Mantis BlackbeardX: The Pinnacle AR Dryfire System

by Vern Evans

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I’m a huge fan of dry firing at home. It creates lots of good habits without the interference of recoil, which often leads to anticipation, flinching, heeling and failing to stay focused on your front sight. When dry firing, you know each time if you jerked the trigger or if you did it right. Several years ago, Mantis released the MantisX, which hooked onto your pistol or rifle and measured just how smooth and consistent you are. Using FM technology (F@#$ing Magic) it tracks the movement of your gun and measures precisely how much it moves and what happens before, during and after the shot breaks. It combines this with drills so you can see how you are doing in timed events and induced stress.

Then Mantis released the Blackbeard. It fits in an AR rifle and resets the trigger each time it is pressed, plus sends a visible laser down the barrel. I set up a similar system almost 10 years ago in our bay filled with federal agents, placed targets all around on the walls, and left the inert AR rifle out on a cabinet. Every time people would walk by, they would pick it up, “fire” a few times at each target, and then move on. Besides getting some quick gun handling experience every day, they learned a valuable lesson about mechanical offset. The sights on an AR are about 2 ½ inches above the center of the barrel. At my agency, we sight in our guns at 50 yards, but use them primarily inside of residences. That means, your point of impact is typically over 2 inches lower than your point of aim. Two inches can easily be the difference between life and death.

The Mantis BlackbeardX resets your trigger and gives you a brief, visible laser dot wherever you shoot for optimal dry fire practice.

Some reticles help you to compensate for this like the excellent 65 MOA ring on an Eotech reticle; if you use the bottom hashmark of the ring when shooting the gun at close distances, it almost completely corrects for point of aim, point of impact. Whatever sight you use, you need to know when you press the trigger, where that bullet is going to impact.

While the Blackbeard is great in and of itself, Mantis combined the MantisX and the Blackbeard and the result is the BlackbeardX. Not only does it reset your trigger and give you a brief, visible laser dot wherever you shoot, but it also has an app that analyzes split times, accuracy (with a score), tracks the gun movement and has drills and “academies” that you can take to improve your shooting. It even shoots confetti on the screen when you get a good score. I know; I got a lot of good scores. Yes, I often cheated by resting the gun on a bag, but I am highly competitive, and no one wants to watch me pout when I don’t get a good score.

The BlackbeardX works in conjunction with an app you can load on your phone. It analyzes split times, accuracy (with a score), tracks gun movement and has drills and “academies” you can take to improve your shooting.

The first thing I did after getting the laser sighted in and the app downloaded on my phone was get some 3-inch Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C targets (they don’t take paint off the walls when I remove them) and some of the little pasters and started sticking them all over the house. My wife thought I was marking the studs in the walls to hang some shelves or pictures or something and was proud of me until a couple days later when she caught me dry firing at which time I had to promise to take down the targets whenever we had company. I want to stay married, so I was pretty happy with that compromise.

When the first visible laser gun training systems came out, I was against them because it teaches you to look at your target instead of at your front sight. Now that we use red-dot sights on everything, focusing on your target is the correct method and looking for the laser to flash on the bullseye just reinforces good technique. My overall assessment: I mostly like the laser/trigger reset feature and used that 90% of the time without the phone app. As a firearms instructor and someone who competes regularly for the last couple of decades, I always appreciate returning to the fundamentals, but they certainly are not new to me. Do I miss? All the time, I’m trying to push my limits. However, usually I can tell you when the shot breaks whether I hit or miss, where the shot went and what I did wrong and need to correct. For a new shooter or someone breaking into the AR world, the phone app is as good as a private instructor.

For the cost of less than 600 rounds of ammo, you can get limitless practice time with the BlackbeardX.

When I first started shooting ARs, I would have killed to have a tool like this. Instead, I only practiced after I got issued an old M16A2 with a pencil barrel, and only then when we qualified and trained once a quarter. It took many years to get comfortable, to become proficient and for handling the weapon to become as second nature as starting and driving my car. I could have done the same thing in months instead of years and at a fraction of the cost if I had the BlackbeardX back then. C’est la vie. I’m getting some good trigger time with it now. I just have to time it when my wife is out of the house because she thinks I’m playing.

For more information visit or simply buy it here.

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