G5 Prime Black 9 Review

G5 Prime Black 9

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Pros

  • Potentially Prime's best target bow ever
  • Perfectly balanced at the grip in all directions
  • All specifications are built for forgiveness and shootability

Cons

  • $100 charge for "premium colors"
  • It would be nice to have a one-piece grip to fit over the riser grip

Video

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Editors' review

The 2020 Prime Black Series is a great set of bows designed for every single type of shooter on the market for a high end compound rig. The Black 9 is the dedicated target rig of the bunch with a 39-inch axle-to-axle measurement, 7-inch brace height, and arrow speeds up to 325 feet per second. Prime engineered brand new cams for the Black series, which on the 9 accommodates draw lengths of 27.5-33-inches with a new to Prime rotating module. The limb stop system is replaced with a cable stop, but shooters are able to fine tune their letoff from 65-90%. The grip is very target archery friendly with a slimmer feel and a nice flat back. However, many target bows come with a couple factory options, which is not the case with the Black 9 only having the integrated grip. The price is steep at $1199, but pretty competitive for a target bow in 2020. Perhaps the worst thing about the Prime Black 9 is the $100 upcharge for target colors. It is 2020, and a target bow should not be subject to upcharges if a shooter chooses a target color. In regards to feel, look, and the ability to personalize the valley and back wall it is really difficult to find something to not like in the target designed Black 9 bow. For the dedicated target shooters, the Black 9 deserves serious consideration.

Finish

The Black 9 is a target bow, and has a lot of really nice patterns and target colors to choose from. As silly as it sounds, Prime charges a $100 upcharge for shooters choosing a target color, which is insane. Prime should be charging a flat fee for their rigs, and allow shooters to pick from whatever color scheme they want in their bow. Standard colors and finish options include: Ghost Green, Boulder Grey, Morel, Tundra, Yoti Tan, Black, Grizzly Brown, Realtree Edge, Realtree Excape, Optifade Elevated II, Optifade Subalpine, First Lite Fusion, and First Lite Cipher. For premium colors subject to the $100 upcharge, shooters can choose Orange Tang, Classy Copper, Purple Haze, Emerald Satin, and Deep Red. All of these finishes look awesome on the Black 9, and Prime allows shooters to mix and match camo and solids as well.

Riser

The riser on the Black 9 is a fairly typical riser design for Prime compared to recent model years. Prime manufacturing has perfected machining the 82X aluminum risers they use, and despite the 39-inch axle-to-axle measurement, the bow only weighs 4.7-pounds. For anyone looking at the bow on the rack in a shop, picking the bow up for the first time is going to be a shock. First of all, the bow looks significantly heavier than it actually is. The cams are beefy, the limbs and pockets are wide, and the riser is long. To weigh as little as it does is shocking for most people picking the Black 9 up for the first time. Secondly, the Black 9 bow is perfectly balanced at the grip. The Centergy technology is amazing, and keeps the bow perfectly balanced in each direction in the grip location, which is in the center of the riser. Shooters are also sure to notice the riser Swerve, which is a twisted portion of the riser to account for torque as the string is drawn. Prime researched how the riser reacts when the bow is drawn and fired, and designed the Swerve to counteract how the riser was reacting to make the bow more repeatable and less likely to be impacted by the torque created in the system. The cable containment system, also known as the Flexis AR is a roller guard, which pivots in as the bow is drawn and flexes back out after the arrow has been fired to its original starting position. This can also be adjusted to accommodate for different arrow spines and vane configurations during the tuning process as well. When the Flexis AR system pivots inward, the torque from the cables being drawn is minimized because the cables naturally want to move toward the centerline of the bow. The flexible cable system lets that happen and causes less torque to be transferred into the riser of the bow. Shooters also have a rear facing string stop system to keep the strings and vibration down as much as possible after the shot. The front and back of the riser also feature stabilizer mounting bushings for shooters to add bars and weight to get the feel they want holding on target and for after the arrow is released.

Grip

The grip on the Black 9 is very target archer friendly. Most target rigs have a flat back grip, and a fairly narrow stance. This grip has that popular target archer feeling, which is sure to be modified by shooters with some grip tape for added tackiness if nothing else. The grip is integrated directly into the machining of the riser, and unfortunately this means it can get a bit slippery if shooter's have sweaty hands. Although maybe not as important on the target model in the Black series, it would potentially be nice to see a one-piece grip option in addition to the riser grip option. The feel of the grip is a pretty intimate thing for shooters, and it may be nice for shooters to have a couple of factory options to choose from without having to resort to grip tape.

Limbs

The split limbs and pockets are pretty massive to be honest. They are wide, and because of the giant ROTO cams parallel track technology, they are also set pretty far apart from each other as well. This stance looks a bit strange considering almost every bow has a slimmer width. However, nothing impacts how the bow shoots or maneuvers, and after the initial recognition of them being wider, most will never think about it again. Shooters can get maximum draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, and 80-pounds for their Black 9 rigs as well. Although most target archers are not choosing 80-pound limbs, the new cams go all the way out to 33-inches, which means shooters with that long of a draw may also be hunting with the Black 9. For Prime to offer all these options on the target bow really proves how dedicated they are to building a bow for every shooter. The limbs also come with a factory installed limb dampener to keep vibrations down as much as possible.

Eccentric System

Prime archery has a unique spin on eliminating cam lean, and that foundation continues over into the 2020 lineup with the ROTO cam. Prime maintains their commitment to the parallel track cam system, which splits the cams into two tracks equally spaced away from the centerline of the cam to equally distribute the load of the cables to eliminate all cam lean. The split cables connect with a big ring, and the singular cable functions exactly as any other model on the market would. Although the parallel cam is not new, Prime did bring a rotating module to their system this year, which is a long awaited addition for loving Prime shooters. The cams on the Black 9 are adjustable from 27.5-33-inches, in half-inch increments, without the need for a bow press to make adjustments. Shooters can also fine tune their let-off by adjusting the stop, anywhere between 65-90%. The cams do feature a cable stop, which is a new design with previous years being a limb stop system. Despite the change in design, the cable stops still offer a pretty solid back wall, and not a spongy feeling like other cable stops offer. Target bows are not necessarily chasing fast speed ratings, but the Black 9 does have reasonable performance with a speed rating of 325 feet per second. Prime perfectly machines the cams in house, and they are top quality cams. They also help add to the width of the bow because they are pretty large in diameter, and wider than many cam systems because of the multiple tracks for the strings and cables. The ROTO cam does offer some new features, but they are more so refinements of what they were already doing well, and those who have shot Prime in the past will feel comfortable transitioning from the older cams to the ROTO system.

Draw Cycle/Shootability

Prime did an amazing job with the Black 9 making it an outstanding bow to shoot. Despite being a really big bow, the mass weight is still a respectable 4.7-pounds. The perfectly balanced riser, thanks to the Centergy technology, also gives shooters a great place to start adding weight to making it a little easier to set up and get feeling right for each shooter. The draw cycle feels outstanding, and not much different from previous Prime rigs. However, the cable stop system is pretty solid compared to some of Prime's early target bows, which favored a spongier feeling back wall. Although the back wall is not quite as solid as the old limb stops, it feels very stiff and helps the shooter hold well on target. Target guys are also pretty finicky about their holding weight. The Prime Black 9 allows shooters to slide the draw stop post to achieve a let-off from 65-90%. This will change the feeling of the valley a bit as well, but how awesome to have a bow capable of such adjustment. The hold on target is amazing with this rig as well. The pin has a super tiny float pattern, and the back wall firmness really locks everything in for shooters as they execute their shot. After the shot, the bow just kind of sits right where it is. There is a slight ting sound as the arrow is fired, and the noise and vibration is very well managed. The speeds are decent for a target bow, and overall the shot feels really great.

Usage Scenarios

The Black 9 is designed to be a target bow. Everything about this rig was created with target archery or competitive 3D goers in mind. However, the cams go all the way up to 33-inches for draw length. There is a very limited number of bows that offer draw lengths that long, so for some shooters, the Black 9 could also be a hunting bow as well. With that in mind, Prime also offers the Black 9 in 80-pound limbs. Imagine the kinetic energy of a bow at 33-inches of draw length with 80-pound limbs!

Shield Program

Most target shooters like to change out their bows every year or every other year, so this next perk may not mean all that much to them. However, the Prime warranty allows shooters a free set of strings and cables every other year, to the original owner, for the life of the bow! To accommodate the ROTO cams, this is a 7-piece string and cable set, which would cost slightly under $200 if purchased. Although target archers may not take advantage of this perk, it is worth noting to again show how dedicated Prime is to taking care of their customers.

Summary

The Black Series brings a lot of really great features to the market in the Prime bow package. The Black 9 is a dedicated target bow, and is perfectly designed for shootability and forgiveness. Although Prime charges $100 for target colors on a target bow, the options of different finishes is outstanding. The ROTO cam modular adjustments are long awaited from diehard Prime shooters, and should be a great move for shop owners as well not having to stock so many cams. The let-off customization option is phenomenal as well, allowing shooters to pick any percentage within the 65-90% range. The Black 9 is an outstanding bow, from a growing manufacturer, and definitely worthy of a serious consideration for anyone wanting to get serious about tournament archery.

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