G5 Outdoors turns out Prime Bows, industry-leading broadheads and recently acquired Montana Rifle Company all from Michigan
By Allen Crater
Thwack! Another arrow finds its mark in the black foam. My younger son is out back in his hunting saddle, getting the reps in.
It’s Labor Day, barely September, and while summer officially goes on for a few more weeks, mentally the date marks the beginning of fall. It’s probably all in my head, but even the breeze seems to carry a crispness it didn’t just a few short days ago. The countdown to October has begun in earnest, and Michigan’s deer season will soon begin again after a long, cruel wait.
I started chasing whitetail with my dad in ’86 when I was just twelve. I fondly remember tucking dollar after dollar of paper-route money in a wrinkled brown envelope until I had saved enough to purchase my first bow, a brand-new Proline from the run-down archery shop on the West side. It had a single pin sight, plastic rest and a finger tab. I punched endless arrows into paper plates hung on a hay bale alongside the garage that summer. Since then, I’ve spent the last 36 Octobers in the woods with a hunting tool that has been used for thousands of years.
My two boys started joining me on hunts almost as soon as they could walk, and they’ve come a long way since those first few outings in their oversized camo. Archery equipment has also come a long way in the last several years — it’s lighter, faster, smoother and more accurate.
Dating back to the 1940s when Fred Bear introduced Bear Archery out of his Grayling facility, Michigan has boasted a storied heritage of hunting innovation. Not surprisingly, one of today’s leading innovators in the archery and hunting space proudly calls Michigan home, too. A family-owned business from the start, the story of G5 Outdoors, the well-known makers of broadheads, the parent company of Prime Bows, and, more recently, the Montana Rifle Company, began in 1966 when Louis “Leo” Grace Sr. started Grace Engineering in bucolic Memphis, Michigan.
Leo was a master problem solver, and, over the years, his company became known for pioneering manufacturing practices and producing quality products. In the 1980s, Louis (Lou) Grace, Jr., Leo’s son, took over Grace Engineering and further grew the business, focusing on precision manufacturing for demanding medical, hydraulic and automotive markets. Not long after, Lou’s two sons, Matt and Nate, joined the burgeoning family trade.
They took the problem-solving philosophy their family patriarch injected into every aspect of his work, and they combined it with their innate interest in hunting. Lou, Matt and Nate began brainstorming products that would address real problems faced by hunters, and the seeds for G5 were planted.
In the late 1990s, they set out to create a one-piece steel broadhead that was more accurate and afforded better shoulder penetration than what was found in the market. Nate began sketching ideas using Metal Injection Molding (Monoflow) technology, and they launched their first fixed-blade broadhead, the B-52, in 2000. Two years later, they produced what has become the most iconic of the G5 line of broadheads, the Montec.
Nate approaches every design with the hunger of a hunter and the mind of a manufacturing engineer. The goal, he says, is to reduce opportunities for errors in the field. That means paying attention to the little things: manufacturing broadheads the way they will be used, and spin-testing every single one in the process to ensure it meets the tightest specifications. It’s a more complex, time-consuming, and labor-intensive process, like most things at G5 are, but that kind of attention to detail and precision continues to set them apart.
From the success of that first fixed-blade, the brand has created a full line of award-winning fixed and mechanical broadheads. In fact, G5 holds over 25 archery patents and has developed some of the most significant technologies in the archery industry over the last
In October of 2010, Prime Archery was born after G5’s proprietary Parallel Cam technology — heralded as one of the decade’s greatest archery innovations — was launched as a new standard for accuracy in compound bows. A few years later, and after months of ongoing research, data-collection and testing, Prime once again shaped the market by introducing the first center-grip hunting bow that tunes straight out of the box. The benefits of a center grip bow (versus a center-pull) are obvious — the greatest being balance, by which the design helps reduce the top-heavy forward-hang many of the competitors are forced to offset with bulky stabilizers. While a center-grip bow is more challenging and expensive to manufacture — requiring different cams for the top and bottom — it provides a distinctly better shooting experience, allowing hunters to acquire targets faster and stay on target longer. This fits the core philosophy of Prime to a T. In October of 2022, they introduced the new Core Cam system, the latest breakthrough in their history of relentless research and development.
While Prime’s effort to continually revolutionize the industry and its manufacturing process is impressive, the real proof is verified in the field. My buddy, Mark Kenyon of Wired To Hunt/MeatEater, switched to Prime a few years back, and here’s what he had to say:
I’ve been shooting the Prime InLine for three seasons, and it’s yet to disappoint me. It’s well-balanced, easy to draw, and rock solid on the back wall. With Prime’s obsession with accuracy over everything else, I know the bow will always do its job. The rest is up to me. The fact that Prime is based in Michigan is one hell of a cherry on top.
Never ones to rest on their laurels, G5 recently expanded their hunting portfolio even further with the acquisition of Montana Rifle Company. According to Nate, The goal with MRC is to combine the heritage people have come to love about the Montana design with the world-class manufacturing that sets G5 apart, to deliver the ultimate in hunting rifles.
I got to take a peek at the latest Montana Rifle lineup that’s being released (beginning with the 6.5 Creedmoor and a .300 Win Mag version to follow shortly after), and I liked what I saw — a lot.
Continuing the legacy of guaranteed half-inch-MOA accuracy, smooth bolts, and beautiful wood stocks that MRC is known for, G5 has added a few other thoughtful features that make these firearms even more user-friendly, and they plan to offer both the traditional wood and synthetic stock options in each caliber going forward.
As you’d expect, the passion that Matt and Nate bring for both hunting and pushing the boundaries of product development is contagious, and the majority of the 80-plus employees who call G5’s Michigan facilities home are avid hunters themselves, applying first-hand knowledge to the design, manufacture and assembly of all the major components throughout the entire product line and beyond.
With October just approaching, G5 and the Grace family always look ahead. When I asked Nate what the future holds for the business, he shared this:
“The future looks a lot like our past, where we march to our own beat, relentlessly tackling the core issues within the hunting world. We are excited to re-launch Montana Rifle and establish it as the premium hunting rifle. We are also really optimistic about where our new G5 arrow line will go as we continue to address some of the long-standing issues that have plagued the industry, and we have a new G5 broadhead for the 2024 season that offers something our current lineup doesn’t. Beyond that, we are knee-deep in industry-shifting technology that is currently being prototyped for Prime bows, so stay tuned.”
Our best days have yet to come. That’s what makes the Grace family unique in the end: we are relentlessly driven to do the work, no matter what kind of work it is or how much there is to do, if we see an opportunity to solve real problems.
Words spoken like a true hunter; the best days are yet to come — especially if you are willing to do the work. And if time has proven anything, the Grace family and the team at G5 certainly are.