Best Mid-Handicap Irons

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Best Mid-Handicap Golf Irons 

1. Callaway Apex 21 DCB | RRP £1,099 | VIEW OFFER

2. Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal Pro | RRP £135 per iron | VIEW OFFER

3. Ping G425 | RRP £129 per iron | VIEW OFFER

4. TaylorMade SIM2 Max | RRP £899 | VIEW OFFER

5. Srixon ZX4 | RRP £899 (steel) | VIEW OFFER 

6. PXG 0211 | RRP: £80 per iron | VIEW OFFER

7. Honma T//World TR21 X | RRP £175 per iron | VIEW OFFER

8. Cobra King Radspeed | RRP £749 | VIEW OFFER

9. Callaway Apex 21 | RRP £1,099 | VIEW OFFER

10. Lynx Black Cat | RRP £499 | VIEW OFFER

Who are mid-handicap irons for?

A mid-handicap iron (or game-improvement iron as it is often called) is designed for those with a 10 handicap and above and aims to provide a little bit of help – and let's face it, who doesn't need that! With a slighter larger profile, a lighter shaft, stronger lofts and a slightly thinner face, game-improvement irons are a more forgiving club that is designed to improve ball speeds and carry distance - even when shots aren't hit in the centre of the face.

Mid-handicap irons typically make up 80% of a brand’s sales and with the average UK handicap around 14, the market for them is huge. So it’s important for manufacturers to do game-improvement irons really well, with a design that blends good looks, excellent off-centre hit forgiveness and strong carry distance.

Typically they have a larger head with more offset (distance from the hosel to the leading edge), which positions the centre of gravity further back. The extra offset and wider sole positions more weight beneath and further back from the ball’s equator to help shots get airborne. A cavity or hollow head positions more mass around the perimeter to improve forgiveness.

With that criteria in mind, we've tested all of the latest models to reveal the best.

And if you’re in the market for any other new equipment this year, make sure you read our guides to the best fairway woodshybridsironswedges and putters and use our recommendations to narrow your shortlist. If you can, then get fitted for your clubs, as that’s the only way to optimise new models for your game.

 

– Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.

Best mid-handicap golf irons.

Best Mid-Handicap Irons

1. Callaway Apex DCB irons

RRP: £1,099 (s), £1,399 (g) | VIEW OFFER
Availability: 3-PW, AW | Stock shaft: True Temper Elevate ETS 85g (s) UST Recoil Dart 75g (g) | 7-iron loft: 30°

Callaway Apex DCB irons

We love how Callaway have opened the forged Apex family up to more club golfers with the cracking Apex DCB (Deep Cavity Back) – it's a master stroke of understanding what lots of average players crave.

The Callaway Apex DCB also come with lighter shafts than the Callaway irons aimed at elite players, making them perfect for average swing speeds.

Weaker lofts mean the DCB will struggle to compete on raw distance against a Callaway Mavrik iron (which is still in the range in 2021); our pro saw nine yards of carry difference between the pair. But we'd much prefer to have the DCB in our bag.

RELATED: Which Callaway iron is right for me?

2. Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal Pro irons

RRP: £135 per iron | VIEW OFFER
Availability: 4-GW | Stock shaft: Project X LZ Black 5.5 | 7-iron loft: 29° 

Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal Pro irons

Each iron in the Mizuno line-up thus far has been one-piece forged, or comes with a forged face and hosel. But the Hot Metal Pro has a cast construction, which means if forged models are an important factor in a new set of irons, you need to back up.

However, if you're looking for a brilliant mid-handicap iron that has a hint of a players look with less offset and a more compact head, the JPX921 Hot Metal Pro delivers in spades.

Even though the Hot Metal Pro has the same 7-iron loft (29°) as the Hot Metal, the smaller head means a little less face flex, which for our test pro gave 10 yards of carry distance difference in favour of the standard Hot Metal. Well worth remembering if distance is your key objective.

RELATED: Which Mizuno iron is right for me?

3. Ping G425 irons

RRP: £129 per iron (steel), £139 per iron (graphite) | VIEW OFFER
Availability: 4-LW | Stock shaft: Ping AWT 2.0 (s) Ping Alta CB (g) with 7 after-market no charge upgrades | 7-iron loft: 30°

Ping G425 irons

Over the years, Ping G irons have been consistently proven performers in almost anyone's hands. But what's changed dramatically over the last few versions is how the traditional boxy G heads have given way to very refined short and mid-iron shapes in the G425.

The Ping G425 was second only to PXG's super-premium Gen3 irons when it came to forgiveness among all 15 mid-handicap irons we tested recently, which is seriously impressive.

The Ping G425 is a brilliant option for everyone from average ball-striking, single-figure golfers, all the way up to erratic 20+ handicappers.

RELATED: Which Ping iron is right for me?

4. TaylorMade SIM2 Max irons

RRP: £899 (steel) / £1,049 (graphite) | VIEW OFFER
Availability: 4-PW, AW, SW, LW | Stock shaft: KBS MAX MT (s) Fujikura Ventus 5/6/7 (g) | 7-iron loft: 28.5°

TaylorMade SIM2 Max irons

While sleek and sexy players irons might tug at our heart strings, in the real world most of us need all the help we can get. Enter the TaylorMade SIM2 Max.

The big draw is how TaylorMade have tuned the sound to be more like a forged iron.

It means you give nothing up in terms of feedback, but get extra playability and (if you can muster as much speed as our test pro) up to 17 yards more carry than a P770.

Incredibly, the SIM2 Max flights shots higher and brings the ball down onto the green at the same type of angle as the muscleback, despite being 6.5° stronger in loft, which demonstrates brilliantly how far modern weighting techniques have come to make strong-lofted irons so playable.

RELATED: Which TaylorMade iron is right for me?

5. Srixon ZX4 irons

RRP: £899 (steel) / £999 (graphite) | VIEW OFFER
Availability: 4-iron, 5-iron-PW, GW, SW, LW | Stock shaft: Nippon N.S. Pro 950GH Neo (s), Diamana OEM (g) | 7-iron loft: 28.5°

Srixon ZX4 irons

Having the widest soles, the most offset and the longest blade lengths of Srixon's range, along with hollow bodies, means the ZX4s are a brilliant fit for mid-handicap golfers.

This is a special iron that explores hollow body technology in a route Srixon haven't followed before. Srixon say a cast 431 body absorbs vibration for great feel, while the HT1770 forged face is fast and long.

In terms of forgiveness, the Srixon ZX4 is a very solid alternative to the Ping G425, TaylorMade SIM2 Max, and Callaway Apex DCB.

RELATED: Which Srixon iron is right for me?

6. PXG 0211 irons

RRP: £80 per iron | VIEW OFFER
Availability: 4-LW | Shafts: Choose from four premium options | 7-iron loft: 28°

PXG 0211 irons

PXG are on an all-out assault to get your attention in 2021, so they've created the brilliant 0211 to hit a price point, and appeal to everyone from 0-24 handicap golfers.

The price reduction against the Gen3 irons is down to the 0211 being cast, not forged, and because the 0211 doesn't have expensive tungsten perimeter weighting. You do get PXG's hollow body and DualCor tech, but PXG say no weight tech means you give up about 10% in terms of MOI versus their very best irons.

But the strong and long 0211 is a brilliant option to any other game-improver iron you may be considering this year.

RELATED: Which PXG iron is right for me?

7. Honma TR21 X irons

RRP: £175 per iron (steel) / £210 per iron (graphite) | VIEW OFFER

Availability: 3-11 (GW) | Stock shaft: Nippon N.S. Pro 950GH Neo (s) Honma Vizard TR20 65 (g) | 7-iron loft: 30°

Honma TR21 X irons

Honma tout the TR21 X as a players' distance iron, but when you realise the blade length is 1.4mm longer and 4.5mm taller than the TR20 P, plus the body is cast, not forged, we'd say the model very neatly slides into the mid-handicap iron category, too.

The Honma TR21 X is a great alternative to a traditional cavity-back and, if you put a premium on good looking irons that are powerful and forgiving, they're right up your street.

RELATED: Which Honma iron is right for me?

8. Cobra King Radspeed

RRP: £749 (s), £849 (g) | VIEW OFFER
Availability: 4-SW | Stock shaft: KBS Tour (s) UST Recoil (g) | 7-iron loft: 27.5°

Cobra King RADSPEED iron.

If your game needs the forgiveness and power of a mid-handicap iron, but your fancy isn’t tickled by going forged, the Cobra King RADSPEED irons are a very solid choice.

The lofts are strong (27.5°), but our data has the model down as being capable of launching, peaking out and dropping them on to the green at very sensible levels. The carbon-fibre topline insert is a different look, and it will divide opinion.

We love how Cobra’s engineers have built in an MOI-enhancing toe screw which draws the sweetspot towards the centre of the RADSPEED's face, which also improves feel in this cracking mid-handicap iron.

9. Callaway Apex 21

RRP: £1,099 (s), £1,399 (g) | VIEW OFFER
Availability: 3- PW, AW | Stock shaft: True Temper Elevate ETS 95g (s) UST Recoil Dart 75g (g) | 7-iron loft: 30.5°

Callaway Apex 21 iron.

We wouldn’t put up much of a fight against anyone arguing that the Callaway Apex 21 iron should be among our top performers, rather than the Apex DCB. Both bring very solid benefits to their intended target audience. But in our view the DCB serves the mid-handicap category particularly well.

Just like its siblings the Apex is a great looking forged iron. Unlike some it’s also really good at protecting carry distance, as it gave up just eight yards between on and off-centre hits (ranking second, just 0.3% behind the PXG XPs).

Compared to the previous Apex 19 the topline is a little narrower, which potentially makes them more attractive to reasonably solid ball strikers who don’t want to give up 2.5° of 7-iron loft to play the hollow-body Apex Pro.

Our data shows that sort of decision is likely to cost seven yards of carry, which if we’re honest most club golfers will struggle to justify.

10. Lynx Black Cat iron

RRP: £499 | VIEW OFFER
Availability: 3-PW | Stock shaft: KBS Tour 90 (s), UST Mamiya Recoil (g) | 7-iron loft: 33°

Lynx Black Cat iron.

With golf booming we’re well aware there’s plenty of players either returning to the game or taking it up for the first time and Lynx are an ideal brand to start with.

Taking the plunge on a new set of irons is expensive, and that’s where Lynx come in. If you have £500 to spend on a new set of mid-handicap irons, the Black Cats will serve you really well.

The heads are hollow, the shafts are KBS Tour, and our pro was really impressed with how they felt.

A more traditional 33° 7-iron loft does mean that if you try them on a launch monitor they won’t be faster or longer than a lot of the competition but, thanks to that hollow head, our data has them among our five most forgiving models within the category. That’s great performance for half the price of many of the other irons we tested.

Mid-handicap irons test launch monitor data

2021 mid-handicap golf irons test data from our launch monitor.

How we conducted our mid-handicap irons test

– We gathered all of the 2021 models at our indoor test lab at Keele Golf Centre.

– TG Test Pro Neil Wain did the testing, while Equipment Editor Simon Daddow collected data. 

– We used Callaway Chrome Soft X Triple Track balls and a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor to create the most reliable data possible.

– We recorded how shots launched, span, peaked and dropped out of the air, before crunching the numbers to come up with our conclusions.

We used the Callaway Chrome Soft X golf ball to test the best wedges

BUY NOW: Callaway Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X balls

How we analysed our Best Golf Irons data

Before we came to any conclusions, we analysed the data for each club tested; on distance, spin rates, forgiveness. The latter we refer to as drop offs; the differences in ball speed, spin and carry between our test pro’s on- and off-centre hits.

This insight gives a reliable indication of how forgiving each model will be on the course, as we’ve argued for years that dispersion can be very misleading as it’s based on how you swing on a particular day. We analysed all that data before choosing the best.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simon Daddow is Today's Golfer equipment editor.

Simon Daddow is the Equipment Editor at todaysgolfer.co.uk
Simon has worked in the golf industry for 30 years. Starting out as trainee professional at Downes Crediton GC where he learned the art of golf club making, before going onto work for Clubhaus Plc and Tony Charles Ltd as a golf club maker, and running Product Development at Benross Golf.
Joining EMAP Active (now Bauer Media) in 2006 as Equipment Editor Simon has worked for Today’s Golfer and Golf World magazines and the Today’s Golfer website.
Simon is 46 years old, he’s played golf for 40 years and plays to a handicap of 10. A lack of club speed means he’s short off the tee, but very handy from 125 yards and in.

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- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.