I’m a rifle instructor and Mantis recently sent me the Blackbeard X to evaluate. The Blackbeard is a trigger auto-reset system with integrated MantisX. It also shows a green light on your impact point every time you pull the trigger. A little about Mantis. I already use their pistol system and the associated app. I love that system as it’s a great diagnostic tool and has TONS of drills, skill builders and daily challenges. Luckily, the Blackbeard X uses the same app and I just had to toggle between the two platforms on the app in settings. It took a bit to find how to switch between the two, but once figured out, was up and running quickly.
Upon receiving and unpacking it, it went straight to be charged. While it was charging I reviewed the installation instructions. There was a card about downloading the app in the box. But how to use the app and set it all up would be helpful. It was good I was already using the system for my handgun.
After charging, it was time for installation. Their instructions were clear, but I still had a few issues before it would finally work. To be clear, it was a user error. Once it was installed correctly it was time to put it to the test. I ran it through a TON of drills. You have to get to a certain number of shots before any data shows up in the diagnostic area. After a lot more than the minimum shot count needed, it was time to analyze the data on the app. It seemed really accurate as to the errors I was making and gave tips on how to correct grip, trigger control, etc. There’s a lot of data to look at and assimilate. As a data nerd, this is a pretty cool feature! The drills are varied and allow you to work on a number of things, even shooting while kneeling. The charge lasts a really long time! I use it for hours before it needs to be charged.
Next, the Blackbeard was used with some students. 2 were experienced rifle shooters and 1 had never seen or held an AR-15 before. The 2 experienced users loved the tactile feel when you pull the trigger and felt it gave a realistic feel of shooting the rifle. One quote was “It ran like a live fire without the pow of recoil. I give it a 5 star”. The other experienced shooter said “It was very easy to use the system”. The novice said “I want to buy a rifle!”. Praise from 3 out of 3 is excellent!
Another time I ran through the Basic Rifleman course. It’s 10 stages of different skills and drills that you have to perform at a certain level or score to pass each level. It’s also a lot of shots! In hindsight, this course should have been split it up over several days. It was a lot of shots and my arms got really tired. I love that upon completion of each stage fireworks go off! It made me laugh and want to keep going. Upon completion of the entire course, they mail you out an actual patch!!! That’s pretty sweet😊
There are a few critiques of the system that won’t stop me from using it or recommending it, but they bear mentioning.
- When the part that replaces the charging handle/BCG is installed, it’s just a teeny bit larger somewhere making it much more difficult to use the rear take down pin easily. I have to use a tool to remove it or put the rifle together while using the Blackbeard.
- The green dot laser you see when you pull the trigger is difficult to see out on the range on a sunny day. Is it possible to make that a red dot in order to see it a lot easier? That was a comment mentioned by one of my students that the green was really hard to see. On the box it lists red and green as an option. But, the toggle switch on the Mantix BCG apparatus only showed green regardless of which direction it was placed in. Knowing that, I would prefer a red dot option.
- Include an app tutorial/explanation in the box. Since I was a Mantis user I figured it out. But, it took longer than it should have. If not familiar with the app, it would take a new user a long time to get running with the Blackbeard X.
The performance measurement part has quite a few layers to it. It’s interactive in some places where you can touch the red area and it tells you what you are doing wrong and how to fix it. I love the section where you can see how much your muzzle moves, and where the shot actually broke in relation to the bullseye.
One very big unforeseen benefit of using the Mantis Blackbeard X is stronger arms!!! I’m training with my rifle a lot more with the Blackbeard X than with live fire now. During times of more expensive ammo, this is a HUGE benefit and worth the price just for that reason. In short, this is a very beneficial diagnostic tool, practical tool and training tool. I intend to keep using it very often and using it with students when they first start using the AR-15. I highly recommend the Blackbeard from Mantis X. Check out all the options from Mantis X here.