December 13, 2022
By Ben LaLonde
MantisX has just released their all-new BlackbeardX, an updated version of the Blackbeard AR dry-fire training system. The most obvious change to the product itself is the use of a 30-round, standard-capacity-size magazine battery, as opposed to the smaller 20 round sized battery used by the original Blackbeard. This change isn’t merely cosmetic, as the larger compartment now houses a rifle-specific MantisX device. This is huge. Let’s talk about what makes the BlackbeardX one of the best dry-firing tools on the market.
When the Blackbeard first hit the scene, it took the market by surprise. Can you dry-fire your rifle without one? Sure. You still can practice a host of weapon manipulations with the standard BCG and charging handle. It has been done that way for years. What the Blackbeard brought to the table was the ability to quickly swap out a couple parts of your gun and train in a whole new way. This swap takes less than a minute in its entirety. Multi-shot strings, multiple targets, in motion or from a standstill, the Blackbeard changed the process.
Thanks to its automatic trigger reset hardware, the Blackbeard allows you to go shot-for-shot without having to think about running your charging handle between each shot. This all happens while using whatever trigger is already in your rifle. Pressing the trigger releases the hammer, which then strikes the underside of the Blackbeard unit. Once that happens, a rotating cam on the unit forces the hammer back, allowing the trigger to reset as it would in a live-fire scenario. This can happen as fast as ten times per second. A fully charged battery will yield as many as 100,000 actuations.
The addition of the laser gives you that instant splash of color on your target that correlates with point of impact. This works great when using the Blackbeard System with the Mantis Laser Academy. The adjustability lets you dial the laser in, oftentimes very close to what your impact would be at those scaled distances. Even if it’s not exact, you can calibrate the offset within the app, giving you realistic feedback in your training sessions.
Diving Deeper into the newest features of the BlackbeardX, let’s take a look at the MantisX technology and why it matters. The original MantisX was a rail-mounted, ultrasensitive device that picks up on the smallest user inputs. They’ve since developed additional versions, both for dry- and live-fire use, with the X2, X3 and X10 Elite models. Originally developed for handgun use, the MantisX could also be used on the accessory rails of rifles and shotguns. They could be used in addition to the original Blackbeard but couldn’t track the dynamic rifle movements between multiple shots as the trigger was reset. Enter the all-new BlackbeardX.
The BlackbeardX features new and improved gyroscopic sensors to track dynamic movement in shot-to-shot and target-to-target transitions. The magazine battery features a button to activate Bluetooth connectivity with the MantisX app, and it gives you instant quantifiable data in a highly detailed breakdown. When connected to the app, the BlackbeardX automatically tells the app to include specific training programs, such as BBX Dynamics, Transitions and Plate. The BlackbeardX tracks how far you move beyond your target in transitions, as well as how much time you spend on target before taking your shot. This, in addition to all of the other data, produces an overall score. The scores can then be saved and reviewed as you progress through your journey to become a better shooter. Unfortunately, as of now, a regular MantisX unit used in conjunction with the original Blackbeard does not give you the BBX training options. Fingers crossed, they’ll come up with that solution soon for owners of the original Blackbeard and MantisX products. Another bummer, I can’t run both Laser Academy and the MantisX app simultaneously, unless running them on separate devices. Ideally, Mantis will develop the app to allow both programs to run as one.
The entire package comes with the Blackbeard Trigger-Resetting device, the battery/MantisX device, a charge cord and setup instructions. The system works best with the MantisX Laser Academy suite of instructions, sold separately. Once you’ve purchased the products on their website, Mantis sends you emails that include all information for setting up your app, as well as their latest software developments and guides. When it came to dealing with the company, their customer service team was pleasant and quick to help me decide on the best training tools for my needs. The website features videos on how to fully take advantage of the system. The simplistic ease of setup, combined with the high-tech, but user-friendly software make the BlackbeardX a worthwhile training tool for maximizing your dry-fire training sessions.