2018 Irons: Ranked by forgiveness

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As part of our biggest test of the year - Top Gear - we've ranked every iron we've reviewed in 2018 and given them a forgiveness rating.

With the lines between iron categories rapidly blurring, it struck us that there’s nowhere for golfers to compare irons side by side to see which models offer similar forgiveness. So we came up with our own “forgiveness rating” for each iron, based on our experience and test results. 

As well as having three testers review each golf club, we gave every iron in our test a forgiveness ranking from 1-5 (one being least forgiving) for you to see just how forgiving the irons on the market are. Find each iron rating below, plus our verdict on how these irons performed. 

Jump To Forgiveness Ratings Of: 1/5 | 2/5 | 2.5/5 | 3/5 | 3.5/5 | 4/5 

IRON FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness Rating: 5/5

Cleveland Launcher HB

Verdict: A super forgiving hybrid iron that would help many golfers find more greens in regulation. Experience tells us though small numbers of golfers will actually put a set-in play. Our test pro reckoned lots of 15+ handicappers would hit the Launcher more consistently than a traditional cavity back iron. 

Cleveland Launcher HB


Forgiveness Rating: 4/5

Benross HTX CompressorCallaway Rogue WCobra F-Max | Cobra King Oversize | Mizuno JPX 900 Hot Metal | Ping G700 | TaylorMade M CGB | Titleist 718 AP1 | Wilson Staff D300

➤ Benross HTX Compressor

Verdict: There’s not huge amounts of obvious tech like some of the more expensive models but the HTX can just about hold its own. We couldn’t all quite agree we loved the head shape but that’s personal, we did however like the solid performance and obvious cost saving.

benross htx compressor

➤ Callaway Rogue W

Verdict: Just like the Cobra F-Max, Rogue W are designed for a very specific golfer. If you fit the target bracket and see gains in ball speeds and carry distances by going lighter, and more lofted, you’d be foolish to not run with the idea. It goes without saying an experienced fitter would guide you down the right route for your game.

rogue w irons

➤ Cobra F-Max

Verdict: Like Cobra’s game improvement F8 irons the F-Max have very rounded heads compared to the competition, but looks are personal, so while we weren’t huge fans there’s every chance you might love them. The all-important question is how do you know if you need F-Max? Well for those that do, you’ve probably already noticed irons don’t go as far as they used to. Maybe you struggle to launch a 5 iron from the turf and you’ll probably swing a 7 iron less than 75 mph (club speed). F-Max are an excellent blend of value for money and forgiveness performance for the right swing speed player.  

cobra fmax

➤ Cobra King Oversize

Verdict: The Oversize are a real hark back to the original King Cobra Oversize irons so we reckon if you liked those there’s a pretty good chance you’ll look favourably on the King’s too. They’re very easy to launch which is partly down to the excellent True Temper XP shaft, they’re powerful and thanks to the size there’s excellent off-centre forgiveness too.

cobra king oversize

➤ Mizuno JPX 900 Hot Metal

Verdict: Our test pro was the JPXs biggest fan reckoning it was amongst his favourite three SGI irons of the year. We love how just like every other Mizuno iron, you buy them individually, and get a huge selection of premium shafts to choose from at absolutely no extra cost.

mizuno jpx 900 hot metal

➤ Ping G700

Verdict: Everything about the G700 is slightly bigger than the massively popular G400, including the price tag. At £39 a club more (that's £273 extra for a seven-piece set) than the G400 it's the price which is highly likely to be the deciding factor between whether golfers go G400 or G700. Whichever you choose both are a great option, our data suggests so long as you're not put off by oversized heads the G700s are a fraction more powerful, making them an excellent all-round choice for 2018.

ping g700 irons

➤ TaylorMade M CGB

Verdict: A decent looking super game improvement iron which can do a job for a wide audience of golfers. Ideally suited to golfers who really want as much distance as they can get their hands on, but don’t quite have the club speed to launch the long and mid irons of a strong lofted set (like the Callaway Rogue X and TaylorMade M4) from the turf. 

m cgb

➤ Titleist 718 AP1

Verdict: A brilliant option for golfers not really wanting the looks of a full super game improvement model but whose game still needs decent levels of forgiveness and playability. A very solid all-round performer.   

ap1 irons

➤ Wilson Staff D300

Verdict: If you’re looking for a new set of irons in 2018 and ideally want ultimate forgiveness, excellent distance and decent value for money the D300 should be on your shortlist. Get over the long, shiny head shape and the FLX Face tech and tons of toe and heel weighting come into their own.     

wilson staff d300


Forgiveness Rating: 3.5/5

Callaway Rogue | Callaway Rogue X | Cleveland CBX | Cobra King F8 | Cobra King F8 One-Length | Ping G400 | TaylorMade M4 | Wilson Staff C300

➤ Callaway Rogue

Verdict: A typical Callaway game improvement iron which boasts of plenty forgiveness and playability. It’s just unfortunate for 2018 it will be out shown and out powered by the lighter, stronger and longer Rogue X.  

callaway rogue


➤ Callaway Rogue X

Verdict: Our test pro carried Rogue X on average 6 yards further than the next longest iron test (TaylorMade M4). The heads big, butch and chunky, and whilst ball flight was 4 yards lower than the highest iron, it was exactly the same height as the Cobra F8. Suggesting you should hold approaches on a green. Be warned, hit them on a launch monitor against any other iron, and they’re difficult to resist when shots sail past your usual carry distances.

callaway rogue x


➤ Cleveland CBX 

Verdict: It sounds ridiculous but for less than £600 in the current market the CBX represent excellent value for money (especially considering the premium Dynamic Gold shafts). We reckon they’re well suited to golfers who put a premium on looks, and don’t like overly wide top edges or soles yet still need a decent degree of forgiveness.

cleveland cbx

➤ Cobra King F8

Verdict: There’s huge amounts of tech squeezed into the F8s head. Different body constructions, materials, groove configurations, forged milled faces and the addition of Arccos shot trackers at this price point is brilliant. 

cobra king f8

➤ Cobra King F8 One-Length

Verdict: We’re absolutely not saying One Length irons don’t have their place, if you love the concept and hit the irons more consistently than a standard-length set fill your boots. For 2018 we’re much bigger fans of the F8 One Length hybrid which we reckon delivers real world performance benefits over long irons and traditional hybrids from the turf. 

f8 one length


➤ Ping G400

Verdict: Ping have made brilliant game improvement irons for years and the G400 follow in the footsteps of their forbearers. We love how buying each iron individually means you only pay for the clubs you’ll actually use. 

g400 irons

➤ TaylorMade M4

Verdict: No matter how good the M4s face slots and speed pocket sole are a seven-iron loft 1.5deg higher than the Rogue X was always going to struggle to match the Callaway pound for pound in terms of carry distance. Don’t get us wrong M4 is a cracking performance iron and they’ll sell in their droves, even though they aren’t right at the top of the pile for distance like TaylorMade have become accustomed to over the last few years. 

m4 irons

➤ Wilson Staff C300

Verdict: The C300s less offset gives a lovely ‘normal’ look at address. Only you can decide if shiny chrome finishes are your thing, but we really liked the C300s head size which we felt would inspire confidence for most golfers. Performance and value for money are superb so we’d have no difficulty slipping a set in our bags for 2018.

c300

Forgiveness Rating: 3/5

Benross Evolution R | Mizuno JPX 900 Forged | Srixon Z 565 | TaylorMade M3

➤ Benross Evolution R 

Verdict: Due to the Evolution’s tiny size we don’t reckon it’s for everyone even though it’s in the game improvement iron category. If you are a reasonably confident and consistent ball striker and on the look-out for a fast and forgiving iron alternative to some of the major players for reasonable money it’s well worth sticking on your shortlist to try. 

benross evolution r

➤ Mizuno JPX 900 Forged

Verdict: The JPX 900 Forged is a cracking looking set of irons and if you’re looking for a forging that sits between a game improvement and better player model this is a decent option. You’ll need to be a more consistent ball striker to hit them as well as some of our other favourite game improvement models. 

miz jpx 900 forged

➤ Srixon Z 565

Verdict: Srixon are making some very solid forged irons right now and if your game demands the extra feel and control they can offer then the 565’s are one of less than a handful which can legitimately be called “forgiving”. As with any premium forged iron they’re a serious investment, so if you’re thinking about buying a set we’d always recommend getting fitted for them.

srixon z 565

➤ TaylorMade M3

Verdict: Make no mistake the M3 is a lovely looking iron that’s packed to the rafters with ball speed protecting tech. We reckon the compact head is likely to appeal to 12 handicappers and below, which is very nearly the same audience as the P790s. Your ball striking definitely needs to be above average to consider M3s other M4.   

taylormade m3

Forgiveness Rating: 2.5/5

Mizuno MP-18 MMC | Ping i200 | TaylorMade P790 | Titleist 718 AP3 | Wilson Staff C300 Forged

➤ Mizuno MP-18 MMC 

Verdict: Wilson can’t claim anything like the tour presence they used to, as there’s other brands out there nowadays spending megabucks on tour players and marketing to convince you their products are better. But if you can take a step back and look at the V6’s objectively in the cold light of day, they’re a really decent set of forged irons, with just enough tech to aid, not punish a decent players enjoyment of the game. 

wilson staff c300 forged

➤ Ping i200

Verdict: Our test pro’s numbers with the i200 were just below average for ball speed and carry distance, which in part at least is down to a higher seven iron loft than our test average. It’s everything you wouldn’t really expect in a better player iron, we reckon they’re a fantastic all-rounder, which means they won’t put undue pressure on your ball-striking

ping i200

➤ TaylorMade P790 

Verdict: We’ve heard a good number of TG readers have made the difficult choice between the P790 and Titleist AP3. Both have hollow bodies, both are fast and long so if you need help deciding between the pair, we recommend hitting them both. If you still can’t make up your mind, look at the set make-up you need, P790’s come as a set whilst the AP3’s are sold individually.  

taylormade p790

➤  Titleist 718 AP3

Verdict: We can see golfers flocking to the AP3 and TaylorMade P790’s because they offer golfers a club they’ve been wanting for years. It’s a simple recipe but not an easy one to pull off, teaming the looks of a better player iron with game improvement forgiveness. Or as our test pro put it, AP3s got the look of a 2 on our forgiveness scale, but it plays like irons with a rating of 3.

titleist 718 ap3

➤ Wilson Staff C300 Forged

Verdict: Compared to other players distance irons, the C300 is the only one that can boast of a full forged head, both the P790 (forged faces only) and AP3 (not forged) can’t. Compared to the Wilson FG Tour V6, C300 was four yards longer through the air, which we reckon makes it attractive to anyone who loved the V6 but hankered after extra ball speed protection and forgiveness. A decent shout for golfers looking for an excellent but sensibly priced crossover (irons that sit between better player and game improvement categories) iron.

wilson staff c300 forged

Forgiveness Rating: 2/5

Callaway X-Forged | Lynx Prowler VTMizuno MP-18 SC | Srixon Z 765 | Wilson Staff FG Tour V6

➤ Callaway X-Forged 

Verdict: This is the furthest you need to go down the Callaway iron range, leave the Apex MB alone unless you’re name is Sergio Garcia. Much like a super-model you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll look the business in your bag but they’re likely to be a devil to live with, that is unless your ball-striking ability’s equivalent to a very low single figure ability or better. 

callaway x forged

➤ Lynx Prowler VT 

Verdict: At a time when good looking hollow head irons are growing rapidly in popularity we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t highlight at £599 the VT are a fantastic option, particularly if you can’t run to £1K for a set from the bigger brands. Think of them as a playable blade and you won’t go far wrong.

lynx prowler vt

➤ Mizuno MP-18 SC 

Verdict: It’s interesting more tour players have plumped for Mizuno’s JPX 900 Tour iron than the MP-18 SC. We reckon it’s highly likely to be down to them having different finishes, but if you’re into classic forged cavities MP-18 SC are a traditionalists dream. Our test pro reckons with a forgiveness rating of two, you need to have a low single figure handicap or be a very good ball striker to get the best out of them.

mp18-sc


➤ Srixon Z 765 

Verdict: If you’re interested in a set of 765’s you need to be quick about it, as it’s highly likely they’ll be replaced towards the end of the summer. The Japanese love to pour over every detail and it’s these tiny additions that make these irons stand out. Laser face milling, a beautiful satin and polished finish, the sole detailing, a new heat treatment to improve feel and grooves that are just a tiny bit bigger. Everything adds up to a first-class overall design.  

srixon z 765

➤ Wilson Staff FG Tour V6

Verdict: Compared to other players distance irons, the C300 is the only one that can boast of a full forged head, both the P790 (forged faces only) and AP3 (not forged) can’t. Compared to the Wilson FG Tour V6, C300 was four yards longer through the air, which we reckon makes it attractive to anyone who loved the V6 but hankered after extra ball speed protection and forgiveness. A decent shout for golfers looking for an excellent but sensibly priced crossover (irons that sit between better player and game improvement categories) iron.

ws forged v6

Forgiveness Rating: 1/5

In this category, every club is a blade - and doesn't feature in our Top Gear 2018 guide due to the small amount of people who do actually use them. Want to know more about blades? Visit our blades vs cavity back irons test here . . . 

Callaway Apex MB | Mizuno MP-18 MB | Srixon Z 965 | Taylormade P730