Which Mizuno iron is best for me?

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Which Mizuno irons should I buy? Your guide to each iron in Mizuno’s 2022 line-up, who they are aimed at, and how they performed when tested by our pro.

Most major golf brands have five, six or even seven sets of irons in their 2022 line-ups. Some are new models, others carried over from previous ranges, but they are all aimed at very specific golfers.

There’s been a huge influx of new forged models over recent years, but choices still range from sublime musclebacks to hollow heads, cavity backs and super forgiving hybrid-style irons. While some are forged from soft carbon steel, others have springy fast faces, just like a driver.

We've tested Mizuno's full range of irons to find out which is best for you.

With so many options out there, it’s easy for golfers to get confused over which will best suit their game. And even those who have a good idea of which iron will suit them often don’t realise what’s put on the line in terms of ball speed, carry distance and forgiveness by choosing a set above their ball striking capability.

With every major 2022 iron model now available in the shops, the time felt right to show how each brand’s iron range compares when they go head to head. If it’s a Mizuno model that has caught your eye, we’ll walk you through their range and find out how they perform.

Thanks to our consistent test pro and his launch monitor data, we can show how whole families of irons stack up. You can read how we test, here. We’ve also given each model a forgiveness rating and a handicap guide to spell out simply which players should be considering each model, and, more importantly, why. Find out more about the ratings, here.

If you want to see how all of this year’s irons performed then check out our full irons test or, if there are other brands on your shopping list, take a look at which, CallawayPingTaylorMade, Srixon and PXG irons are right for you.

Mizuno Pro 221 iron.

Mizuno Pro 221 Iron

RRP £165 per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Muscleback blade | Forgiveness rating 1/5 | Handicap range Four and below | Construction Forged from a single piece of 1025E HD mild carbon steel | 7-iron loft 34º

Today’s Golfer verdict: The Pro 221 is our blade of the year, but don’t think this is an iron for anyone other than serial shot shapers. Our pro’s numbers have the 221 being very closely matched on ball speed and carry distance to the 223 (even though the 221 is 2° weaker in the 7-iron) but remember the tour cavity back (223) will offer a little more forgiveness on off-centre hits.

Compared to the 225 at a decent speed, players are likely to see 4.2mph more ball speed and nine yards more 7-iron carry from the hollow body players’ distance iron (its 7-iron loft is 4° stronger), which is an equation that just won’t work for most club golfers… even though they’re gorgeous.

Mizuno JPX921 Tour Iron.

Mizuno JPX921 Tour Iron

RRP £150 per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Players’ | Forgiveness rating 2/5 | Handicap range Four and below | Construction Forged from a single piece of 1025E HD mild carbon steel | 7-iron loft 34º

Today’s Golfer verdict: Very much a modern muscle cavity. Mizuno say golfers who plump for the Tours (over the Pro 221) are generally point and shoot golfers. That’s players who see shots in straighter lines with the ball falling on one side or the other of their target line, and not traditional shot shapers, who are comfortable swinging shots in using a preferred shot shape.

Mizuno’s website has the Tours down as a best match for 0-4 handicap golfers, and a more workable (so less forgiving) option than the Pro 223, which should tell you everything you need to know about this elite players’ iron.

Mizuno Pro 223 Iron.

Mizuno Pro 223 Iron

RRP £180 per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Players’ | Forgiveness rating 2/5 | Handicap range Eight and below | Construction 4-7-iron forged from Chromoly steel, 8-PW forged from 1025E mild carbon steel | 7-iron loft 32º

Today’s Golfer verdict: The popularity of forged tour-level and muscle cavity back irons has risen dramatically over the last few years. So much so pretty much all brands who sponsor tour players now want a compact forged cavity back like the 223 within their line-up. If you insist your game is best served by a tour-level forged cavity, the Pro 223 is a beauty.

If you’re drawn to it, consider how it compares to Mizuno’s brilliant hollow body Pro 225. In our test the Pro 223 was 4.4mph slower and nine yards shorter (carry with a 7-iron), which for a majority of club golfers will be too much to put on the line for a less forgiving, more compact head.

Mizuno Pro 225 Iron.

Mizuno Pro 225 Iron

RRP £200 per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Players’ distance | Forgiveness rating 2.5/5 | Handicap range 12 and below | Construction Hollow body with forged 4135 chromoly face and neck and cast 431 stainless steel back | 7-iron loft 30º

Today’s Golfer verdict: Anyone wanting to team lovely in-the-bag looks of a blade with the performance traits of a fast and forgiving, modern hollow players’ distance iron.

Coupled with creating our test pro’s fastest ball speed (125.5mph in the category), the 225 also hit shots into the smallest dispersion area (89.6  yards2). That’s a seriously impressive performance at both ends of the scale, but the model wasn’t done there.

The 225 also protected carry brilliantly (third best drop-off) and was our joint longest model of the year; all the ingredients lots of decent club golfers want.

Mizuno JPX 921 Forged Iron.

Mizuno JPX921 Forged Iron

RRP £150 per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Players’ distance | Forgiveness rating 3/5 | Handicap range 12 and below | Construction Forged from a single piece of 4120 chromoly steel | 7-iron loft 31º

Today’s Golfer verdict: Mizuno reckon the Forged are often a good fit for 10-14-handicappers, but we’d say thanks to pretty low offset in the longer irons, we wouldn’t go above that.

The Forged is a brilliant mix of what lots of reasonable club golfers look for in a set of irons. There’s a really good-looking head, a forged feel (albeit from more lively chromoly steel) and sound, as well as decent amounts of power and a good degree of forgiveness for when shots don’t impact the centre of the face.

Our data has the model very well matched to Mizuno’s 225, which means the choice between the pair is likely to come down to cost (the 225s are £350 more expensive for a seven-piece set) and whether a player has a preference over cavity backs or more modern hollow body heads.

Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal Pro Iron.

Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal Pro Iron

RRP £135 per club | VIEW OFFER
Category Mid-handicap | Forgiveness rating 3/5 | Handicap range 16 and below | Construction One piece, cast from 4140M chromoly steel | 7-iron loft 29º

Today’s Golfer verdict: Each iron in the Mizuno line-up so far comes as a one-piece forged head or has a forged face and hosel. The Hot Metal Pro is where Mizuno switch to cast irons (a less costly production method).

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 Pro delivers in spades.

It has the same 7-iron loft (29°) as the standard JPX921 Hot Metal, so expect decent levels of speed and distance from this head, but its more compact body with reduced hosel offset will be slightly more workable and less forgiving.

Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal Iron.

Mizuno JPX921 Hot Metal Iron

RRP £120 per club | VIEW OFFER
Category High-handicap | Forgiveness rating 4/5 | Handicap range 24 and below | Construction One piece, cast from 4140 chromoly steel | 7-iron loft 29º

Today’s Golfer verdict: Some will question why we’ve given Mizuno’s most forgiving iron a handicap guide of 24 and below (when other brands are 28 and below), but Mizuno themselves say the model is a good fit for 20+ handicappers, and we reckon there are more forgiving higher handicap irons out there if that’s what you’re truly after.

You get nearly 8.5% more MOI forgiveness than what’s on offer from the JPX921 Forged iron (plus an additional 9.8% over the Hot Metal Pro), but compared to Ping’s benchmark G425 iron, that forgiveness is 14.7% lower. That’s why we reckon there are more forgiving irons out there.

Launch monitor data: How the 2022 Mizuno Irons compared

How the Mizuno irons compared on our our launch monitor.

Mizuno’s 2021 iron models

While the models below are no longer being marketed by Mizuno among their current models, they are still widely available and, in all cases, at quite substantially lower prices.

You’ll also find plenty of them on used golf club sites like Golfbidder, so they’re still well worth your consideration in 2022.

Mizuno MP-20 MB Irons.

Mizuno MP-20 MB Irons

RRP £150 per iron | VIEW OFFER
Category Muscleback blade | Forgiveness rating 1 | Handicap range 4 and below | Construction Forged from a single piece of 1025E HD mild carbon steel | Availability 3-PW | Stock shaft Choose from 20 premium options without upcharge | 7-iron loft 34°

Thanks to Mizuno’s MP family sporting more traditional, shiny finishes, they’re likely to appeal to the eye of very good ball striking traditionalists. Our test data has the MP-20 and JPX921 Tour jointly down as Mizuno’s least powerful irons. So, if your game demands keeping an eye on speed or distance, the two models are not for you.

Should you need any more cautionary words, the MP-20 MBs gave our test pro his highest Mizuno 7-iron drop-off –18 yards (11% vs 2.4% with his smallest) – which highlights brilliantly how tough they are to live with unless you’re really good.

RELATED: Tested – Best Irons

Mizuno MP-20 MMC Irons.

Mizuno MP-20 MMC Irons

RRP £165 per iron | VIEW OFFER
Category Players distance | Forgiveness rating 2.5 | Handicap range 10 and below | Construction Forged from a single piece of 1025E HD mild carbon steel | Availability 4-PW | Stock shaft Choose from 20 premium options without upcharge | 7-iron loft 32°

The MMC’s 7-iron loft gives a lot away about who they are aimed at. View them as a more forgiving alternative to the MP-20 MB or JPX921 Tour, or a more workable option than the MP-20 HMB and you really won’t go too far wrong.

A solid blend of players iron shape with a degree of forgiveness thanks to Mizuno mixing a traditional head shape with tungsten toe weighting and a titanium muscle badge.

For our consistent striking test pro, the MP-20 MMC irons gave really consistent distance control, with just four yards drop off (2.4%) on a 7-iron, and that’s 8.6% (14 yards) better than the MP-20 MB.

Mizuno MP-20 HMB Irons.

Mizuno MP-20 HMB Irons

RRP £180 per iron |  VIEW OFFER
Category Hollow body players distance | Forgiveness rating 2.5 | Handicap range 12 and below | Construction Hollow body with forged chromoly steel face and neck | Availability 2-PW | Stock shaft Choose from 20 premium options without upcharge | 7 iron loft 32°

Choosing between the MP-20 HMB and the JPX921 Forged is not easy. The specs say they’re very evenly matched for head size, sole width and hosel offset. The key difference is the HMB’s hollow head, whereas the Forged is a more traditional cavity back. The Forged is also a degree stronger (7-iron).

We think the decision comes down to a couple of points; how you feel about hollow head and thin, faster face tech, as some golfers challenge its predictability; and do you like the livelier feel of golf’s first full-forged chromoly steel iron?

It’s worth noting that Mizuno’s MP-20 HMB iron is likely to be replaced later this year, while the JPX921 Forged is scheduled to be around until 2022.

RELATED: Which TaylorMade iron is best for you?

How Mizuno’s 2021 irons compared on our launch monitor

How Mizuno's 2021 irons compared on our launch monitor.

How we tested which Mizuno iron is best for you

We asked Mizuno to submit their entire 2021 irons range for testing.

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

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.

How we analysed our Mizuno 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 winners.

RELATED: Best Golf Launch Monitors

Today's Golfer pro Neil Wain carried out our Mizuno irons test.

What our iron forgiveness ratings mean

Category 5: Hybrid Irons

Hybrid irons have been the much maligned black sheep of irons for years, but they now represent a huge opportunity to keep golfers – who typically lose 0.5 mph of clubhead speed each year once they hit 60 – in the game for longer.

There has been a growing trend in this area in recent years. Not only are brands showing more interest in producing hybrid irons, golfers are more willing to use them. The extra playability that hybrids have brought to the long game have transformed many golfers’ games in the past decade.

If your game or swing speed have gone south, hybrid irons are a brilliant option.

Typical performance traits

In the hands of average club golfers, hybrid irons are more forgiving than any other model. They have big wide soles to launch shots high with increased forgiveness, while designers claim they also help prevent digging into the turf, thereby reducing fat shots.

It’s exactly the type of styling that led golfers to fall in love with long iron replacement hybrids/rescues. The centre of gravity in hybrid irons is far lower and deeper than a typical cavity-back iron.

Who should use hybrid irons?

Golf should be fun and hybrid Irons can turn a frustrating round into an enjoyable one. The extra playability means more shots carry sand and water hazards. Hybrid Irons aren’t just for players with slower swings. They’re for anybody who wants to reduce frustration and have more fun.

RELATED: Best Golf Shot Tracking Devices

Category 4: Super Game Improver Irons

This category is as forgiving as it gets if you insist that an iron needs to look like an iron and you’re resistant to exploring hybrid iron alternatives.

Historically, golfers have traded looks for forgiveness in this category, but modern models have come a long way in recent years. It’s now possible to get your hands on an iron like the Ping G710, which is not only great looking, but also super forgiving and powerful.

Better yet, it won’t highlight you as a hacker before you’ve even hit a shot! 

Typical performance traits

Historically, super game-improver models have big chunky heads, thick toplines and even wider soles. The best of the latest models challenge that thinking, though, thanks to dense tungsten weighting that places critical mass in very specific areas of the head.

Category 4 models have either a deep cavity-back or a hollow head and they’re very often the lightest in a brand’s iron range. Shafts are often lighter with softer tip sections to increase launch and spin, which helps maximise distance at lower speeds.

Some models unashamedly reduce weight to naturally add speed. This is great as long as your swing isn’t too weight sensitive and you lose the ability to ‘time’ shots. It’s worth remembering that the larger the head size, the easier it is to get an iron face to flex and add speed.

Who should use super game improver irons?

Golfers who aren’t afraid to admit that their game needs as much help as they can get their hands on is a reasonable rule of thumb here. Whereas game-improver models often suit 20-handicap golfers and below, super game-improver models fill the gap above this really nicely.

However, make sure that you’re well aware which models are lightweight and/or strong lofted and make a decision on which best suits your game after trialling both. Get that right and the irons within this category can seriously raise your enjoyment of the game.

Forgiveness Category 3.5: Game Improver Irons

This area of the market produces the most sales simply because there’s more mid-high handicappers. Brands invest huge sums developing new technology in this area.

Typical performance traits

There’s disagreement among brands as to whether this category should be home to their strongest loft irons and  there’s a discussion to be had around whether strong loft irons are suited to the highest handicappers with the slowest swings. These players often struggle to launch strong loft irons high enough to optimise carry and backspin.

The extra offset pushes the CG back to aid launch. It’s not uncommon for these irons to be 10mm+ longer with sole widths some 45% wider than a Category 1 blade. Toplines are often twice the width of a blade, too.

Who should use game improver irons?

Fitted with slightly lighter shafts and, sometimes, a lighter swing weight, these irons help maximise swing speed. It’s no secret the engineers target 18–20 handicappers with these clubs.

Forgiveness Category 3: Game Improver Plus

When it comes to matching an iron to your ability, it’s really important not to confuse this category with full out game-improver models. Simply put, they’re not.

As a benchmark, the Ping G iron has always been a stalwart of the traditional game-improver category but the current G410 falls into our Category 3.5. Category 3 models are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Very often, Category 3 and Category 3.5 irons end up in the hands of improving golfers, but they subtly target different players, hence why Callaway make both an Apex 19 (forged and in Category 3) and a Mavrik (cast and in Category 3.5).

Typical performance traits

The fact that five of our eight Category 3 irons are forged tells the story of who they’re aimed at. And just to highlight the point, none of the Category 3.5 models are forged.

Models in this category will have either a decent-sized/depth cavity-back or a hollow head. The cast PXG 0211s are a great example of a set that combines compact, less offset short-irons with larger, more forgiving mid- and long-irons to appeal to golfers seeking both looks and performance within a single set.

Offset will often be a fraction less than with full on game-improver models, while toplines will be a fraction wider than in Player Irons. Lofts will likely be a little stronger than those of a Players Distance iron. On average, our eight Category 3 models had 1.4° less 7-iron loft (30.1°) than Category 2.5 models, which means they can target ball speed and distance.

Who should use game improver plus irons?

If you’re a mid-handicap golfer, you absolutely should look at some of the models within this category. To be the best match, though, it’s highly likely your handicap will be 15 or below – depending on your ball-striking confidence.

Category 3.5 models bring together traits often best-suited to 18-20 handicappers and below. Category 3 models usually offer a decent-looking clubhead, which is often forged, along with added speed and distance for golfers who don’t quite have the ball striking prowess to use one of the two Player Iron categories.

RELATED: Best Golf Training Aids

Forgiveness Category 2.5: Players’ Distance Irons

In 2015, PXG founder Bob Parsons tasked his top engineers with the unenviable challenge of creating an iron that looked like a blade but played like a cavity-back. What they came back with – the original 0311 – changed the iron market.

TaylorMade joined the hollow-body players distance iron market in 2017 with the P790. It became the brand’s biggest-selling forged iron ever. Titleist then launched the popular 718 AP3 and Ping joined the party in 2018 with their i500.

The rapid growth of this category can not only be attributed to aspirational aesthetics, but faster ball speeds and more distance than traditional player’s irons.

Typical performance traits

In many instances, the clubhead size in this category will be a little larger to inspire more confidence at address. And don’t expect too much hosel offset, either. The toplines are reasonably thin and shaft weights tend to be a little lighter than those found in blades.

The face might be forged – as found in the TaylorMade P790, Ping i500 and Cobra King Forged Tec – while several models favour hollow body technology.  The average 7-iron loft in this category was 2° stronger than in the Category 1 models, which inevitably means extra ball speed and distance.

You may find some fast-face technology in these clubs, too, while some kind of internal tungsten weighting is also common. This gives the manufacturers’ engineers the ability to manipulate the centre-of-gravity location in the clubhead to help shots launch higher from a stronger loft as well as deliver more forgiveness over Category 1 and Category 2 models. That’s some seriously good food for thought. 

Who should use players’ distance irons?

Don’t be fooled by our data into thinking that Players Distance Irons are the wonder drug for all golfers… they’re not. What the data does show, though, is what’s on the line when a golfer chooses either a Category 1 or Category 2 model when, in fact, they should be playing a Category 2.5 iron.  

While the typical shaft weight and profile was perfect for our test pro, many mid-handicap and above golfers would benefit from the slightly lighter weight and added consistency of a Category 3, Category 4 or even a Category 5 model. Irons in this category bridge the gap from traditional game-improver to player models brilliantly, which means they usually work best for golfers with handicaps of 12 and below.

Forgiveness Category 2: Players’ Irons

If you need any evidence to support which type of golfer this category is aimed at, you only need to look at tour players like Jordan Spieth, Shane Lowry and Jason Day. All are major champions and currently play irons that fall within this category.

These types of irons are very good options for impressive ball-strikers who don’t necessarily want to compromise on looks, but still want some forgiveness built into what is essentially a blade shape clubhead.

Typical performance traits

Player irons generally are pretty similar to blades for hosel offset, topline thickness and sole width. The majority are forged (with the exception of Ping’s models) as the decent players who use them often believe forging delivers a premium feel/sound. Plus, it’s worth remembering that more than 90% of tour events are won by players using forged models.

For us, a Category 2 model must have some type of cavity-back, either shallow as with the Mizuno JPX919 Tour or deeper as found in the Honma T//World 747 Vx. There absolutely will be no thin fast-face tech (not in the mid- to short-irons anyway), as many purists believe that face flex leads to inconsistencies.

Lofts generally are fairly traditional, since golfers at this level want very consistent gapping and predictable yardages, even on slight mishits.

Who should use players’ irons?

It goes without saying that you need to be a decent ball-striker to get the best out of Player irons. That means you’ll need to be very close to a category one golfer. There’s a very good reason why Players Distance irons (forgiveness Category 2.5) have become so popular over the last few years.

It’s because they bridge the gap that was really difficult to cover when golf didn’t have fast-face tech, strong lofts or hollow body constructions. If you can tolerate some modern tech, you can not only get extra ball speed and distance but more forgiveness, too.

Forgiveness Category 1: Muscleback Irons

Musclebacks, also known as blades, are not only the most traditional irons, they’re also the most unforgiving, hence our forgiveness rating of 1. Any golfer thinking of buying a set of blades should have no real desire to add any extra speed, distance or forgiveness to their game.

In fact, the 10% of tour pros who use blades typically do so because the forgiveness levels are so low. It means they can shape shots at will while barely needing to alter their swing. 

Typical performance traits

Blades are typically forged rather than cast. The forging process that stamps the irons into shape under high pressure compresses and aligns the grain of the metal more closely, which is said to improve feel and feedback. Musclebacks also have the least amount of hosel offset, which means the centre of gravity (CG) of the clubhead is further forward.   

A forward CG delivers a lower, more penetrating ball flight, even though blades tend to have the highest lofts of any iron category. Head sizes are generally very compact, while soles and top lines are typically very slender, which means they should appeal only to the very best ball-strikers.

Most blades come as standard with heavy 120g+ shafts since the more accomplished golfers who use them typically create more swing speed.

Who should use muscleback irons?

There’s a strong school of thought among some hardcore golfers that blades are the only true way to play the game. Some also swear that blades are the best way to learn the game because you’re severely punished for mishits and therefore have to focus more intently on developing a robust swing technique.

Regardless, to get the best out of Category 1 irons you’ll need a handicap of low single figures or better. It’s our opinion that you shouldn’t really consider using them until you get close to scratch.

READ NEXT: Best Hybrids

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Today's Golfer Equipment Editor Simon Daddow.

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.

He uses a Ping G400 SFT driver, PXG 0341 X Gen4 3-Wood, PXG 0341 X Gen4 7-wood, PXG 0317 X Gen2 hybrid, Callaway Rogue X irons (6 – PW), Cleveland CBX2 wedges (52°, 58°), Bettinardi Inovai 6.0 putter and a TaylorMade Tour Response golf ball.

You can contact Simon here.

READ NEXT: Best Golf Launch Monitors

 

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