Which KBS iron shaft is best for you?

Published:

KBS iron shafts are for everyone from the world’s best golfers to slow swinging amateurs, but which of their 14 models best suits you? Let us explain…

Golfers rarely give a second thought to which shafts are in a new set of irons. Yet, KBS believe 14 different models (all of which come in numerous weights and flexes) are needed to cover all types of players.

Technology has taught the brains behind KBS – Kim Braly, if he’s to fit hard-hitting tour pros alongside moderate speed, high handicap amateurs the brand needs a vast array of options. The thinking has led to the creation of 14 different steel and graphite KBS iron models.

We don’t want to fit you for your perfect iron shaft. That should only ever be done with the help of a decent club fitter in the real world. But, to highlight how shaft technology helps you hit better iron shots more often we’ve taken a look at the full KBS line-up.

When buying your next set remember KBS shafts can change how a shaft feels, launches and spins, so you have the opportunity to choose your perfect ball flight and set-up. Here’s what you need to know about KBS iron shafts in 2022.

Players’ models  

KBS C-Taper iron shaft

There are three-pillar players’ shafts within the KBS line-up and each differs by balance point. The Tour is stiffest in the grip section (for good feel) and it gives mid-launch and mid-spin. The C-Taper is stiffest in the tip section (close to the head) to give a stout and strong feel and deliver low launch with low spin. The S-Taper fits neatly between the pair.

KBS C-Taper iron shaft

C stands for Constant Taper, so the shaft has no steps, which allows the C-Taper to have a strong and stout feel. Typically the model suits stronger golfers, and players can expect a 5% lower ball flight than True Temper’s Dynamic Gold. Major winners Gary Woodland and Justin Rose have played the C-Taper as has Rickie Fowler.

KBS $-Taper iron shaft

All three KBS pillar players’ iron shafts come in the same five weights, so golfers get to choose based on the launch, spin, and ball flight desired for their own game.

KBS $-Taper iron shaft

Half flexes (R+ and S+) are brilliant for golfers that sit on the fence between two flexes. They alleviate decisions around whether to go regular flex for more distance or stiff for increased accuracy. The S-Taper (Subtle Taper) is midway between the C-Taper (lowest spin and launch) and Tour shaft (mid-spin and launch).

KBS Tour iron shaft

The Tour is Kim Braly’s signature shaft, it was the first KBS model and it’s the mothership of KBS. Thanks to not being overly strong the Tour can suit a wide audience of golfers. Its consistent step pattern is a good fit for smoother, less aggressive transition players.

KBS Tour iron shaft

Thanks to being a high balance point model (so weight is positioned closer to the grip), golfers get a slightly softer feel and good feedback at the top of the swing. A further Tour FLT (Flighted) shaft model launches long irons higher and short irons lower for a more optimised set.

RELATED: Which TaylorMade iron suits me?

How KBS players’ steel shafts differ in launch and spin

KBS iron shaft graphic

KBS Tour V iron shaft

KBS see the Tour V as an outlier shaft because the model is 10g lighter than the C-Taper, $-Taper, and Tour.

KBS Tour V iron shaft

KBS Tour Rep Paul Steels says “the Tour V shaft is often a good fit for players who like the shot shape and flight of the C-Taper but want extra feel, as the C-Taper is just so boardy”.

KBS C-Taper Lite, $-Taper Lite, and Tour Lite iron shafts

There’s lots of misunderstanding around lighter iron shafts. But KBS say golfers should see their Lite models (which are 15g lighter than the standard models) as giving a little more launch and being easier to get airborne (than the 3 pillar models).

KBS Lite iron shafts

For players who don’t go at iron shots full tilt Lite models can be a really good option as club speeds increase and shots launch higher. Lite models and aging typically go hand-in-hand. If you happen to overload the shaft you’ll know because shots will start turning over left of the target (for a right-handed golfer).

Also, think about launch windows. A strong but very low launch player could see benefits by going Lite but in a strong flex to up launch and ball flight.  

RELATED: Should you play the KBS TD driver shaft?

KBS iron shaft swing speed recommendations

KBS iron shaft swing speed recommendations

Average speed KBS iron shaft models

KBS Max and Max CT80 iron shafts

To ensure KBS have shafts to suit every golfer’s speed they produce ultralight Max and Max CT80 shafts as well. Both Max shafts are high-launch, high-spin models which help optimise ball flight for maximum carry distance at moderate speeds.

KBS Max steel iron shaft

Remember it’s possible to be a fast but inconsistent high handicapper (in which case you’d be better suited to one of the KBS players’ shaft models), so think about shafts suiting speeds rather than ability. Thanks to their low kick point and high launch properties the Max shafts regularly make an appearance in stronger lofted irons (think TaylorMade Stealth and Callaway Big Bertha B21).

Typically high-speed players, irrespective of ability will not touch this product.

RELATED: Which Lamkin grip best suits your game?

There are junior options too   

To ensure golfers can go through their whole golfing career with a familiar KBS feel, the brand also produce two junior steel shafts (the 560 and 580). Both are designed to suit the speed of 8 – 11-year-old players.

KBS Junior iron shafts

Both shafts are lightened steel, so the weights are similar to lightweight graphite iron ranges. But, crucially golfers don’t get a heavy head feel which can cause issues when switching from graphite to steel once a child is a stronger teenager.   

When should you go graphite?

Graphite irons shafts are massively misunderstood in the modern game. Many people think they’re for older golfers and slower speed players, which just isn’t the case. Graphite irons shafts are easier on the body. They remove vibration, and can suit everyone from tour players to very moderate speed club golfers.

In typical KBS fashion, the brand make three graphite models (all are available in numerous weights and flexes), here’s what you need to know about them.

How KBS graphite iron shafts differ in launch and spin

KBS graphite iron shaft chart

KBS TGI – Tour Graphite Iron shaft

KBS specifically target a steel-like feel from their graphite shafts. They’ve done such a good job fulfilling their brief several tour players swear it’s not actually graphite. Thinking instead it’s a steel shaft painted black.

KBS TGI Tour Graphite iron shaft

The TGI can be matched to golfers’ speeds (there are eight weights, so the model can suit from 57mph to 100mph speed players) in exactly the same way as the brand’s steel shafts. The TGI is the company’s lowest launching and spinning graphite iron shaft, it’s pretty strong and stout, so decent players often like it.

KBS PGI – Players Graphite Iron shaft

In developing their shafts KBS have undertaken masses of research, and they say when the flex isn’t disclosed golfers often prefer the feel of graphite over steel. Their advice is to play the flex you need. Don’t be tempted to go stiffer than necessary. And if you swing a 6-iron at 70mph play a shaft that performs at that speed.

KBS PGI Players Graphite iron shaft

The PGI was developed to bring a steel-like feel to graphite and it’s a step up from the lower launching and spinning TGI. The PGI is widely played on the LPGA Tour, it’s the brand’s mid-launch/mid-spin graphite iron shaft. Six weights mean the model can suit from 57mph to 94mph players.

KBS Max graphite iron shaft   

The Max graphite is the highest launching and spinning graphite iron shaft in the KBS line-up. It’s a model for golfers who really need help launching shots high into the air to maximise carry distance. Five weights mean the model can suit swing speeds from 51 to 82mph.

KBS Max Graphite iron shaft

KBS graphite iron shaft swing speed recommendations

KBS graphite iron shaft chart

Get it right the first time

KBS reckon so long as golfers get fitted correctly the first time they can progress through KBS models throughout their playing career. It means, if like Gary Woodland you’re a C-Taper player or Cameron Smith a Tour shaft player you stay within that family but progress to lighter models as you age.

And to demonstrate how important finding the right family is KBS say to look at Adam Scott and Gary Woodland. Scott has been a Tour shaft player for years (think of his smooth, under-control swing) whereas Woodland is a big strong hitter of the ball, so he’s a C-Taper guy all day long. But, switch their clubs over and both would struggle to play, as they wouldn’t get the ball flight or shot window they’d be expecting.    

Don’t forget your wedges

Today KBS are a through-the-bag shaft company. They make shafts for drivers, fairways, hybrids, irons, wedges, and putters, so if you’re taking the time to get fitted don’t neglect how the company produce five different wedges shafts too.

KBS wedge shafts

KBS say the Hi-Rev wedge shaft has been designed from the Tour shaft profile. There’s a lengthened tip section to give a softer feel and generate extra spin. If you play the Tour shaft you’ll likely enjoy this wedge model too. The brand’s 610 wedge shaft was designed to complement the Tour V shaft.

Where C-Taper and S-Taper fans often run shafts from their irons through into the wedges, albeit at a slightly lighter weight as wedge shots are rarely hit full out.

Want more information about KBS iron shafts? Visit their website here  

How do KBS iron shafts compare in data?

KBS Iron shaft data

Verdict: KBS iron shafts

Lots of people will look at our test pro’s data and think the shafts are performing very much alike. But the data says nothing about how different the shafts felt.

Comparing the C-Taper and S-Taper the data shows the pair as being pretty evenly matched but the difference in feel was phenomenal. So different in fact our test pro felt he just wouldn’t be able to use the C-Taper effectively on the golf course (as it’s so strong). Where the $-Taper felt brilliant and could well be his perfect match within the KBS family.

The Lite shafts produced a faster ball speed, just as KBS promised and the C-Taper Lite in particular launched and flighted shots higher with a steeper descent angle, so there’s a huge amount of tuning in ball flight and feel available from shafts.

Just as KBS promised the TGI graphite shaft produced some very good optimal numbers too, they’d be a very sensible choice for golfers looking to avoid the shock and vibration of using steel shafts. Equally the Max graphite climbed to its peak height very early in its flight, which at lower speeds will be a real benefit in maximising carry distance.   

At the end of the day, KBS are all about the consumer. You get what you want, whether that be higher or lower launching, more or less spin, or a different feel, everything is on offer within the KBS iron family. Our test pro liked the $-Taper for his own game as it didn’t feel too strong, yet it felt stable and produced a good feel through the hands, and he had control over his ball flight.    

READ NEXT: Best 2022 Iron Test

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simon Daddow

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.

- 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.