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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 Blackbeard comes with a rather nice case. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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 is simple, and squeezes into your magwell tightly (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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.

This port was originally offset and I had to manually fix it. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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.

Once installed you are ready to dry fire. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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. A standard AR15 lower parts kit and drop-in triggers work. 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.

This portion catches the hammer and resets it. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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.

The bolt doesn’t move at all (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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.

The windage and elevation adjustments are accessible through the ejection port.

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.

A laser emits with every trigger pull. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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.


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  1. Automatic trigger reset…pretty sure the Communists Progressives in Congress will declare this to be a “fully semi-automatic machine gun” and place it under the NFA…just because ignorance and treason always trumps facts and reason.

    May have to consider purchasing one of these.

    • Don’t do it. If you look around hard and close you’ll find plenty of negative reviews. Mine doesn’t work at all (it’s going back) and my negative Blsckbeard reviews disappear after one day. Avoid them at all costs.

      Sure, mistakes in manufacturing occur, fact of life. Look at how many “positive” reviews they post on their own site…just isn’t realistic

      • I’ll give credit where it’s due, they at least seem to be good about replacing bad units. I’ve seen multiple posts online from people who are on number two or three at this point. I’m on number two myself, but I think the real problem for me was that the operation of this unit is very picky about tolerances. The official release of the Blackbeard was only just recently, so I have to imagine they’ve run into issues and tweaked it some in the year it’s been out.

  2. I rarely buy anything based upon reviews on gun sites mainly because the review tends to fade into sales pitch, and for a lot of reviews the focus is more to sell rather than inform. But I want one of these.

    • G&A, ST and Am Rifleman frequently put a positive shine on firearm-shaped lumps of poop. Their gun “reviews” are entertaining but not worth the paper they’re printed on for purchasing decisions.

      I “lucked” into one of the Springfield SA-35’s when they were released a couple of months ago. It’s been back to SA once and might go again. If you buy one be prepared for random failures to extract. Mine is worst with 115 gr Federal rounds. 124’s (of all brands) load, lock into battery and extract more reliably. Don’t know about 147’s as I don’t keep them in inventory. It’s a good looker though.

      • I empathize. I got a DBX 5.7 about 2 months ago and found that an alignment rod (that does fit in 3 other 5.7 barrels, one of them also un-fired) wouldn’t fit in the barrel. I am a bit ignorant about brand new bores and asked them if it could just be tiny machining artifacts from the a cut rifling process. I wondered if a few shots would clean it up. They wouldn’t answer that question or even let me talk to a tech and asked for me to send the upper back. I hated that idea as I knew the holidays would likely add two weeks to the time that it would just sit in their “to do” pile. It has been there for six weeks now and they haven’t even looked at it.

  3. After putting a few thousand laser blasts through a pretty good AR, I decided I wasn’t happy dedicating a good rifle to laser training, so I dug into my pile of spare parts and put together most of the parts for a new pistol, then converted it to a rifle (e.g. forward assist is empty, no port cover, no trigger guard, no muzzle device). That’s my new dedicated laser training rifle.
    added bonus is that since it’s only hand tight, if anybody who isn’t skilled at building rifles breaks in and steals it, it’s probably going to soon blow up in their face if they put a bcg charging handle in.
    These things are awesome and I strongly recommend them to anybody who will listen. Just doing drills going from low ready to “fire” is a valuable skill to practice. They let you practice holdover too, since you will RAPIDLY understand that your optic sits about 2.5″ over your bore, and it makes a huge difference in precision shots at room-distances.

  4. This thing seems to be pretty sensitive to the tolerances of the rifle it’s installed in. I got one about a year ago and right out of the box it would trigger just by shaking the rifle and it would fire several times per trigger pull or auto if I held it down. I contacted Mantis and they sent me another one which did the same thing. I “fixed” it by replacing my trigger group with a parts kit I had lying around, and it still double-fires quite a bit.

    I got an email from Mantis announcing the “release” of the Blackbeard a month or two ago. It turns out those of us who bought the product last year were paying to be beta testers! I might reach out to them soon about the double firing issue since their support people have been very responsive in my experience. Maybe the latest and greatest version will solve my issue, but at this point I’m thinking it might just be my rifle.

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