Training in this post-COVID era has proven difficult amid the ammo and component shortages. Yet with the pandemic market pressures, inclement weather, or seasonal downturn this year, the Blackbeard Auto-Resetting Trigger System by Mantis will give you the ability to maintain your skills in the comfort of your own home while saving you some money.
The Blackbeard is a two-part system that includes a poly-molded facsimile of an AR-15 bolt carrier group w/charging handle, and a 20-round (approximate) magazine. These components work with direct impingement and piston rifle systems. But the “wizardry” is what is inside these mock-ups.
The Blackbeard monolithic bolt carrier group replaces the factory AR-15 unit and the charging handle, and includes two aluminum connector pads on the bottom, with an articulating piston mechanism inside that serves to action a plunger and reset the trigger.
On the side of the bolt carrier group is a control group that allows the shooter to zero the laser, as well as select between intermittent beam (only when the trigger is pulled) or continual beam (always on).
The magazine itself serves as the rechargeable power source for the Blackbeard and, once inserted into the magwell of your AR-15, locks firmly into place using the rifle’s own hardware with two aluminum connector pads oriented upwards. The magazine itself uses a USB/Micro USB charging cable to recharge the power supply, with each charge able to provide up to 100,000 cycles of the overall training device. Once depleted, the power source itself takes approximately two hours to fully recharge if plugged into a wall outlet via USB adapter (not included).
How the Blackbeard training system works is when the trigger is depressed; the hammer of the AR-15’s trigger assembly bumps the bolt carrier group insert sufficiently, so as that the matching pair of aluminum connector pads between the bolt carrier group and magazine make contact, and thereby completes the circuit between the power source and the piston mechanism. This piston thereby moved the plunger and causes the AR’s trigger to be reset in as many as 10 times per second. Simultaneously while the piston actions, the laser emits a bust of light down the length of the barrel to mark the “shot” visually.
- Based on selection at time of purchase, laser details are:
- Red Laser: 650 nm, 60ms pulse duration, Continuous wave
- Green Laser: 520 nm, 60ms pulse duration, Continuous wave
- IR Laser: 780 nm, 60ms pulse duration, Continuous wave
The Blackbeard Auto-Resetting Trigger System is only available in safety red, but the laser color itself can be selected at the time of purchase for Red (featured), Green, or IR.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Average (3/5): With a list price of $199, the Blackbeard Auto-Resetting Trigger System is unique on the market as a training device, with few alternatives achieving the same design or function. As is, the Blackbeard allows for improved training and alleviates the end-user from continually cycling the bolt or wearing on the trigger components to achieve the same level of training. The closest market alterative would be the iDryFire AR-15 Bolt/Trigger Reset Device ($199) that is similar in design, otherwise the next alternative AR-15 style training device would be something similar to a Trainer Rifle Cartridge ($84.99) insert from LaserLyte that necessitates continual charging of the bolt carrier group to reset the trigger with each shot. The lack of comparable alternatives, but one at a similar price point gave the Blackbeard an average price point within the market.
- Comfort – Average (3/5): The Blackbeard had several elements that performed adequately (or of average) from a comfort aspect, specifically the ease and speed in which the Blackbeard was set in place (necessitating no tools and allowed full use of current rifle), and the visibility of the red laser emission at the target. That said, there were significant limitations on the laser’s brightness, with it evident that the device was intended for indoor environments only. Outdoors the laser light, even on continual beam, was diffused by ambient light and couldn’t be identified at the target over distances greater than 10’ or more depending on the level of available sunlight. Elsewhere, the speed at which the mechanical plunger would reset the hammer adequately kept pace with the rate in which the end-user could depress the trigger. There were several instances whereby riding the “wall” of the trigger would cause a hesitancy in reset (a probable conflict between the position of the hammer and the plunger at the time of action), but full range in trigger length-of-pull allowed for consistent reset.
- Durability – Good (4/5): The outer shell to the bolt carrier group, and magazine of the Blackbeard, were made in a similar material as that of other polymer-based magazines that gave it an appropriate (or average) level of durability for hard use items. This helped mitigate impact from usage, as well penetration from oil or lubricant based solvents. Over usage, there was some staining noted on the bolt carrier group’s exterior shell due to carbon residue left inside the upper receiver from previous live fires—but this predominantly was wiped off. Otherwise, over the period of evaluation, the mechanical device and contact pads remained in good working order and provided consistent function, with no evident signs of wear. Moreover, the point of aim of the laser consistently held zero throughout.
- Functionality – Good (4/5): Functionally, the Blackbeard allowed for easy installation and automatic trigger reset while training the basic fundamentals of marksmanship. Elements like sight picture, trigger squeeze, target acquisition, and follow-through were easily emphasized with visual recognition from the laser emission when combined with cardboard silhouettes or wall targets (not included). The inclusion of a shot timer with the ability to adjust for dry fire sensitivity, such as a CED 7000, also expanded on the Blackbeard’s functionality by stressing various timed shot drills. This made the auto-reset function of the device pay off in dividends by not necessitating cycling the bolt after each shot. There was no ability to add-in magazine changes to the training, as the system only came with a single magazine power source, and no opportunity to obtain an additional one at the time of purchase existed on the website. One possible recommendation for Mantis would be to cross-seed the Blackbeard with the diagnostic capabilities found in its Mantis Elite so that end-users could see more in-depth details while using their carbine as well as recommended elements for improvement in an app.
- Weight – Average (3/5): The entire Blackbeard training kit (with case) weighted in at 25.6 ounces; but individually the magazine w/power supply came in at 7.7 ounces, and the bolt carrier group itself weighed just at 6.7 ounces. This means that for less than the weight of a fully loaded AR magazine, steel bolt carrier group, and aluminum charging handle end-users can get seemingly endless dry fire cycles. This translates to costs saved, and training skills maintained. In contrast the iDryFire AR-15 Bolt/Trigger Reset Device is similarly 8 ounces, but has a smaller, internal power supply with no magazine. Other training devices for the AR are smaller and lighter, but lack the functionality of the Blackbeard.
Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.