Dry fire with a AR-15 is hardly an entertaining event. Focus, get a good stance and grip, pull the trigger carefully and repeat. Every time you take a shot, you have to run back the charging handle and reset the weapon. It gets old fast, and it speeds up the development of tennis elbow. Honestly, it’s boring, kind of annoying, but dry fire is a must-have. The Mantis Blackbeard promises to change all that. It promises to take all the boring out of dry fire.
The Mantis Blackbeard uses, and I’m quoting Mantis, electromechanical wizardry, to automatically reset the trigger. When the hammer drops, the Blackbeard catches it well before it makes it to the top of its travel.
The bolt then resets the trigger automatically. This allows you to replicate semi-automatic fire while dry firing. The Mantis Blackbeard can reset the trigger up to ten times per second, which to me sounds like it would work with a full-auto rifle.
How the Blackbeard Works
The Mantis Blackbeard system is a two-piece design. You have the bolt and the battery. The bolt also replaces your charging handle and drops into the upper receiver of your rifle. The battery looks like a 20 round AR magazine and squeezes into the AR magwell.
The battery takes forever to charge, and a button lights up some LEDs, and they give you a good idea of the battery’s capacity. It does take a very long time to recharge the battery. I’m talking hours to fully charge the battery. A micro USB charging port makes it easy to charge.
What doesn’t make it easy to charge is the fact the port wasn’t properly placed. The port sat inside the battery and was too far to the left to be useful. I had to take the battery apart and manually move the port. Not a big deal, but for a system that costs over two hundred bucks, I expect a little bit more.
Setting It Up
Man, the Blackbeard’s installation is simple. Slide the bolt into the upper receiver, slap the battery into the magwell, and boom, you’re done. Well, it’s almost that simple. The bolt is slightly large, and the fit is extremely tight. You really gotta squeeze those two receivers together to slide the pin back in.
The battery is a tight fit but still slides in and out. It’s not the tightest fit, but it most certainly won’t drop free when the magazine release is pressed. That’s probably a good thing because the battery won’t just fall out if the magazine release button is pressed. It’s made from plastic, and I’d imagine it would break if it fell just right.
The setup fits AR-15s, not necessarily calibers. I’ve tested the setup in 5.56 guns, the CMMG FourSix, and a 300 Blackout. It fits the platform, not necessarily the caliber. I’d imagine something like the 7.62×39 might be too big for a good fit.
At the ‘Range’
When I say range, what I really mean is my kitchen, living room, bedroom, and beyond. I set up targets for dry fire practice and got some reps in. Every time I pulled the trigger, the Mantis reset the trigger and readied me for my next shot well before I was ready to take it. It was almost instant.
The trigger pull and reset remain identical to the real thing. The Blackbeard does nothing more than reset the trigger. In my Colt AR, I have a nice drop-in trigger in my FourSix, a stock standard Mil-Spec trigger. Both pulls remain identical to what they are without the Blackbeard.
Every time the trigger resets, I hear a little robot noise, and that’s about it. When the Blackbeard fires, it also emits a laser. The Blackbeard comes with a red, green, or IR laser. Additionally, you can get a slightly cheaper option that lacks a laser. I suggest the red laser, as it works with most laser targets and apps. This includes the Mantis Laser Academy app. The Blackbeard works with the Mantis X systems without issue.
You can turn the laser off if you choose. You can also turn it to constantly on. The reason you’d keep it constantly on is to zero the laser to your optic. Mantis wisely placed both windage and elevation adjustments in a position where you can adjust them through the AR’s ejection port.
The Blackbeard in Action
Since the Blackbeard makes your AR-15 semi-automatic for most dry fire applications, it really makes your dry fire training efficient. You’ll spend more time with trigger pulls and less time working the charging handle. Besides simple accuracy training, you can also run whatever drills you know and love.
I did just that and had a blast working tactical drills inside the comfort of my home. Heck, I didn’t even need to put on pants. The potential is endless. You can work using cover, practice your double taps, and basically anything outside of reload drills.
My kids love it, and it allows them to mix both fun with safe training. They had a ton of fun blasting away with the Mantis Blackbeard, and at the same time, got some trigger time and safety training in a nonintimidating environment.
The Mantis Blackbeard might be the best dry fire tool and experience ever created.
Specifications: Mantis Blackbeard
Weight – 14.5 ounces
Battery Life – 100,000 trigger presses
Laser – 650 nm, 60ms – Red laser
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability: * * * * *
Once installed, the Blackbeard always went bang, or should I say pew? Regardless, it never failed to reset the trigger regardless of how fast I pulled that trigger.
Ease of Install: * * * ½
Well, everything drops in without issue. Installation should be five stars, but I took a star and a half off for having to take apart the battery and move the battery port.
Overall: * * * * ½
Mantis did tell me that the battery port was an issue and revealed that this was limited to an initial early run and has been corrected. That being said, the Mantis Blackbeard is a fantastic dry fire tool and makes dry fire fun, exciting, and far from boring.