Which Callaway iron is best for me?

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Which Callaway irons should I buy? Your guide to each iron in Callaway's 2021 line-up and who they are aimed at.

Most major brands have five, six or even seven irons in their 2021 line-ups, which shows the importance of having solutions for all golfers, irrespective of ability or personal preference. Choices range from slimline musclebacks to hollow heads and cavity backs, and while some are forged, others have springy faces just like a driver.  

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So with such a huge amount of choice out there, we felt it was far too easy for golfers to get confused about which iron best suits them.

Even golfers who have a good idea of which iron suits them probably don’t realise what they put on the line in terms of ball speed, carry and forgiveness by choosing a set above their station.

To help you choose the right Callaway model, we will show you how a brand’s whole iron range compares against each other.

As well as launch monitor data from our pro, we’ve given every Callaway iron a forgiveness rating (1 = least forgiving, 5 = most forgiving) and a handicap guide to spell out simply what sort of players should be considering what sort of models, and why.

RELATED: Callaway reveal Jaws Full Toe wedge

Neil Wain is the Today's Golfer golf test professional.

How we tested which Callaway iron is best for you

We asked all of the major equipment manufacturers to submit their entire 2021 iron ranges for testing.

We created a controlled test environment indoors at Keele Golf Centre and used Callaway Chrome Soft X premium golf balls.

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We selected this ball because not only is it played by some of the world’s best players (Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele included) but our test pro (Neil Wain) was a big fan of it when we hit it against his usual Titleist Pro V1 last year (see the results here), and he’s looking at switching to it in 2021.

We collected a ton of data from every iron shot hit, using a Foresight Sports GC Quad launch monitor, all of which can be found further down this piece.

BUY NOW: Callaway Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X balls

Callaway Apex MB 2021 irons.

Callaway Apex MB irons

RRP £1,099 (s), £1399 (g)
Category Muscleback blade
Forgiveness rating 1
Handicap range Four and below
Construction Forged from a single piece of 1025 carbon steel
Availability 3-PW, AW 
Stock shaft Project X IO (s) 
7-iron loft 34°

Without doubt the best muscleback iron we’ve seen this year. We just wish we had the ball-striking ability to play a set ourselves. Comparing the Apex MB to the Big Bertha B21 gives a brilliant picture of iron evolution.

The Apex MB has a 5° weaker 7-iron loft (over a club difference), yet the Big Bertha launched and peaked shots out higher, and dropped approaches onto the green at a much steeper angle than the Apex MB.

Incredibly, the B21 also added 10 mph of ball speed and 17 yards of carry. Still convinced you need a set of muscleback irons?

BUY IT NOW: Get the Callaway Apex MB irons from Scottsdale Golf

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WATCH: Best Muscleback/Blades Test

Callaway Apex TCB irons.

Callaway Apex 21 TCB irons

RRP £1,099 (s), £1,399 (g)
Category Players iron
Forgiveness rating 2
Handicap range Four and below
Construction Forged from a single piece of 1025 carbon steel
Availability 4-PW, AW 
Stock shaft True Temper Project X 10 5.5 (105g), 6.0 (110g), 6.5 (115g). True Temper Project X LS 6.0 (120g), 6.5 (125g)
7-iron loft 34°

TCB stands for Tour Cavity Back, which spells out loud and clear who they will best suit. If you need any further assurance, Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele have a set in their bags.

Unfortunately, due to pandemic-related delays, we couldn’t hit Callaway’s Apex TCB irons, but if you’re among the tiny percentage of elite golfers on the planet who should be looking at the TaylorMade P7MC or Mizuno JPX919 Tour irons, then you really should look at these too before taking the plunge.

Of course, the TCB should not be pinging the radar of most club golfers.

BUY IT NOW: Get the Callaway Apex TCB irons from Scottsdale Golf

RELATED: WITB Xander Schauffele

Callaway Apex Pro 21 irons.

Callaway Apex 21 Pro irons

RRP £1,099 (s), £1,399 (g)
Category Players distance
Forgiveness rating 2.5
Handicap range Eight and below
Construction Forged 1025 hollow body
Availability 3- PW, AW
Stock shaft True Temper Elevate ETS 115g (s) Mitsubishi MMT (g)
7-iron loft 33°

Callaway have only dabbled in the hollow-body iron market before, but with more forged irons than ever hitting the shops, the introduction of a new-five model Apex family feels like the perfect opportunity to introduce the tech.

The Pro has masses of internal tungsten weighting (up to 90g in each iron) which few of the competition can get near. For reasonable club golfers there’s a real decision to be made between this and the standard Apex 21.

Yes, the standard model has a 2.5° stronger 7-iron loft, but for our pro that upped carry by seven yards while maintaining a smaller carry drop-off, which for sensible club golfers should make the Apex 21 hard to ignore.

BUY IT NOW: Get the Callaway Apex 21 Pro irons from Scottsdale Golf

Callaway Apex 21 irons.

Callaway Apex 21 irons

RRP £1,099 (s), £1,399 (g)
Category Players distance to mid-handicap iron
Forgiveness rating 3
Handicap range 14 and below 
Construction Forged 1025 carbon steel with AI Face Cup 
Availability 3- PW, AW
Stock shaft True Temper Elevate ETS 95g (s) UST Recoil Dart 75g (g)
7-iron loft 30.5°

Callaway can legitimately lay claim to inventing the players distance iron as we know it today, as the first Callaway Apex in 2014 floated the idea of incorporating distance into a forged iron.

The Apex 21 hovers brilliantly between the players distance and mid-handicap iron categories and it can confidently slip into the hands of golfers on either side of the fence.

This model gave our test pro his smallest difference between on- and off-centre hits of the whole Callaway range, which combined with very solid distance from what isn’t the strongest loft is really impressive. A brilliant all-rounder.

BUY IT NOW: Get the Callaway Apex 21 irons from Scottsdale Golf 

WATCH: Best Players Distance Irons Test

Callaway Apex DCB irons.

Callaway Apex 21 DCB irons

RRP £1,099 (s), £,1399 (g)
Category Mid-handicap 
Forgiveness rating 3.5
Handicap range 20 and below
Construction Forged 1025 carbon steel with AI Face Cup
Availability 4-PW, AW
Stock shaft True Temper Elevate ETS 85g (s) UST Recoil Dart 75g (g)
7-iron loft 30°

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.

By using different weight shafts for each Apex model (the Pro have Elevate 115g shafts; the DCB are Elevate 85g), the DCBs are perfect for average swing speeds.

Weaker lofts mean the DCB will struggle to compete on raw distance against a 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 the DCB in our bag.

BUY IT NOW: Get the Callaway Apex DCB irons from Scottsdale Golf

Callaway Mavrik golf iron.

Callaway Mavrik irons

RRP £849 (s) £1,049 (g)
Category Mid-handicap 
Forgiveness rating 3.5
Handicap range 20 and below
Construction Cast with AI Face Cup
Availability 4-PW, AW, GW, SW
Stock shaft  True Temper Elevate 95 (s), Project X Catalyst (g)
7-iron loft 27°

Callaway have been at the cutting edge of the strong-lofted irons conversation since the Rogue X in 2018. This year the Mavrik remains the brand’s strongest iron (27° 7-iron), which unsurprisingly means it is also Callaway’s longest and most powerful option.

Our data has the Mavrik generating five yards more carry than the brilliant Apex DCB, yet we reckon nine out of 10 golfers will prefer the much more attractive DCB.

And if your swing speed is more moderate than feisty, you really should be looking at the Big Bertha B21.

RELATED: Tested – Best Mid Handicap Irons

BUY IT NOW: Get the Callaway Mavrik irons from Scottsdale Golf

WATCH: Best Mid-Handicap Irons Test

Callaway Big Bertha B21 golf iron.

Callaway Big Bertha B21

RRP £899 (s), £1,149 (g)
Category High handicap 
Forgiveness rating 4
Handicap range 28 and below
Construction Cast with AI Face Cup
Availability 4-PW, AW, SW, LW
Stock shaft KBS Max CT80 (s) Callaway RCH (g)
7-iron loft 29°

Once golfers hit 60, swing speeds are proven to fall by 0.5mph a year. It’s that sort of knowledge that led Callaway to create the B21 irons to specifically offer help to golfers who play the game at average speeds.

To ensure they can launch shots optimally with less club speed, the B21 have slightly weaker lofts, plenty of offset and very lively KBS Max CT-80 shafts.

Whether your game is prone to spraying shots all over the iron face and/or your club speed is moderate, the B21 is Callaway’s most forgiving and longest iron of 2021.

BUY IT NOW: Get the Callaway Big Bertha B21 irons from Scottsdale Golf

RELATED: Best Ladies' Irons

WATCH: Best High-Handicap Irons Test

How the Callaway irons compare in data

The launch monitor data from our Callaway irons test.

READ NEXT: Tested – Best Irons

Callaway Apex 21 DCB