique. This prevents the development of certain training scars. Additionally, no changes are made to the trigger weight, so your pristine Geissele gets to perform in all of its glory.
I had a blast endlessly dumping into my makeshift targets and doing my usual routine throughout my testing. It cannot be overstated the importance of being able to pull the trigger multiple times without interruption. Suddenly, the practice of dynamic drills and advanced methods is possible. One of my favorite drills is the Failure to Stop. In this drill, the shooter is tasked with placing two shots to the target’s chest and one to the head in quick, accurate succession. This is simply not feasible in a dry fire setting without the Blackbeard auto-resetting trigger system.
Another subtle but equally important feature is the responsiveness of the trigger reset itself. For those worried about possibly “outrunning” the Blackbeard’s trigger reset speed, fear not. I may not be the Flash, but I did my damnedest to make this thing choke up on me with my trigger finger alone and experienced no issues.
Of course, there’s no use in having a shooting tool that has no indicator of accuracy. The laser emitter feature is essential for at least serving as a reference point for your shot placements. Other than simply tracking your overall groupings, the laser really shined when I began conducting on-the-move target transition shooting and simulated CQB drills. Call it LARPing, but doing my usual room-clearing drills felt cooler than ever before! I, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to test this alongside the Laser Academy system. However, something tells me I’d spend even more time violently invading my room than usual if I did.
As far as reliability goes, the Blackbeard keeps on truckin’. You may have heard of earlier models failing after a few hundred shots or having tolerance issues. I experienced none of the above after thousands of shots. Mantis has made it clear these errors have been fixed with later generations.
Some Holes Need Plugging
Products are rarely perfect out of the box and the Mantis X Blackbeard is no exception. I will get the obvious out of the way and confirm that you will not be able to perform your standard reloads using this device. Core mechanical weapons manipulations such as racking the charging handle, inserting standard magazines (excluding the Blackbeard magazine battery), or flipping up the dust cover are impossible. Nothing on the device reciprocates outwardly, and the presence of the device in the chamber prevents any magazine from being fully seated. If you want to practice reloads within shooting drills or malfunction clearing, you’ll need to do so with your base BCG and charging handle.
The second issue I personally encountered was the Blackbeard’s inability to integrate with the Mantis X dry fire software. As it is advertised, the Blackbeard should be compatible with any of the current generation models of the Mantis X Shooting Performance System by using the universal magazine adhesive mount. Unfortunately, despite going through the X3 and X10 models, the most I could get were two or three shots to register in the dry firing diagnostic software. Upon speaking to multiple reps from Mantis, I was told the next generation of the Blackbeard will come integrated with a software feature. Hopefully, solving this problem altogether. However, I do believe I could have a defective model and am in talks with their customer support team to solve the issue.
The Mantis X Blackbeard Verdict
On the whole, the Mantis X Blackbeard is a fantastic addition to any AR owner’s training arsenal. The ability to have a safe trigger reset in combination with a laser emitter elevates the at-home, dry fire training experience. The hiccups I did encounter are not in any way disastrous. Fortunately, Mantis Tech is already improving upon the original design. It’s a pricey tool but think of this device as not just another accessory but as an investment for yourself.
About the Author: Eric is a writer, everyman-level, critic, gamer, martial artist, firearms enthusiast, social media marketer, and desultory, half-assed comedian. When he’s not cranking out good ole fashioned gun content, he’s likely playing one or more of the latest FPS games du jour. That or teaching friends not to shoot themselves in the foot and wishing he had better time management skills. Follow him on Instagram at @ground_floor_korean.