G5 Prime Black 3 Review

G5 Prime Black 3

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Pros

  • One of the best balanced bows ever produced
  • 33-inch axle-to-axle makes this bow a great do it all rig
  • Perfectly machined bow all around

Cons

  • The bow looks big
  • Little bit of hand shock
  • Only one factory grip option

Video

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Editors' review

Prime archery has some dedicated machine shop workers who are truly great at what they do. This Black series for 2020 is a legit lineup from the shortest 31-inch offering all the way out to the monstrous 39-inch target bow. Everything about the Black series is well thought out and perfectly engineered. The Black 3 is perhaps the most do it all friendly bow in the Black lineup. For many shooters, the 33-inch axle-to-axle length is a sweet spot for being compact enough to tote around in the woods, while still being long enough to feel more like the comfort of a target rig while holding on target. The Black 3 is rated for 337 feet per second, combined with a 6.5-inch brace height which again is a great mix between speed and forgive ability. Shooters can also fine tune everything about how the bow feels at the back wall to perfectly match their individual shooting style or preferred holding weight for increased accuracy. The Black 3 gets a redesigned cam, wider stance limbs and pockets to create more balance and less torque, tons of sweet finish options, and 6 different peak limb choices from the factory. Unfortunately, the grip only has one option from the factory, although what is available is sure to be comfortable for most shooters. The Black 3 fires arrows downrange with a slight amount of handschock before accessories are added, but this is corrected with accessories. Perhaps the largest negative is how large this bow looks at first glance. The new limbs, hefty Roto cam system, and long riser make this bow seem like an absolute brute upon first glance. However, these characteristics admittedly make the Black 3 the down right shooter it is. For anyone looking for a hunting bow with a little longer frame, or possibly a hunter looking to get involved in some local 3D tournaments, the Black 3 is an outstanding place to start!

Finish

Prime has gone above and beyond with the finish options offered in 2020. Not only do they look amazing, but Prime has gathered a large number of choices, from some of the hottest camo patterns offered in 2020 to give just about any archer on the market for a new rig the pattern or hunting color of their choice. Shooters can opt for Black, Optifade Subalpine, Optifade Elevated II, Realtree Edge, Realtree Escape, First Lite Fusion, First Lite Cipher, Ghost Green, Boulder Grey, Morel, Tundra, Yoti Tan, and Grizzly Brown. In addition to this, shooters can mix and match patterns between limbs and riser to give the best match for personal style and looks. However, Prime may charge an upcharge for non-standard limb and riser configurations, which is a major bummer. In 2020, it seems like custom finish options would be worked into the overall cost allowing shooters to get whatever they want for a universal price. Unfortunately, it is going to be unrealistic for potential buyers to expect a shop to have all these colors and finish options available in stock at the same time. This means, shooters may have to purchase their chosen color option sight unseen, or drive around to several different shops to see if they may have a particular combination in stock. These bows look outstanding in person, and it is a really cool option for shooters to be able to pick the finish that best matches their own style as a person and an archer.

Riser

The Prime riser on the Black 3 is as minimally reflexed as it seems possible with the given configuration. The riser also seems almost as long as the axle-to-axle measurement, which is a true testament to how stable the Black 3 feels holding on target and executing the shot on target. The brace height measures 6.5-inches, which is just about perfect for most shooters with the ability to maximize speed without compromising too much forgiveness in the process. Prime machinists are great at their jobs, and they keep the overall bare bow weight down to 4.4-pounds, which is a bit heavy, but not necessarily contributed to the riser alone. Prime has a bunch of research and development resources invested in the 82X aluminum riser used on the Black 3 to make it one of the most thought out risers in 2020. For starters in riser technology, Prime has chosen to stick with the Centergy Technology, which places the center point of the bow right at the throat of the grip for shooters. This creates a perfectly balanced grip location and feeling for anyone putting the bow in their hands for the first time. Adding accessories will throw off the balance, but counter weight can be added to offset those accessories, and in most cases will require less weight to offset because a true balance was there from the start.Prime has also integrated the Swerve technology into the bottom of the riser as well. This portion of the riser is tilted and slighted torsioned in order to strengthen and offset the natural twist the riser has as the bow is drawn. Prime engineers know how this torque and twist impacted their nock travel, and created a riser to minimize that effect on the arrow flight. The Swerve is also down where the stabilizer mounting bushing is located, which also does a great job keeping the bow feeling perfectly balanced. The cable containment system used for the Black 3 is called the Flexis AR roller guard system, and is a carryover from previous year models. This cable guard not only flexes towards the centerline of the bow as the string is drawn, but is also on a roller guard system, which helps everything feel as silky smooth as possible. Again, engineers are aware of how the cables torque the riser as the string is drawn, and the flexing guard helps keep this torque off the riser as much as possible. Shooters will also be able to adjust the Flexis AR system for different profile vanes as well, which is great for those potentially using the Black 3 for different styles of archery. Each setup may require different vane and arrow setups, and the Flexis AR system allows for shooters to go from one to the other with simple tuning adjustments to the roller guard for perfect arrow flight.

Grip

If there is a downfall with the Black 3, it might Prime only offering a single grip option from the factory. Many manufacturers are starting to incorporate different grip options to their bows right out of the box. Either including a removable grip, or allowing shooters to purchase a grip later on if the factory shape and feel is not doing it. Prime offers one grip, directly integrated into the riser. Now, this grip feels awesome, forces the shooter's hand up to the throat of the grip, and makes it really tough to torque the grip, which all leads to improved accuracy. However, the grip may not be everyone's personal preference, and the only solution will need to be shooters making their own from a tennis grip or some sort of grip tape. Prime used to have a one-piece removable grip, which would at least offer the grip or removing the grip and shooting right off the riser. Thankfully, the grip is pretty comfy the way it is, but with the grip being such a personal preference feeling on a bow, it may be the reason a shooter decides to look away from the Black lineup.

Limbs

The split limbs are almost a trademark of Prime bows in 2020, and give the rigs a familiar look right off the shelf. The Prime logo is tastefully done in block lettering on the limbs, and the parallel lines seem to run straight off the new cam system. The limbs are beefy in design, and set apart a fair distance from each other making the width of the Black 3 noticeable upon picking it up. This may make the bow seem a bit heavier to shooters than it actually is, because it looks bigger and wider than most other bows. The split limbs are available in peak draw weight of 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, and 80-pounds, which means any adult shooter interested in a new hunting bow will be able to find a peak draw weight that matches their strength. With the wider stance of the limbs, the pockets are also wider than the standard, but they are designed to withstand that width and still keep tolerances as tight as possible. The axles are held to the riser with Compression Axle Technology, which is designed to use the axle bearing to its full potential. This also prevents any sort of bearing slippage as the cams are drawn. For increased shock absorption, the Black 3 also has a factory installed limb dampener to keep the cam and limb movement after the shot away from the shooter's hand.

Eccentric System

The Prime parallel cam system has gone years without a change, and rightfully so considering its popularity and ease of tuning. For 2020, Prime decided to build on that solid platform to create what they are calling the Roto cam. The Roto cam refines what shooter's loved about the previous cam system, by keeping the basics unchanged. The cams still feature the parallel tracks, and wide stance to evenly pull on both sides of the cam equally. This causes the load on the cam system to be equal on both sides of the cam eliminating all cam lean. The cams also feature a highly sought after rotating modular system to give shooters the full range of the draw cycle without needing to purchase a new cam to do it. The draw length ranges from 25.5-31-inches all within the same cam, which is capable of half-inch adjustments. The let-off is also customizable giving shooters the option to choose from 65-90%, based on their personal preference. Prime designed the cams with shims for tuning purposes, which move the cams left or right 0.030-inches either way to get the best tune possible. Shooters will also notice the top and bottom cam are different sizes, and the nocking point is not in the center of the string. Prime designed the center point of the bow in the middle of the riser, but in order to get the best nock travel, the cams needed to be sized differently. The performance is great when properly tuned, but it may look a bit odd to not have the nocking point in the true center of the string.

Draw Cycle/Shootability

The Black 3 may be the most comfortable bow for some shooters given its specifications. The 33-inch axle-to-axle measurement is long enough to have some characteristics of a target bow, and short enough to still fit in most ground blinds and treestands without feeling too large. Upon picking up the Black 3, the balance is immediately noticeable. When holding the grip the bow simply sits there. Shooters never have to wrestle the bow to get it to set still. The top never wants to move, it just sits there. On target, this feeling carries over as well. The bow really just holds on target. There is no back and forth movement, and the pin float seems to center on the target and holds very well with minimal movement. The draw cycle on the newly designed cams feels like Prime bows from previous years, only more refined in how smooth and effortless it feels getting to the back wall. For diehard Prime shooters, the transition away from a limb stop to a draw stop may have been shocking at first, but shooters will appreciate the same solid back wall feeling from previous model years even with a cable draw stop instead of limb stops. Shooters will also appreciate being able to fine tune the let-off however they want. The back wall can be changed a massive amount to meet the holding weight and let off needs of any shooter. Whether shooters like a ton of holding weight like the target archers typically prefer, or enjoy the high let-off of 990%, the Black 3 can be set up with either preference. After the shot, the bow does have a slight vibration, which is all but removed after adding accessories and a stabilizer. The bow truly holds on target well, and should be a stand out in this category for anyone shooting the bow set up to their draw length and draw weight.

Usage Scenarios

The Black 3 is a hunting bow, but has some really great multi use ability. At 33-inches, the Black 3 could be a hunting bow or dedicated 3D rig for those wanting one bow to be able to do every style of archery they are involved in. For shooters wanting a dedicated indoor target bow, perhaps the Black 5 or Black 9 are better options for them? For any shooter interested in a hunting bow, but wanting to shy away from the super short models popular in 2020, the Black 3 is a sweet option, and will be a very popular pick for 2020.

Shield Program

The Prime Shield Program is a warranty program that covers everything to the original owner including new strings and cables for the original owner every two years, completely free of charge! This string and cable set is rather pricey given the cam design and uniqueness of the five track cam system, and Prime offers new string and cables to the original owner every other year for the life of the bow! This is a great warranty benefit to original owners, especially if shooters plan on keeping their rig for years to come.

Summary

The 2020 Prime Black 3 is one of the best hunting bows produced this model year, and is made even more enticing if shooters have a desire to use the bow as a multipurpose rig for hunting and 3D. Prime did an awesome job building on what they have already done very well in the hunting bow market with the new Roto cams and riser technology integrations. The Black 3 may be the most capable hunting bow for 2020, and that is saying something considering how many awesome bows are on the market this year. Shooters have the ability to fine tune the feeling of the let off and back wall, have some amazing finishes to choose from, and six total limb configurations to perfectly match the bow to the shooter. Only having one grip option from the factory in 2020 seems silly, but it is comfortable and should be very repeatable for most shooters. The price is not too shabby either for a flagship model with a suggested retail price of $999. That price is far from cheap, but remains competitive in the hunting bow market for the 2020 model year. Shooters will have to try very hard to find something they do not like about the Black 3. This bow is a great shooter, and could make an amazing 3D/hunting bow for anyone one the market to do both styles of archery with the same bow.

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