Mantis Blackbeard X Review | AR15 Laser & Real-Time Shooting Feedback

Mantis Blackbeard X with PWS AR15 and Blackbeard magazine 16x9 AE

The Best AR-15 Automatic Trigger Resetting Laser Dryfire Training System On The Market

I am affiliated with Mantis and Next Level Training. All of the Mantis products that I currently have were provided by Mantis for testing and review at no cost to me. Also, I have provided paid product photography for Mantis.

Most of the links in this article are affiliated (either directly with the brand referenced or with a major distributor of that brand – i.e. Brownells, EuroOptic, Sportsman’s Guide, etc.). I receive a small commission on any sales generated, but there is no additional cost to you. We really appreciate your use of our affiliate links, as this is part of what helps us do what we do. Thank you!

I never endorse or recommend products that I don’t personally trust and use. I take all of my recommendations very seriously because your life may depend on it.

The Mantis Blackbeard X is on the cutting edge of technology to improve rifle marksmanship. It is currently the only auto-trigger resetting laser training system on the market that is compatible with just about any standard AR15 platform. It is also the only system that I’m aware of that provides real-time feedback and tips to improve. The Blackbeard X uses accelerometers and other sensors to measure movement, speed, accuracy, overtravel, and more.

Table of Contents

TLDR: The Mantis Blackbeard X is Amazing

Where the Mantis Blackbeard X really shines is the fact that it works in your real AR15, with all the same trigger, sights, and accessories that you normally shoot with your real gun. The only difference is that the bolt carrier group and charging handle are replaced by the Mantis Blackbeard bolt, which is conveniently powered by the battery inserted into the magazine well. You can swap out your live fire BCG and charging handle for the Mantis Blackbeard in about 10 seconds. Insert the “magazine” (battery pack for the Blackbeard) into the mag well like any other magazine, and you’re good to go.

To help explain just how awesome the Blackbeard X is, let’s briefly touch on a couple of Mantis’ other products. If you’ve been around my channel and website for a bit, you already know what the Mantis Blackbeard and Mantis X10 systems are. For those of you who may not know, let me bring you up to speed. 

Other Mantis Products

Mantis is a technology company that makes dryfire training aids and applications to improve your marksmanship. Their flagship products include the Mantis X10 Elite, Blackbeard Auto-Resetting Trigger System, and Laser Academy.

Basically, think of a bunch of data nerds, who also happen to be interested in measurable ways of improving marksmanship. If you’re trying to become a better shooter, you have to have some kind of way to measure your results. 

Think of it this way –  if I was training to kick a field goal but never bothered to measure how far, how high, or in what direction I was actually kicking the ball, I would be wasting my time. Shooting accurately and consistently is no different. If you don’t measure your progress along the way, how are you going to actually improve anything? Punching holes in paper is fun; but at the end of the day, did you actually improve your shooting or just spend $50+ making noise?

Spoiler Alert: Your sights are fine, and your gun doesn’t shoot low and left...

This is where Mantis products come into play. The Mantis X10 Elite, specifically, is the best marksmanship training aid I’ve ever used. I’ve done a complete video and written review of the Mantis X10 Elite, so I’ll just briefly touch on it here. It’s essentially a bundle of accelerometers and other space magic that can measure the tiny (or not so small) mistakes you make while shooting. 

The Mantis X10 Elite is smart enough to know when you start prepping the trigger, when the hammer or striker falls, and exactly how much movement you induced during the process, including 400 milliseconds after the shot. The X10 takes all that raw data and spits out a numerical score, including probable causes for any issues and a live trace replay of each shot. It works with dryfire, CO2 recoil trainers, live fire, pistols, rifles, shotguns, and bows! Basically, if you have a thing that pews or pokes, you can probably run a Mantis X10 on it. Awesome, right?! 

Which is Better? Mantis Blackbeard X VS SIRT STIC

So what about the Mantis Blackbeard? This is another really cool product from Mantis, designed specifically for improving your AR15 marksmanship. It’s the only auto-trigger resetting laser training device that I’m aware of that works with any standard AR-15. There are other AR-15 style laser training tools on the market, like the NLT SIRT STIC. However, the STIC is essentially just an add-on for a SIRT 110 pistol, not an actual AR15. Next Level Training released an AR laser bolt in 2011, but it looks like they discontinued it at some point.

$175 - $349

$239 - $718.99

I’m actually affiliated with both Mantis and NLT, but I have not put my hands on a SIRT STIC yet. My opinion here is based on what I’ve read and seen about the STIC versus my hands-on experience with the Mantis Blackbeard X. 

Personally, I think the Mantis Blackbeard X easily wins over the SIRT STIC in every possible category. The only thing the STIC does that the Blackbeard X doesn’t is the ability to use a “rifle” or pistol for training. The SIRT STIC is basically a clip-on chassis system for a SIRT pistol, so you can technically use either one. It’s definitely nice to have a laser training pistol and/or rifle, but that feature alone isn’t nearly enough to recommend over the Blackbeard X. 

The price point of the SIRT STIC ranges from “kinda expensive for what it is” to “are you serious, bro?,” while the price point of the Blackbeard X ranges from “that stung a little” to “don’t tell Mere.™”

Both brands offer different laser color options, including IR for you super ninjas out there. If you know, you know; otherwise, don’t worry about the more expensive IR options. 

The good news is, if you previously bought a Mantis Blackbeard kit when they first came out, you can trade in your current “twenty round mag” battery for the new BBX “thirty round mag” battery and get $50 off the very reasonable $175 price tag (for the BBX battery alone). Even if you don’t currently have a Gen 1 Blackbeard battery to trade in, you can still buy a SIRT 110 pistol with the money you saved over buying the SIRT STIC. 

The Mantis Blackbeard X is a much better tool that provides significantly more training value with the Mantis X app. If you really want a SIRT STIC, feel free to pick one up, but I would highly recommend going with Mantis over NLT in this case. 

How Is The Mantis Blackbeard X Different From The Original Blackbeard?

The Blackbeard basically turns your AR-15 into a laser trainer with an auto-resetting trigger. Every time you pull the trigger, a burst of laser light fires in place of a normal bullet. There is no need to reload, and each charge of the battery will last roughly 100,000 shots. To quote Mantis’ website directly:

“Using electromechanical wizardry, Blackbeard allows you to take up to 10 dry fire shots per second, quickly resetting the hammer between each shot. The ultimate AR trigger reset machine.”

The Mantis Blackbeard X is essentially a Mantis X built into the battery pack and designed specifically for dynamic rifle drills. It adds quite a few new drills and features to the Mantis X app, including multiple target drills, transitions, plate racks, and more.

 Unlike the stand-alone Mantis X10, the Blackbeard X allows the user to fire multiple shots without the need to ever pull the charging handle. That feature alone is fantastic, so adding the highly technical data crunching and real-time feedback is unbelievable. 

Again, if you previously bought a Mantis Blackbeard kit when they first came out, you can trade in your current “twenty round mag” battery for the new BBX “thirty round mag” battery and get $50 off the very reasonable $175 price tag (for the BBX battery alone).

Mantis Blackbeard X Training Applications

Let’s say you wanted to improve your ability to engage multiple targets as quickly and accurately as you could. The Blackbeard X is specifically designed for this exact application. It measures your reaction time, movement while on target, follow through, transitions between targets, hesitation, overtravel, rifle cant, and more. The Mantis Blackbeard X is seriously like some space magic voodoo.

Pair that level of real-time and historical feedback with the Mantis Laser Academy, and you can measure virtually every aspect of marksmanship without spending a dime on precious ammo. The Mantis X and Laser Academy apps don’t currently work together at the same time (officially), but you can run them in split screen mode or on two different devices if you have an extra one to use. 

You can learn exactly how to use split screen mode at the end of my Laser Academy video

Laser Academy isn’t required to use the Blackbeard X, it’s just a great way to add a significant level of training value. The Blackbeard X isn’t measuring or tracking where your laser impacts are actually hitting the targets. It’s basically assuming you’re on target, as soon as your gross movements slow down and you’re stabilizing the rifle for the shot. 

Mantis Blackbeard X + Height Over Bore | It's Kind of a Big Deal!

One of the most common questions I hear people asking about the Blackbeard is how to get the laser to hit the same spot as their sights. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible, unless your target is roughly 25 yards away. It’s not a design flaw of the Blackbeard – it’s because of physics. (Yes, I know it’s not exactly 25 yards, and it depends on your zero distance, but roll with this for a moment.)

That offset is called height over bore, and you’d be surprised how many members of the military and police communities don’t know about it or how it effects their accuracy at close range. There’s a lot of math and variables behind all this that I can’t really explain. However, it all depends on the height of your optic, the length of your barrel, and the distance to your target. Basically, the laser can’t hit the same dot as your optic at close range because it’s shooting through the barrel. 

Let’s say the optic you’re looking through is 3 inches above your bore (the centerline of your barrel). Your line of sight is going to be 3 inches higher than where the laser is impacting because the two planes are parallel to each other. Another factor is that lasers (light) are not affected by gravity like bullets are. The Blackbeard laser will just continue in a perfectly straight line, regardless of distance. Even if you used a mirror at the end of your barrel to redirect the laser, it would only line up with your optic point of aim at one exact distance. If you moved at all from that distance, the laser would either be above or below your optic point of aim, and you’d be right back where you started.  

Take a look at the image above and notice the difference between my rifle (top) running an Aimpoint T-1 Micro that is 2.38 inches above the center line of my bore versus the old-school Trijicon ACOG scope that’s 3.41 inches above the bore on the second rifle. The height over bore of that thing is MASSIVE, and you can see a perfect example of ignoring that offset in the 2003 movie, S.W.A.T.

Perfect Example of Height Over Bore From S.W.A.T. Hostage "Rescue"

As you can see, height over bore is kind of a big deal. If you find yourself in the position of taking a critical close-range shot, if you get it wrong, it can be devastating. This is just one example of the training value you can gain with a Mantis Blackbeard or Blackbeard X system. Height over bore is very real, and if you don’t practice your holdovers, you can go from “hero” to “zero” real quick. 

So what if you want to practice your precision with some scaled-down targets at close range indoors? This is where the Mantis Laser Academy comes into play. There is an option in the free app that allows you to “SHOOT TO CALIBRATE” your sight over bore offset. Just use your optic as you normally would, and the app will automatically calculate for the offset to show your hits. Awesome.

Blackbeard X Rifle Drills In The Mantis X App

BBX Dynamics: 

  • Shoot multiple targets and focus on straight transitions, minimal overtravel, and minimal delay on target.

Transition Drills:

  • Box Drill – 6 shots total, 2 targets with chest/head zones. 
  • V Drill – 18 shots total, 5 targets in a V shape.
  • Pyramid Drill – 10 shots total, 3 targets in a pyramid shape.
  • 1-5 Drill – 15 shots total, 3 silhouette targets.
  • Triple Threat Drill – 15 shots total, 3 silhouette targets with head/chest/pelvis zones.

Plate Drills

  • Six Plate – 6 shots total, 6 plate targets.
  • Three Plate – 3 shots total, 3 plate targets.
  • Plate Alternating – 6 shots total, 6 plate targets, alternate ends and shoot towards the center.
  • Plate Transition – 5 shots total, 2 plate targets, and 1 silhouette target.
  • Plate Transition Variation – 18 shots total, 6 plate targets, 1 silhouette target.

Mantis X Drills:

  • Par Timer
  • Open Training 
  • Shot Timer
  • MantisX Benchmark 
  • Timed Benchmark 
  • Compressed Suprised Break
  • Secondary as Primary
  • Kneeling

Reload Drills:

  • Reload, In Battery
  • Reload, Out of Battery
  • Reload, Tactical

Cadence Drills:

  • 2.0 Second Interval 
  • 1.0 Second Interval 
  • 0.5 Second Interval 

Hostage Rescue Drills:

  • Rifle Hostage Rescue – Beginner
  • Rifle Hostage Rescue – Intermediate
  • Rifle Hostage Rescue – Advanced

USMC Rifle Qualification Course:

  • Slow Fire, Sitting, 200 Yards
  • Slow Fire, Kneeling, 200 Yards
  • Slow Fire, Standing, 200 Yards
  • Rapid Fire, Sitting, 200 Yards
  • Slow Fire, Sitting, 300 Yards
  • Rapid Fire, Prone, 300 Yards
  • Slow Fire, Prone 500 Yards

Army Rifle Qualification Course:

  • Table V Rifle
  • Table VI Rifle
  • Table VI CBRN
  • Table VI Rifle Night Fire
  • Table VI Rifle Night fire CBRN  

Basic Rifle Marksmanship Course

Advanced Rifle Marksmanship Course

Frequently Asked Questions

The Mantis Blackbeard is an auto-resetting trigger laser training system. The Blackbeard X uses the same laser bolt but has the addition of Mantis X sensors and an app connection. The Blackbeard X can be used to practice target transitions, reaction times, accuracy, and more, with real-time measurable feedback from the app. 

Said differently, the Blackbeard is a “dumb” laser and the Blackbeard X is a “smart” app connected laser and real-time feedback device.

There are a few things listed on Mantis’ website that are not compatible with the Blackbeard and Blackbeard X:

For the most part, it is VERY likely going to work just fine in almost any AR platform rifle. I can say for sure that it works in direct impingement and piston-driven guns. (The rifle I used for testing is a PWS long-stroke piston gun.) I can also say for sure that it works with mil-spec triggers,  Hiperfire Hipertouch triggers, and CMC drop-in triggers.  If the receiver accepts standard AR-15 Bolt Carrier Groups, triggers, and magazines, then Blackbeard is very likely to be compatible. Mantis has run into a few cases where unusual trigger & hammer profiles are incompatible, but that is rare. The system does not interface with the chamber, so non-223/5.56 chambers should work without issues (300 Blackout, for example).

The price for the Mantis Blackbeard X ranges from $175 for the BBX magazine only to $349 for the IR version of the kit. Depending on what color of laser you’d like, the price will vary.  

If you already have a Mantis Blackbeard kit, you can either buy the Blackbeard X magazine by itself for $175 or send Mantis your current Blackbeard magazine battery for a $50 credit towards the upgrade. 

If you want to practice reloads with Blackbeard magazines, I would suggest picking up some magazine bumpers available from Mantis. It would suck to break something by dropping the mags too hard. 

No, the Blackbeard X works just like the standard Blackbeard when it is not connected to the app. You won’t have access to the advanced motion tracking features, but the laser and trigger reset work just fine without the app.

Nope! All of Mantis’ apps are free and the only cost is a one-time purchase of the hardware that goes with each app. No ongoing fees to worry about.

Yes, you can take full advantage of the Laser Academy along with the Blackbeard X if you have two separate devices to run both the Mantis X app and the Laser Academy app. If you have a newish device, you can also open both apps in “split screen” mode, and use one device for both apps at the same time.

Nope! The Blackbeard X is a separate product from the Laser Academy and works with its own free app. They do work perfectly together, but buying both is not required. However, if you shoot for money or blood, I would highly recommend picking up Laser Academy along with the Blackbeard X. Pro Tip: You can download the Laser Academy app for free and download the targets from Mantis for free, as well. The drills in the app are limited, but you can get up and running with Laser Academy completely free.

Mantis states on their website that the battery life is up to 100,000 shots between charges. I’ve only charged my Blackbeard battery a single time for all of the videos and articles I’ve done. It’s basically going to last a LONG time. 

I did notice that if I left the battery installed in the rifle for several days, the battery did drain to the point I needed to charge it. Since the Blackbeard X has additional power requirements from the Mantis X in it, as well as a Bluetooth connection, the battery will drain faster than the original Blackbeard.

The kit comes with a charging cable, so just plug it in overnight. You’ll be good to go for another several days, if not weeks of training.

I’m still working on figuring that out… So far, the Blackbeard X can reset the trigger faster than I can run it. Mantis says it can shoot up to 10 times per second, so unless you’re Jerry Miculek, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about with this. 

Nope! The BBX is a drop-in bolt and charging handle replacement. No need to modify anything at all. You can change your live fire BCG and charging handle and drop in the Blackbeard laser in about ten seconds. 

Just pop your takedown pin, remove your live bolt and charging handle, drop in the Blackbeard X bolt, and close your rifle up like you normally would. 

Unfortunately, that isn’t physically possible, unless your target is fairly far away. This isn’t a problem with the design of the Blackbeard. It’s actually because of the way physics works and the fact that your rifle barrel is long and skinny.

This is actually true with live fire, as well. It’s called “height over bore,” and it’s something that can either make you a hero for saving a hostage or have you accidentally shoot the hostage, even though your dot was on the bad guy’s nose.  

You can see a perfect example of height over bore in the 2003 movie “S.W.A.T.,” during the bank robbery opening. The shot is taken with an AR that has a Trijicon TA33 ACOG mounted ON TOP of a carry handle. The height of that optic in relation to the actual path of the bullet is MASSIVE. Even though officer Street (Colin Farrel) had his crosshair on the bad guy’s face, his bullet struck the hostage because he failed to account for height over bore.

Very likely, yes. The Blackbeard and Blackbeard X are both using standard lasers, so any app, smart target, or another training device that relies on lasers or changes in light levels should work perfectly with Mantis Blackbeard and Blackbeard X.

You can use the Blackbeard X with any of these laser training systems



Yes, no need to change anything about your current rifle. Just remove your live fire BCG and charging handle, replace them with the Blackbeard, and you’re off to the races.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Long story short, if your life or someone else’s life depends on your marksmanship in any way, I would highly recommend picking up and training with a Mantis Blackbeard X. I would also very highly suggest at least printing out the free Laser Academy targets and using the free version of the app to also work on your accuracy at the same time.

If you’re a brand new shooter and looking for ways to improve that don’t cost a ton of money, the Blackbeard X is definitely a solid option. For the cost of a few boxes of ammo, you can have unlimited ammo and a one-on-one pro-level shooting instructor in your pocket. 

The Blackbeard, and really all of Mantis’ products, would make awesome gifts for the gun guy or gal you know. 

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