Shooting sports United States | Review: Mantis Blackbeard AR Dry Fire Training System

Electronic firearms training devices enhance dry-firing practice by providing visual feedback. Now, a new laser device for the Mantis AR-15 improves dry-firing practice for rapid-fire scenes by also resetting the trigger for true semi-automatic action. AR-15 competitors can finally practice timing rapid fire during dry runs with the Mantis Blackbeard.

Both units of the Mantis Blackbeard store in a protective hard foam case.

Blackbeard is a two-piece unit, an integrated laser and mechanical device replacing the AR-15’s charging handle and bolt carrier group (BCG), and a battery unit replacing the magazine. Four metal contacts, two at the bottom of the laser unit and two at the top of the battery, make the electrical connection. Both units are a dark red color, showing at a glance that the rifle is in a safe handling condition.

The battery is about half an inch longer than a standard 20-round magazine and is rechargeable via an included USB cable that plugs into any device so equipped, such as a computer. Mantis claims 100,000 shots per charge. The upper unit “fires” a windage and elevation adjustable green laser. A small two-position switch selects between constant on for the setting and flashing once when the trigger is pulled. All three controls are accessible through the AR-15’s ejection port when the device is installed. Mantis includes an Allen key for making elevation and windage adjustments, which can also be used to operate the tiny recessed switch.

Center laser sights

Dry-firing Blackbeard at home will require adjusting your sight settings, particularly elevation, to account for both the height of the sights above the drill line and the distance between muzzle and target. The laser sends a beam of light in a straight line, while the rifle’s sights are adjusted to launch a bullet in an arc to hit a target at a specific distance. The sights (and crosshairs) above the drill line mean that the laser “dot” will appear well below the target at close range.

Blackbeard Mantis

Blackbeard’s superior laser unit includes a mechanical device to reset the hammer with each strike and operates as fast as 10 rounds per second.

In my National Match iron-sighted A2-style AR-15 with the rear sight set to its 200-yard zero and a target mounted four feet away, Blackbeard’s laser “dot” hit about 2.5 inches under target with a six o’ hold clock. Returning to 20 feet, the laser was still hitting 1.5 inches down. It was necessary to raise the rear sight almost to its stop and fire dry from 40 feet away to get the laser to hit center X with a six o’clock sight picture.

Installing the Blackbeard in my National Match AR-5 flat top mounted with a Hi-Lux XTC scope produced the same initial results, as the front sight and reticle centers of both rifles are 2.4 inches above from the bore center. To hit the center of the target required adjusting the elevation of the scope up to 100 clicks (25 minutes) and dry firing from 20 feet away.

AR-15 Dry Fire Training System

Laser settings and mode selection are accessible through the AR-15’s ejection port. A green laser dot flashes on the target when the gun trigger is pulled.

Moving Blackbeard next to a flat top AR-15 carbine mounted with a 16 inch barrel and red dot type optics 2.1 inches above bore center required a small adjustment to the elevation and drift of the laser. The green dot of the laser and the red dot of the optics superimposed on the center of the target at a distance of approximately 15 feet.

Trigger feeling

Dry-firing isn’t just about sight picture, it’s also about trigger control. Blackbeard is a mechanical and electronic device. It does not interfere with gripping or releasing the trigger, and these are no different than dry-firing without Blackbeard. However, Blackbeard’s mechanical hammer auto-reset feature produces a very different trigger “feel” after firing, with two additional audible clicks and accompanying trigger taps that are felt through the trigger finger. What the dry shooter hears and feels first when pulling the trigger is the normal click of the hammer release, which is stopped by the Blackbeard device. The device then immediately “punches” the hammer to reset it, which the shooter hears and feels in the trigger finger. Then, upon releasing the trigger, the shooter hears and feels a third shot, as the disconnector releases the hammer to re-engage the trigger.

green laser

Laser settings and mode selection are accessible through the AR-15’s ejection port. A green laser dot flashes on the target when the gun trigger is pulled.

In dry-fire without Blackbeard, there is no auto-reset – we have to manually activate the charging handle – so all the dry-firer hears and feels is the drop of a single hammer. During live fire, the sensations of automatic rearmament and triggering of the disconnector are masked by noise and recoil. With the Mantis Blackbeard, the dry shooter feels a tap-tap-tap on the trigger finger with every shot.

timing training

This automatic hammer reset by Blackbeard is a godsend for practicing rapid fire steps when dry firing. Without a black beard, simulating 10 rapid fire is not possible without manually rotating the AR-15’s charging handle for each shot, which we don’t do in live fire and which means practicing rapid fire at dry is not entirely realistic. With Blackbeard, the shooter can stay in position and practice the correct timing of 10 quick shots, which is an essential aspect of High Power competition, as every competitor who has ever seen a target descend into the pits with a round still in progress . his magazine knows it.

The laser unit has adjustments to center the laser light beam in the bore, and a constant-on/flash-only selector.

Mantis’ Blackbeard provides the dry shooter with instant visual feedback on where a shot landed on target. Action-oriented competition shooters can also add the Mantis X Laser Training Academy app simulator. High-powered competitors might want to add the Mantis X gun training system, a kind of electronic coach that offers errant shot diagnostics – why you landed that shot in the 7-ring. Either combination can make up what could be the most comprehensive dry-fire self-training package available to competitive AR-15 shooters today.

The retail price of the Mantis Blackbeard is $199 and is available directly from Mantis. Visit the Mantis website for more information and promotional videos.


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