If you are reading this, odds are you are serious about training and by extension serious about improving the skills that you practice. Whatever the skill may be, practice and training is necessary to see that sought after improvement. When it comes to shooting, the tried-and-true method to bettering your skills is dry fire. Dry Fire, the act of going through the shot process without live ammunition. This is an invaluable tool, and is required if you wish to become exceptional at shooting, be it rifle or pistol.

That being said, there are limitations to dry fire training. For one, there is no recoil. There is not really any economically feasible way to get around this for the private individual. Another big drawback traditionally has been the inability to reset the trigger without the shooter having to manually manipulate the slide or charging handle after each trigger press. This leads to either a breakdown of grip and mount or pressing a trigger that has a different “feel” during the duration of the drill.


Enter Mantis; a company that offers a variety of products that overcome this trigger reset training deficiency. Not only that, their products also offer a visual cue and an abundance of data on each shot taken during training. The product that I trained with and which is being discussed here is the Blackbeard X, which appears to be the flagship product for Mantis. What follows is an honest assessment of my time spent using the Blackbeard X as a training aid in the never-ending process of improvement.

The Components – 4.5/5

The case and components as received by the buyer. The “BCG” shown here has carbon on it from use in multiple rifles of mine… it did not arrive dirty.

When you receive the Blackbeard X, you will find two components within the case that is provided. These are a magazine in a 30-round profile that serves as the battery and houses the part that provides real-time, shot-by-shot feedback. The other component takes the place of the bolt carrier group and charging handle. When I received the product, the magazine was approximately 50% charged. Before use, I charged it to full capacity using the provided cable and testing started from there.


Installation of the parts is as simple as it could possibly be. Push out the rear takedown pin, remove the BCG and charging handle, insert the Mantis piece, close rifle receivers. Inserting the magazine into the mag-well is the next and final step. Upon insertion, a distinct noise is heard, serving as an indicator that the system is functioning.

My only complaint, and reason behind the score of 4.5 as opposed to 5, is the weight of the magazine. Personally, a heavier piece that reflects a loaded magazine would make the entire experience even more realistic. However, I plan on attaching some weights to the magazine and using that as my at-home fix. Other than this, the components have lasted and proven robust through normal use and swapping between rifles. Both pieces have been unintentionally dropped a couple times each over the course of the past few months when working with multiple guns and changing out components. There has been no perceived damage to the parts from this.

Functionality – 5/5

The Blackbeard X is a combination of two Mantis products, the Blackbeard and the X series. The X series busies itself “collecting thousands of data points per second, the X2 analyzes your shooting in real-time.” The Blackbeard product resets the trigger during dry fire and provides a visual indicator with a laser shot out through the barrel indicating your impact. Naturally, the Blackbeard X combines these two products into one system.

Fun and functional. Hard not to love this tool.

Personally, I found the most use out of the trigger reset and laser features. The “X” features were very intriguing and provided a ton of feedback on each rep, time and time again. However, I found myself getting sucked into the details and caught myself chasing numbers and that “perfect shot score.” Once I figured out how best to interface with the abundance of data provided, a much smoother training experience ensued.

The laser and trigger reset function are my favorite aspects of the system. I “zeroed” the laser so that it simulated the actual height-over-bore offset present with a red dot optic and barrel. This allowed me to have a visual reinforcement and representation of exactly where the rounds would have impacted, ensuring I apply the proper hold at a given range. It also served as a way to ensure I was target focused by providing a visual stimulant that was always trying to grab my attention, just like bullet impacts at close ranges tend to do.


Value – 4/5

This is a premium product that commands a premium price. As advertised on Mantis’s website, the Blackbeard X for an AR15 with red laser is $319. This is not a cheap training aid. However, when you consider the cost of ammunition expended over time, the cost begins to look far more reasonable. My biggest gripe, and the reason behind a 4/5 rating, is the app experience. At a premium cost, I would expect an experience to reflect the buy-in price. To gain “full access” to the app, a one-time charge of $49.99 is required. This is frustrating. Again however, this might very well be worth it to the end user who is weighing these costs against the backdrop of ammunition costs. This, combined with the training value that, if fully exploited, enables a shooter to get down into the nitty gritty details of each and every rep, can definitely be a worthwhile investment.

The Blackbeard X has earned a permanent spot in my training rifle.

Overall Assessment – 4.5/5

After thousands of trigger presses on various triggers such as mil-spec, Geissele, Larue, and some proprietary “enhanced” triggers, this Blackbeard X continues to run strong. I believe the battery has begun to show a slight loss of charge-time, but it is minimal. As mentioned above, the trigger reset and laser function are my favorite aspects of this system and make my rifle dry fire not only more productive but far more enjoyable as well. Rifle dry fire takes a bit more discipline to practice compared to pistol for me, and the Mantis leveled the playing field. I will no doubt continue to use this training aid and would definitely recommend it to someone who has the cash burning a hole in their pocket. Is the Mantis a requirement for dry fire and improvement? No, it is not. Does it enhance the experience and put some metrics to the “feel” of a rep? Unquestionably. As stated above, the Mantis has earned a home in one of my training rifles and will keep that spot for as long as it keeps chugging along.


*I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.


*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site. Material Disclosure.

By Steven Wollermann

Steve Wollermann has spent the last twelve years serving as an Infantryman in the Army National Guard. After some time in a line company, he successfully completed his battalion’s Sniper Assessment and Selection program, going on to spend most of his career in the sniper section. Following the sniper section, he went on to a position as a member of his state’s marksmanship competition/training team. Currently, he is an instructor at a Regimental Training Institute (RTI). As a civilian, Steve has worked as a Department of Defense (DoD) contractor for six years in the role of Fieldcraft Instructor. With this position, he has primarily covered the employment of rifles, pistols, and tactics to deploying DoD personnel. Additionally, he is the owner of Combatant Training Group, a company with the purpose of educating responsible Americans in the use of firearms and self-sufficiency. When Steve is not buried in a book, he is most likely in his garage gym, throwing sandbags around, flipping a tire in the driveway, and using kettlebells in all sorts of ways.

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