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Mantis Blackbeard Review After 1-Year of Use

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As a competitive shooter and the Founder of Tactical Hyve, I always seek more effective, efficient, and enjoyable ways to train and practice.

If you’re the type of person who finds dry firing with your pistol cumbersome and boring, dry fire training with a rifle can be much worse.

The Mantis Blackbeard changes all of that, and right now, it is the best dry-fire training tool for AR-15s that we know of in the market.

I’ve used it for a year now, and if you’ve been wondering whether you should invest in the Mantis Blackbeard, the answer is: “Yes!”

Read my comprehensive review below to learn what the Mantis Blackbeard system is, how it works, the pros, the cons, and things to consider if you plan on buying one.

Take note, there is a newer version of the Mantis Blackbeard system called the Mantis Blackbeard X.

It is almost identical to the original Blackbeard discussed in this review. It differs in that it natively integrates the Mantis X sensor within its magazine/battery pack. More on this later in the review.


You can buy it directly from Mantis. It is currently selling for $219.

The newer Blackbeard X with the integrated Mantis X sensor ranges from $299 to $349.

If you purchase the Mantis Blackbeard or Blackbeard X using any of our links on this page, send your receipt to [email protected], and we’ll give you lifetime access to our Carbine Essentials online course for free.

*More details below.

What is the Mantis Blackbeard?

The Mantis Blackbeard is a dry-fire training system that emits a laser and automatically resets your AR-15 trigger after each shot.

Mantis Blackbeard case

It doesn’t replace live-fire rifle training, but it is an excellent substitute.

The visible laser gives you immediate visual feedback about your accuracy.

The automatic resetting trigger allows you to run your rifle quickly, master your trigger control, and enjoy your practice sessions much more.

How Does the Mantis Blackbeard Work?

The Mantis Blackbeard system consists of two pieces: a bolt/charging handle and a magazine/battery pack.

Mantis Blackbeard parts

The bolt/charging handle component replaces your bolt carrier group (BCG) and charging handle.

When you take a shot with your AR-15, the Blackbeard bolt/charging handle catches your rifle’s hammer and automatically resets your trigger.

Mantis Blackbeard Bolt
The notch along the bolt at the top of this pic catches the hammer.

As a result, you can now take semi-automatic shots during dry-fire practice. In fact, the Mantis Blackbeard can reset your trigger ten times in one second!

The Blackbeard bolt/charging handle also shoots a laser with each shot you take, giving you immediate feedback about your accuracy.

You can purchase a model with a red, green, or IR laser. If you just want the automatic trigger resetting feature, Mantis sells the Blackbeard without a laser, too.

The Blackbeard’s magazine acts as the system’s power source, i.e., battery pack. It powers the provided bolt that resets your trigger and emits the laser.

The green arrow points to the power level indicator lights.

How to Install the Mantis Blackbeard

Installing the Blackbeard system is super simple.

Pop open your cleared AR-15, and replace your bolt and charging handle with the Blackbeard bolt.

Step 1: Break open your rifle.
Step 2: Remove charging handle and BCG.
Step 3: Insert Blackbeard bolt/charging handle.
Ensure Blackbeard bolt is pushed in all the way.

Secure your upper and lowers receivers back in place, then insert the provided Blackbeard magazine/battery pack.

Step 4: Closer your upper and lower receivers.
Step 5. Insert magazine/battery pack.

Take your rifle off safe, and you are off to the races! It’s an easy process.

Fully assembled Mantis Blackbeard

Zeroing the Laser

Because the Mantis Blackbeard uses a laser, you’ll want to ensure it’s zeroed. In other words, you want the laser to hit wherever you’re aiming with your AR-15’s zeroed red dot or iron sights.

The Blackbeard’s bolt has several controls that can be accessed via your AR-15’s ejection port, once it is installed.

Mantis Blackbeard adjustments

There is a switch that allows you to turn your laser on permanently or only during each trigger squeeze.

Leaving your system’s laser on permanently is primarily used for zeroing. You’ll be able to see your laser at all times to make zeroing adjustments easier.

Speaking of adjustments, the bolt also has elevation and windage controls that can be adjusted using Mantis’s provided Allen wrench.

What Do I like About the Mantis Blackbeard?

There are a lot of benefits and things I like about the Mantis Blackbeard dry-fire system. You can practically work on everything you can at a live-fire range except reloads and dealing with malfunctions.

Let’s start with the biggest benefit…

Improves Your Speed and Accuracy

Because of the automatic resetting trigger, you can work on proper trigger control for speed and accuracy.

I’ve said it many times and teach it in our classes…

The secret to shooting fast is not about how fast you squeeze your trigger. It’s all about how fast you come off your trigger (i.e., resetting it) and come back on it for another shot.

The Mantis Blackbeard lets you take rapid, multiple-shot engagements to practice squeezing your trigger, but more importantly, resetting it and coming back on it.

If the secret to shooting fast is about how fast you come off and back onto your trigger, then the secret to shooting fast and accurately is about how fast you come off and back on your trigger, and how you come back onto your trigger.

If you’re an experienced shooter, you understand how important proper trigger control is for accuracy. If you slap your trigger wildly, there’s a good chance your shots will be off-target because your improper trigger squeeze will likely disrupt your sights.

The Mantis Blackbeard helps you improve accuracy by giving you immediate visual feedback with its laser. You will quickly know if your shot is off due to improper trigger control and/or an unsteady shooting platform.

Work on Holdovers

Experienced rifle shooters understand the barrel-to-optic relationship. Red dots on rifles are positioned a couple of inches above a rifle’s bore. In layman’s terms, a rifle’s red dot and barrel aren’t on the same plane.

Height over bore

At close distances, say 1 to 10 yards, your point of aim with your red dot will not be where your point of impact is, i.e., where your bullet hits.

If you shoot a target near you, your shot will be lower than where your red dot was because your barrel is physically lower than your optic.

To hit exactly what you want, it’s important to place your red dot higher than what you want to hit, i.e., a holdover.

Using holdovers in shooting

For example, let’s say you want to shoot a 1-inch circle from 5 yards away. You place your red dot on the circle, you shoot, and your shot hits 3 inches low–this is due to the barrel-to-optic relationship we discussed.

To hit the circle from that distance, you’ll need to place your red dot 3 inches above your intended target.

How high your holdover should be at close distances depends on different factors, such as how high your optic is above your barrel.

The easiest way to know is to conduct tests at different distances with your rifle. You don’t even need to shoot live ammo.

The Mantis Blackbeard is great for working on holdovers because you can physically see how much lower the laser hits compared to where you’re placing your red dot.

Use Your Own Gear

I love how the Mantis Blackbeard allows you to use your own AR-15. It’s critical to practice a lot with your own firearms to become proficient with them.

Mantis Blackbeard Review

I also was impressed that the Blackbeard system did not change the feel of my triggers. (I used it with multiple rifles.) I was expecting some kind of difference.

The trigger felt exactly the same as when I’m shooting at the range, which is important in mastering trigger control.

Convenient and Easy to Use

As mentioned above, setting the system up with your AR-15 is simple. After charging the battery, you can get set up in less than 10 seconds.

You can use the Mantis Blackbeard anywhere, too. There are only two parts, and it comes with a slim case you can take anywhere.

You can use the Blackbeard outdoors or indoors, but I don’t recommend using it in bright sunlight if you want to be able to see your laser.

Depending on lighting conditions, regardless of what color laser you get, you might not get that ‘easy-to-see’ visual feedback.

Works with Other Laser Targets

The Mantis Blackbeard’s laser works with various laser targets sold in the market. You don’t need to buy anything proprietary from Mantis.

This comes in handy as laser targets are useful in giving you immediate, visual feedback as well.

With laser targets, you can usually set them to make a sound and/or light up when you hit them.

Laser Targets

While using the Blackbeard’s laser can help you spot where your ‘shots’ are going, at a certain distance (and under bright lighting conditions), you may no longer see the laser.

In these situations, it’s nice to have the option of using laser targets to give you feedback about your accuracy.

The Blackbeard also works with the Mantis X family of sensors. If you’re unfamiliar with the sensors, you can read our review of the Mantis X10 Elite here. I highly recommend it because you can use it with any firearm platform, i.e., pistols, shotguns, rifles, and even bows!

You must attach the Mantis X to your rifle’s rail or the bottom of the Blackbeard’s magazine/battery.

Alternatively, as alluded to earlier, you can buy the Mantis Blackbeard X, which has the Mantis X sensor built into its magazine/battery.

Saves You Money

You can do pretty much everything you can during a live-fire session with the Mantis Blackbeard. As a result, you do not need to spend much money on ammo to get an effective training session.

Yes, you won’t feel any recoil with the Blackbeard, but shooting a standard AR-15 using .223 or 5.56 ammo doesn’t produce a lot of recoil in the first place.

Think of the Blackbeard as a tool to work the fundamentals of shooting a rifle, such as proper grip, sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger control. Then, work on your recoil management along with the other basics when you’re shooting at the range.

Great for Military and Law Enforcement

The Mantis Blackbeard is a great training tool for professionals working close-quarters battle (CQB).

Source: Dvids

In close quarters, an operator will potentially engage threats at close distances, quickly.

Knowing one’s holdovers is critical at this distance, and the Blackbeard will give immediate accuracy feedback with its laser.

Furthermore, the Blackbeard is a great tool for professionals who train with and use night vision goggles.

The Blackbeard’s IR laser option allows users to see their hits even when using night vision.

What I Didn’t Like About the Mantis Blackbeard

While there are a lot of benefits to the Blackbeard, there are some limitations and things that can be improved.

Cannot Work Reloads or Malfunctions

The magazine acts as a battery pack, and while one could potentially buy multiple battery packs to work reloads, the battery pack isn’t meant to be dropped on the ground.

There is a good chance the battery would break or not function properly if dropped on a hard surface.

Mantis might improve the battery’s durability in the future, but for now, I would steer away from working reloads.

Working malfunctions aren’t possible too because the Blackbeard’s charging handle isn’t really a charging handle. It is there for aesthetics but doesn’t really have a function.

Hence, working malfunctions like an immediate action drill, i.e., tap, rack, bang, just don’t work.

Nonetheless, I view the Blackbeard more as a training tool to improve your shooting skillsets–not your reloads or malfunction handling.

The Battery Takes a Long Time to Charge

My first time charging the battery took more than 12 hours. After timing the first charge, I never did it again because I didn’t want to monitor it for that long.

Instead, when the battery was running low (the battery has power indicators at the top), I plugged it in before going to bed, and it would be fully charged by the morning.

Although it takes a while to charge, the battery lasts a long time. None of my dry fire sessions were interrupted because of a dead battery.

Can’t See the Laser in Certain Lighting Conditions

The laser emitted from the Mantis Blackbeard is bright, but depending on your distance and vision, the visible laser can be tiny and hard to see, especially in bright light conditions.

If you’re using the system indoors or in a shoothouse where your targets are within 10 yards, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Personally, this isn’t a major issue for me, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Imprecise Zeroing

You can get a pretty good zero, at least I did up to 25 yards, but I found it difficult to perfectly line up the laser with my red dot.

It is easy to use the provided Allen wrench to make elevation and windage adjustments, but for those who are knit-picky, I thought I should mention it.

Again, this isn’t a major issue for me.

What Customers Think of the Mantis Blackbeard

Out of 281 verified customer reviews, the Blackbeard averages a 5-star rating.

I’m not surprised because it is a great dry-fire training tool. When writing this review, it seems like it’s one-of-a-kind.

The fact that many military and law enforcement units have started to use it says a lot, too.

“This is a great way to maintain your trigger finger. No recoil bit still great. I’ve tried other laser systems, they are much more trouble because you have to partially rack the slide. With ammo being as expensive as it is these days this can help tremendously. Love it.”

Read more Mantis Blackbeard reviews on Mantis’s website.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Mantis Blackbeard

The Blackbeard is a great product that I recommend. But there are a few things you should know about before buying.

Firstly, if you are going to use laser targets, I recommend getting the red laser. From experience, laser targets work much better with red lasers than green.

Secondly, if you use an optic with a busy reticle instead of a simple red dot, you may not see the laser shot from the Blackbeard. Your reticle may overlap with where the laser is hitting.

When I used my EOTech EXPS3-4, I couldn’t see the laser at times because of the reticle. The EOTech I used has four red dots and a red circle around them.

Next, while you can use the Mantis Blackbeard with targets at any range, you’ll reach a distance where you can’t see the laser well. Passed 10 yards without any magnification, I could no longer see the laser.

Personally, I thought this was fine as the laser works best at close range to work your holdovers. When shooting targets further away, I gauge my accuracy by focusing on the movement of my red dot when my shots break.

Lastly, remember that there is a newer version of the Blackbeard, the Mantis Blackbeard X. You may want to buy the newer version instead. More on this in the next section.

The Newer Mantis Blackbeard X

Which one should you buy?

Mantis Blackbeard X
Mantis Blackbeard X with integrated Mantis X sensor

Both are great and have similar features: an automatic resetting trigger and a laser that is emitted with each shot.

The major difference is that the newer BlackBeard X includes an integrated Mantis X sensor in the magazine/battery pack, so you can get all the benefits of the Mantis X system without having to attach a separate sensor to your AR-15 or your Blackbeard’s magazine.

(If you’re unfamiliar with the Mantis X sensor and its benefits, read our Mantis X10 Elite review here.)

If you already have a Mantis X sensor, you are probably better off getting the original Blackbeard system.

However, if you want a more streamlined package and integration between the Blackbeard and Mantis X systems, then the Blackbeard X is the way to go.

Another difference, although minor, is that the magazine/battery pack that comes with the newer version is the size of a 30-round magazine. In contrast, the original version’s magazine/battery pack is the size of a 20-round magazine.

How it Has Helped Me

The Mantis Blackbeard has really helped with my holdovers at close distances.

Dry firing without a laser, I would estimate where my actual shots would hit.

With the Blackbeard laser, it makes it easy to know where I need to place my red dot to hit my intended target.

The automatic trigger reset allows me to improve my speed and accuracy.

And the laser, combined with the resetting trigger that keeps on going, has made dry firing with my rifles much more enjoyable and realistic.

Mantis Blackbeard Alternatives

At the time of writing this review, I don’t know of any other products in the market that directly compete with the Blackbeard system.

I’ve heard of other companies working on alternatives, but none of them have anything in the market, yet.

The Mantis Blackbeard and Blackbeard X are in a league of their own right now.

Watch My Full Video Review

Final Thoughts

Dry firing with your rifle can be really boring and cumbersome.

Mantis has solved that with the Blackbeard and Blackbeard X.

Not only will you have more fun, but your dry fire practice will also be more realistic, effective, and efficient.

After a year of continual use, I didn’t run into any major issues. Occasionally there have been instances where the trigger reset feels as if it got caught on something, but it has always fixed itself immediately.

I highly recommend the product, and you can’t go wrong with either version.

Mantis Blackbeard

You can buy it directly from Mantis. It is currently selling for $219.

The newer Blackbeard X with the integrated Mantis X sensor ranges from $299 to $349.

If you purchase the Mantis Blackbeard or Blackbeard X using any of our links on this page, send your receipt to [email protected], and we’ll give you lifetime access to our Carbine Essentials online course for free.

*More details below.

[Bonus] Carbine Essentials Online Course

Carbine Essentials

If you’re ready to buy the Mantis Blackbeard and do so via one of the links on this page, we’ll send you our Carbine Essentials online course completely for free. All you have to do is email your purchase receipt to us at [email protected], and we’ll send you a link to access the course.

You’ll get LIFETIME ACCESS to our online training portal where you can go through the course at your own pace. Carbine Essentials is great for new carbine shooters or those who have never taken a formal class.

It will give you a solid foundation and get you shooting on the range safely.

You won’t find access to the course anywhere else. Just remember to email us your receipt within 14-days of purchase, and we’ll get back to you within 24 to 72 hours with your access to Carbine Essentials.

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About the author


Myles is the Founder of Tactical Hyve, a competitive shooter, and a life-long student of all things dealing with the tactical and self-defense worlds.

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