Monday, November 29, 2021

Mantis X and Blackbeard Review

Mantis X and Blackbeard Review
 No ammo, no problem. Mantis has you covered when you are bored indoors with no extra ammo to shoot. The reality though is that Mantis series of products have been a fantastic training option that spans both training and live fire. In fact, their newest X3 and X10 Mantis X trainers are compatible with live fire, dry fire, airsoft, and CO2 pistols, rifles, pistols, shotguns, and even archery. If you wanted to up your dry/live fire training, the Mantis X smartphone enabled system delivered huge points of data to help you shoot faster and more accurately. Mantis also has the new Blackbeard laser trainer system for the AR15 platform that allows continuous laser fire training with your existing firearm, trigger, and upper. 
Mantis X Gen 2 Trainers - X2, X3, X10 Elite, and X7
I actually tested and reviewed the original Mantis X Gen 1 Dry Fire only system when it was first released and I was wowed by the features it delivered. Unique to the industry, the Mantis trainer could be firmware upgraded anytime to keep it current and up to date with the latest features and functions. I did use it on my airsoft trainers, but it was initially only designed for Dry Fire only use. Still today, I use the old $99 Mantis X Gen 1 system for dry fire training while sitting in on the more boring conference calls. The app feedback has helped me shoot considerably faster and more accurately than dry firing alone plus it is a lot of fun to see the data match up to shots that “feel good”.

MANTIS X2 - The new $99 Gen 2 dry fire only system, dubbed “Mantis X2”, versions delivered a 40% smaller and 50% lighter form-factor than the Gen1 with 3X longer battery life, 4x the data transfer rate and a QD system. Over the years the Mantis team have continually added new features around the base of sensors onboard the X1 and X2 versions. Mantis now offers several additional more advanced models that add additional sensor functions, live fire support, and mounting versatility.

MANTIS X3 - The $169 Mantis X3 version replicates the X2 features but also supports live fire functionality so you can evaluate your live fire shooting performance and transition between dry and live fire training. The new $199 Mantis X7 is similar in feature to the X3 but is specifically designed for competitive shotgun shooters with a unique mount and capabilities specifically designed for those competitors. 

MANTIS X10 - The X10 Elite adds all the features currently available into one unit that includes shotgun and archery analysis, smoothness analytics, consistency comparisons, and analysis of recoil, holster draw, and a forthcoming multi-target, shooting on the move, rapid fire, and moving targets shotgun software addition. The X10 Elite also includes the BR7 adapter and Universal Magrail which provides options to mount to everything from shotgun to anything with a pic rail. I tested the new X10 Elite and was impressed with the added features and ability to support live fire. Especially interesting to me was seeing my performance on rifles. 

My tests included my AR platforms with calibers from .22LR, 223, 9mm and 300 Blackout and I did not have any issues with the X10 correctly picking up data points during live fire. What is really interesting is attaching this to a precision rifle setup and really being able to see how stable you “really” are for long range shooting. This could be an amazing home dry fire training tool for PRS shooters to really lock down their stability and support training through all the contorted positions PRS shooters often face.

From an improvement perspective, it took some work, but I was able to bump my score by about 20% over my typical scores. Part of that was I felt like I was plateauing a bit with the V1 Mantis X.  I think the extra sensors and abilities of the X10 really add the extra points to work on and train with.

Mantis Blackbeard Zero Modification AR Dry Fire Laser Training
I have pretty much every dry fire contraption available and believe whatever you choose, it will deliver big results. I even have a CO2 powered laser train for my Glock that feels as real as it can for indoor laser training but admittedly requires a substantial amount of setup and will “freeze up” with too high a rate of fire. The Blackbeard is way better than anything I have used to date.

The AR platform has always been a charge & shoot, charge & shoot...etc process which is not exactly replicating the semi-automatic training feel of the AR platform. Enter the Mantis Blackbeard AR Dry Fire Laser Trainer. Mantis engineers really did some significant homework to make the system simple, easy and reliable. Uniquely the Mantis Blackbeard delivers a zero-modification training conversion using your existing AR15 platform - just swap out the magazine, bolt and charging handle with the Blackbeard bolt/charging handle and magazine/battery units. 

This 20-second swap provides semi-automatic training with Laser functionality for hours. Pull the trigger really fast and blast away and each time the Blackbeard nearly instantly resets the trigger. Though I have tried, I have not been able to outrun the Mantis Blackbeard trigger reset speed. The magazine shaped battery pack provides literally hours of continuous shooting and is easily recharged via a simple USB plug.
Improvised targets like white styrofoam cups show laser hits well, as do the myriad of inexpensive plastic or 3D printable laser targets available, however using LaserLyte and LaserAmmo PET reactive laser targets really delivers a massive amount of realism and training options.
If you are looking for a great all season gift for a shooter or are actively training gun owners, both these options are really fantastic purchases that save money with every trigger pull. For the AR platform, literally any ammo (with the exception of .22LR) that feeds these platforms is about $0.50/round these days and the Mantis systems can completely pay for themselves in just over 1000 shots. 
Another obvious benefit is that not everyone can get to the range when they have the time to train, and these Mantis training solutions offer training alternatives that can be used nearly anywhere and anytime the mode hits you. All around these are a very highly recommended training tool. 

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