I feel like I should just remind everyone that with very, very rare exception, everything that we review on this page is something we've purchased ourselves. This allows us to be very honest in our opinions. I think the last free item I received for review was several years ago, and - oh boy, did I upset some people. When I review something and I love it (or hate it), I really do love it (or hate it). We make no money running this blog and our views are not "bought".
Now that that's out of the way - the Mantis Blackbeard ...
Jay really opened Pandora's box when he got me the X10 Elite for my birthday last year. He knew I was a training junkie, but neither of us realized I was also a data junkie.
At the end of December, we had an "Instructor Development" day with our ARs and after only three hours I was gassed. I can shoot a pistol all day long, but shouldering that rifle took more work than I'm used to. I vowed to do more dry fire with it at home so I could build up the core muscles needed.
I did follow through on my vow to practice dry fire. For one session. I mounted the Mantis to the rail and got to work. Turns out that having to cycle the bolt after every shot was as tiring as mounting the rifle. Probably really good for building muscles, but frustrating and time-consuming.
About that time, I started seeing ads pop up about the Mantis Blackbeard. I didn't really know what it was about, so last week I decided to go to the website and dig into it. I watched a couple of videos and became more intrigued.
An system that auto-sets the trigger? A system that doesn't require me to cycle the bolt and have to re-shoulder the rifle after each round? Oh, hells yes!
I sat on it for about a day before I decided to just give them my money. I initially intended to buy the one without the laser, because my plan was just to put my Mantis X10 on my rifle and use them together. However, the system with the laser was only about $20 more and gave me the option of utilizing their Mantis Laser Academy. I have no idea what the Mantis Laser Academy is, but since I'm in love with all things Mantis, I'll probably find out sooner rather than later.
When I placed my order there was a warning that because of a large volume of orders, mine might be delayed up to 30 days. I sighed, but with ammo what it is, I figured I could wait another 30 days. Imagine my surprise when it arrived on my doorstep less than a week after I ordered it!
I immediately pulled the "magazine" out of the case and plugged it in to charge. My plan was to use today to try out the system. It is as easy as they say: remove your charging handle and BCG, replace with the system's polymer one, slap the 'magazine' in and you're ready to rock and roll. In seconds, my rifle went from a fully functioning, live-fire rifle to basically an inert training gun.
Since I didn't plan on using the laser, I left it alone and didn't bother zeroing it in. However, since it is set to fire with every trigger press, I can see that it is pretty well zeroed right out of the box. If you do intend to use the laser with your training, remember height over bore when you're zeroing it.
It took me exactly five rounds to fall in love. I didn't even hook up the Mantis, I just put the system in my gun, aimed at my 3"x3" sticky note on the wall and pressed off five quick rounds. Holy cow! Not having to cycle the bolt after every round is so lovely.
Jay had purchased some Runner Mounts a few months ago and was kind enough to put one up for me. Our rifle storage is a bit ... cluttered ... and hard to get to, so being able to slip my rifle onto one of the mounts when I'm not using it is handy. A word of caution: the Runner Mount is not secure storage and will not protect your rifle from unauthorized users. However, since my rifle is inert and incapable of firing live rounds right now, having it readily accessible for dry fire training is wonderful. Since we don't have young kids around the house, I'm comfortable with this 'storage' solution for us.
With the rifle accessible for training, I slipped the Mantis on the rail and put the Blackbeard magazine in my gun. I only managed about a hundred rounds and can immediately see that I've got work to do.
The work I have to do is not only with my trigger manipulation, but with building my core strength. After only 100 rounds, my right SI joint is sore. Sadly, I see planks in my future, along with really focusing on having a good, solid stance.
My first impression of the Blackbeard is that it does work as advertised. It does take only seconds to install the system. The automatic trigger reset is awesome (and it makes a cute little noise with every reset that makes me giggle), and I love being able to practice with the same gun I shoot with. After 100 rounds, I'm in love with the system and give it two thumbs up! It is well worth the $219.00 (+ S&H and tax) I spent on it, and it'll pay for itself in about another 100 rounds.
Side note: one thing I noticed was that when I changed my settings in the Mantis app to rifle, it opened up a whole new file of different training options, specific to rifles.