2020 is about to be a giant year for Prime bows thanks to the Black Series of bows with four configurations for giving every compound shooter an option to shoot a Prime rig no matter what style of archery they choose. For those more comfortable with a longer axle-to-axle bow, the Black 5 measuring at 35-inches is an outstanding option. Although this bow may be creeping in on the maximum size of popular hunting bows in 2020, it still packs comfortably and maneuvers well in most blind and tight treestand situations. The overall package weighs in at 4.5-pounds as well, which is less than one would think the bow is going to weigh after seeing it in person. The wide stance, massive dual track cam system, and long riser scream boat anchor, but 4.5-pounds is the new normal for bare bow weight on bows up to 4-inches shorter. Surprisingly the Black 5 also gets the best performance on the entire for bow lineup from Prime with a speed rating up to 343 feet per second, which is truly shocking because the shorter bows tend to get the performance boost in arrow speeds. The Black 5 is a sweet bow and is capable of doing literally any style of compound bow shooting whether for tournament money, or meat for the freezer. Unfortunately, the Black 5 comes with an admittedly competitive premium price tag of $999 for standard colors and a silly $100 upcharge for "target colors." The Black 5 also only has a single factory grip option, which is a bummer because if it does not fit a shooter well, it's a wrap on them being able to purchase the bow without an option for a different feeling grip. Overall, the Prime 5 is amazing on paper, feels even better in hand, and performs like a true contender for anyone interested in a new bow in 2020 keeping an open mind and not falling into brand loyalty.
The options available for finishes on the Black 5 are truly noteworthy! This rig has everything an archer could ask for in 2020 with solid colors, designer camo patterns, and even target colors to pick from. Buyers can even mix and match patterns and solids to put a personalized touch on what they want their rig to look like. However, Prime is still charging a $100 upcharge on certain colors and custom combinations, which is a shame in 2020. Just let shooters pick what they want and be done with the upcharges. Either take a hit in cost for finishes that cost more, or work it into the price for the entire lineup. Charging more money for available color options seems unnecessary. For solid color choices, shooters can go with black, tundra, morel, or ghost green, which are returning color for Prime; or opt for one of three new colors in grizzly brown, yoti tan, or boulder grey. For camo patterns buyers can opt for First Lite Cipher or First Lite Fusion, Realtree Edge, Optifade Subapline or Optifade Elevated II, or the new to Prime Realtree Excape pattern. Target colors include the all new Orange Tang, or Classy Copper colors in addition to the return on Emerald Satin, Deep Red, or Purple Haze.
Prime takes great pride in their craftsmanship as a machining company with a great deal of experience producing well-designed, well-executed plans. The 82X aluminum riser gets a great deal of attention, and rightfully so. The Black 5 riser is an exceptional piece of engineering and machining, which integrates technology and usability features into making the bow easier to shoot. The bow looks massive, and that is not to say it is a good or bad feature, but it looks heavy right out of the box. However, tipping the scale at an advertised weight of 4.5-pounds is shocking considering it looks like it may weigh over 5-pounds. The riser has great looking cutouts, is minimally reflexed, and almost as long as the axle-to-axle measurement creating a super stable platform. Combined with the cam system, the Black 5 has a 6-inch brace height, which may be a little intimidating for some shooters used to something a bit longer, but with the easy drawing cam system, and the long riser, the Black 5 will come through with forgiveness even with a bit shorter brace. After taking the Black 5 off the rack for the first time, shooters will immediately notice how perfectly balanced the bow is at the throat of the grip. The bow does not want to tip in any direction, it literally just sits perfectly upright, ready to hold on target from the second it is taken out of the box. Shooters are also sure to notice the riser Swerve design under the rear mounted string stop system. This feature is built into the riser to offset the normal riser torque placed on the bow as the string comes to full draw. Not only does the riser Swerve, but it also twists slightly to add even more rigidity in an attempt to perfect nock travel throughout the entire shot. The Flexis AR cable containment system is worth mentioning as a positive feature of the riser as well. Not only is the system built off the popular roller guard concept, the rod itself is flexible and adjustable to perfectly match a variety of arrow spines and vane configurations to the Black 5 without much headache in getting the arrows to fly perfectly. On a rig like the Black 5, with the potential to be used for every style of archery, being able to easily tune different setups is a major advantage, and the Flexis AR Cable containment system makes this dream a reality.
The grip is integrated directly into the riser on the Black 5, and features some streamlined sideplates more so for design purposes than anything else. It has a relatively thin feel, and a flat back to fit well in any shooter's hand. It has nice contoured edges for comfort and places the shooter's hand in the correct spot without feeling forceful or uncomfortable. However, there is only one option from the factory. If shooters do not end up liking the grip for whatever reason, there is not an alternative option. It would be nice to see some type of grip added to what is already there just to give shooters a second choice before having to go to tennis gripping the handle of their $1000 bow.
Prime chooses to stick with split limbs on the Black 5, and for great reason, The newly designed ROTO cam is massive and needs split limbs to hold them. The limbs have some really simple Prime graphics, and do nothing to take away from the look of the bow. The limbs are on an exceptionally wide stance platform, which again is great for the huge cams of the Black 5. However, the bow is wider and therefore thicker than other bows on the market, which will more than likely be noticed as well upon removing from the bow hook at the shop for the first time. There are six different limb configurations for the Black 5 with maximum draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, and 80-pounds. Anyone interested in a flagship bow should find a draw weight they are comfortable with, and kudos to Prime for including 65 and 80-pound options for shooters to pick from.
There is a brand new cam from the Prime camp in 2020, that builds on and refines everything Prime has done so well in the past several years. On the Black 5 platform, the cams are adjustable from 25.5-31-inches. Brand new on the ROTO cam system is the ability to adjust the draw length on the included module, so no more swapping cams like previous model years. This will help shooters a great deal, and also makes things easier on dealers of Prime bows to have no pressure in having all cams in stock. The Black 5 performance is also the best out of the entire four bow lineup with advertised speeds reaching 343 feet per second with a 6-inch brace height. The cam system does have cable stops instead of the limb stops, and although that may not sound great on paper for folks who really love the solid back wall feel Prime has been known for in previous model years, the back wall still feels pretty solid. Shooters can also choose their desired let off on the ROTO cam system from 65-90% to match the exact valley feel they desire, or the holding weight that best matches their own shooting style. So although the limb stops are no more, the ability to infinitely adjust the cable stops, and be able to change the draw length without needing a press may make up for it in many shooter's opinions. The ROTO cam is still a parallel cam system, which means it is designed with the goal of eliminating all cam lean in mind. With the cables pulling on each side of the cam, instead of only one side, the weight is equally distributed. An easy way to think of this is to imagine carrying a heavy dumbbell in one hand versus carrying the same amount of weight, but distributed amongst a dumbbell in each hand. When you only have one dumbbell, your body will tend to lean to the opposite side to offset the weight. However, when the weight is equally distributed to both hands, they automatically offset any lean. The same is true with the parallel cam system Prime continues to use on the Black series of bows.
The Black 5 for 2020 is a sweet shooter, and not nearly as heavy as it looks hanging on the bow rack. Thanks to the Centergy technology, the grip is the perfect center of the Black 5 in terms of balance, which is going to be great for all shooters. The bow does not dip or tilt in any direction, and after adding accessory weight to the bow, shooters will only have to offset that weight to get the desired feel they want. Starting at a blanched point makes things far easier when offsetting or getting the perfect feel for holding on target. The 35-inch axle-to-axle measurement is perfect for 3D or even some spot shooting, and although it is a bit longer than most hunting bows on the market in 2020, the Black 5 can still be an effective treestand bow or backcountry bow as well. The draw cycle is money too. It pulls smoothly from start to finish, and with the adjustable let-off from 65-90%, shooters have no one to blame but themselves if they do not like how the valley and back wall holding weight feels. After the shot, the bow still wants to stay on target and has no vibration after the shot. The string angle, thanks to the longer axle-to-axle measurement and massive cams feels very comparable to a target bow as well. Shooters will never feel cramped or have to move their head towards the string for proper anchoring with their nose. Everything about the Prime bow is well thought out and adds to a wonderful overall shooting experience.
The Black 5 can do everything a shooter demands of it. Whether that is target archery, competitive 3D shoots, or bow hunting, the Black 5 is up for the challenge and ready to exceed expectations. Shooters have other Black Series options if they desire longer or shorter rigs, but the Black 5 is going to be very popular for 2020. It is also the fastest of the four bows, which is a bit strange for a 35-inch bow to be the fastest in a lineup, but it just solidifies how well engineered this bow is for all styles of archery.
Prime's warranty is lifetime for the original owner, like many other companies. Unlike other manufacturers, the Shield Program also provides a nearly $200 set of strings and cables to the original owners every two years for the life of the bow. That is truly awesome, especially for anyone who keeps their bows long enough to need the strings replaced. This is not something offered anywhere else in the industry, and the bow does not cost more than other flagship models in order for Prime to deliver this option to their customers.
Prime has created a truly amazing lineup with the Black Series for 2020, and the Black 5 is possibly the most versatile of all four rigs. No matter what style of compound archery shooters find themselves interested in, the Black 5 is capable of doing any of them. The color customization is superb, even though the upcharge for certain colors seems really outdated. The cams have tons of built in adjustments to give shooters the exact feeling they want from their rigs, and being able to adjust draw length with a built in module is a welcomed integration for everyone as well. The Black 5 even has the most performance out of the entire lineup shooting up to 343 feet per second! Although the bow costs $999 for standard colors, it is competitive with other high end bows, can be used for every style of archery, and comes with new strings and cables every other year for life. If there is a complaint regarding the Black 5 it might be only having one grip option to choose from. Other than that, the Black 5 is a straight up shooter and will make a ton of archers very happy in 2020.